Friday, 26 February 2016

The grind

I'm on a roll! I pretty much spent the whole of last night searching for the last few gold bricks in Lego Marvel Super Heroes. My, that game is just FULL of busywork. Max and I finished the game a while back, but the story itself is only about 20% of the game. The rest is wandering round for hours doing side missions and races and other random stuff...oh, and redoing the entire game a second time. There are something like 150 characters, 250 gold bricks, 40 vehicles and 20 red bricks, each of which is a separate unlock with a separate task associated with it. That is a LOT of stuff to do. It kind of goes beyond the point of fun and into an obsession, but there we are, I finally did it. The game itself is good fun. Pretty standard Lego fare - running around beating up evil minifigures and collecting studs. The best part was playing it through with Max. It's the first game we've played co-op and it was cool. We've since finished the Lego Movie game, and are onto the Lord of the Rings yes, I'm going to have to go back and try and 100% them. By all accounts, the Lego Movie game is much shorter, which is a relief. I don't know, I can see their reasoning that kids will just want to rush through the story mode and the adults can do all the hard work...but that much hard work isn't exactly fun for adults, either. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it, but if it had been 150 gold bricks rather than 250, then I would have been just as happy.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

The Thirsty Templar

It turned out I only had one level to go on The First Templar,, so it didn't take long to polish off. All in all, it wasn't a bad game. I hadn't heard anything about it going in, but it was pretty fun. As you can probably guess from the title, the story's based around the knights Templar and the crusades, which is quite an interesting area of history, and there's quite a lot of (very well spoken) dialogue and text about it scattered throughout the game. I'm not actually sure how much of the text in the game is real, but it gives a good flavour of the period and the struggles that were going on then. The game itself is a very linear third-person action adventure. It's co-op throughout, which might have been fun, but it plays just fine as a single player experience. You control the gravelly voiced Mr. Templar and have to run around various locations throughout the world finding clues and fighting off Saracens, French, the inquisition and (ooh, spoiler) Templar forces. Along the way you complete various side quests and find some fancy clothing (I'm not sure why finding masquerade ball attire was quite so important, but there we go). There's quite a large skill tree that you can unlock for each character, but I mostly just used the standard attack and got through the game just fine (I played on casual difficulty, which made the fights a bit easier). Fighting is just a question of clicking your mouse to hit baddies and hitting space to block before they hit you. Not exactly tricky stuff, but it didn't get too old. In fact, while I was playing I was reminded of Diablo as a similar sort of enjoyable click-fest. Everything in the game is extremely signposted, so there's no chance of you getting lost, and the levels are all tight corridors with the illusion of freedom. Yes, you might appear to be on a high hilltop moving through some ruins, but you can't jump that 2cm-high wall over there, and that small pebble on the other side will also block your way. In general, it didn't matter too much that you were so completely rail-roaded, but there were occasions - especially in the stealthy sections where I wanted to be able to sneak round behind someone but was prevented by a cunningly placed small stick in the middle of an alleyway - where I felt the world could have been a little more open. For what it was, though, it was perfectly enjoyable. Not exactly an undiscovered gem, but a pleasant surprise. Onwards!

Next up on the randometer is...Alien Odyssey! Never heard of it. Looks like an action game from the '90s, so could be fun. Made by Argonaut, who I've had mixed success with in the past.

In other news, I'm adding another PS3 game to the done pile. This time it's Everybody's Golf 2. It's an old PS1 game. It's a perfectly fun golf game and I can imagine it would be great with a mate or two round and a couple of beers, but it's not exactly thrilling stuff on your own. I'm still slowly making my way through The Last Revelation and still enjoying it. Recently did a level set on a moving train, which was great fun - very cinematic stuff.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016


It's been a while without a post, but I finally have some news. No, I haven't finished either of the two main games I was playing yet (though I think I am close with The First Templar), but I have finally finished Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus. What, I didn't mention I was playing that? Well, I've been chipping away at it for a few years on the PS3 and finally clunked the last boss last night. In a completely ridiculous way I feel personally involved with this one. Many years ago, back in the good old foED days, someone from Sucker Punch (the development company behind the Sly games) contacted us to ask for some help with the particle code from one of our books that he was using in a game they were working on, and I was able to help him fix the code and get things running. Of course, I've got absolutely no idea if that was anything to do with Sly, but I like to think it did. Anyway, that's always made me a little fond of Sly Cooper and is why I chose to play it a while back when I was on the look out for a game. It doesn't hurt that it's actually a pretty fun game - an old-school platformer (it's originally a PS2 game, so actually everyday-school at the time, but I've been playing the PS3 HD version) with a load of minigames thrown in for good measure. I felt like the minigames (and boss fights by extension) were actually the weakest parts because the controls let them down, but the main platforming was a joy. Sly generally controls well, and has a large set of moves (that increase as the game goes on) that allow you to make it through the levels with ease. There are some tricky parts, but it's quite a forgiving game with effectively infinite lives (you do have a lives counter, but when you run out you just have to start the level again from scratch with 5 more lives). As mentioned, the worst parts of the game were the minigames and boss fights. Both of these had different controls and objectives to the standard platforming, and both suffered because of it. They were very varied, I'll give that to them, ranging from driving games to jetpack areas to rhythm action fights to on-rails shooters, but that great variety meant a lack of polish and it was often slightly sloppy controls (compared to the normally tight platforming) that let it down. I lost count of the amount of times I had to re-do certain minigames - as mentioned, the infinite lives meant it didn't really matter, but it wasn't much fun. Case in point was the final boss fight, which consisted of three parts, and any time you died you had to go right back to the beginning and start again. That was...painful, but I made it through in the end. Other than that, it was good fun - good voice acting and animated cut scenes and an enjoyable base platforming game. I even managed to get a platinum trophy for it, which was a bonus! Apparently, I can go back and speed run all of the levels to unlock a developer commentary, but...maybe not. I do own the rest of the Sly games, but I'm not going to tackle them next. Instead, I've started going through some of my old Playstation Network purchases and Plus games, and there are some of those that I'm going to count as finished. First up are a couple of the Playstation Eye games, Tori Emaki and Operation Creature Feature. Tori Emaki isn't really a game as such, more of an interactive experience. It's essentially a long (beautiful) scroll that you can move around to view the different parts of it. You do this by moving your arms to control a flock of crows that fly around the picture, causing animations to take place when they pass over hot spots in the image. It's quite a unique and relaxing experience (and fun for the kids), but there's no real 'game' to it so I'm going to mark it as complete on the list. Operation Creature Feature is another Eye game, and this one is definitely a game. It's kind of a little like a motion controlled version of Lemmings - you have to guide a set number of tiny creatures across a dangerous map by waving your arms wildly to get them to move. The controls are a little more delicate than that, but that's essentially it. It can be a bit frustrating at times, but is otherwise quite a fun little game. Again, it's great for the kids but not something I'm going to bring out again otherwise. I'm going to continue going through the PS games in the order that I purchased them (or at least in the order that the completely useless PS Download List has them) to try and make a bit of headway through them, as I'm slightly paranoid that they'll stop Plus on the PS3 before too long. Onwards!