“Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crispy, and go well with ketchup”
WARNING - LONGBLAWG, DAWG. Hold on to ya butts.
This playthrough has been a pretty cool one, for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I had a realization while fighting Humpty and Dumpty. As with most players, these are the two guys that give me the most amount of trouble. First, there are two enemies to keep track of in an arena, so you have to split your focus. Second, Brolaire [Brolaire: officially a word according to Google Docs] is absolutely no help. Third, the spot is an invasion hotspot, so you have to be human, fight off the knights, make it to a summon, summon them, pray for no invaders, then you have to actually, you know, kill Jay and Silent Bob. I was in a weird mood this playthrough though because I figured aw hell, I could take on Mario and Luigi without any summons, and without doing any leveling. And I decided to take a new strategy and tank them. It was during these fights (I think I won in the 4th round) that I realized that you have to fight the bosses in Dark Souls on their own pace. You have to be able to wait out certain moves in order to get the perfect time to strike, and the best fights against these bosses take the longest. I basically spent most of the first round luring Tweedle Dee into sitting in the middle of a me-and-Tweedle-Dum sandwich so that I could look up Ornstein’s skirt in the second.
In the DLC side of things, I had a few things to wrap up, but I wasn't quite sure where to start. I saw a shiny dangling on someone’s corpse on my way to the depths of hell, so I figured that would make a good place to stop. I have to say, the township enemies are significantly easier going backwards, as the sorcerer’s placements are much worse this way around. It was in this search for mcguffins that I discovered a chest laying on the ground, and I did what I do whenever I see a chest: Plunge my pubesword [google update: Pubesword. NOT a word] deep into its cavity in what can only be described as a severe case of avarice induced vagina dentata. Instinct did in fact prevail, and the mimic was done before he could even stand up. And he dropped....a key! Oh yeah! I remember that door! I realized I forgot to mention how I died at the end of day 1, mostly because it was in the most embarrassing way possible. See, after you fight Artorias there is a little balcony, and after that balcony there is a hole. This hole leads to a hallway that is clearly carpeted, the fall into which is about half the distance of much less lethal jumps. So after killing the Great Artorias of The Abyss, I killed myself by jumping into a hole in the ground. Clearly, exploration is not my forte. More importantly, this is right next to a locked door.
Uh, lets see. There's a pony down there. And your parents!
What could be inside this door? According to the graffiti left by some hoodlum on the ground, a boss. Welp. This should be fun. Another ladder, and I was introduced to...Hawkeye Gough. Gow? Go? Gock? Turns out it’s Go. Sweet! And he happens to have a big ass bow by him. Hey buddy, can I ask you a flava...? Turns out he is a merchant, but he sells the best item in the fipping game: a wooden thing that you throw and it says “hello” in Gough’s voice (which sounds like Andre the Giant in Princess Bride). It has infinite uses. And not, like, as an item, but in the game. Troll darkwraiths! Introduce yourself to bosses! Project your voice down pits! It is my goal to introduce myself to the remaining 6 (I think) bosses left in my world! Well, now that I have met Vincent van Gough, maybe he will shoot down that dragon when I am in the basin...
I really am an optimist.
"Whats the weather like up there?"
Look, you have a bow...there’s a big ol’ dragon flying around, and I know that used to be your schtick. I know you are in charge of those two assholes camping outside the windows causing everyone grief in Anor Londo, and they use Dragonslayer arrows so cut the bullsh...oh, you will shoot him? Thanks, buddy! Look, now there’s even a fog gate in front of the little basin! That means there is a boss! Yay. Optimism. Wait, what did I just say about optimism? Oh, I’m sure that won’t be related.
FROM: Soft (see what we did there)
RE: Gaping Dragon
BODY: Dearest Taterchimp,
NetZero? Realy. 1993 is calling, they want their internet back. Weirdo. Anyway, we wanted to formally apologize for how terrible the gaping dragon was as a boss. We realize it was our error to sent a dragon out to try and kill you whose main attack is indigestion. This gives all dragons a bad name, so we wanted to try to make amends for this obvious oversight. To make up for this, we offer to you the most kickass dragon fight, and one of the top five fights in Dark Souls.
Praise the Sun,
Didn't I last see you with a donkey of some sort?
What I am trying to say is holy hell this boss is amazing! Let’s do the usual, and go by the blow by blow breakdown. I entered the sizable arena, and see the beast before me. It opens by breathing out its signature dark flames, which I attempt to block. BAM. Half my health and all my endurance gone. Duck, estus. Alright, what did I say last time when fighting Manus? Big boss = adapt SDFP. For those unfamiliar this stands for Standard Dragon Fighting Position, the back left/right corner of the dragon. This removes the threat of the face, front haunches, and fire from you, and all you have to do is manage the tail and the back legs, along with any body slams. Unfortunately, this boss is slightly too fast at turning to really allow any good positioning in this area. After some basic melee moves, she - I’m assuming gender, and I am assuming it as female because gaming needs strong female characters, and I don’t want to come off as a chauvinistic pig - she flew into the air, and breathed down some hot death onto the ground, which took me out. Okay, lesson learned. And what have we learned from previous attempts? One practice run, one kill. Lets do this!
Round two: flying tail slap, after being debuffed (I assume)
Round three: she can breathe fire after flying past me? What bullshit.
Round four: WOMBO COMBO - breathed fire, while I was staggered, breathed fire on me. I wonder if she can hit me if I climb back up the ladder...
Round five: ...Clever girl.
Round six: EAT ALL THE DICKS, DRAGON.
Round seven: Three hits short of victory, but I loooooooove this battle.
Round. Eight. This boss is fantastic. First of all, she has all of the health. All of it. Upon further research, I would need to hit her around 30 times in order to get a kill. Compare this to Pinwheel who took two hits. This fight is a slog. Lets see if I can recall all the moves:
Head swipe (x2 optional). The head swipe is the basic melee, can be blocked easily. If in the right position after the double version, you can punish twice.
Temper Tantrum. This only hits you if you are taking shelter underneath her, so...dont. Punishable once.
Flying teabag - flaps wings once. Dodge left. Not punishable.
Flying cafe au lait. flaps wings once, but doesn’t teabag. Immediately follows up with sweeping magic. This move pissed me off the most. The magic, if it connected, would deal about 70% of my health. It looks 90% like the teabag. If you are to the far right, you can roll past it, but you won’t be. If you are lucky, you can roll under it, but you won’t be lucky. Much to my embarrassment I discovered somewhere in round six that A. I could block and only take about 10% damage, and B. You could just back up to avoid it, at most ranges. After round two, I just kind of assumed tanking wasn’t going to work, so I decided to try to be more mobile. This was good advice against every other move, but didn’t apply here.
Cone of Flame - roll left/right. Has a looooong reach, and does several hits. You can tell she is going to do this when she starts breathing fire at you. Try to dodge that.
AoE - Flaps wings twice. After flap one, roll back twice. This is your best shot to chug an estus.
Sweeping flame - shoots right to left. If you can charge in you can punish twice.
Flaming Front - rears up on hind legs, and breathes fire in front of herself. Roll backwards once.
Bad Luck and Misfortune Will Infect Your Pathetic Soul for All of Eternity - This has the same tell as the flaming front, so it is easy to remember to doge. This lifts you up in the air, does some damage, and appears to debuff you somehow.
That makes about nine attacks that are possible. While reading the signals for those, you also have to position yourself so you aren’t stuck in a corner, or backing off a ledge. Then you have to remember to SHOOOT HER (3 Jurassic Park references to commemorate the 3D re release). after some of the attacks. By round six, I had learned all of the attacks, dodges, and punishes, so I just had to put it all together. The problem was that the fight went on for such a long time (it felt like ~10 minutes, which is a year in Dark Souls time), that I would often lose the tell for each attack, and would eat a large chunk of life. However, when it all came together, it was a thing of beauty. I honestly think I could manage to do that fight without taking a hit, and actually enjoy it. This fight is the PERFECT representation of what Dark Souls is to me - you are placed as this tiny, insignificant spec, in the middle of a world of Gods and Demons, and you have to take down a beast that can kill you if you make a single misstep. But at the end of the day, the fight is completely fair. No attack is cheap, unavoidable, or unpredictable. If you are watching the fight, and letting the boss dictate the pace of the battle, you can take it down with grace and elegance. What. A. Fight. And what is your reward for all of this? A ring. A ring that doubles all damage you would take. Fromsoft, you beautiful bastards. I COULD HAVE USED THAT WHILE FIGHTING HER YOU JERKS. Gawd!
Only because I didn't have the 'middle finger' gesture.
With that, I was satisfied with my time spent in Oolacile. Well...almost satisfied. You see, there are two things left in this world that I didn’t kill, and I cannot let that stand. One last challenge before I go.
This felt pretty good, but not nearly as good as killing that dragon.
With that, my time in the DLC comes to a wonderful close. I said my goodbyes to Gough, who gave me a bow for my troubles, and helped bring a mourner of Artorias to peace. Overall, that was an incredibly rewarding experience, even if it didn’t give my character any rewards outside of some levels. Now I can finally get back to what I do best...giving Darkwraiths sword boners!
I am excited to finish up with this character so I can begin on the next three characters lined up: Simon Belmont, Balrog (Boxer) - an aside on this one, fighting the Gaping Dragon with only a cestus is hilarious. His little head becomes a speedbag - and a dex based spellsword. And if you made it to this part of it, bless your heart, because it sure feels like I spent a while writing it, so I appreciate you sticking with me! See ya next time, space cowboy.
Good news everyone! As of today, Dark Souls has passed Borderlands 2 as my most played game (probably of ever). To commemorate this, I want to begin with a cool little anecdote about why I love Dark Souls: As I mentioned here , I have put about 200 hours into Dark Souls on the 360, so most of the playthroughs were going through the motions. While going through Sens Fortress, I began to wait for Sen’s balls to drop, so I could grab his serpent. You all know what I mean. As his walls caved in, I noticed that he has crabs. Now, here’s the thing about this game: Crabs aren’t enemies in Sen’s Fortress, or for that matter, anywhere. But apparently, I was being invaded by a crab monster, and would have to perform the ancient right of crab battle, with little knowledge of CQC. It was so strange though, because after spending about 100 hours in the game, I encountered a new enemy, and just about defecated with fear. It was nothing I had ever seen before. But just as it suddenly came into the world, it suddenly left, after a sword, and about twenty seconds of nervous approach. So far my encounter rate for these Vagrants is about once every 100 hours. Braid’s got nothing on waiting that long.
I also wanted to muse on the PvP aspect of Dark Souls, as I was invaded today, and want to have a preamble that doesn’t involve spoilers, so I figured I would include it here. I realized today that invasions in Dark Souls can be described by the Prisoner's Dilemma. If a PvP player gets invaded by a PvP player, both players will be happy as a clam. If a PvE player gets invaded by a PvP player (or vice versa), the PvE player is going to be put off, while the invader will be happy with his easily retrieved souls and humanity. Finally, if both players are set to PvE, you get a boring peacocking match, where both players circle each other until one swings and all hell breaks loose, which is kind of fun in its own right. The only problem is that PvE players only get invaded by PvP, so more often than not, I just feel like standing with my back to the invader, because I am not going to win with this build.
"Stay awhile, and listen!"
Onto the DLC! I received a ‘recommendation’ to go back to where I fought the Guardian, so I set forth from my bonfire to go and see what the fuss is about. The fuss is about impossible to kill. There are now TWO Guardians, both apparently at full power. Since I had lost my souls at the end of Day 1, I figured I would give it a few attempts just for fun, and I have to say, this looks like the fight of the DLC. I absolutely cannot manage to take them both on, especially with a medium roll (need....two...more....pounds...). And unlike the gargoyle fight, you cannot just finish one off while the other one is joining the fight. They just shoot lightning all willy nilly until you give up and continue. Sad. Day.
So I decided to trade my swords to plowshares and do a little farming. I learned that the pitchfork demons drop moss, as they do in Lordran, and Stone Giants drop Twinkling Titanite. Neat! Especially considering that I am using the Paladin Armor, which is my tanking armor of choice, except the fact that it makes more noise than rusty bondage pants. This lead me to do some exploring, and I discovered a few paths that I hadn’t noticed before. One lead to a pleasant creek, full of dags. D’ya like dags? It also lead to an eerily familiar ladder
I'm still....in a dream.....SNAAAAAAAKE EAAAAAAAAATEERRRRRRRRR.
I can’t wait to find out what those items are, except for the world’s most telegraphed trap! But I don’t see anything, so the coast must be....a giant motherloving dragon. Cool! Corpse Run! After picking up my souls, and some of my dignity, I noticed a shiny at the very end of the path. It also looked like there were some areas where you could duck into on the sides, much like with the crimson drake in the ‘burg. Turns out, I was half right. Fortunately, Artorias has mighty fine taste in shields, so I was able to get the shiny at the end, which turned out to be....arrows. Well screw you too, Fromsoft. There was also a mark on the ground, which I assumed to be something idiotic like “beware of Drake” (online isn’t always helpful), but it actually turned out to be something like “If only Hawkeye Gough were here”. Unfortunately, I haven’t run into him, and I suck something awful with a bow, so this one still remains a bit of a mystery for now. I didn’t come all the way to this god forsaken dragon infested crater to not explore it all, so I visited a little lake next to it, and found a chest. After laying the smack down like it was RAW, I opened it up, and found....a slab! Best. Day. Ever. 2 Guaranteed slabs in 1 playthrough is worth the cost of whatever the DLC is worth to me. I might see if the Manserpent Sword is better than the hairy pube sword I am using now (I cannot unsee that every time I use the weapon). My need to explore thus satisfied, I decided to venture forward past where Artorias was. Only to find, much to my embarrassment, a bonfire right through the door. Well, chalk that one up to inexperience.
Up next was the village. The basic guys remind me of the crappy hollows, except they hit like bricks. After fighting through them, I found the sorcerers, and I have to say: these guys win ‘worst enemy of the DLC’ so far. Their dark magic spear does insane damage, and even has some pretty good chip damage on me when blocking. This became a problem several times later when they killed me about three times before I made it past a section with 2 sorcerers and 8 duders. After using the tried and true strategy of ‘get in one’s face, aggro, kite, kill, repeat’, though, the section became easily passable. Again, kind of sad that I didn’t take more pictures in my vacation in Oolacile, but I really, deeply, do not understand the gimp enemy in the cathedral. He shows up once, isn’t much of a challenge, looks like a doofus, and drops low tier armor. WHY DO YOU EXIST?
Wow, look at this big old hallway, and there's a guy at the end, and its huge, so he's probably uber powerful, or maybe just an idiot with a stick strapped to his back. Oh, it's the latter, isn't it?
I saw that in the next section, the designers listened to the fans, and included more of what everyone was clamoring for: The Tomb of the Giants. Everyone loves dark corridors filled with ranged attacks from unknown sources while managing insanely damaging melee attacks! Thank god they gave me more of that. They also gave me a new enemy, whose attack is just ‘walk into you’. Hell yes, this place is awesome! I did find a few new spells (for my strenght build, what what!), and eventually found the fog gate. Well, this seems promising. Oh good, a cliff. Do I need a ring. Are you just here for the high five?
You guys stay down there, Ill stay up here, OK? Deal?
And so began the fight with Manus. I used the same strategy as all other new bosses for the DLC, and tanked it out for a while. Immediate things I noticed: His temper tantrum attack pushes me back if I block enough where I can heal when he slams his axe down. Good to know. Most of his attacks leave long enough to punish. He has a tail. IT MUST BE CUT OFF. So I decided to adopt the SDFP position, and focus attacks on his tail. As far as I can tell, that is staying attached throughout the fight, but at least he gives you plenty of time to take a good whack at it. Also, holy hell does this guy have health. My pubesword was taking out the smallest of chunks from his lifebar, which was a bit disheartening. Then he started using the magic. He uses a soul spear attack basically straight out of NieR, where you are surrounded by spears that converge into your various organs. I panicked and left my shield up until they struck, which took out 80% of my health. So now I know what to avoid! Next time I will roll! As the fight progressed, I had him down to about 33% left, and he began to cast again. Unfortunately, this time it rained down from the sky and killed me. QQ.
CORPSE RUN. I switched over to my Butcher’s knife (under 50% encumberance), and made it back to Manus. I also found out you can kill the humanity sprites. That would have been good knowledge to have, after dying to them twice on my corpse run
"If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let 'em go, because man, they're gone"
-Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey.
Thus, round two began. With the knife, I could punish after every attack blocked, so while I was doing about half damage, I was hitting about twice as often. I found out you can roll under the spears, and back up during the rain, and my SDFP protected me from the full frontal magic. I got greedy right at the end, but was finally able to poise my way to victory, and all the humanity you could ever want. As with the first two bosses, one practice run, then a kill. I have to say, I am pretty content with that so far. A quick save at the bonfire, a warp back to Elizabeth, and this day was done.
Like I said before, no shrug, no kill. This one counts.
I still think I have some DLC to go. I feel like I am missing a section somewhere that will let me fight that big ol dragon properly, perhaps with the assistance of Gough, maybe as a summon? Maybe he was a summon back there. Need to check. In any event, this concludes day two. I wanted to ask, as a matter of curiosity, if my computer and ISP cooperate, would anyone have interest in watching a livestream of Dark Souls, and maybe some other games? I think I have the tools for it, but have never tried to set it up, but it seems like fun. I’m thinking of doing a pilot this weekend, but wanted to see if anyone would watch. Feel free to leave any feedback in the comments, and thanks as always for reading!
“If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you”
I want to preface this with something. I have one major, MAJOR, problem with Dark Souls: The game is absolutely, way too good. It is insane. I put about 200 hours into the game, and got all of the achievements except technically one. I was going through collecting all the weapons, then ragequit after a bad experience with Jay and Silent Bob. I swore that after dozens of playthroughs, hundreds of hours, and exhausting 3 separate podcasts, I would never play the game again.
Then I built a gaming PC. Then Steam had it on sale. Then Amazon. Fifteen dollars? For one of my favorite games this generation? With DLC? Of course I will! Better yet, I have had almost no exposure to the content - the only gameplay I saw was some of the fight against Artorias. Everything else is completely blind. And after getting to the point where I know Lordran better than my own house, that is refreshing to go into Dark Souls blind again. In addition, this is my chance at redemption..you see..I beat Dark Souls by crowdsourcing the answers to the internet. The first playthrough I used every guide and YouTube channel I could to win. I knew every trap, every boss, every jump, and...about half of the equipment. So today, I bring to you, my experience of playing the Dark Souls DLC blind. I do apologize for any moments that didn't receive a screencap. You see, it is hard to find F12 while you are receiving a proctology exam done with a rusty sword.
Also, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the PC version. I was getting 15 frames per second while playing at first, and it really sank my heart. My rig can run Team Fortress at like, 1000 fps, why would Dark Souls run so poorly? Turns out, the mods that people put out there made a HUGE difference. The game looks beautiful running at a smooth 60, and has really made me love all the more. Major props to the people who came up with the fixes for that, but rather discouraging from Fromsoft. I hope that there is a PC version for 2, as PC is now my preferred platform, but I will probably have to dust off the 360 to play that one. Another noticeable difference? Hardly anyone has summoned me as a white phantom. I must smell or something. Maybe when I praise the sun, people are warning me of 'be wary of deodorant'.
Hold on to your butts
When first arriving, you are greeted with a bonfire. This is standard, as I just beat the Painted World before getting here, so I wasn’t thinking too much of it. However, the first fog gate threw me off. All that exists in that hall is a bonfire, some tips from players (“Here!” - thanks asshole), and some trees. After rolling into all the walls, I decided to try the fog gate. Dicks on fire, a boss fight! I have to say, from a pacing perspective, I really dig that they threw it in right there. My plan was to tank for a minute or two and figure out his moves. His first moves involved shooting 3 lightning bolts from his face that I was too heavy to evade. Alright. Cool. I took some very greedy swings before I had a pattern figured out and was partially punished for it, but the next time he jumped away, I was back at full health with a swig of Estus (which I imagine tastes like Shasta). One charge left his back turned, so I took the biggest two handed swing I could, and, much to my surprise, his tail fell off. Neat! Five minutes in and I have a new boss and a new weapon. TIme to go home, right guys? Right? Unfortunately, the Guardian didn’t think so. He let out a mighty bellow that exhausted all my stamina. Now I was taken aback at this. I have the shield with the best stability in the game, and I have been pumping points into endurance so I can get a decent roll speed with it, and he took it all? Serious. Business. Then he charged in and killed me. C’est la mort. I switched to a slightly faster weapon so I could better punish his attacks, and we were on to round two. I found an attack that has a tell that he is going to attack four times, then pause. I tried to bait this attack, and use the opportunity to take a whack. After a few rounds of this, boss one was down. Hooray!
I bet something behind this wont try to kill me. Or not.
After wandering through the scenery some more (Ruby Rod would approve, this shit is super green), I encountered a second bonfire. Now, I know that the Souls series likes traps, but are bonfires always safe? I mean, I would think so. I panned around the entire area, and after being satisfied that it would take a background volcano to kill me, I lit it up. Thats when I noticed the giant mushroom. After murdering Eiyagi, I now know the tell tale signs of an NPC, so I approached and struck up a conversation. Hooray, I am talking to mushrooms! In the past! Moving on past Elizabeth, I started to notice that the theme is very similar to the area before you fight Sif. This was reinforced by the pitchfork demons. Their art and placement reminds me of the tree people from the same area, so I figured I could take them out pretty easy - which is true. Then came the stone giants. Well, way to keep the theme. After figuring out an AoE attack though, I was prepared. So far, this seems to be all the new enemies for the area, although the combinations make for some interesting fights. I also learned from the game previously! If an enemy runs away, do not be too fast to chase. I felt clever for about half a second on that one.
I'm assuming Ill be back for you later. Or more accurate 'you are going to kill me, aren't you?'
With that area cleared out, I saw something in the background. Something....horrifying. A grand coliseum. I knew this to be the site of Artorias, and I know him as being a certified player killer. There were signs all over the ground, half saying “illusory wall’ and the other half saying ‘liar’. After rolling into every wall possible (a common theme for this, I’m sure), despair got the best of me. I either had to die to Artorias, because I am not an optimist, or search elsewhere for a bonfire. I managed to split the difference by finding an elevator, which I assumed would act as a shortcut. Long story short, it does, but you have to do some cardio (Rule #1). Now, I was ready. After I take out my sidewalk chalk to write down a quick “Death?” on the ground in front of the gate.
First fight was basically the same as the Guardian, where I spent about 2 minutes trying not to attack, and just seeing what he did. His normal attacks seem very easy to chain together, so not much opening there. He has a thrust which seems like you could get in a hit if you had some reach. He has a spit attack that seems just plain dumb. I must be missing something on that one. After the initial period, I decided to see if I could finish him off by baiting thrusts, while avoiding the goo he shot all over the floor. I was able to use this strategy to some effect. When he would charge his AoE, I would use the change to cast heal, and save up on Estus. I didn’t realize two things though: 1. He isn’t just blasting the area, he is powering up. This is some DBZ shit right here. 2. His pouncing pose means he is going to try to make me a unicorn. This combination went through all of my stamina, all of my armor, and all of my pride. No beginners luck on this guy.
Cool guys don't look at explosions.
One corpse run later, along with upgrading armor and my butcher’s knife, I was ready for round two. This time, I had enough endurance, and not enough weight, where dodging was a viable strategy. After a few narrow misses, the battle was mine. The theme so far seems to be two rounds before I can take down the boss, and I am pretty happy with that. The downside seems to be that I am walking into the Abyss next. Not sure what to expect, but probably something that will steal humanity, and probably some more of whatever Artorias killed in that cutscene. What was that....gross. And that takes care of day one in the DLC. If people care (or maybe if you don't!) I will keep posting as I play.
You have to do the victory shrug, or the kill doesn't count. It's like tea bagging in Halo that way.
Confession TIme: I played the original Sniper Elite V2 about ¾ of the way through, then never finsihed it. I just kind of got burned out by the way that they designed the levels, and often had very, very limited checkpoints. However, I would recommend the game to anyone looking for a good sniping simulation. Now, when I saw that they had DLC, featuring Nazi Zombies, I had to preorder that, if only for the name alone. So how does it fair?
I like sniping in solo games enough to have checked out Sniper Ghost Warrior, and Sniper Elite, and I have to say, Nazi Zombies is one of my favorite iterations on the ‘sniping simulation’ genre. To get a grasp on what makes NZ (not going to type that title out a dozen times this article) so special, you have to know what the other games are like. Generally in the other games you feel underpowered when you are detected, or in a close encounter. Standing out in the open, guns blazing, results in 5 guards giving you a mobster style brick wall treatment. The worst part is, the games usually force you into this situation. In fact, in Ghost Warrior there was an entire level where you couldn’t snipe anyone...you just had to use an SMG/Assault Rifle. If I wanted to play Call of Duty, I would. They have good mechanics for that. That isn’t why I play sniping games.
I play sniping games to feel like an all powerful deity, sitting hundreds of yards away, picking off heads like apples at an orchard. And the first two levels of Nazi Zombies KNOWS THAT. None of the bread and butter enemies have guns. At ten meters away, they are just as deadly as at 300 meters away. And that’s amazing! 75% of the time, you can sit back at the end of an alley/on top of a building, and take your shots, popping off heads. This is assisted by the bullet time mechanic, which is as rewarding as ever. If you didn’t play the original, the game’s gimmick is a bullet time system, that gives you an X-Ray view of your bullet piercing the enemy’s heart/lungs/head/testicles, or show the bullet shattering the femur/arm/spine, and each time is pretty damn awesome. But when facing the hordes of the undead, there is a secondary function: planning. When you make that headshot, you get to follow the bullet in super slow mo, and identify priority targets, often ones that you couldn’t see from your current position. This is something that was probably not a consideration from the developers, but is really cool nonetheless.
Now I mentioned back there that 75% of the time, you can sit back. The game usually trickles a few zombies at you, but at certain points you have to fight a horde off. The first time that a sizable zombie mod was introduced, my jaw hit the ground. Where they had previously thrown maybe five or ten zombies at one time, suddenly there was a group of upwards of fifty. There are not enough bullets, not enough time, and panic sets in. Suddenly your shots stop hitting heads, and start going for center of mass. Unfortunately, they are much more resilient than ordinary mortals, AND they can be resurrected from anything except a headshot. As the horde draws near, you find a use for your secondary weapons, placing quick shots with a pistol, or spraying the area with machine gun fire. Finally, you have land mines, trip wires, dynamite, and grenades. Often, the game tells you to ‘survive’ and you find yourself scrambling to fortify your position, and this is where all of the systems from the original game shine. Where the items felt like a throwaway “I guess you could have a landmine” in the original, fortifying against a horde feels fantastic. Especially setting up a dynamite chain in front of a trip wire, so that one zombie triggers an landslide of limbs and brains. My record is currently 17 zombies killed in one explosion, which kicks all of the asses.
There is a small variety of enemies in the game, mostly zombies, a suicide zombie, an Uber zombie with a machine gun, and the scariest skeletons I have ever seen. Seriously. While I was playing the game, I was less reminded of Call of Duty, and more reminded of Serious Sam, of all things. As waves of enemies appeared, I was swapping out weapons, navigating a battlefield, positioning environmental hazards, and prioritizing targets. It is this amazing sense of empowerment combined with a tense kind of panic.
The final thing I want to say is about the atmosphere: this is B movie through and through. The soundtrack has an 80’s, almost buzzy, synthy, horror sound track, and the achievments (tracked in game!) are named after horror movies, including Evil Dead. It is pretty campy, but I think that is part of the overall charm.
There are a few downsides: some of the weapons feel a little underwhelming. In the original, you only needed to worry about a small amount of soldiers, so a five clip magazine might be an acceptable tradeoff for higher accuracy, but I can’t come up with a reason why I wouldn’t pick a gun with 10 or 15 bullets when I am just one hit killing enemies. The pistol and SMG options are a little more diverse, but I think that there is still one preferred combination over the others. There are also some shotguns which due to the nature of ‘zombie horde’ aren’t incredibly useful. Checkpoints can be a little unforgiving at times, often setting you back to the start of a drawn out fight against a horde. The original version also let you craft your own difficulty by letting you toggle enemy AI, bullet drop, and wind effects independently, instead of bundling with the difficulty. It appears that this feature has been removed, which is slightly disappointing. There have been some strange animation twitches, where an enemy goes immediately from one animation to another, but those seem sort of rare. Finally, the character doesn't ever seem to actually use the scope to aim down the rife. His nipples apparently are guiding the bullets into brains, but that is a mostly cosmetic issue.
Overall, so far, the game is a blast. It is a tense, yet arcade-y shooter, with a B movie feel. For fifteen dollars, you can do a lot worse.
I am happy to say that heated discussions on a website have contributed to critical thinking, instead of turning into ‘which side will say Hitler first?’, and I have had some time to refine my position on used games. When it comes to a stance on the subject, I think that used games are probably more harm than good, but I don’t want to get into that, I just wanted to give my position some background. When Satan Himself decrees some change in a gaming policy (microtransactions/DLC/competitor to Steam/Jacuzzi reserved explicitly for people who play Madden), the same sentiment comes up: “Yeah, well I will buy the game used! That will show them!”
XKCD - Doubly relevant, because this one is titled “Duty Calls”
So first, why is this an argument? It implies that by buying the game used, they will not receive the profit from the game, but you will still play it. There are two things that get me worked up about this particular argument, three if you count the fact that it just rubs me the wrong way - it just comes off as immature name calling for some reason. Oh yeah well....Peter Molyneaxue, you aren’t invited to my birthday party. Suck it Fable!
First: Wouldn’t it make a bolder statement to not ever play the game? That way the publisher/developer can’t say ‘if not for used games and piracy, we would have sold more copies’, instead they have to say ‘oops, looks like that game was kind of shit.’ Actually, they totally could, but there would be a better foundation to say that they are full of crap. In addition, it pushes a philosophical message, that you are willing to take a stand against their practices enough to not play that game at all. Shopping at whole foods instead of rifling through the trash at McDonalds to eat a hamburger that came with onions DESPITE THE FACT that you asked for it without onions....Yes, you can help me, by getting your shit together JANE.... because you are vegan. Sorry, I am bad at analogies.
Second, the tasty onionless meat of my thought process: The Profit. If you buy a game used, the publisher/developer cannot possibly get the profit, because the profit all goes to GameStop or an independent Amazon seller, right? I’m sure it isn’t 100% (taxes, stocking, etc), but that statement is more true than false. So the next question should be...then what?
For sake of argument, assume you purchased a shiny used copy of Call of Duty 7: Terrorists With Angry Turbans game used at GameStop. Your money is now Gamestop’s money, used to re stock their game wall with new releases, to pay money for further trade ins, and to create advertisements that could compete with both Quizos and the PSP squirrels at the same time for ‘shittest advertisement for a decent product’ awards. Now, I don’t have Excel, so I can’t produce a fancy pie chart, so imagine the below is relevant. Pick your least favorite publisher/developer, and spin the wheel of faith, and pretend like that is their percent market share.
You didn’t really spin it, did you? You know what? Forget it man, the moments gone.
If EA controls 20% of the market, then when you buy a game used, 20% of it goes back to EA when GameStop stocks back up. Then another 15% for Ubisoft. Then 10% for Activision. And way, way down at the ‘Jedi’ percentages shown above, there are the indie studies who are the only people with their head a sufficient distance from their taint for you to buy a game new. So at the end of the day, the people you support by buying used, at a supply chain level, are the people who sell the most games...who are the biggest publishers, pushing out Maddens, Call of Duties, and Half Lifes, or whatever the kids play (not that there is anything wrong with any of those games, by the way...popularity is not always condemning the game as crap). Yes, by buying that used copy of Nier, you accidentally supported Call of Duty. SIKE.
May or may not be actual boxart
Now this goes back to my first point: what if you had decided to take a stand on your convictions, and not support whatever it is you are boycotting at all? Instead of buying games from EA used, why not -* dramatically trite gasp*- buy games from their competitors, or from an indie studio NEW with the money instead? In the example above, let’s still say that you purchased Nier new (because it breaks my heart that more people didn’t). Gamestop probably only had a few copies of the game in stock, so maybe your purchase pushes them to order another shipment. The money from that shipment goes back up the supply chain when they order more to a single publisher/developer (grandiose assumption number 7 of this article, but it sure sounds right in my head)
So why does nobody post in an article: instead of buying Dead Space 4: Necromorph Dance Party (better with Kinect), I am going to buy five copies of Braid? My best guess is because as much as you don’t want to support their business practices, they still make too good of a game that you cannot actually pass it up. It will eat you up inside to not know how Mass Effect ends, to the point where you have to balance your insatiable desire to play it against your weak stance against a publisher/developers decisions. It is having your cake and eating it too.
It’s time for another written at night, poorly edited blog! Hooray! Today, I wanted to focus on how bored I am with work. I work with statistics, so naturally, I spent almost eight hours a day thinking about videogames, then I get to come home and play them. I came up with a few video games pitches that I think would be a cool or interesting idea. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to code. I wonder if you can set up a Kickstarter for a college education to learn how to create a video game pitch....But that seems like almost Pitchford levels of optimism, so I just wanted to throw out some Pitches Fer you!
Game Idea 1: Super Crazy Flippy World (Working Title)
It is important to note that the "working title" part is actually the subtitle. Get that shit right on the box art. BAM. Anyway, I was thinking how you could take a mechanic that normally sucks and people hate, and turn it into a really cool game. This actually seems like it would be a good way to design games, if you don’t want to just spit out whatever modern war shooter game. Unless modern war shooter game was the crappy mechanic, then you would just create Spec Ops again.
I settled on the lives system, then more specifically, death. Meat Boy and Hotline Miami both show that these don’t have to be a detriment, but very rarely is it used as a mechanic. My idea was that whenever the player kills an enemy, that enemy goes to the dead side of the map. Whenever the player dies, the player goes to the other side of the map. If the game used ammo and powerups, these could also transition. This would lead to a Dark Souls like situation where you would have to fight your way back to where you were last time, only to die again and start over. Unless the player decided to kill themselves on dude one, and skip the whole level.
To balance this? The boss gains power that is inversely proportional (statistics, remember?) to the amount of enemies killed. So you can skip the whole level....if you can beat a boss at ten times normal strength. Or, if a certain boss is too much for you, you can line up all of the chumps and get really good at clearing the level to take on Mega Ultra Baby instead. A self righting difficulty system, and a place for small, annoying, suicidal enemies? Mission accomplished!
Pitch Two: Multiplayer The Walking Dead
Every game needs multiplayer, am I right? Haha, no, I am just screwing with you...sort of. I was playing The Witcher, and there was a scene where all the characters decided to split up and search the countryside. My first thought was “How wonderfully droll”. Then I realized this could be an amazing set up for a game. Consider the following (or don’t, look man, you can stop reading whenever):
The decisions that you made in The Walking Dead are all on you. When you decided to put an M 80 in your deceased father’s eye socket to distract the horde of zombie wolves, that decision only affected you. Also, spoiler alert. But how would your actions differ if you they made an impact on your friends?
The setup is a 4 player, asynchronous, cooperative, moral dilemma. Each player gets 1 week to complete their chapter. Any player who does not complete the chapter is assumed dead. No communication can be made between the players until the end of the week, where they can relate their decisions, and any justifications....to be received at the end of the next week. In the meantime, the decisions that one player makes affects the others, and word may spread about his/her heroism/dickery. You may only hear that they light the orphanage on fire...but only they knew that it was because that’s where the horde of super mutant squirrels were being harbored. I imagine there would be a loyalty meter, where you could disavow the actions of your fellow players, carrying negative consequences, or trust that there are on the same path that you are despite what their actions may show. After a set period of time, the players would converge, and if decisions lined up to find the magical mcguffin/unite the bloods and crips to fight the hipsters/save the world from annihilation by a wave of moderately attractive librarians, they could take on one final quest, with all surviving players present.
It should be possible to make scenarios modular, so that there are 30 or so possible ‘acts’ and individual can play through, and then maybe 5 or so finales.
Game Pitch 3: MRTS
The most clothes she has ever been seen wearing
This game is Dragon Age meets Brutal Legend meets Eve Online. Now as much as I wrote that to get a look of disgust (please PM me your webcam caps from 3 seconds ago, it sustains me), it was a cool idea. Stay with me here: If you could get past staring at Morrigans pair of overflowing chalices, there was one cool system in there, so I read. The default option for your NPCs is to be dumb as bricks. They would rather fight to the death than have the audacity to eat one of your snacks and heal yourself....unless you go into menu hell to tell them to do so directly. You could set a certain amount of logic for the AI to follow (health < 50%, flick off the enemy attacking you. Maybe think about healing, too).
Next, I was thinking about why I don’t like RTS games. I realized it is because I don’t understand what the critical path is, a core component. Much like pro MVC3 players understand which assists enable which combos, the RTS, as I understand, is about knowing which path to take your build down. You start at the same few steps - drones, mines, barracks, upgrade, Nuke, and usually by this time I have figured out what a pylon is...it isn’t like a stocking at all! Who knew? Then, if you have identified your opponent as a moon man, you build more atomic koalas or something...look RTS games are not my thing.
So what if we skipped the bullshit, and just got down to the core of it? Take a game like Star Craft, and identify what your build is. When GAS > 100, build Zergs. If enemy = Terran, building 3 = Ultralisk facility (oh sure, google, call bullshit on faclility, but don’t call me out on Ultralisk? I thought you were in California, not Seoul.) I think it would be really interesting to have a Meta Real Time Strategy. What would be the advantage? In Starcraft, you can play one game in, say, 20 minutes. With a MRTS game you could play hundreds, maybe thousands of games, at once, in a twenty minute time span. The game would simulate your armies actions against any available players at your skill level, and immediately determine which strategy is superior. As games like Magic the Gathering show, there can be environments where a single build is dominant, but there are often many builds that can beat the dominant one, but lose to ‘rogue’ builds. This creates a cycle of tweaking the strategy to get the best percentage against the field.
I just want to emphasize that I don’t want to play this game, I just want to watch it all go down. So I guess that’s where the EVE online part comes in.