5 Stupid Moments in Video Games – Gaming no be smart.

Sometimes games go just a little bit off piste…

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I’m sure I’ve mentioned before (I’m too lazy to look through my posts to find it) that video games are a great medium for creating whatever the hell you want.  Fancy a cooking game in which you’re an elephant chef plotting world domination through amazing cuisine?  You could probably make that.  Somehow.  Having said that, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  Here are 5 games that decided on including something bizarre and out of place.

Mario
Is this as weird as the internet’s reaction to finding out he has nipples?

Oh, and spoilers obviously.

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Fist Fighting the Pope

Assassin's Creed
Assassin’s Creed 2 (2009)

This is generally considered to be the best in the series (although I preferred Black Flag) as it refined the previous game and removed the tedious bits but hadn’t quite reached the level of feature creep of the later games.  As Ezio (and sometimes Desmond) we murder our way around renaissance Italy to find the piece of Eden that can control people’s minds.  Or something to that effect anyway.  At any rate, the magical McGuffin ends up in the hands of a bad man who has become Pope!

Assassin's Creed 2
Doesn’t exactly make the most intimidating opponent really.

Cue a final boss battle to prevent the evil Pope’s dreams of world domination by punching a fat old man in the face repeatedly.  After all that had come before, it was something of an anticlimactic final confrontation.  If they’d played it for laughs then they might have gotten away with it, but instead it was done with all the gravitas of any other final boss confrontation.  The cutscene afterwards was confusing (although fairly cool if you were into the overarching plot) and the whole thing felt a bit of a let down.  At least they didn’t have him summon Jesus for a final beatdown.

Final Fantasy X – Tidus Laughing

FFX
Final Fantasy X (2002)

I couldn’t not include this.  Whilst at this point in the game, FFX was fairly light-hearted, this seemed completely out of place.  Tidus is told to laugh at the ocean for reasons. And laugh he does!  With the most painful fake laugh in the history of mankind.

I’m sure I read somewhere that this scene comes across better in the Japanese version of the game.  But that doesn’t matter to me.  This was cringey and painful.

999 – Elevator Sex

999logo

Yep, you read that right.  999 is basically Saw with time travel (sort of…it’s complicated).  9 people are trapped in a sinking boat full of numbered doors and potential for nasty, violent death.  As our hero and his newly found comrades explore their seafaring prison the find themselves occasionally split up from the rest of their group.  Our hero and his childhood friend find themselves alone and contemplating exploring the lower decks via an elevator.

9 doors 9 persons 9 hours
This is how it starts. Seems pretty harmless to begin with.

At least that’s what it’s meant to be (and in fact is).  But due to some extremely painful miscommunication, our character thinks that his friend is propositioning sex in an elevator.  “Down there… I’d get soaking wet…” June says with Junpei assuming she means something other than the elevator traveling down to a flooded deck.  It felt like such a bizarre scene in an otherwise pretty serious game.  It stuck out like a sore thumb to me.

Mass Effect 2 – Mordin Singing

Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2 (2010)

Out of place or not, this was just brilliant.  Mordin is a seriously successful Salarian Scientist (say that after 3 pints!) who is added to your crew part way through the game.  Pretty handy in a fight and always on hand to do offer insight whilst Garrus is busy calibrating everything, he apparently has a soft spot for singing.  Gilbert and Sullivan songs in particular.

Press him enough and he sings.  And boy is it funny.

I am the very model of a scientist Salarian
I’ve studies species turian, asari, and batarian
I’m quite good at genetics as a subset of biology
Because I am an expert which I know is a tautology.

It was completely out of left field for me, and whilst it stood out as an oddity in an otherwise fairly serious game, it was funny (and well done) enough to stand out in a positive way.

Heavy Rain – Press X to Shaun

Heavy Rain
Heavy Rain (2010)

This is cheating because it’s a glitch but IT’S MY LIST AND I’M CHEATING SO WHAT!  Heavy Rain is a game full of heavy themes.  Self mutilation, childhood trauma, and sexual assault can come into it depending on the routes you take.  All this can be made a whole lot lighter thanks to the Shaun glitch.

Heavy Rain
SHAUN!

I have no idea how this is triggered, but doing it results in the lead character, Ethan, yelling “Shaun!” every time X is pressed, regardless of the scene he is in.  Driving?  “SHAUN!”  Having a conversation?  “SHAUN!”  Having awkward sex with your new lady friend?  “SHAAAAAAUN!”  It’s utter gold.

What do you think?  Are there any stupid or bizarre moments that you’d like to include?  I almost mentioned what’s hidden in Papyrus’ head in Undertale but I feel it fits into the game pretty well.  How about you?

 

 

 

Gears of War 4 – When did chainsawing monsters become so tedious?

Gears for fears.

I have fond memories of Gears of War.  I remember finishing the first one on Insane with a friend from university online after a monumental tussle with Raam.  I remember playing Horde mode with my now wife.  I even enjoyed Judgement for its score attack elements (don’t hate me).  I didn’t think I’d get to the point that the game’s admittedly rock solid mechanics would become tiresome.  That’s not to say it doesn’t try anything new, it just doesn’t do enough to make it seem fresh again.  It might be time to hang up my Lancer.

Gears of War 4 New Group
Our new heroes: Del, Oscar, Kait (at the back) and JD. They’re quite likable, but rest assured that old faces will turn up as the game goes on.

It’s not that the game is bad, it’s just that it does very little new.  When the original game was released, its cover based shooter mechanics nigh-on revolutionised third person shooters.  Whilst this wasn’t the inventor of a lot of its mechanics, Gears of War had it polished to a mirror sheen.  What I like to call the Blizzard effect.  The series continued, introducing new mechanics and modes, and polishing off a reasonable story and tying up the loose ends.  Judgement came along and acted as a prequel, and whilst less popular, it did some things differently.  Now though, we have a game that is the definition of more of the same.  That’s not always a bad thing, but by now it has become a repetitive thing.

Gears of War 4 Locust Swarm
Oh hey! It’s the Locust again!

It starts off fairly promising, with a dash through a “Wind Flare” that sends chunks of scenery flying around, followed by a number of gun fights with robotic enemies.  This is a nice change from previous games.  Bright colours, new opponents and using the Fabricator (a device that lets you create weapons and defenses) to defend yourself and your allies.  But before long we settle back into the old routine.  The Locust turn up (now called the Swarm rather than the Horde), the dark environments return, and we return to cover based shooting that we’ve had for 4 games now.  Most of the game is spent following leads to rescue a character, and the story is pretty uninteresting until a pretty nice twist right at the end which sets up for the inevitable sequel.

Gears of War 4 Graphics
It looks even more gorgeous and detailed than ever.

There are a couple of sections that alter the game for a short while.  The Wind Flares force you to consider your aim more carefully based on wind speed and direction.  And the motorbike chase is rather exciting.  The final scene in the game attempts to change the game’s mechanics too (although it doesn’t really change the gameplay all that much, it does feel exciting).  There are also a couple of new enemies that can change how you approach certain battles by forcing you to keep moving or rescue kidnapped allies.  In spite of all of this though, you’ll probably still end up hiding behind walls with a Lancer and Gnasher.  That might be enough for some people, but I think I was hoping for a reinvention of the franchise on a new system.  If you’re looking for more Gears of War, then this will probably do just fine for your cravings.  At this point though, I worry that it’s becoming a bit Call of Duty, the same game but throwing in a new gimmick to hide that fact.

Gears of War 4 Motorbike chase against plane.
The bike section is a nice change of pace, but you’ll be back to the same action before long.

Horde mode is back and still enjoyable.  The Fabricator that allows you to construct and place defences where you wish alters your strategy somewhat and I’ve enjoyed playing it in splitscreen.  The multiplayer is as good as ever, looking great running at 60FPS.  The new game modes aren’t anything new as most have been seen elsewhere, but the 5 on 5 action is still solid.  It’s a perfectly fine game, it’s just the same perfectly fine game you played years ago, but a bit prettier!

Gears of War 4 Choice
As in previous games, there is an occasional choice of route in which the team splits up and you cover your allies. You can see a Wind Flares in the background.

Gears of War 4 was developed by The Coalition and published by Microsoft.  I played the game on Xbox One and I don’t know how to recommend this!  If Gears of War is something you dearly need more of, then this might be for you.  If not, then there are plenty of other third person shooters out there.  I for one felt disappointed, maybe I was hoping for something more, maybe I’m bored of the series now.  Maybe I’m just too old to enjoy this series as much as I used to!  Either way, I think I may be done with the series for now.

I’m Rob, and Here’s What I’ve Been Playing – 10/09/17

I’m struggling to get motivated to write up individual games that I have finished in the last few weeks, so instead here’s a quick look at what I’ve been playing this week!

Memes
Gotta have memes. Does this count as memes?

Year Walk – iOS 

Year Walk
Year Walk (2013)

This was on sale for £1 a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been intending to try it for a while due to it’s interesting art style and supposedly creepy atmosphere. I’ve racked up a whole 20 minutes so far and would consider it a modernised point and click adventure. It makes good use of touch controls but I feel mechanics are under explained. I had no idea I could spin a dolls head around to make it dance to give me a clue. Standard point and click moon logic.

Year Walk
I don’t know what this is!

I’m going to persevere with this one though. I like the atmosphere, and the sound is excellent. I’m sure there’s a story too but it’s quite unclear right now. I can always pop open a guide to get an idea of what to do next if I’m stuck too. Not bad so far!

Destiny – Xbox One

Destiny
Destiny (2014)

Yep, the first one.  Not that new fangled fancy one with all the graphics and whatnot.  A friend of mine happened to have a spare disc of the base game and gave it to me which I’m very grateful for.  So far I’ve reached level 16 as a Warlock.  It was fairly easy to start with but some of the Strikes can get rather overwhelming with the sheer volume of enemies.

Destiny
A promo shot, yes. But a pretty one nonetheless.

I’m enjoying it all the same.  The combat is pretty satisfying for the most part and the ever increasing power of item drops is as addictive as ever.  The bosses are a bit bullet spongy for my liking, taking far longer to put down than I’d like, but I’m having fun with it for now!

Redout – Xbox One

Redout
Redout: Lightspeed Edition (2017)

Big thanks to B3 for providing me with the review code for this one (keep an eye out there for the review popping up).  I reviewed this last week and found it to be ludicrously fast.  It’s somewhat like Wipeout and other anti-gravity racers, but with the speed turned up to infinity.

Redout
This is the fastest racing game I’ve played bar none. Still a really fun time though!

In addition to the speed, it’s also insanely hard.  I reached Class 3 (of 4) before finding it a little too hard to finish races anywhere above last due to my feeble old man reactions not being up to snuff.  Thankfully the quick restart times meant I could plug away at it for a while without sitting around on a loading screen.  It’s incredibly polished but some might consider it to be (cliché alert!) the Dark Souls of anti-grav racers.

Spaceballs
Yep. There was no way I was missing an opportunity to include this.

Elder Sign – PC

Elder Sign: omens
Elder Sign: Omens (2011)

It may surprise you to learn that I like board games rather a lot.  The difficulty is sometimes getting a group together to play, but also the setup and tear down times (Marvel Legendary is great fun but now takes about 20 minutes to set up thanks to all the expansions).  For this reason, I like that digital versions of great board games are available.  Elder Sign: Omens is based on the board game of the (almost) same name and involves dice rolls being assigned to events to earn the titular elder signs with the goal of preventing ancient gods of Lovecraft’s stories from devouring the world!

Elder Sign: Omens
A lot of the game is spent here, deciding on your current characters move before chucking those dice!

As a digital version, it sticks to the board game rather well, with plenty of different challenges and characters to choose from.  BUT.  Where is the multiplayer?!  Yes, I suppose you could play it locally by hot seating, but there is no online whatsoever.  Considering you could play and finish a game of this in around 20 minutes, an online co-op mode would fit right in.  Throw in a chat box and you have a pretty complete system.  I have no idea why this would be omitted.  Still, it’s fun to play here and there as it is.

So how about you?  What are you playing?  Anything good?  Something terrible?  Let me know below, and happy gaming!

 

The Apple App Store Needs Some Serious Work

Throw enough crap at the wall and see what sticks.

I went to a teacher conference this week, during my time off which is just lovely.  Anyway, I decided that it might be good to have a game on my phone to dip in and out of when I had a few spare minutes between (during?) lectures and such.  So off I popped to the App Store to see what I could find.  What I found prompted this response:

Twitter
That’s me that is!

So let’s talk about Steam a little.  Since Steam Greenlight and Early Access, the store has turned into an absolute (pardon my language) shit-show.  Every day there are more and more terrible games released onto the storefront due to shady practices.  Since Greenlight has closed down things will hopefully improve, but the number of poor games, asset flips, and shameless trading card cash grabs hasn’t abated.  I don’t see Steam Direct changing this any time soon.

Steam
All this one a single day. There were far more games than this too, but the heaps of DLC and random crappy releases are quite telling.  Also, zombie games for days.

Valve have tried to change this but I suspect they are making way too much money to want to make significant improvements.  The Playstation Store has recently shown a similar situation with games like Life of Black Tiger and that stupid trophy hunter game being released so clearly other major companies want in on the gravy train.

Steam Cat Tanks
What in the actual hell is this?

I recently switched back to iPhone after having a while using Windows Phones for a while and I expected the iPhone App Store to still contain a pretty high standard of apps.  How wrong I was.  I went looking for a dice based game (something I could drop into here and there) and came across all manner of unrelated things.  There were heaps of games with no reviews, games that had terrible or non-existent descriptions, and game after game of freemium nonsense.

Apple iPhone App Store
This is apparently a dice game. Who manages the Apple App Store?

The store is in serious need of curation and management.  Quality over quantity and all that.  I would sooner buy a good game that I can manage to find rather than a crap game that happens to appear in a list.  I suspect the answer to this question is “Money”, but why do storefronts insist on opening the floodgates to anyone who can put together any old piece of crap and slap a £0.99 price tag on it.

Apple App Store games
The description of this game was badly written and the sole review of it was pretty damning. Why was this allowed onto a professional storefront?

In the end, I didn’t buy anything and downloaded Carcasonne to play again, a game I purchased a few years back.  You know, back when it was easy to find quality games and not have to sift through the tripe?  The fact that the App Store has turned into a mess of rubbish games has put me off bothering to look for anything to purchase.  I’m more likely to listen to a podcast to find out something worth buying than take a risk on one of the hundreds of potentially poor releases.  I suspect I’m not the only one.  To digital storefront owners:  stop opening the floodgates to any old “developer”.  Hire a team to curate your store and make it something worth visiting rather than a dodgy market full of rubbish that people won’t want to visit.  It’s hard to sell to customers when they don’t want to come to your store.