Random Thoughts on What I’ve Been Playing

Batman Arkham Knight

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I said that the similarity between Shadows of Mordor and the Arkham games made me a bit less interested in playing Arkham so soon after Mordor.  Turns out, I was right.  I’ve loved the Arkham games, but Arkham Knight already feels a bit stale, just because I’m trying to pick it up so soon after an extended run with what’s pretty much the same engine.

There’s been a lot written about how the Batmobile sections drag the game down.  This is true.  The developers had this new gameplay component that they devoted a lot of time, effort, and segments too, and it wasn’t as good as they expected.  They took a risk, it didn’t work out, and you know what?  I’m fine with that.  What is really odd to me about the Batmobile is just how much they have to stretch to still fit what they wanted to do in the whole “Batman doesn’t kill” deal.  Drive into a mob at 140 MPH?  Look, they’re twitching with electricity, they’re only stunned, not dead!  Your cannon?  It’s a good thing you’re only fighting drone tanks.  Ramming cars around at high speed until they flip end over end?  Eh… you just forget about that.

You know, if they just put people in those tanks, rather than using drones, Batman would be able to do nothing against them.

The Sims (Console)

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I’m a little unsure why I even own this game in the first place.  I own the Sims on PC.  I owned the Sims on PC when I got this.  And the PC version is unquestionably better.  It was always going to be, this is not a game you can transfer perfectly to console.

But, well, I own it.  So I’m playing it on my little ‘Play all the games!’ journey.  And, well, it’s alright.  Not as good as the PC version.  But one thing it has that the PC version doesn’t is a sort of ‘career’ mode.  And it turns out I play the game completely different when I play with goals.  That’s pretty strange to me.  Even if I may set the goals myself in the original, it doesn’t change my play nearly as much as a game-imposed goal seems to.  I think it comes from having a next level to move to, a new stage to reach, makes those goals a lot more meaningful.

Kingdom Hearts 2

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I used to hate this game.  I used to hate the whole bloody series.  My friends were all about it, but I never got into it.  Kingdom Hearts was below average to me, KH:Chain of Memories was abysmal, and Kingdom Hearts II was less a game and more an exercise in pressing X a million times and then winning.

This time around, I find I’m really enjoying it.  Didn’t like Kingdom Hearts or Chain of Memories, but I’m having a lot of fun with Kingdom Hearts II.  The adapted story arcs are a lot less dumb than they were in the original one, the way they’re integrating the three worlds they’re working with show a lot more signs of being the way we always hoped they would, and now that I’m basically an overbuilt pretty boy myself, I find I’m enjoying the character design a lot more.  And most of all, I’m seeing and appreciating aspects of gameplay and design I never did before.

I am enjoying this game in a completely different way now than I used to.  This is exactly the reason I started this multi-year long “Beat Everything I Own” quest in the first place.

God of War

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This game, on the other hand… hmm…

God of War was one of the most influential games in Sony’s first/second party lineup.  It blazed a trail that many imitators would follow and build on.  There was a span of a few years a while back where it seemed every other game was ripping elements from either God of War or Devil May Cry.  And perhaps because of that, it all feels a little… standard now.  Not good, not bad, just pretty standard.  Which is a shame.  I never played the game in its heyday, maybe that’s what’s really affecting my position on it.  Playing this game after so many that have already moved beyond it just makes it seem outdated rather than the innovator it truly was.  Feels very similar to watching the John Carter movie, based off of a book that came out decades before the film; in its day, it was completely innovative, but everyone else has picked up on all those innovations since, to the point that it’s changed the way you perceive the original.

Enter the Gungeon

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I am a weak man.  Not, physically, I mean.  After all, have you checked me out lately?  You should do that sometime.  Nor in will, which is iron.  In fact, I’m not weak in any way that actually matters, so I don’t know why I even said that.

Point is, a while back, I said I wasn’t interested in Nuclear Throne because the sound design irritated me and I had enough twinstick shooter roguelikes.  Some weirdo on the internet convinced me to give it a try, so I picked it up from the bundle at the eleventh hour.

It’s good, in case you were wondering.  Sound design was better than the trailer, although still grating, and I’m not a fan of the visual design either, but gameplay-wise, it’s good.  Even has a few really strong points going for it that I might espouse on in the future if I feel like it.

It is, however, an aggressively simple game.  It started a roguelike shooter bug in me that it wasn’t able to scratch itself.  So, following another recommendation I picked up Enter the Gungeon when it came on Steam sale.

It is also good.  Very well built, great visual design, almost everything’s pretty solid, there.  And as is proper for a roguelike, it is difficult.  Difficulty is a tough aspect of a game to get right, and I’m not sure Enter the Gungeon quite hits it on the dot, however.  It feels a little unbalanced.  There is a lot of bullet hell-style twitch gunplay, there.  And you’ve got almost all the tools you need to deal with that, to duck and weave around and over the sea of bullets headed your way.

The problem doesn’t come out until you factor in the game’s borked rate of dropping necessary provisions.  It’s a bullet hell game, chances are very likely you’re going to be taking hits, yet health is a freaking rare drop.  I usually seem to lose by attrition, the small mistakes adding up, rather than being legitimately outclassed, and that’s not really a fun way to lose.  For that matter, I have not even seen a key drop in the last few hours of gameplay, and those are absolutely necessary to not be a dumb first-level player the whole game.

Really, that is its own balance, requiring a high degree of defensive perfectionist play.  That’s not a type of play I’ve put in the time to be good at yet, though, and I’ve never really liked the perfectionism required for a no-hit run in any game.  It’s a shame, because I’m really enjoying the game, but I’m not capable of what it’s asking of me.

Really, it’s mostly just making me want to pick up Binding of Isaac again.  Another roguelike twinstick with a completely different flavor, but at least I’ve already put in the time to earn my skill with that game.

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2 responses to “Random Thoughts on What I’ve Been Playing

  1. I get bored with the open ended nature of the Sims. For that reason I liked the PS2 version because of that career mode you mention. Gives you goals to aim for and it’s neat seeing your character grow from level to level.

    • I find I’m enjoying them in different ways. Playing open ended sims is fun, but I don’t stick with it all that long. I have been cram-gaming the console version, though. Just a bit more longevity, simply by adding goals. Although those party requirements can suck it.

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