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What game are you playing?
Steerpike
Subtropical Southeastern Michigan
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March 8, 2017 - 8:40 am
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This is a rough month for our people. Naturally whenever a rough month rolls around, things in Life go crazy too because all we want to do is hang around in pajamas playing games but we can't because client meetings and due dates and what have you.

I got Dishonored 2 but couldn't get into it for two quasi technical problems. The interminable load times really got to me -- you shouldn't start a game and have to wait four minutes to reach the main menu, not in this day and age -- also, it kept semi-crashing the Steam Link. So that one will have to wait.

Horizon: Zero Dawn is occupying my time right now. I'm swapping back and forth between it and The Last Guardian, which... you know, I feel guilty saying this, but it feels over-engineered to me. I'm struggling to see it as a fun experience and not as a responsibility.

My online group is starting Ghost Recon Wildlands tomorrow; we had a good time with The Division so hopes are high.

Gregg, thanks also for the Oxenfree recommendation! That game is really great.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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xtal
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March 8, 2017 - 12:42 pm
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Steerpike, I don't remember having 4 minute load times at the initial boot up of Dishonored 2 (I know, sorry Brits). That seems really unacceptable. The levels themselves certainly didn't load quickly.

On the topic of that game, I would like to try (ahahahahahaha) to tell a brief (lololololololololololol) story.

Dishonored 2...Well, I want to say it helped me tackle A Problem I Sometimes Encounter With Some Games, but the truth is I helped myself tackle That Problem while I happened to be playing Dishonored 2. That problem is: playing a game "perfectly." As in, oops, I've been seen, quick load. Oops, got hit, quick load. I imagine some people fall into this camp, but would guess it is not too many people? I'm not sure.

To elaborate, I love when games have a working quick save system, which Dishonored 2 does. It can be freeing but also crippling. I've done this sort of load-fail-reload-fail-reload thing in games going back a long time. Probably back to Half-Life, when I definitely remember doing a lot of that. But it's especially bad in games where stealth is an option. I almost always try to go with perfect stealth. I think of the Deus Ex games, the Splinter Cell games, and many others I can't recall at the moment.

After a moment of oh shit this has gone bad in Dishonored 2, I said to myself "no." It was as much to free myself as it was for practical reasons. I started leaning into the game in late December and knew that if I wanted to be able to move on to a few other games I couldn't spend forever with this one. So I played the game as lethally as one could, killing everything possible. Attempting stealth to a degree, but when that failed I would just improvise and go on with the results.

THIS IS A WAY BETTER WAY TO PLAY DISHONORED!

Holy shit. I'd call it a combat system, but it's so simple and easy, that I'll call it instead a murder system. The murder system in Dishonored 2 is fucking satisfying. If you want to blow off steam, kill people in Dishonored 2. There's a move in combat where you'll parry your opponent, stick your blade above their kneecap, look briefly at the horror on their face, pull the blade out, drive it into their neck, and then as Corvo or Emily twists the blade, the head pops off and an intensely satisfying, deep bowwwwwwwwwwwww sound plays. Picture the "reveal" moment in the trailer of a cheesy catastrophe movie. When there's a closeup zoom on the faces of the actors and that noise plays. That's the noise you get in Dishonored 2 when you cut off people's heads, and goddamn it's satisfying.

It's the most violently I've played a violence-optional game, well, ever.

So that's what I have to say about Dishonored 2. I recommend just going with the flow, not compulsively reloading. One more thing: Dishonored 2 has some really great levels. My favourite level in the first game was the masqued ball party. There are four or five levels in this game as good as that one. And as you said Gregg, it is indeed a sequel. Indeed, more of. Though I think it is a lot better than the first game. In addition to the level design, the setting of Karnaca is just so good. It's still bleak, but in a much different way than Dunwall.

The game was released at an awful time, in the middle of the yearly blockbusters in November, and there's a good chance its low sales spell the end of the Dishonored franchise.

With an opportunity to get the game at a discount, perhaps during a lull in games (which these days is, never, I believe?) I do recommend it to anyone who thinks they can do another first-person stealth game.

The cons of the game are the story, which is nonsense, the Heart item, which is again the worst part of the game, and the amount of mostly inconsequential lore the game goads you into reading on the off chance you be may finding a safe combination or something else worthwhile in a notebook. The pros are the level design, the setting of the coastal city of Karnaca, the aesthetic and quality of the world itself that Arkane built, which many have fondly dubbed "whalepunk," and the versatility in acceptable ways to solve problems and complete missions.

I want to go back to the Heart for a moment. Some of you may recall I complained about it in the first game. I called it a silly tool that seemed overly simplistic. The developers went to great lengths to build a world that really felt like a place; I would compliment both games on that, but especially the second. And then this Heart, which reveals people's secrets, undermines it all by painting every person as black and white, as if they are personified by the one particular act the Heart reveals to you. "He said he would bring the bread to the orphans. He didn't." (I'm making up a phrase, that wasn't in the game but they're all shit like that). And, and so what? He deserves to be murdered or something because he didn't give bread to orphans?

I watch a lot of video reviews these days, and it concerns me that everyone I watched play this game treated it the same way: let's have this Heart judge someone, and then we'll be the executioner, or the hand of mercy. This is not okay. I know it's a video game and what I'm saying could be completely thrown out, but ... no. Just no. I think some absurd statistic came out about one of the Mass Effect games saying that over 90% of people played mostly paragon (good (yes, it's painfully simplistic)) their first time. What that tells me is that most people treat the first playthrough of a video game with choices, sort of in the way they would try to resolve problems themself. I think this is a fair observation, not sure if anyone else has thoughts on that.

My point being that ... I'm worried some people believe a person should be murdered because they were mean to their mother. No. No, that's just, ......no. World not work that way. Bad.

God forbid something like Dishonored's heart ever exist in our real world.

Fuck The Heart.

I'm no longer part of this agency. You there, get my shoes!

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xtal
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March 8, 2017 - 1:09 pm
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Separate post here because gosh that last one went on a bit.

Gregg, I'd like to add on to your rant a bit there. I'm with you for the most part. As far as sequels go, what I like to see is a fearlessness when faced with the possibility of re-inventing a franchise. Famous example: Mass Effect 2. I love Mass Effect 1; it has a very special place in my memory, yet I see the sense and value in the dramatic changes they made to the sequel. And ME2 is by far the most beloved game in the series (yes, to my chagrin), so Bioware obviously made the right choice to change what Mass Effect was.

From your critiques there I'll pick out Resident Evil 7. I'm not a Resident Evil expert. I'm not even an apprentice. I watched friends play the original game eighty-nine years ago, I played Resident Evil 4 myself about fifty years ago, and I saw a good deal of gameplay of Resident Evil 5, that one I believe came out twenty-six years ago.

RE5 seemed positively "meh," and RE6 by all accounts I've heard is one of the worst games ever made, those two games both being weirdly shoot-y games. I bought RE7, and it's clear that to a degree the developers have brought the series........Here it is.....Hold onto your butts...... BACKKKKKK TOOOOO ITTSSSSS ROOOOOOTTTSSSSSS (barf barf lol puke nooooo barf barf barf punch face barf).

Anyway, RE7 seems pretty rad. I haven't played a whole lot of it, maybe just three hours, because I'm a big dick and balls (30-somethings such as myself have correctly identified the genitalia that is actually the weak and sensitive one, and spoiler alert: it's not the one that humans come out of!) and will not play it when I'm home alone because see the first part of this sentence.

So what I was saying there is, I think RE7 is a smart way to do sequels. I'm in favour of sequels that are very different from their predecessors. There are obviously inherent problems with this because the majority of people buying and playing games are not far into the weeds as some of us, so I do understand the value of not making the next Call of Duty game a Harvest Moon-like game. That would probably annoy the average player. But certainly there's room to reinvent a series that has grown stale, especially when what it was doing before didn't work.

I'd compliment both RE7 and Breath of the Wild in a similar way actually; two franchises that I don't think many people would deny had a very insular feel to them. Stuck in their own expectations and limitations. Whereas RE7 and BotW not only break free of their limitations, but they look to games of recent years for inspiration. RE7 is very obviously inspired by the Amnesia games and PT. Breath of the Wild is inspired by so many games I can't even put my finger on all of them yet (but I can tell you Nintendo even noticed a game called Dark Souls existed in the years since Skyward Sword).

I'm no longer part of this agency. You there, get my shoes!

Steerpike
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March 9, 2017 - 8:45 am
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Xtal, it makes me feel happy to read your Dishonored post because it helps validate a Problem I Encounter myself sometimes: namely that moment to moment, despite my best intentions, I usually wind up playing a game the way I want to play it, which isn't always the way it's "meant" to be played. Dishonored is a great example of this. I played the first game stealthily until I got seen, and then like you in this latest go-round, out came the knife and it was neck-stabbing time.

A friend of mine still mocks me for shooting guards in the neck with arrows in Thief 2, despite acknowledging that guards made such a wonderful gurgling sound when shot in the neck. "It's thief, not assassin," he says.

I also stabbed and shot people in the neck in assassin('s creed), which despite being assassin not thief still acts like you're supposed to be all stealthy and shit.

Anyway, I find I enjoy myself more when I let go of preconceptions and play the way I want to play without judging myself for not playing the way it wants me to play. But I still find it hard to do that sometimes.

Ironically, if a game called Comparatively Unsubtle Neck Stabber came along, I'd probably play it for 100% stealth.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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xtal
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March 9, 2017 - 11:58 am
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It drove me nuts when I would start wasting civilians in the original Assassin's Creed (because who isn't going to try that??) and the animus bullshit would "de-synchronize" because that's not what my ancestor did. Well, I just watched him do it, so clearly he does! Sheesh.

I'm no longer part of this agency. You there, get my shoes!

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Dix
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March 9, 2017 - 12:13 pm
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xtal said
It drove me nuts when I would start wasting civilians in the original Assassin's Creed (because who isn't going to try that??).  

I've never tried wasting civilians in an Assassin's Creed (and I've played all the console ones for...some reason). I've actually never intentionally killed civilians in open world games in general, including games where chaos is much more a part of the appeal than in the Assassin's Creed series. I think the one exception is Infamous, where I only did it to jack up my evil score and access more evil powers when I decided to do my second play through as Evil Guy.

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