Archive for the ‘screenshots’ Category

Ah, Dishonored… Is the architecture and level design of these games the best in the industry, or just very close to that? I don’t know. It’s the best part of these games in any case. The worst part however (sorry!), must be how they always dump a single, short scene at the end and then go right into the ending credits. Those games are definitely all about the journey, not the destination. While this is anything but uncommon in the realm of gaming, this absolutely has to be the worst part of these games. I love these screens that are shown at the end of each mission, giving a summary of everything that took place in YOUR playthrough. The most intriguing section probably is “special actions”. So in one of the Death of the Outsider missions I saved a witch from her prison cell and you can meet her again in the same level outside sitting on a chair – but that’s it. You’ll never meet her again and nothing further will change anywhere. Everything will be as if you didn’t do that. Now I understand that it’s very expensive to reflect player actions and choices in a game, but this is the only big thing where all the Dishonored games really drop the ball. After spending many extra hours sneaking and not killing anybody (obviously you can end the game in a fraction of the time if you just kill everything), I want more than a short clip at the end, saying “Yeah you got the good ending BYE!”. It’s frustrating. I want a real payoff. I deserve one! :P A proper epilogue, at least, is not too much to ask!

But more specific to the Death of the Outsider, I found the idea so odd. Why would anyone want to kill the guy? Without him giving Corvo these powers, he never would have been able to survive the events of Dishonored 1 or at least to have a meaningful impact. He also always gives these insightful hints. That’s pretty cool, right?
The only thing I ever wanted in regards to the Outsider, was a little bit more info on him. And, shocker, this is exactly what this expansion didn’t give me. Instead there is this premise I didn’t really buy into and then it only leads to the typical 30 sec Dishonored ending scene. Great! The thing I want now, what they’ll obviously never do, is have us play the Outsider in the next Dishonored game. Retconning everything is even a Dishonored tradition (they’ve done it in every sequel, at least to a certain degree), so this wouldn’t be a showstoppper.
Spoilers: The only thing I learned about the Outsider in Death of the Outsider, was that some cult performed some ritual on the Outsider, but I still have no idea why and why he was chosen. There is also no information on who he was or anything else that might have been actually interesting (the sole reveal they tease a bit, his name, they completely chicken out of). It’s a complete cop out on anything story related. The game is as bad in telling any kind of meaningful story, as it is good in world-building and creating an enticing atmosphere. The people who hacked all these notes together should have been able to come up with some sort of rudimentary story. Okay, I guess they kinda did, with an emphasis on the rudimentary.
This game was also the first entry in the series which deemed it necessary to call itself Dishonored®: Death of the Outsider™ instead of just Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. Yay! :D

btw: The graphics really impressed me. Incredible textures all throughout. Breathtaking art everywhere. Someone should do a Dishonored museum with only paintings from this game. [1] In one scene I thought for a second there might be some decal stuck in the air in front of me, but it turned out I was under a tree and its leaves were falling… And let’s not forget the lighting effects, those were pristine. Best I ever saw in a game, I think. [2]

PS: The “void leaking into the world” part was “strongly reminding” me of BioShock Infinite. There was only Elizabeth missing making a comment about it. :P

PPS: OWLS! What’s up with the owls?!? A reference to Blade Runner? An inside joke? Did I miss something?

[1] Part of the Dishonored 2 exhibit at the Art Ludique

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dishonored_2#Release

[2] Arkane removed unneeded elements from the engine like the mini open world and overhauled the graphics. The new engine is intended to improve in-game lighting and post-processing to help the game’s visuals, and allows the game to visualize subsurface scattering.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dishonored_2#Development

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Most companies manage/intend to improve their games in some way over time, so I absolutely wanted to play Transistor because I thought Bastion was interesting. For whatever reason, I have to say I liked Transistor less than Bastion. The great graphics are back, but everything else feels almost like a step back. They definitely tried to do something here, there are a lot of powers that can be used as active or passive abilities and the mix is up to the player, but it didn’t engage me much. I just picked some combo that seemed to work and stuck with it for the entire game.

What I couldn’t get into at all was the story (although I really wanted to – at first when it still showed promise), which probably explains my lack of motivation to get through this. I don’t think I would have finished it, if it wasn’t relatively short. Even now I have no idea what it was supposed to be about. I waited for some twist or explanation that never came. The characters are (trapped?) in a seemingly digital world, but how they got there, or what their origins are, remained a mystery. I tried to come up with explanations of my own, to make some sense of this at least, but I never like it, if something has so many holes, that the story will only work if I fill in all the blanks myself. I’m not willing to tell a story to the storyteller who I’ve paid to tell me a story. :P

Anyway, the game goes into its version of NG+ right away after finishing and all I thought was HELL NO. The game really overestimates how good its gameplay actually is (this ain’t XCOM). And I think I’ve said enough about the story (I don’t care if there is a super-awesome fan explanation somewhere that elaborates on everything).

So yeah, I wouldn’t buy it again. Sorry. Their new game is a party based RPG as far as I know, this already sounds so much more to my liking. :)

Prey

I liked Prey a lot, I especially enjoyed it more than the last Deus Ex (although that one wasn’t a bad game either) – this is the kind of game this Prey is most similar to. It has such an odd genesis, resulting in having nothing in common with the other Prey, which is fine, I guess.

Prey is an unrelenting exploration game (is the term metroidvania applicable here?). It has a ton of gameplay systems and most of them are working very well, most other games don’t even have half as many. Inventory, hacking, repairing, recycling, crafting, turrets, sneaking, gunplay, zero gravity, scanning device, accessible computers, toy gun, upgradeable suit, upgradeable scanner, multiple supernatural abilities, countless objects are movable/destructible, character progression through neuromods and probably more I’ve forgotten.
I cannot even imagine how one would pitch this. It sounds like someone just trying to throw in all the buzz words. But they actually delivered on all of it. Quite rare. And it’s still fun too. :D

The ending made me mad at first, but there was “another ending” after the ending credits, which redeemed the game. :P If the first stop would have been the actual ending, this would have sucked so hard. :D I don’t know if they intended to mess with the player this way. Probably.

Because I’m so slow it took me 52 hours to complete this (according to Steam at least).
Honestly the game was great, I can only complain about the bugged Kirk Remmer quest. This bug is in the game since release and they should have fixed this by now.

PS: The player can somewhat protect turrets with the GLOO cannon and I feel like an idiot for not realizing this during my playthrough. It says everything about this game that there always is another way to do something. :)

I already thought during playing Mars: War Logs, that their games are essentially like RPGs BioWare would have done 10 years ago, before they “pivoted” towards a focus on DLC, microtransactions and tacked on multiplayer – just on a smaller budget. That’s not even saying that everything in this game necessarily feels “cheap” or “small”. There are a lot of solid RPG systems in this (fighting especially has improved since MWL) and they obviously did motion capture. The movement of the characters ingame, but also especially during fights in cut scenes, look rather impressive at times (or maybe even all the time). IMHO this is done better than what e.g. MEA had to offer – a game which probably cost a thousand times more money. :P

The “cuts” are once again most noticeable wherever it comes to the story and the characters. While I’m usually not looking for mere padding in games, elaborating on a few things here and there really could have helped Bound by Flame. Too often, developments between characters are so sparse, it’s hard to overlook how abrupt e.g. companions jump through “the motions” that are typical for games of this genre.
The game is very detailed in other areas. All the numerous weapons (swords, axes, hammers, daggers, crossbows) look fairly distinct, unique even.

This is also why I was never a huge fan of enormous game worlds. It can work out (of course), but all too often a bigger game world only creates the problem of having to fill it with something (which in turn will too often lead to garbage/filler content) or there will be only this giant dead space for the player to be bored in.
If I would have been involved in this game’s development, I would have opted for a smaller game world. Bound by Flame doesn’t really allow for much in its areas except for killing enemies and finding some loot here and there. There is a lot of traversing through huge areas in this game. Thankfully the ability to run really fast was included. It would have been so much worse without this.

In the end I enjoyed this game a lot more than MEA (having already mentioned it and all), because at least the world felt original and their heart seems to be in the right place. Who knows how great this game could have been, with more quests/side-quests and more depth for its characters (it’s not like they can’t do good/memorable characters, Fatso comes to mind). Oh and I would have been okay with a lower difficulty level. I’m not one of these Dark Souls masochists and Bound by Flame can get relatively hard in some areas. I wouldn’t want to play this on its highest difficulty setting. But people are different, naturally. I can imagine some people would like to check this out because of that.

I really want to play Technomancer now. I heard it still has some of the same problems of their other two games, but since I can live with them, I’m almost certain that I would have fun with that game too. Maybe I also should check out if they are working on a new title. :)

Ever since I first played Baldur’s Gate I and II (which was roughly a 1000 years ago, I believe), I thought there was this weird disconnect between the ending of BGI and the beginning of BGII. I ends on a high with Sarevok defeated and being a hero and all, then II just has you waking up in a dungeon. Now I perfectly understand that the show must go on and all, but it felt like something was missing there. And why was Imoen a mage now? So when Siege of Dragonspear was announced, aiming at telling what went on between the 2 games, all I thought was FINALLY. This made so much sense to me. The only thing I haven’t learned during Siege of Dragonspear, was why Jaheira has a different character portrait in BGII. Clearly being a widow doesn’t become her.

Despite my interest, I managed to hold off on playing SoD until now. The campaign is pretty good and it’s weird to play a new infinity engine game after a whole lifetime. I still had my BGEE saves so I could jump right in. The game itself has gotten at least one new patch in the meantime as well, so it looks a little bit more modern now than it did last time I played. The new journal is probably the biggest difference. It even has a text search now. That’s really cool.

The campaign kept me interested the whole time, I didn’t play any other games until I completed it. I especially liked that they made it matter a lot which characters were in the party. They didn’t just make remarks this time or had a lot of banter, they could also offer their respective skills in dialogs. It makes so much sense, why wouldn’t a party with a specific cleric/healer be able to offer better help than one without?

Other than that it’s mostly what one would expect, but who cares, as long as its told well? And it does do a good job of answering all these questions I had. Mostly. At the very least it wraps things up much more nicely than the original releases did. That by itself is all the reason one needs to play this.

I finished this game (and several others I apparently couldn’t be bothered to add here) like 6 months ago after stopping to play it for almost a year because my PC (or its mainboard) died and for whatever reason I wouldn’t continue right away after replacing my faulty hardware. I even added Blackgate months ago, despite playing it after Arkham Knight.
All the technical difficulties really threw a heavy shadow over my experience with this game. And technically I played this game after it would do little more on PC than this, this or this.

It’s too bad really, because BAK doesn’t deserve a negative view anymore (the production maybe might still, but no longer the actual game and content). The game runs really smooth now and is less buggy than Origins, which received even less love long term. In Origins they never even bothered to fix the buggy cape.

The entire Arkham series might just be a singular extravaganza. At least for me. I’m sure other players can come up with other long-running game series which might qualify/compare, but these have been stellar since the beginning. I’m not surprised that problems arose when they were trying to go THIS big. It’s the curse of the sequel, that no one ever tries to go smaller and be more focused.

Despite this being rather saturated at this point, I still hope the Arkham fighting style and exploration isn’t going to vanish. It’s a damn shame no one considers catwoman a strong enough license to give her her own game. This would also be the ideal scenario in which they could go smaller. Just do a heist game with various missions. It wouldn’t even require a large open world. Building several solid missions would do it for me.

The bat tank/mobile was the target of a lot of criticism and ridicule. I liked driving it. Of course it was stupid that every riddler-room suddenly required it, but at least they tried to properly integrate it into the game. They made it more than just a stupid gimmick and I appreciate that, I have seen games do a lot worse in this regard.

The graphics are amazing, to this day I think this is the most detailed and beautiful open world city every created (for a game). This is probably a huge part of why Telltale Batman looks so horrible. In comparison, one might think there are at least 10 years between those games, although Telltale Batman was released after BAK. Telltale seriously should have used THIS engine for their game. Since both of them had the Batman license, this should have been possible somehow.

Although the Arkham games sadly never were as strong story-wise as I would have wanted them to be (they didn’t even bring back Dini for BAK), it was still very cool that they tried hard to give everything an ending that they ever touched in the prior games. This sure as hell was yet another tremendous task. In gaming, even big franchises usually get shitty endings or even none (if this makes much of a difference). So I’m happy for every exception.

The super short DLC story bits taking place before or after the main story of BAK IMHO only demonstrate, how they could have done significantly more with this engine and world. Why not add a bigger adventure with another character? It seems like a waste. This game would have warranted a proper expansion, think Witcher 3 – Blood & Wine. Actually, now I’m wondering why they didn’t do just that. Even with the debacle of the initial PC release, their cred on the console versions should have been high enough to keep going.

Sefton Hill did confirm they are working on a new project, but there’s no information at this point what this project might be and yet it seems plausible that it will have little to do with the Arkham games. That’s okay though, they deserve a break after developing 3 of them in a row. ;)

PS: BAK probably marks the last game for which I can upload screenshots (or anything), because after all these years my WP space is finally full. :) Glad I didn’t delete all too much just to keep pushing this moment.

Blackgate is the very last Batman game of the unparalleled Arkham series I have played/finished. And I’m really glad I did. It was a lot better than I expected it to be. Somehow the first impression can be that it might be kind of a half-assed effort, but I would have to disagree with this sentiment. The graphics, backgrounds and animations are mostly very well done. Them branching out a little from the typical Arkham formula makes it even more interesting to me. It really makes me wish they would have dared to pull more stunts like this. Who knows what types of Batman games they could have produced. Just imagine Telltale Batman with Arkham Knight level graphics…

There was really only one single thing in this game I honestly hated and that’s the backtracking. There were way too many situations in which one solved mission objective would lead to another one that required running 15 minutes back the way I just came. This game would have needed fast travel so bad. The maps are super-complex too (as far as modern games go) so on top of it all, it can be necessary to search for the correct (or at least shortest) path.

The rest can be pretty satisfying. It’s just another solid Batman adventure. The numerous boss battles play differently and require various tricks for successful completion. It could be more diverse than the boss battles in the bigger Arkham titles. The game also reminded me how sad it is, that Catwoman didn’t get her own Arkham-style game.

I also can’t remember a single bug from my playthrough. This always helps me enjoy a game more.

Really loved this game and enjoyed it tremendously. Also another prime example what incredible mileage one can get out of great voice acting.

Anyway, the game is about teaming up with a ROM (a robot with true AI) in order to find out what happened to its creator. I know, right? SAY NO MORE.

The game has it all, lots of characters, places multiple solutions and several endings. It even has an epilogue. Finally a game where I can’t complain about an ending being to abrupt!

I’m still wondering what Dana Zane was doing in this game, she was a character in another good game I played a while ago – of course I haven’t done any research, but at first glance these games don’t seem to be from the same dev, so I have no idea how that came to be. It’s quite intriguing though, since I tell myself that I play all these games more or less by coincidence.

All screenshots are 1.08.

1.08 is out “now” and it does little to change my opinion that BW never really fixes anything. They take months to release such a patch and the notes then list stuff like “Improved clarity of descriptions”. It’s shocking. With such few fixes and then ones at the aforementioned level, I’d at least expect them to deliver this faster. Sadly I feel much more validated in believing that they primarily fix some superficial stuff, but nothing of true significance.

If that would be the case, the game wouldn’t still have:

– Characters morphing into each other, here we see Cora and Peebee becoming one. :D

– Characters going into t-pose during cut scenes. If they aren’t going to get a handle on this situation after 3 patches (and months after release), chances are they never will and this is just how the game is going to stay.

– Stuff like enemies or objects that should be scannable are inside other objects. This is especially annoying with enemies who are inside walls, because missions don’t progress unless all the enemies are dead.

– Maybe worst of all, even some bugs that are listed in the changelog aren’t actually fixed. I can’t build this Nomad upgrade, nothing happens if I select it. Super frustrating.

The Deadly Tower of Monsters is one of these games, which essentially have only one central narration, but manage to get a lot of mileage out of it regardless. There is even a little bit of Stanley Parable thrown into it here and there. I like it!
The game is built around the idea that a director is recording a commentary track for one of his old movies, which gets a new DVD release.

So this director has a ton of stories to share while playing, but also addresses things the player does. It’s done really well, they have thought of a great many scenarios. While the gameplay and the graphics and the sound are all good, the director and the assistant commenting on everything, is the main event here.

It was actually shocking to me how good the graphics were. Both animation and design were much more imaginative and creative than many AAA games I played in recent history. Finally something that has true memorable and distinctive design and isn’t just some generic outing like a thousand other (therefore) forgettable games.

Without them having to say it outright, I was constantly thinking of Ray Harryhausen, tons of the monsters moved/were animated exactly like beasts from his movies. They nailed that stuff. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone even trying anything like that in a game. I had to wonder if it’s harder to animate something that looks like “stop-motion model animation” in the Unreal engine, than it is to do it like everyone else.
It took me only 5 hours to complete the game and I’m really happy I haven’t missed this fun gem.