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Games Beaten 2021

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2021 2:28 pm
by ElkinFencer10
Welcome to the Games Beaten 2021 thread! In this thread, we list and discuss what games we've beaten this year.

Per Racketboy tradition, this thread is not a competition, not a place where we hold to hard and fast rules about what games can count, when, or why, etc. The only expectation is that you perhaps talk a bit about what you've beaten: What were your thoughts? Why did you play? Would you recommend it? This thread is about sharing our personal accomplishments and engaging one another about the games we have played!

Are you curious about what kinds of reviews people like to read in this thread? Take a look at this poll and discussion from 2017.

If you are new to this thread for the year, feel free to jump in any time between now and the end of the year. If you have questions or need help, feel free to hit me up! For reference, here's a couple of past threads so you can see how people have approached their participation, their list making, etc.

2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014

Re: Games Beaten 2021

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2021 2:35 pm
by ElkinFencer10
Games Beaten in 2021 - 1
* denotes a replay

January (1 Game Beaten)
1. God of War - PlayStation 3 - January 1


1. God of War - PlayStation 3 - January 1

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Disclaimer first - I used the PS2 box art because it's part of HD collections on PS3, and I couldn't find a good PS3 box art that was just God of War. Anyway, God of War is a series that had been on my "hey, you need to play this" list since I first got my PS2 back in 2009 (late to the game, I know; I was a Nintendo fanboy). For whatever reason, though, I just kept putting it off. With the new God of War (I've seen the subtitle Ragnarök used a lot online, but as far as I can tell, Sony has yet to confirm a title officially) coming out this year, though, I figured it was a good time to marathon the whole series. That meant I could either dust off the PS3 or excavate the PS2 from its cocoon of dust. Given that the PS3 remasters have trophy support, and I'm a slut for meaningless dopamine rushes, I dusted off the PS3.

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The premise of God of War is that you play as Kratos, a Spartan military commander who, facing defeat at the hands of barbarians from some unnamed land to the east of Greece, trades his soul to Ares in exchange for victory. Kratos snatches victory from the jaws of defeat and goes on to conquer for Sparta up until Ares tricks him in an attempt to remove the last of his weaknesses and make him the ultimate warrior. This earns Ares the undying rage of Kratos who then teams up with Athena to slay Ares as he lays siege to the city of Athens. I had always heard how cool the story in God of War is, and I have to admit that I was pretty underwhelmed by the first game. Friends assure me that the story becomes more of a focus in the later games, but outside of cutscenes which weren't particularly frequent, there didn't seem to be a big focus on the narrative, at least not compared to what I'd been expecting. I don't know if I'd say it was disappointing, per se, but I had definitely expected there to be more story focus.

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At its core, this is a hack and slash game the type of which we saw a lot on the PS2 from Capcom with Onimusha and Devil May Cry. With the remaster's bump from 480i to 1080p on PS3, the game looks fantastic. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to have been any work done to the cutscenes which look absolutely dreadful. If the story underwhelmed me, the cutscenes outright shocked me. You go from this truly pretty game in 1080p to these god awful disgusting looking cutscenes that are clearly still being rendered at 480i. I don't know a lot about the inner workings of these HD remasters, but I've read that the cutscenes are basically stores as movie files, not something the game renders in real time, so to remaster those, they'd basically have to be remade, leading most studios doing these HD remasters to just...not. Good god, though, it looks terrible. The transition from gorgeous gameplay to grotesque cutscene is so jarring that it almost gives you a headache. The juxtaposition really does a number on the otherwise great presentation here, and it's a really a shame that they look so ugly considering that's where almost all of the storytelling takes place.

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As for the sound design, it's solid. It's not amazing, but it's solid. The voice acting is alright and certainly better than the average for the time period, and the background music is very well done with a tone definitely reminiscent of Greece but not obtrusive and distracting from gameplay. Where the sound design suffers is balance. There's not option to enable subtitles, and the balance between music, sound effects, and dialogue isn't very well done, leading to a number of instances where the music and background sound effects kind of drown out some of the dialogue. At the very least, it requires a lot of focus to make out parts of the dialogue from the rest of the cacophony. Thankfully, most cut scenes are fine in this regard, but there's definitely some left to be desired in the sound balance on a few of those scenes.

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All things considered, God of War is a good game, but it's not an amazing game. The gameplay and level design have not, in my opinion, aged particularly well. Imprecise platforming, no camera control whatsoever, and a bizarre reliance on timer-based obstacles throughout the game come together to create a game that can be as frustrating as it is fun. I absolutely still recommend giving it a playthrough especially for PlayStation fans as it's a core game in the brand's pedigree, but by 2005, I just can't understand why the developers opted to omit any way to shift the camera. Even Super Mario 64 which came out nine years and a console generation earlier had camera control options. For most of the game, it's not a big deal, but for the platforming sections, it quickly becomes a pretty big annoyance. I can definitely see why it was such a popular game back in the day, and it's definitely earned its spot of veneration in the Sony wheelhouse, but it's got a lot more flaws than I'd realized.

Re: Games Beaten 2021

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2021 2:40 pm
by fastbilly1
Topic now stuck

Re: Games Beaten 2021

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2021 2:48 pm
by ElkinFencer10
fastbilly1 wrote:Topic now stuck

Thanks babe. :wink:

Re: Games Beaten 2021

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2021 3:20 pm
by prfsnl_gmr
GOW2 is better, I think, but it’s not going to blow your mind if you are lukewarm on the first game. I actually like the static camera, feeling that it was: (1) always at a pretty good angle; and (2) allowed me to concentrate more on playing the game. You’ll get more of that in the second game, and I look forward to reading your review of that one soon.

Re: Games Beaten 2021

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2021 4:10 pm
by REPO Man
The Room 2 for Android. Definitely a step up from the first game, expanding the experience to that of a metaphysical escape room as opposed to The Room's focus on giant puzzle boxes.

Re: Games Beaten 2021

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2021 8:40 pm
by MrPopo
Previous Years: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

1. EYE: Divine Cybermancy - PC

For my first game of the year I decided to knock off a game I'd had for ages: EYE. I had originally picked it up because it billed itself as a similar sort of gameplay experience as Deus Ex; non-linear levels and character building added to a first person shooter game. And while it does have all of those things, the game is a janky mess that seems to have shipped in a late alpha/early beta state and has not had any improvements since then. I'd first heard that there was some bugginess, which is why I'd held off on playing it. But I figured at this point it'll be in the best state it will ever be. Which is not great.

I'd like to tell you about the story, but the game doesn't really care too much about it. It's clear they had an idea for it, but actually implementing it and telling it to the player fell by the wayside. There's text dialog in mission to give you context, but it's not interesting. There is backstory on the world available in the library, but you have to seek it out, and I didn't feel compelled to do so because it was clear the game was half finished in that regard. I do know that there are three endings, and then a fourth "true" ending if you get all three (akin to Eternal Darkness). I read up on it and it's not something that justifies three playthroughs. And it especially seems to sidestep contextualizing any of what you actually do in game; it's just sort of a "well, that was all pointless" once you get the "true" ending.

Things are better on the gameplay side, but still janky. It's a first person shooter with melee weapons that are quite powerful. This is useful for the levels that are focused on the melee aliens rather than human enemies, as the aliens don't drop ammo. You have RPG elements in that you have a level which gives you stat points to increase your capabilities. In addition to stats you can learn Psionic powers (spells) and get cybernetic improvements (either stat boosts or more different spells). You'll also need to engage in research (stat increases or other passive benefits) which are part of a tech tree, but you never see the actual tree, just elements in a list. More frustratingly, most of the initial nodes on the tree require you to get lucky and get random drops that unlock them. The game features a persistent armory which holds all the weapons you've unlocked. You actually start off with a good selection at the start (including several end-game worthy items) and can purchase more from your base (if you meet the stat requirements). Once unlocked you can always equip a given weapon. You only have so much space to do so, so you will probably have 1-3 weapons and some ammo. The big sticking point to all of this, though, is that it is all gated behind your cash, and there is not a lot of it. By end game of your first playthrough you'll have maybe unlocked a tenth of what the game has available. Which is kind of frustrating. I don't expect to get everything, but I do expect to get a solid amount.

The game also has a hacking system, which deserves its own paragraph to describe. You can hack enemies, doors, turrets, and more abstract stuff like the whole security system. These require proximity but not line of sight. When you open the interface you get to choose what sort of hack; taking direct control (not worth it), turning it friendly, damaging it, or one other one I can't remember but wasn't useful. You then go into the minigame, which has you vs. the machine in a battle. You each have health, attack, and defense, and a selection of commands. It's akin to Final Fantasy's ATB, as clicking a command has a bar fill up, then it takes effect, and your opponent is doing the same. Your goal is to reduce their HP to zero before yours; if you lose then you get counter-hacked and get a major visual effect that prevents you from fighting effectively. The thing about this system is it takes way too long and is in real time with the main simulation (unlike most games which either fully pause or majorly slow down time). This makes it impractical for fights and a major pain at other times.

As mentioned the levels are non-linear; you usually get several objectives you can do in any order, and some maps let you choose from several objectives to progress the mission (e.g. bribe an officer vs. hack a terminal vs. kill a dude). The maps are reasonably interesting, with some care given to making them visually distinct and interesting, though several are overly large (especially the Mars map). After finishing a mission you can always go back and do side missions; this is a handful of objectives that you can do for extra experience and money.

Enemy variety is weak; you have human enemies using a handful of different weapons and having a handful of different skins, two types of melee aliens, turrets, and then a couple of large enemies. One is a flying helicopter that will ruin your day if you don't have armor piercing weapons, and one is a Cyberdemon ripoff that will ruin your day if you don't have armor piercing weapons. The game also will respawn enemies after a period of time, and sometimes that period of time can be shockingly short. And those aforementioned Cyberdemon ripoffs are one of the enemy types that can respawn. I was already tired of the enemies before the game was up, and the game is fairly short.

Overall EYE is a mediocre game that is full of interesting ideas that they did a poor job of trying to execute on. It really feels like they ran out of money and just gave up and released it to try and recoup some costs. I don't recommend it.

Re: Games Beaten 2021

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 10:58 am
by PartridgeSenpai
prfsnl_gmr wrote:GOW2 is better, I think, but it’s not going to blow your mind if you are lukewarm on the first game. I actually like the static camera, feeling that it was: (1) always at a pretty good angle; and (2) allowed me to concentrate more on playing the game. You’ll get more of that in the second game, and I look forward to reading your review of that one soon.


GOW1 is a pretty damn rough time. It's not an awful game these days, but I more or less agree with your opinion, Elkin. You'll probably enjoy the 2nd one a lot more though. To second and expand on Prfsnl's point, GoW2 is a fantastic sequel in the gameplay and level design department. I think the story is a bit underwhelming (honestly I have never associated these games with story, up until the newest one, and playing through 1 and 2 a couple years back didn't shift me on that opinion ^^;), but the gameplay is tightened up soooo well that the 2nd game is one I can actually recommend. Can't wait to read your review :D

Re: Games Beaten 2021

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:12 pm
by ElkinFencer10
Games Beaten in 2021 - 2
* denotes a replay

January (2 Games Beaten)
1. God of War - PlayStation 3 - January 1
2. God of War II - PlayStation 3 - January 2


2. God of War II - PlayStation 3 - January 2

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After my fairly lukewarm reception to the first God of War game, I was unsure how I'd feel about this one considering that it was from the same console generation and therefore likely to be very similar although I remained hopefully that it would improve on some of my complaints from the first game. While it's true that it is indeed extremely similar to the first game, there are some key changes that make this not only a very competent sequel but a much more enjoyable experience overall compared to the first game.

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Some of my complaints about God of War still carried over into God of War II. Chief among those is the fixed camera. The platforming sections in this game didn't suffer from it quite as much as they did in the previous game in my opinion, but it was still a definite annoyance for me. There's one boss fight in particular in the Temple of the Fates that was made needlessly frustrating due to the lack of camera controls because of how hard it was to see if I'm close enough to and angled sufficiently towards the boss to grab her during the Circle prompt. Another element that gave me a ton of frustration during the final boss and one I think was present in the first game but didn't annoy me enough to stand out in my mind is the quick time event prompt locations. If it's a single button press QTE, the prompt is big in the middle of the screen; if it's a QTE where you have to hammer a button repeatedly, it's much smaller and in the bottom left of the screen. The final boss combines these in a single QTE chain which I found to be needlessly infuriating.

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With all that said, though, I enjoyed God of War II much more than the first game. The storytelling still wasn't great, but it felt a lot more intentional and satisfying than the first game. That's pretty much how this game went; it had the same flaws as the first game, but they're better. It still used annoying timer-based puzzles, but they weren't as annoying, and the inclusion of a time-slowing mechanic gave them an added layer of depth that I appreciated. The level designs definitely had the most time and attention put into them here as they are far superior to what the first game offered. The game was a big more robust in terms of length, too. It still wasn't too long, clearly, since I managed to beat it start to finish in a day, but it definitely had a bit more meat to it than the first game even if only a little.

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Like the first God of War, I played the PS3 HD remaster of this, and it was about the same as the first in terms of that HD treatment. The game itself looked fantastic although it was a little more noticeable here that some of the boss and world textures had less energy put into them than others. The cut scenes still look jarringly bad compared to the gameplay, but it didn't seem to be as stark a difference here as it was the first game. I'd say that the cut scenes here looked like a train wreck rather than a mid-air jetliner collision. Unfortunately, the sound design suffers from the same balance problems as the first game. Numerous cut scenes had music and background sounds at the same volume if not seemingly a bit louder than the dialogue, and for a game that doesn't allow for subtitles, that's just not acceptable. Fortunately, however, the number of scenes in which this is a major problem seemed fewer than the first game. It's always a problem, but it's more often a minor problem this time around.

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All things considered, I still don't think God of War II is an amazing game, but it's definitely a good game, and I'd call it a must-play for PlayStation 2 owners. A friend of mine described the gameplay in the first few God of War games as "a western crack at devil may cry that doesn't really reach [its] heights," and I've got to agree. Solid hack and slash gameplay that falls short in the narrative and technical execution departments. To be compared to the original DMC games, though, puts you in good company. This is a true sequel even if not a revolutionary one; it doesn't change anything major from the first game, but it polishes everything that the first game did right and somewhat mitigates most of what the first game did wrong. It certainly didn't blow me away, but it was a good time.

Re: Games Beaten 2021

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 3:54 pm
by REPO Man
In case anyone is interested, God of War 1 and 2 are on the Vita, which iirc can play the PSP GoW games.