Sunday, 29 January 2012

:B: - PGR 4

Project Gotham Racing 4 is a really excellent racing game.

On the scale of simulation to arcade, it leans more towards arcade, but is still kind of in the middle. It's a 'realistic' racing game where you get points to unlock stuff by doing drifts, 360s, drafting your opponents, or doing tricks on your bike. It has weather, loads of tracks, loads of unlockables and lots of modes so you don't get bored just going round a track over and over again.

I think PGR 4 might be my favourite racing game ever, and I'd nominate it for best racing game ever.

I started a new game since the last time I played, 2 or 3 years ago, was on my old gamer profile so I don't have access to it any more. I had forgotten how much stuff there was to do in this game. I started the career, because that's the easiest way to earn Kudos, which unlocks things. I've been dilligently completing races, drift events, time trials and invitationals for a good 10 hours now and I've only just broken into the Master rank. I'm 17th, and am about 250 points away from being first. In any other game, this would only be a few races, but here, your rivals also get points for each race, so it's going to be a long time to get to the top, which I guess is accurate.

I've barely scraped the surface of the arcade mode, which has 108 medals in total, split roughly evenly between car and bike. Each medal has five ranks, for difficulty - Steel, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum - and Platinums are really, really hard to get. It'll be a very long road finishing this mode too.

Then there's the DLC packs, which added World Championship mode. There are three parts to World Championship mode - Arcade Challenge, DLC Challenge, and Platinum Plus. Arcade and DLC Challenge are pretty easy going, at least as far as Platinum Plus is concerned. Platinum Plus takes the difficulty of Platinum to a whole new level. I'm not sure I'll ever complete that mode.

All this and I haven't even touched on the online. I haven't played any of it, so I wouldn't know where to begin with telling you about it. It's really intimidating as the game has been out a very long time, so the only people left playing it will be experts. This is an open offer for anyone to add me to their friends list - I'm RequiredCosine - so we could play sometime. I just don't want to go it alone.

PGR 4 is so much fun, I'll probably continue playing this for a while.  5/5 stars.

New - Bioshock & PGR 4

Back in the mists of time, when my family got our first 360, I got two games, Bioshock and PGR 4.

Bioshock first got my attention with the original trailer, and it was one of the few games where it grabs my attention so badly that I go on a media blackout for that title, so I can go into the game totally blind. I don't regret it at all, my playthrough of Bioshock stands as one of my top three gaming experiences. I haven't played it since. It's now almost exactly four years since I finished it, and I think it's time to go back.

Project Gotham Racing 4 was the game that sold me on the 360. The console wasn't on my radar at all until I went into Gamestation in late November and saw it playing on the demo machine. I'm a huge fan of racing games so I toddled over and gave it a go and it felt so fantastic to play that, knowing I wouldn't be able to play until Christmas when we got our console, I bought it so I'd be able to play it right away. I traded it in long ago, but got cravings to go back.

I've been on a bit of a past games kick recently. I'm feeling the desire to reacquire my old 360 games to replay them. Forza 2, Crackdown, Prince of Persia... all games that I really enjoyed but got rid of to get newer and shinier games. I'm wondering whether to go crawling back.

(The only reason my past games kick only includes 360 games is that I still have all my old games for my other consoles!)

:B: - Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

I was determined today to check a game off as beaten. So I picked a game that would be simple and easy to plow hours into. That game is Puzzle Quest. I had not, however bet on how compulsive the game would be.

Puzzle Quest is a match-the-blocks game with an added helping of RPG elements. You go round the map, fight stuff by the match-the-blocks game, level up and that's pretty much the long and short of it. It's really simple and really, really hard to put down. I had no time put into this before this afternoon and yet here I am 8 hours later with 6 hours put into it.

I'm not really sure what to say. 4/5 stars, I guess.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Mass Effect 3 - AKA Fill Your House with Crap

Mass Effect 3 comes out March 6th.

When the original first came out, I wasn't really into it. I wasn't prepared for the combination of clunky shooting and lots of talking. I couldn't find my way around the Citadel, I couldn't figure out who to trust and who not to, and I definitely couldn't figure out why I should give a shit about saving everybody. I gave up at Noveria.

I tried again last year. This time, I heavily got into it. I did everything, saved everyone, and even bought all the DLC - on both games. I am extremely excited for the third one. Or at least, I was. I am one of those laughable people who like to have complete games. Not in the sense of mint box, manual and game, but more like, if there are features or content that are not on the disc (DLC or expansions, primarily) I have to get them, even if it's not one of my favourites. It just bothers me if I can't have/see it all: I have stalled on Skylanders, for example, because I am unable to find a fire Skylander anywhere and it seriously gets to me if I find a fire-only gate which I can't use, which invariably has cool stuff behind it.

Bioware is jumping on the nickle-and-dime DLC bandwagon. If you want all of the downloadable weapons and skins and such for multiplayer (and possibly singleplayer, I'm not entirely sure), you have to do as follows.
  • Pre-order the game: Free depending on store
  • Get the Collector's Edition: £69.99
  • Collect 8 figurines: ~£87
  • Pre-order the artbook: ~17
That's £173.99 to have a content-complete game at launch. AT LAUNCH. Yes, you get pretty figurines and artbooks and goodness knows what else that you'll look at once then put in a box in the attic, but it's more than a little ridiculous to ask me to buy so much stuff if I want to have a complete game from the getgo. I'm especially reticent because this is a mode I never wanted and never asked for, and I haven't yet seen a game that's had multiplayer shoehorned in which the singleplayer didn't suffer at least a little bit (disclaimer: I never quite got over Bioshock 2).

Here's my bet: the story mode in Mass Effect 3 will be significantly shorter than in 1 & 2 because the developers decided to make multiplayer and have that effect your in game efforts. There will also be an online pass so if I buy the game, my other half will have to spend twenty quid just to shoot reapers with other people. It's a bet I'll be devastated to win.

Monday, 23 January 2012

:B: - Burnout 3: Takedown

I have, for a long time, maintained that Burnout 3 is probably the greatest car game ever. I recently had the desire to go back to it as it's been a long time since I last played it, and I no longer had my save file.

This was probably a mistake.

When I was 15, Crash Mode was totally unlike anything else I'd ever played and I got so much pleasure out of causing as much damage as possible. Takedown mode too. 8 years later, however, and I get more fun out of racing and time trials. Sadly, this is Takedown's weak point as the PS2 just doesn't have enough power to clearly display upcoming obstactles and that, combined with absolutely vicious rubberbanding AI, makes for a frustrating experience.

I want to really, really like this game still, but I wish it was in high definition and on a console with more processing power. Give me Paradise's engine but with Takedown's structure. I'd buy it for full price, no doubt about it.  That would reconvince me of it's title as number 1, but for now I'm not even sure it's the best Burnout game. It makes me sad. 4/5 stars.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Skyrim - Regrets

I have many regrets in Skyrim.

I regret not going back to Labyrinthia to find Faendal's body after I realised he was dead after he had been my companion for half the game.

I regret not paying attention to where Shadowmere died so I could go back when he revived.

I regret killing Paarthurnax just to get the Blades to like me.

I regret marrying Vorstag instead of using him as a companion - now he's all 'my love' this and 'my love' that instead of being the guy who spurs me on.

I regret continuing the Companions questline. I got really upset when Jorrvaskr was invaded.

I regret continuing the Dark Brotherhood questline. I have never been so angry at a videogame character in my entire life - and I regret killing everyone and taking everything not nailed down out of said anger on the ship at the end of the quests.

I regret helping the Civil War effort. Now a lot of people are angry at me and several houses in Whiterun are inaccessible to me.

But mostly, I regret not playing it on the PC. I am unable to get the best house in the game, as I need to become Thane of Windhelm, and I can't do that until finishing Blood on the Ice, which won't trigger for me. If I were on PC, I'd be able to trigger the quest so I could complete it. I could also nudge along the other stuck quests I have - The White Phial, various misc quests, probably something else I'm forgetting.

If I were on PC, I would still have regrets, but at least they'd be because of things I did or did not do, and not because the game imposed them on me.

Monday, 16 January 2012

:B: - Resident Evil - Mercenaries 3D

I'm going to take a moment here and complain how it seems like virtually every 3DS game has 3D in the title. It's on the 3DS, and it has "has 3D effects" listed on the back, so you'd think it'd be superfluous. Out of my 6 3DS games, 4 have 3D in the title. I can almost forgive it for the 3D remakes of Ocarina of Time and Starfox 64, but Super Mario 3D Land and RE: Mercenaries 3D? It's pointless and it irritates the hell out of me.

Anyway, Resident Evil: Mercenaries. Mercenaries was my favourite bit of Resident Evil 4. I wasn't all that keen on the main game, it being a glorified escort mission once you were past the beginning, but mercenaries mode was flipping amazing. Score-based time-limited shooting with some of my favourite Resident Evil characters? Yes please. So I was really happy that they released a version of the mode without that crappy RE4 game included, and with a bunch more stuff.

It's really good. You start off with three levels, and one character. There are 6 sets of levels, increasing progressively in difficulty, 7 characters to unlock, an alternate costume for each character, skills to unlock to help in the levels, and medals to get in case you got bored with all the other stuff. To get to the later levels, you have to prove your skills in the final showdown of that set, and get a ranking of B or above. (The rankings go up to SS, as far as I can tell.)

I have been having a blast for the most part, except for two notable occasions. The first was realising that playing it on the bus gives me a most severe case of motion sickness. The second was getting to level 5-5, which after getting a B or above, the credits roll, you unlock Wesker, and the final set of levels, EX, appear.

I can't do it. I'm not even having difficulty staying alive, mostly, but you have to beat the boss within the strict time limit whilst also dealing with infected monks (that are tough mooks) and axe-wielding twatbags that totally wreck your shit if they hit. And I am getting so, so stressed out in trying to do it. I haven't had even remotely this much difficulty with the rest of the game. I did the level before it, 5-4, in one attempt. But I just. Can't. Do it. It's totally ridiculous.

And so, with a heavy heart, I give Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D a 4/5, instead of the 5/5 I was totally ready to give it before this level. I hear its easier in two-player mode, but I haven't even Street Passed a single person in carrying my 3DS everywhere, so that's not going to happen. I recommend it, but only if you want a challenge.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Skyrim - Never Make a Deal with a Daedra

I finished the last two Daedric quests the other night, Sanguine and Vaermina.

Sanguine took an age to trigger. You're challenged to a drinking contest in an inn by Sam Somethingorother. The issue is getting him to appear. He is random, and turns up in an inn you might visit by chance. This lead to me going back and forth between three inns about 20 times. Add on loading times? It took a long time indeed. It was simple enough once I'd found him, though. It was interesting enough, but there was a hell of a lot of back-and-forth.

Finally, there was Vaermina. Dawnstar are suffering from nightmares, you have to stop them. I've had this quest since the beginning, pretty much, but I didn't realise it was Daedric until looking in my guide. Long story short, I got my Skull of Corruption, waited for my 15 artifacts achievement to pop... and nothing.

I checked my list and yes, I missed one (Clavicus Vile), but that shouldn't have prevented me from getting it. But further research showed that the Skeleton Key does not in fact count as a Daedric artifact. I am SO annoyed. Clavicus Vile was the first Daedric quest I did approximately 80 hours previous, and the quest that allows you to get two (Hircine) was the next one, approximately 75 hours of play ago. Alright, it's just 30 meaningless Xbox points, but I was looking forward to Skyrim being my first 100% achievemented Xbox retail game.

Do I pick up an older character and get my artifacts on that one in hopes of getting it? I don't know. The wound is still too raw.

Moral of the story? Never trust a Daedra.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

New - Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights

I saw this in Grainger Games yesterday. It was a pretty good deal, and I was so surprised to see it was out, I snapped it up.

It's Professor Layton meets Pokemon meets Metal Gear meets Indiana Jones. It hasn't been getting great reviews, but I think that's because everyone expected it to be exactly like Professor Layton. It's got puzzles, yeah, but there's also sneaking past guards, collecting living treasures and battling said treasures in a JRPG-like interface. Add beautiful animated cutscenes and good voice-acting and you have a pretty great game.

Alright, I haven't played huge amounts, but I am really enjoying it so far. Don't listen to the haters.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Skryim - Daedric Wanderings in Dwemer Territory

I'm continuing with my demolishing of Daedric quests in Skyrim. Yesterday I finished Malacath and Peryite's quests.

Malacath's was really simple after I waited several days in an alchemists' store to buy some Troll Fat. Take the stuff to whatserface, go somewhere else, kill a bunch of giants. It's not a quest I'd recommend doing early on. At level 54 with great armour, loads of HP, and a fantastic mace, I can go tete a tete with a giant and take it out with four hits and 90% of my health left. You have to keep the orc leader alive around all these giants, which probably could get tricky but he never got close enough to a giant for me to test this theory. So you kill all the giants and go back to camp and BAM! End of quest. It was really rather abrupt.

Peryite's was a whole other barrel of fish. I spent ages looking for Vampire Dust because my trusty alchemist's store, three court mages and a different alchemist store all were suspiciously empty of Vampire Dust. I ended up looking up a vampire lair and killed one within 5 minutes. Then, on the quest I'm sent on... well, it was to a Dwemer Ruin. The enemies here were a piece of cake, but it took forever because Dwemer places are huge. I'm not as big a fan of the Dwemer as some people seem to be, and spending an hour and a half going through what's basically a linear dungeon with 5 transitions through doors got a little old. I was quite bored by the time I was halfway through. But I powered through and became yet another Daedra's Champion and got a shield I'll never use. Ho hum.

Next up is Sanguine, whose questline is supposedly phenomenally fun, so here's to that.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Skyrim - Thieves Guild, Hermaeus Mora and Boethiah

I had quite a lot of progress today. Getting the Thieves Guild's reputation up was quite simple when I figured out that I could turn down quests at places I'd already finished, so I saved a lot of time. It took me probably an hour and a half in total, and once that was done I was fully made Guildmaster and everyone loved me. But that's how these things go in The Elder Scrolls.

Next was finishing up Hermaeus Mora's quest. I was literally right at the end, all I had to do was take the blood back to the old guy, and take the book. The book, incidentally, is fucking awesome. When you read it, it asks you to pick from Warrior, Mage and Thief. I picked Mage, because that's the most annoying to get up, and all my magic skills went up by a rather large amount. I even went up a level!

I then went to do Boethiah's questline. I had to find some guy to sacrifice, so I went to the nearby city of Windhelm and hired some guy in the inn, and sacrificed him. Fights were had, and then I was sent to go have more fights (but stealthily). My reward for this was Ebony Mail. Which wasn't really worth it.

By this time my Light Armor was maxed, so I went and swapped my Dragonscale Armor for Dragonplate Armor (I am aware Daedric is better, but its so much more expensive and I won't be wearing it forever).

Finally, I popped over to Largashbur to start Malacath's quest. It glitched for me because the Orc that's meant to start the quest got killed by a giant, so I had to climb over the wall to talk to the next Orc, who didn't acknowledge the first was killed. She gave me a quest to find Troll Fat and a Daedric Heart, so I decided that was a good time to call it a night.

Fairly productive, really.

:B: - Super Mario 3D Land

I've been playing this a little bit over the past week and I have to say it's pretty thoroughly enjoyable. It's got a good mix of retro and new, and blends playstyles of the 2D and 3D Mario games seamlessly.

It does annoy me when there's parts that they've made just to show off the 3D effects of the 3DS though. I am unable to see 3D, so these parts are unnecessarily hard for me, and it's unpleasant that they've made certain parts of their game fairly inaccessable to people like me.

But other than that, I've been having fun. The game was a touch easy for most of it, but 8-8 tested my skills well enough. I defeated Bowser, rescued Peach, the credits rolled... and then it gave me a whole new set of levels. On the one hand, more game! Yeah! On the other hand, that's a rotten sneaky trick. Boo! But 5/5 stars, and I reckon I'll continue to play it on the bus.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Skryim - The Road to Completion

It's my aim this year to average at 1 completed game a month. And given it's the only thing I'm playing recently, pretty much, the first one is to be The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. I've made a list of goals I want to achieve to do so, and hope to complete them before January is out.

Finishing the list does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that I'll have seen everything there is to be seen in Skyrim, it just gives me a good point to say: 'yes, I can happily mark this off as :C:'. Otherwise the game would sit on my Backloggery as :B: forever.

Right now I'm working on bringing the Thieves Guild back to full power. It's a long, long road indeed.