Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Wall of Bad Luck

So, some corrections to the hastily written previous blog. Naughty Bear's third episode doesn't take place in the evening, it takes place in the early morning. Also, the narrator isn't annoying on his own or during the cutscenes, but because of the repetition of the gameplay, him announcing the kills and combos gets very tiring. When I started recording the walkthrough and just played it casually without repeating episodes, I realized I had no reason to hate him anymore.
After having recorded a Tomb Raider Legend walkthrough (going public who knows when) I once again changed my opinion slightly. It's actually better than averige like I preciously claimed. It's actually a very good game, very competently made. It does have some problems, like the camera always overriding the players adjustments and the controls sometimes just do not work right, and the most common cause for death in-game is the combination of those two issues since the combat is really easy but long drops are almost always an instant game over.
I often change my opinion slightly when recording a game, because then I tend to pay more attention to all of the game's features and how they work instead of just soaking in the experience and getting hung up on the few, often irrelevant things that bug me. That's the problem with amateur critics on the Internet, and with the crappier professional reviewers as well; you can easily let insignificant issues overshadow everything good in a video game, or sometimes in reverse let some good features greatly affect your thoughts about a game that is in full context a piece of crap. When reviewing a game, or anything for that matter, you have to look at it through many different eyes, not least for the reason that you will be in different moods throughout your life and will personally view same things differently every day. When I record a walkthrough for others to watch I constantly think about how people who haven't played the game themselves would then see it and whether their impressions based on prerecorded video would be accurate. I think Tomb Raider Legend looks like an awesome game when just watched, and it honestly isn't that far off even though the problems the game has can only be experienced by playing it in person.

I finished Max Payne and Max Payne 2, and I cannot stress enough that while I had high hopes for those two games based on all the praise, they exceeded my expectations greatly. Max Payne is simply awesome and should be considered one of the few hundred cornerstones of good video game design, and Max Payne 2 is even better. I am being completely honest when I say the original two Max Payne games are as close to being serious art as video games will probably ever be. I'm not saying other games can't reach the same level, but I think there's very little chance of improvement in the art department. I am also not saying there aren't overall better games, but even better games might not be on par with Max Payne in every aspect.
The reason why I call it serious art is that Max Payne isn't just about the presentation like many artsy "indie" games these day, Max Payne is a full-fledged, balls-to-the-walls, well done 3rd-person shooter that also happens to have a great narrative delivered in a fantastic way. Max Payne is about both from AND function, when some more pretentious and even not-so-pretentious games these days are much, MUCH more about form.

I played some Port Royale and Port Royale 2 a while ago and I've already forgotten what exactly I would've said about them if I made a quick review, but I can say this: I really like Port Royale 2. I had my doubts with the series being an economic simulator where you just pretty much move a ship from port to port on  a map, just clicking some buttons to buy and sell when the numbers seem good, but Port Royale 2 is something I think I'll go back to later once my backlog of games to play gets slightly shorter (which it never will, I got 10 new games in the past 5 days). The first Port Royale is fun enough for an evening but I didn't feel the need to continue playing. The second game seems more rewarding at every new step and the combat seems a more viable, and fun, option. In the original I found combat to be frustrating the few times I tried it and can't imagine how piracy could be profitable at the beginning of it.

I have also played Tropico and Tropico 2: Pirate Cove. The first Tropico is something that I think I will try to practice playing every now and then because I love building cities and it offers both the fun and the challenge of it, and I like the presentation, but Tropico 2 felt a bit boring largely due to the small amount of different types of buildings to construct. Being about building a pirate hideout instead of a country the selection of government buildings is naturally cut out, housing options are basically one or nothing, I think the farming and such is more streamlined and the choices for entertainment establishments are eatery, brothel and gambling, with only upgrades for those three types bringing in any new building types and there's not much reason to build the crappier ones after you are ready to build the bigger ones. It's like a Tropico lite, a themed campaign from the full game, and not being in any danger of losing your status as the ruler and only repeating the same buildings over and over again just gets a little dull after while.

The new update for Minecraft came out that added things like placing logs sideways, books you can write in and experience from mining ore (why wasn't that included earlier?) for example. I kept pushing back the urge to play Minecraft in anticipation of this update, but now that it's out I find myself too deep in other games to have a chance to play it.

I also finally played another one of my most wanted video games of all time, Messiah. Sadly, it was a huge disappointment. First of all it's marred by serious technical issues that are worsened with modern computers, but even the basic game, technological issues aside is not that much fun. The game is about using the bodies of others to complete objectives discreetly in what is supposed to be a humorous setting by Shiny. Think Hitman if 47 was a baby and he didn't just take people's clothes but their bodies as well, and the setting was a twisted dystopia. You'd imagine a game like that would be awesome and basically made for me, but it's not. Messiah is not funny, not because the humour sucks but because it's not really even there, the combat outright sucks but the player is still occasionally forced into fights, the controls are not just clunky but strangely designed and screw the player over constantly because you often need to be fast and precise at what you're doing and with these controls you usually can't be, the player isn't rewarded for trying out alternative methods but is instead punished for it, when combat has started even once enemies then have a 6th sense of Bob's whereabouts, and I would love to see one of the developers try and beat the game on Messiah mode. Don't think they could even pass the first level.
I do see how the game can have it's share of fans, but Messiah is riddled with so many HUGE problems that I cannot ever recommend it without losing the last bits of my credibility. The game is simply a mess and a nightmare to try and run in modern days. Plus, it's damn difficult to find help for it online by searching for "Messiah, PC" because of Jesus. Not that Jesus is to be blamed, the game came out like 2000 years after him, but I'm just saying it's a bitch to find help for all the problems and I think Jesus himself is too busy with other stuff to provide me technical assistance.

That's about it. I'm aiming to get the Tomb Raider Legend walkthrough scheduled so that starting next Friday there will be one video out a day at 3 PM GMT until the next Friday, but it seems a bit unlikely right now. Legend is one of the easiest games to beat that I have ever recorded but because of an incredible amount of unforeseen problems, like constant thunderstorms for example, a simple 3-4 hour job of recording turned into an 8 day long trial by frustration. After that the editing process caused me trouble with the first video for two days before I had a usable video done, but I still prevailed and busted my ass to get the first part out by last Monday. I would've even made it with 6 hours to spare, but then the video looked so screwed up on YouTube that I had to reupload it and miss my personal deadline, and after that YouTube screwed up the reuploading process so I missed my next best chance to publish it last Tuesday. I couldn't possibly get it out by Wednesday and what the hell, with so many delays I might as well skip Thursday as well, so I pushed the planned publish date to next Friday, even though it's looking more and more like even that was too optimistic of me.
Not a great omen. I was planning on starting to upload one video every day from now on, as I now have the technology to do that once I iron out the kinks and get the cogs to run smooth, and my best personal efforts notwithstanding nature, technology and YouTube just don't seem to want me to reach my goal.

Oh, yes, my PC monitor just broke some time ago and while I can manage the basic stuff with my Samsung TV monitor, it's really not the best choice for playing and recording PC games, so I am also pushing back all planned PC game walkthroughs until I find a suitable replacement for my old monitor. That means no Max Payne walkthroughs this month like I promised. I will, however, record console games and that actually helps with uploading videos every day because console games are faster to record, when you're not met by a nigh impenetrable wall of bad luck like I just recently was. If only the editing and uploading process wasn't such a bitch to me.

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