I finished my Deadly Premonition Let's Play! Yep. You may remember from my excited blog that I started watching a particular DP LP just to get to know the game, and after weeks of watching someone talk to people, kill zombies and driving around town I have finally experienced the whole story.
My opinion in 10 words or less?
"Wow. Well that was certainly an endgame alright."
I'm not going to spoil anything here, but Deadly Premonition's final few hours are utterly brilliant. They're stupid in all the right ways, but pretty damn intriguing all at the same time. Not that I hated the rest of the game or anything, that was fascinating as well. But the endgame is where it's at.
What a weird game this is. What a wonderfully weird game.
Anyway, I'm going to be off now. My big-ass paper is going pretty well, I'm hoping I can finish it today, even! Off course, after that there's like four other papers to finish, but fortunately they're not nearly as long. Things are going according to schedule; maybe even a little ahead of it. I'm sure it will all work out.
Some great blogs have been written today, so check them out! Have some CAPS and some more music.
I've stepped into the dark side of Pokemon battles. A dark side known as Stealth Rocks.
Me and my friends pretty much battle with no restrictions on a flat level. I'll use Togekiss or Espeon and my friends will be using Weavile or something or another. But so many of my friends use Charizard that it's ridiculous. I know he just got a Mega Evolution this generation but goddamn, don't you remember that he's shaky in the tiers due to Stealth Rocks?
Of course, rocks haven't been nearly as prevalent this gen due to its low distribution. But that doesn't mean its not going to be used. After all, some Pokemon will continue t see OU usage based simply on their ability to use Rocks. I had so much trouble with Charizard these past few weeks that I decided to raise a unique Stealth Rocks lead. One that had a mix of pros and cons of other existing Rocks leads but had specific, unique pros that could guarantee they go up; Mamoswine with the newly buffed Oblivious ability.
After breeding a Smeargle that copied Stealth Rocks and Curse (Sure, why not?) with a Piloswine, I put him to use after another goddamn loss to my friend Wade, who boasts a Mega Charizard Y as one of his major threats. He also had a scarfed Gengar that was for revengekilling, as well as a goddamn Wobuffet as a second revengekiller. If you didn't know, Wobuffet belongs in Ubers for it's powerful revengekilling ability. With Shadow Tag, Pokemon can't retreat when its in play. It's then left up to mind games to either use Counter or Mirror Coat to throw double damage back at the attacker. And while Wobuffet has meager defenses, it has tons and tons of health. So much that when it can kill anything it sends double damage back at with a simple guess. I haven't even gotten to Charizard yet, who is a problem due to its Drought ability weakening water counters. Unless I can OHKO it, it will OHKO anything that faces it.
That's where Oblivious Mamoswine comes in. With bulky amounts of health and some investment in defense, he's guaranteed to survive anything to be a 2HKO as long as its not something like Surf from a special attack sweeper. This is where his strategy comes in. Its nearly impossible to kill Muriel (my Mamoswine) in one hit, so Stealth Rocks are all but guaranteed (forgiving goddamn crits). If my opponent tries their luck on a super effective hit though, Muriel is carrying Weakness Policy, which sharply raises both attacks so long as she survives. This is what it means to be a suicidelead: do your job then do as much damage as you can before inevitably going down. No switches and no saves for you.
But other Stealth Rocks users of similar bulks and prospect suffers from one problem: Taunt. Antileads are known to be fast Pokemon who outspeed their opponents and Taunt them, breaking their attempt to use Stealth Rocks as Taunt forces the target to straight up attack and block non-attacking moves. Normally available Kalos Pokemon like Golem and Gigalith has Sturdy to guarantee 2HKO survivals but lack the ability to get past fast Taunters. Muriel on the other hand trades the guarantee of a 2HKO survival for her ablity Oblivious. Normally Oblivious protects against the rare infatuation ailment, which has a 50% chance of freezing you in infatuation if your opponent somehow charms you. But in addition to immunity to infatuation, Oblivious has been buffed to include immunity to Taunt.
A lot of my friends now aren't prepared to rocks and my life ends up easier now that some of the biggest threats in the game lose 50% of their life just from switching in with Rocks present.
But I've been training even more Charizard counters since there are so many of them online. I can counter Blaziken with my Sticky Web set and that is ready to go. But its amazing how much better a Pokemon trained for battle will be compared to one you've raised through story mode. I had a Helioptile at level 62 that got through story and I raised a new one with its hidden ability that surpassed its stats at level 50! Not to mention this new one has Solar Power for a boost in sun. Pretty much, I'm making a sun team since I caught a Drought Ninetales and have a Houndour I can train to mega evolve (which also has Solar Power). All in all it works to use strong sun to its advantage, which is something a few of my friends will sometimes provide unintentionally.
I've raise a bunch of Volt Switchers, a Mega Venusaur, and even more. It's like Black and White all over again with tons of battle ready Pokemon being trained and ready for battle and yet I can't possibly battle all the opponents.
Geez, I need to write a blog about competitve lexicon. You think fighting games have lexicon? Do you even know what revengekiller even means?
XCOM's ambitious Enemy Within expansion pack might be the most fun I've had with a game all year. Yeah, I know we all get cynical about DLC and the trend towards "mission packs" and "extended-full-ultra-complete-editions" but this is the real deal. Firaxis has done what they call a "Firaxis style" expansion – meaning a game changing mega-pack that takes everything you knew and loved about the original, turned it inside out, and somehow made it better than ever.
(We'll have to forgive them for the entirely unnecessary Elite Soldier and SlingShot packs they released earlier this year that added a few vanity options for your troops and an extra mission for about $10 total – Firaxis style indeed.)
Enemy Within does everything right. It introduces new gameplay options that are meaningful and useful; without completely overshadowing previous classes and gear. It provides new content that fits directly into the game without feeling like shameless padding or a tact-on addition. And perhaps most impressively, it takes all us experienced XCOM vets and gets us out of our comfortable strategic ruts, forcing us to take on new missions, new strategies, and far more dangerous risks than we'd ever dared.
It's still [i[XCOM[/i], but with all the new options, enemies, and dangers, it feels like an entirely new experience.
I was going to go into more detail about the wealth of changes and how they all work together in beautiful Xeno-roasting harmony, but eventually I noticed I pretty much wrote a full review of the game! I think I would rather post that as a blog instead. What I would like to talk about here though is the idea of quality and expansions.
I really enjoyed Batman: Arkham Origins. But I think it was real lucky to hit my screen before Enemy Within.
Don't misunderstand me, Origins was a fine game. Fine. Good. Bland.
At the end of the day, it was more Batman – and it's hard to really be upset with that. I genuinely enjoyed my time swinging around the (deserted) streets of Gotham, beating up thugs, emotionally abusing Alfred, and fiddling about with gadgets. But when I really step back from it, when I compare what Origins did as a supposedly full on stand-alone release for the series, and what Enemy Within did as a modestly priced expansion, I can't help but hold it to some unfavourable comparisons.
While playing Arkham Origins, even an enthusiastic Bat-fan such as myself couldn't help but feel it was a bit of a rehash. While it's perfectly normal for a sequel to be iterative and lean heavily on previous titles gameplay mechanics and features, Origins goes beyond that, tripping into reshash territory.
Despite being set in the early days of Batman's career, where he is supposedly a rougher, tougher, and less savvy vigilante, the entire suite of Batman's gadgets and techniques are at your disposal – even when it doesn't make sense.
"Wasn't the crypto-sequencer newly designed by Batman in the (chronologically forward down the timeline) Arkham Asylum? Wasn't the grapnel accelerator a new thing in City? Wait, I have this remote claw zip-line thing? Where the hell was this when I was using the crummy dual grapnel in the previous game?" And on and on. Even the one "new" gadget, the glue grenade, is in every way functionally identical to the freeze grenade of the previous game - a pallet swap of the exact same code.
It isn't a big deal, and I can understand the gameplay reasons for making those concessions to the "lore" or "reality" of the series. But it feels like a missed opportunity. It feels like instead of getting creative and finding a way to convey a substantially different Batman, they took the easy route, did everything the same as before and TOLD us he was oh-so much more edgy and raw. Even the Riddler puzzles suffered for it, feeling less interesting this time out since you've used the same gadgets for three games now and have seen how most of the puzzle logic works.
When I look at how Enemy Within was able to slide in a busload of new equipment and options, how every piece fills a previously overlooked niche, or rises to meet a new challenge, I lose a little sympathy for the guys at Splash Damage. It feels like a failure of creativity, or an aversion to rocking the boat.
Large sections of the map are directly lifted from Arkham City. Okay fine, the game takes place in the same area, so I guess a little overlap is understandable. But as you explore the city and really get used to it, some of the shine comes off the apple.
Despite being a "new" game, Origins feels a little worn out around the edges. I spent upwards of 60 or more hours in City, and I got to know those neighbourhoods pretty damn well. Having to retread the Sionis Steel Mill, or the confusing double layered streets of the Bowery for the umpteenth freaking time in a isn't the most exciting idea in the world in the kindest of scenarios. But the frustration really sets in when you get familiar with the new areas in the game and slowly realize that they are are in every way smaller, less detailed, and of inferior quality to the areas plucked out of City. Grappling points that don't stick, enemies haphazardly posted on roof tops, invisible walls and inaccessible areas, ect. You start to notice how these places were grafted onto the existing map and the limitations they faced stitching it all together.
It might be unfair, I really don't know how the game was made or what it took, but it feels cheap. Like the devs took a shortcut and hoped you wouldn't notice. On one hand, I can understand and sympathize with the time constraints and pressure they were under. On the other, I REALLY hate that fucking steel mill.
Compare that to the 40+ new maps of Enemy Within, all of which represent a refinement of the XCOM design strategically, and many that raise the bar as surprisingly good looking set-pieces. I know Firaxis had a LOT less work to do on their simple top down, grid based maps than the guys at Splash Damage did rendering a functional 3D representation of Gotham, and I don't want to knock their efforts. For whatever else you can say about Origins, Gotham is stunning – the perfect mix of the Tim Burton movies and animated series. What I bemoan though, with the benefit of Enemy Within's clarity, is the failure to innovate on the design of the game. Gotham looks great, but feels like "more Gotham", whereas Enemy Within's maps often put the screw to the player in new and interesting ways. Firaxis took the opportunity in their expansion to really open up the game and experiment, Splash Damage took the same old formula and called it a new game.
The solution to spice up combat in Origins was to just add more of it. More fights per minute than Asylum or City, more hapless thugs per fight, more weapons and gimmick enemies in every brawl. It was like they took a spreadsheet from City that measured everything combat related and just added bigger numbers in every column. And hey, that isn't an entirely bad thing. I really enjoy the combat in the Arkham series, and who could really say no to watching Batman snap more legs and wrists?
But then I look at how Enemy Within, with a few well thought out additions and a subtle touch managed to completely turn your war against the aliens inside out, and it taints my Origins experience. Sure, kicking ass as Batman is great, and the Arkham games found a more fluid and natural way to make Batman feel and respond like a badass than I would have ever thought possible given previous efforts to put the Dark Knight in a videogame. But even when it's really great, does "more of the same" really justify a new game?
The more I think about the two, the more I feel like Origins is the one we should be calling an "expansion" and Enemy Within is the real "new" game. The evolutions on the design, the changes to the gameplay, and the sheer quality of the experience is so much more dynamic and meaningful in Enemy Within than Batman's latest adventure. A literal "expansion" of a game is so much better than a sequel that tastes like DLC.
I know I'm bagging on Origins a lot, and I feel like I have to reiterate that I did have a good time with it. Despite some heavy issues with cut & paste design, Origins does distinguish itself with a legitimately fun story and some excellent examinations and shout-outs to the Batman lore and mythos. If you're a big Batman nerd like me who enjoys all the comics, movies, animated series, and what have you, you'll still enjoy Origins just on the basis of its wonderful sampling from books like Dark Victory and The Killing Joke.
But after playing Enemy Within, I'm not sure a cool story is enough to justify Origins as anything more than an over glorified expansion.
(speaking of expansions – did anyone else notice the suspicious absence of Harvey Dent/Two-Face throughout the story? Outside of a news headline you could blow right over, he never makes any kind of appearance. I wouldn't be surprised if a few months from now we hear about Origins Two-Face DLC story a'la Harley's Revenge from City. You watch, I can see the future.)
Those familiar with my caps might know that I need a fill sometimes because my work requires I travel. Sure enough! I had to leave the night the night after the PS4 launch... for two weeks....
After making the obligatory "first world problem" joke. It's killing me that I have an unopened PS4 back at home waiting for me. Won't be able to play for another week and a half. I must admit, I am anxious as all hell to dive into Killzone and NBA2K14. But what makes me all the more anxious... is that infamous Blue Pulsing Light O' Pain and D3ath.
It would be some real shit to come home to a broken console. I know Sony will fix it, if the unlikely happens. I've simply gone through too many fuckin 360s to be comfortable.
Today marks the release of the Playstation 4! So who bought the new console already? I definitely plan on getting one, but not quite yet. I'll most likely wait a bit for more games to come out first. Regardless, exciting things are afoot and I can't wait to see where this new console generation takes us!
Can’t talk, utterly humongous paper on the legal evaluation of the law on protection of personal data. Due in approximately "way too soon".
I do want to take a moment to thank Andy Dixon again for promoting my blog last week. That was a very pleasant surprise, and I fucking love the header he made. I saved the everloving shit out of it. Once again, I was completely stunned how well a blog that just consists of “here are 10 awesome things” went over with everyone. We’re at 75 comments now (it’s such a weird feeling that one of my blogs has a “load more comments” button ) and there’s not a single negative one in there. I consider that a massive victory. So again, thanks to everyone.
Also, going back to that paper for a second: it turns out that listening to ridiculously hyperactive music while you’re writing a paper works surprisingly well. Who would’ve thought, right? So here ya go, have some CAPS and some DragonForce. (you didn’t think I was lying when I said that I went looking for DragonForce albums, did you?)
*Dives back into the pile of paperwork*
I know what you're about to ask, and the answer is no. No, I don't understand a word of it either.