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Re: Games Beaten 2016

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:06 am
by MrPopo
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

56 hours and 9 campaigns later (though four of those were either the tutorial and then restart for the achievement and some story or abandoning after the first mission went bad) and my Classic Ironman run is complete. What a ride. I think XCOM 2 is the perfect sequel; it takes what was good from the first game, removes some of the tedious stuff, and adds new stuff of its own to stand alone.

XCOM 2 is set in the aftermath of your first XCOM campaign. You know, the one where you failed horribly? That's canon. XCOM is now a resistance movement against the alien overlords, essentially making this Red Dawn with aliens. The very first tutorial mission involves XCOM rescuing you from alien confinement; the details of what they were doing to you is important for the rest of the story of the game. I'd recommend you play the tutorial on your first time through the game to get those story beats. You will need to rebuild XCOM, spread the resistance around the globe, and ultimately figure out what the aliens have planned for humanity and stop it.

While the core of the game has changed there have been numerous tweaks to the existing formula. All the missions of XCOM have equivalents in XCOM 2. Instead of abductions you have guerilla operations. These still involve picking one of three targets based on the rewards and the consequences of not doing the other two. However, since there isn't a panic mechanic anymore you instead have to deal with dark events. These are bonuses the enemy forces will get for a month. This might be a point of armor, rounds that inflict poison, or getting additional ticks on the enemy's victory timer. However, these dark events are not guaranteed to trigger, and when they do trigger it is not immediately after the guerilla operation. So you need to carefully weigh which ones you're willing to accept or take a risk if you really need a particular reward. The guerilla missions tend to fall in one of three categories; reach a point and hack it, destroy an enemy transmitter, or protect a resistance transmitter. There are still council missions, though these all take the form of a VIP mission. This might be an escort the VIP out, rescue a friendly VIP from a cell and evac, or capture/kill an enemy VIP. The latter gives more rewards if you capture the VIP (which is a special action of you knocking him out at melee range, then schlepping his ass to the evac point). Since XCOM can't field an air force anymore there are no longer UFO interceptions (which were tacked on in the first game). Instead, the role of "mission that gives a lot of loot" is split across two missions; the first is assaults on landed UFOs and the second is supply raids on disabled convoys. Finally, terror missions have been replaced with retaliation missions, where the aliens hit a resistance outpost and you need to save at least 6 (of 13) civilians and wipe out all the aliens. There are a few story missions involving assaulting a particular enemy installation, as well as enemy bases that pop up and advance the enemy victory timer that you can assault to remove those gains.

The biggest change to the tactical combat is the concealment mechanic. At the start of most missions your team is concealed, which means that they can approach enemies much more closely before triggering them to scatter into cover. This allows you to do things like move most of your team close, activate overwatch on them, then use your last unit to start things off with a grenade. As they dash to cover they'll get cut down by your overwatch fire. You can also use this to scout out enemy groups and aggro them in an advantageous order or dodge enemy packs altogether. However, once you start the party the whole team is taken out of concealment (barring certain soldier skills). In addition to concealment, the game better models terrain destruction; if you toss a grenade on the top floor of a building it will destroy the floor and all units will fall and suffer damage from the fall. After intense fights the map starts to resemble what you'd see in the original X-COM: UFO Defense when you got explosive happy.

At the strategic layer the satellite mechanic has been replaced with setting up resistance cells. This still requires you to build some structures to support this but it isn't as onerous as getting the satellite centers up. Once you've contacted a region you will start to get a cash flow and can build a radio relay to boost that cash flow. However, radio relays cost an increasing amount for each new one built, so you need to plan ahead. Additionally, the cost to contact new regions increases based on the distance to the nearest radio relay (though contacting uses intel while radio relays costs supplies). So a strategy of island hopping to keep costs down tends to be the best way to go. You also need to contact every region on a continent and build relays on at least half of the regions to get the continent bonus. These bonuses are now randomized; there's a pool of approximately 10-12 that it selects from at the start of the game, but you won't be able to find out what they are until a month in for your first continent and later for the rest (you need to have a cell adjacent to a continent to see its bonus). The game still uses alien alloys, elerium, and corpses as resources. Supplies replace money and there is a new resource called intel which is used mostly to contact other regions and to buy items in the black market (which can be other resources, weapon mods, combat sims, or personnel). Finally, there is a special resource called elerium cores which are used as the basis for special items.

Base building has been cleaned up; there are now only 12 slots to build buildings and while you still need to excavate, when you excavate a slot you gain resources based on what was blocking the slot (this also determines how long it takes to excavate). Engineers have been changed from a minor prerequisite resource into actual functioning units that can be used to excavate, speed up building construction, or enhance a building's function (speeding up production, increasing power output, etc). Similarly, scientists are only picked up one at a time and they increase research speed with each scientist. They can be stationed in a lab to further increase the speed. Since there are now only 12 slots most buildings are now unique; only the power and resistance comms buildings can be built in multiples. You also don't have to worry about adjaceny bonuses (aside from the workshop, as that lets you station an engineer to get two robots that can act as engineers in neighboring structures, effectively doubling that engineer's capacity). Research still works the same, though certain story critical research needs a special building to do it in. This building also tells you the composition of enemy forces in battles, so it's useful beyond just being a MacGuffin. Item construction is divided into two categories. The first is basic construction, such as medikits, weapon upgrades, and armor underlays, which build instantly. Stuff equippable in the utility slot requires one built per soldier who wants to equip it, while armor and weapon tiers are a build once and everyone gets upgraded. The second kind of construction are the special gears which take time to build (though there are some continent bonuses that make certain ones instant). This includes upgrading the potency of your grenades and building specialty armor.

The classes have also been rebalanced. While you still have the same four as before they have been tweaked pretty heavily, and now psionics is split into a fifth class. The sharpshooter is probably the most similar to its XCOM class. The main difference is that the sharpshooter now starts with squadsight, making it easier to level. It also gets the ability to focus deeper on the pistol (which is sharpshooter only now) to have a more mobile soldier, which is critical on many missions that involve getting to an objective and then evacing. The level design also means that you frequently can't just sit at the start and snipe everything; good lines of sight can be harder to come by. The grenadier is the replacement for the heavy. Instead of a rocket launcher you get a grenade launcher, which uses the standard grenades you equip on your soldiers but sends them further. The grenadier also gets a dedicated slot for grenades (and a skill to double the number of grenades in that slot), so a basic grenadier can start with two grenades. The grenade launcher only takes one action point to fire and increases the radius of grenades. There is now a heavy armor suit that can be used by any class and mounts a single fire heavy weapon; the default is a rocket launcher but you can build other types, such as a flamethrower. These heavy weapons can also be fired with a single action, so you have more versatility with how you dole out your big area effects. The grenadier still uses a chaingun as its primary gun. The ranger is the replacement for the assault. She gets a sword that can be used after a dash (so effectively a melee range run and gun that can be used every turn) and has several skills related to the concealment mechanic. The specialist is a major upgrade to the support; the specialist comes with a little robot that at the squaddie level can give any soldier +40 defense (equivalent of high cover) for a turn and then the skills further enhance that robot; one side is for doing battle medic stuff and the other side is for making that robot able to do damage or hack into enemy mechanical units. Finally, the psionic is now a full class on its own, rather than a handful of abilities you give to an existing soldier. Psionics level up by spending time in the psionic lab, and up to two can be trained at a time. The psionic ranks up with each ability and can eventually learn every ability. When you train a psionic you are given three randomly selected abilities to work at; ones further down in the tree take longer to learn at low levels. So while it can be time consuming the psionic is a guaranteed colonel equivalent by the time you take them out. They also can go on missions while training; assuming they aren't wounded they'll go back to training on returning. A fully trained psionic has a ton of active abilities, so you can use them every turn (though cooldowns require you to switch up what you use).

The enemies have undergone a variety of changes since the first game. The most common enemy are the troopers which are modified humans loyal to the aliens. Over time they gain more HP so that you always have a good variety of enemies as you progress through the game; no more enemy classes disappearing once the tech level gets high enough. The enemies also benefit from the new armor mechanic; you won't see it until you get the heavy tier 2 armor or the tier 3 armor and you won't get it in the numbers that the enemies do. A unit's armor stat is a flat damage reduction from any attack, down to a minimum of one damage per attack. Armor can be bypassed with armor piercing rounds (an equippable item) or shredded through grenades, heavy weapons, and the shredder heavy talent (as well as a few enemy attacks).

The game has a greater sense of urgency compared to the first game. Most missions are timed, where you need to finish the main objective by a certain time limit. Some are explicit, such as "get the VIP and get out in 12 turns or you get left behind", or "hack the enemy's data within 8 turns or they successfully purge it". Others are implicit, like "rescued six civilians before the aliens burn them" or "protect the transmitter from enemies who actively try to destroy it". And then some missions don't have any, which includes all story missions, base assaults, and supply raids/downed UFOs. It encourages you to vary up your team compositions, as certain teams are better at some missions than others. The other thing that encourages that is the fact that armor no longer protects you from infirmary stays; any damage taken on a mission sends you to a bed for a few days.

Overall this is an excellent followup to the first game and I look forward to the sequel.

Re: Games Beaten 2016

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 10:48 am
by Ack
MrPopo wrote:essentially making this Red Dawn with aliens.

You mean it's just like the greatest documentary ever made?

Re: Games Beaten 2016

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:24 pm
by Exhuminator
Ex's 2016 beat list:
1. Mega Man ZX Advent|DS|2007|platformer|8h|7/10
2. King's Field III: Pilot Style|PS1|1996|dungeon crawler|1h|8/10
3. Sleeping Dogs|360|2012|action-adventure|20h 45m|8/10
4. Sleepings Dogs: NiNP DLC|360|2012|action adventure|1h 22m|5/10
5. Chikyuu Kaihou Gun ZAS|GB|1992|shmup|33m|8/10
6. Vattle Giuce|GB|1991|shmup|45m|5/10
7. MechWarrior 2 (Clan Wolf)|PS1|1997|mech sim|2h 35m|7/10
8. Gradius: The Interstellar Assault|GB|1992|shmup|27m|8/10
9. SolarStriker|GB|1990|shmup|23m|7/10
10. Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition (Arcade Mode)|PS1|1999|fighter|45m|6/10
11. Dead or Alive (Arcade Mode)|PS1|1998|fighter|23m|5/10
12. Asuka 120% Burning Festival Final (Arcade Mode)|PS1|1999|fighter|26m|8/10
13. Soul Blade (Arcade Mode)|PS1|1997|fighter|18m|9/10
14. Trax|GB|1991|shmup|23m|7/10
15. Street Fighter: The Movie (Arcade Mode)|PS1|1995|fighter|36m|5/10
16. Warpath: Jurassic Park (Arcade Mode)|PS1|1999|fighter|17m|4/10
17. Psychic Force (Arcade Mode)|PS1|1997|figher|22m|7/10
18. Touki Denshou: Angel Eyes (Arcade Mode)|PS1|1997|fighter|27m|7/10
19. Advanced V.G. 2 (Arcade Mode)|PS1|1998|fighter|15m|8/10
20. StarHawk|GB|1993|shmup|1h 15m|4/10
21. Nemesis|GB|1990|shmup|28m|7/10
22. Cardinal Syn (Arcade Mode)|PS1|1998|fighter|54m|7/10
23. Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha (Arcade Mode)|PS1|1997|fighter|15m|7/10
24. Street Fighter EX 2 Plus (Arcade Mode)|PS1|1999|fighter|22m|8/10
25. Battle Unit Zeoth|GB|1991|shmup|24m|6/10
26. Soul Calibur IV (Arcade Mode)|360|2008|fighter|12m|9/10
27. Mercenary Force|GB|1990|shmup|54m|5/10
28. Battle Arena Toshinden (Story Mode)|GB|1996|fighter|12m|8/10
29. Street Fighter Alpha: Warrior's Dreams (Arcade Mode)|GBC|1999|fighter|10m|7/10
30. SD Hiryu No Ken EX (Story Mode)|GBC|1999|fighter|24m|7/10
31. Guilty Gear X: Advance Edition (Arcade Mode)|GBA|2002|fighter|8m|6/10
32. Super Street Fighter II Turbo: Revival (Arcade Mode)|GBA|2001|fighter|10m|7/10
33. Dual Blades (Arcade Mode)|GBA|2002|fighter|23m|4/10
34. Gradius Galaxies|GBA|2001|shmup|1hr 24m|8/10
35. Tekken Advance (Arcade Mode)|GBA|2002|fighter|15m|7/10
36. Street Fighter Alpha 3 (Arcade Mode)|GBA|2002|fighter|22m|7/10
37. Black Belt Challenge (Arcade Mode)|GBA|2002|fighter|8m|4/10
38. Iridion II|GBA|2003|shmup|58m|9/10
39. King's Field III|PS1|1996|dungeon crawler|25h|9/10
40. Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel|360|2013|cover shooter|7h 54m|7/10

41. Panzer Dragoon|Saturn|1995|rail shooter|55m|7/10

Panzer Dragoon's a nice rail shooter for Saturn. It has impressive graphics for its time, enjoyable OST, and the game design is still engaging to play all these years later. Panzer Dragoon is held back by a few things though. Very limited weapons, only six short stages with extreme linearity, and practically zero replayability. As a graphical powerhouse rail shooter of its day though, Panzer Dragoon must have been quite intense to experience in 1995.

42. Panzer Dragoon II Zwei|Saturn|1996|rail shooter|1h 25m|8/10

Did you know that "panzer" in German means "tank", and "zwei" in German means "two"? So the proper English name of this game is actually something like Tank Dragon II Two.

Anyway, Panzer Dragoon II Zwei improves noticeably on the original Panzer Dragoon. Better graphics, faster framerates, more varied level and boss design, and somehow even more impressive music. Innovations over the original are minimal however, with only two big differences. The Dragoon now has a charged super attack that builds up over time, and the player is given unlimited continues. These two additions make Zwei a little more easy than its predecessor, but the final boss is still no joke. If you're a fan of rail shooters I think you'll find that Panzer Dragoon II Zwei still holds up and is fun to play twenty years past its release. And believe it or not, these old crusty Saturn polygons can still be impressive at times.

Yes I am continuing on to Saga next.

Re: Games Beaten 2016

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:26 pm
by MrPopo
So when I played Panzer Dragoon earlier I found that if I wanted to do damage quickly I needed to lay the controller on my lap and tap A, B, C with my fingers. Is that alleviated at all in Zwei?

Re: Games Beaten 2016

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:28 pm
by Exhuminator
Zwei has semi-auto fire. It's a lot better than the original in that regard.

Re: Games Beaten 2016

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:35 pm
by prfsnl_gmr
Exhuminator wrote:Yes I am continuing on to Saga next.

Good. And, I hope you continue on to Panzer Dragoon Orta (Xbox) after that. It is a totally awesome game.

EDIT: Thinking about it...Panzer Dragoon Orta is probably my second-favorite rail shooter. If you like Sin & Punishment: Star Successor - and I know you do - I think that you will really dig it. (Rez is probably number three for me, and I have read it was developed by some of the same people who worked on the Panzer Dragoon series.)

Re: Games Beaten 2016

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:36 pm
by Exhuminator
That's the plan man. I've got a legit copy of Orta that I bought back in 2007 or so.

Fun(?) fact: Those two Panzer Dragoon games were the very first Saturn titles I've ever beaten.

Re: Games Beaten 2016

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:04 pm
by touchofkiel
Damn, do you have a legit copy of Saga too? I'm afraid I'll never be able to play it at the prices it goes for... maybe in a few years, if I study Japanese really hard, and pick up the super cheap JPN version.

Re: Games Beaten 2016

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:11 pm
by MrPopo
Exhuminator wrote:Zwei has semi-auto fire. It's a lot better than the original in that regard.

What do you mean by semi-auto? When I hear semi-auto I think in terms of firearm operation, where semi-auto means one shot per one trigger pull (without having to work any part of the action like a manual bolt).

Re: Games Beaten 2016

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 7:03 pm
by Sarge
I absolutely love the music in Panzer Dragoon. I don't actually think I own the Saturn version of it, but I do own the PC port (which was very, very good). I listened to the audio from that all the time. I do have Zwei legit, though. I probably have about 20-30 Saturn games, but none of them are particularly rare, except for maybe Shining the Holy Ark and Legend of Oasis.

I bought and modded my Saturn specifically for Panzer Dragoon Saga, so it was the first game I beat for the system. This was well after the system was dead, and copies were probably averaging $200-250 at the time. Seems like it stuck at that price for a long time until recently.

Also, I'm guessing by "semi-auto", he means that it's like a burst-fire sort of shooting, where a button press shoots multiple shots, so to get effective auto-fire, you don't have to press the button quite as much. Orta is similar in that regard.