Mobile Gaming Could be Great

I often find random games on android that at first, are seemingly well made and appealing. Often they’re simply clones of more popular games, and I’m curious as to how they adapted. One such game was an adaption of Slay the Spire. At first it seemed doable, but then it was painfully obvious that the game was designed to be antigamer. So many games are designed to not be fun, but that you have to pay if you want to have fun.

This is completely backwards! When did hell freeze over, when did these developers think gamers should be treated like a piece of consumer meat? I’m never going to spend a dime on a game if the game being fun is conditional entirely on spending money. I can’t even begin to comprehend the greed that goes into such a decision. It’s like a) design a fun game that people want to spend money because they enjoy it or b) design a game to leech all money and that every aspect and gameplay element hinges on whether money cam be earned.

Sure, you’ll make a couple thousand bucks, even more if you hook a whale. Some might say these developers need to design a game that way to compete with AAA mobile gaming titles, but that’s a load of nonsense. I’ve come across maybe 10 games, on mobile, that weren’t pure money sink pits, and they were some of the most fun I’ve had for days. The gameplay encouraged… Wait for it, more gameplay! Not for me to input my visa and pay for more features.

Honestly, both Google and Apple need to come up with a curated app store for games in which each game is vetted, and if there’s any transaction or money to be spent on gameplay, that game is not allowed in the store. Sorry, but your greed is not allowed. If there’s money to spent on say, cosmetics, then the game can stay. But the moment you start messing with the core mechanics to encourage spending, not only should your game not be allowed, but you should be lambasted across the entirety of the store for your greed. So that everyone and everybody can know to stay far away. End careers in game programming before they even begin. Weed out the bad roots before they take hold. I’m sick and tired of greed in my games.


Control vs Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

I initially planned to write this on November 25th, but life happens. Coincidentally, both games have been further updated by and/or recieved expansions. This does not matter to me. I will review based on what I experienced at the time. Game developers should take the time and delay if needed to create a near perfect vision of their creation. Unless I’m a cheapskate and wait for a sale a year down the line, at which point there’s been plenty of updates. Not the case for Fallen Order, was the case for Control.

Control is a masterpiece of a game, told with perfect craftsmanship of third person shooter rpg games at their best. I played it on a base PS4 and combat only struggled at the absolute most chaotic moments but because I had become well attuned to the game’s systems by then, I could still see and envision what I had planned to do. And therefore in those moments, when the framerate would slow to a crawl for a breath, I could still make commands and finish the fight with barely a scratch. Fallen Order struggled to even load in if I ran too far ahead, and would often send me falling through the map. Or I’d reach a narrow hallway and freeze up; and a door would materialize. Or said door materialized on top of me, and I fall through the map floor. Fights were filled with janky animations or enemies stuck in a T-pose. Beat a boss stuck like that. The worst T-post bug of all was when I discovered a hidden area and workbench but Cal got stuck in that aforementioned bugged pose and I did not receive it (double saber upgrade). Happened again the second time. Finally unlocked it at the third planet at which point I had already done quite a bit. Wished I had it a bit sooner.

Control excelled in the sense of making you feel like a god, utilizing a good progression system that slowly made you better and better unless you were already skilled at shooters. If that’s the case, then it feels like they did a great job at holding back that tidal wave feeling of “let me destroy things” while simultaneously providing you with plenty of action and the hidden possibilities which could reward you with hidden weapons and better loot. The metrovania type gameplay, which I like to say it feels more like Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time gameplay, allows the player to go where they want while still having a linear sense of main quest line. The side quests offer hidden rewards and better upgrades. Fallen Order had the idea in place but it feels like they were told to scrap the microtransactions but they still had all these animations, so they put them in as the cosmetic rewards found in hidden areas and chests. The aforementioned double saber and other upgrades are found alongside the main quest line and anything else that is hidden is merely a cosmetic except for a few easily found stat upgrades. It is not worth the time unless you want to gloat about achievements or feel slightly more healthy – not like it changes how fast you die. It also has that Metrovania/LoZOoT feel and it does feel immersive and rich and inviting. However, it immediately loses its appeal during combat when things don’t turn out as they should due to either input lag or bugs. Such as Cal not rolling in time or getting caught on a pixel of something blocking said roll. Pressing for heal and Cal speaking plus doing the animation and bd-1 replying but then not actually getting healed. Then having to get away again, and try the process again. The parry animation requires me to be psychic because even knowing when the enemy is gonna attack, I can’t be sure Cal will actually parry in time or still be getting ready. Dark Souls 1/2/3, or Bloodborne, even Witcher 3 never had it this bad at trying to counter. It plays like a PS2 game but nowhere near as good as Jedi Outcast or Jedi Academy. It did do well with the sense of becoming better and slowly more powerful. I just wish they did more with it.

Visually Control is absolutely beautiful and creepy and haunting. It also very eerie at times. The lack of music and only hearing your own footsteps causes you to constantly look behind you in game, and in real life – especially if you play at night. The soundtrack is one of my favorites this year. I particularly enjoyed Poets of the Fall’s fake band/alter in-game band Old Gods of Asgard. Fallen Order also was equally beautiful and haunting, and scary at times. The sense of nearly instantly dying, two hits usually. I tried jedi grandmaster but that was insanity so I played it on Jedi Knight. Everything was smooth sailing until I ran afoul of an iceberg in the middle of a calm sea. All the bosses were easy(ish) and required semi-psychic guesses/skill/eventual memorization. That is until near end game, when you run across a typical good guy turned bad seeking power boss and the man just wipes the floor with you. Ten tries later and you start to doubt your skills. “Did I fluke every other enemy and boss? No, this ain’t right.” Eventually get a parry in. This is the moment I realized the parry animation window was easy to press but the timing was so slow, I had to try to preemptively press the button. Shamelessly, I dropped the difficulty to Story mode. And the boss felt like the other bosses on Jedi Knight difficulty. After the fight, I put it back. Both games I play a style of dodge and then attack. It works well.

I didn’t mention much about Control‘s combat because saying anything other than it’s amazing and creative and fluid would spoil it. Saying anything descriptive of the game is a spoiler. That is how the story of it is designed. It is one of my favorite stories for a video game. To say anything would not be good for the potential player. I can say the difficulty is hard to start but once you conquer your fears and learn to control your fears (see what I did there), then the game gets easier. Slow down and pace yourself. There is a set amount of enemies every time and a sound effect plays when you’ve killed them all. Fallen Order also has a set amount of enemies for a map but they reset if you heal at a mediation spot. Dodging for days is the best form of combat and making sure to strike from the back. When sufficiently skilled up, you slow a blaster or rocket shot and then pull the shooter of said shot and hold them in front of the shot. Remember Cal, you are a good guy. Hear a guy give a speech about how he’s waiting years to fight a worthy opponent, and then draws his weapon only to be force pushed off the cliff. Fool didn’t realize Cal ain’t worthy. We are totally a good guy character.

Ultimately, both are good games but Fallen Order is stricken with a need to severely overhaul or update combat. Humans need to be dismembered as well or you can stop calling it a light saber. Let me use one of those fancy electric weapons. Anyways, Control is the better game to play. You’ll be immersed from the getgo and not get pulled out due to bugs or frustration. If you think ahead and carefully before entering any rooms, you can see how a fight might play out – where you can hide.

TLDR; Fallen Order is a good game marred by bad choices and inexplicable design ones too. Control is a masterpiece of third person rpg games. One needs updates to get better, the other has had them.


Rage 2 (PS4)

Having played the first game in this series of games, I had moderate hopes that it would turn out to be good. And by good, I mean that I think that it was worth the price. Most games fall under this category for me; though sometimes, it turns out to not be the case – see Black Ops 4, aka a colossal waste of money.

So with that intention in mind and eager to play a post-post-apocalyptic, I let myself buy Rage 2 at full price, and even with a pre-order as to get the bonuses. I preloaded the game two days before and at the midnight launch, burned the candle until the wee morning hours. I was immersed immediately into the world posed by Rage 2. However, and as with all titles of a shooting nature, I quickly found that the game delivers on gameplay and skimps out on story. You could say that, yes, this to be expected from the developers behind Doom. Yet, with what little story there is, there is a shimmer of hope in that tiny story – a very simple story. You, the last of the Rangers, are the only one able to wield magical powers given to you by the use of something called nanotrites. These magical powers, or as the game calls them, super powers, allow you to defy gravity or turn invisible, or run really fast. Basically, you become an overpowered player in a world ripe for you to sandbox in.

I fully beat Rage 2 in 28 hours on normal difficulty. By fully, I mean I explored every single part on the map and had maxed out every skill and weapon. I also beat the main campaign before doing so, and thus the game’s ending of “But there is still more for a Ranger to do” falls on my deaf ears. I’m done with the game. What I can conclusively say, is it was worth the price, and that I’d love to play a third game in the series but please make the storyline better than “go to place b, and murder/kill everyone”. The aspect that the game really excels on, and what kept me playing, was how FUN it is to blow shit up/kill the denizens of this virtual world. Every weapon has three modes to it, one mode from merely pressing the fire button and another from, normally pressing what is the aim button and then shooting. The third mode is when your character reaches overdrive mode, a mode granted by filling up a meter via killing. Once activated, for the next 20 seconds or so – depending on upgrades, you pretty much eviscerate everything around you while massively regenerating your health.

The weapons are pretty much the same weapons as from Doom with minor changes. And they are found hidden around the map inside things called Arks which are basically vaults from civilization at its prime. In addition to finding guns inside of these vaults, you can also find more of the so called super powers as well. Gameplay is then comprised of utilizing the guns to their full extent, along with the super powers, to wreck havoc on your enemies. And speaking of enemies, the foes range from standard bad guy shooting you to crazy mutant rushing you to giant ogre like monster with a health bar. There is also various cars and vehicles to be found, with the main vehicle being an indestructible object – only needing repairs when low health. This vehicle can be upgraded to fully unlock its potential. The best and fastest way to traverse the wasteland is with a vehicle and you eventually get a flying vehicle that cuts transit time drastically down.

The other aspect that was really well done was the world building and basically, the cinematography. Each viewpoint was a beautiful vista to behold, only marred by the bandits or mutants or whichever baddie you have to kill.

The negatives of the game are as follows:

  1. Yes, there is no loading as you traverse the wasteland but this leads to downgraded graphics in various NPCs. Each town does look unique but each of its residents feels the same and talking to them feels a chore.
  2. Story is not made an open world gameplay such as this. It is go to point a, b, c, and acquire d, e, and f. Then go to point g using what you’ve acquired and beat h – the main bad guy. With this kinda storytelling, I would have preferred a linear game.
  3. Lack of varied environments in which to do battle. Yes, there are different biomes such as swamp, desert, forest but the various buildings and arenas to fight in are bland and uninteresting.
  4. There is such a thing as too powerful and the game delivers that in spades. The downside is while you are having fun obliterating the enemy, you start to wonder if this is all there is.

So to conclude, I would say this is a good game; and with updates/expansions, there is the potential to expand upon what is good to become great. More enemies would be awesome and having new weapons and powers to add more variety would be ideal. It is by no means a terrible game plagued by microtransactions – which there are, but only for cosmetics (and these can be bought in game, with in game cash). But neither is it an amazing game. If I had to rate it based on a system of 10, I’d give the gameplay 5/5 and the storytelling and world building plus everything else, 2/5. It’s a solid 7/10 game for me.

Last takeaway: yes there are bosses, but they are very easily killed.


Starlink; A gorgeous view for joyous gameplay

Few games these days invoke a childlike sense of wonder and an urge to explore. Most games start to burn up fast in the unravelling of the illusion of the game world via repetitive actions. Repeating tasks over and over with no recourse, or stoppage. Every game has repetition. The key is to mask it through other ways such as the scenery.

And boy does this game sure chew it up. Each vista a beautiful sight, with the colours blending and creating a harmony to behold. The sunlight(s) bouncing off the river(s) and trees as you fly by in your craft, shafts of light dancing. No matter where I fly, nor how often, each time I’m mesmerised by the view. And speaking of flying! It’s so good. So smooth. Feels like a joy. Each movement and forward motion, and flip, and barrel roll; everything works to create wonder and happiness. There is no anger to be had in the controls. No anger to be had in the combat. This is a game to be played and enjoyed, and thoroughly explored.

Starlink, played on the Nintendo switch, can be bought digitally or by way of physical copy that has a mount attachment for models of the ships, weapons, and pilots featured in the game. Every beyond a starter ship (Arwing), two pilots (Mason and Fox), and three weapons (two physical, one digital) must be purchased separately. You cannot find other weapons in game. The game is entirely doable with the guns you have. This being the switch version and should you not use any weapons, the laser cannons on the Arwing will be used by default. You can also play with a co-op partner at any given time through drop in/out mechanics so long as the switch is in tv/console mode.

I’ve yet to beat it as I’m playing with a partner. I highly recommend this game to all ages.


Things I’ve noticed in Apex Legends

The majority of people always rush to the fight to try and get the enemy at a bad moment. And while the game rewards aggressive behaviour, I’ve won far more game by playing the waiting game. Hiding about and gathering gear, and then when it’s the final 3 squads… Then I engage. When my team listens that is. As a solo player, I’ll admit I’m kind 85% of the time, going so far as to drop ammo or shields or guns for my teammates. But those that feel the need to belittle and abuse others for their own deaths, or leave when I’m about to revive them – after I’ve run through hell and pulled some tricky maneuvers… These people I am not kind to.

I’ve also noticed way too many people duo with a friend and leave me, the third man, way behind even though I only turned my back for a second. Then I end up most of the match trying to catch up, only for them to die and then ping madly while blaming me for their mistakes.

This leads me to the next problem, too many players rush off into battle before their teammates have had a chance to find a weapon. 3 guns will always beat 2 guns + fists or any combination besides 3 guns unless you’re skilled. Secondly, if your team lands near a single enemy… ALL three of you need to punch/melee. They’ll die quickly. Too many times I see players run away searching for a gun.

The high ground wins. Every single fight I’ve lost, the enemy had the high ground. Every single time I’ve won, I’ve had the high ground. It’s over, Anakin.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading.