No New Games

No New Games

Video games press is a tough business to stay on top of. New games are constantly releasing, and there are tons of websites and streamers covering those games immediately. I would love to buy every new game on day one and cover it, but I simply can’t afford to, nor do I have the time. Therefore, I’ve decided to let them have those games (unless there is one I feel I just can’t miss.) Instead, I will pick thru every clearance bin I see, and grab games I have never heard of (or have always wanted to play), as well as finally finishing up the games I already own. Some I will review, some I will stream, and some I will Live or Snap Look. We’ll see how I feel that moment. Please check back in, as I will be adding more as time goes on…

 

Very good game.  I recommend playing it with at least one other player at or around your level, though.  I started to get very frustrated playing by myself, so I opted to wait for reinforcements.  I would also like a few more options for customizing my character, as well, other than simple skins…and for God’s sake, shut that damn robot up.  The shooting feels really good, though, and the loot is addictive as hell.

 

 

Another really good game.  I’m a huge fan of Far Cry 3, and this is that on steroids.  The shooting feels good, and the environment is wonderful.  The main missions are captivating, as are the side quests.  I wish the skill trees were more inviting, though.  Overall, there were only a couple of skills that really enticed me.  That’s easily overlooked, though, as the gameplay is a ton of fun.  Those damned eagles are a menace, however.  They must be stopped.

 

No Man’s Sky Impressions and (Moderate) Coverage

No Man’s Sky Impressions and (Moderate) Coverage

*** I have been on vacation in the wilderness of the Show-Me state, and shall be for a spell.  No PS4, which means no No Man’s Sky for the duration, so please be patient, and definitely check back in a week or so. Until then, enjoy the random gameplay, and let me know what you think. ***

As you may have deduced from my No Man’s Sky Preview, I’m pretty damn excited for this game. I know the basics, I’m alone in a procedurally generated universe, and I need to make it to the center of the galaxy.  What I don’t know, is everything else. What will I see, and what creatures will I discover?  I’m about to find out, kiddos! Perhaps I’m hyped for nothing, and it’s not what I think it will be. Perhaps I’m right in the excitement…

*Possible spoilers ahead*

The first fifteen minutes recorded live:

After dying in a space battle yesterday, this Douglas Adams quote popped up:

Being as Douglas is my favorite author, I was naturally ecstatic to see this. But then, about an hour later,Voyageracross this beauty:

The Heart of Gold.  Zaphod must be near by…

I had no other option, than to name the planet, Magrathea.

 

Misc. gameplay footage. No commentary, just me playing the game.

I found a black hole!

…and then, the second before I reached the other side, the game crashed…yep…so I reloaded, and went through again.  Unfortunately, it didn’t record that footage for some reason.  However, I recorded some of where it took me, and I was able to snag some screen shots, too.

I’ve spent quite a few hours in NMS since it’s release, and, honestly, I’ve gotten a bit bored.  Regardless of others’ opinions, I do not blame Hello Games for this.  I blame myself, and my small attention span.  HG has provided me with a space sim worthy of boldly going.  However, it does get a bit repetitive.  Everything I wanted is there, aside from more diverse planets and systems.  Trading is simple and effective, if also repetitive (which is fine.  I don’t need a complex trade system. Easier the better.)  Crafting works very well, and there is a seemingly endless supply of new tech to build and upgrade.  My advice, just focus on what you need to propel your ship, and the rest can be had in any (so far) solar systems.  They all seem very similar, basically only changing the colors of the environments.  Although, on different accounts, I did see rather unique changes in wildlife and vegetation.  I have NOT made it to the center of the galaxy, nor have I solved the Atlas mystery.  I have been distracted by other external stimuli, as it were, and shifted my focus from Sci-Fi to Horror.  The space travel is fun, though, and I do intend to finish the game.  Hopefully before Halloween, as it is drawing near.

*UPDATE*

For the love of everything holy, upgrade your hyper drive. Before my upgrade,  I could only go as far as the next system in a warp jump.  This method takes a loooooong time if you are trying to reach the center, or are following the Atlas storyline. After the upgrade to only the Warp Reactor Sigma, I was able to jump the entire way to the next Atlas Interface…seen below. 

Also, just for kicks:

Following the Atlas path, and not currently heading toward the center of the galaxy, I have been to a system already discovered by another player. It was an odd feeling, I won’t lie. 

Also, being as I’ve decided to play as Tom Paris of Voyager separated from the ship with the Delta Flyer, I’ve had to consider the fact that Tom’s brainwashed. He should be heading toward the center, and back to Voyager.  Perhaps, however, he smelled a rat, and went undercover to expose the possibly evil Atlas…Either way, it has to play out now. It’s the only way…
As always, stay tuned, kiddos…

No Man’s Sky Preview

No Man’s Sky Preview

Let’s say a starship appears above my head one night. The inhabitants offer me the chance to leave Earth forever, and explore the galaxy in search of adventure and knowledge.  I say, “Hell yes.”  I then grab my family, and embark on my dream journey…Sounds good, and all, but that’s not going to happen.  What IS going to happen, is No Man’s Sky for the PS4 and PC.

No Man’s Sky may provide me with a hint of my dream, and I’ll damn sure take it.  Brought to us by Hello Games, NMS is a procedurally generated space adventure/exploration/survival game set in an infinite galaxy, where every planet, sun, animal and star can be visited and observed.  You are alone, and must collect items and materials to trade, in hopes of upgrading your ship and suit enough to survive.  One might ask, “Survive against what?” I may answer, “Who the hell knows.”  According to Hello Games, “Every creature, geological formation, plant and spaceship is unique.”  What are we going to find out there?  I don’t know, and right now, I’m having trouble containing myself…

Your mission is get to the center of the galaxy…MY mission is to pretend I’m Tom Paris of Star Trek: Voyager.  Apparently, while checking the Delta Flyer’s boosters just outside of range of Voyager’s tractor beam, Paris accidentally flew into a wormhole, sending him to the outer rings of the galaxy.  Now he must get back to Janeway…I believe I could also follow the story provided.  Perhaps they’ll mesh together…we shall see on August ni-..er…tenth!..when I actually get my hands on a copy. Until then, kiddos, enjoy some sweet screenshots, and a linked video or two!

P. S. The soundtrack, provided by 65daysofstatic, is damn good.

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Tune back in, as I’m sure I’ll have some more thoughts & rambles about this game.

For more information, please visit the official No Man’s Sky website here, as well as Hello Games here.

 

Vacation Days (Day 3)

The day started pretty nicely again.

Saw Sabretooth in Marshall, MO.  I’m still on the lookout for Logan.  I hope he didn’t catch my scent…I’ll never shake that big bastard.

On the way home, we stopped by the wreckage site of the Steamboat Malta, which sank at the bend of the MO river in 1841 (hence the name, Malta Bend, MO) right around mile marker 275.

A documentary is apparently being filmed there, so watch for Rob and I hanging around in the back ground…we may just show up…

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(Photos courtesy of Robin Kalthoff)

Then I got to say goodbye to the fluff ball Skippy on her way to her new home.

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Tonight, I plan on catching up with some more friends and family, as we indulge in a feast of shrimp and beer.  I can’t think of a better Friday night, personally.

Later on…

Well, that was damn fun.  Ate, drank, told stories, and caught up with family and friends.  Good time.  I woke to a somewhat winning hand for a remarkably winning night.

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Stay tuned for more updates, kiddos…same Cold Castle time, same Cold Castle channel.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Enhanced Edition)

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Enhanced Edition)

With the upcoming release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on my mind, it seemed like an appropriate time to strap on the steel and silver swords and wander into the wilderness with CD Projekt Red’s, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Enhanced Edition) for the Xbox 360.  I was completely new to this series, as I’d been given a copy of the original Witcher for PC, but was unable to play it, due to outdated hardware.  Thankfully, prior story knowledge is not dire, because plot tidbits are explained and filled in as the story progresses.

You assume the role of expert monster hunter/slayer and witcher, Geralt of Rivia, the protagonist of the series.  At the beginning of the game, Geralt is imprisoned for, and charged with, the death of a king.  After a somewhat lengthy tutorial in the form of a prologue/castle storming/battle sequence explaining the happenings of the assassination, and why our hero was found alone over the corpse of the beloved king, he is set free to prove his innocence, regain his lost memory, and kill the correct kingslayer before more dastardly goings-ons can commence. The remainder of the game is spent exploring, fetching, and fighting through three different settings in the world.  As you progress through the story missions, you begin to remember pieces of past events through flashbacks.  While adventuring and investigating, Geralt will have countless interactions with various NPCs in the world.  Different dialogue choices you make can alter how the story plays out, how much information Geralt receives, and who Geralt can take to bed, resulting in one of MANY very mature love scenes, featuring a plethora of polygonal naked prostitutes.

The controls for the 2nd installment in the series worked correctly approximately seventy percent of the time. The remaining thirty percent just made me laugh. There weren’t enough control bugs to make me throw down my gamepad and quit, but there were enough to cause me to die a horrible death at the hands of a Nekker or two on a couple of occasions, forcing me to restart from a previous save file.  The general functionality of the controls made sense overall, but they were a bit clunky for my liking.  Roll to dodge was my best friend in battle, but I found myself tumbling right back into the hands of the enemy on more than one occasion.  There was a slight delay after hitting the designated buttons during combat, as well.  This, coupled with rolling back prematurely, left Geralt more than bruised a few times.  What helped me a great deal in battle, were the skills I received via experience points that are used to upgrade one of four different skill trees.  Points (talents) can be put into magic (signs), alchemy, swordsmanship, or the more general and generic “Training.”  Geralt uses five signs: Axii (mental control over a person), Aard (force push), Igni (fireball), Quen (magic shield), and Yrden (rune traps to immobilize enemies). Through the trees, Geralt can upgrade these signs, as well as his vitality (health), vigor (mana pool), and sword play to ultimately up his game to staggering degrees.

The in-game graphics are quite impressive for the 360, when they finally come into focus.  I had to wait far too long, far too many times for my surroundings to render, or for an NPC’s armor to come into view, showcasing the tiny details of battle-born dents and scratches.  As I said, those details are impressive, but that loses luster after you’ve waited twenty seconds for them to appear.

One of several camps inhabited in a beautiful world.

 

Cut scenes, also, look brilliant when they load properly.  During the prologue, especially, as a scene was building intensity, it would cut to a cinematic, just to have that momentum stopped by a loading screen mid-sentence.  There were some different cinematics, however, that resembled hand-drawn animation, which depicted Geralt’s past.  These were carried out flawlessly, and with a touch of beauty (I’m a sucker for hand-drawn animation).  One of my favorite visual aspects of W2was the lighting in various scenarios throughout the game.  Whether you’re standing by a campfire at midnight, running around a village at nine A. M., or winding through a dungeon maze, the lighting (or lack thereof, in some cases) is always perfectly shaded and shadowed against the changing backdrops.  This lends itself quite perfectly to the X Factor category on this occasion.

The sounds of the game were more hit than miss, mostly. Sure, the NPC’s chime-ins get a bit repetitive after you’ve cruised by them two or three times on a fetch quest, and the howls in the forest never produced an actual wolf; however, the remaining ambient noises, the crackling of fire as I passed a torch, and the clang of metal during combat more than made up for that.  If nothing else, the light, happy music during the dice poker game was enough to make me want to learn the lute.

The acting was decent, save a few missed inflections.  The editing was mostly bad, however, leaving more than a few jokes to fall to their tragically unfunny deaths.  For example, a character’s joke would rely completely on an interruption by another conversing character, but when edited together poorly, it results in too much space between character’s sentences, leaving me wondering why they just didn’t say the word.

There are a few things that work really well in W2, and a few things that don’t (we’ll start with the bad, and end with the good.)  As previously stated, the visual rendering delay can be a bit of an annoyance, but it was most definitely not something to stop playing because of.  Nor was the A. I.’s idiocy (CONSTANTLY running into walls, running circles in place, or taking an awkward amount of time to answer a question), unless you’re easily agitated.  What almost caused me to turn the game off and go outside, however, were the constant glitches. On one occasion, in order to progress the main story along, I was to fight a particular character and his goons, then gather his belongings. The goons proved to be a decent challenge, but the mini boss just stood there.  He would neither take, nor execute any damage, causing me to restart my game, once again, from a previous save file (I recommend you save often.)  In another instance, Geralt was having a much needed confab with an NPC concerning the ongoing story, when the audio completely cut out.  Had I not had subtitles on, I would have been completely clueless as to my next destination.  Another glitch, which happened about seventy-five percent of the way through the game, would have definitely caused me to quit, had I not been completely invested in the story.  I was fighting a group of Endregas (spider-kind), and rolled prematurely back into the fight, allowing the beast to swipe a couple of times, taking the rest of my health away.  I should have died, but I didn’t.  I was granted access to the rest of the battle, taking no more damage, but also regenerating no more vigor.  I even tested this new found invincibility, only to discover that I was, indeed, impervious to damage.  I button-mashed my way through the rest of the game (restarting from various saves, just to be sure), without dying another time.  Absurd. Absolutely absurd.  If you like that sort of thing, by all means, exploit away, but it definitely cheapened the game more for me.

Fist fighting, although just quick-time events, proved to be an addicting departure from normal gameplay.

 

What did work well for me, aside from the decent graphics and lighting, were little details. These included the previously mentioned dents and scratches on the armor in the game, as well as fun minigames (dice poker, arm wrestling, and fist fighting).  The minigames provide a relief from hunting the kingslayer, and allow you to earn a (very) little amount of extra coin on the side.  What stood out to me, also, was the main menu screen.  As I progressed through the game, the menu background would change accordingly, reflecting a somewhat lively scene from the setting Geralt was currently inhabiting. The use of signs and swordplay (before the invincibility glitch) was also very satisfying once I figured out the proper strategies needed for each specific scenario.

Dice Poker was a fun way to pass time and build Geralt’s reputation around camp.

 

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Enhanced Edition) for the Xbox 360 is an engaging Action-RPG with an interesting story, fun gameplay, and fantastic visuals (when rendered) that had me hooked until the end.  A few glitches here and there were a slight annoyance, but not enough to turn me off of a very good game at its core.  With different ways to level your character, and various dialogue choices to alter given information and relationships, I will be questing to find the kingslayer at least two more times, and taking different paths each time.

Batman: Arkham Knight

Batman: Arkham Knight

I held off getting a current gen system until I was certain there would be enough games to keep me busy and entertained.  With the release of The Witcher 3 and Batman, that time came.  I finally decided to go for it. I put all of my chickens in one basket, and took them down to the local game store.  Turns out they don’t take chickens, or baskets, so I had to bring my poultry back home and conjure up adequate currency.  Once I ascertained the console (thanks, Amy) Batman: Arkham Knight proceeded to envelope the remainder of the month, along with some of the next.

As with the rest of the “Arkham” games, the graphics and acting are top notch.  The writing could have been better in some aspects, but overall, pretty good, as well.  What I didn’t like, storywise, seemed to work just fine for other people, so I’m probably just picky.  However, I will not go into specifics, to avoid spoilers for those of you who haven’t played it.

 

What didn’t work for me is a very short list, comprised mainly of the combat, as it seemed a little chunkier than the previous games.  It still worked fine, but it seemed to take a bit more to get a good flow.  Perhaps it was the use of a new controller in my hands (although, the PS4 controller is the top of the market for me), but counters were troublesome throughout the duration of the game.  I also had issues when encountering thugs with shock sticks in a large group.  Regardless of when I pressed what button, I would usually just attack, instead of stunning or jumping over him.  This broke up the majority of my combos, resetting my meter.

One thing I thought was just silly and unnecessary, was the way that all of the good guys (Robin, Alfred, Oracle, Fox and even Batman) haphazardly threw around classified information, i . e. secret identities.  Throughout the game, Batman will communicate with his cohorts through a very large video screen projected from the arm of his suit.  He and they all assume that no one is around to see this, but there were several instances where Alfred and Lucious called him, “Master Bruce” and “Mr. Wayne” in front of five or six thugs hanging out by a light poll on a random street.  If any of them had been paying attention, it would have all been over.

 

My, “what did work for me” list is bit longer:

1) Gotham looks gorgeous. The shadows, the lights and the sounds all mesmerized me.

2) The Batmobile.  Not only does it look good, it drives well, too.  It handles like you would expect it to in Pursuit Mode, then maneuvers even better with incredible accuracy in Battle Mode.  Gotham is rather sizable, and although Batman’s gliding abilities are still there, having the Batmobile to cruise in takes travel time down considerably.

3) From time to time, you will meet and team up with various characters.  When you do, you can now swap between them, controlling the other character via a “dual takedown”.  This takedown is activated by an on-screen prompt, and utilizes both heroes in one brutal assault.  It flows nice, and works extremely well, generally taking out whatever thug you choose permanently.

4) The acting is, again, stellar.  Never did I wish for a better performance from any of the actors.

5) The levelling up process (skill points earned are once again spent in different skill trees, enhancing combat, the suit, the Batmobile, etc.) does not require hours of grinding, and can be mastered fairly quickly by simply doing all quests available.

6)  Lastly, the little things really caught my eye.  When driving in mud, said mud collects on the Batmobile as you create tire tracks behind you.  Batman’s suit progressively gets more tattered and beat up, the further the game goes.  In GCPD, holding cells are set aside for different gangs.  As you eliminate threats to Gotham by taking these thugs out, they will appear in the cells. Finally, the rain.  This blew my mind, and continues to do so.  The way it puddles on the street and runs down Batman’s cape and cowl is fantastic.  Perhaps it is my noobness concerning my recent PS4 purchase, but I’ve raved about the rain enough that my friends are no longer taking my calls.

 

Rocksteady’s lastest addition to the Arkham franchise, Batman: Arkham Knight is a great game for a Batman fan.  It follows and ends the story nicely, and produces some great gameplay (chunky combat aside) and visuals along the way.  The acting is wonderful, and the cast of characters is superb.  Whether you have been waiting for a game to warrant the purchase of a new system, or you are simply looking for a new game to buy, I highly recommend this title.