I was gonna do more for this but well fuck it, let’s go, it’s not like anything else is coming out this year!
Gave up on Sonic Lost World around world 4. Not a bad game, but it lacks the… well, speed present in the last few Sonic games, along with some general control wonkiness. Shame since it looks really really good and runs at a smooth 60 FPS.
AssCreed 4 is actually pretty good, or at least so far. The Weaken/Board/Capture nature of the naval combat hasn’t gotten old, and I appreciate the lighter sense of adventure compared to 3 (I should note I actually really appreciated that 3 was basically a giant Fuck You to Founding Fathers romanticism to a degree that I certainly didn’t expect from a mainstream “triple-A” release, but it’s kind of joyless in the process).
I’m really cold on System Shock 2. I can appreciate its non-handholdy nature especially in the face of what a lot of modern FPSRPGs are like, but it’s borderline obtuse and even this early it feels very rigid in terms of what you “should” be doing with upgrades. I’ll grant that without it we may not have gotten Deus Ex, and it’s certainly forward-thinking in terms of design even by today’s standards, so much so that I feel like Bioshock would have benefitted from a better balance of its “harder” RPG elements and management rather than excising them altogether.
So having just finished Killer is Dead I have to say that A) we have this year’s answer to “El Shaddai: Rise of the Metatron”— a surrealist action game with a bizarre story and a damn solid combat engine and a really unusual (in a positive sense) art direction and B) this got raked over the coals by reviewers probably more than it should have been, because of course it was.
If we look at Suda’s arc as a game designer from Killer 7— a game with no traditional gameplay to speak of, but lauded for its pure weirdness— to this one, paying special attention to No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned and Lollipop Chainsaw, it’s the refinement of what he’s put into practice from those recent games with actual combat engines combined with K7’s bizarreness.
It’s a pure unadulterated Weird Japanese Game in the most arch sense of the term, combined with a gameplay framework that’s familiar and arguably not especially complex on the surface (because 1 button for attacks obviously = game for babbies), but feels tight and responsive and super fucking good and sometimes that’s more important than 20 different inputs.
Lollipop Chainsaw is one of my favorite Suda game engines, but I’ll be the first to admit that there’s just something about it from a control standpoint that feels… off, and KID fixes that with a responsive setup that feels appropriately weighty and gives really strong visual feedback for your ability to play it well. The dodge is a little different from most games of this nature in that you can’t really dodge through attacks and you have to dodge around them, but once you get it down it functions pretty accurately.
Bosses are also pretty nicely varied, though there is one especially annoying recurring one who shows up 3 times through the course of the game. The moment-to-moment gameplay is genuinely satisfying, and the extra missions (in addition to challenge scenarios that can be found in levels and attempted at any time from a hub on the world map) give plenty of opportunities to really dig into it. It feels in some ways like how I wanted No More Heroes to be— more of the solid action, less of the runaround.
The story… honestly even now I’m not completely sure what was going on or why— in the TBFP LP Pat brings up the “Once Upon A Time in Mexico” comparison, that it was in Robert Rodriguez’s words ‘a sequel to a movie I never made’, and this feels pretty accurate. But the truth is sometimes Video Games just ARE Weird, and seeing a game remember that while actually being engaging to play is a lot more refreshing than I expected it to be.
Really, considering how Story Is King in the Western school of modern game design thought, and how can you move the medium forward if you don’t CARE ABOUT YOUR STORY AND DELIVER A RICH EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE, it makes perfect sense why reviewers over here largely rejected it. Bad mechanics and iffy craftsmanship are negligible if you can pull heartstrings or say something ‘deep’ about the human condition (or if you can just give reviewers an inflated ego because they can “get” something that the brainless casual masses rejected), but if you just want to throw ridiculous cool shit in your game because you can, that’s perceived as “bad design” and a ‘failing’ on the game’s part. So yeah, I’m not going to pretend I completely “got it” or anything, but if you’re willing to accept that you’re in for some weird cool shit and you like Japan’s particular brand of weird cool shit you’ll probably enjoy it just fine.
Lastly, the Gigolo missions are kinda skeezy and not really complex or interesting, but they’re “optional” in that you aren’t ever required to do them, but completing them gives you access to the game’s other 3 subweapons, which are nice but not technically required. Part of me wondered though if maybe through the mechanics of them— engage in idle conversation with the lady in question (snippets of which conspicuously repeat) while glancing at her cleavage when she isn’t looking, then occasionally toss them gifts to win their favor— Suda was commenting on the robotic nature of in-game romance subquests. That might be giving him too much credit, but it certainly reminded me of my time with Dragon Age: Origins’ romances.
Or it could just be skeezy. Suda’s a weird dude.
But anyway if you wanna play a character-action game that’s all about it being a character-action game, Killer is Dead is worth your time. I rented this but now I’m seriously considering just going ahead and buying it, and I haven’t had that happen in a while and feel like that’s saying something.
On a lighter note, I made some trades and picked up Animal Crossing: New Leaf and SMT 4
I’m remembering why I enjoyed my time with the original gamecube game, and now that I’m older ironically I’m appreciating its laid-back tone and earnest happy cuteness more. I really need a slingshot for those damn balloon presents tho.
Also I thought tumblr would have prepared me for how fucking adorable Isabelle is and it DIDN’T and that’s saying something :D
I’m a little past the first Domain in SMT 4 and with a few solid Fusions under my belt I’m starting to enjoy it. So far Naraku is no Tartarus (which is a fucking GOOD THING, though I’m gonna be damn annoyed if there’s no shortcuts between levels that you can unlock or something, and while it commits P3’s cardinal sin of not being able to control party members and the encounter rate is fucking Pokemon-levels of absurd at times the battle system is solid and rewarding and I’m starting to bite on the story, so hopefully it maintains a good momentum.
I really hope there are more ladies than just Isabeau though, despite the fact that I’m liking her a lot already.
So a fit of curiosity gripped me and I checked out Revengeance’s sales numbers
…barely over a million copies
between two consoles
and this on top of Wonderful 101 apparently being a NO-STARTER in JAPAN.
I fucking can’t with this industry anymore.
Platinum, I have no idea how you’re still getting to make games because we have clearly not done enough to deserve them.
I want to play Killer is Dead but I’m waffling now on whether I actually want to pay for it. Honestly the fact that it’s Suda is pretty much the only reason I’m paying attention to it at all and with the exception of NMH1 and Lollipop Chainsaw he’s never been AMAZING.
Nostalgia kinda makes me want to check out Splinter Cell Blacklist though it looks really…. tired? And Sam Fisher without Michael Ironside is… well… kinda like a Metal Gear Solid game without David Hayter. Also I really preferred “Conviction’s” more stripped-down and brutal sensibility tied to an at least somewhat refreshing (for Tom Clancy, anyway) enemy, and going back to Scary Foreigners Want To Hurt ‘Mericuh feels like a step backwards.
I’m kind of interested in SMT4 but I’m really kinda ‘eh’ on SMT’s gameplay, so IDK. Now that I have a 3DS I may have to bite on Animal Crossing. I finally got a chance to play Mighty Switch Force! 2 though and that’s pretty much more excellence and also there’s babby-punting so hey cherry on top~
And while nothing in GTA5’s narrative looks remotely interesting to me still, having just seen the trailer for GTA Online…. uh… yeah I could actually kinda get behind it as what’s basically a gangster RPG (especially if this is the only way Rockstar is even going to entertain the concept of a female protagonist even if it’s technically a cheat). I dunno.
Also, Saints Row 4 is pretty radical and justifies its existence pretty well. And while I liked the little romances and how they’re available regardless of gender and such, I do kinda wish they’d gone a little farther and maybe given characters different contextual dialogue based on stuff like their Loyalty missions and such (in particular having Shaundi say absolutely nothing about hers was kind of lame). It was this close to basically giving me Mass Effect with way better and more interesting gameplay but didn’t stick the landing, though it’s quality all the same. Zinyak in particular is probably the best villain the series has ever had.
Part of me kinda wishes the nigh-invulnerability upgrades were still in here, since just running around causing havoc while giving no fucks after working all the way up to level 50 was something I enjoyed about SR3 but I kinda see why they nerfed that aspect more.
What’s the next gen of gaming good for when no one’s announced an open-world mecha game with space battles and massive scale and making your own hot-blooded pilot person and lightning-fast combat and fun character interactions and classic rivalries and punching other robots in the face so hard they fly a mile away and shatter skyscrapers like papier mache
Alright, game is finished.
For those looking for a quick assessment: It’s good, and definitely worth playing, though it took a little bit for the game to really win me over. Be warned that it isn’t super-long or in fact has a ton of extra stuff that would engender replayability (this is pretty much a Cinematic Action Game in the vein of “Bioshock Infinite” or the “Uncharteds” or even 2013 “Tomb Raider”, so Your Mileage May Vary and those without a lot of cash may want to wait until this goes on sale if you want to support the actual publishers and developers, or give it a rent and see what you think.
For a more detailed assessment, I direct you under the read more. I’m gonna keep this as spoiler-free as I can, but length is the issue here.
…I think I’m gonna have to give “Fuse” a proper shot.
Few were more butthurt than me after seeing it go from the “Overstrike” encapsulated in this trailer (goofy, colorful, super-science spies cut from the Lupin-cloth vs. Terminators with Insomniac’s propensity for wonderfully weird weapons? SO ON BOARD) to a more ‘grounded, serious' game in “Fuse”.
Because, y’know, when your game is built around a magical bizarre alien tech that basically lets you do whatever you need it to in the context of your game, ‘taking it seriously’ is the FIRST thing people want amirite
But it being a gender-balanced shooter team (in addition to the fact that unlike your Gears-knock-offs, you’re not automatically forced into playing certain characters based on being P1 or something— you can pick whatever character you want and switch between them based on their skillsets on the fly, so sis and I were free to tear it up as the ladies while the CPU did competently with the guys) helps considerably, and we had fun with the teamwork-facilitating/rewarding aspect of the gunplay, so why not.
I’m always gonna want more ridiculous than less outta my games, but I’ll happily support a shooter that doesn’t blow off splitscreen, doesn’t keep ladies from getting in on the mayhem, and isn’t a completely soulless ‘OSCAR MIKE NINER NINER’ military shooter.