Saturday, 30 July 2011

Resident Evil The Umbrella Chronicles - Beginnings

I recently made the decision to get back into gaming on the Wii, now that I'm off the Xbox. Previously, I hadn't played my Wii in about 6 months, and even then it was only to play Bit.Trip Runner. I decided to start with one of my favourite kinds of games, the on-rails shooter genre. First on the list was Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, primarily because I love Resi and never got round to playing it.

TUC basically gives a rundown of the story of the first 3 games (and Zero), in the form of fast, quick, arcadey action. Which is great - I have difficulty playing the old ones because I'm a giant pussy and am constantly convinced that I'm not playing efficiently enough and I'll come across an enemy I can't beat because I didn't conserve enough ammo. So when I get round to PS1, playing 2 & 3 is going to be so fun.

I'm having quite a lot of fun so far. I've now fully upgraded my submachine gun so very little stands in my way. This may be because I'm playing on Easy; I thought I'd go through it on the easiest difficulty and upgrade my guns to have a fairer time on the harder ones.

However, I am being reminded why I sort of lost interest in RE after 3. The monsters they introduced afterwards in their effort to streamline play and make it more of an action game ruin a lot of what I thought was great about the story way back when. It started with the leeches in Zero; and the Los Plagos or whatever it was called was the icing on the cake. When it was no longer about viruses and Umbrella's desire to control, and instead about alien parasites and Wesker's desire to pwn all, it just seemed kind of fake and like a completely different series.

Having said that, Wesker is one of my favourite villains of all time, mainly because he's such a condescending prick.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

:B: - Dungeon Siege III

I've been procrastinating on writing a post for Dungeon Siege III because it's a bit of a controversial game. Developed by Obsidan, a studio well-known for creating buggy but great games, it's come under heavy fire for being the latest victim of a phenomenon called 'consolitis'. Consolitis is when a game is dumbed down so it plays better on a console.

The original two Dungeon Siege games were a type of game called a Diablo-clone. These games are defined by a lot of clicking and a lot of inventory management. So how has the third fared? The inventory management has been simplified a lot - instead of inventory tetris, there are just loot types for the various equipments that the characters can equip. And as for the clicking? Instead, there's a complex battling system. You have two stances, each with three skills, and the ability to dodge and block. It can get quite harried at times as you try to survive; beats holding the left mouse button down and occasionally pressing a hotkey to cast a spell. (Note: I am actually a huge fan of Diablo and it's clones and sequels. You just have to be in a specific mood to get the most out of them.)

I was quite enjoying Dungeon Siege III, even with the poor voice acting and linearity. But I'm playing on the easiest difficulty, and I've managed to lose almost two hours of play through the savepoints being just a little too far apart. The first time it happened I just powered through but after the second time I just couldn't bring myself to play through the same bit for the third time. Especially when you consider that the game is only about 8 or 9 hours long, so I've lost progress equivalent to a quarter of the game. I like it, but I just can't bring myself to play any more.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Tiny Tower: Tips and Tricks

Having now played Tiny Tower for almost 40 hours I have a pretty good handle on how everything works and how to oil the gears so everything runs smoother. Here's a few tips.

Gaining TowerBux:

There are many ways to get TowerBux without having to buy it.

  • Every time a Bitizen has a birthday. Every Bitizen has a different birthday so you'll get Bux throughout the year.
  • Every time you build a new floor.
  • You get one every time you put a Bitizen in their dream job.
  • Occasionally given when you use the elevator to take a Bitizen to the floor they want.
  • When finding a specific Bitizen for the blue task.
  • Sometimes when fully restocking a store.
Organising Your Tower:

Once you have more than 20 floors you will start to feel the strain of keeping your floors where they were built. Everything will be difficult to find, especially when searching for a specific Bitizen. It doesn't have to be like this.

It costs 1 TowerBux to move a floor. You should keep floors of the same type together to ease restocking and searching. You can also put all the residential floors at the bottom to make it easier to move Bitizens in.

About Your Bitizens:

You need free space in your Residential floors to move new Bitizens in. There are two ways you can do this. When Bitizens want to use the elevator, if they wish to go to a floor with a space in it, upon arrival they move in. You can also move them in by spending 1 TowerBux per Bitizen. Unless you have an urgent need for Bitizens to work in your shops, it's most effective if you only do this 3 times per floor, as that way you can earn back those Bux by putting a Bitizen in their dream job.

A great way to aid searching for Bitizens when you are tasked to is to color-coordinate. When you put someone into a job, change their clothes to the same color as the shop type. Food - green, Service - blue, etc. It only costs 1 gold! Bitizens are only ever at their job or at home, so you can pinpoint exactly where they could be right away.

An aside:

Don't be afraid to experiment! You can never run out of money permanently, as every day you get rent from your Bitizens, so you can spend as much as you like.

And finally, for all you looking for cheats:

As you probably know by now, the times for building new floor increase massively as you get further in the game. You can bypass this by changing the time settings on your iPhone/iPod/iPad. Just change it to a day or two ahead, open the game so the floor is built, then exit and change your time back. There are no negative effects to this for the game, except for if you use it too often the game might be less fun - and of course, you need to take into account whether changing the date might affect your other apps too.

Hopefully these tips will help make Tiny Tower more fun and less frustrating for you!

:B: - Final Fantasy IV

I've decided to call it a day with Final Fantasy IV. I have to admit, I began to like it again once it was clear I was almost finished. I got through the final dungeon without much difficulty (although I did give the bonus bosses a miss) but was dismayed to find out that I got absolutely pasted. This was at roughly 13 hours. I decided to level up.

I also went around and got a couple summons for Rydia, too, now that I was a higher level and completely breezed through Asura, Leviathon and Bahamut. It was almost fun! But after two hours, and gaining 10 levels I attempted Zeromus again.

And got smushed. Again.

I am not happy. I do not wish to grind out another 10 levels to maybe be able to scrape a win. It's a pretty cheap way to get longevity out of your game to make the final boss so much higher in difficulty than anything else. I know it's meant to be a challenge, but at level 53 I get destroyed within three turns. I think I even prefer how Final Fantasy X did it, with a final battle you can't even lose, and that was massively underwhelming.

It's a shame. If the ending hadn't been so grindy I would've happily beaten it and given it a 4/5, but as it is I can't happily give it above a 3/5. I wanted to beat this, I really did, but I can't forgive enforced level-grinding just before the end in a game I've breezed through up until that point.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Final Fantasy IV: Saying Goodbye to Suspension of Disbelief

I've been fighting with FF4 recently. I like the gameplay, mostly. I like the character interaction, mostly. But I'm having difficulty reconciling my like of those with my hate of annoying battles and the incredibly hackneyed story.

Right now, my guys are on the moon, Cecil just found out he's the son of a guy from the moon, and Golbez is being controlled by some moon dude so he can get the crystals and destroy the world. I'm not sure why he would even want to destroy the world. I've kind of stopped paying attention. How long is left? I'm not sure I can be bothered, to be honest.

The other half of my hate is annoying battles. I was in the Sealed Cave to retrieve it's crystal, and everywhere were doors. That turned into trap doors and that I had to battle. Which often summoned a powerful monster and skedaddled. My characters rarely came out of these battles with everyone alive, and there were about 20 of them in this damn cave.

It's a shame, because I was really enjoying it before everything my characters did turned out to be one step behind and failed at everything. I've been betrayed multiple times, several of my characters have sacrificed their lives to save the rest after we fucked up, and I just don't feel like I'm making any progress at all.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Gran Turismo

I'm a long-time fan of the Gran Turismo series, but primarily of the fourth one, as that's the only one I've played extensively, and only having played the second out of the others. I'm a big racing games fan, and there was always a wealth of things to do in them. I recently decided to play the first, hoping to play (if not beat) them in order.

Gran Turismo was released in 1997 after 5 years of development - which puts Gran Turismo 5's extended development into perspective. It was the first proper 'realistic' racing game for a home console and was highly rated and sold millions, and spawned the series we all know and love today. Going back to it has been quite strange, as not a lot changed in the years and sequels between 1 and 4.

As always, there's two modes, Arcade and Simulation, but honestly, who bothers with the arcade mode in GT? I didn't even bother going into the mode to check the options. Upon entering sim mode, it's pretty clear that the developers took an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" view of the menu. It's a set of icons placed on a rudimentary map, with a garage, an icon for the licences, races, a carwash (I never quite figured out why that was needed) and the various car manufacturers.

It quickly became evident that I'd need a license to do much of anything. There were cups (that all needed a license), special races (that needed a high license), time trials (that needed a good car) and practice tracks (which are the only thing you can race on without a license). So, I hied myself to the license tracks and set about getting me a B License.

Which was another "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". The license was almost exactly the same as the license from 4, except two shorter. I managed to get golds on almost all of them without breaking a sweat because I've done them so many times already. Most of the trials are exactly the same. Lazy or what?

With my shiny new license I had a nose around the cars and came out with a spunky little Audi. It's a little slidey, but it's adequate for the Sunday Cup. The races were standard Gran Turismo fare, go fast, try not to crash, stay out of the way of the AI because they will bash you off the road as if you weren't there. What annoyed me was that I didn't get enough cash to get a better car to do the second set of races. Sure, I needed a higher license than the one I have, but you don't get any money for doing them, so I'd need to do the Sunday Cup a few times over. Which is my pet hate about the Gran Turismo games. To do anything, you need to race the same few races over and over to get enough cash to get a car good enough for the next set of races. It's almost like they have no idea how to increase a game longevity. (Not that the games are lacking for things to do anyway!)

For now I'm enjoying it, but we'll see after I've gone through the first cup four times over. Still, I suppose real-life racing is about going around the same few tracks over and over, so perhaps it is the most 'real' simulation of the lot!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Final Fantasy IV - Glitcherrific

I've been playing Final Fantasy IV a bit more, and am getting on a bit with it. I've now been tasked with getting the Earth Crystal back from the Dark Elf, so that I can borrow (steal) it to get Rosa back. I've run into a bit of an issue. As far as I can tell, the first battle against him is unwinnable, as he does 9999 damage apiece. I confirmed this on the internets, and apparently Edward is supposed to appear and play some tune which lets you use metal.

Not so much. I got to him, was gobsmacked at the amount of damage he did, all my dudes died and I got booted back to the main menu. Is there something I'm missing here? Is there a trigger I haven't tripped? Help a gamer out here!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Fed Up

For a month or two now I've had nothing but frustration with my Xbox 360. It's been freezing, but the primary issue is that my gamertag keeps corrupting somehow, requiring a fresh download. Of course, for whatever reason, the 'recover gamertag' option doesn't work when I try to use it, on either my or my families' 360.

Today I had the final straw. I went to go play Fallout 3 on PC with Games for Windows Live, and it's corrupted there too. I can't recover it on the PC either, can't log into, and the Games for Windows Live installed on the PC won't open.

I am fucking done with this bloody console. I am fucking done with Games for Windows Live. 3 years of enjoying it more than any other gaming format, the frustration many others have had with it has finally become clear. Goodbye, Microsoft. You've lost my videogame money for good.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

:B: - Beat Hazard

I've been playing a lot of Beat Hazard in the past couple of days, ever since the ticket challenge for it went up. It was a good excuse to get back into the game.

It's one of those games where you 'play your music', this time based around a shoot-em-up (shmup for short). The difficulty of the level depends on the song you put in. Generally, a slow, lighter song will get you an easier level and a faster, harder song a more difficult one. It's quite fun to see the levels your songs produce and get ever-higher scores thanks to visual intensity (50% - 200%) and various difficulty levels (Easy, Normal, Hardcore, Insane and Suicidal). It does suffer a little from having no real way to compare scores for your song with other people - there are just leaderboards for song length. There's no real excuse for not having it; Audiosurf did, and that was the first 'play your music' game, as far as I'm aware.

Towards the end of my playing experience, I reached Elite, and decided that then would be a great time to grab the DLC, Beat Hazard Ultra, especially since it was still on sale. The DLC includes online co-op/competitive play, a boss rush mode, more types of enemies and super weapons. I have to say, I don't like the game as much with it. It's a lot more busy, in a bad way, as instead of focusing on dodging and firing at stuff, there's now enemies that require different tactics other than focusing your shot at them or bomb spamming. It breaks up the flow, and the levels don't feel as natural.

I've reached the max level and played it for more than 5 hours, so I'm chalking this one down as a :B:. It's got 4/5 stars, but I don't think I'll go back much, if ever. There are better shmups and what appeal the game had was broken for me by buying Ultra. It's a shame, because before then, I could have seen myself getting a :C: for it. Ah well, you live and learn.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Final Fantasy IV: Easiest level-grinding EVAR

I've been slowly chipping away at Final Fantasy IV on my busrides to work, and I'm still having fun. I'm up to the bit where Cecil has just become the world most flamboyant Paladin. At one point during the fight with Scarmiglione I accidentally mashed the select button and a most wonderful thing happened. My dudes went on 'Auto' mode, which means they fight by themselves and I don't have to mash 'X'.

While, admittedly, this wasn't any use for me during the boss battle, it was of great use after Cecil shed his Dark Knight trappings and became a sap. He starts off at level 1 as a Paladin, so wanted a bit of training up. I went to the bottom of the Mount of Ordeals, switched on Auto, and preceded to destroy a lot of zombies for fun and profit. He's now level 18, and I have all the best equipment sold in Mysidia.

I suspect this will come in handy a lot later when the difficulty ramps up and I have to grind out some levels. This is my least favourite part of JRPGs, having to take some time out to mash on weaker monsters so you can mash on the stronger monsters, so being able to press left and right occasionally to get into random battles and not have to press buttons repeatedly suits me perfectly. More level-based games should have this - well, ones in this genre anyway. I'm not sure it would suit Western or Strategy RPGs much, but the ability to just set and forget for linear turn-based RPGs is, to me, the holy grail.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Wipeout HD: Or How I Learned I Suck At Games

I got Wipeout HD during the 'Welcome Back' phase of PSN's reboot. I can't play it very often, as I don't have a PS3 at mine.

I spent a couple hours on it last night, and I am incredibly suprised at just how much I suck. Even on the Novice difficulty, with Pilot Assist on, I am having difficulty getting even Bronze on some levels. There's one track in particular that I can't get above sixth with any regularity. Is it just me, or is this game ultra hard?

Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely loving my time with the game so far (mostly; there have been moments of frustration). The racing is great, I love the time trials, and the music is awesome. I genuinely think this is a game probably everyone should play at least once - especially the zone levels. The zone levels are something special indeed. Your ship accelerates automatically and you have to survive for as long as possible. The joy in it though, is that it feels like you're in Tron.

It almost makes me a little sad to think that I didn't give any money to the developers for it - I'll have to buy the game new or something.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

A Setback

I've had a little bit of a setback as far as reducing the amount of unbeaten games goes. Namely, yet another Steam sale.

It's a summer sale, this time, another competition one, where you finish tasks to get competition entries. Also, this time, you get tickets which you redeem for levels and characters and vanity items for various games. I love stuff like this.

I've got three tickets so far, the community one, the facebook one, and the BIT.TRIP BEAT one. I picked up the levels for A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, something I'm downloading as I type this to try and get the ticket for that one.

Ah, every time I think I might be getting somewhere, this happens. At least I'm having fun!


A quick post here - I played some BIT.TRIP BEAT last night just before going to bed. I would say that it lives up to it's name when playing it sleep deprived. Utterly trippy. I'd recommend it to everyone precisely once.