Friday, 24 August 2012

Apple Core

Not much to report this week. Gaming has slowed right down to a smidge of Septerra Core here and there over lunch. It is definitely an epic game, though - 7 different game worlds stacked within each other, and each one has a bunch of locations to visit and trawl through. I have finally got my own ship, though, so I can now travel between worlds at will, which makes things a lot easier. It's a slow game, too, lots of traipsing back and forth between areas with enemies that respawn when you re-enter. Combats are never easy enough that you can just breeze through them, so each fight takes a little while, and there are a lot of fights. I feel like I'm slowly getting somewhere, though. I now have the first part of the two-part key, which I think is the game's main objective, so hopefully not too far to go. It's a good game, but it always feels like it could be better - the graphics are alright, but they could be better, the combat's okay, but it could be better, the UI's not bad, but it could be better...it just needed an extra 5% polish in every area and it could have been something really great. As I say, it's definitely a good game and I'm definitely enjoying it, there's just always that niggle in the back of my mind that it's not quite right. Oh, and after getting myself lost in pretty much every area so far, I finally pressed Tab on a whim and discovered to my surprise that there is actually a map! I'd been cursing the game for it's lack of one every day up to that point, and it turned out it was me who was the idiot all along. I did read the manual, I promise!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Booty Quest

It's the end of the week of gaming, and what have I got done? Umm...pretty much nothing actually. I ended up dipping into a bunch of things rather than focusing on getting some games finished. I never went back to Shadow of the Colossus - it felt slow paced, and I wanted something quick. On the PS2 front, I did finish Mashed, a top-down racing game. I only had one more race to go from when I last played it, so it didn't take too long. I only finished the bronze cup, not gold or silver, but I think that's good enough for me. It's really best when played multiplayer, anyway. I also dipped into Champions of Norrath - a game I used to play years ago with a couple of friends but I never finished. I started afresh and spent a bit of time with it, but didn't get too far. What else...I did another couple of levels of The Incredibles. It's probably one of the most frustrating games I've ever played (a birthday present from my brother - he has a habit of buying me terrible games). Just thinking about it makes me want to throw things at walls, so I'll move on.

On the PS3 front I did actually finish something - Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty. It was a kind of half-game that they released to fill the gap before the full game came out. It only took a few hours to play through, but it was good fun throughout - a very straightforward, fast-paced, constantly moving 3D platformer, just what I was looking for. I also dipped into Flower for a relaxing glide through the grass, had a brief return to Metal Gear Solid 4 now they've added trophy support, but didn't get anywhere, I finished a few more levels of Cuboid, and I removed Lead & Gold from the list after a quick run around because it's multiplayer only. But with all that jumping about, the one game I kept coming back to was Borderlands. There's something really compelling about the way it keeps dripping new things to you - every mission finished opens up something else to do or somewhere else to go, and each mission doesn't take long, so you're constantly moving forward. There's also the much-vaunted random guns, which keeps your weapon loadout fresh, as you're always picking up something new and better - or just different. It has that horribly brilliant one-more-go factor that kept me playing until too late in the night on too many nights. It's a long game, too. I don't know how far through it I am, but I've just finished all of the missions in the first town. I'm level 21 or so, and there's a trophy for hitting level 50, which I figure is the highest you can go, so going by that reckoning I'm probably near half-way through the game. No idea when I'm going to finish it, but it's been great fun. Highly recommended.

Not much to report on the PC. I've still been chipping away at Septerra Core over lunch, but it's slow going. Normal service of 5 minutes a day will now be resumed.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Showed Gregory Horror

So I did complete Gregory Horror Show that night, but it took a lot longer than I thought. The last few souls were a right pain, requiring multiple reloads. The flippin' clocks were perhaps the worst; I constantly ran into other guests while trying to escape from the crazy Clock Master and then get over to where his son was hiding out while he had collapsed - and, of course, every time I died there was a long, unskippable cutscene before I could start the sequence all over again. Fun. Actually Angel Dog was a close second in the annoyance stakes, but for a different reason. It wasn't so much that I died a lot (although I did a few times) but that time moves so slowly in the game. You can only get Angel Dog's soul when she's watching the football on the hotel TV, and the football is only on at a certain time of day. I think she's the only one that has this restrictive time to grab her soul, but I can't remember the earlier characters too well - it's years since I did them. Anyway, it just so happened that the time that I last saved it was 9pm, and the football started at 6pm, so I basically had a day to wait out until I could catch her. Time passes very sloooowly in this game - you can sleep to pass a few hours, but you can only sleep once in a certain time period. You can also read a book to pass an hour or two, but books are important resources (they heal and increase your health gauge) so you don't want to waste them. You can also purchase time fruit in the exchange store, which passes a couple of hours when eaten, but there's no money in the game, so you can only get the fruit by exchanging some of your other items for it...which you may not want to do. So anyway, I thought I only had an hour or so of the game to go, but it ended up taking more like 3 or 4 hours to finish, which was mostly spent watching TV while I was waiting for time to pass in the game. Not a very productive evening in my quest for backlog domination! I did finally finish it, though, and it has perhaps the most depressing ending ever - essentially you're a clinically depressed person who constructed this hotel as a shell to hide from the real world, and when you finally break out of the hotel back into the real world you realise that you still can't cope with the pressures of the world and retreat back into cosy world of the mad hotel. Heartwarming stuff!

Next up on the PS2 pile is Shadow of the Colossus. I loved Ico, so I was looking forward to playing this. I only gave it an hour or so, and it is beautiful, but it's way harder than I thought it would be. I died numerous times just fighting the first colossus. I did finally beat him, and I think I've got the hang (ooh, pun!) of the grip system now. I was out in meetings all yesterday and didn't get back until late, so I just had a quick blast of Borderlands when I got back. It was actually refreshingly fun, so now I'm wondering whether I should go back to SoC tonight or just stick with Borderlands...hmmm.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Gabriel Burned

I had the week off last week, which actually meant much less time for gaming rather than more. I did, however, just squeeze in enough to finish off Gabriel Knight 3. The gameplay continued as you'd expect, with only a couple of obligatory - hey, now we're in 3D, why don't we have some 'cool' arcade sequences - bits at the end. Those bits took a few retries, but it was helped by a generous checkpoint system that meant you never had to go too far back when you fluffed. The story took a bit of a turn for the weird, though. As if it wasn't enough to have the freemasons and the priory duking it out, they also threw in vampires, immortals, another secret order who I was never to sure about, the Scottish claim to the throne of Europe, and Jesus himself. It should be noted that the vampires were actually involved from the beginning, but they were mentioned in a comic that came with the game and detailed the backstory, but GOG don't have the comic in their download package, so the beginning of the game essentially makes no sense. Thanks, GOG. Anyway, I thought the conclusion was all a bit rushed and crazy, and they probably would have been better off just focusing on one or two secret societies rather than trying to tie them all in together. Still, it's done, and it was an enjoyable end to an enjoyable series. I thought the adventure aspect worked in 3D, and I liked some of the puzzles - the SIDNEY computer was particularly fun.

Next in the series list is Independence War - a space game that I think is more Wing Commander-style arcade action than Homeworld-style strategy. I don't know a lot about it though, other than I remember gawping at screenshots of it in PC mags back in the day. They look like a fun couple of games. First up, though, I'm going to turn my attention to Septerra Core on the singles list - looking forward to a nice RPG.

Also, although I had last week off and didn't play much, this week Kate and the kids are away because we're having our bathroom done, so the evenings are mine, all mine! I'm going to try and focus on the poor old PlayStation, as it hasn't seen any love in a while, and in particular the PS2 games, as I'm pretty sure the old PS3 is going to blow up one day and I'll have to get a new model replacement with no backwards compatibility. So, with all that in mind, I returned last night to Gregory Horror Show. I got about two thirds of the way through it back in the PS2 days, but haven't touched it since the PS3 arrived. It's a weird little game, with a beautiful art style and sense of humour. You're stuck in a strange hotel and have to capture the souls of the other guests by spying on them and noting their habits to work out their weakpoints. I only spent a little time with it last night getting a feel for it again before I wasted the rest of the evening watching the rubbish old olympic closing ceremony...there's four hours of my life I won't be getting back again. Anyway, I reckon I should be able to finish it off tonight with a bit of luck, and then I'll see what other treats I can find in the pile.