Category Archives: PC

Feature: E3 2015 Sunday Recap

The Nintendo World Championships and Bethesda start things off strong.

E3 may not technically begin until Tuesday, with most people calling Monday “Day 0,” but Sunday seemed to start off the celebration of all things gaming for this writer with Nintendo and Bethesda bringing some interesting guns to the start of the show.

Nintendo kicked things off with a 20 minute Smash Bros. presentation that saw 2 new fighters added: Roy from Fire Emblem and Ryu from Street Fighter. There was a leak that took the wind out of those announcements, but it didn’t make Ryu’s well-executed inclusion any less important for the Smash series. Also included in the announcement were new stages like Sakura Castle from Street Fighter II, a ton of new music, some new Mii Fighter costumes, and more. Overall it was a pretty packed 20 minutes with something you would have expected to be saved for Nintendo’s proper Digital Direct coming Tuesday. It kinda makes you wonder what they still have up their sleeve.

Then came the Nintendo World Championships 2015 event where 16 competitors played through a gauntlet of Nintendo games to be crowned the first Nintendo World Champion since 1990. Overall the event could have used some work, namely on the identifying who was who during the gameplay front, but the World Premiere of Blastball was interesting. In this new game, you’re in a futuristic looking mech that shoots around a giant death-ball, trying to get it into the opposing teams goal. It’s like Soccer (sorry, football) meets Metroid Prime in some really neat ways. It doesn’t look to be the biggest game of the show, but it’s always nice seeing something debut like that. But once Super Mario Maker was revealed, all the nitpicks and other surprises went down the drain. This was easily the best way to demo the game: have some of Nintendo’s finest create specifically tailored levels and have expert speedrunners try their hand at them. It made for a thrilling show filled with twists, laughs, and a whole lot of childish glee.

My favorite E3 moment thus far from the Super Mario Maker segment.

Bethesda came out for their first ever show, and overall I don’t think it was that great. Before you take the pitchforks to me, let me explain.

Doom was doing absolutely nothing for me. The atmosphere of the game just doesn’t strike any sort of a cord that I relate too, the visual design was all around unimpressive, and the action just seemed more exhausting than exhilarating. If it wasn’t for Snapback (or as I call it, Super Doomio Maker), a whole new style of modding tool for Doom, I would have passed the whole game off as “Just not for me” and moved on. At least that last bit got me excited.

I’m sorry, but Battlecry just looks awful. The visuals were drab, despite their attempt to inject color into it. The animations were janky as hell. And overall I just got the feeling that this was going to be some Team Fortress 2 meets a MOBA as produced by an independent team of 5 people kind of project, only it was being given it’s own studio by Bethesda. It just… Nope. Don’t think so.

Elder Scrolls Online is just not working for me on a conceptual level, so nothing there was interesting.

There was an announcement for Elder Scrolls: Legends. This is a new free-to-play trading card game that runs on PC and tablets and boasts a trailer that was almost identical to Blizzard’s original Hearthstone trailer. In fact, the whole project sounds like an attempt to cash in on the Hearthstone name, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve only got the funds to dedicate to one money-sucking card game.

Speaking of trying too hard to be Blizzard, Bethesda also announced “Bethesda.net,” a new service that will be your go-to source for “all things Bethesda.” Sounds exactly like Battle.net, the client that Blizzard uses to house all of it’s games. I’m always leery about having another dedicated publisher program on my computer, especially after Ubisoft’s ill-conceived uPlay initiative.

So, my saltiness on Doom not withstanding, that was a pretty bad press conference. That was until Fallout 4 happened. If anybody manages to beat that in-depth look at the insane features planned for that game, we’ll have one of the best E3’s in a long time. Total weapon and armor customization, building your own settlement piece by piece, an insane looking story, second-screen gimmicks. This game has it all, baby. The overall presentation was a bit bloated, but I came away from it feeling that I have a most anticipated game of E3 before the show technically even begins. We’ll see what else everybody is bringing, but man. Fallout fucking 4.

What did you think of the opening round of E3 information? Are you excited to see what everyone else has to offer, or did Fallout 4 give you everything you will ever need?

The Walking Dead – All That Remains

When people talk about a ‘hard-hitting, satisfying, choice-based story’, it’s always invariably about a AAA-Title; some game with a honking huge budget that features more bells and whistles than you can shake a stick at.  But at the end of the day, it’s the story that sticks with you that should matter.  Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 1 was certainly not  a triple-A title, but it was a story that stuck with you.  It had multiple varied characters, all of whom felt like actual flawed people trying to get by in a world ravaged by the zombie apocalypse.  Now, with The Walking Dead Season 2 beginning it’s run of episodic content, I eagerly dug into the first episode, “All That Remains.” I’ll be avoiding spoilers in this particular post; partially due to the newness of the game, but also because I feel you should experience the game itself.  After the cut, I’ll be going into some general impressions on it, but nothing story-specific. That’ll be  a later post!

Continue reading The Walking Dead – All That Remains

PC Review — The Walking Dead: 400 Days

The Walking Dead: 400 days is DLC for Telltale Games’ Season 1.  However, it ends up being more of a prequel of Season 2.  Told in five short segments, it’s setting up for the second season, which is coming later this year. In each segment, you control one of five survivors through a defining moment in their life after the zombie apocalypse, ranging from “as it’s happening” to “over a year later.”  One of the strongest assets of the first season is the fact you spent so much time with all those characters that you were strongly attached to them.  How does this carry over to a much-shorter session?

There certainly isn’t anything quite as heart rending or moving as Season 1, but for being incredibly brief they still had quite the impact. There was more than one time during the segments that I flinched alongside the characters, or I was completely shocked by the turn of events.  Despite being short, the segments are masterfully well done—I blew through the hour and a half of content in a single sitting, but mostly because I wanted to experience more.  They are were well-paced and interesting. As well, they were also extremely varied; no two stories were alike, but they were all varied and interesting.  At the end of it, I got the sense it was not so much about the stories they were telling, but more about setting up established character prologues for the next game. Also very important—the decisions you make in this batch of DLC will carry over to Season 2! This means we’re having some choice into how the characters are going into the sequel.  Ramifications from decisions in 1 weren’t massive in terms of game play, but they changed up the way characters reacted in a way that was brilliant and organic; characters became more bitter or taken with you in a gradual way that felt very human.

“But I have zombie fatigue!” you might (understandably) say. And that’s fair! Zombies have been done to undeath, but that’s not what I’m recommending this for. Its stories are amazing; characters are developed on par with some AAA blockbusters in any media.  In 20 minutes, I formed an attachment to several of these characters that I’m looking forward to seeing how Tell Tale is going to develop these in the future. The zombies just happen to be a hazard; there’s no thought to the ‘origin’ of them, or where they came from.

The Walking Dead is an adventure game, though there’s not a whole lot of adventuring seen in these short vignettes.  The controls remain the same; you point and click on things in the background to interact with them, and movement is done with WASD. It’s a responsive, if simple, control scheme. My only annoyance comes when there’s a camera and control angle disconnect. For example, when you’re walking down a road that veers off to the left a little, and you hold W to go forward, you’ll go straight forward, and not along the curvature of the road.  Considering it otherwise nails so many small atmospheric and story cues, when it happens, it’s fairly noticeable.  Technically, it’s fairly solid.  The graphics aren’t groundbreaking, but they’re stylistic and very efficient; I didn’t experience a hiccup on the PC version. They do their job well, without any sort of flash or fanfare.  The music and voice acting are top notch, though—nearly every reaction is believable, both graphically and voice-wise. The score highlights the scene in the game; while there are no catchy tracks, it serves its purpose as ambient or scene-setting sounds in a way that only helps accent the events going on.

So do yourself a favor, if you find yourself craving a well-crafted, moving narrative packaged as a game, pick up Season 1 and 400 Days. Or, if you’ve already worked through Season 1, pick up this DLC to whet your appetite until the second season is out.  Also, there’s nothing as heart-wrenching in this one, so you don’t have to worry about shedding tears openly while your manly friends are in the room.

I mean, I would never cry during a game. Open weeping? Definitely off the table.

Note: Details are pretty sparse in this post. As it’s a new release, I wanted to hold off on discussing too much of the characters and events until some time has passed. Same reason why there’s no pictures.

 

PC Review – Remember Me

Note: This is for the PC version of Remember Me

 Remember Me is the first game developed by DONTNOD entertainment. Originally, it had a hard time finding a publisher, as many of them were reluctant to pick up a game with a female protagonist that also didn’t fatally kill every enemy you come across. Capcom eventually picked it up, and published it to three platforms (PC, Xbox, and PS3).  I played it on the PC, with an Xbox controller, on the hardest difficulty.  I didn’t attempt it on the mouse and keyboard, but based on how it plays,  I can’t imagine it would be a fun experience.

One of it’s strongest attributes is it’s music.  The soundtrack, composed by Olivier Derivière, fits the world perfectly. It adapts itself to combat, changes it’s style based on what’s going on, and is tremendously unique in terms of what it offers.  I would strongly encourage at least giving the excerpts a brief listen, courtesy of the Soundcloud link below. The soundtrack itself is availible on Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon MP3 if you end up wanting to check out more.

Gameplay-wise, it has a lot of things in common with Arkham Asylum, where the emphasis is more on watching the rhythm of battle and reacting accordingly over mashing out a 46 button combo that you’ve committed to muscle memory. You only ever unlock 4 ‘combos’, all of which are pretty easy to remember and make sense, reinforcing a more simple, but effective, method of combat.  Where Remember Me adds it’s own sense of flair is the ‘pressen’ system.  You can adjust each strike to have one of four effects: damage, health restoration, Sensen cooldowns (more on that later!), and ‘chain’. Damage and health restoration are pretty self explanatory; the ‘chain’ ones simply take on the effect of whatever precedes it.   Sensen Cooldowns lower the countdown timer on your specialized abilities, which could be considered the ‘special’ moves.  Each one has a different effect–one allows you to openly freeform moves in a series of devastating strikes, another brainwashes a robot enemy to your cause before it self-destructs.  There’s more in there, and they definitely add a flair to the combat–they are prevalent enough so that you can use them freely, but not so common that they’re all you do.  It’s a simple system that’s pretty fun, though over a multiple-hour play session it starts to feel a -little- robotic. (I’m still riding the MGS Revengeance high, though, so I get withdrawals if I’m not bisecting a Metal Gear Ray in half.)

These are the specialized Sense Abilities you get. The game does a nifty slowdown mechanic to give you time to choose--but the combat doesn't stop!
These are the specialized Sense Abilities you get. The game does a nifty slowdown mechanic to give you time to choose–but the combat doesn’t stop!

Outside of combat, you have the typical Tomb Raider-esque platforming. Nillin, the protagonist, can climb, vault, and jump with the best of them.  The game’s sense of style is amazing here, too–you never feel lost, thanks to helpful HUD elements that show you all the safe spots to jump.  If you’ve ever jumped for a ledge in a game and missed just due to the fact it seemed like it should’ve been a safe haven, rest assured that doesn’t happen here.  And while you do have a sweet moveset for traversing the terrain, the game is unfortunately rather linear–there’s  a few branches where you can hunt down collectibles, but otherwise, it’s fairly straightforward.  Personally, that’s not a huge deal to me, but there were times where I wanted to go and explore Neo Paris in all it’s beauty.

Guys, this menu is gorgeous. Like seriously. So damn stylish -- and this is only the intro menu!
Guys, this menu is gorgeous. Like seriously. So damn stylish — and this is only the intro menu!

There was a few bugs here and there. Most often, a scripted event didn’t go off, leaving me without a ledge to jump to or elevator to ride.  These didn’t provide a major hurdle, as the game’s checkpointing is damn brilliant.  The feelings of “Oh shit, where was my last check point?”, so common with quite the number of games, didn’t occur here.  Other than that, the game ran smooth as silk, and I had no problems with the initial install.

In game UIs are really slick, and aside from your health/Sensen abilities, everything is rendered as something Nillin actually sees, thanks to her Sensen implant.
In game UIs are really slick, and aside from your health/Sensen abilities, everything is rendered as something Nillin actually sees, thanks to her Sensen implant.

Overall, Remember Me is a solid game.  There’s nothing that stands out, but the combat system has enough nooks and crannies to not feel completely redundant with other games. Where it shines is it’s art style and sense of self; it’s one of the few games where the world feels fully believable and fleshed out. The animations are top notch, too–Nillin gives a great sense of being wounded or confused or angry even when idle.  Ultimately, it’s something I think people should experience for at least the sights and sounds, and the gameplay isn’t something you’ll need to suffer through for getting from point A to B.

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