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nurmie
Dec 8, 2019

inscrutable horse posted:

"Yeah!"
"Nuclear tackle!"
"Come. On."
"Yeah!"
"Nuclear tackle!"
"Come. On."

Oh, the tanker :allears:

F1 -> type "shapeshifter" -> F7 (i think? been awhile) until you're a tanker -> run around NUCLEAR TACKLING people and headbutting them is a sequence of events that happened way too many times in my life

there are two particularly cool things about shapeshifting in this game, in my opinion. one, each of the 5-6 basic movesets, while not always balanced or incredibly useful, has enough going on to stand out and be interesting to tinker with and figure out the best strats for. two, all the characters utilising these movesets feel demonstrably different from each other, and contrasts in how they feel to play make you really appreciate the amount of thought that went into designing the combat system

like, for example, it can be quite surprising just how agile Konoko feels to play as after controlling a character with the "generic dude" moveset (eg TCTF, comguys, civilians). what's even more cool though, she somehow feels heavy - like you really start to get the feeling of weight behind her attacks - but without sacrificing that sense of agility. the animator (i think it was a single person who animated everything by hand? i have this bit of trivia in my head but i'm not 100% sure) did a tremendously great job

nurmie fucked around with this message at 19:22 on Dec 20, 2021

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berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.
I'm seeing someone talking about my combat video at the end of the LP.

Seriously though, seeing Shinatama with the BEST GUN is utterly hilarious.

MShadowy
Sep 30, 2013

dammit eyes don't work that way!



Fun Shoe
The shapeshifter cheat is a lot of fun yeah, and it does really reveal just how thoroughly well designed the combat system is. Tanker is a ton of fun, they're just so wonderfully bombastic all the time, though they weren't my favorite character to play as; that particular fighter hasn't been revealed yet, though for some reason I thought they showed up in this level.

One thing about the TCTF guys is that they don't all have the same moveset, though we've yet to meet the ones who don't use the Generic McPunchmans fighting style. Sadly, though they are very big boys, they're not nearly as fun to play as Tanker is. Alas.

In conclusion "Can't top Tanker!" Except for the Fury.

MShadowy fucked around with this message at 19:47 on Dec 20, 2021

nurmie
Dec 8, 2019

berryjon posted:

I'm seeing someone talking about my combat video at the end of the LP.

Seriously though, seeing Shinatama with the BEST GUN is utterly hilarious.

oh whoops, should i put my post under spoilers? :v:

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

MShadowy posted:

In conclusion "Can't top Tanker!" Except for the Fury.
Praise the Truth! when we meet them, I immediately slot them in as the most fun enemy to fight.

nurmie posted:

oh whoops, should i put my post under spoilers? :v:

Nah, you're good.

nurmie
Dec 8, 2019
watching the videos, i can't help but admire how much the art direction (such as it is) in the level design of Oni invokes a certain liminal space-ish vibe - it's much easier to spot when you're watching someone else play it and thus aren't really distracted by having to fight people all the time :v:

they're just so mundane-looking and sparse and featureless and kinda-sorta-similar-to-real-world-spaces-if-you-squint-but-not-really that it just somehow works. the sound design really helps sell it. (obviously this was not intended by the developers - at least i don't think so - but it's peculiar how a 20-year-old game accidentally fits right into this subset of modern weirdo internet aesthetics)

sb hermit
Dec 13, 2016





nurmie posted:

watching the videos, i can't help but admire how much the art direction (such as it is) in the level design of Oni invokes a certain liminal space-ish vibe - it's much easier to spot when you're watching someone else play it and thus aren't really distracted by having to fight people all the time :v:

they're just so mundane-looking and sparse and featureless and kinda-sorta-similar-to-real-world-spaces-if-you-squint-but-not-really that it just somehow works. the sound design really helps sell it. (obviously this was not intended by the developers - at least i don't think so - but it's peculiar how a 20-year-old game accidentally fits right into this subset of modern weirdo internet aesthetics)

I agree that this game looks a lot more fun to watch than to actually play.

I remember beating Space Channel 5 on the dreamcast for the enjoyment of my roommates (at the time) but I really wanted to watch someone else beat it! Of course, I'm the only one good at rhythm games. Now that we have youtube, I should probably try to find a playthrough that doesn't have any narration. Or play it myself and upload the footage.

inscrutable horse
May 20, 2010

Parsing sage, rotating time



Despite the jank, and obvious unfinished nature of the game, it's actually quite fun. The brawling mechanics are really well done, and feel super responsive even on KB+M; and I say this as someone who detests brawlers in general. The gunplay could use a little work, but that might be because the game frontloads the really crappy ones. We're going to see, IMO, one of the coolest guns in video game history at some point.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

inscrutable horse posted:

We're going to see, IMO, one of the coolest guns in video game history at some point.
The BEST GUN shows up next level actually. After that, It's 4 more levels before the last new weapon we can get.

nurmie
Dec 8, 2019

inscrutable horse posted:

The brawling mechanics are really well done, and feel super responsive even on KB+M; and I say this as someone who detests brawlers in general.

i'd go as far as to say that Oni's hand to hand combat is STILL one of the best melee combat systems i've seen in a technically non-fighting game title

especially if you get a mod that improves enemy AI

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


Ah, the TCTF Regional HQ.

Screw that, I GOT THE BEST GUN!!!!!

Woo-hoo! The Mercury Bow is in the house! This sexy, sexy gun is the best gun in the game, and probably in the top five of all First-Person Shooter-hood. Sure, others may have more boom, or more 'thud' to them, but the Mercury Bow is a Sniper Rifle without any of the disadvantages. You don't have to zoom in, or use the iron sights as the gun's built in reticle lights up when there's a target down range. And the range is absolute insane, as in past the game's nominal draw distance. Though you really only see that in the hands of the enemy AI as they can see farther than you can.

The lore behind this is interesting, as the gun is a recent development by the TCTF, one that has only seen field deployment in the past few years. As I mentioned in the video, it fires a small slug of cryogenic Mercury from a railgun at super-sonic speeds. The combination of the shot leaving the barrel and the sudden cooling of the gun gives it its distinct 'thwang' sound, hence the name "Mercury Bow".

As it turns out, Mercury becomes a superconductor when cooled to 4 degrees Kelvin., so there's real :science: here!

Now, I'm going to spoil something here that's not stated outright, but was in one of the Bungie forums years ago about the Mercury Bow. The spoilers are because we haven't been formally introduced to the McGuffin of the game yet. The TCTF developed the Mercury Bow, not as an anti-cyborg weapon, for the likes of Barabus or Mukade, but rather as an Anti-Daoden weapon for use against Muro, Konoko and any others that might have the Chrysalis. The combination of hyper-kinetic impact, cryogenic damage, and heavy-metal poisoning is hoped to overload the regenerative properties of the Chrysalis, putting the target down, rather than making them tougher when they get back up.

Look, once you get your hands on a Mercury Bow, there is exactly one reason why you should put it down. It's because you got caught with it equipped, and someone knocked it out of your hands. It is far and away, the best weapon in the game, and if the option presents itself, not having it is effectively a challenge mode.

But enough about that, I'm sure that people in the thread will make their own comments as well about THE BEST GUN. Let's get back to the level itself, shall we?

The TCTF Building is divided into four parts, and each of these sections is fairly distinct, helping break up the monotony of other levels. The car-park is a nice safe opening area, allowing the player to control the encounters there, while the next area, the utilities area, showcase an actual reason for identical levels, with the machines over top each other.

If I had once complaint, it would be that in a real building, all of these would have been below ground, as part of the foundation. As it is, the basement is locked to us, and we can't open it. Whatever is down there will have to remain a mystery.

Moving up, we get the work spaces for the building, and here I can see a game with a more advanced engine absolutely revel in the destruction that could be caused as the Syndicate and TCTF battle through the offices, blowing holes through walls, scattering cubicles all over the place, and being such a chaotic mess that the Havoc engine would cry uncle.

Wait, is Havoc still a thing? checks Yes, the Havok Physics Engine is still being updated. Excellent.

Anyway, this sections really suffers from the limitations of the engine and the cutbacks required to take this from a working space and into a proper battleground as the player alternates back and forth between levels. And, as I promised in the video itself, I tried to make that one jump that's here:



But the distance is too far. All that's up there are a TCTF Elite and a Fury, and unless you provide fire support, the Fury Wins.



Justice Served.

The Command Center has one the more overt Marathon references, as the seat where Shinatama resides is a Durandal computer interface, but that information isn't readily visible, I checked after looking around the outside ledge. Wait ledge?



This is the window that leads to the ledge that overlooks the carpark, like so.



You can see the road that Konoko drove down to get into the building, as well as the drab roof to it. This view reinforces my thought that that entire section should have been underground as it would make more sense from a construction perspective, and you could expand the upper building, or in a story-breaking choice, put down a nice little park there for the employees of the building and the nearby ones as well.

Anyway, out this window and to the left, there's a Kinetic Ammo clip out there.



It's a trap. The only way you're going to get this is if you carefully, and I mean utterly carefully crouch and inch your way onto the ledge, stay crouching the entire way as you press your face into the wall, and stay crouching as you pick it up and crouch-inch back to safely.

If you stand up, you fall. No questions asked. The ledge won't support the hit box of a walking Konoko, so you take a plunge to the ground floor.

Out the other side, away from the car park, we get this view:



Goddamn, I love these buildings. I mean as much as the efforts to build real buildings to play in, when you don't have to worry about that and just make terrain and background, the urban cityscape is amazing. But coming out here give you a Phase Cloak to the right, with the same warnings as the Ammo on the other side, and a Mercury Bow to the left.




Moving on, let's talk the Boss, Barabus.

He's the same as the previous battle, just the environment is different. But what I like about him, compared to the other bosses in the game is that he knows when words don't need to be said. Unlike the others, he knows what's going to go down, so why bother talking? Just fight it out, and only one of you is going to walk away.

I think he knew this going in. Told by Muro to get Shinatama, he did just that and once he knew that Konoko was murdering her way up the building, he knew that his options were no option at all. He could join in evacing with the package, leaving Konoko undaunted and unchallenged, ready to pursue. Or he could send Shinatama away to Muro, turn and stand, to fight Konoko and buy every last second he can.

And if he won? Well, all the better. Because his throws are throws, and being tossed off the building is a legitimate danger in this fight. But perhaps, in his eyes, this was his chance to undo the blemish of his loss two days ago, either go down swinging, or know that he might still have a chance against Muro.

Look, I'm making poo poo up here, but aside from "Boss Fight 1/3 through the Game", why else would he stand and fight? We didn't see Muro order him to do so, as we've sen him give orders to run before. Accomplishing the mission doesn't mean getting into a punchout with Konoko on the roof of the TCTF. So in the end, I think the choice for the fight was personal, not professional.

Next time, we talk about the fallout from this, and the first scene in the game that I'm going to take a crack at re-writing to make some sense of the plot.

inscrutable horse
May 20, 2010

Parsing sage, rotating time



Ahem, berryjon, please. It's the motherfuckin' Mercury Bow! :D But yeah, it's satisfying on every level: it's effective, it's easy to use, it sounds great, it looks great - it's one of the best guns in videogame history. I don't know if there's any more to be said :D

Dav
Nov 6, 2009
This LP inspired me to dig up my old Oni CD and play through it again now that I know the Anniversary Edition mod/patch exists.

Totally worth the half hour of digging around in the basement looking for it!

Slaan
Mar 16, 2009



ASHERAH DEMANDS I FEAST, I VOTE FOR A FEAST OF FLESH
Why is a global paramilitary governmental force using 12 year olds as handlers for killer cyborgs? From the headshot i though she was young, but the full body image of Shinatama getting grabbed shows her to be a kid

Dav
Nov 6, 2009

Slaan posted:

Why is a global paramilitary governmental force using 12 year olds as handlers for killer cyborgs? From the headshot i though she was young, but the full body image of Shinatama getting grabbed shows her to be a kid

I donít remember how much we know exactly at this point but weíve definitely encountered at least some relevant background as to what Shinatamaís deal is. (Both in optional data dumps and otherwise)

nurmie
Dec 8, 2019

Dav posted:

I don’t remember how much we know exactly at this point but we’ve definitely encountered at least some relevant background as to what Shinatama’s deal is. (Both in optional data dumps and otherwise)

iirc the consoles on level 3 tell us all the necessary backgound information. again, iirc and correct me if i'm wrong but basically it's illegal to "grow" full-sized SLDs for fear of rampancy and other problems. it's not an unfounded fear, as we can see when dealing with Tankers :v:

in general, for how sparse the plot is, there are some really neat sci-fi concepts and Themes(tm) present in Oni. its almost got that biopunk edge to it. the BEST GUN lore, for example, or the whole SLD thing - it's quite an unusual take on androids, imo. or that SPOILER THING that's coming up in a lil bit (i'll share my thoughts on it when it does come up)

oh yeah, also TCTF HQ is probably my favourite level in this game. i really dig the quasi-sandbox, almost Die Hard-ish feel to first half of ir or so

nurmie fucked around with this message at 20:57 on Dec 22, 2021

MShadowy
Sep 30, 2013

dammit eyes don't work that way!



Fun Shoe
Ah yeah, the Furies; they're a ton of fun, both to fight and play as under the shapeshifter cheat. They're fast, have a comparatively cunning AI relative to most enemies you run into, and generally just have a varied and interesting moveset. They're absolutely my favorite character type from this game.

And also the other guys I mentioned in my last post, the TCTF Heavies. Who... y'know i dunno, something about them just doesn't appeal. They're a strong unit type but they just don't feel like they've got any bite; the only move I really remember from them is their axe kick, which in retrospect is kinda funny, because I distinctly remember getting into arguments with people on the original pre-wiki Oni information site having to point out that, yes, the TCTF Heavies did have their own unique moveset totally unlike the generic TCTF troopers. I guess what they actually did with their moves made less of an impression.

nurmie
Dec 8, 2019

MShadowy posted:

And also the other guys I mentioned in my last post, the TCTF Heavies. Who... y'know i dunno, something about them just doesn't appeal. They're a strong unit type but they just don't feel like they've got any bite; the only move I really remember from them is their axe kick, which in retrospect is kinda funny, because I distinctly remember getting into arguments with people on the original pre-wiki Oni information site having to point out that, yes, the TCTF Heavies did have their own unique moveset totally unlike the generic TCTF troopers. I guess what they actually did with their moves made less of an impression.

tbh they kinda suck - it really becomes apparent if you Shapeshift into them. they go into their overpower attacks at the slightest provocation (it only takes Forward + LMB/RMB iirc) and these attacks are nothing special damage-wise, and it's really hard to hit anyone with them, and they leave you super vulnerable, and the voice line is much less, uh, flavourful than Tankers'. at least that's what i remember from my last time tinkering with Shapeshifter

e: all this talk really makes me wish Bungie had succeeded in implementing multiplayer before release. it would've been glorious. oh well :smith:

nurmie fucked around with this message at 02:44 on Dec 23, 2021

MShadowy
Sep 30, 2013

dammit eyes don't work that way!



Fun Shoe

nurmie posted:

e: all this talk really makes me wish Bungie had succeeded in implementing multiplayer before release. it would've been glorious. oh well :smith:

Mulitplayer Oni would have been so good.

Commander Keene
Dec 21, 2016

Faster than the others



Konoko running up to random civilians, shouting "You're gonna get beat by a GIRL!" and then just loving off is :allears:

nurmie
Dec 8, 2019

Commander Keene posted:

Konoko running up to random civilians, shouting "You're gonna get beat by a GIRL!" and then just loving off is :allears:

using the same button for interacting and taunting was an interesting design decision for sure

Commander Keene
Dec 21, 2016

Faster than the others



At least it's not interact and punch/shoot on the same button. NPCs don't react to being taunted, it seems.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

MShadowy posted:

Mulitplayer Oni would have been so good.

Bungie had problems with combining the netcode with their interpolation engine. It was hard to get the computers to agree on what happened when and where, leading to cyclical and eventual catastrophic desynchs on anything with more lag than a LAN. Pure gunplay was fine though, and from what I remember, a lot of the development for Oni's multiplayer got recycled into Halo's multiplayer as it was all gunplay with the occasional melee punch.

God, remember LANs?

Commander Keene posted:

Konoko running up to random civilians, shouting "You're gonna get beat by a GIRL!" and then just loving off is :allears:

Ah, back in 2001, when that was a legitimate insult, and not a statement of facts. Of course, when she does that to a Fury, it's even more hilarious.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001

Ah yes, I see about this being the Best Gun. Feels just like my old favourite, the railgun from Quake 2: neato blue vapour trail, punchy sound, kills a target in one shot or two if armoured.

nurmie
Dec 8, 2019

Crazy Achmed posted:

Ah yes, I see about this being the Best Gun. Feels just like my old favourite, the railgun from Quake 2: neato blue vapour trail, punchy sound, kills a target in one shot or two if armoured.

the sound design on BEST GUN is exquisite and somehow amounts to at least a third of its punchiness despite being so *quiet*

also, being almost hit by a shot from BEST GUN from somewhere unseen raises the intensity of any combat situation about sixfold

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


For all of its size, the exterior of the Atmospheric Processing Plant has actually very little playable space in it. The catwalks back and forth, with the elevators and then the massive power conduits running between them create a very linear path that gives the impression of something greater than it actually is.

It's an example of how you can do loop-backs and folding pathways over and under each-other to utilize the space you have in a way that isn't just totally filler, unlike the second level. The difference between the two is that each 'floor' is relatively unique, but most importantly, you can shoot across them.

Look, I cannot over-stress just how much being able to look at a place you won't be for a couple minutes, whipping out the Mercury Bow, and pot-shotting some Syndicate mook does to keep the layout of the level fresh and interesting. The capacity to not only see where you are going, or where you are from and meaningfully interact with it is something that other games of the era, like Halo couldn't. The concept of the Corridor Shooter became firmly entrenched at this time, where compact spaces became the norm and set-pieces more viable as the technology advanced.

In a way, the limitations of the engine only helped here.

Of course, this still doesn't excuse the horrific lack of safety rails.

The timing puzzles in this level are something we will see again in the next level, but I find that they're not that hard. Just annoying on occasion when you go out the wrong door and have to wait for the cycle to finish before trying again. And they don't overstay their welcome either, which is nice. The game doesn't force you to do one after another after another after another, but treats it as a relatively unique environmental obstacle.

Moving on, the existence of these plants is the first real sign that is thrown into the player's face that there are serious issues in the world. Well, aside from globe-spanning criminal syndicates, and a near-totalitarian world government trying to keep things together. The general atmosphere around the world is so bad that these sorts of facilities are all over the planet, sucking in air every moment, cleaning the worst of the pollutants out of it, then spewing it back out into the cities themselves. These perform such a vital function that the authorities take their operation seriously, and make the effort to preserve these megatructures rather than manipulate them for their own ends.

Which is why I'm deeply confused as to why Muro brought Shinatama here of all places. We can read between the lines that the Syndicate are doing something to the processors, but the exact modifications aren't revealed to us... for now. But regardless of that, his presence here is actively harming the Syndicate's goals. He's drawing attention to the facility, and I absolutely guarantee you that the TCTF will go over that place with a fine toothed comb to figure out everything from how he got in, to what he did with Shinatama.

Speaking of...

You. STUPID. gently caress!

Muro, you are a goddamn Saturday Morning Cartoon Villain, and I apologize to all the SMCV's out there for the comparison! Kidnapping/stealing Shinatama was a good idea, as you now have a Command and Control SLD for the local TCTF branch. Great! Then you waste that windfall, and Barabus' death, and all the resources used in the strike on what...

Torture?

Look, there's no justification for this action in-story or whatever the hell I can think of beyond Muro doing this simply out of spite for Konoko kicking his rear end in the past couple of days. And that's just a tenuous connection, something that I had to try and stretch for because it's not stated or implied anywhere that Muro would do such a thing! He's supposed to be a big-shot in the Syndicate, not... not this!

OK, let's step back and look at something I can address. The initial cutscene were Griffin tells Konoko to not get involved, and how it doesn't work. What bothers me about this is what it's lacking. Namely, Doctor Kerr. We've seen in person that Konoko really pushes back against hard-stances, and that's Griffin's method of leadership and command. Kerr, on the other hand, is portrayed as more emotionally soft, and willing to speak and listen. His presence in that cutscene would change nothing in the overall plot, but give a larger context to Konoko's actions, and present future decisions in a more compelling light.

Here, let me show you how it could have been scripted;

Konoko "I'm going in after her!"
Griffin "Stand down, that's an order."
Konoko "Sir!"
Kerr "Konoko..."
Griffin "I've dispatched a strike team. They have orders to recover the SLD."
Konoko "That's not good enough! This is personal! Shinatama...!"
Griffin "Which is precisely why you should have nothing to do with it."
Kerr "Konoko, listen to Griffin. He's trying..."
Konoko "No! I can feel her."
Kerr "The Neural Link!"
Griffin "Konoko, you're compromised. I'm ordering you to help cleanup this building. Not go after the SLD."
Konoko "I don't care. My mind is made up."
Griffin "And I am your Commanding Officer."
Kerr "Konoko, please. Would Shinatama want you to put yourself in danger because of her? Commander Griffin knows what he's doing."
Konoko "No, Uncle, you're wrong. I know she knows I'll come for her."
Kerr "And if she does, you're just walking into a trap. Let Griffin do his job."
Konoko "I don't care! She is my friend! I don't care what either of you say, I'm going after her!"
Griffin "Insubordination!"
Kerr "And if it was me, kidnapped by the Syndicate, and Shinatama was standing here telling you to hold back? What then?"
Konoko "I'd tell her what I'm telling you. I would save you."

The important part here is to emphasize Konoko's impulsive decision making process, even when presented with perfectly viable options. She still has to act herself, putting Shinatama and herself at risk, as well as alienating both Griffin and Kerr in the process. She doesn't think, and this needs to be established as her fatal flaw. In addition, I think that it needs to be shown how she reacts to Kerr and Griffin differently. Griffin is a harsh taskmaster, and is given a hard line in return, feeding into his own hardness. Kerr takes a different, more emotional approach, and has his logic cut out from under him. Konoko values him, her father figure, just as much as she does Shinatama, her sister figure.

Mentioning the Neural Link again serves a purpose of slightly changing the latter cutscenes as Konoko descends the elevators. These aren't some sort of abstract changing of the camera to prove that Muro is so stupid that he seems to have problems remembering to breathe, but that Konoko is feeling the torture inflicted on Shinatama through their Link. And because of this, she's rushing headlong into... what comes next level.

Consequences be damned.

But hey, one of the things that happened that came from before the rush to get the game out of the door, Konoko's glider-thingy is in a corner behind where she starts the level.



In a game so lacking in incidentals and details, seeing this is jarring, and yet an example of what could have been.

berryjon fucked around with this message at 19:26 on Jan 30, 2022

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.
Ah, the obligatory watch-the-villain-talk-about-pain speech. The only reason these ever exist in fiction is that someone somewhere is getting off on it, and given the victim is explicitly a child (albeit one using the classic anime get-out clause of being "not really" one), that scene is very uncomfortable to watch and gives me serious misgivings about Oni's writers.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.
That scene just make me angry on so many levels, I had to go with the most polite one.

kitten emergency
Jan 13, 2008

get meow this wack-ass crystal prison
ah, oni. i was a private beta tester for this, discs are still kicking around somewhere at my parents house. i donít remember if online MP code was ever in any of the flights we got, I do think lan play might have been (but I didnít have two computers that could run it at the time and oh crickets I canít even begin to imagine what itíd be like to try to run those betas on an emulator, assuming the cds havenít bit rotted by now)

idk if this is a spoiler but Iíll tag it, i do recall that the iron demon was fightable up until, I dunno, pretty late in the beta cycles when they started cutting more heavily and getting it ready to ship?

MShadowy
Sep 30, 2013

dammit eyes don't work that way!



Fun Shoe

berryjon posted:

That scene just make me angry on so many levels, I had to go with the most polite one.

It's just the cheapest possible attempt at emotional manipulation; utterly ham-fisted. There are definitely things to defend about Oni, but the writing very often is not one of them.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


I find it interesting that the whole plot hinges on these two levels, and that they are in the middle of the game. Level Eight out of Fourteen represents a major turning point in the character arc of Konoko and the plot of the game, and it's a complete and utter hatchet job that shouldn't have made it out of editing, but the game's general incompleteness strikes again.

So I'm going to avoid talking about that for now and talk about the level and its design in of itself.

I accept, but am annoyed with the loss of the items from the previous level. I know it's an engine limitation, but having the Bow from the start would be amazing, and great, and probably horribly broken too.

The large rooms are quite generous in their options to allow for combat, and once you get past the ... explosion, the damage to the room there was just an excuse for bad platforming. Platforming which I hate, and won't even bother to do it to show off for you all because gently caress the platforming in this game. Instead, what we get is a missed opportunity for some Environmental Storytelling.

In the game we got, the effects of the explosion are summarized in two consoles and one broken room. In a game with a better environmental engine, or even using the same scripting that we'll see in a couple levels for changing things around, we could have had a series of setpieces where Konoko would have to fight her way around and through a damaged facility, with fire and sparks and robots trying to do their jobs, but the Syndicate remainders are fighting them, preventing them from doing their jobs.

In a game that had more development, I'm sure something would have come of this.

The section that I had troubles with was the result of me going in with very little health, a problem that I can trace back to my bad timing in the damaged room. Just a little bit of damage here and there can add up over time, leaving you with so little to work with that you're forced to try, try, and try again until you managed to cheese your way through or you go back to a previous checkpoint and go over the whole previous section, this time hoping for a better outcome.

Guess which one I went with?

But there's no way around it, is there? One 100 second cutscene - not the longest one in the game by far - and the whole plot gets turned upside down and thrown out the window. I can see what the writers were trying to do here, and, well, someone dropped the ball. Hard.

After Level 12, I'm going to have to sit down and actually tell you all how the timeline of the game works out, and how Shinatama's little plot-bomb doesn't add up. That there is no way that this should be a surprise to Konoko. Let alone what she's told in that future Level. And no, there is no reason for either person delivering exposition to lie, so something has to be wrong in the writing.

Anyway... Look, Griffin, last time I called Muro a cartoon villain for his sheer idiocy and evilness. Even one of my readers, Loxbourne, argued that there was no reason to write that scene last level except that Muro is pretty much explicitly torturing a child and that the only way that got into the game was because someone wanted to write it, and it was made.

You took one look at that, handed Doctor Kerr your coffee, and said "No, This is how you twist the knife."

I keep trying to figure out his logic here, trying to deduce the chain of events, of cause and effect that would lead Griffin to try and kill Konoko. So, let's go down the reasons, excuses and why things don't work out.

1. Griffin was ordering Konoko's death because she was now a loose end.
A: NO. Griffin doesn't declare Konoko a rogue agent until long after the bomb goes off, and she's already beaten up and possibly killed other TCTF agents.

Actually, step back there. Why are the TCTF treating Konoko as hostile? We see when Griffin makes the call that she's gone off the reservation, and is no longer TCTF, but she's attacked before that. And it can't be a case of mistaken identity, as she's clearly in TCTF armor. Now, if she had attacked first in blind rage over Shinatama's death, I could see it, but the way the encounter plays out, there's plenty of time for a Trooper to go "Wait, what? Why are you here, Agent?"

But they don't. They're hostile from the start, and there's no attempt to settle the confusion on the part of the TCTF before the fateful call.

Where was I? Yeah. Konoko, at that point, isn't a loose end. There's no way to tell what, if anything, Shinatama is telling Konoko, and there's no reason to assume that the SLD is going to betray the TCTF's confidence like this.

If anything, Griffin still has a path forward to thread the metaphorical needle and get Konoko and Shinatama back in one piece. We know he's receiving telemetry from the SLD (HOW!?!?!) and can send signals to her. So why not try to get a message through to Konoko? Tell her to hold position and protect Shinatama. Wait for the TCTF Strike Force to arrive, and extract with them. Tell her not to risk hurting Shinatama any more by moving her by herself, and given her established moral priorities, telling her to protect Shinatama would be an order she would follow gladly.

Then once she's back in TCTF custody, then go for the throat.

But Griffin is making a bad decision in the spur of the moment. He's going to live to regret it.

2. Her Latency is off the Charts, and she needs to die.
A: OK, so this is going to require me talking spoilers, so here goes;

As revealed in level 13, Shinatama was lying through her teeth about the progression of Konoko's symbiote the whole time. It's only in this level that Griffin finally learns how far along she is, and he's making a gut reaction to a criminal act that he was told to take responsibility for by his superiors. It's out of his control, and this Monster needs to die.

Except... not? Look, killing Konoko isn't going to solve that problem. And if the Latency isn't what you expect, do you really expect to learn what happened from a corpse that was at ground zero of an explosion like that? One that from Level 2 should take out a whole building, if not a city block?

This ties back into 1, where there is still a way for Griffin to potentially get Konoko to willingly come back to the fold, for her to not realize what's going on, or rather, have her suspicions, but put her into a position where you can either still control the information getting to her, or be better prepared should she turn hostile. Or both.

3. Why kill Konoko and not Muro?
A: Actually, I think this one is reasonable. Until Konoko got close enough with her neural link, Griffin wasn't able to get a good reading on Shinatama's state, or Konoko herself. The Processor may be interfering with the signals (something that should have been established) and Konoko was basically acting as an ad-hoc repeater/transmitter once she was in proximity to Shinatama. Thus, Griffin would not know that Muro was present personally, nor that he could have detonated the Xiox self-destruct to try and take him out.

Because I assure you, if killing Shinatama was the price of putting Muro 6 feet under, Griffin would have been pounding that button so hard, something would have broke. And no one would have doubted his decision. Regretted it, and hated him for the death? Maybe, but that would have been the right one from his perspective.

Of course, killing her means he has no Plan A for fighting him directly. What was his Plan B again?

But in the end, Griffin made his decision, and it was the worst one. He made it in the heat of the moment, over the objections of Doctor Kerr, and the hesitation of his subordinates. And once it became clear that Konoko escaped the blast, he doubles down. He can't afford to try to salvage this, and that means war.

Narratively though, this does set up the rest of the game. Konoko has no one to fall back on, no support structure in place. She's going to be running, and that means she's going to start making (more) mistakes, and acting (even more) irrationally in the face of the stresses the next few levels will bring upon her. Everything from here on out is going to be a cascade of failures, escalation and reactions until there is nothing left of anyone.

Of course, on the bright side, 1.21 Gigawatts would make for a nice boost to the DeLorean to fix this mess.

On the dark side, crunch.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!


Threat level 'B', you old pervert?! KONOKO SMASH THREAT LEVEL!

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


Welcome back! We have ourselves pretty much the last breather level in the game, though it's not without its own pitfalls and stresses. It's the first level where Konoko is explicitly against the TCTF, an that means that while you may not find mixed encounters, how you approach a level can change just a tad.

Speaking of being against the TCTF, notice something off about the opening cutscene? Yes? No? Well, you see, all cutscenes in the game, aside from the opening and closing animations, are done in-engine, in-level. So when you saw Kerr and Griffin talking to each other in an office? That was a physical location in the level that the camera was pointed at with the character models loaded in.

Here though, all we have is a black screen and some talking heads. The office and the models aren't in the level. What is, is when we see Konoko walk up to the building, and the small confines of the rest of the location.

On that vein, I'm pretty sure that this is the smallest map in the game, and as I pointed out in the level, this smallness made it easy to design, script and complete. And once it was complete, further tests on the engine could be used by loading this level with the changes and seeing how it worked out. Including breakable and non-breakable glass, lighting and texture work, things like that.

And here is where the real-life designs actually do shine. The opening foyer has a justifiable and workable layout for both combat (not that much happens here), and for movement. It looks and feels like an actual work environment.

You know, I really think that Konoko was just hoping to sneak in a little before closing time, get the info and get out. But then some damned ninja had to ruin things for her.

Damned Ninjas.

Anyway, I have to wonder about the TCTF's response to all this. They know Konoko is going to come here as it's where the information is stored, so I can understand being on call to cordon off the building. But they never attempt to storm the place, evacuate the civilians, or even cut off the power to trap her and prevent her from getting what she wants. Instead it's like ... they're waiting for something.

Probably confused if she's now working with the Syndicate or not, given the presence of the Ninjas.

Man, that thought would have driven Griffin up the walls.

So... Commander Terrance Griffin. His life before the TCTF was never revealed, but we do know that he joined as a field trooper - one of the guys we saw in the first couple levels helping Konoko. He rose through the ranks as a distinguished officer, being promoted to TCTF SWAT, and later to Black Ops. He gained a reputation for being ruthless without being violent. Yes, violence was part and parcel of the job, but Terrance Griffin knew how to apply that violence, rather than through the use of indiscriminate force.

Because of this, and his successes against the Syndicate, he was slowly being groomed by the Directorate, the World Government and their security apparatus, for a larger leadership position. His... SPOILERS! After Griffin apprehended Doctor Kerr and Mai Hasegawsa, taking the latter as a ward of the state, and the former for his vital knowledge of the Daoden Symbiote to counter the Syndicate and their taking of Doctor Hasegawa and his son, Muro Hasegawa, it was seen by the higher ups as just the effort they wanted to see. That Griffin could think past the immediate and tactical, and was ready for promotion.

So he was promoted from field work, and his first assignment was the long-term fallout from the action that got him promoted in the first place. He was good enough with that, that he was promoted again and again until he plateaued with being in charge of the local TCTF regional branch of.... Actually, we're never told where. I just checked the manual, and I think I'm going to transcribe the opening blurb at some point.

Anyway, his superiors have seen that his aggressive and goal-oriented mentality is not something they want at his level, or any higher. He's been Peter Principled above the level of his competence, and it's showing. Sure, he's good at maintaining civil order, and putting down the Syndicate, but he never developed the political or soft-power acumen that he was being groomed for. He was raised to fight hard, and he never stopped, including maintaining the physical requirements to be on the Black Ops reserve roster, just in case.

His handling of the Kerr case has been mixed in the views of his superiors, as while he has done an excellent job at managing the current state of affairs, his lack of an end goal, or a long-term plan has been setting him back. However, his actions after the stealing of the Shinatama SLD, and declaring Agent Konoko rogue for her part in the failed retrieval attempt are the last straw. His superiors are seriously considering promoting him to a position where he can do no further harm, or get him out of the TCTF to a retirement that has been earned by his years of good service, marred by one last bad decision.

And he knows this. He doesn't have much of a life outside of the TCTF, and leaving would be as good as dying in his eyes. So he's going to stay and ride this to its bitter end, one way or another.

berryjon fucked around with this message at 19:47 on Jan 30, 2022

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001

Yeah, this is what I was hoping for when I was talking about smaller levels earlier - this one feels much tighter, even with the backtracking there seems to be less dead space between events and points of interest. The sniper shooting at you through the window was also neat but it'd have been nice if they used a slightly less insane weapon.
From watching so far the combat, to me, most resembles a classic arcade beat-em-up. I'm not sure if you get better moves later on but it feels like it's just missing a crowd-control sort of move that can reliably hit two or more enemies to get you out of a jam.

Plot-wise, yeah, I think a lot of the weirdness is from the game being so rushed. Like, the basic plot beats are there, but as you point out there are a ton of holes and bits that are pretty tenuously held together. It feels like the game was intended to be more adult and dark/edgy, but because of the jankiness the delivery comes off more saturday morning cartoon, and I feel that this incongruity makes the plot holes and problematic nature of the twist/reveal that we just saw stand out all the more.

Hel
Oct 9, 2012

Jokatgulm is tedium.
Jokatgulm is pain.
Jokatgulm is suffering.

I remember trying this game when it came out, but it never really clicked for me, nice to see it shown off by someone who knows it.

I really think that there is a lot to learn from real architecture that is useful to game level design, but I think it's less in recreating how furniture is placed in rooms and more how the rooms connect together. Persona 2 had some regular spaces as jrpg dungeons and I honestly think it worked pretty well, because it allowed them to copy how people might move through schools, malls or record stores, even if they weren't one to one recreations.

MShadowy
Sep 30, 2013

dammit eyes don't work that way!



Fun Shoe
I never quite found the ninjas that bad iirc, but it was mainly because they're incredibly fragile; the green ones are probably the least durable characters in the entire game, including the random defenseless civilians. Their moveset is definitely annoying, though, what with all the shadow stepping and weird hit boxes that result. They do at least like to abuse their super move where they flip into the air, which takes enough time that you can evade it somewhat reliably and try and punish them for it.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

Crazy Achmed posted:

From watching so far the combat, to me, most resembles a classic arcade beat-em-up. I'm not sure if you get better moves later on but it feels like it's just missing a crowd-control sort of move that can reliably hit two or more enemies to get you out of a jam.

I have all the moves unlocked from the get-go, but in the end, it's the boring, but practical combo of punching someone that wins the day.

TooMuchAbstraction
Oct 14, 2012

I spent four years making
Waves of Steel
Hell yes I'm going to turn my avatar into an ad for it.
Fun Shoe
Konoko does have other moves that have a bit more coverage. I think she has a tatsu / hurricane kick for one of her supers, for example. The neck lariat can also hit nearby enemies. But really, if you face a group, your best bet is probably to shoot some of them. At the very least, try not to get surrounded.

Ardeem
Sep 16, 2010

There is no problem that cannot be solved through sufficient application of lasers and friendship.
It's been years since I've played this game, but I think my usual dealing with groups strat was to shoot one with a Mercury Bow and then not have a group anymore, but, if I didn't have one yet I'd open with the jump kick to knock one down, empty an SMG into them, roll out of the way of number two, knock them down, and then punch the first one to death now that it's finished standing up again.

The SMG is a melee weapon.

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berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.
Well, if it makes you feel any better, I spend about 15 minutes of the Cheats/Shapeshifter video going through all the models and a bunch of their moves.

berryjon fucked around with this message at 02:53 on Jan 4, 2022

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