Tag Archives: Games

Monster Hunter World: There is no enough

I’m struggling hard to be the jungle-swinging-dino-killer and attentive boyfriend with a game that demands chunks of my life with no brakes. You cannot pause the game and go see what it she needs. I’m stressing as I rush to try and finish what I’m doing or find a bush to hide in for a while before she walks back in the living room wanting to throw what she needed at me. First world problems.

As worthless as it is to say, I’ve felt guilty I’ve been absolutely drawn into Monster Hunter: World. Most especially for my girlfriend who has futilely attempted to grasp my attention over the sounds of pissed off dinosaurs being slashed at with an axe that morphs into a giant sword. Without saying more, there were conversations and alterations made.

The core of World, like nearly every other entry in the franchise, is a slow and steady grind towards apathy. It’s a grind Destiny 2 or MMO players are well acquainted with, for example. The siren call for better, prettier gear channeled through the challenge of addictive battle keeps the wheel moving.

 

Unlike Destiny 2, World offers continued challenge through free downloadable content in the form of new monsters and new, flashy things to wear. Yes there is stupid DLC like $3 gesture packs (to make your avatar do a specific emote like Ryu from Street Fighter’s hadoken), but there isn’t any paid DLC that directly involves itself into the ever spinning wheel.

If you’re new to Monster Hunter as a franchise, this is the definitive starting place. While its past handheld entries will always be held close to my heart (bye 3Ultimate, 4Ultimate, Generations), so many concessions have finally been made in world that to go back would be a very noticeably different experience.

It’s also a game obsessed with numbers. Lots of numbers and bits of miscellaneous information that may or not be important to you at any given time but it’s still important to know regardless. World does its absolute best to ease you into the game’s very intimidating amount of information (most of which won’t really be relevant until you reach the High Rank stage anyway).

There is a routine, a flow to things you’ll be expected to do automatically before the start of every quest: Visit your box, dump the crap you don’t need and organize your field inventory; Visit the canteen and eat food (always!); visit the forge and see what you need built to tackle your next challenge; go craft new consumable items and make sure you’re well equipped in potions, food and buffs; check on your farmers who cultivate combine-able items for you each time you leave the village. Suffice to say, there is a lot of shit to keep track of. It just goes on and on.

 

Your first 10 hours hunting will probably be intimidating then a sudden jump to bad-ass. This is all before you realize that really hard T-Rex you’ve been fighting 10 times was a weaker version of one you’ll be seeing more often with flying dragons. But by that point, any hunter worth their salt loves those kinds of parties.

I definitely could waste a lot of your time rambling about the similarities and minute differences World improves upon its predecessors, but the simple thing to say is the game wants to constantly keep you busy and out in the field as much as possible. Like nearly 24/7 – 365 busy. Yeah, like I said there are a lot of things to keep track of when at home but things like the wishlist system automatically tell you mid-game when you’ve collected all the components needed for something; which beats in the past having to endlessly visit the blacksmith to double check info.

There is a gradual rise and sense of progression to things also. While the physical gear is the literal representation of leveling up here learning how monsters operate and their place within the food chain is also invaluable knowledge. Fights easily break down to demonstrations of skill over gear. You can wear the best equipment the game can provide and still get your head smashed in if you’re careless.

 

When playing online the group is afforded a limited number of re-spawns per mission. Each KO is a significant blow to not just the team but even your purse at the end. There is a definitely thrill when running with the top dogs hunting the baddest of the bad, because you’ll need to rely on your partners and watch their backs more than you may want to. However it also drags having to keep the weakest link alive when their doing their damnedest to die.

On that note, I would highly recommend new hunters hold off on multiplayer for a while. Not out of some plea to keep scrubs off our sessions but because you genuinely learn a great deal more facing monsters on your own than relying on high power strangers to save your ass. Studying monster movement, behavior, and their place within the food chain is crucial wisdom.

 

With all that said: I’m not convinced World will change the minds of people adverse to the grind. Because let me reiterate: there is a grind. The game is the grindGRINDING. Because just beating a monster isn’t enough, you must also cover yourself head to toe in it. However, World easily comes off as one of those quality-of-life games where it just becomes a routine. You hop on for an hour, either do a few hunts or wander around picking shit up. You learn a little something new one day, and eventually the game just opens itself up to you.

This all comes at a heavy time investment. There is no dipping your toe in the game. You must go balls deep. When firing this up, it’s demanding every bit of your attention until you’re sleepy little eyes safely save the game back in town. It’s creed may as well be come correct or not at all. For those up for the challenge, welcome to your new addiction.

 

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Get Gud: A PUBG Beginner’s Story

tl;dr

 

I’ve spent a fair amount of time playing PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS both in Early Access and now in official release, and I still don’t know how to feel about it. I both feel this is the most obnoxious fucking game I’ve played to date and also one of the most intense, often switching off between the two intermittently.  Initially I wanted to write some kind of review, but then I quickly realized it was both a dumb and pointless. Instead, I thought it would be more constructive to document the early experience of the game in the eternal quest to “get gud” as I’m often told. Especially since there is inherent comedy in watching futile attempts to succeed.

There is a very specific sense of fragility to this game. The player knows there is no safety anywhere. No matter how much equipment you gather, how suped up your gun may be, how much bullet-proof padding or how many kills you’ve recently acquired there is always the lingering knowledge your (digital) life is forfeit at literally any moment. Lately, it seems, thanks to Chinese hackers. In many ways, PUBG is legitimately both the most obnoxious and the most frightening game I’ve played yet.

Ultimately words don’t do justice to prove how much I suck. So, I’ve distilled my early experiences with the game into a small video. I’m sorry in advance.

Replay – Cities: Skylines

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There’s no serious way I can make Cities: Skylines sound sexy and I’ve tried at least six different drafts of this. It lacks the explosive action of popular games like PlayerUnknown’sBattlegroundsOverwatch, or anything that involves murdering people. Cities: Skylines is the complete antithesis of games like that: it’s slow, very mellow and about procedural growth. I’d forgive you if this is where you started tuning out but if you can, bear with me.

It probably explains a lot I smoke a decent amount of weed before zoning out for the next four hours in what is surely a bizarre stupor to any bystanders. There is no decipherable action to let you know you’re doing right aside from numbers being green, happy sounding noises, no angry looking icons floating above buildings, and the bright green smiley face at the bottom of the HUD telling me I’m doing a-ok. That’s not to say there aren’t frustrating moments. After all, nothing like spending an hour trying to revive a city imploded by my own lack of foresight.

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Skylines is without argument the best SimCity-esque game on the market today, beating out even the originator itself, SimCity. Of which was deeply shamed back in 2013 so badly EA had to do a LOT of damage control and probably won’t be heard from ever again. The goal is very simple: develop your provided property into a growing town and supervisor its development and growth into a full-blown city. However actually doing this is another, as unlike in SimCity 4 (the last decent SimCity), it’s pretty possible to fail making a town from the very start.

This is a supremely menu driven game, and many of your questions you’ll come across during your time building cities will often be answered looking for data within the myriad of menus, though perhaps not so obviously. Skylines asks the player to think ahead in terms of how to proceed, because while not impossible, it’s hard and damaging to your city to try and re-build segments after they’ve already started growing independently.

Your endgame is to create as large as city as possible, anyway you want so long as it is financially sustainable. This means watching your budget, finding ways to squeeze just a little more money from your properties without pissing off your constituents, and giving your city time to develop organically by letting its simulations run a bit. You’ll want to throw stadiums around and grow as fast as possible, however too fast growth can also mean your artificial population bubble will burst hard when the weight of the city collapses upon itself because you didn’t let its population catch-up to your rapid growth.

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Unlike the aforementioned SimCity, the world of Skylines feels organic and alive. Your citizens, each and every one, can be selected, followed and studied. They are born, they grow, they work, they die. They also unfortunately move into cities at the exact same age, causing what’s known in the Cities: Skylines community as a “death wave” if you grow a huge chunk of your city at the same time. Good luck keeping your cemeteries open.

Perhaps the biggest complaint against Cities: Skylines is the developer’s tendency to create weak DLC and charge premium prices. I don’t have any of the paid-DLC installed (there are bits of free DLC that are quite a bit of fun), but I can say I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. It’s also hard for me to justify spending $12.99 USD to include natural disasters, a feature I find myself asking why the fuck would I pay so much for. Seems like something basic that should’ve been included from the onset.

You could spend $5.99 USD to supplement the free Match Day DLC (which gives you the ability to place a large-scale football stadium in your city) with four actual recreations of real football stadiums such as FC Barcelona, Chelsea, PSG, and Juventus. Again, you might’ve missed where I said this $5.99 DLC just has four stadiums. This is the type of crap I was talking about.

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Look, again, none of this sounds sexy, like, at all. Cities: Skylines is meant for a particular audience: one tired of random violence and into methodical, zen-like construction. I enjoy the steady grind of slowly letting a city build its economy up itself. There is a sense of peace and focus I’ve never quite experienced with other games. Sure, it’s easy to zone out but the game also calls for a measure of attention to make sure your growing city doesn’t decay from within so easily. There is no end, just the infinite potential of growth and seeing what kind of civil creator you are. Or at least until you misappropriate the city’s funds.

 

Injustice 2 keeps it moving with Fighter Pack 2: Black Manta, Raiden & Hellboy

While we’re still busying enjoying the new ranged fighter Starfire, Netherrealm dropped details on the upcoming fighter pack 2 which will include Black Manta, Raiden, and Hellboy. Netherrealm put together a sexy video of the new combatants for your pleasure.

Hellboy is probably the greatest surprise of the bunch, while Raiden and Black Manta long having been guessed to be part of the roster. Black Manta will be the first of the new pack to be released. The release date has yet to be dropped but you can see Black Manta’s promo video below. If you’ve been lagging, I’ve also included a vid of Starfire’s abilities below that.

TV Theatre – Castlevania

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Netflix has shown they’re willing to be a little out-there when it comes to their original programming. Castlevania, from the Konami franchise that’s basically been abandoned to being licensed pachinko machines, is the latest in that trend. It’s an animated mini-series telling the story of Dracula himself raining literal hell down on stupid mortals for crossing him. The show is written by Warren Ellis who has penned some of the best comic book arcs around. That fact alone should make you feel more at ease that this is going to be good.

The season is extremely short with only four episodes that are no more than 22-23 minutes a piece. The animation is a bit inconsistent, with some scenes looking better than others (some of the action scenes are unfortunately choppy). However the voice acting and music help tie everything into a rather pleasantly cool show. It also makes certain this is not a cartoon for kiddies, as it revels in being a mature program from the copious, detailed gore to the pretty straight-up adult dialogue.

And speaking about pleasant, this show is incredibly gory and filled with lots of surprising dark humor. Did I say it was gory? It’s the type of mixture that had me reminiscing on HBO’s Spawn, though without the nudity (at least so far). It plays off its source material really well, though let’s not kid ourselves that Castlevania was ever really that deep to begin with. The franchise is about monster slaying and season one lays the groundwork of that well enough.

Season one was at best an appetizer, as inaugural seasons tend to be. However in this case binge watching this show should be mandatory. For example, I’d argue the 80 some minutes you could spend watching Castlevania would be better served than watching something like, I don’t know, Transformers: The Last Knight which was, ha ha, fucking horrible.

It surprised me in certain ways (the dark humor was legit very funny) and disappointed in others (super short, ends way too soon). I feel like I watched a very long trailer for a pretty cool TV series. I guess the question now is when does this series really start? Netflix has already renewed Castlevania for a second season.

SNES Classic

Last November, Nintendo teased the shit out of North American fans announcing the (limited) release of the NES Classic, a hand-sized replica of the original 1985 North American release of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Pre-packaged with 30 games, it was the hottest holiday toy neither you nor most people could find south of $200 thanks to second-hand markets. Nintendo is saying forget all that, as this year we were psyched to hear their giving the face lift treatment to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, arguably packed even tighter with some of the greatest games released forget of the era, maybe even to date. Slated for a September 29 release, it’s guaranteed to go fast, if not faster, than the NES did. It’s also listed retailing at $79.99 USD.

While the roster of games isn’t as beefy as the 30 offered on the NES, the 21 games you’re getting here are more than solid:

North America / Europe

  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • F-Zero
  • Super Metroid
  • Street Fighter II
  • Super Punch-Out!!
  • Castlevania IV
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • Mega Man X
  • Kirby Super Star
  • Final Fantasy III (FF6 JPN)
  • Kirby’s Dream Course
  • StarFox
  • StarFox 2 (previously unreleased)
  • Yoshi’s Island
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  • Contra III: The Alien Wars
  • Secret of Mana
  • EarthBound
  • Super Ghouls-n-Ghosts

Japan

  • Contra III: Alien Wars
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • F-Zero
  • Final Fantasy VI
  • Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem
  • Legend of the Mystical Ninja
  • Kirby Super Star
  • Mega Man X
  • Panel de Pon
  • Secret of Mana
  • Star Fox
  • Star Fox 2
  • Super Soccer
  • Super Ghouls-n-Ghosts
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
  • Super Metroid
  • Super Street Fighter 2: The New Challengers
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Star Fox 2 is the treasure of the group, having never seen North American shores before. Reportedly you must first play Star Fox first to unlock Star Fox 2, but I don’t think Nintendo is pulling anyone’s leg here asking you to play a classic.

While the mini-console has an HDMI output, none of the games are being changes in any core way. They are essentially to play just as they would’ve on their original decks in the 90s. Pre-orders are right now being scoured for throughout the Internet, though at the time of writing, there are no takers quite yet. Supposedly pre-orders are beginning to happen in Germany, but North American fans just need to hang on just a little longer. Plus the European edition of the Super Nintendo is fashioned after the original European release, just as the Japanese is a remake of the Famicon design.

There’s absolutely no doubt scalpers are chomping at the bit to get these, though Nintendo wants to rest fans assured they’re going to produce more units than they did of the NES Classic, which disappeared as quickly as they touched shelves. Still, due diligence is probably necessary if you’re going to want to get your hands on one.