Dragon Age Inquisition is shaping up to be straight fire, yo

News, Video Games

By William Chandler

As an avid lover of all things RPG, I am ashamed to admit that, contrary to what I imagine many EA haters and gaming elitists may believe about the current state of AAA games, I think Dragon Age Inquisition might turn out to be the best in the series. The original Dragon Age is damned great, don’t get me wrong. After all, it was the last old school Bioware game before they went and made two Mass Effect themed shooters (the first Mass Effect was a pretty legit RPG, complete with bad combat and everything) and an MMO sequel to Knights of the Old Republic. That said, Dragon Age Inquisition is shaping up to be even better than the first in just about every way

Just peep this nearly hour and a half live stream the developers put on earlier today which heavily features an in depth look at character creation and some previously unseen environments.

The character creation tools appear to be some of the deepest in recent memory and, while that alone certainly does not make a great RPG, it is an excellent sign of their devotion to a unique, story experience driven by player agency. You know, that age old RPG promise that your decisions in the world will deeply effect your personal in game story. It’s always been one of the signs of a good RPG, in my mind.

Definitely watch that live stream in order to get an idea of just what makes Dragon Age Inquisition worth watching as it nears its November 18th release.

Rapid Fire Reviews: 9-28-14

Opinion, Video Games

By William Chandler

A semi-regular segment in which I am too lazy to write full reviews of various games I’m playing so I instead write a couple of shorter ones.

D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die

I like Swery. Based entirely on his work, he seems like an intriguing fellow and no doubt would be a cool guy to grab a drink and chat with. I think he’s extremely talented when it comes to intentionally non-nuanced humor about genre cliches and conventions. That said, his games are not fun to play. So, I really didn’t care much for Deadly Premonition. I got exactly what the team was trying to accomplish with it and I really enjoyed the absurdly over the top story aspects. It just sucked that those things were trapped behind an impenetrable wall of disastrous game design decisions. But yeah, I suppose that’s the point.

Let’s talk about PT baby, let’s talk about you and me…. And Lisa

Opinion, Video Games

By Destin Thomas

PT – AKA: The scariest and most brilliant marketing ploy ever in the history of gaming. I don’t give a fuck who you are, this game will scare you. And frankly, I’m not even sure why that is. The premise is simple: you wake up in this dark ass room and must endlessly traverse a repeating hallway, all the while attempting to solve these elaborate ass puzzles that involve endless trials and error. Scary, right? In principle: not really. However, the demo is masterfully effective at creating a sense of overall dread and paranoia, thereby making even the most mundane task of circling through a familiar hallway fucking eviscerating.

Be it the severed head poet in your mother’s brown lunch bag spewing out all this cryptic shit on the table in the first room, the stalking shadows of Lisa treading behind you, a fucking alien fetus in the bathroom sink, or the worst, Lisa literally snapping your neck out of nowhere, you cannot escape the panic of playing this demo. There are also baby laughs, ghost moaning, a radio detailing the grisly murder of some very unfortunate women, and a creepy ass lantern that swings back and forth making the most unsettling squeaking noise since Spongebob’s boots.

Not to mention, you’re entirely defenseless – think Outlast but ten times worse – so good luck trying to man-handle this shit. All of this combined equals the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had in a game; literally making me want to shit myself. Repeatedly. And still keep on playing. It’s comparable to waking up in a room with 4 oiled men and having no recollection of why your butthole hurts so much – and likewise, this game is also a dream come true for me.

Once you’ve solved the Schrodinger’s Cat equivalent puzzle at the end of the demo, you’ll be rewarded with the ultimately anticlimactic trailer for Silent Hills. But I didn’t even give a shit because of how fantastic the demo was. It was finally a return to actual horror in video games. I cannot fucking wait for Silent Hills. Until then, I’ll keep playing PT and crying and shitting myself to sleep. Happily.

Dance of the Demos

Opinion, Video Games

By William Chandler

I really enjoy game demos because they bring me back to a time in my life when I played video games all day because I had precious little else that needed doing, whereas I now have to knowingly neglect real world things in order to get in a decent amount of game time. They remind me of a time when my primary concern was how I could manage to stay up later than my mother wished and still be able to wake up in time for the super early episodes of Dragon Ball before school.

Before I was allowed to play M rated games, I would always try to get my hands on the demo discs that came with magazines. One I remember in particular was the Metal Gear Solid demo for the PlayStation. I must’ve played through that damned intro sequence fifteen fucking times, merely imagining what could possibly come next and unknowingly committing those first couple in game hours to memory where they will undoubtedly remain.

Demos have fallen out of favor since the latter half of the last console generation, particularly pre release ones. Perhaps they are too much work in a world where the rising costs of game development have caused even some of the most storied game development companies to collapse under the financial burden. That said, I’ve noticed a few pre release demons popping up here and there recently and I’ve decided to talk about them here.

Let’s start out with the big one.

Rapid Fire Reviews: 9-20-14

Opinion, Video Games

By William Chandler

A semi-regular segment in which I am too lazy to write full reviews of various games I’m playing so I instead write a couple of shorter ones.

Pay no mind to the fact that both of these ended up being pretty long this time. But, fuck it man. I dunno.

Destiny Critical Analysis

Opinion, Video Games

By William Chandler

I don’t know what the hell happened, man. Is this Destiny the one Bungie seemed super excited to make or did that game get lost somewhere in development? After all, Bungie have always been known for injecting some great personality into their games, if nothing else. Cortana’s likeability as a character, silly dialogue from the Grunts, and a sometimes playful tone really afforded Bungie’s Halo an identity unique to itself, as well as a style that we haven’t really experienced in anything since. It was something that was sorely missed in Halo 4, in my opinion, and is really what makes Destiny feel like such a letdown.

For all intents and purposes, Destiny is a fine game. It plays perfectly well (even to the point of feeling a bit like Halo in some regards), it looks gorgeous, and there are no major bugs or stability problems to speak of. But the game starts to crack apart and show its hollow shell not long into its ~18 hour ‘campaign’.

Most of these issues reside in the story, or lack thereof. The game takes place in a post apocalyptic future where a force of pure evil, simply known as the darkness, has been quite busy in its quest to devour all life in the universe. The player, as a warrior of light, must ensure that the darkness does not continue to do that by killing quite literally every living thing you see. Apparently it’s chill if you do it but fucked up if those other guys do it. And that’s really all you do. You never actually do anything else. Fuck, you don’t even push a button or touch anything other than a weapon with your hands. Need to use a computer? Your robot companion does it for you. Need to contact another human for a side mission? Your robot takes care of all that. Seriously, Guardians must be some legitimately fucked up people if they never actually do anything but shoot other creatures in the face and make quips with a robot. The player’s role as a Guardian is never really fleshed out either, considering that the game never even bothers to show you what’s at stake, nor does the final city on Earth that you are in charge of protecting ever fall into immediate danger. Honestly, you seem less like a Guardian and more like a glorified assassin by the end.

Counterspy Critical Analysis

Opinion, Video Games

By William Chandler

Counterspy – Purchased on PSN and played on Vita and PS4

I’ve been constantly on the go as of late and this has led to me paying much more attention to my poor, often neglected handheld homies. A couple weeks ago I picked up Counterspy as a cross-buy title on the PlayStation Store and I instantly found it to be pretty damned charming thanks to the cool 60s spy era aesthetic and accompanying music reminiscent of some less bombastic Team Fortress 2 tracks. I played a couple of levels on the PS4 and thought it was a pretty fun side scrolling shooter that, regardless of the name, really has less to do with actual spy sneaking and more to do with the brutal murder of hundreds and hundreds of missile base guards, and the subsequent looting of their file cabinets. While it is certainly possible to sneak your way through a level, bypassing as many guards as possible in order to give you that tingly spy-like feeling of completing your objectives stealthily, this method of play appears to actually be discouraged because you can get a vastly higher score by just straight capping people in their dome. Not to mention the fact that non-lethal weapons are few and far between and are often times not terribly effective. Like the sleep dart gun which alerts nearby guards because the guy you just darted will likely have wondered aloud what just pierced his flesh, moments before he tucks himself into bed.

Counterspy’s art style is really nice and the game still looks great on the Vita, but the frame rate takes a pretty big hit, which proved to be annoying when I first switched to the handheld version. That said, I was admittedly bothered less and less by this the more I played of it. The gameplay is unhindered on the Vita version and continued to be enjoyable far into the game but, ultimately, rests pretty comfortably on the easy side of things from start to finish. The missions never really became any more difficult despite the game’s attempts to simply stuff a room full of an absurd number of guards, many of which are armed with various weapons that one would likely not find to be held by base guards. I’m no military expert but I really don’t see the need for three guys with rocket launchers to guard a catwalk that is suspended inside a nuclear missile silo. That shit is just wildly inefficient, yo. Aside from my usual gripe with 2d side scrolling shooters that insist on having enemies in the background, a tradition which this game dutifully upholds, there really aren’t many problems present in the gameplay. Although, the level design can become a bit samey after a while considering that they are randomly generated, providing me with a pretty strong feeling that I’d seen everything the game had to offer after only a couple of hours.

The story is barely there and filled with shrug worthy “We tried” humor and the gameplay is simple, functional, and very enjoyable. Counterspy knows exactly what it wants to be and accomplishes that pretty handily, providing a pretty decent five hour distraction from the needlessly complex and padded out titles that we often surround ourselves with. I’d say it’s worth fifteen bucks but, then again, I’d play just about anything while trapped in a hotel room.