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morallyobjected
Nov 3, 2012


Someone gave me a place to rant about Star Wars: Squadrons!

Tagline: I love this game. I love it so much, and it is probably the best game that I will likely never play again because EA picked the worst time to try and buck the one thing they're known for!

I played the X Wing and Tie Fighter games back in the day. We had a joystick and everything, and while I don't think I was obsessed with them or anything (I was in elementary school), I remember them being a pretty cool time. Having the joystick was a novelty just because it was the only kind of thing that had those kind of controls back then--analog sticks weren't a thing on the NES or Genesis, which were the only other game systems we had at the time. But of course the main draw was that you got to be an X Wing, which was the iconic ship that I loved the most out of all Star Wars ships (that was my default thing to make out of Tinkertoys whenever we visited my grandmother), and pretty much no game I ever played after that gave me the opportunity to try and recreate that experience.

Fast forward to fall 2020, when I heard EA was putting out a game that was only starship combat on modern consoles with both story and multiplayer and I bought it day one on the PS4 (I have never been a PC gamer in the sense of making a build that will run that kind of poo poo, and certainly not anywhere close to what I'd need for VR. if I play things on PC at all I run them at low for pretty much everything) and fell in love with it pretty much right away. flying the ship just felt fun in the same way that I love swinging around in the new Spider-Man (and, before that, in Spider-Man 2 for the PS2), and while the story wasn't a masterpiece and you spent too much time as the Empire, I was willing to overlook that because the ships just felt great to fly.

Then I read that this was like the ONE game that EA said "you know, we're just going to release this and let it be. No post-game content. We long for the days of yore, when a game was a complete product and you bought it all at once" and I was like "you idiots. you utter fools" because this game, out of any other game (except maybe the dogshit incomplete status they released Battlefront 2 in) could have actually used post-game support! to be clear: this game is playable without any major or game-crashing glitches and it's a ton of fun. however, two things, I think, led to what was pretty much the death of it in terms of multiplayer population: no additional maps, and fleet battles was broken as hell (maybe they've finally patched that second part, I don't know)

Dogfight is my favourite mode. There is nothing like strapping into an A Wing and killing a bunch of mooks with the homing mines while you're zooming around an asteroid field trying not to smash your ship into pieces against some unforgiving rock and some other jerk is on your tail. It took me a little while to figure out what kind of build worked for me, but once I did, I played the game like every night for at least a month after it came out. At that point, there were still new players coming in to the game and I was good enough that things always felt fresh. The only problem is there are only like 4-5 different maps. I should say, this was not a problem for me, because I liked pretty much all of those maps, even the giant open one for the most part (people suck at dodging mines there), but it meant a lot of people quickly got bored of the rotation and the player base bled off. like seriously, the charts for this game were anemic a month or two after launch. this was 100% a missed opportunity by EA here. I would have paid for a map pack to add in some new locations. or paid for something else if they added new maps for free since fracturing player bases is rarely a good thing. but they picked the worst time to finally make a stand against the one thing besides being generally poo poo they are known for as a company, which is DLC.

so because of that, dogfight quickly became a situation where you were either up against a gank squad or you were lucky enough to be on the gank squad, and while I personally didn't care that much if my team won overall as long as I had a decent round, I can imagine it still sucks poo poo to end the round with like 5-7 team kills total against like 30-40 or whatever it was.

that brings me to the other thing: fleet battles. on the surface, fleet battles sounds awesome--you get a team together, and you either take on the AI or another team and use strategy to take down a flagship by destroying key systems and whatever. the only problems were that the AI was overtuned as gently caress to be the most difficult piece of poo poo and there was a literal game breaking glitch in PvP where due to where the AI fighters spawn in, a coordinated team could hide back behind their own line, go out and attack your ship, hide back behind their line again, and snipe the AI fighters to pretty much make it impossible for any team to ever catch back up. I could have probably dealt with one or the other, but again this contributed I imagine to a lot of people falling off of the game, which exacerbated things. Even on easy it was ridiculously difficult as poo poo to win a match against the AI with a full team. like I don't think I ever won once (and yes, part of it is because I'm garbage and randos are garbage and etc. etc., but part of it is also because it's horribly broken. like randos should be able to win a match on easy).

I love this game, even with all of its flaws (I still have it installed on my PS5, even). there hasn't been an experience like it, and I wish they could have like set up VR stations around the country to let people try it (in a covid-free world) because it's not a part of my setup but I heard people rave about it once they got it to work right in the thread. but at this point I don't see a ton of people ever going back to it unless they make a bunch of new maps/content and put it out there on like PS+ or something, so it's probably going to be relegated to a niche population of people who will kill me in 5 seconds when I boot it up a couple months from now for laughs.

RIP Squadrons. Dead before your time.

morallyobjected fucked around with this message at 17:57 on Jan 11, 2021

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Sway Grunt
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


Moreso than any other aspect I've come to realize that it's the world design that makes me fall for a game Ė or the sense of place, to be accurate. My favorite games generally tend to be ones with expansive and immersive worlds, where exploration is encouraged and getting lost is a joy rather than a burden. That's not an easy thing to achieve, and it's probably subjective to a large degree. There's for sure a discussion to be had about why one player might abhor the map system in Hollow Knight, for instance, while it's absolutely fundamental to my love of the game, or why getting lost in one game works while in another it doesn't. For me, it generally boils down to the question - ďdo I enjoy spending time in this world?Ē If the answer is yes then I don't always need or want to know where I'm going.

Here are a few games that I've enjoyed getting lost in.

Dark Queen of Krynn



There's a good amount of nostalgia attached to this title, but I did replay it a few years ago and still had a lot of fun. It's the only Gold Box game I actually had, and I didn't then, nor do I now, know anything about D&D rules, but I played through it many times in the 90s. There's a lot of dungeon-crawling joy to be found here, and I would say the Luminari Lighthouse and the Tombs under the minotaur city of Kristophan are two of my favorite dungeons in games.

The Tombs especially I remember being an extremely confusing area. I can't recall what your task here actually is, I think it's to find The Oracle or something? Whatever that is. Who cares! The important thing is that it's very easy to get lost, and in these games getting lost in a dungeon can be a harrowing experience. Which step will trigger a massive battle? Which room is safe to rest in without getting interrupted by a group of vampires and liches? Did I buy enough scrolls? Did I prepare all my spells? Where the gently caress did this teleporter just deposit me? How do I get back??



It just owns. I love it. It's probably not as tricky as I remember it, to be fair. In fact I think by the time I was done I knew this area pretty well. Still, though, for a time I got lost in it and there's nothing quite like the feeling of emerging out of a dank, dark, undead-infested dungeon, battered and bruised, your resources spent, your party half cursed or unconscious, and dragging yourself back to an inn or a priest, having achieved whatever goal you had in there. Finding The Oracle, was it? I must have found it, eventually.

Knytt Underground

This is straight-up one of my favorite games ever. It's just a beautiful world to explore and the atmosphere is wondrous and enchanting. It manages to reward exploration without gamifying it too much Ė there are things to find, but they're little things that add to the world-building. Small items that don't have any mechanical purpose but you drop them in your inventory all the same. Or areas that don't have much in them, but maybe there's a little house in the background. And you've platformed your way extensively to reach it, and well, there's not much here! But that house means someone lives here. Imagine that.

I mean, look at this:



Sure, you have to jump over the robot there. But those little lights? That's a house built into the cliff. Some tiny creature lives there. A small detail, but it's so expressive. And this detail is everywhere in the game world. The map is ludicrously enormous and the platforming is gentle enough (with the exception of some optional challenges that are usually buried deep within secret areas) that the exploration really becomes the main draw.

I can't write eloquently about this game somehow, and that's maybe because playing it makes me feel rather than think, in a way that's very difficult for me to define. I don't know that I can or even want to try and analyze why this game does that to me Ė it's probably everything. The art, the music, the map design, the writing. Goodness, this game!! Not even the occasional fourth wall breaking can damage its atmosphere to any significant degree.

Marathon 2: Durandal / Marathon: Rubicon



I had a Mac growing up and I think Marathon 2 was very influential for my love for exploration and world design. It can be a very lonely game. There is a sense of melancholy to many of the levels, particularly in the chapters where you're exploring ancient, ruined architecture. I think the game conveys ruin and decay in a very effective and affecting manner, although I recognize the lens of nostalgia through which I say that is gargantuan. There is a thoughtfulness and a calmness to the atmosphere that doesn't contradict the mayhem of its combat.

My dad also played Marathon 2, and his favorite level was the fifth Ė "Come and Take Your Medicine".



Your task is to smash a couple of switches and you can accomplish it in like a minute, run back to the terminal and teleport to the next level. You can also step off the critical path and discover that the level is actually enormous, and 90% of it is completely optional. And I recall that exploratory aspect of it was what my dad liked about it the most. I'm actually not sure he ever made it past this level because frankly he sucked at the game and didn't have a lot of time to play it anyway. But this stuck in my mind, even if I personally like other levels more.

Marathon Rubicon is an excellent total conversion for Marathon: Infinity, and a brilliant one. It has a level that follows the same philosophy as "Come and Take Your Medicine". The critical path in "Hex Level 73" is short, but if you step off it, well, you're in for a good time.



The map above does not do it justice. I'm not sure I have ever been as confused or lost in a game as I was when playing through "Hex Level 73". And in this case I didn't even deliberately go exploring, I accidentally got lost. The level is very dark with a lot of narrow passageways and elevators and it's incredibly easy to get disoriented. The way I remember it Ė and it's been years and years Ė is that it took me no less than two hours of stumbling about to make my way back to the start. You could argue that sounds like a bad and frustrating time, and maybe nowadays I'd have less patience for it. But at the time, twenty or so years ago, it made for one of the most memorable experiences I had in Rubicon.


I'll stop here for now. There are others Ė Hollow Knight and Morrowind are two all-time favorites that instantly come to mind. But yeah. Getting lost in a game: good and fun. Sometimes. In the right games. If the game allows for your sense of curiosity and wonder to flourish. If you don't know what you'll find but you trust the game that whatever it is, it'll be worth it, even if it's just a small detail.

Some other times it sucks, though, not gonna lie.

Sway Grunt fucked around with this message at 18:29 on Jan 11, 2021

haveblue
Aug 15, 2005




Toilet Rascal

It's a good thing you stopped there because I was thinking about writing about Marathon Infinity so now I guess I have to

Sway Grunt
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


f#a# posted:

Rain World

This game initially got panned for its aggressive difficulty, but patches have introduced alternate play modes including an easier variant (it's still no walk in the park, though!). I really hope people give this game a chance: it's far more elaborate than meets the eye, and has a beautiful flare for the strange.

I bought Rain World almost a year ago but still haven't played it (for various reasons, but more to do with me than the game itself). I have a very strong feeling that I'm going to fall completely in love with it which makes it all the more frustrating that I haven't actually, you know, installed it yet. I'll get to it, though. Eventually.

haveblue posted:

It's a good thing you stopped there because I was thinking about writing about Marathon Infinity so now I guess I have to

Yes!

fridge corn
Apr 2, 2003




morallyobjected posted:

Someone gave me a place to rant about Star Wars: Squadrons!

I didn't quite get it from your write up, but were you playing the game in vr or not?

morallyobjected
Nov 3, 2012


fridge corn posted:

I didn't quite get it from your write up, but were you playing the game in vr or not?

I was not! I really would have liked to, as I heard a lot of cool things about it, but VR is not ever gonna be part of my set up for a long time. I just don't have the money to drop on the kind of PC I'd need (and I don't really like PC gaming anyway), and there's not enough VR content on PS4/5 to make me feel like it'd be worth it. I tried it out when Sony did the free like 2-week trial of it a couple years ago, and I'd be down if some day the price point were lower and it had more content

haveblue
Aug 15, 2005




Toilet Rascal

VR is basically the reason I listed Squadrons as my #1 game this year even though I didn't play it for very long and never really got into the multiplayer

fridge corn
Apr 2, 2003




morallyobjected posted:

I was not! I really would have liked to, as I heard a lot of cool things about it, but VR is not ever gonna be part of my set up for a long time. I just don't have the money to drop on the kind of PC I'd need (and I don't really like PC gaming anyway), and there's not enough VR content on PS4/5 to make me feel like it'd be worth it. I tried it out when Sony did the free like 2-week trial of it a couple years ago, and I'd be down if some day the price point were lower and it had more content

Okay cool. Im glad you liked it so much even without vr. Everyone who usually raves about it does so cuz of the vr experience. I got the game for Christmas and haven't played it yet but also dont have vr. I'm not that interested in the multiplayer and mostly in it for the x-wing/tie fighter nostalgia single player campaign. Looking forward to playing it!

morallyobjected
Nov 3, 2012


fridge corn posted:

Okay cool. Im glad you liked it so much even without vr. Everyone who usually raves about it does so cuz of the vr experience. I got the game for Christmas and haven't played it yet but also dont have vr. I'm not that interested in the multiplayer and mostly in it for the x-wing/tie fighter nostalgia single player campaign. Looking forward to playing it!

I am not kidding when I say I would immediately buy a story DLC that involved more starship pew pew. like I mentioned in the post, this game was uniquely suited to DLC/the usual EA poo poo of slow dripping content after launch to make it feel like the game you wanted when you bought it, and they decided not to do it this time

it's the only reason the game wasn't in my top 10 for the GOTY thread. I do think it's worth trying the multiplayer (dogfight, at least) if you can get some matches, because the feeling of chasing down an actual person is just miles away from doing it to AI, but it's possible you're only going to run into jerks who kill you in like ten seconds each time, so if it clicks then great, but if not, then don't spend too much time with it. you can also do solo fleet battles with AI helpers I think, too, if that appeals to you.

e: I also played pretty much only at night in a dark room, which may have helped with immersion stuff

morallyobjected fucked around with this message at 19:10 on Jan 11, 2021

Erwin the German
May 30, 2011

:3


S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl


STALKER is one of those series that I can just keep coming back to every few years and re-discovering how much I get a kick out of it. I played it for the first time when I was either a teenager or very young adult, canít remember which. I was quickly enamored with the promise of a gritty, thoroughly-Russian shooter filled with sorrow, the supernatural, and lonesomely wandering throughout the Ukrainian countryside near the titular power plant. Itís all of those things, and I have a great appreciation and adoration for the way the games go out of their way to make you feel isolated and in a perpetually dangerous situation, with only brief reprieves of calm and safety. Even the villages you can catch your breath in have corners filled with deadly anomalies thatíll dispassionately rip you to shreds if you get too close, utterly unconcerned with who wanders into them. The supernatural is just part of nature itself in the Zone, a fact of life that its inhabitants frequently chafe at, but are always subsumed by. You help people frequently in trying to find the science and explanations of this place, but itís usually in vain. It just is what it is.

The series is a prime example of the janky genius that comes out of Europe from time to time, filled to the brim with bugs, weird AI, glitchy poo poo, yíknow how it is. STALKER just shines because of its oppressive atmosphere, not so much due to any strength of writing or story or voice acting. The shooting is crisp and responsive, fire fights are absurdly deadly affairs, the ambient noise frequently disturbing and suggestive of horrors just out of sight. Patches and mods have made truly great things out of these games. Call of Pripyat is especially good by itself, but is also well-buoyed by an extensive modding scene, particularly the great Call of Chernobyl series of mods, which grant the player sandbox style gameplay combining all three of the games maps into one whole. STALKER is great, and though itís a miserable setting, itís one I frequently can become completely lost in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuYxo66AbSI

Resident Evil 4


The Resident Evil series is a dumb loving disaster and I adore it. Ever since I played the remake for Gamecube of the first game, I have loved it. I have played almost every single one of them, pretty much in order, having begged my mother to spend 60 loving dollars on RE2 for Gamecube at the mall once because I was so eager to keep playing them. I even like Code Veronica, and think itís pretty much the perfect encapsulation of the classic RE games in terms of sheer insanity and gameplay. Resident Evil 4, however, is the best of the series - one liners galore, tense action gameplay that redefined what the series would stand for without sacrificing the horror or gross enemy designs. These games are utter schlock-fests, ranging from baffling to goofy to eye-roll inducing one-liners that the protagonists love to spout while shooting at awful monsters. Leon is king among them, with his perfect combination of being completely lame and totally cool all at once. The villains in RE4 are ridiculous and dumb, with a special shout out going to Salazar, who is just a delightful fucker.

The entire series has a special, very stupid place in my heart. The survival horror of the classic games is always tense, the action of the later games frequently a good rush, with frequent mishaps - 5 and 6 especially, though 6 has some of the most ridiculous melee combos Iíve ever seen in a game, so props for that. Havenít played 7 yet - maybe some day, if I stop pining to play the classics. 4, on the other hand, is imminently approachable and guaranteed to be a good time whenever I play it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0AWYdR5zto

Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy


Another game from my youth, and one of the first I actually roleplayed in - Iíve always been a massive fan of Star Wars, more recent content aside, so games like this are a bit of a no-brainer for me at any age. Thankfully, I also replayed both this and Jedi Outcast very recently, so my thoughts on both are a little more well-structured. Both games follow the same general structure of lightsaber-focused combat, which it does absurdly well - this is a game I spent countless hours dueling friends and strangers in, trying to master the gameís acrobatic and position-based sword fighting system. And for a while, when I was younger, I was pretty drat good at it, at least in the roleplay community I was in. Friends of mine, unrelated to said community, would still frequently kick my rear end, or result in my barely scraping by with a win. Itís not quite a perfect rendition of true-to-material lightsaber combat, more of its own specific brand of dueling that involves a lot of jumping and precise timing and movements with the mouse. Itís a great deal of fun to learn, but hard to master. Add to the basic saber a couple of other forms, and youíre looking at a long time of learning.

The story of Academy is pretty simple Star Wars stuff, but more of Kyle Katarn is always welcome, the hero of Outcast and the Dark Forces games - one of my favorite Star Wars characters for his interesting character arc that unfolds well before he becomes a Jedi. Outcast has a more interesting campaign, though also not particularly impressive narratively if youíve been exposed to any Star Wars media before.

As said before, I roleplayed in this game quite a bit, playing a variety of dumb Star Wars characters that my younger brain could conjure up, matching Ďwitsí and combat skills with other young people doing the same thing. I donít particularly recommend the game as a roleplaying medium, but that hardly stopped me and my best friend from spending a huge amount of time worrying about plots against us, or playing our characters, or battles that were on the horizon. The JK games are just a ton of fun to play if youíre into melee combat systems, and if you just want to be a free-flying Jedi who waves a lightsaber and force powers around, this is the best gig in town.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_AG2m5Xjsc

Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords


Still with me on Star Wars? Good. KOTOR 2 is the best Star Wars game out there. It is absolutely stunningly well-written as a deconstruction of your typical Star Wars concepts of light and dark, casting the whole Force itself into a weirdly nebulous, eldritch light where youíre actually not really sure if itís all that interested in balance and goodness or not. All of the characters - well, most of them, anyway, are extremely good, prominent among the pack being Atton Rand, a Han Solo type with a dark past, and Kreia, who is just about my favorite Star Wars character in the entire franchise. She is the soul of this game, a constant nagging tug at your sleeve demanding you to think about your actions and the effects they have on the world. She is perfectly clear on your status as protagonist, nudging you towards embracing your power and influence over your companions, for good or for ill. Sheís manipulative, snide, nurturing in her own way, and an incredibly well-voiced character thanks to Sara Kestelmanís amazing performance. This is the anti-Star Wars plot, and I love and adore it for that.

Of course, itís also unfinished and buggy as all hell. Thatís fine - thereís a fan restoration patch out that basically completes the game in a satisfying way, as well as giving you the option to add more stuff if you want. Before that patch, it was a hard sell to make to anyone. With it out and complete, KOTOR 2 is undeniably the superior game to Biowareís original, which while having some cute plot twists, is essentially a very basic Star Wars plot that takes few risks. KOTOR 2 relishes in upending established concepts and forcing the setting into a more real, darker and lived-in light. The Jedi arenít always paragons of purity, theyíre flawed and often petty, spiteful individuals just barely keeping down their suppressed emotions. The Sith relish in these things, but are often forced into their positions out of raw necessity and for very real, human reasons. If the Force inevitably fucks with any who partake of its power, either through dehumanization of what makes us humans with emotions and validity, or through the corruption of these things running rampant, is it really something to be venerated?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Qzd5Czt4k4

Undertale


I went into Undertale with almost no context, other than it was the hot new thing at the time, and that it was a game that was a little more in-depth than its promotional material was letting on. That sort of marketing scheme usually works on me, so I gave it a shot. Itís a remarkable effort for what was essentially a one-man show, with the help of an art designer. I think itís due to that singular focus that a lot of really compelling things end up getting made, for better or for worse. Definitely for the better in Undertaleís case, as this is a funny, joyful and exceedingly compassionate game if you let it be those things. Or it can be utterly miserable and depressing, but you have to really commit to that. All of the characters are written with warmth and humor to them, even the dour ones, and itís this good-nature that has led to the game being as well-regarded as it is. The characters are the star of the show - if youíre a friend to them, youíll be touched by their compassion and very real personalities. Be an enemy, and youíll still probably find them to be admirable people, brave in the face of hardship. Thereís an extremely real humanity to this game that comes across wonderfully.

Itís helped by the music, too, which has probably become one of the more well-regarded soundtracks out there, again, all done by Toby Fox. The art style is simple and clear-cut, with the personalities of the characters and monsters you fight coming across cleanly. A real triumph of a game, and an entirely admiration-worthy product of a singular vision. It gave me a lot of joyful memories - I canít bring myself to replay it because of how satisfied I was with how things ended up, and I think thatís really worth something in itself as a piece of media.

Delta Rune looks fun, too - I played through the first part a year or so ago, and Iím eagerly awaiting the eventual sequel itíll turn into.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eijdNQMYikY

Sway Grunt
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


Erwin the German posted:

Civilization 4

Civ4 might be the game I have the most hours in, but I'll never know because I didn't have it on Steam. There's nothing quite like over-expanding in the early game, tanking your economy in the process, then clawing your way back to parity slowly and somehow eking out a win right before the end as the early investment finally pays off. Or gunning hard for early cavalry by lightbulbing through Great Scientists and then blitzing the entire continent. And I had a lot of fun playing succession games on CivFanatics and endlessly debating where to settle. And then one other thing I really liked was generating unusually extreme maps, like a hardcore tundra or desert map, with very few resources, and trying to make something of it. In reality the game just doesn't develop well under those conditions, but somehow playing a very low-tech game like that was weirdly enjoyable for me.

Erwin the German posted:

Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

I only played this one for the first time a few years ago and adored it. Didn't touch the multiplayer at all. The tram level is .

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?



Erwin the German posted:

Resident Evil 4


The Resident Evil series is a dumb loving disaster and I adore it.

A perfect description. Even with Leon moving like a boat it's just so much stupid, dumb fun. I almost wanted to replay it with the reward where Ashley is wearing a suit of armor which means the monsters who try to kidnap her struggle to lift her weight which is just so gloriously stupid and beautiful and dumb. Moving on from that to RE:5 was a hell of a tonal whiplash

BeanpolePeckerwood
May 4, 2004

how may i dook on this parade?



Pork Pro

fridge corn posted:

Thank you for all the replies to my very self aware post. I will have a think about what I want to write about

plz think for AT LEAST 6 hours

Harrow
Jun 30, 2012


Erwin the German posted:

Civilization 4


Probably my favorite 4X game - strategy genre thatís mostly defined by starting from a single position and expanding your empire, civilization, society, what-have-you, exploring the generated map for resources to exploit, and finding other players or AI contenders and inevitably fighting them. You build new cities, make buildings in them, specialize them, built units to fight and explore, make money that you funnel into various projects, diplomacy, etc. The Civ series itself is extremely popular, though I bounced off of 5 and have yet to play 6, which Iím pretty curious about if itís in the same vein as 5 or more akin to the, in my opinion, much better 4. Civ 4 has quirks to it that make it much different from 5, at least - thereís less emphasis on special traits, particularly, and thereís more than one leader per civ, usually with differing play styles. Mostly I appreciate it because of the lack of one unit per tile, a system Iím really not fond of. The death stacks in 4 are only scary if you didnít build enough siege weapons!

Civ 4 has the best modding scene among the modern civ games, particularly thanks to a bunch of total overhauls, the best of which being Fall from Heaven 2. FFHís a fantasy total conversion, and has a lot of grit and dark fantasy elements to it, and some pretty inspired gimmicks for a lot of the civs it adds. It even has mods for the mod, a lot of which are still being updated today. Mostly, though? Iíve played a lot of this game with some of my best friends, and we spent countless hours cooperating and working together in our various wars and exploits against the AI and other players. Itís a lot of fun, and I miss those days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pRLyyFdDjg

One of these days I really need to play Civ 4.

I started Civ with 5 and became absolutely addicted to it for a while. It probably helped that I was unemployed at the time, but I spent multiple days just binge-playing Civ 5 and having an absolute blast. I learned eventually that I wanted to play on just the right difficulty that I would have at least a little challenge, but also that the game could mostly be about building up a neat civilization and not necessarily have to min-max (that difficulty ended up being King, I think).

For reasons I can't really put my finger on, I have a harder time getting into Civ 6, though one of the few concrete reasons I can identify is that I find the warfare fairly exhausting. That was true in Civ 5 as well but I think it was easier to avoid having to go to war in the first place. It made me really start to understand why people missed the unit stacks from Civ 4.

Thanks for the write-up. Gonna have to get Civ 4 and give it a try soon. I want to get back into a place where I can just spend a Saturday kicking back and making a cool empire.

Erwin the German
May 30, 2011

:3


Civ 4 has, as Glare insinuated, a pretty insane skill ceiling, too. There's a lot of strategies you can take in the game based off its systems, especially with shenanigans like the use of Great People. There's a bunch of high-level gameplay videos out there on youtube that can really drive home the amount of strategy that goes into playing Civ 4, though you can also get by usually just fine by taking a more casual approach to the game. I think it benefits a lot from having a lot of systems going on and aspects to the gameplay that the future games slowly shed off.

Oh, and Civ 4 has the incredible Baba Yetu, so I rest my case.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e0Qelqp-Cc

Xarbala
Feb 13, 2011






Erwin the German posted:

Oh, and Civ 4 has the incredible Baba Yetu, so I rest my case.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e0Qelqp-Cc

The first time a video game ever won a Grammy, even if the composer had to sneak that track in another album as a rerelease to trick them into thinking it was anything other than a theme song composed for an actual, honest to goodness videogame.

A stealth Grammy.

Bismack Billabongo
Oct 9, 2012





The game has a lot of flaws (bad character design, dumb story, ugly character design, terrible incidental dialogue, horrible character design) but for my money I donít think any game has ever been quite as satisfying to play as Batman: Arkham Asylum. A friend brought it over to my apartment after buying it and playing the first hour or so. He restarted it so we could pass the controller off. We got very high and played it all the way up to the end of the first scarecrow sequence in one sitting. The game just felt loving perfect. Every gameplay system was well considered and by the time you really got into the groove of the gameís combat it almost felt like a dance from goon to goon, critical punch after punch after punch. The ďpredator roomsĒ where you stalk the most unfortunate mother fuckers on the island made you feel like the baddest dude alive even as you were learning how to do it without taking any damage. You truly could psychologically break these poor guys down, to the point where youíve whittled down a group of six or seven armed lunatics down to one trembling, shaking, terrified bastard who turns to see The Bat, tries and fails to pull the trigger, and is punched so hard that every single bone in his body explodes. Yeah, the boss fights were terrible. The sequel definitely improved those. But the first one was just so startling, so incredibly done with almost no prerelease hype to indicate how loving good it felt to be Batman. I think about all the tiresome bits that I mentioned above and itís truly a testament to how loving fun this game is that all of those things are easily overlooked after you get locked in a brawl room with fifteen guys with pipes and absolutely loving dismantle them

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?



I still remember on these very forums a thread where they mentioned a new Batman game had a demo coming out that evening. At the time, the long-running wisdom was that there had NEVER been a good Batman game and this one was unlikely to be any different. Then we downloaded the demo and tried it and oh my God the combat, the predator sections, the interiors.... it was absolutely incredible.

When the full game came out I devoured it, I mastered the combat system so I could zoom through every fight untouched, I played and replayed on the hardest difficulties, I hunted down every Riddle. I devoured the sequels, and when the Game of the Year editions were released and given out to owners of the original games for free I replayed and devoured all of those as well and recompleted every single achievement possible. My favorite of them all is still Arkham City, but nothing will ever quite match the freshness and excitement of Asylum and how it wasn't just NOT a bad Batman game, it was a GREAT Batman game.

Bismack Billabongo
Oct 9, 2012





The combat in the sequel was absolutely incredible but yeah. The freshness and shock of a Batman game not just being passable as a Batman game, not even being great as a Batman game but straight up being a great game is untouchable.

And the riddler stuff in the first game was more novel too. The scarecrow stuff was just a total master stroke. I can only think of one other game that came that far out of left field for me and Iím gonna try and write it up soon.

Bismack Billabongo
Oct 9, 2012





I still remember the first time we did one of the predator rooms. My friend had already done it before I had seen and he showed off a little. whittled the guys down to one dude who freaked out and sprayed bullets everywhere after hitting a pipe near him with a batarang and startling him with a sudden burst of steam. He screams ďWHERE ARE YOU!!!Ē and two seconds later Batman hit him with the inverted gargoyle takedown. My jaw drat near fell off my head.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?



One thing I liked about Knight that felt like a bit of a callback to Asylum was a random mook discussion about The Riddler, where the guy admits that he is working for Riddler pretty much because he felt sorry for him because he's become so pathetic and obsessed with Batman. The ending of that subplot in Asylum where Batman just casually sends the cops to arrest Riddler at his apartment without bothering to go after him personally, all while Riddler is screaming over the radio about how this is a huge insult is so well handled.

Man, kinda wanna replay all the Arkham games again, even Origins (not Blackgate though).

el oso
Feb 18, 2005

phew, for a minute there i lost myself


I replayed them all recently (minus Origins because it wasn't in the remastered bundle) and Asylum really holds up and is still the best one by a fair margin. It was such a tight, expertly designed game. The series going open-ish world in later games made sense but I think they would have been better off massively reducing the number of Riddler trophies - as it is they are always in your face and constantly causing a low-level amount of stress because you want to do them while you're by them but there's so loving many of them.

I think they would have been much better off paring the trophies way down and focusing on more unique side missions and investigations. The Batmobile in Knight wasn't as annoying as I remember it being the first time around but stealth tanks are still some real bullshit segments. Racing around in it still rules though and I liked how they integrated it into some puzzles.

Anyway, Asylum > Knight > City. I might put Origins above City as well but can't say without having played it in many years now. Overall cool games that do actually capture what it would feel like to be Batman and the combat system was obviously a stroke of genius, but the predator segments really nail the Batmanning feeling.

Good job Batman!

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?



One of the best things about New Game+ in those games was that Riddler trophy collection carried over. So you'd have Riddler go,"Aha Batman, I have contacted you, in this city you will find a series of devilish tra-oh God you're punching me in the face! "

Lid
Feb 18, 2005

Cabana's legal advice?
I'm bourgeoisie.
I... hit the shitty
firemans carry knee.





Commander Blood

You know how the 90s had FMV? What if we combined FMV with stop motion animation and puppets and most of the cast looks like Baby Yoda or robot cows armed with circular saws? And then make it an adventure game. To electronic music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHwbE-JJPcU

cheetah7071
Oct 20, 2010

honk honk


College Slice

Atelier is my absolute all-time favorite video game series, and I have to talk about it here. Iíll be mentioning individual games here and there but for the most part Iíll be talking about the series as a whole--with the exception of some of the PS2 games, they all follow the same mold, and I love them all.

Atelier is, at its heart, a series about coming of age and finding your place in the world. Not exactly an uncommon theme in video games, but itís rare to see ones so unabashedly about that and almost nothing else. Despite being JRPGs, you wonít find any save-the-world stories here (...usually). In the first game, the protagonist, Marie, starts her game off by being told by her professor that sheís going to fail and needs to shape up over the next few years if she doesnít want to be expelled. Rorona, the protagonist of the first ďmodernĒ game, starts her game off by finding out that the government wants to eminent domain the workshop she lives in, and spends the next few years proving that the workshop has value and doesnít deserve to be torn down. Firis is tired of being cooped up in her village and dreams of seeing the world. The stakes are rarely higher than that, and even when they are, the story is still low enough urgency to allow the same kind of slow-paced story of personal growth.


Rorona inheriting her workshop

The frame the series uses to explore these low stakes is alchemy: the main character is always an alchemist, and outside of a few exceptions, usually a young woman just beginning her alchemy career. The alchemy system is the primary mechanical difference from a standard JRPG, and itís the mechanic used to establish the protagonistís growth, not just as a person, but within the society they live in. Alchemy is not just a game mechanic, itís a career. Most of the time, you solve problems by creating an appropriate item, not by violence, as is the usual mode in RPGs. Meruru is a princess trying to help her kingdom grow, so she takes on tasks like providing lumber for farmers to build fences with at first, and as she grows and masters alchemy, starts doing things like making living shovels and making barren earth fertile. The sense of progression isnít raw strength, itís skill with a trade, and the ability to use that trade to solve problems.


Marie capturing a thief using an animated rope she made with alchemy

This sense of advancement over time is reinforced another way: the series is sorted into trilogies of direct sequels, before hitting the reset button and making all new characters and an all new setting. Over the course of a trilogy, characters will return, aged up by 3-7 years depending on the game, and you get to see them continue to exist in the world after theyíve found their place in it. Itís always a treat to see the main character go from a bumbling apprentice to herself taking on a student in the sequel. Characters regularly have arcs that extend over all three games in the trilogy, resulting in a very satisfying narrative for the player who goes through them all.


By her fourth game, Rorona is a mother and an alchemy master in her own right

The mood of Atelier is usually very chill. The mood usually ranges from comedy to drama, but the cast (almost) always genuinely likes the main character and supports her in her journey. When the mood does turn darker and the characters arenít in harmony, itís usually more like friends arguing than serious villainy. But the series does occasionally delve into somber moods. Totoriís relationship with her older sister--as her sister tries to keep her safe by denying her the freedom to put herself in danger--is heartfelt and genuine. Ayeshaís relationship with her alchemy teacher, where heís more annoyed than anything else by her questions, but gradually opens up and sees her not as an upstart, but as a peer, is one of my favorite bits of writing in any video game. Thereís missteps, as there are bound to be in any series, and the quality varies from game to game, but the series generally nails a lighthearted, chill mood with interspersed somber and comedic moments.


A heartfelt moment, devoid of any spoilery context

Iíd be remiss not to mention one last thing in the non-gameplay part of this post before I move onto the gameplay part: the music. Itís all very good. Thereís nothing but bangers in this series. Hereís a small selection from across the series:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faUb-W-5D2g
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rleKcm73XwM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORjuGsoC5xM

And now, finally, onto the gameplay. The games focus on a gather-craft loop where you venture out into the wilderness to gather crafting materials, then return home to use alchemy to turn those materials into items to use against enemies the next time you go gathering. Excluding the PS2 era (which was kind of weird and to be honest most of this post doesnít apply to the localized PS2 games), thereís two broad eras of the series: the games with time limits and the ones without. The ones with time limits are truer to the gameplay loop: both crafting and gathering use up in-game time, and you have to balance them successfully to achieve your goals and make friends with your anime companions to see their events. Typically, itís very easy to just beat the game, but very difficult to 100% the game before the calendar runs out. Keeping your eyes on your objectives is key to success. I personally think the time limits also reinforce the story themes: by having the passage of months and years be a primary game mechanic, you can really feel the advancement of the heroine in a believable way. Her skill at her trade advances not through video game logic, but through hard work and putting in the hours. She becomes better friends with her companions by spending time with them. Thereís a sense of urgency that otherwise wouldnít exist in such a low-stakes story, because every moment is precious when time is fleeting.

The more recent games forego the time limit entirely. To some extent, I appreciate this--time and time again Iíve seen posters get anxious even over extremely generous schedules as a constant threat, even if in practice almost anybody who plays (most) of the games will be able to complete them without issue. Removing the time limits allows a wider variety of players to appreciate the other aspects of the game without that anxiety, even if Iíll always miss them. Maybe in the future theyíll do something similar to Fire Emblem and have Classic and Casual modes to allow players to choose whether or not they want the divisive older mechanic. That said, the modern series is far from strictly worse than the older games. Without needing to devote any of the gameís complexity to time management, the series can instead make other systems more complex while still overall having the same level of chillness and low intensity.

In particular, the more recent games have very detailed crafting systems. Crafting is almost a dirty word in video games these days--AAA games with tacked on crafting systems abound, mostly as excuses to have enemies drop 5% of an item to keep you engaged in the skinner box. Atelier has had crafting since the beginning--and with Atelier Marie releasing in 1997, it was a very early adopter of it, long before any AAA games started integrating it. The most recent games have really gone ham on this legacy, with crafting as a fully realized, integrated system in and of itself--a far cry from the items in, item out system Marie started with, and which most crafting games have even today.


A peek at Ryzaís complex crafting system

And on a final note, the series is very gay and full of pushed F/F ships. Itís not really why I play it, but itís unusual enough that I wanted to mention it, and itís a big part of the appeal to many fans.

In conclusion, the Atelier series manages to tell stories about nothing more complex or threatening than a young woman mastering a trade, while still achieving the perfect balance of lighthearted and heartfelt. It has kickass music, an engaging gameplay loop, and fully realized systems layered on top of the standard JRPG combat. If any of that sounds appealing, I urge you to take a peek at the Atelier megathread, where in the OP I try to explain the strengths and weaknesses of each individual entry. If youíre unsure, feel free to post in the thread and our regulars will help you pick the best starting game for you.


Thank you for reading my post about this series I love

Harrow
Jun 30, 2012


I played my first couple of Atelier games in 2020 thanks to cheetah's recommendations after the Dusk trilogy came out on Switch. They're really cool and good games. Specifically I played Ayesha and Escha/Logy and had a great time with them. The crafting part of the gameplay didn't fully grab me until Escha/Logy, where some of the refinements added onto the crafting and extra ways to influence the results made me get really sucked into it, trying to make the best items I could. And I normally don't even like crafting in games that much!

If you like JRPGs at all, they're definitely worth a try.

Erwin the German
May 30, 2011

:3


Hitman: Contracts


Canít quite remember what got me into the Hitman games initially, but I started off with a three-game collection set that included Silent Assassin, Contracts and Blood Money. Of those three, Blood Money is undoubtedly the best made of the lot, and is rightfully considered a cult classic. Its levels ooze fun with the amount of options you can use to pursue and take out your targets, as cleanly or as psychotically as youíd prefer. Naturally, I prefer the silent and ghost-like approach, cause stealth games might as well be in my blood at this point. Blood Money does this stupidly well, and is a ton of fun to play. The new Hitman games are also quite excellent and are a lot of silly fun - Blood Money feels more comfortably Hitman to me, though, and thereís a schlocky world-spanning James Bond approach to the new games that doesnít quite resonate with me as much as the older games did. This is all a matter of taste, though, and I still love the new ones, theyíre inventive as hell and emulate Blood Moneyís best open world aspects, dialed up to 11.

So, Iíve established I quite like Blood Money. But I like Contracts more, which is not as good. Why? That comes down to a few key elements, and those elements can mostly be summed up by the words Ďatmosphereí and Ďtone.í Contracts is the Hitman series at its absolute darkest point, and itís in this dark and vaguely gross atmosphere that I think Hitman truly thrives. Blood Money retains some of this DNA, but not enough of it - Contracts relishes in 47 tracking down and assassinating truly horrible people. Itís still just the job for him, of course, but thereís something very cathartic about squatting in a filthy alley, watching a procession of masked sadists clamoring to get into a horrific night club, plotting how best to infiltrate and kill its murderous master, a corpulently fat and disgusting individual who totally has it coming. Contracts revels in this atmosphere for the most part, told primarily through the flashbacks of a dying 47, himself at probably his lowest point. Contracts is partially a remake of the very first game, and a few of the levels are just remakes of those levels. Thatís fine - theyíre less obnoxious this time, and retain Contractsí dark tone quite thoroughly. That said, the best of that batch is Traditions of the Trade, where you infiltrate a hotel, without going into too much detail. The rest are strictly fine.

Itís in the newer levels that Contracts really shines, particularly infiltrating a manor in the English countryside to do some rescuing and murder both. That, along with the unsettling walk through the Asylum in the very first mission, which takes place immediately after the culmination of the very first game. Most of these jobs have intermissions featuring a delirious and dying 47 bleeding out in his Paris hotel room, itself an event that takes place immediately after a job you do in Blood Money. Thereís a lot of interweaving here, which is nice, but I especially like the vulnerability of 47, who is mostly just an excuse character for killing guys in creative ways, at a rare moment of relative powerlessness.

Gameplay wise, Contracts is basically just an updated Silent Assassin, slightly less unforgiving so you can actually run around without blowing a disguise. Silent Assassin is a fairly frustrating game to play, which makes Contracts also slightly frustrating to play, but the quality of life updates, sparse as they are, are still appreciable. You need to experiment a lot, and having knowledge of the level and systems helps a lot in mitigating annoyances.

A lot of the atmosphere in this game is reliant on Jesper Kydís great soundtrack, which is unrelentingly unsettling and pitch black in tone. Itís easily my favorite Hitman soundtrack, beating even Blood Moneyís, which is also great. I really wish they still had Jesper Kyd doing the new games soundtracks, but Iím not certain the flavor of his music would gel too well with the more adventurous, spy-action tone of the new ones. Thereís a very grim pleasure in hearing a new, darker and more triumphant track kick in once youíve killed a target and are on your way out.

I canít say Contracts is the best Hitman game, but itís by far my favorite by virtue of its fever dream-like approach to storytelling and the pitch black tone of its sparse story. Hitman truly shines for me when its at its darkest, and while all the games feature you killing people who generally have it coming, Contracts isnít really afraid to rub those reasons in your face more. Not for the faint of heart - itís great.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vch8gmVXfdM

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne


Max Payne is great - I loving love Max Payne and Sam Lakeís broken, noir-obsessed brain. Max Payne 2 is another game like Deus Ex for me, a game I played in my truly formative years, that Iíve played so much and so thoroughly that itís basically burned into my brain and sense memory, the music, the dialogue, the levels, the way the guns sound. Couldnít tell you how I got into it, or why I decided to play it, but Iím glad I did. Other games have had more of an impact on me, hence my top ten, but Max Payne 2 is just a game I adore whole-heartedly. Itís another game me and my twin played religiously, watching one another do so, quoting the voice lines of the thugs Max mows down mercilessly and their goofy wise-guy accents.

The Max Payne series is a little rocky, though, itself - Max Payne 1 is good, but itís very much an arcade-y shooter, despite its film noir influences, and the gorgeous comic-book interludes it indulges in. 2 continues this tradition to even more beautiful effect, though it simplifies the story considerably for the better. 1 is a coked up revenge thriller, soaked in the blood of countless goons, crooked cops and corporate cleaners. 2 retains a lot of this trigger-happiness, but suffuses it with a classic film-noir love story about a girl who is Trouble with a capital T. Itís amazing for it, owing to the great characterization of its characters, many of them returning from bit roles in the first game - this is the game, however, that defines all of them, even Max himself. In the first, heís an avenger, in this, heís just a sad detective who fucks up in the right direction. Heís a far more compelling role this time, gorgeously voiced by James McCaffrey.

Oh, right, thereís a Max Payne 3, too. Itís fine. Itís fun to play, has some good segments, but it absolutely lost something in the translation from Remedy to Rockstar. Without trying to sound like a dipshit - too late at this point, probably - it lost its noir soul. 3 feels cynical and dirty, almost, like itís relishing in just how ultimately pointless it is. A very Rockstar-style, but itís one better suited for Grand Theft Auto than Max Payne.

2 is wonderfully genuine, relishing in its noir-style and the signature, goofy over-indulgences of its gunplay, with the game slowing down at opportune moments as bullets rip through bad guys - often amusingly sent flying back and ragdolling in stupid fashions. As a kid, I loved the ragdolling and physics, which 1 lacked, but nowadays itís just very hilarious to me. The game is just beautifully vivid in my mindís eye, lovingly made by developers who really wanted to make it as noir as possible, and absolutely succeeded. Folks, they just donít make Ďem like this anymore.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spK_F8zsttI

Mafia


Anyway, hereís another game I got hooked on as a kid and know it all by heart, etc, you know the drill by now. Mafia 1 is another game thatís in love with its inspirations and influences, and youíll get no points for guessing which those might be. Mafiaís all about the Life - how it rules for a while, pulling hapless cab drivers into its clutches with the promise of respect, fat cash, and the (very illegal) power to arbitrate someone elseís life or ending it. And then it, of course, inevitably, shows you how that comes crashing down. Mafiaís a whole-hearted devotee of the classic mob story, following a dope named Tommy Angelo who just wanted to make something of himself, along with walking stereotypes Paulie and Sam. Everyone you expect to be in Mafia is probably in Mafia. It has forced stealth missions, car chases, pitched shoot outs, alley-way brawls, and a truly, truly loving awful and broken racing mission that the devs themselves encourage you to find a way to skip.

As an open world crime game, it was contending with the likes of Grand Theft Auto 3, and we all know who won that particular duel. Doesnít matter, cause Mafia won for me, with its genuine adoration of being a wise guy and showing you why, eventually, it would actually suck quite a lot to be a wise guy. That all said, Mafia has some good stuff going for it - the gun fights are incredibly tense and deadly affairs, and a few bullets can easily end your life. They feel like genuine scrambles to stay alive and shoot your way out of a bad situation. The commitment to realism for the time period is also well-appreciated, up to and including getting pulled over for going over the speed limit in your lovely 1930s car that you desperately wish would go faster, but it doesnít cause itís a period-accurate car that sucks. Car chases are ponderous affairs that benefit a lot from driving cautiously, yet often require you to go fast and take risks to keep up. The less said about melee combat, the better. The voice acting is both good and bad all at once - thereís some genuinely good line reads in there, but also a lot of bad ones, and some pretty hilariously bad dialogue in a lot of spots. Did I mention this was made by a Czech developer? For a translated piece of work made by non-Americans, though, Mafia is pretty spot-on for the tone, just not always with the dialogue.

It takes place over several years, so thereís some cool angles to that - a long-spanning crime drama between two rival families is the basic send-up, but cooler still is watching how Lost Heaven develops over the years. Youíll see new cars hit the streets, get easier access to certain guns, hear about new world events for the time period. Thereís a lot of good details that go into this game, hence my calling it very genuinely made. The music is also both period appropriate and Mafia-appropriate, sounding as if it was just lifted out of a dramatic mobster flick.

Itís far from perfect, and its sequel, Mafia 2, improves on it in a lot of ways - a lot of people prefer Mafia 2ís story, too, and I can sort of see why, but Iíll refrain from getting into that. 2 also feels more game-y to me, which is odd to say, but it lacks that shot of desperate realism that made me want to survive so much in 1, something that only further immersed me in its setting. I havenít played 3, so I canít comment on it. Thereís a remaster that just came out for Mafia 1 which modernizes and restructures a lot of plot beats and levels, which is probably worth playing, but I havenít gotten around to it. Judging from cutscenes Iíve seen, it looks moreÖ professional, I guess is the best word for it. Mafia 1 did the best it could, and the remaster takes the game and gives it a very modern spin, it seems.

Pretty sure Iíd still end up preferring the original, though - thereís just something about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERhqKNmDr78

Nier: Automata


What was that, three games about crimes and shooting people? Cool. Hereís a game about, uhhhhh.

I guess a lot of things. Automata is about big-booty androids fighting robots with giant swords. Itís about side-scrolling shoot-íem-up segments, which sometimes go up instead of to the side. Sometimes you hack the robots and play a weird mini-game where itís like an arcade game or some poo poo, and you gotta blow up black balls to hack them and blow Ďem up. Itís about doing side quests for people where you kill a certain amount of boars and I think I remember praying for good drops. Itís about nice robots who you donít have to kill sometimes. Itís about robots trying to figure out how to gently caress, and mostly failing. Itís about androids dying repeatedly. Itís about eating a fish that kills you. Itís about a weirdo on a traveling truck that sells you poo poo with the best advertising theme blaring out of a loudspeaker. Itís about optimizing your operating systemís programs. Itís about robots and androids trying to figure out what it means to be alive.

Itís about robots and androids trying to figure out what it means to be alive, when all theyíve known is an inscrutable, possibly centuries-long conflict between them. Nier Automata is an outstanding game where sometimes your dress blows up and you can see 2Bís rear end really well. Cool, I guess? I think youíre missing the point if you play this for the promise of hot girls fighting robots, but I guess itís nice that thereís something for everyone. Automataís got Themes, itís got drama, itís got achingly well-performed voice lines, itís got fun dialogue and eye-watering dialogue. Itís got fun combat thatís honestly not as complicated as it looks, which is a slight shame once you realize it, but youíll probably not care anyway cause it looks really loving cool still. It has probably the best soundtrack Iíve ever heard in a game, which is beautifully composed and pitch-perfect for whatever is happening on screen at any given moment. It has characters that are incredibly human and well-realized, once you penetrate the storyís intentionally obscure curtains. Thereís more curtains after those initial ones, donít expect to have a full grasp on everything for a while. Thatís fine.

Itís hard to talk about this game and summarize what it is I like about it. I like pretty much everything about it. If I had a gun pointed at me and was told to sum up why I like it, which aspects, Iíd land squarely on the music, the characters, and the story. The story is a hell of a thing - itís not as complex as it looks, and youíll get it if you stick it through and really commit to finishing it. Half the fun is just getting to the next big story beat and watching what happens. It has a bunch of endings, but, eh - itís weird, donít worry about those. Just focus on playing it and trying to get to the end of the game. Thereís a definite end, despite all the endings. Yoko Taro, ladies and germs. Itís one of those, except itís somehow achingly emotional and beautiful. And, more to the point for Taroís works, itís ultimately comprehensible for basically anyone playing through. Itís fun to play. Itís emotional to listen to. It was my game of the year in 2017, narrowly beating another game Iíll talk about soon. Play Automata if you want to appreciate a lot of things coming together and somehow all being elevated all at once into a wonderfully touching game.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gX4PzV0i6t4

Heavy Metal
Sep 1, 2014

America's $1 Funnyman

Payne to the Max! I love that guy. Sam Lake in general, anything he touches, I want. (Well I didn't catch Quantum Break, but still, he's gold.)

Duke Nukem 3D

Duke 3D is for me the height of FPS level design. The beautiful midpoint between Doom and Half-Life, it's still abstract but with imaginative versions of urban places like movie theaters and whatnot. As well as space stations etc. A lot of verticality, great stuff to jump on, lots of secrets, nooks, cool little touches. When your level designers have names like Allen Blum III and Levelord, you know you're in good hands.

I also enjoy the humor and 'tude of our titular protagonist, the Duke. And the gameplay is action movie mayhem with so many fun unique weapons. Freeze enemies, blow them up with a remote pipebomb, do a little shrinking and stomping, you name it. Jetpack too. 1996, eat your heart out.

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes

Take Hideo Kojima's PSX opus, add smooth MGS2 gameplay stylings and Ryuhei (Versus, Azumi, Godzilla Final Wars) Kitamura's cutscene flavor. You've got a recipe for a lifetime of fandom for me. That's right, this is the game that made me an MGS fan. Right after three or four days being blown away by this masterpiece, I went out and got MGS3 and MGS2. Played them in that order. Some of the most mindblowing gaming of my life in January 2005. I still salute Hideo to this day, and I salute the Snakes.

Tomb Raider Anniversary

On a remake kick here, probably what got me thinking of it, but this is one of my favs. And if I want to represent Tomb Raider, I think this is the best game in the series. Just slick gameplay, cool unique devious traps and tombs to explore. Very groovy.

Super Mario 64

Just another vote for the champ. Let's race a penguin, bake a cake, anything even remotely like what we saw in this game's visionary adventure. I kind of want some cake.

King of Fighters 99: Evolution (or 98 thru 2002 on Dreamcast)

So many good times playing these with my friends. 99 had our fav feel, but they were all great. Just 2D fighting bliss. So many cool characters, great songs, great moves (all those extensions felt pretty fancy at the time). Blue Mary, Iori, and Kim would be a team of choice for me, but so many to choose from.

Game on, gamers.

Heavy Metal fucked around with this message at 03:16 on Jan 14, 2021

Harrow
Jun 30, 2012


Heavy Metal posted:

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes

Take Hideo Kojima's PSX opus, add smooth MGS2 gameplay stylings and Ryuhei (Versus, Azumi, Godzilla Final Wars) Kitamura's cutscene flavor. You've got a recipe for a lifetime of fandom for me. That's right, this is the game that made me an MGS fan. Right after three or four days being blown away by this masterpiece, I went out and got MGS3 and MGS2. Played them in that order. Some of the most mindblowing gaming of my life in January 2005. I still salute Hideo to this day, and I salute the Snakes.

I had a friend in college who wasn't really much of a gamer, but his roommate had a GameCube and we used to play Smash over at their place a bunch. He decided to play MGS: Twin Snakes when his friend got it, not knowing anything about Metal Gear whatsoever. I was already a Metal Gear fan so I had a great time watching this very normal college guy dive straight into the deep end of the insanity that is Twin Snakes and absolutely love it. I played it myself, too, but somehow my memories of watching my college buddy's head spin as he played his first MGS game is what I go to every time someone brings up Twin Snakes.

Fun game, that one.

I had a similar experience when another non-gamer college buddy of mine (who also didn't really watch or know anything about anime) decided to borrow my copy of Persona 3.

Heavy Metal
Sep 1, 2014

America's $1 Funnyman

Right on! That's beautiful.

BeanpolePeckerwood
May 4, 2004

how may i dook on this parade?



Pork Pro

Tomb Raider Anniversary is simultaneously the best game in the franchise and one of the best remakes of all time.

Rarity
Oct 21, 2010

CUTEST IN THE WORLD
QUEEN OF THE SIMPS
RARITY-CHAN






I wish I vibed with Anniversary like other people do but when I played it was such a frustrating time. The platforming was so finnicky and there were so many times where it wasn't clear where I was meant to go and I had so many deaths just from jumping to somewhere I wasn't meant to jump to because I didn't know where else to go

BeanpolePeckerwood
May 4, 2004

how may i dook on this parade?



Pork Pro

Rarity posted:

I wish I vibed with Anniversary like other people do but when I played it was such a frustrating time. The platforming was so finnicky and there were so many times where it wasn't clear where I was meant to go and I had so many deaths just from jumping to somewhere I wasn't meant to jump to because I didn't know where else to go

I mean, that's basically the gist of the original Tomb Raider. It has more in common with Dark Souls than Uncharted.

Xarbala
Feb 13, 2011






So, I put Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin up as my No.3 for the 2020 thread, and it's still been fresh in my thoughts even as I approach what I was assured to be the end of the main game. Most of my thoughts, I've already given, though the game continues to provide food for more. Mainly, aside from thinking a lot about rice farming growing processes, I've found myself scouring google for information about traditional Japanese food. Specifically, desserts, though I'm curious about a lot of the savoury dishes as well. Like Boar Meat Jelly, described in-game as something of a soy sauce-based aspic.




Some of them I had heard of before, like senbei and sweet rice cakes. But some were interesting to learn about.


Like mugwort dumplings, or more properly, yomogi dango, the seasonal springtime snack:
https://www.chopstickchronicles.com/yomogi-dango/


Or dried persimmons, hoshigaki.
https://www.thespruceeats.com/hoshigaki-japanese-dried-persimmons-1327537


But one particular dessert eluded me, kenpin, made with walnuts, sesame, sugar, and soy sauce. After a few perfunctory searches of my own, a friend of mine got curious enough about it to try a more thorough search. Apparently, kenpin was popular during the Edo period but hasn't been especially popular in modern japan. To the point where the only english language reference he could find involved a Japanese museum collaborating with local cafes to showcase these sweets for a limited time. Really, mostly using its flavors in the form of ice cream, or pound cake. Finding proper traditional kenpin might actually require that I be able to read Japanese.
https://hokusai-museum.jp/modules/Event/events/view/1601?lang=en


Though in-game, its sprite is represented as something like a sweet handroll. I think this is closer to the traditional kenpin confection. Again, my friend's curiosity was piqued, and he passed this find on as well.
https://cookpad.com/recipe/3892632



And now I'm at a bit of a loss as I want to try them quite a bit, and getting my hands on them might prove to be a challenge. Especially in these trying times.




(Still thinking 'bout that yomori dango rn)

Xarbala fucked around with this message at 11:04 on Jan 14, 2021

KonvexKonkav
Mar 5, 2014



BeanpolePeckerwood posted:

I mean, that's basically the gist of the original Tomb Raider. It has more in common with Dark Souls than Uncharted.

This seems to be a very popular opinion, but I really dislike Dark Souls comparisons unless there's a very good reason (like the game is heavily influenced by DS like Hollow Knight or Surge). That being said, I can kind of see a similarity in that both games are slow, don't hold your hand too much and have clunky controls (though OG Tomb Raider is way worse and borderline unplayable nowadays).

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?



I also hit a brick wall with Anniversary, I absolutely adored the original Tomb Raider and played the hell out of it on... gently caress, what even was the console? A Sega Saturn maybe? But I hit a point in Anniversary where the camera would switch direction PRECISELY on the moment of making a jump from a giant climb up a set of walls, and so whatever direction you were pushing in would suddenly reverse and Lara would plummet to her death.

I would try pushing in the other direction but the camera cut wouldn't happen, and it got so bad I figured I must be doing something wrong and looked it up online and found a bunch of people complaining of the same problem but a bunch more saying they never saw anything like that happen, so I have no idea what the gently caress

It's a shame because even tough the graphics are far from cutting edge, it was nice to play a somewhat "modern" version of such a fantastic game as the original Tomb Raider.

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


Glare Seethe posted:

Dark Queen of Krynn



I was going to ask how you could play this on a modern computer but then I remember that most of these are on the internet archive dos abandonware dump.

Mode 7
Jul 28, 2007



Kentucky Route Zero is one the most wonderful pieces of interactive art that I've ever played. It's a Southern Gothic magical realist point and click adventure game, heavily focused on narrative and exploration, about a magical highway under Kentucky and the people who travel it.

It's also an incredibly written exploration of the impacts of the capitalist system, the spaces we inhabit and the influence they have on us, the relationships and bonds that we form and the griefs and burdens of the past that we carry around with us. Laura Hudson for Wired writes of it "Imagine it is a tragic ghost story about the American Dream where the ghost is the American Dream; the tragedy is that it keeps haunting America because it doesnít know itís dead." I finished it last night. I'll be thinking about it for a long, long, long time to come.

From discussing games with friends in offline spaces, I've repeatedly said that I believe video games have the potential to be so more than they often are. I'm not saying that every game has to have a higher meaning, that's as ridiculous a notion applied to games as it is to any form of entertainment. What I mean is that I see so much potential in this medium to do things that can't be done in other formats. Too often, games seek to try and become art by aping the techniques and trappings of other mediums - usually film - but a video game is not a film. Why try and replicate another medium, an approach always doomed to be just a pale imitation, when the ability to create powerful art lays largely untapped and unexplored in this one? I think both the interactivity and the limitless creative space unrestrained by the rules of any sort of physical reality afforded by video games is key for achieving this.

Kentucky Route Zero creates powerful moments through its interactivity. The player is given agency almost like a director in a play, offered a choice of interpretations of dialogue that shift how a character's past, relationships to others or current behaviour is understood. These aren't typical dialogue trees to voraciously exhaust every option in and clean every nugget of information from, you simply make your choice and that becomes the reality. Every choice is equally valid. The level of control and interactivity that the game affords the player-as-director also means that the game can create equally powerful moments when it removes that agency. There are hurts you can't fix. There are outcomes that you can't change. There are moments that simply aren't about you, and that's okay.

Although ostensibly a tragedy, I think ultimately the game has a beautiful, hopeful message to deliver about how we choose to continue to live our lives and that good that we can do for each other. About how to begin healing and moving forward after tragedy and loss. Particularly after the last year, even with the impacts of 2020 to me being significantly more minimal than many other people in Australia or other parts of the world, that's still something I really needed right now.

Please, play this game. Take your time. Savour it, enjoy it, play with headphones and try and play each act and intermission uninterrupted. Explore. Linger in environments to soak in a moment, or the music, or a sight. If you do play it, and I hope you do, I hope you'll find it as rewarding as I did.

Sway Grunt
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


DalaranJ posted:

I was going to ask how you could play this on a modern computer but then I remember that most of these are on the internet archive dos abandonware dump.

All the Gold Box games are also on GOG if you'd prefer to go that route. I think the IA versions are stream-only which kind of sucks.

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fridge corn
Apr 2, 2003




I want to talk about this stupid thing:



The Apple IIe. Bask in its insanely beigey glory. Why do I want to talk about this thing? Well, in thinking up of topics I could post about in this thread I came up with a list of gaming milestones and I figured I might as well start at the beginning. The Apple IIe is that beginning.



This thing was a fixture in our house before I was even born. Indeed, it even featured in our 1984 family Christmas card photo, the last year that the family Christmas card photo did not feature me. According to wikipedia this machine with all the bells and whistles as we had would have cost a whopping $5000 in today bucks, which is an obscene amount of money. However one of the few perks of holding and underpaid research position as my dad did at the time was being able to apply for and allocate grant money; an unintended consequence of which being providing me with the means to play video games straight out of the womb. So what could this bad boy do? Here are a few of my more memorable favourites:

Black Magic - 1987, Peter Ward/Action Software
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A09sGoJwpEQ

This game is hard. Really hard. You play as a naked weakling in an unforgiving fantasy world full of monsters that will brutally murder you in an instant if you are not paying attention. Sounds oddly familiar....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YKzoeI9zGM

Anyway I was not good at this game. My tiny child brain and noodley child arms did not afford me the opportunity to get very far with it, that and the arcane copy protection that required you to reference some passage in the manual (which we didnt have) to progress past a certain point.

Stickybear Basket Bounce - 1982, Richard Hefter, Janie and Steve Worthington/Optimium Resource

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w23VBBbukOM

I couldn't find any Apple II footage for this game but it's the same thing basically except the colours are a bit different. Incidentally, we didnt have a colour monitor with our machine, but we could hook it up to the tv for that sweet white/purple/orange colour scheme. Dont have much to say about this simple game other than other than my sister's best friend's deviant older brother called the extra lives displayed in the upper left of the screen "condoms" which was really funny to me despite having no clue what a condom was at the time.

Rocky's Boots - 1982, Warren Robinett and Leslie Grimm/The Learning Company

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npd-MAeVmDg

This is an educational game where you play as an orange square and tell a boot to kick or not kick things by using and, or, and not logic gates and it is VERY BORING despite my dad being very excited about it and insisting on trying to get me to play it in the hope that maybe I might learn something.

Winter Games - 1985, Epyx

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adH3Jwb3uXo

Now this was the pinnacle of entertainment on the Apple II. Sophisticated graphics for the time, multiple game modes and local multiplayer. You could compete with your friends and siblings in the various events and see who could get the highest score. My favourite event was the "hot dog" event which was the trick ski jump. My sister would always beat me by landing the lamest trick whereas I would always try to break the joystick trying for sickest of all tricks but landing flat on my face. Good times. Haven't thought about these games in ages, the first video games I ever played.

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