Multiplayer is…fun?

Not much time for an update, but I wanted to share some recent game experiences.

Online multiplayer is a world from which I’ve generally kept my distance. It involves a time investment that I’m not willing to make due to the low reward in the end and potentially obnoxious players that make the game altogether unpleasant. Every now and then I’ll dabble in something offered for free or for cheap, like some League of Legends-style Lord of the Rings that released on PS3 nearly a decade ago and Fat Princess, a game that I’m surprised did not receive a sequel. I even gave Warframe an hour. Nothing was a must-play.

This past week saw the launch of Mobile Suit Gundam Battle Operation 2 in English-speaking territories and the beta of Project REsistance, the new Resident Evil game. I played and had fun. Gundam was a no-brainer because I’m taken by the mecha designs and the, “Whoa! I’m a pilot!” of it all. Project REsistance was something else. You can look up full reviews of the beta to read about the asymmetric game play in this 4-vs-1 game, so I’ll spare you those details. What I can tell you is that it’s a unique experience to play a clustered action horror game and not be able to expect anything due to the random element of the player on the other end.

And that helped me to realize what games like these do well. The randomness of other players is chaos. And the chaos is a unique story that you experienced and can tell. It’s like Shadow of Mordor but on a larger scale. I can tell the story about how the Tyrant emerged out of nowhere in Project REsistance and I kicked it with Tyrone before running away. I can tell a story about how disabled a bomb in my own base and then blasted an enemy pilot with a bazooka not once but twice in the same session of Battle Operation 2. And those are fun stories because they were not expected, and someone else playing the game may not have a story quite like that.

Maybe it’s not what everyone gets out of those games, but those are my takeaways.


Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest

Having grown up through the dawning of the age of Nintendo Power, I was pretty much convinced that any game that was allowed to grace the cover of the magazine was an instant classic. Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest has perhaps one of the most iconic — and unintentionally horrifying — covers in the history of the magazine. That solidified to me that it must have been a great game. A game I never got to play but still great. Continue reading “Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest”

Shadow of Mordor — or why I should retire from open world action games

One of the most intriguing games to come out in the past decade, and one of the major reasons I looked forward to getting a PS4, is Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. The major draw for the game is what is called the Nemesis System. This feature creates an extra level of drama for the player outside of the main story. Interactions with the enemies become more meaningful because each encounter actually means something. Uruk, basically the bosses of the orcs, have procedurally generated features and names as well as strengths and weaknesses. You learn of these weaknesses by interrogating random orcs, and you can exploit the weaknesses in battle. However, if you defeat an Uruk, it does not mean the Uruk is completely out of the game. You may scar them, and your means of defeating them may no longer work in the next fight. Defeated Uruk may show up during one of your missions and call you out for defeating them last time — or for running away. Later in the game, you may send orcs back to them to make death threats, powering up the Uruk (resulting in a better loot drop) and giving them something else to yell at you about when you fight them. This is a fascinating feature of the game that I’m sure I’ll return to from time to time. Continue reading “Shadow of Mordor — or why I should retire from open world action games”

Spider-Man PS4 is Tedious

I love the comic book suit, but it stands out sooo much.

“The story is the best part,” is something that I personally don’t like saying as a compliment about video games. Yes, I am someone who values a good story, but that’s not something that should be valued most in a video game. The game play is the thing. And despite the fact that there is a surprisingly well written Spider-Man story that incorporates so many villains into a fairly coherent plot, most of the time the player spends in Spider-Man (PS4) is in all of the other stuff.

The other stuff is traversing the city and combat. Continue reading “Spider-Man PS4 is Tedious”

What I’m currently watching/playing

This blog was not created so that I could write for writing’s sake. It’s true that it is in part a regular exercise just to keep me writing regulary, but I want to provide some sort of content. Unfortunately, since I’m largely a consumer of series, games, and books, I’m not always ready to say something. So let me share with you what I’m currently working my way through Continue reading “What I’m currently watching/playing”

Mega Man X5’s Enigma Solved

If I could just have a brief moment of your time, I would like to discuss a new level of appreciation I have for Mega Man X5. I was afforded the opportunity to play it through it for the first time in maybe a decade over Father’s Day weekend, since my wife gifted me with a lazy weekend. X5 was a game I once considered one of the best in the series. My mind changed upon revisiting it, but that’s another story. My play through this time brought a deeper understanding of its design and how it can be manipulated. Continue reading “Mega Man X5’s Enigma Solved”

Perfection from Another World

It’s a big claim to state that a game is perfect or nearly perfect. Another World is, though. After avoiding this game for over two decades, I finally understand why it is a marvel. I understand its influence. After all, it is said that this game influenced Hideo Kojima and Suda51. That’s for better or for worse. Those two are behind some incredible games. They are also games with massive missteps, too. Don’t get me wrong. Metal Gear Solid 3 and No More Heroes are two of my favorite games. That doesn’t absolve them their shortcomings. Another World isn’t above its own.

What makes Another World so close to perfect is its combination of simplicity and scope. From the beginning, the game presents very little direction. The player receives instruction, then is thrown into a world that is supposed to be explored. After the opening cinematic, the player is teleported into a lake without any indication that control has been handed over or that players can even swim. From there, the player likely drowns if it’s the first time playing the game. Then the player realizes that it is literally sink or swim in this game’s world. No one explains that running to the left from the big beast will take the player to a vine that let’s them swing around the beast. No one explains that hitting the attack button after an alien has grabbed you will kick it in the junk. No one explains that, in another situation, going to the left will take the character into the background. Yet at no point does it feel unfair. Except in terms of shootouts.

The only point in the game where controls appear on the screen is after picking up a gun. Guns have three modes: shoot, shield, and charged blast. Knowing how and when to switch between the modes is the key to continuing in a couple of spots in the game, with the problem being that bad guys may walk up to the shield, stick their guns on the other side to shoot your character in the face. It’s not even a matter of skill to avoid it. It’s a matter of luck with the actions they take. There are mitigation strategies, but nothing seems to work consistently.

Despite that, the game successfully takes the player on an adventure with little context. Aside from the shootouts, there are no unnecessary moments in the game. That makes it brief, which is not a bad thing. A fun game that is brief can be played over and over again without feeling like a chore. And for my money – and this is literally the money that I spent on the game – that is exactly what I want. I want games that make me want to come back again and again, to go on that adventure and re-explore the world. Some people want a game that makes them lose themselves in a world. I think getting lost is a trap, and a game that makes you willing to come back is so much more powerful.