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. 

♜♜♜

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. >.<

♜♜♜

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.