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    Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4)    by   Barnes       (Feb 24th, 2017 at 17:25:02)

    Another play session of Shadow of Mordor and man this is not going to be an easy paper to write! Mechanically I'm really enjoying the game, it is super fun to play the controls are tight visually the game is good looking and the theme of killing orcs and the changing power struggles of their captains is super tight. Trying to look at this game through some different lenses its not giving me much. Its hard to say all the killing I'm doing in the game, and it is a massive amount of killing, is ethically questionable when every animation and idle thing my enemy does is mustache twirlingly evil. The biggest moral question might be hidden in the mechanics and well my attention span. Everywhere you walk in this game world there is suffering and slaves that morally should be freed. But i just do not have enough time to kill every guard and free every person ans still be able to advance the story to defeat the overall threat. That might be a good ethical question to explore, whether it is better to help everyone you can whenever you can or to quickly try to decimate the leadership of the Orcs. I'll have to play more to think about this.

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    I Spy Universe (DS)    by   jp       (Feb 24th, 2017 at 12:58:44)

    So, a videogame based on a book series that consists of find the hidden objects? So, "Where's Waldo", but with photos of random stuff rather than hand drawn pictures.

    It works! And yes, it's hidden objects - you pan around a photo and try to find a bunch of things from a list. Double tap and it's circled and marked on the list as found. I've only played two of the levels so far and I'm really confused as to why there's an entire story and context (trying to find parts to a device that will save the sun from doing something bad). Maybe it's because the intended audience is kids and the story might be motivating?


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    Rez Infinite (PS4)    by   jp       (Feb 24th, 2017 at 12:31:21)

    Oh my god wow that was so amazing!

    I've been a fan of Rez since Dreamcast, so I was favourably biased towards this from the start. I even paid a stupid amount of money for a physical copy shipped to me for a lot of money from a foreign country. Ok, it wasn't THAT expensive, but it's more than I'm used to paying for a videogame.

    I sat down and cleared the entire game in one sitting. Including the new area-X which is also fantastic. Here's a few things I learned:

    a. I guess I never beat the game the first time around? This is kind of embarrasing, but I had no recollection of the game's ending which makes me think that maybe I never beat it? I definitely made it to the last level because I remember being really surprised by the aesthetic changes and the biological/evolution stuff that appeared there...but the final "boss" room with the messages? That I did not remember at all.

    b. The has aged REALLY well. It almost (not quite, but almost) looks like a modern stylized game made in, say, Unity. I'm guessing that this version built on the re-make for PS3? Maybe not? Either way, it looks solid.

    c. Playing it in VR was easier, I think. But maybe it has more to do with muscle memory - me remembering what to do with certain enemies, where they would come out of, and that sort of thing? I wouldn't say I was brilliant at Rez, but I definitely had a good idea of what to do in each level and so on which I think helped me make progress quickly

    d. The new area is amazing because it feels both modernized AND old at the same time. It's like a modern remix of an older game that understands the original and takes it to the next level. I really enjoyed it.

    e. I've been thinking of how to describe what the game looks/feels like and the closest I have is: what surfing the net/going online was supposed to look like in a cyberpunk setting. I felt taken back to that aesthetic, in a good way.

    I guess now I'll have to trophy hunt?

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    Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PC)    by   dillon.young       (Feb 24th, 2017 at 02:12:30)

    In this play session I didn't do much. The main quest is now to kill four Uruk warchiefs in a variety of manner. I killed one pretty easily by brutalizing an orc, thus scaring off most threats, leaving me with a one on one battle. Another one wasn't so easy, as he had two uruk guards with him. I butted heads with him several times before giving up for the night.

    The nemesis system provides an interesting insight into uruk culture. Throughout the course of the game, the player is increasingly intimate with the personalities of many uruks- its the driving motivation as well as the most interesting mechanic of the game. However, I still feel strangely about how such wanton open disdain for an entire race of beings is portrayed. If we assume that uruks are an analogue for black people, the dialogue becomes much more sinister. This is reinforced when one realizes that there are only white humans. Another interesting omission is the lack of female uruks. I guess tolkien wasn't intersectional.

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    The Talos Principle (PC)    by   Tasch       (Feb 24th, 2017 at 00:59:58)

    I take it back. I take back everything I said. I am dying.

    I am stuck on this level that contains the final piece I need to unlock a new jammer/reflector thing needed before I can progress further. I cannot for the life of me figure this out. BUT I CAN'T MOVE ON. Like I have been here for an HOUR. That's REAL LIFE time, and I have not got ANY CLOSER. I have come across the suicide notes of at least three other AI's these are not good working conditions.
    I refuse to look up walkthroughs because I feel like this time I want to solve a game all with my own skill alone but I have literally been here so damn long that ELOHIM HIMSELF has boomed over his quaint little intercom that "there's no shame in being unable to complete a puzzle." Thing is?

    He's said it three times.

    I have been here so long I unlocked an achievement. AN ACHIEVEMENT FOR SUCKING.


    The only other thing I can add is I've found additional info about the world and there's evidence of some sort of plague or genetic disease or SOMETHING that was discovered and going to wipe out our entire race? There were forum posts of people joking about being the last alive and I don't think they were entirely joking, a blog entry from a guy talking about wanting to just eat junk food and have fun since he's gonna be dead anyways, and especially the lyrics to some song someone wrote about "momma's got it, dad's got it, little Susie's got it, even the dog's got it" or something like that indicating people are...infected with whatever this is? Though the dog part is most concerning here -- is this some mega cross-species disease that wiped out most other organisms too? Did ALL life die? Will there be no puppies for my AI to love when I get him to the real world?? Like, okay game, you can kill everyone off, just totally wreck the planet and the human race, and leave me and my AI to ponder existence and humanity and souls alone within these damned puzzles for eternity...but you can't just kill off dogs. That ain't cool.


    Stop throwing these damn GHOSTS at me that last one ran full tilt from behind us SCREAMING AND THEN I WAS SCREAMING TOO I AM NOT HAVING A GOOD TIME.

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    Far Cry 3 (360)    by   dkirschner

    Lots of fun so far, reminds me a lot of Assassin's Creed now. Lots of hunting, skinning, killing pirates. --------------------- Excellent game, great story, main characters, fun gameplay overall. Side quests mostly alright at best (but fun supply drops).
    most recent entry:   Sunday 17 March, 2013
    Finished the main story of Far Cry 3 yesterday. It was a trip (ha, get it?) I'll not spoil much since this came out relatively recently and many people haven't played it yet. Thoroughly enjoyable game. Excellent story, a bit weird/funny/over the top at times, but still really good. I never made it far into Far Cry 2 so I can't say how similar it might be, but for my comparative purposes imagine some assemblage of Just Cause 2 and Assassin's Creed (esp. Brotherhood). Besides the story, you go around liberating the island by securing enemy strongholds and disabling communications towers. You can also do Wanted Dead quests, Path of the Hunter quests, Supply Drop quests, and various other non-quest but just-if-you're-interested activities for no relative reward. There are also additional quests, which the game calls 'story quests' or something, but which are just quests where you have to go do some usually trivial task for some personality void NPC. Anyway, all this extra stuff is totally optional and I quit doing it once I began feeling like I wasn't getting anywhere in the game and these extra quests started feeling repetitive.

    These extra quests can get very dull, especially the 'story quest' quests. The mundane NPCs are really lifeless. They stand there, utter the same couple things aloud, repeat the same few conversations, and crucuially don't respond to you in the least. I was disappointed with this. Supposedly I'm their savior and they don't interact with me at all. Also, the game uses like 5 skins for NPCs. There were towns full of twins, triplets, sextuplets, octuplets...

    The world itself didn't feel too alive in large part because of this. Pirates, for their part, were either guarding their posts or driving maniacally down the road (for no purpose I ever saw), gleefully stopping to hunt you if they saw you. The animals on the island felt more real than the mundane people, and many of my favorite parts of the game involved hunting or just watching animals. You need to hunt animals because they're how you craft ammo pouches, rucksacks, syringe packs, etc. You either stumble upon them haphazardly in the wild or hunt them by looking for their icon on the map, which is their general zone of habitation, and go looking. You kill them and skin them, in gross detail, while your character expresses accurate sentiments like "Eeew," "Ugh, gross" and "Fuuuck." Many times I'd be walking somewhere and hear a predator roar, and I'd start looking around trying to find it, only to see some deer or something dart past me with a leopard in hot pursuit. The predator kill the prey. The prey run from the predators. It's very cool. One time I was hunting deer by a riverside and I killed a deer, which fell into the water. I ran up to the water's edge and BAM! A giant crocodile attacked me from the water. I jumped out of my seat...then killed and skinned it. That was awesome and made nature feel so vibrant, and after that was really when I began paying attention to the predators around me because it dawned on me that I wasn't the only hunter on the island. Anyway, most of the hunting I did just to make everything I could, and I did it relatively early in the game, after only a few main story missions, just to craft everything I could. But after that, there was no point in hunting and I didn't do it the entire rest of the game, except for the odd Path of the Hunter quest, which asked you to kill a special animal with a specific weapon. These were sometimes challenging (especially using the recurve bow) and usually granted materials to make the final [crafting item] in a set, like the wallet that holds the most money or whatever, but ultimately hunting and crafting were over with too quickly. After that, I ignored all animals unless I could use them to kill enemies.

    I wish some of the other activity types rewarded you instead of just gave you a high score, like the racing. I would have liked to race, if there were some reward to gain. But there wasn't, and there were rewards for tons of other things, so why bother? One activity was called Trials of the Rakyat, and was the part of the game where they forced multiplayer into your experience. Walking around the island sometimes, I'd see a bright red rock with something like [XxPWNYOUxX], who held the high score for that particular Trial. Nothing like that to break the fantasy. I played a couple to see what they were, and you just try and kill as many enemies as possible with the weapons provided. Fun, but just leaderboard type stuff. And I guess everyone can see your dumb Xbox Live name plastered over rocks in their game.

    So the story, right, very interesting. You (rich white boy) and your friends get captured by pirates on this island. After an excellent opening scene, you escape and start on a journey to find and rescue your other friends. On the way, you meet a few important locals who help you out, one of whom gives you a tattoo, or "tatau," as the game insists, which has some mystical qualities and grows as you acquire skills and become a Rakyat warrior and champion of the Rakyat people. There are several levels to the story, and as I keep saying, it is quite good. You figure out later, once the game starts throwing Alice in Wonderland quotes at you, that your character has gone far down the rabbit hole, and doesn't want to come out. Your character goes through a transformation on the island, saying some pretty hilarious and typical rich white boy stuff about finding his purpose in life (which is, he now knows, to be on this island with the Rakyat, though I have no idea what he thinks he will do on the island once his friends leave and he kills all the pirates). For whatever reason, whether it's mystical and out of his power or because he wants to, I'm not entirely sure, he becomes somewhat power hungry and vengeful. This does make some sense since the pirates killed some of his friends and ruined his vacation, but the sense that it DOES make is made NONsensical by his clingy girlfriend who insists he is changing and keeps asking things like "What have you become?" and calls him on his cell phone in the middle of a mission to check in on him. SHE makes his transformation weirder by adding a relationship dynamic to it that, to me, was either overdramatic or unnecessary. Or both. Either way, I didn't like his girlfriend at all because I empathized with him. I wonder if people did like his girlfriend. I wonder if girls liked his girlfriend and empathized with her more while boys empathized with Jason. So yeah, the whole self-discovery/transformation thing was...interesting.

    Add to that the hallucinogenic staple of the story. The island is filled with drugs, and you take them a handful of times, often in relation to the Rakyat and becoming a warrior. ALL of these trippy scenes were amazing. I loved them. To me, they clouded what was really happening between him and the Rakyat leader, I forget her name. I think she may have been using him (especially based on the ending I got where she goes all Species on him), but I can't be sure. I think the drugs muddled his mind and caused him to make, or led him to, poor decisions, and to think of himself as invulnerable, or more of a hero than he was (and he was a hero). So maybe because of the Rakyat leader and the hallucinations, and the tribal tale he was told, he became a bit self-aggrandized. I do need to watch the other ending on YouTube, that reminds me...

    The main characters in the game are excellent, and I will remember them for a long time. The hippie doctor Earnhardt, the hilarious German/American spy, Vaas, oh man will I never forget Vaas, the Australian slaver...And the ending missions, wow, so wonderfully tense. You'll realized as you play the game that many characters die. The death near the end is one of the best deaths I've ever experienced in a game. I mean, not best as in I wanted it to happen, but unexpected, well-executed, fitting, etc. And speaking of deaths, I really like how Jason (your character) should have died about 5 times but didn't. I can imagine how pissed off Vaas was every time he thought he killed Jason but Jason came back. There were many, many, many authentic "holy shit!" moments. The action sequences also were excellent, from escaping burning buildings to getting free from being bound underwater.

    One final thing is that since the game takes place somewhere in the South Pacific near me in Singapore, there are several references to Singapore, and I noticed some Malay (again like Just Cause 2, which was full of it). For some reason though most of the NPCs sound Hispanic or Australian. I think they're supposed to be like Maori, but it only sort of worked on that front. Anyway, according to a character in the game, in Singapore it's illegal to buy or chew gum. False! For the record, anyone who tells you that is misinformed. You can bring gum for personal use, just not large amounts. You can chew it. No one cares if you chew gum. You can also buy it here at pharmacies. Just go to a pharmacy and say you want gum. Easy. I wish people would quit perpetuating Singapore as a place with such backward rules. There are some to be sure, as there are everywhere, but the whole "gum is illegal!" thing is plain wrong. This same NPC also calls Singaporeans "ricepickers." There's no rice picked here. I didn't particularly like that character because he was the ultra-American patriot, but definitely was irritated by the Singaporean stuff.

    So anyway, awesome game. Great fun. I'm going to hang on to it and probably go clear the rest of the outposts and disable communication arrays and whatnot before giving it back to J. Oh and also, multiplayer was fun. I did some team deathmatch.

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