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    battlefield1 (PC)    by   Oliverqinhao       (Jan 16th, 2019 at 01:51:11)

    I have played Battlefield 1 before but never played single-player campaign before. Before the gameplay, I heard Battlefield 1 get a good reputation on the single-player campaign. And it really shocks me. The very first level go though a lot of different areas. From the infantry to the air. The develop really trying hard to show us how cruel the war is. I really like the scene when infantry charging. No matter how good you are, you still will die to the bullets from nowhere. Just like the individual can't change the war. People are fragile in the war.

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    Oxenfree (PS4)    by   jp       (Jan 15th, 2019 at 21:52:44)

    Finished this over the weekend. The experience was weird and interesting in unexpected ways.

    First, it's been a while since it came out and I have vague memories of it being an indie darling and that it had a cool dialogue system. Other than that, I vaguely "remembered" that it involved animals in a village. Or something like that. Oh, and that the tone was sort of like a teen movie. Ha!

    There's an early scene in a cave that really knocked my socks off - because I realized that, well, I did not remember what the game was about at all. So, the "true" tone - it's a creepy mystery that's not Scooby Doo at all - was genuinely a surprise, and a fun one at that. I was mostly going - what the heck is going on! - which was fantastic. Especially as you try to make sense of eveything with scant clues...really scant. Weirdly, the clue part only opens up (becomes a possibility) once you're really close to the end - and then, you have to actively reject finishing the game to go hunt up all the collectibles, that give you clues and info as to what is really happening. I was a good little foot soldier here, and collected everything, but I'll admit that there's a significant chunk of time in which I felt totally confused but also felt like the game assumed I wasn't. Like it had told me some important info that I didn't understand.

    The conversation system is nifty in a UI sense, you basically have three options open represented as speech bubbles above the character's head and you then press the corresponding button on the controller to choose that one. I felt a bit rushed at times, the options disappear quite soon, and there isn't really much time to think about a lot of the things you may or may not want your character to say. This was a bit unsettling, but I thought it was neat that when you say something, you can interrupt whoever is talking at the time. It made the game feel more "real" in terms of the chit-chat, more like actual friends talk and less like a movie/game. However, it sometimes made it hard to follow stuff, especially when someone is talking and your options are disappearing. Do I finish hearing whatever is being said, or get a word in before the choice disappears and maybe miss out? So, interesting - but I felt like it needed a bit of tweaking for my personal tastes.

    The game was made by a really small team - so the usual stuff you'd like/want isn't there - the other characters really act like dumb puppets and seem to have no real contextual awareness - I'd pop open the radio to scan frequencies, and they'd continue acting the same as before.

    Apparently to get all the trophies you need to play it three times - play nice, mean, and quiet. I think it's REALLY interesting that the game still works even if you never speak a word (by choice, the character sometimes just says stuff). It seems like the designers admitting that - whatever, the dialogue doesn't really matter, sort of like they gave up and just let you listen to the story play out in the voices of other characters. On the other hand, I presume it works! And, this means that the game is fundamentally not broken since you always have the option to remain silent. This feels like a really strange conundrum to me, but I mostly lean towards "not liking" the trophy because it sorts of draws attention to the game's narrative choices not really mattering for much.

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    Thumper (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Jan 14th, 2019 at 00:07:16)

    Thumper is intense, a "rhythm violence" game, according to its creators. It's deceptively simple, and becomes brutally difficult. You guide a beetle-thing along a track, pressing X in sync with the music track to create additional rhythms and melodies. First, you're just pressing X when passing little squares of blue light, then you're pressing and holding X to go through obstacles, then you're pressing X and left/right on the analog stick to take sharp curves, etc. Each level has added something new (I'm on level 6 of 9).

    Each addition allows for greater musical complexity, but also feels like a punishment. In level 5, the game adds rings that encircle the track and force you to perfect a sequence or else it kills you with a laser. I'm sure I've died hundreds times in Thumper so far. The first point is the most interesting. Since every correct button press you make and obstacle you clear generates a sound, the better you do, and the more you can hear sub-rhythms and melodies. Skill reinforces skill. The more you learn what the full music track CAN sound like, the better able you are to time inputs to create the track that you're learning. It's neat, and I really like it.

    Each level has a ton of sub-levels, usually around 30, plus a few boss battles. The boss battles are awesome, and I feel like a master every time I beat one. They are made up of four sections, and you have to complete all four sections without dying. Each section loops until you get it right and pass on to the next one. The boss battles require you to learn the music and be flawless in your timing, sort of like those rings in level 5. You time the X press on yellow-green lights, and as you get more correct, new lights appear, sometimes new obstacles appear, and at the end of the sequence, you press on a large yellow light that injures the boss and moves you to the next sequence.

    Thumper's sound and visual style are trippy. The score is industrial electronic music, very rhythmic and repetitive. The visuals are nightmarish. Google screenshots or watch a video to see. The bosses are undulating symmetrical shapes and otherworldly creatures like this firey skull guy who keeps reappearing. It feels like a horror game, and I guess this is something they mean when they say rhythm violence. There's no (stated) story to speak of, and the game is starting to feel a little repetitive as the difficulty ramps up. I may be approaching a skill wall where the time I'll have to put it isn't worth the reward, but we'll see. I'm sure I would feel like a god if I managed to beat it.

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    Alien: Isolation (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Jan 9th, 2019 at 22:54:40)

    Just finished. This is a long game for its genre. Horror/Survival games usually don't last me 25 hours. I could have done it shorter (I recall texting while playing a fair amount), but I doubt it would have been any shorter than 20 hours. While I enjoyed all its content, it did begin to overstay its welcome. The worst thing about the length wasn't the eye-rolling Murphy's Law in action that kept extending the campaign, but that the longer the game went on, the less scary and intense it became. The longer the game went on, the more you realize that you spend the majority of your time slowly walking or crouch-walking from place to place, and when a xenomorph comes, you learn that you can just hide and wait for it to leave, then resume your walking. It becomes more of a nuisance than a threat.

    But the later-game leveling intensity aside, I thought the game was brilliantly done. It recreated the atmosphere of the original Alien film wonderfully. Very authentic. The story was excellent, telling of Amanda Ripley, Ellen Ripley's (Sigourney Weaver) daughter, traveling with a crew to collect the Nostromo's (Ellen Ripley's ship) flight recorder from a space station named Sevastopol, which is going to hell. Therein, Ripley learns of her mother's fate, gets double-crossed a lot, deals with hostile human survivors and androids whose controlling AI has been instructed by Weyland-Yutani to protect the alien, and, of course, there are xenomorphs.

    Another brilliant part of the game that received a lot of attention is the xenomorph AI. It really feels like you're being hunted, especially if you crank the difficulty up a notch. Turn it down, and the xenomorph doesn't seem all that smart, wandering around and rarely finding you. But on hard, it seems to sniff you out, takes longer to leave, and comes quicker at less sound. A lot of the game was a white-knuckle situation, silently pleading with the alien not to turn around and see me. When I was playing earlier on, I'd spend an hour cautiously trying to get from Point A to Point B and died a lot.

    The sound design added immensely to the alien's realism. You hear it stomping when near you, breathing and making its raspy growl. When it's in the vents above or around you, you hear it moving. You can press spacebar to pull out a motion tracker, which beeps and blips, showing you where any moving thing is...if it's close. But its beeps and blips will give your location away. Any time you make a loud noise, you want to have a plan to hide immediately thereafter. Want to shoot a human? Find a locker to hide in first, then kill him. Want to sprint? You better hope there's a hidey hole or that you're sprinting to a checkpoint, because the xenomorph will hear you and head your way. Need to trigger a generator, use the plasma torch to open a door, anything that makes noise? Here comes the xenomorph. It makes nearly everything a potential death trigger.

    The game has a rudimentary crafting system. Find components scattered here and there, and use them to make molotov cocktails, noise makers, EMP bombs, and so forth. I so rarely used any of these (mostly just to get the achievements for using them), and the component collection and crafting seemed like filler. I maxed out my inventory maybe halfway through the game, always had plenty of ammo, and was never at risk of running out of health kits. I'd still open up all the containers and check desks and stuff for ammo and to replenish components when I'd make a thing, but the crafting didn't add to the experience.

    That's all I've got off the top of my head now. Definitely worth playing if you like Alien or a good survival horror game.

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    Battlefield 1 (PS4)    by   jp       (Jan 6th, 2019 at 14:21:45)

    I've finished the campaign and played a fair amount of multiplayer both operations and "regular" maps/missions. I've really enjoyed it and I have lots of thoughts and feels about different aspects of its design and the overall experience. I'm not sure I'll be able to get them all down, but here goes.

    a. The campaign is structured as a collection of mini-campaigns (2-4 missions each) that take place in different parts of the world and feature different characters. I thought this was a clever way to cover, somewhat, the breadth of WWI in a way that makes sense without having to worry about whether or not everything fits together. It also allows different characters from different backgrounds and viewpoints. I found the campaign shockingly educational for me - not so much in the "content" but rather in illustrating how little I know of WWI in the pan-European sense. I basically was left with a bunch of questions and things I wanted to look into more deeply. For example - I have no idea what the role of Italy was in the war and I have the vague sense that the current modern Italian republic was a result of the war, but I don't know if that's true or not, nor any of the reasons/forces/actors/etc. that led to this. I always forget that WWI meant the end of the Ottoman Empire, but the role of the British in that has always been on my mental sidelines as it where. I watched Lawrence of Arabia a loooong time ago, but I kind of want to read and learn more about it now. The austrian-hungarian empire also ended thanks to WWI, and I had a hard time not getting them mixed up with the germans. They're not, and I suspect a lot of people confuse the two as well - especially since it was the germans that were the "main" force lined up against the french, english, and americans on the western front. People forget about all the other fronts (including Gallipolli), including myself - and playing this game just made me realize how much I'd like to start better separating WWI and WWII from each other in my mind and imagination. This is despite the campaign missions being incredibly over-the-top fictions. They were fun, and maybe the locations were real - but I'm pretty much sure everything else was made up. Which is fine!

    b. I had a lot of fun with the operations mode and it reminded me, in a good way, of the fun I had playing Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory back in the day (15 years ago now?). W:ET was, AFAIK, the first FPS game I ever played online that had distinct classes with special abilities - medics reviving and dropping med packs, engineers fixing things, support dropping ammo, etc. While I was initially turned off by the sheer amount of chaos and noise and speed - I decided to play a medic and just go for it. To slowly learn the maps, to learn how to play the class and so on. It was fun, and it really is the same game as before - but with lots of added wrinkles and sprinkles thrown in. Lots of fun and, as usual, the overall experience really depends on how lucky you are to get a team of randos that can play together. Eg. sticking together and chasing objectives, etc. The mode itself is also quite fun - the general rule is that offense needs to get objectives without losing too many respawns/lives and defenders must stop - but there's lots of different maps and such. I don't really see the point of the planes, and vehicles are fun to pilot, but not so fun to crew as gunners.

    c. Probably the biggest change since the W:ET days is the meta- RPG elements - the leveling up, unlocking new weapons, options, etc. I couldn't tell how much of a power-difference things are, early medic unlocks are definitely no-brainers, but I never really bothered with weapons and stuff. I suspect there is a benefit to later weapons, but I'm not good of a player to really take advantage of them. As for the crates? Wow, I really don't see the points (other than potential in-game benefits), so I'm surprised if they've been able to monetize these as much?

    d. The game opens in a UI wrapper that I thought was pretty interesting - it's basically a wrapper for other Battlefield games! Linking to Battlefield 4 and 5 - encouraging me to buy 5 for example. Presumably there's some sort of shared-across games profile? Is there a benefit to this for players? (overall stats?) I don't know - but I thought it was interesting from a marketing point of view. Weirdly, the game has a separate upgrade stream for the UI. So, when I first installed and updated the game I still had to update it again from inside the game - just for the UI.

    e. Respawing works such that you pick spots on the map to respawn from, sometimes this can be inside a vehicle! There are two kinds: hard points (new ones open up when you capture points) and soft points - which are respawning on a team mate. This option is interesting, if you have a teammate who is in a neat location (deep behind enemy lines) or at a spot that needs support. It's totally unrealistic, but I think makes for interesting gameplay decisions - assuming a team that's coordinated.

    f. I had a hard time identifying "war" in this game as significantly different from WWII, which was weird. The weaponry "felt" WWII, the tanks and such looked WWI, but felt WWII? Maybe it's just because everything was too fast?

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    Random

    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)    by   tbaugh

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Wednesday 13 February, 2008
    GAMEPLAY

    This time I was only able to take out two colossi. I was actually a bit nervous going in to find the first colossus as I had been told that it was strong and “not fearful.” Additionally, while trying to find the colossus, the atmosphere was very unsettling as I moved through thick fog and trod along steep cliffs to finally find the colossus. It was a giraffe looking one and to beat it, I had to hide in some underground tunnels and sneak up behind it as it peered into tunnel entrances. I did have to use GameFAQs for this colossus as it was pretty confusing as to what I had to do to beat the boss. Of course, that is what the game is all about. In the end, I killed the colossus quickly as I already knew what I had to do and it wasn’t really fun at all!

    The second colossus was difficult to find, almost frustratingly so. Until I finally found out where I had to go to progress to actually find the colossus. After finding the colossus, I was at a loss as to what to do and the hints didn’t really seem to help all that much. They weren’t that clear in this instance as they said to stand on a platform at surface level on the lake where the battle was set. But there were several different platforms and at first I was just confused. Eventually it was a pretty easy battle, not really warranting all the build up I had experienced.

    DESIGN

    I think the design of the game is great. The tone of the narrative and enemies being limited to only 16 in the game give it a great epic feel. This is aided by the game’s beautiful visuals, both in landscape and character/enemy design. Only having a handful of enemies in the game cuts out the meaningless hack and slash of games like Zelda, while making it seem like a much greater story unfolding, if not only because the enemies themselves are giants, but because the battles can take over a half an hour each.

    The simplicity of the game’s system of enemies is also reflected in its combat set up. Though the game is focused on fighting these giant creatures, you only really have 3 attacks (slash, stab, and using the bow). There are no combos or spells. This makes the battles focus less on staying alive and just defeating the boss to how specifically do you defeat the boss, making it almost like a puzzle. This is a pretty original concept and so far has been very successful in the game.

    [read this GameLog]

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