Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Screenshot of the Week #121: The Dark Soul!

                A late screenshot for a week that has passed but by missing my schedule I didn’t want to miss on the opportunity to say goodbye Dark Souls for what’s probably going to be a long while.
                I was deeply disappointed by The Ringed City DLC and to this date I haven’t touched it again. But despite the feelings I hold right now towards the series I haven’t given up on my goal of 100% achievements completion for the design masterpiece that is Dark Souls. Slowly but surely I worked my way through the last bosses of NG+ to a surprisingly paced NG++ in which I performed admirably against areas that usually got the best of me, holding Gwyn and Sif souls for a last meeting with the Giant Blacksmith. A meeting I foreseen as an ending point for the rich and intense experience that has been Dark Souls.
                I now put on the digital shelf a game in which I invested more than 100 hours of gameplay. A game that delighting me with its fascinating visual and level design; intrigued me with its mysterious story; challenged me with its difficulty and frustrated the PC gamer out of me with its many technical problems.
Goodbye Dark Souls, I hope we’ll meet again someday!


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Playerunknown's Battlegrounds Early Access Impressions!

                Battle Royale was initially a Japanese manga turned into a movie which served as an inspiration for a bestseller book trilogy and some questionably successful western movies. The same concept stands as the base for an ARMA 2 mod which carried on to ARMA 3 evolving into a wide phenomenon as a sub-genre of its own. Brendan Greene, the mastermind behind this gaming trend, is now returning with a standalone game with an uninspired name. Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds is the highly anticipated child born out of ARMA’s complex gameplay, Unreal Engine’s 4 versatility and a touch of arcadyness from a distant cousin.
                Battlegrounds is a pretty straight forward game. There is no story involved, no evil corporation tests the limit of humans and no totalitarian leader is forcing people into a game of life and death. One hundred players are gathered into a lobby where a human centipede isn’t an uncommon sight. These players are packed into an airplane and thrown into a sandbox arena, alone or in teams of between two and four players, to battle for supremacy in a deadly competition.
Going for the loot heaven!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Screenshot of the Week #120: Hold the line!

                As a player who dedicated a good amount of time to the Wargame series, Eugen Systems’ new RTT, Steel Division: Normandy 44, feels like a step in the right direction. I got my hands on the game this weekend so I didn’t have much time to test it out but in the few hours I spend with it did notice some gameplay changes. The Wargame formula is more or less intact starting the army deck builder which is a trial and error process and ending with a full tactical combat that’s focused more on decision making rather than micromanagement. There are a few minor changes in this area but I won’t go into details as I want to focus on the changes made to the battles. The map is no longer riddled with objective instead is an objective in itself having players battle for territorial supremacy with an ever-changing virtual borderline adjusting to the action on the battlefield. Battle chokepoints still exist but the value of an area isn’t calculated through points anymore but their importance at a strategic level which feels like a logical evolution in gameplay. The next big change comes in the way units are deployed which mechanically works as before but it’s now split into three deployment phases based on a time threshold. This is a much bigger change than it looks as it is impactful both at a strategic and tactical level. Units’ availability is now separated between the three deployment phases and the army decks have to be thought and built accordingly. Each deck can be distinctively more powerful at a certain time in a battle, be it early, mid or end game based on the deck’s composition and strategies have to be adjusted accordingly for both sides. It’s a tricky new mechanic that’s adding a lot of depth to the multiplayer but at this point I’m not sure what effects it has on the game’s balance.  
                Steel Division: Normandy 44 is a game that follows in the footsteps of RUSE and Wargame as a spectacle of tactical play with a realistic visual representation of what a war looks like. The full game will have multiple divisions to choose from and a singleplayer campaign which I hope it has evolved from Eugen Systems’ past works much like the gameplay did.

Victory is ours!


Monday, April 10, 2017

Screenshot of the Week #119: Not even close!

                It’s hard to imagine what a Souls disappointment will look like after Dark Souls II, a game that did some things good and some poorly, redeeming some of its sins praise worthy DLCs. It’s even hard to imagine that disappointment will come from the series’ last steps for many years to come.
                I got to play The Ringed City DLC last weekend after a raging postpone due to an inexplicable loss of my save files. But I put that grief behind me to dive in the ending DLC to a saga that has changed the gaming world forever and what I found wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Before anyone starts saying that I’m to blame because I was expecting closure to a troubled and mysterious story, the first thing I wanted was a tue Dark Souls experience. I wanted a piece of content that’s intelligently designed, challenging but fair and that wasn’t what I received. While many critics out there praise the living thing out of the hollow undeads of The Ringed City, I’ve experienced an entirely different DLC. An uninspired attempt to make a game more difficult through mechanical gimmicks that aren’t exactly fair. A spam of spongy patrols intersecting in narrow places with deadly chain of attacks which brought difficulty through raw numbers. But I would have let that go if the other important elements were there to support this ending chapter. If the level design was the type of architectural masterpiece we are used to see in this series (Dark Souls II base game aside). If all the bosses were actually interesting challenges worth of the finale. And ultimately, and this is more for those like me who sought story within this messed up world, if this DLC brought value to the lore not by inventing new stuff but building, if just a little more, on the existing ideas. But none of these happened. 
                The Ringed City DLC isn’t as dreadful as I make it sound and there are surely some bits of greatness in it but it’s just far from the astonishing ending this series deserved. I ended this saga in a way I never did before, by giving up. I felt betrayed and disappointed, losing my will to fight right there at the end. I don’t feel like picking up my Chaos Blade anymore and dealing with the setback of my lost saves in my quest for 100% completion. It’s true that after an adventure I should reflect about the journey, yet I feel so unsatisfied about its ending...
It was the first attempt!


Sunday, April 9, 2017

NieR: Automata Review!

                How is it possible that in the release year for some of the most expected titles, an action game featuring teenage-like androids dressed in tight clothes with visible panties comes on top? Let’s have a look at NieR: Automata, Yoko Taro and PlatinumGames’ sequel to NieR, and what makes it such a good game.

                Automata’s action takes place on Earth in the year 11945AD during the 14th Machine War carried between human made androids and a network controlled army of clumsy looking robots created by an invading alien species. The YoRHa organization is humanity’s stand, a continuously evolving army of androids stationed on a spatial base orbiting the Moon, set on reclaiming the Earth by sending wave after wave of androids into an endless war. These androids are self-aware mass produced models with prohibited emotions and a transferable consciousness designed specifically to carry a proxy war in the name of humanity who’s now safely hiding on the Moon. A tragic fate for beings trapped into a hopeless cycle, fighting for a post-apocalyptic world that’s slowly regenerating the wounds of the past just to suffer from those of the present. This is the setting for a game that’s more about asking existential questions than what the ecchi-like anime presentation shows at the first sight.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Screenshot of the Week #118: Tactical cowering 2.0!

                Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds Early Access is barely a week old and I already put over 50 hours into it. I’ve been waiting for a more realistic Battle Royale game for years and Battlegrounds is pretty much all I’ve been hoping for. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not all honey and milk with this game. The European servers have been taking some heavy lag hits over the weekend and the counter of bugs found is increasing with each passing day. But this is just a slightly bumpy start to a promising game that has a ton of potential and I’m willing to continue despite the current frustration it causes me. I’ve actually decided to put any other online game on hold (Guild Wars 2 and Rainbow Six Siege) to focus on Battlegrounds which I plan to make as my competitive game and so far this is going good. I’m not topping the game’s ladder but I’m doing pretty well for myself with quite a few victories under my belt. But even if things weren’t going my way, the adrenaline driven gameplay experience coupled with the competitive aspect of Battle Royale really keep me hooked while victories are just a culmination of a satisfactory gameplay experience that most online games just can’t provide.
                Seeing how things go, I would expect more screenshots of the week showcasing my adventurous exploits in Battlegrounds!
I know he's up there!