Monthly Review - March 2016

Greetings! Three games completed for the third month of this kinda post. I also played a couple other things: Crashlands, Pokemon X, and Hyrule Warriors Legends but I'm not sure if I'm going to see any of those through. Crashlands got a little tedious but I really liked what I played of it, Pokemon X I'd played through before but was messing with again to chat with a friend who's playing it, and Hryule Warriors Legends which I just didn't really like(besides Linkle obv). My impressions of the games I actually finished follow. There may be spoilers so consider yourself warned. 

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The Beginner's Guide - Completed 3/6

I wrote Davey an email after finishing The Beginner's Guide. I wrote about how I felt physically sick after finishing it because I could empathize with the character Coda. This is a narrative focused game about creative people, privacy and trust. He recently did a commentary over someone else's lets play of the game which was really amusing and interesting. That may of may not still be available in his Twitch archives. 

Yeah, I wrote a bunch in the email but I really struggled to write about this game after I finished it. I'm actually writing this after finishing Garden Warfare 2. Really unique and great story but thats about it. It's not mechanics focused if thats something you're concerned about.

Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 - Completed 3/13

The biggest changes from the first game in the series are that the game now has a single player campaign and instead of choosing game modes through a menu, the player now moves around a hub area with different interactive nodes.

The new hub area is pretty cool, there are two bases on different sides of a huge map with a constant conflict going on between them. There are missions hidden throughout this map and pretty cool things can happen while exploring. For example, when I jumped into the zombies base as a plant, a couple zombie bosses were spawned onto the map. The plants responded with their own bosses and I got to take part in this crazy brawl. Just running around shooting stuff and seeing how long I could survive felt very GTA3, where the game was more to see how long you could stay alive wreaking havoc than actually doing the missions. I haven't felt like playing a game in that way since GTA3 actually.

The single player campaign is fine, nothing to write home about. I would say its probably 50% scripted single player objective levels and 50% Garden/Graveyard Ops missions where the player can cycle between the different characters on a team, which is pretty cool and an easy way to try different classes. It's nice that that the single player is there for new players and playing through it actually unlocks a really unique endless mode but I think overall the main attraction here are the other multiplayer modes.

There are a ton of modes for multiplayer, pretty much what you would assume, a zone control, deathmatch, kill confirmed, etc. A nice change they made is that an old asymmetric mode always had plants defending but now zombies can defend as well and plants try and capture points on a huge map.

My complaints about this game mostly stem from the fact that it's always online. Not specifically that it must be connected because I don't really care, my console is always plugged into ethernet, but the choice to make lazy design decisions with that as a reason. First, there is no pause in this game, even in single player exclusive content. Second, if the game is left AFK for ten minutes, even in the area that acts as the game's menu, you are logged off World of Warcraft style, again even if not playing with anyone online. It takes a while to re-login and load that map so yeah, this really sucks. Additionally, I really can't imagine either of these things taking a ton of engineering work to solve...

I would assume that some people might be annoyed with the game's single use items or the way characters must be found in random packs. This didn't bother me at all though, I think the game's economy works pretty well. I was opening packs at a steady clip and never was in a situation where I was out of consumables. Where I do take some umbrage is in the character unlocking progression. I felt like that was pretty slow unless you save for the game's most expensive packs and even then I ended up unlocking five or six variants of the zombie foot soldier pretty much before anything else. I think I just got really unlucky with this one but it was frustrating at the time.

Overall, super fun. I would highly recommend it as the game's quest system got its hooks in me in a very WoW daily quests kinda way. I can see myself continuing to check in on the game, especially if my cousin isn't available for our Heroes of the Storm appointments.

Her Story - Completed 3/31

I really enjoy movies with nonlinear narratives. I really like getting caught up in the moments and then having a puzzle to think about later, like how it all came together. I describe these movies or TV as puzzleboxes where you can see little bits and pieces but it doesn't all come together without the big picture and some thought. I think this game is a fantastic experiment into the future of what nonlinear storytelling could be. 

I think two things really make this game great, the structure of the clips and the fact that the story is told through FMV and not 3D characters. The structure of the game is told through clips in a police database, the results are limited to the first five entries with your search query. If you search for a characters name sometimes these results are way more than five, so later searches have to be pretty specific, or maybe combine a characters name and another word. This is kind of how the game is gated, as the player learns new topics to dig into, they get deeper down the rabbit hole because they can get past those initial five results. Once I started watching clips from the final interview, the whole story was turned on its head. 

The FMV works because of all the little actions that the actress makes throughout the game. Tapping her finger or a sly smile really creeped me out at certain points. I thought the story was clever and the actress and writing really sold it.

Great stuff. I played this game on Steam but I know it's available on iOS too. Worth checking out and a great game to play with a significant other, even folks who aren't super into games. One person can type and control the mouse while the other takes notes on a note pad. I had to do both. >.<

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For this upcoming month, Hyper Light Drifter is for sure something I'm planning on playing, gotta represent the LA scene. Also, I'd like to play more RTS so that could mean Grey Goo or maybe the first of the StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void Nova mission packs. Some shorter games I've been thinking about are Jazzpunk, Pony Island, The Magic Circle, and Lara Croft GO. So yeah, probably expect some writing about those or maybe the couple games I mentioned earlier that I started. Blah. Until next month, <3.

Monthly Review - January 2016

Hey there, I hope you didn't forget about me! Although the podcast is on hiatus, I would like to continue using this blog in some capacity and while I'm not super interested in doing full reviews for games I am playing, I think this format should fit the bill. It's kind of a recap of the games I've finished this month with a couple thoughts. These impressions may contain spoilers so if that's a thing you care about a) you're dumb and b) you're warned.

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Life is Strange - Completed 1/17

I really enjoyed the time travel story of this game, would like to revisit the last episode again at some point and see how the other ending plays out. I kind of saw where the story was going by episode two but the journey through was well worth the time. Only once in the story did dialogue feel like a tangent was tacked on to the end of something seemingly unrelated to customize it to my choices, the game had a really nice flow otherwise.

Gravity Bone & Thirty Flights of Loving - Completed 1/17

Both short FPS experiences that play out a spy heist story using interesting film style jump cuts and computer controlled camera movements not normally seen in games, especially FPS games where they can feel super jarring. 

Emily is Away - Completed 1/17

Short conversational game based on AIM in the early 2000s. Kinda sad but a nice experience that felt a lot like some of my middle school and high school communications. I really loved the ending where if the direct questioning answer was chosen, the player's character would second guess the decision.

Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist - Completed 1/20

A short first person experience with the clever premise of the player having to trigger all the interactions backstage for a player who is actually playing through the scenario. It's by the designer of The Stanley Parable and shares some similar humor, narrative and design decisions. I took the time to complete the achievements for this one to see all the weird stuff that was included, the optional cassette tapes are very strange.

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I'm currently playing through The Witness. I figure I'm about 50% through. It's been a really challenging but rewarding experience and I think it teaches the player better than maybe any other game I've played. (Might be an overstatement but I've been thinking about it a ton while playing.) I've also been recently messing with the new StarCraft 2 co-op mode, which is pretty fun. The mode is a set of co-op PVE missions where players get WarCraft 3 style hero characters or crazy additional powers to go along with their armies. It's a lot lower stress than normal StarCraft multiplayer. Also, it sounds like it's going to be updated with more missions and commanders going forward, so that's pretty cool. Lastly, I'm still playing Heroes of the Storm regularly. It's pretty much my go to game to just jump on with friends and play. 

I've made a list of backlog games I intend to play along with the approximate time required to complete them, so expect another one of these posts next month with one or two longer games, probably The Witness and Firewatch if I had to guess, and a couple shorter ones. Until then, <3. 

Daily - 01/04/16

January's PS Plus lineup announced.

Grim Fandango Remastered (PS4 / Vita)
Hardware: Rivals (PS4)
Dragon Age: Origins (PS3)
Medal of Honor Warfighter (PS3)
Legends of War: Patton (Vita)
Nihilumbra (Vita)

Source: Kotaku

34,000 Steam Users affected in Holiday hack.
Source: Kotaku

Steam has a new 12 million concurrent user record from New Years day.
Source: Polygon

Kotaku reports possible details of the next Assassin's Creed.
Source: Kotaku

Activision reportedly buying out MLG for $46 million.
Source: Polygon

Rise of the Tomb Raider, Halo 5, Gears of War Ultimate and Forza 6 have all sold 1 million copies.
Source: IGN

Halo: Reach has frame rate issues on Xbox One.
Source: Kotaku

Xbox One Elite Controller will remain supply constrained until March 2016. 
Source: IGN

Final Fantasy 9 is headed to smartphones and PC.
Source: Polygon

Splatoon got a new map called Piranha Pit.
Source: Gamespot

Volume's PS Vita release is out January 5th 2016.
Source: IGN

Uncharted 4 is delayed to April 26th 2016.
Source: Gamespot

Scalebound delayed to 2017.
Source: Polygon

Ori and the Blind Forest Definitive Edition delayed to Spring 2016.
Source: Gamespot

Oculus Touch is delayed until the second half of 2016.
Source: IGN

Rift pre-orders are opening on January 6th.
Source: Polygon

Watch AGDQ 2016! (Schedule)

Outro music: A_Rival - Boss (Street Fighter X Mega Man OST)

Thanks for listening to the show, it's been a really fun year! <3

Daily - 12/21/15

Street Fighter V is going to support SteamOS and Steam Controller.
Source: Polygon

Final Fantasy 7 Remake will have full voice acting.
Source: Polygon

January Xbox Games with Gold:

Xbox One:
Killer Instinct: Season 1 Ultra Edition ∆ 1/1 - 1/31
Zheros ∆ 1/16 - 2/15 

Xbox 360:
Dirt Showdown ∆ 1/1 - 1/15
and Deus Ex: Human Revolution ∆ 1/16 - 1/31

Source: Kotaku

Bloodborne patch eases end game issues.
Source: Polygon

Dying Light update increases max level in game.
Source: Gamespot

Layoffs confirmed at Elder Scrolls Online studio.
Source: IGN

Batman: Arkham Knight December DLC is coming December 22nd.
Source: Gamespot

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Awakening DLC is out February 2nd.
Source: IGN

Threes is now free to play in a browser.
Source: Polygon

Daily - 12/17/15

Undertale wins GameFAQ's Best Game Ever.
Source: Polygon

16 new games are added to Xbox One backwards compatibility.
Source: Polygon

GTA Liberty City Stories released on iOS.
Source: Gamespot

Minecraft Title Update 31 for consoles adds lots of new things.
Source: IGN

Mario Maker update adds more features.
Source: Kotaku

World of Warcraft PvP changes detailed.
Source: Kotaku

Team Fortress 2 Tough Break update is starting a three month event.
Source: Gamespot

Steam Controller beta update adds cloud saves for configurations.
Source: Kotaku

Rocket League has made almost $50 million on a $2 million budget.
Source: Gamespot

Riot Games is now fully owned by Tencent.
Source: Polygon

Elder Scrolls Legends is delayed to 2016.
Source: Gamespot

Below is delayed to 2016.
Source: Gamespot

PayPal leak reveals that Steam Sale will begin December 22nd.
Source: Polygon

Daily - 12/16/15

Overwatch progression system details.
Source: Kotaku

Playstation VR Headset comes with additional processing box.
Source: Polygon

The next round of Xbox Backwards Compatible games will be revealed very soon. 
Source: Gamespot

Dota 2's Balance of Power update brings a new character and more.
Source: IGN

Rainbow Six Siege's Patch 1.1 is out.
Source: Kotaku

Just Cause 3 Patch improves load times.
Source: Gamespot

Halo 5's Cartographer's Gift update is out now.
Source: Gamespot

The Banner Saga is out on PS4 and Xbox One on January 12th.
Source: Kotaku

The next Destiny Iron Banner event begins on December 29th.
Source: Gamespot

Pokken Tournament is out in Japan on March 18th.
Source: IGN

Daily - 12/15/15

 Source:  uvula

Source: uvula

Recap of the Smash Brothers Direct.
Source: Nintendo Direct

Noby Noby Boy is finished.
Source: Kotaku

The Long Dark is getting a story mode.
Source: IGN

Ark: Survival Evolved is getting two player split screen on Xbox One.
Source: Gamespot

Kojima is officially on his own and starting a new studio.
Source: Gamespot

Xbox One Elite controller is selling well.
Source: IGN

GTA V's new update includes a Super Yacht and more.
Source: The Verge

Microtransactions are coming to Call of Duty Black Ops 3.
Source: IGN

Level boosts are added to Destiny.
Source: IGN

New Rock Band 4 features teased.
Source: IGN

Rainbow Six Siege gets more hardcore playlist next year.
Source: Gamespot

Turok Remastered is out on PC December 17th.
Source: IGN

Daily - 12/14/15

Star Citizen Alpha 2.0 launches, has almost raised $100 million.
Source: Kotaku

Pokemon is introducing a Fire Water type.
Source: Gamespot

Metro: 2033 Wars mobile strategy game launches.
Source: Polygon

Dice is working on the next Battlefield game.
Source: IGN

Battlefield Hardline Getaway DLC detailed.
Source: Gamespot

Battlefield 4 Holiday update detailed.
Source: Gamespot

Halo 5 advanced controller options are coming this week.
Source: Gamespot

Halo 5 now rewards players for playing everyday.
Source: Gamespot

DayZ update is adding Wolves and Bicycles.
Source: Gamespot

Rocket League Holiday Hockey Mode now available.
Source: Gamespot

The recent Fallout 4 patch helped PS4 performance overall, affects Xbox One less.
Source: Gamespot

System Shock 3 is official.
Source: Polygon

Mario Galaxy is rated for Wii U.
Source: Gamespot

Fable Legends open beta is coming in Spring.
Source: Polygon

Unravel is out February 9th.
Source: Kotaku

Daily - 12/11/15

Overwatch's progression system will be different than Diablo or Warcraft.
Source: IGN

Overwatch microtransactions plans are undecided.
Source: Gamespot

The NPD Best Selling games of November:

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 - XBO
2. Fallout 4 - PS4
3. Star Wars Battlefront - PS4
4. Madden NFL 16 - PS4
5. NBA 2k16 - PS4
6. FIFA 16 - PS4
7. Need for Speed - PS4
8. Halo 5: Guardians - XBO
9. Assassin's Creed Syndicate - PS4
10. Just Dance 2016 - Wii/Wii U/360

Source: Gamespot

The NPD Best Selling Hardware of November was the PS4.
Source: Gamespot

New Nintendo Patent might hint at NX's form.
Source: Polygon

Gearbox is opening a studio in Quebec.
Source: Polygon

Valve nerfs Counter-Strike's new gun.
Source: Kotaku

Changes to Steam's trading system are here.
Source: IGN

Steam Controller December update brings new features.
Source: Polygon

Agatsuma Entertainment is shutting down.
Source: Kotaku

PaRappa The Rapper 2 is headed to PS4 December 15th.
Source: Gamespot

Towerfall Ascension and it's DLC is headed to PS Vita and PS TV December 15th.
Source: IGN