Friday, 16 March 2018

Dark Ixion and Shiva Fights

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Slay The Spire First Impressions

While I was drinking in a video game bar near my house, a friend of mine fired up this game on a laptop he brought on down and we had a merry old time playing this over a few drinks.  Granted I was a bit drunk when I tried it so if any details I mention now are off a little, forgive me, but I only did one run so it's not like I went that deep into it anyway.

Slay the Spire is a sort of Roguelike deck building game and if there is a story involved then I sure as fuck wasn't paying attention to it.  Basically there's a big spire and you gotta go fuck up all the demons inside it.  When you fire up the game you get a choice of either a warrior guy or a sort of thief type guy and for the one run I did with my buddy we played as the warrior.  From there you are given a map of levels and each level will have a battle or some kind of event that could either help or hinder you.  You fight your way through each map until you either are killed or you make it to the end which sounds easy but if you didn't know what I meant by "Roguelike" before, that means that death means you have to start all over again, no saves.

Anyway the big pull of the game is the whole deck building things.  At the start you're given a bunch of basic shit like attacks, blocks and a skill or two and as you progress you get more and more cards for your deck.  However just putting cards willy nilly is a sure fire way to get killed pretty quickly as you have to juggle things such as cost, synergy and deck size.  For example, if you clear a fight and are presented two cards that don't really fit well with your deck it might be better to pass so that you aren't drawing shit from a bloated deck later on.  Cards aren't gone once you use them either (unless it says "exhaust" on it), you just get 5 randomly each turn so keeping your deck well focused is pretty key.  You can also level up cards so they have greater effect and there are also non card relics (or artifacts or something like that, I forget the exact term) which you can equip for various buffs and effects.

While I did have great fun with the game, and the core deck building element is extremely solid, I have two big problems with Slay the Spire.  One is the fact it's early access, but only because I fucking hate early access with every inch of my being.  Granted, the developers are being very good with it and clearly are putting the effort in but I still can't bring myself to buy a game with that label on it.  If you stumble across this post AFTER the full release then disregard this point, obviously.  The other problem I have is the art style and general look of the game.  Now I'm no artist, I struggle to do stick figures in MS Paint but Slay the Spire just doesn't look like a game you'd spend money on.  It looks like the kind of game you would have found on Newgrounds back in the day, like the whole thing has been made in Flash or some shit.

However don't let that deter you from picking it up if you don't mind the early access because it's a pretty incredible game.  I didn't finish the one run I tried, I died somewhere fairly late in game so I'll be watching the updates carefully for the full release so I can have my revenge.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Paying To Save With Metal Gear Survive

This is a game I've mostly ignored.  I saw some of the initial stuff that was put out and I was so disgusted that I just ignored it from then on out.  It's a fucking disgrace that a series like Metal Gear Solid has been reduced to an online zombie survival game.  I mean the groundwork is there to make some kind of legit survival type game within the Metal Gear universe that you could play online but instead they just copped out and used fucking zombies.  But whatever, I'm sure fans of the series know how shit it is and even newcomers probably aren't going to be swayed when there's so many other fucking zombie games on the market.

What I'm mad about with this post is the news I caught wind of about how you save the game.  When you start the game you are given one save slot, if you want to have another save slot you have to pay 1000 "SV Coins" which is the games premium currency and this basically translates to $10.  Now people have been complaining about loot boxes recently but this just takes the fucking cake.

A loot box, by itself, isn't THAT bad of a thing.  The only game I'm currently involved in playing that has them is Overwatch and in that game the boxes contain nothing but cosmetic shit to make your character look different.  Someone who is level 50 and has opened a ton of boxes has no inherent advantage over the player at level 1 who has opened 0 but the level 50 guy probably looks a bit cooler.  This got shaken up a bit with Battlefront when the loot boxes started containing game changing shit like weapons and gear which meant that players who paid money had an advantage over those who didn't in a game that was already like $60 just to play in the first place.

But that's nothing, NOTHING compared to the bullshit that is being forced to pay money to save your game.  I guess it's another character slot or something like that but even then that's bullshit.  Imagine if you are the kind of person with lets say, 2 siblings who all love Metal Gear SO MUCH that all of you are willing to give Survive a chance.  So you log on Steam, you drop 35 fucking Pounds for the game itself and you make a dude and you have a grand old time.  Then your brother wants to play so now you have to pay an EXTRA £10 just to let him play his own guy because you don't want him fucking up your shit.  Then your sister comes along and decides SHE wants to play so that's ANOTHER £10 just so she can make her character and play.  That's £55 for the game and enough slots just to let people who live with you play.  Don't tell me "just share the one slot" either because if this was me and my wife, I wouldn't want here anywhere NEAR my save files, fuck that.

The only game I remember doing this other than this is FFXI and at least in the game you can KIND of justify having the one character because each job in that game levels up individually.  So if you wanted to play a thief and your brother wanted to be a black mage then those two jobs level up independently so while still bullshit at least you and someone else could, in theory, play your own shit.  Also my time with FFXI was extremely limited back in high school so there's even a chance I'm wrong about that one.

What's even worse is that not only is paying to save complete dogshit but the launch itself has been SO BAD that there's been an apology issued in the form of 100 SV coins.  So for your unplayable mess of a shitty Metal Gear game you get 1/10th of a save slot.  I get the feeling that this Metal Gear won't be Surviving for very long.

I'll see myself out.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Since When Was Monster Hunter so Huge?

Monster Hunter World has come out recently and everyone around me is raving about it.  I'm not disagreeing with the raving either, Monster Hunter World looks absolutely fan-fucking-tastic, and while I've not bought it myself because it's like 8000 yen (when new games are typically around 6000) I can't wait to get my hands on it soon.

While it's nice to see a game series I enjoy get so much positive press, it's popularity is somewhat confusing to me though.  In Japan I know that Monster Hunter has always been big, you sort of just bump into it everywhere.  It might be a poster advertising Frontier in an internet cafe or some kind of promotional thing like a Monster Hunter themed design on a drink or something, it's the kind of thing that just pops up in every day life fairly often.  Now I can't speak for America but in the UK it was a different story completely, I only knew 2 people who also played Monster Hunter and apparently there was some little shop in London where hunters could go meet up to hunt stuff on Freedom Unite.

They were games that had good reviews but never much of a following.  I started to get into the series around the time of Freedom Unite and I remember having a grand old time with it.  However, back then I remember getting an armor set and posting a picture of it on Facebook to show some friends and a bunch of people chimed in with comments like "why are you such a sad fuck?" or "this game is for losers" etc.  It wasn't even a high level set, it was a shit early game thing that required no effort too, not that it really matters I guess.

I stuck with the series up to Monster Hunter Portable 3rd on the PSP (so 2008-2010 roughly) and in that time only met 1 other guy who was at all interested.  After that the series moved to 3DS which was all region locked and shit and I was living in Japan so I was sort of locked out of playing it unless I wanted to import or drop money on a Japanese 3DS but even with each DS release I didn't see anyone talking about it.

Now it's 2018, World gets released and suddenly everyone is all "MONSTER HUNTER OMG LOOKS SO GOOD!".  Like, where did this excitement come from?  I spent so much time looking for people with even a passing interest to no avail and now suddenly everyone's a fan? What the fuck happened?  It feels to me that some people are bandwagoning a bit here.  They actually don't know jack shit about the series past World but because of all the praise and publicity suddenly they love it now.

Still, I know I might be coming across as all bitter and sort of gatekeepy like "who are these filthy casuals playing MY game" but that's not the case.  It's confusing but it does make me happy to see a series I like getting so much praise and hype around it.  It all means that when I DO go and buy it I'll have plenty of people it with, finally.

Happy Hunting to newcomers and veterans alike!

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Dx2 Shin Megami Tensei Liberation First Impressions

I never thought in my life I'd be impressed to the point of gushing HARD on a mobile game but it's finally happened and OF COURSE it's a fucking Shin Megami Tensei game that has me frothing at the mouth with excitement.

I've talked about it before but just in case I'll cover once again what Shin Megami Tensei is before I continue in case a new reader has stumbled across this post.  Shin Megami Tensei is a long running series of RPGs that has been going since the old NES days.  It has its roots in tile based dungeon crawling but as the series has progressed that style has dropped in and out.  The big gimmick of the series is the whole "demon negotiation" thing where you can convince your enemies to join your ranks and use their skills in order to reach the end.  The series has seen some massive success recently with it's spinoff series Persona and at some point a Shin Megami Tensei 5 has been cited for release on the Switch.  In a VERY basic way just think of it as sort of Grimdark Pokemon.

So I woke up on Sunday with a big fat hangover and grabbed my phone only to find that Dx2 SMT Liberation was on the front page of the Japanese app store and despite my pounding headache I did a little squee and downloaded it.  As far as mobile games go it's not all that different from any other RPG where you collect monsters and battle them but if you're a fan of the series, especially the mainline series, the look and feel of the game will have you hooked pretty quickly.  EVERYTHING you expect from a tried and true SMT game is present in this title just sort of simplified a little bit because it's on a phone now but presented in a way that makes it perfect for short burst plays on a train, bus or while you take a shit.

 I'm not going to go into too much detail about how it all works because there's A LOT going on and I've not levelled up enough to see it all but curiously the game has only 2 out of 5 stars on  the app store.  Addressing some of these complaints I've seen in the review section will help you to understand something about how the game works though so here I go.

The first big complaint I've seen is that they say (in Japanese) that the demons and the artwork look like crap.  The game has opted for the older SMT look as opposed to the more modern art direction that they have used in games like Persona so this is more of a taste thing.  I started the series with Lucifer's Call on PS2 when it was still using that sort of older look so it doesn't bother me really, this is just a taste thing but be aware the art style looks a bit "dated" which will be nostalgic for some and hard on the eyes for others.

The one thing I can't forgive though is people complaining about the fucking "gatcha".  If you don't play mobile games then a gatcha is the way most games give you new items or characters.  You pay a number of whatever currency it may be and the game randomly gives you a character.  If you're lucky you'll get a rare thing and if you're not lucky you won't, it's the main way these free to play RPGs make cash by making people pull lots of gatcha for mad rare shit.  These are usually a big part of mobile RPGs but in Liberations case it's not such a big thing.  The complaints state that the gatcha is too expensive and the rate of rare shit coming out is too low, which is fine I guess but that's not really how your supposed to expand your roster of demons.

As you play levels, occasionally a demon will offer to talk with you and you enter a negotiation.  If you complete the negotiation successfully the demon will join you, this is how SMT has worked basically since the beginning.  From there, you have you fuse the demons together to make new ones in order to strengthen your ranks and this is the main way that the player in Liberation gets rarer things.  For example today I took a 1* demon and a 2* demon and fused them into a 3* demon with some sick fire skills.  The gatcha does give you rare shit but the game wants you to focus on negotiation and fusion, you know, the thing where you actually have to understand how the game works, rather than just dumb luck.  While paying your way into the rarest demons is an option and probably how Sega plan to make profit, doing it the old fashioned way is preferable and series fans will probably enjoy this more than just "push button, receive demon".

I've never been this hooked by a mobile game before so if you're a SMT fan then absolutely try it out and if you've never played one before then this free outing into the mainline may be a good place to find your feet.