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Exhuminator
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Re: Games Beaten 2016

by Exhuminator Sun Jun 26, 2016 1:50 am

slurp
Last edited by Exhuminator on Sun Jul 03, 2016 10:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Sarge
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Re: Games Beaten 2016

by Sarge Sun Jun 26, 2016 4:53 pm

Whew, harsh man, harsh.

For the record, I do agree that CVIII isn't the best on the system. I like the exploratory form that Simon's Quest took, and how tight and cohesive the original game is. CVIII is the "best" if you want more of the first game... but not quite as tightly designed in spots.

As for it being too long, at least they were nice enough to include a password system. Goodness knows I needed it. It's nice to be able to not have to play through in one sitting, but then again, you've got to be really good to do so in one, as well.

Now, the one place I don't think I can agree is the music. I still think it's got a phenomenal soundtrack, because I love the melodies, and the Japanese version certainly does a better job with instrumentation since it has the VRC6 backing it up. The US version is most assuredly gimped in that regard (although one or two songs are actually slightly better with less instrumentation).

Also, note that overall, the Japanese version is easier. Not sure if you've played that, but the differences are minor yet fascinating, and serve to make for a slightly brisker experience.

If I had to rate it, it's probably 8/10 territory for me. Really good, but not reaching the upper tier of greatness. The funny thing is, though, I might say the same thing with the first two games as well if you catch me in a fit of honesty. But I'm more likely to play through the first game out of all of them if I'm feeling a need to play a "Classicvania".

Spot on with everything regarding Crisis Force, by the way.
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Re: Games Beaten 2016

by MrPopo Sun Jun 26, 2016 7:00 pm

1. Oni - PC
2. Donkey Kong 64 - N64
3. Yoshi's Story - N64
4. Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide - PC
5. Forsaken 64 - N64
6. Bloodrayne: Betrayal - PSN
7. Fire Emblem Seisen no Keifu - SNES
8. Fire Emblem Shin Monshō no Nazo: Hikari to Kage no Eiyū - Nintendo DS
9. Valkyria Chronicles 3 - PSP
10. Ready 2 Rumble Boxing - DC
11. Rise of the Tomb Raider - PC
12. XCOM 2 - PC
13. Shadowrun Hong Kong Bonus Campaign - PC
14. Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest - 3DS
15. Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright - 3DS
16. Lagrange Point - NES
17. Fire Emblem Fates: Revelations - 3DS
18. Cybernator - SNES
19. Outwars - PC
20. Resident Evil - GC
21. Resident Evil 2 - GC
22. Resident Evil 3 - GC
23. Resident Evil Code Veronica X - GC
24. Dino Crisis - PSX
25. Resident Evil 5 - PC
26. Dark Souls 3 - PS4
27. The Banner Saga 2 - PC
28. Bravely Second - 3DS
29. Star Fox Zero - Wii U
30. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - PC
31. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Winter Assault - PC
32. Doom (2016) - PC
33. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Dark Crusade - PC
34. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Soulstorm - PC
35. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine - PC
36. Doom 64 - N64
37. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - PC
38. Super Empire Strikes Back - SNES
39. Might & Magic 3 - Isles of Terra - PC
40. Mirror's Edge Catalyst - PC
41. Sonic 2 - Genesis
42. Resident Evil Revelations - PC

Well, I definitely liked this one much more than RE5, though it still got a bit combat heavy in certain parts. The gun customization ended up being better than the leveling up of weapons from the previous two games, in my opinion. It let you focus different guns on different things quickly, rather than having to trudge through small incremental upgrades.

RER is set shortly before RE5 and sets up the state of the world that RE5 is in. Whereas the Raccoon City games were confined to a small part of rural America this game introduces the idea of BOWs to the world. A year prior to the game's events a terrorist organization unleashes packs of Hunters in a city that ends up having to be wiped off the face of the earth. Since this city was a marvel of modern engineering the world takes notice of the circumstances, leading to the previously unknown counter-bioterrorism organizations to gain in recognition and prominence. This game involves following up leads on the possible resurgence of the group that caused the previous attack (who were thought to have perished with the city).

Pacing-wise the game is much closer to the classic Resident Evil games; it's focused more on horror and many times you can (and are encouraged to) avoid enemies rather than engage them. There is even a dodge feature that can get you past enemies who are blocking a narrow hallway. There are some light find-the-key elements, but nothing to the extent previous games had.

One thing that is rather unique to this game is that it is set up like a 12 episode TV show. The game is divided into 12 chapters, each of which is about 20-30 minutes long. At the start of each chapter you get a "previous on" segment that draws attention to the important plot points for the upcoming chapter. The chapters themselves are also divided into two or three sections (except for one). The main action is with Jill Valentine as she explores the mystery, with the section breaks giving you the opportunity to bounce the viewpoint onto a few other characters. Some of these are concurrent with what Jill is doing, while a few are flashbacks to the incident a year ago. These switches are very akin to viewpoint switches you see in story-heavy TV shows. It's a neat concept, and playing a long session of the game is like binge watching a few episodes of a show.

There was one section that was rather infuriating; your first boss fight is against an enemy with inordinate amounts of health, infinite spawns of enemies around it, and underpowered weapons for the player. It took several tries to get the right combination of actions to put him down before running out of ammo. By contrast the other boss fights felt much more fair and allowed me to take advantage of the planning I had done with regards to weapon selection, weapon upgrades, and ammo conservation. Even the final boss wasn't too bad once I figured out his various attack patterns.

I'd definitely put this in the "play" category for fans of the series.
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Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018
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Re: Games Beaten 2016

by Exhuminator Sun Jun 26, 2016 9:54 pm

FYI Sarge I played through the USA version of Castlevania III. I would like to hear that Famicom OST though.

Surprised MrPopo didn't mention Raid Mode in his Revelations review. I spent a fair amount of time messing with that when I played the game on 3DS.
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Re: Games Beaten 2016

by MrPopo Sun Jun 26, 2016 11:48 pm

Exhuminator wrote:FYI Sarge I played through the USA version of Castlevania III. I would like to hear that Famicom OST though.

Surprised MrPopo didn't mention Raid Mode in his Revelations review. I spent a fair amount of time messing with that when I played the game on 3DS.

Never touched it. I'm not interested in "shoot the guys" modes in my RE games.
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Re: Games Beaten 2016

by Xeogred Mon Jun 27, 2016 12:23 am

I'm with Exhuminator on CVIII, from my Castlevania marathon last year. One playthrough was enough for me. But I can't defend Simon's Quest much either, I don't have patience for the fake invisible blocks. I'll try out a hacked version someday that removes that since that's a thing.

This might be a lack of nostalgia thing, or nostalgia for a different era, but Castlevania is a case where I can confidently say I vastly prefer the 16-bit era games over the NES ones. I talk about this a lot but I generally prefer smaller sprite characters, but maybe this is a very rare case where bigger sprites feels a bit better haha. Everything about Bloodlines, Super IV, and Rondo is just way better than the NES stuff to me. Dracula X sucks big time though.
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Re: Games Beaten 2016

by isiolia Mon Jun 27, 2016 12:36 am

Hadn't been posting in this, since I've predominately played FFXI this year, making my list of games beaten...fairly meager :roll: As that's tapered off, I anticipate getting to more other games, so I figured I'd start posting.

Thus far...

1. Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One)
2. DOAX3 Fortune Edition (PS4)
3. Uncharted 4 (PS4)
4. DOOM (2016) (PC)
5. Halo 5 (Xbox One)
6. Dark Souls (PC)
7. Call of Duty (PC)

While I can comment on others if anyone cares, I completed Dark Souls and Call of Duty over this past weekend, so I'll just share thoughts on those.

Dark Souls

Played: Just under 56 hours, elected not to delve into the DLC (though I made a copy of my save hive file, so I assume I could), and after 55+ hours of not using it, took advantage of having saved Knight Solaire from himself by employing Jolly Cooperation™ to take down Gwyn (likely saving myself a few hours of attempting him...I am not good at Dark Souls).

I've taken a stab at other Soulsborne games before, but something has always distracted me from actually keeping at them. Given that I don't particularly care to use the online features, the "restart" movement wasn't that key to the timing...but I was looking for what game to play next, and figured why not.

The last time I'd attempted DS, I'd managed to get past the bell gargoyles fight/first bell, and...then went and ran around Darkroot Garden for some reason. This time, I consulted more FAQs...and over the course of my playthrough, pretty well near any other resource I could find to help. I may have denied myself some of the joy of discovery, but the difference it made in keeping at the game likely paid off.
To a point, that the game pushed me to research it in order to come up with plans of action...is rare, and satisfying. The game doesn't tell much of its story in a direct way, and even some of the lore/etc is only from outside resources - it helped me appreciate what I ran into.

Even then, as much as knowledge helps - and it does, as proper preparation goes a long way - Dark Souls still thrives on execution. Nothing like watching a Youtuber able to speedrun the game in under an hour after I spent several failing to beat a single boss. I never quite got to the point of quitting over a difficult encounter, but a handful did get quite frustrating. :lol: Still, while parts of the game are at least mean, if not downright cheap (I had...more choice words at the time), it does come together to craft a memorable experience.

Ultimately, I enjoyed my run through this, and plan to re-attempt or start on the other Soulsborne games. It may not always be fun, but it's satisfying. Praise the sun!


Call of Duty

Played: ~6.5 hours on Normal.

I grabbed this (well, the 1/2/UO bundle) on the Steam Sale to nominally participate in this month's Together Retro. I also bought Advanced Warfare, but I don't feel like paying (another) overage charge to download it before my cap resets, so I won't be playing it this month. :roll:

My only prior experience with the series was Modern Warfare, which I was mixed on (and played several years ago). However, it did serve to reconfigure my expectations for the series going into the original here. So, it was fairly similar to what I remembered from that, just clunkier. Main thing that stood out was that they'd yet to use regenerating health. Playing on PC seemed to net an advantage as well, since I could (and did!) abuse quicksave, and the high res + mouse controls seems to make sniping enemies maybe a little too easy.

Story was, for the time - or perhaps more, for the team size/budget - decently done. I didn't find most of it to be particularly memorable though. Could also just be the glut of WW2 based media that came out around then. I can respect that they were trying integrate Band of Brothers style storytelling, but little seemed incorporated into the gameplay.

All in all, it was okay, and didn't really defy expectations.
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Re: Games Beaten 2016

by Ack Mon Jun 27, 2016 10:56 am

1. Metal Slug (MVS)(Run and Gun)
2. Puzzle Link (NGPC)(Puzzle)
3. Illusion of Gaia (SNES)(RPG)
4. Warhammer 40,000: Rites of War (PC)(Strategy)
5. Shadowrun: Dragonfall (PC)(RPG)
6. Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (PC)(RPG)
7. Drakkhen (SNES)(RPG)
8. Flight of the Amazon Queen (PC)(Point and Click Adventure)

9. Shadowgrounds: Survivor (PC)(Top-Down Shooter)
10. Lufia & The Fortress of Doom (SNES)(RPG)
11. BioShock (PC)(FPS)
12. Jeopardy! Sports Edition (SNES)(Game Show Sim)
13. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (PC)(FPS)
14. Thief Gold (PC)(Stealth)
15. Call of Duty 2 (PC)(FPS)

16. Might and Magic III: Isles of Terra (PC)(RPG)
17. Alone in the Dark (PC)(Survival Horror)

Alone in the Dark is a strange historical curiosity. It's the progenitor of the 3D survival horror genre. It helped shape and influence the design of a multitude of 3D action-adventure games. It combines elements of horror, point-and-click style puzzles, and even platforming. Its controls and graphics are rudimentary but almost stylish. I had a blast figuring it out.

Let's hit a big bone of contention for this game right off the bat: tank controls. Not only does AitD use tank controls, it also supplements them with a weird action system that requires holding spacebar and directional keys while using pre-selected actions to do certain things. Whether a player can handle the controls will make or break this experience. I've played a lot of survival horror games over the years, so tank controls are pretty par for the course, but AitD's system for handling combat is...well, it's painful. There is also a timing component, as your characters are forced to wind up for their attacks. Some enemies are fast enough that precision is absolutely required, and some enemies are immune to certain weapons. I avoided combat as much as possible, though sometimes that just wasn't feasible. While there are a few projectile weapons in the game(note: no auto-aim though. You have to manually do that), I found it was best to save and take some time to learn how to deal with enemies by losing fights before I really felt comfortable. If you want to survive in AitD, you have to learn how to fight, as well as when to fight.

Another bone of contention in AitD would likely be the dated graphics. This is 3D at its most rudimentary, with very rigid shapes serving to represent character models and furnitures with limited texturing. Personally I loved it. The simplicity of the graphics have given the game an almost artistic flair, where things are recognizable and easy to understand. The combination of bright and varied colors as well as general symmetrical blockiness made me think of art deco style, which goes hand in hand with the 1920s time period during when the game takes place. About the only thing I didn't care for were the facial renderings of the two leads, which is why I chose to play as Edward Carnby: Emily Hartwood's obscene lipstick and cross-eyed expression left her looking demented before she even set foot in the house.

Sound design also plays heavily in the game. Decent survival horror games attack the player's avatar, but great ones attack the player directly, and AitD does this by using its soundtrack to assault the senses. Mixed in to the relatively quiet background noise are the occasional sudden howling of wolves or other loud thuds, screams, etc. This is a perfect way to catch the player off guard when he or she is deep in thought on a particular puzzle. Hostile monsters approaching also have their own soundtrack, though it queues up and ends at odd times. Occasionally I would flee and leave a monster far behind, and I'd still be hearing the combat theme three rooms later. At other times, I'd finish off the monster before the music even kicked in. Still, if you don't like the soundtrack, there's a gramophone and a few records scattered about of classical music, one of which is required for a puzzle(it's obvious when you get there). You can always put that down to crank out whatever jams you're in the mood for...so long as what you're in the mood for is mournful or despairing.

The early 3D also incorporates fixed camera angles. While those aren't too bad(the game occasionally uses them to intentionally mess with the player with incoming monsters), they vary in quality. The ones in the cavern area are particularly bad because you have to do some platforming, and the angle is atrocious for judging distance and depth. More than once I found myself making a jump but ending up on a precarious ledge and nearly tumbling off. I got lucky. Other folks might not. It also becomes problematic for dealing with height, so I wasted several rounds in some of the later areas trying to shoot critters that I wasn't able to because I was actually much lower than they were and could not tell.

The puzzles are where I see AitD really shine, and this is where the game reveals how it connects from the previous point-and-click horror games to the 3D survival horror craze that Resident Evil helped usher in. In that regard, AitD felt less like a Silent Hill or Fatal Frame and much more like Shadowgate: items can have multiple uses or serve as red herrings(or even hurt or kill the player character for interacting with them), trial and error is involved while trying to figure out the unexpected uses for certain objects, and a few items may break or become unusable under certain conditions. Fail to do a puzzle though and you'll likely be killed instantly, so keep on your toes. For me the hardest was a hallway full of paintings with two that can kill you. I had the necessary objects to handle both, but it took a bit to figure out. Also the monster in the library...well, let's just say "trial and error" became the norm there. I died a lot in that room. But the game does give hints and in some cases flat out tells you how to handle the vast majority of the puzzles throughout, so keep an open mind and read most of the things you get. Not all, as a few will kill you.

Now for the big question: which had more influence on the design of Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark or Sweet Home? You know what? I can't say. RE definitely got its controls and its camera angles from AitD, and its combat is an updated version of AitD's gunplay with some necessary enhancements. But its traversal of rooms as separate areas is much more in line with SH(Sweet Home, not Silent Hill), as are its multiple endings. Both AitD and SH have a mansion setting, both involve multple characters, both use cryptic puzzle design and limited resources. Surprisingly neither AitD or SH apply those limited resources to saving, meaning RE's ink ribbons came out of the blue. Since RE started as an updated version of Sweet Home, it's more than fair to say that RE is SH in its bones but AitD in its muscles, with Night of the Living Dead for its skin. None of this would have been possible without a multitude of influences, and both were highly important.

Now, as a horror fan...go play Alone in the Dark. And Sweet Home. And Resident Evil. And yes, Silent Hill, which yes, I will finally be getting back to.
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Re: Games Beaten 2016

by Exhuminator Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:07 am

Great review Ack. :o I think you're spot on with the amalgam of influences theory.

I got halfway through Sweet Home many years ago. I should go back and finish it. Such a cool game.

My lack of Silent Hill experience is just shameful. I have no excuse.
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Re: Games Beaten 2016

by Sarge Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:31 am

Best thing to do for the soundtrack for Akumajou Densetsu is give it a listen on YouTube, or grab the NSF. I've got the latter, but here's a link to the former.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2JWRJZ ... B55F0ECFDC
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