Mopping up some old games..

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Deus Ex HR

A game that could have been so much more? Hey look we give you all these ways to go about completing the level! – except if you actually try to do anything of them aside from stealth we’re going to murder you. Okay so like, granted I played the game on Hard mode, but isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? It felt somewhat unfair to be given masses of weapons and ammo only to be basically pigeonholed into playing the stealth route anyway. The story is also complete rubbish, but god knows i wasn’t playing it for that. I’d also like to state here that I hate games with forced ‘hacking’ mechanics which are boring and take too long, especially if hacking is basically an integral part of the game that you’ll require to progress.
Probably the one thing that I thought the game did well, was the ability to murder key characters and have that actually mess up or change quest lines – one of the early missions for example has a guy want you to deal with 2 thugs before he will hand over some information… You can instead, however just knock him out and take the information by force – that was neato.

Darkness 2

An almost shockingly fun and good game? Felt a lot like the old arcadey run and gun FPS games of the past, sprinting through with akimbo SMG’s and just murdering everyone, with some darkness powers to change up the experience every now and then. It does the upgrade system pretty well too, giving XP for kills and style, and each upgrade tree being pretty significantly different. This was the only game on this list that I actually went ahead and played through twice – the second playthrough on hard actually being more fun than the first playthrough due to new game plus and keeping all of your upgrades. The gunplay is really satisfying, which is a nice change of pace from the rest of the games in this list, shots to the face kill most enemies, and there is often little need to use the ADS aside from precision aiming, something which isn’t really necessary when you can have a shotgun primary and dualies for backup.

Spec Ops: the Line

A pretty boring third person cover shooter, the story tried to do some interesting things around morality choices and such, and at one point I thought it was really on to something… but then the finale comes around and it just squanders it all. I feel like it probably says something that I would rather play 50 cent’s blood on the sand (again) rather than play through this borefest for a second time.

Bioshock 2

I actually gave Bioshock 2 a try back when it first came out and didn’t enjoy it enough to keep playing, a bioshock game where I play as a daddy? ehhh…
It’s… not all that, like the first Bioshock game but without the good story. The shooting is mediocre, the plasmid shit is ehhh
Im not sure what they were thinking when they made Bioshock 2, but im sure glad they got it together before they made infinite.

 

Telltale’s The Walking Dead – Season 2 Review

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Telltale gave themselves a tough act to follow after putting out the fantastic original season of TWD, my personal favorite game of 2012. Many were worried about the change in protagonist for season 2, playing as little clementine was always going to have it’s problems, however for the most part Clem plays the part of an adult – and is shockingly forced into situation after situation where she has to make big decisions for the group or make calls that can have a big effect on the story, it’s kind of bizarre in a way that these full grown adults begin to rely on Clem as if she is some sort of genius shot caller, particularly in the later parts of the season…

Episode 5 (the finale) came out the other day, and having completed it, I think I can confirm what everyone expected from the start.
Season 2 is not as good as Season 1.
There will probably be the odd few who will disagree, but I imagine the majority will side with me here.

So what’s bad about Season 2? Nothing at all, it’s still a great game with plenty of twists and turns, lots of new characters are introduced and removed in dramatic succession, there is still weight to your actions, and there are still others to look out for and protect – even if you now play as a little girl yourself. The main thing that separates season one from two is the storyline – of which, i think S1 was much better – it was more cohesive as a whole, and there was always this kind of end goal (finding clementines parents, the mysterious voice behind the walkie talkie, etc). S2 on the other hand almost doesn’t really have much of a story so to speak, the aim of the season is purely to survive, and each segment of the story is just that, moving around and trying to survive, with events interspersed evenly.

However, arguably season 2 does the theme of conflict much better than the first, with frustration and anger being somewhat of a recurring theme throughout, this made for some really interesting confrontations which were more mental than physical.

New characters are a mixed bag, you’ll love some more than others, but a few of them are pretty forgettable – which fortunately may not be such a problem, as I think the death toll in Season 2 is digits ahead of the first game, this kind of works as a double edged sword, it’s interesting to place bets on who is going to be the next to go, but at the same time having so many characters die almost cheapens the emotion – it felt like a pretty big deal whenever someone died in s1, but in s2 it seems to happen so often that you don’t really care as much.

The finale in s2 was very abrupt, and wasn’t very satisfying – perhaps we’ve just adjusted to the formula by now, but it didn’t really seem to be very climatic.

Verdict:

While the original is miles better, TWD Season 2 is still a great game, and should be played if you enjoyed the first game.

Approximate Game Length : <4hrs
Actual Worth / Steam Price: £10 / £19 = 0.52 (it’ll almost certainly go on sale soon enough though).
Should you play it : Yes, assuming you played and enjoyed the first game.

Rating: 4/5

Life – August 2014

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A fairly uneventful month, mostly spent floating the southeast of the country for work, can’t say I even did that much other than work and sit at home – after the lull of work last month where they were unsure what work to give me, the previous few weeks have been busier – with full 9-5 days and even work on some Saturdays (they even want me to go in for some shitty training thing this saturday :/ )

In terms of games, didn’t even really play that much – I completed some ‘classics’ early in the month (blog post on that later) and other than that, only really played a little bit of league along with going along to the arcade a few times for the bemanis – or at least I was, until the pop’n machine broke and got turned into pop’n 8, and then a week later they got broken into and have been closed since… I did complete Season 2 of the walking dead today, and while it was good (no doubt about that), it’s hardly the level of climax that season one managed to provide.

Not sure if I mentioned this last time, but have been once again trying to get back on the japanese language learning train with the help of memrise, it’s still hard, but I think the mems and gamification of the website helps a lot – scoring points for learning?! SWEET BRO. What do the points do? absolutely fuckin nowt. That said though, if anyone uses it, feel free to add me, im ‘mengplex’ as usual.

In terms of recent acquisitions, those who follow me on twitter may have seen my new keyboard, the gorgeous Corsair k70 with brown switches. There wasn’t really anything wrong with my old keyboard, but I felt like the keys were starting to stick a little and had some money spare from my tax rebate so I thought id treat myself. I’ve only had it two days so far but it’s really put the joy back into typing, on occasion while watching anime or something I feel like I just want to type something – anything. The switches are lovely to type on but they are fairly loud compared to my old rubber dome, even though I specifically went for the browns (which are quieter than blues), I’ve ordered some O-rings which should hopefully turn up in a day or two, so we’ll see how that goes.

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Other than that… hmmm… Started getting back into Titanfall, it kind of started off as just getting footage for my sweet montage movie (which you’ve hopefully seen by now) but while recording I began to remember what appealed so much in the first place – similarly the kraber sniper rifle which I used to hate, is so much fun to use, even if i do suck with it.
Aforementioned montage video was great fun to make, and a nice change of pace for the two evening I spent editing it. I’d love to make more videos but good inspiration is hard to come by. Maybe there will be more montage videos in the future, who knows.

 

Typing of the dead Overkill Review

posted in: Games, Games Review | 0

So, i’ll start by saying that the original Typing of the Dead is a classic, a fantastic spin off based on a true arcade classic – ToTD had solid visuals, was responsive, had a memorable soundtrack and some unintentionally fantastic voice acting and script (goldman’s monologue will forever be one of my favorites).
Typing of the dead 2 was also a thing, only released in Japan, it was based on House of the Dead 3, and was decent, gameplay still solid and responsive, with a good flow to it – even if it was a nightmare trying to type anything because all of the text was in japanese.

What in the hell then, happened to this series. Typing of the Dead Overkill is a complete mess, mostly due to the fact that it is based on the Wii house of the dead game of similar name – The house of the dead Overkill, the problem however, is some things work on lightgun which don’t transfer over very well to keyboard and typing… and so, it’s time for another rapid fire round of ‘Why the Typing of the Dead Overkill sucks’

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1) The game flow is abysmal
In the original HOTD games, your character would sprint around until he found some zombies, he would spin around and there would be more, or zombies would be literally falling into your path as you moved around. TOTD:O makes a futile attempt of trying to make the game more realistic and sensible, zombies now feel the need to dramatically get up from the floor, or burst out of cupboards a few seconds after you enter the room, rather than simply be there. It’s not like they are hiding for drama or suspense, we fucking know they are in there and about to come out, and even after they come out, they are often of no immediate threat anyway, simply sprinting through the doorway and then slowly lumbering their way over to the player before standing there for a few seconds. It all just feels very clumsy and slow – having to wait for enemies to appear is a bore – even if it is only one or two seconds.

2) The levels are not memorable, or interesting in any way
I can’t remember any of the levels, I think there was one based in a circus, and one on a train? No idea on the others. There are nine levels, but honestly who gives a shit when I can replay any of them and not have any recollection of whether i’ve ever played it before?

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3) The graphics are dogshit
Perhaps we have the Wii to thank for this, but the game looks absolutely awful – barely on par with dreamcast graphics. Filters and other screen effects are applied at times, but honestly they only make the game look worse.

4) Powerups are shit
Other than the health pickup, the only other pick up you’ll find is a slo-mo one, which reduces EVERYTHING to a halt, you’ll activate slo-mo, kill the two zombies in front of you and then be forced to sit around for literally 5 seconds while your character moves to the next area in slow motion. This is retarded, a WAY better option would have been the opposite, a rampage powerup, which speeds the game up and dumbs down the difficulty for a short period of time, letting you clear rooms faster and increase your combo counter – but then whoever was in the charge of the production of this game is a retard and would never be able to think up such a mechanic, let alone see it’s implementation through.

5) Graphics are seriously dogshit
I mean fucking hell, the textures are flat and come straight from the sega saturn era, the models look like they were made by interns or kids who are learning maya for the first time.

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6) The game tries incredibly hard to be funny, but the script and voice acting are more likely to send you into clinical depression than evoke laughter

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Ugh. The whole game is like this as well, the scriptwriter evidently though that “motherfucker” = ‘epic lolz’ or whatever.

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7) Music is awful and not memorable at all
I don’t give a shit if HOTD 1 and 2 used like, one track for most of the game, at least it was a good one.

8) Words that they ask you to type or all over the damn place
Shit with hyphens in, stuff with apostrophes, and a few bits with commas as well. Complex is not good, complex is not fun. Players want to feel empowered, we want to flex our fingers and show off our sweet WPM, we want to break in our new keyboards with long strings of common words we use everyday – we’d rather not have to attempt to type shit like ‘Chitinous Exoskeleton’

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9) Reused animations, and quicktime events
There have been about 7 times now, where a zombie grabs on to you, and does this unbearably long grab sequence quicktime event where you have to type out a word before it completes its animation, and you have to do this 4 times or so before the avatar fends off the attack – and kills the zombie with a VERY lengthy animation, this animation is also reused at multiple points in the game, sometimes in the same level – and it is just as awful as it sounds.

10) Bosses are almost unbearably boring
Bosses are more of a test of your patience than your skill, they tend to have around 3 attacks each and then just rotate through them, with lots of long animation and invulnerability inbetween. A boss fight can take maybe shy of 5 minutes to kill, just waiting for it to finish jumping around and attempt to attack you, where you can then type at it and then wait 10 seconds for the next choreographed attack. It is painfully slow and boring.

Verdict:

Typing of the Dead Overkill is an absolute disappointment for fans of the series, fans of typing, or fans of fun.
Much like the zombies you fight, this game is completely devoid of any real character, and falls flat in just about every way imaginable.

Approximate Game Length : <3hrs
Actual Worth / Steam Price: £0.20 / £15 = 0.013
Should you play it : No, Pirate the game to spite the devs and then go and play the original Typing of the dead instead.

Rating: 1/5

 

Attack on Titanfall Montage 8

posted in: Games, youtube | 0

So odds are you may have already seen it by now, but I made a montage parody video for Titanfall… At least, i think it’s a parody?

  You probably don’t want to watch it, but if you’re interested in seeing me work Sony Vegas 13 for like… 5 hours, there is also an uncut, raw, unedited ‘making of’ video on my hitbox – http://www.hitbox.tv/video/236826 , though i warn you it’s really boring and not much actually happens.

Astro City – Formerly the best arcade in the UK

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EDIT: Too good to be true of course, Astro was basically made on it’s community support, and a very unappreciative owner and lack of profits going to the right places means that community support has decided to take it’s cabs elsewhere. The IIDX, Pop’n and DDR have all moved as of 18/09/2015

 

The arcade scene in the UK has been on the decline for a while now, we lost the segaworld some 15 years ago, then more recently we lost the Trocadero in Piccadilly Circus, widely regarded as the best (or at least, largest) UK arcade – it had a nice variety of games, and some niche titles which are rare in the UK like fighting mania and DJmax Technika. As mentioned though, it’s gone now, some of the machines got moved over to other arcades, I know for example that the Technika machine got moved to ‘Las Vegas’ arcade in Soho.

So anywho, assuming you live around the London area, your primary choices for actual good Arcades are:
Las Vegas Soho – Has a large Pump It Up community, along with some fighting games (Tekken and SF4) and as previously mentioned the DJmax technika machine is also here now, it has since been upgraded to Technika 3. I believe they also have a DDR X2 as well.
Heart Of Gaming, in Far West London – Operating on a pay on entry system, and with a strong Fighting Game community.

And finally, the feature of the article.

Astro City, Southend – It is pretty far out for proper Londoners, but for those who live on the east side, or have reasonable access to the M25, Astro City is maybe an hour or so drive away, Parking is abundant and approx £1-£2.20, or free on Sundays. Why would you actually want to go there though? Astro City is currently the best place in the UK for Rhythm Games.

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They currently have:
Pump it Up Fiesta 2 (50p play),
DDR 2013 (£1 play)
Beatmania IIDX 21 Spada (50p Play)
Pop’n Music 14 Fever (50p Play)
EZ 2 Dancer

This is, to my knowledge, the only place in the UK where you can play IIDX or Pop’N on an actual cab, and at 50p a play it’s a fantastic way to improve your play, being than even many asian arcades where the games are more commonplace. the IIDX and DDR cabs are also connected to ProgrammedWorld, a system which emulates the asian Eamuse function – this basically allows for stat tracking and progression within the games, along with giving you a user profile and letting you compete against other players on the system. For example, finishing a song in IIDX will mark it as completed and put your score on a board and show where you place amongst other people in that arcade who have played that song. It’s a fantastic way to drive a community, and through the arcade I’ve already met many likeminded people – and though we may have only said a few words, there’s something about asserting your authority over someone you briefly met 3 weeks ago.

If you are in the area, give it a go – the games have somewhat of a learning curve but are immensely satisfying once you get into them, and at the prices they are, you actually have a chance to get good at the games, or play around and do dumb shit you might not otherwise try – Why not give doubles a try on the pump machine? That right there is some wild shit.

 

The Alternative Tour London

posted in: A day in pictures, blog | 0

So went with luke into london today for ‘the alternative tour’ – http://www.alternativeldn.co.uk/

It was fairly interesting, a walk around the shoreditch / brick lane area looking at and being told the history of many pieces of street art and graffiti, definitely some really interesting and impressive works in that area, and once you have been exposed to it you’ll find yourself noticing more and more.
The guide is also pay what you want, which is an ideal price point imo.