It’s August 2016 and I finally Played The Last of Us

Just going to say this early on that this post will contain major spoilers for the game.

You good?

Okay. Onward.

Overall thoughts: I would recommend the game to others. Aside from narrative, how much I was entertained by a game is a huge factor in whether or not I enjoy it. I will also say that the entertainment spiked in the beginning and then didn’t quite resurface until the last third of the game for me. However, there is A LOT that this game offers and I fully acknowledge it.

Favorite things: Soundtrack, environment, character development, writing, and voice acting.

Not so favorite things: Mechanics, story.. did I mention mechanics?

I do realize that I have an unpopular opinion here when I say that story wasn’t  my favorite thing. And let me differentiate between writing and story. The dialogue was superb. I loved the characters and how their paths were executed. But the story as a whole didn’t grasp me. I will explain that later.

I believe there are quite a few things that have affected my experience of the game.

The hype. As much as I try to stay away from hype (as opposed to strong recommendations), I do believe the constant telling of “OMFG THIS IS THE BEST GAME EVER. IT’S MY FAVORITE. YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE IT” killed some of the hype I would have experienced with it. I try to keep my expectations to a reasonable standard, but once I announced my desire to play the game, my expectations of it inevitably grew. I wanted my feelings to mirror those of who played the game previously. More than a few people have told me that they wish they could wipe the game from their memory just so they could experience it again. That’s quite a compliment. Unfortunately, after completion, it ended up being that I did not share the sentiment.

Streaming. Entertaining an audience while trying to focus on a game exhausts a lot of energy. I think I did a pretty good job of equally distributing my energy between the two, so I can’t fully say if this contributed to me not being completely connected to the game. I know how I feel once I bond to a game regardless if I am streaming or not, and I did not quite feel that with TLoU though I really wanted to.

Predictability. Aside from David being revealed to be creepy AF (seriously, eff that guy), the story was highly predictable. It wasn’t hard to determine what would happen to who ie…Tess and Henry, and it was pretty easy to figure out how the game would end. Admittedly, I was about 80% right. For fun, I will write out how the ending played out in my head. I came up with the scenario after I played the Winter chapter. And hands down, Winter was the best part of the entire game aside from the DLC.

However, as I said before, I separate writing from overall story. I very much enjoyed the characters. They were done so well, even David. Each of them served a purpose, each of them were different and held their own. I don’t believe there was a weak character in the story. Certainly, some were held longer in the spotlight than others, but I didn’t feel that any of them were filler or fluff. I didn’t have to question why they existed. Even a damn deer played an important role.

The game itself was damn beautiful. That paired with its amazing effing soundtrack was such a lovely experience for those particular senses. I couldn’t get over the details of the world. Everything about the environment was 10/10 would stare at again. The parts that were beautiful were mesmerizing and the parts that were meant to scare you were pretty terrifying. Seriously, hats off to the teams who were involved with all of the above. My eyeballs and earholes thank you.

What did take me completely away from the game many times was the mechanics. I. Loathed. The. Mechanics. Most of my rage spewed out of me whenever an NPC was being anything but stealthy or when I had to make sure that I had my firearm selected because I couldn’t remember exactly what I had currently equipped in my invisible arsenal. Seriously, the gun would be holstered after about five seconds of inactivity. Anything you would have equipped (bow, firearm, smoke bomb) would be “put away” after inactivity, however, when it came down to the second you needed your firearm, that trigger function would bring up whatever item you selected last. You ever try to shoot a Clicker with a mine? It’s not very effective.

I’m horrible at stealth games, always have been. I was genuinely scared that a lot of the gameplay in TLoU relied on stealth, but I did my best. It was incredibly difficult for me to gauge how far away I had to be from infected so they wouldn’t be able to detect me. It was near impossible for me to effectively use bottles and bricks because everywhere I threw them, they were apparently just outside of an enemy’s “awareness range” or what have you. And if I was successfully sneaking around, an NPC would just fire a round off and alert the whole damn city where we were. That last one enraged me to no end. If a game wants to add stealth, then either give a player NPCs that are also stealthy or give the player the option to make an NPC aggressive or pull back entirely. I cannot tell you how many times Ellie or Bill or whoever got me killed or made my experience a living hell because they were too trigger happy.

The ending. Just FYI, this is my blog, so I’m writing entirely in my own opinion. I was fine with the ending up until Joel lied. Now there’s a lot to process here. Is Joel a bad man? Yes and no. He acted as I think most loving parents would. I did say multiple times that I believe Joel would say “phuq mankind” in the end and he did. I did not anticipate him doing the same to Ellie. What I mean by that is by lying to her, he effectively damaged or even destroyed his relationship with her. All that time building that bond, putting up with all the BS that the world had to throw at them and he lies to her. She’s not stupid. She already has her suspicions and I don’t think she bought his “yeah, I was telling the truth” either.

Is Joel a good man? Yes and no. He’s an average guy who was placed in very traumatic situations. He has protected people he’s cared for, but it’s no secret that he’s done some shady shit in his past. He has never been completely selfless, so it wasn’t a surprise for me when he took Ellie from the Fireflies. But I was not expecting him to be so selfish as to lie to her. I think it was part a) he knew Marlene was right and that Ellie would sacrifice herself b) he didn’t want to lose a second daughter  and c) he would rather Ellie hate him while she was alive.

I don’t think he realizes that her hating him for what he did will be, in a way, worse than if she were dead. Should she figure out that he lied, she could do everything she can to leave him and go back to the Fireflies. The world had taken everyone she ever loved from her. And now the one person she loves betrays her; she wouldn’t be able to trust again and could set her down an escalated tragic hero path. Speculation, but the lying just threw me. It struck me as instead of the Fireflies killing her, he did, but metaphorically.

I could write a lot more, but this post is long enough as it is. Bottom line is that the good things about the game were great and the bad things about the game made me miserable. I recognize why so many people have such high praise for TLoU, and while I wouldn’t say that the game is a top 3 favorite, there is no doubt that it’s a good game overall, and again, I would recommend it to friends.

If you care to read more, this was my end game prediction I concocted in my head after I played Winter. I’m more than likely going to write this as a fanfiction. Don’t judge. Fanfiction is awesome.

Joel and Ellie would make it to the Fireflies. Of course, they have every intent on creating a cure; however, they find that the process to make this vaccine would ultimately end up killing Ellie. And it wouldn’t be a humane death. She would suffer. Joel wasn’t going to have any of that. So he thinks “phuq mankind” and tries to bust him and Ellie out of there. He fails. Ellie ends up mid-process in whatever round of testing they run on her, it goes wrong and she’s in so much pain ,there is no way to reverse it or help her. Joel is placed in a very emotional position. He makes the decision to kill her. The last scene is Ellie’s grave next to Sarah’s and he’s singing to them.

The Pokemon Go Bandwagon

I’m going to Oreo cookie this.

The good: This game encourages you to do two things: go outside and be social. And it’s working. I live in a city where social life is very clicky and if you don’t fit into certain types of lifestyles, then you’re not going to have much of a good time. However, I spent the last couple days actually playing PokemonGo as it is meant to be played, and I had small conversations with people I’ve never met. We were all having a good time at a park and I even ran into a former coworker. She was walking around another park with her son. It was quite cute. I am fascinated how much this game has affected the lives of its players for the better in such a short amount of time.

I tend to use humor to mask my true feelings. I throw around a lot of jokes about this game in particular but this is really a strange phenomenon to me. And while I was still being cautious, I didn’t feel threatened by people around me. Last night, I forgot I was in my city. A city that taught me to never trust people. A guy walked up to me and asked me about a gym and I didn’t automatically believe he would hurt me. This is definitely a game where you need to use caution, but at the same time, I’m amazed at the camaraderie and fun innocence I’m seeing. My mind is blown. Bless this game.

The bad: On the real with PokemonGo, it’s a fun game. It’s a game that encourages you to be social, but at the same time you HAVE to use caution when you run into other people. The reality is that just because someone plays the same game as you, it doesn’t mean that they are good people. This is no different than going about your everyday life. It’s fine to meet people, but don’t tell them where you live, where you’re going to be (especially if it’s a location out in the middle of nowhere) or where you plan to be every day and night. Use caution. People are already exploiting the hype around this game and police stations are issuing warnings to people to be careful when interacting with strangers. People are leaving lure modules in Pokestops and robbing them when they show up. Yeah, that’s the kind of fucked up world we live in. We can’t even truly enjoy a game that focuses on social interaction and going outside to be healthy.

Enjoy the game. Just be careful. Please.

Back to the good. Here are some moments I’ve had/created while playing Pokemon Go.

 

 

The refreshing experience that is Quantum Break

Remedy Games has created a special little gem with Xbox/PC exclusive Quantum Break and it has become a very notable gaming experience for me for a variety of reasons. I rarely read or watch reviews of games I know I will play, so I went into the game almost completely blind. I knew only that time travel was the main theme, it was a third person shooter, and the game was split into an episodic format.

I was grateful to receive a code of the game from a friend right before launch, so I decided to stream the entire experience. There are only a handful of games that I have played on launch date. I believe the last one was Dragon Age Inquisition, so to have the ability to play QB on April 5th was pretty special.

Off the bat, I experienced a pretty brutal download time; however, I don’t feel that should detract the experience of the game itself. Saying slow download times makes a game bad is like giving a one star review of a product on Amazon because the shipping box it came in was damaged. Once the download was complete, I hopped on Twitch and let friends know I was diving in QB.

When it comes to understanding the details of time travel, I get lost, but I was pretty happy with how the story presented itself. QB gave you some time (hah, badumtss!) to understand your surroundings and the environment. The game is pretty linear but if you are ever lost, your character, Jack Joyce, will give you hints along the way of where to go and/or what to do. Very helpful for someone like me since I am guaranteed to go through a few rounds of “wanderage” (as dubbed by my community) in every game I will ever play.

The game is also split between gameplay and live action sequences. That was SO cool. I was taken back by how pretty QB is. Look at this!

Cut scene in game.

3004874-quantum_break_jack_joyce_1_v2

Live action

Quantum-Break-Beth-Wilder-large_trans++NJjoeBT78QIaYdkJdEY4CnGTJFJS74MYhNY6w3GNbO8

Holy phuq.

Each scene was well done, the acting was awesome and there wasn’t much of an immersion break between them. I highly dislike moments in video games that jolt your mind around and make you lose focus, but the transitions between the game itself and live action episodes were smooth and didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the story.

QB isn’t a very long game. It’s actually possible that you would spend more time reading up on the exposition of the story and exploring the immediate world around you. There’s tons of narrative items that you can collect throughout the game and they only add to an already solid experience. With straight gameplay on normal difficulty, I believe the game can be completed within 15 hours.

There’s also replay value! Love that. There are major choices that you can make in the game that would ultimately affect experiences for yourself, your playable character and NPCs. I have only played QB all the way through once, so I am looking forward to making completely different choices in my second run.

I loved the characters. I especially adored the interactions between Jack Joyce and his brother, William Joyce. They are played by Shawn Ashmore and Dominic Monaghan respectively. Great chemistry. And Aidan Gillen‘s performance is top notch (as always). The acting is good. So good that I wish I had a face cam up and running while I was streaming because my reactions to very emotional and pivotal scenes would have been entertaining for people. I may have gotten a little lost when it came to time travel discussion, but the characters themselves were written so well, it was amazing to see how easily and strongly I bonded to them. And surprisingly, my favorite character ended up being someone I initially hated! That’s very rare for me. Kudos to the writers of QB. I would like to high five you all.

I will close my thoughts about QB with a little sentimental note that was very special for me. When I streamed QB the second time, I had a pretty awesome visitor stop by to say hi.

Capture

Aside from the obvious “this is amazing!” gut reaction, this also makes me happy because here is someone who engages and interacts with his community and that speaks volumes to me. I hope I can meet him one day and thank him personally for being such an awesome and down to earth guy.

Overall, Quantum Break is refreshing to me, and I encourage friends and fellow gamers to check it out. 9/10 will play again.

Also, this post serves as my official request for a sequel.

Until Dawn Post Game Thoughts: The towel still didn’t fall off

images (1)

My blog post will contain some minor spoilers. Fair warning. 

Until Dawn, created by Supermassive Games, is a survival thriller game that covers many forms of horror including serial killer, psychological, environmental, and paranormal.  A year ago, I was granted an opportunity to play the demo at the Playstation Experience hosted in Las Vegas. I wrote my thoughts on the demo here. For those who read my post on the demo, I will tell you that the damn towel is still magically wrapped around Hayden Panettiere’s while she runs around and throws things at a masked pursuer.

Tell-me-how-GIF

I am happy to say that I was blessed this Christmas season, and my family chipped in to gift me a PS4,so naturally, one of the games I picked up was Until Dawn. I had seen snippets of gameplay and read positive reviews on the game and those encouraged me to purchase it. I finished two playthroughs of the game and I give it 8/10.

The bit that was available in the demo was included in the game itself, and my feelings still remain, but the rest of the game was fantastic. I love the horror genre, and I love a game that has replay value. An entire playthrough could run approximately 9-10 hours. There are 10 chapters, so be prepared to dedicate one hour or more to each of them.

I will get my main issue out of the way right now. The saving system can really mess with you. This was my scenario. I completed one playthrough. A couple people died. I want to get the trophy you would receive if everyone survived. I do not choose “New Story”, I simply replay the original save from the very beginning. I mess up in chapter 4, and I figured since I completed everything once already, I could replay the chapter and the choices I made in chapter 1-3 will save. NOPE. I replay chapter 4 and I notice that the game plays out the same way it did in my original playthrough. Your choices will only be saved if you complete the entire game all the way through. Since my first major mistake occurred in chapter 4, I start back there and continue on, so I now have a hybrid of original playthrough choices and new choices of my “second playthrough”. I get to chapter 9 and mess up again, effectively destroying my chances of obtaining the all survivors trophy. My only non-hair pulling option is to complete the playthrough and then go back to chapter 9 and not mess up again. That is my one huge grip about the game.

The replay value of the game lies in the choice system. Lots of different decisions will open or take away dialogue paths and certain areas of the game. On the first playthrough, the jumpscares got me. Some were quite predictable, but there are some pretty well placed ones throughout the game. One setback is that these scares are only effective the first time through unless you play the game a year from now and forget when they happen.

A lot of the game’s value lies with the environment. The visuals, the sounds (or lack of), the finely crafted levels that prey on one’s fear of seclusion and helplessness was incredibly rich. Playing the game twice with only one night’s rest in between was really affecting my psyche because I was in a state of constant anxiety, so I had to immediately stop after my second playthrough. It’s a great rush.

I also must give props to the voice actors. They were so spot on with their delivery and easily made me genuinely love and hate their characters. Freaking Emily, man Freaking, Emily. I only kept her alive because I want that all survivor trophy.  Seriously, the voice acting is top notch in this game. So props to Nichole Bloom for bringing to life a character I hate more than the SkiFree abominable monster snow yeti (or whatever the hell it is). You know… this creepy guy.

images

Throughout the game, you take control of one of seven characters. You do not get to choose who you control as I originally assumed when I played the demo. Each character has their own personality traits; however, I did notice that it was difficult for me play as seven different people and keep in tune with their personalities without incorporating my own feelings into the decisions. Halfway through chapter 2, I had forgotten who was the intuitive one, the adventurous one, etc… and I just answered as I would naturally. You craft your responses differently once you complete one playthrough, but the value of having different personalities slowly became lost on me the longer I played. It is blatantly obvious who the nice and not so nice characters are so I just stayed with my gut instincts on reacting and then chose different options during the second run.

Overall, Until Dawn takes the best of your fears and ties everything up in a very enjoyable bundle of horror. You have no weapons and must rely on quick wit and decision making in order to survive. The game is full of intense moments, and a lot of that anxiety is inspired by the anticipation that something is about to happen as opposed to something actually happening. I would recommend this to people who enjoy the genre and who wouldn’t mind a good scare here and there.

GFR approved!

What did you guys think of the game?

Happy N7Day, Commanders. This is what Mass Effect has taught me.

*This post contains spoilers for the Mass Effect Trilogy*

I cannot remember the exact day I picked up a copy of the first Mass Effect game, but it was well past its launch date. Funny thing, at the time, I had only played Bioware’s Jade Empire and Dragon Age. I wasn’t interested in playing a science fiction game. It was a genre that didn’t grab me even though I did enjoy Star Wars and Star Trek when I watched them in my childhood. I always enjoyed fantasy more than I did science fiction. If I had a choice, I would choose Flight of Dragons or The Last Unicorn over Alien or ET (though I love the hell out of Last Starfighter). It wasn’t until a friend of mine pushed me to buy the first game. He said if anything, I would enjoy the narrative.

So I picked up a copy and I became a Earthborn, Sole Survivor, Commander Shepard who excelled in the Soldier class. I was confused at first. Who was Nihlus? Joker? Anderson? What was the Alliance? Why are these things called geth rushing me? There was a lot to process in a very short amount of time. I understood mages and dragons, not Turians and Spectres. I was familiar with the culture of Jade Empire merely because it was a culture that is part of what I grew up with. Science fiction was very foreign to me.

I continued my journey as Shepard and it wasn’t until Virmire that I felt my first emotional connection to these characters. The dreaded decision you have to make between saving Kaidan OR Ashley really hit me. I thought I messed up or I missed something along the way and this was my punishment. But no. You could only save one of them. Along the journey, I found myself becoming attached to these characters. I never cared much for DLC, but I purchased all the narrative add ons for ME2 and ME3. I wanted to see more of Shepard and my crew. Every character was developed well. They each had a story, they each had their reasons for being who they are, even the villains. Your morals were challenged and your emotions were tested. I’m not much of a crier when it comes to fictional characters, but I will remember Mordin’s story arc for the rest of my life. I didn’t care much for him when I first met him in ME2, but slowly, I grew to care for him and his quirkiness. In ME3, I cried my heart out. I couldn’t play the game for a good 20 minutes because I was so distraught over the loss of this character, but at the same time, I couldn’t have imagined a more noble ending for him.

It is entirely the characters who made this trilogy for me. The worlds are beautiful, the levels are amazing and the galaxy that the Mass Effect team has created is beyond inspiring. Hell, I felt goosebumps when Shepard was reunited with the Normandy. I love these characters with all my heart. They felt real. Their hardships, their successes, their love, their rage… these characters were perfect because they were not perfect. They made mistakes, they suffered consequences and they felt the impacts of war and their decisions. It is in this that makes me believe that Mass Effect is one of the most best games out there and it will hold up for many years.

Though the trilogy may be over, and we say goodbye to Commander Shepard, I am confident that Bioware will produce yet another string of worlds that we will fall in love with. So I cannot wait for Andromeda.

Last year, I was tasked with creating a video that full encompasses how I, and hopefully others, feel about Mass Effect. It was difficult to describe. But I began the script with “Mass Effect isn’t just a game” and my feelings took over from there.

Thank you, Bioware and thank you to the Mass Effect team for putting in so much energy, time, effort and sleepless nights into these games. Your hard work will never go unnoticed. I adore you all.

The Nostalgia of Final Fantasy Record Keeper

**********  IMG_7677IMG_7676*********

I am not much of a mobile gamer, so I rely heavily on recommendations from friends. Said friends know that I love RPGs and the Final Fantasy series, so I am very surprised Final Fantasy Record Keeper was hidden from me for so long. Released in September 2014, developed by DeNa and published by Square Enix, FFRK really takes you back to the old days of 8 bit FF goodness all the way to the stories of the more recent games. And may I add, this game is absolutely free!

Under the guidance of Dr. Mog (kupo!), you play as Tyro, an apprentice records keeper. The records that you are to solely care for are paintings that represent significant moments/memories within the FF games. One day, a darkness begins to envelope the paintings and Dr. Mog requests that you enter each painting’s world and relive those memories in order to save the painting. In the beginning, only a couple worlds are open to you at a given time. As you complete more dungeons, more levels and “realms” will become available.

IMG_7662IMG_7663IMG_7734

True to FF custom, the game plays as a turn based RPG. Along the way, you recruit new members of your party, both generic characters and characters who we’ve all come to love over the years.

IMG_7680IMG_7683IMG_7723

Cid makes a traditional cameo as the party’s “advisor” when needing to upgrade, sell, combine equipment or create and hone abilities (magic and special skills). Upgrading equipment and honing abilities is essential in surviving the more difficult dungeons. Weapons and armor have their own leveling up system and honing abilities directly affects how many time a certain skill or magic can be used. Unlike its predecessors, FFRK does not have an item system. You rely on your abilities only. Another special note, while the game plays as “active”, you can change the speed of the gameplay. You are able to choose between five speeds while in game in case you need an extra second or two to figure out your next move.

During each fight, enemies randomly drop treasure, orbs or gil. Orbs are used to create and hone abilities. Treasure is usually equipment of some sort and gil is money (for those who are not familiar with the term).

As you level up, you gain more stamina which is used to enter each dungeon. At the end of each dungeon and depending on your grade of completion, you will obtain stamina shards. Once you acquire a certain amount, your stamina is fully regenerated. You also receive mythril shards as well. Mythril can be used for various things such as camping during a dungeon siege or being traded in for special relics.

IMG_7673IMG_7739IMG_7719

One of the greatest characteristics of FFRK is the music. Each realm uses the soundtrack of its respective game. Example, if you were to enter the FFVI realm, you will be greeted by nostalgic tracks such as Terra’s theme and Celes’ unforgettable opera. Each realm features enemies and bosses that you would face in the actual FF game. Ah! Brings back memories. Do you remember that fight with Kain? Ifrit? Rufus? Kefka? The Sinspawn? It’s all here.  As you can tell by the pictures, I am a bit biased.

IMG_7708 IMG_7705 IMG_7715

If you grew up with the FF series, this game will deepen your appreciation for it. To see how it has evolved over the years, and to be reminded of its roots, I cannot help but feel my heart swell when I play FFRK. If you have never played a FF game, this just may convince you to do so. I highly encourage you to pick up a FF game (my personal favorite is VI) and give it a try. First timers, let me know what you think; I would love to discuss the absolute beauty of these games with you. To those returning to the world of FF, welcome home.

“In a glorious kingdom that thrives on the harmony between magic and art, epic tales of valor and hope have been passed from one generation to the next. The records of these great chronicles uphold the peace and prosperity of all civilization. The kingdom sealed these records inside paintings, to safeguard the balance of the world. That is until, without warning, the records within the paintings began to fade away… Darkness fell upon the world, bringing catastrophe and ruin. The time has come for you to save the kingdom’s future.”

IMG_7674

Jump Burger by Headcase Games is now on iOS! And it’s FREE!

Capture

Freshly launched on July 9, 2015, Jump Burger by Headcase Games makes its debut on iOS (iPhone & iPad). If you are the type of mobile gamer that enjoys surpassing personal best scores, then give Jump Burger a try. You start as a plain patty burger (who I shall name Mack), and your goal is to hop your way to the heavens, acquiring as many burger ingredients (such as mushrooms, pickles, and lettuce) as possible. Note: photos used are actual gameplay.
image2image3IMG_5980

The actual mechanic is simple enough. Merely tilt your iPhone or iPad from side to side in the direction you want Mack to go; he does the actually jumping himself. You hop from platform to platform, gobbling up ingredients and stars for points while avoiding bombs that ensure an instant game over. You aren’t restricted by invisible “side walls” so time your jumps and your dodges accordingly. If you happen to miss a platform completely, you will fall to your burger doom and will have to begin anew.

image6image7image5

Jump Burger is a fairly enjoyable mobile game, especially if you are in need of a quick game to pass the time. Double points if you’re playing Jump Burger while waiting in line at a McDonalds. Not really, but I will give you an internet high five. Though if you happen to be in line at a fast food joint, and you’re looking up at the dollar menu contemplating if you should spend the extra hundred pennies PLUS get a new mobile game, then never fear. Jump Burger is free, so spend that dollar and treat yourself to a yummy patty, both literally and figuratively.

biggestofplays

Random thoughts and memories... sometimes feels.~

500 days of Iceland

... there's a wonder in most ev'rything I see

And Now, Just Listen! - Blog Edition

This is "And Now Just Listen" featuring Avery, Nick, Justin and Lewes. We talk about games, tech, movies, and get sidetracked a lot. Interested in contributing? Email inquiries to andnowjustlisten@gmail.com.

Matthew Wright

Science, writing, reason and stuff

Legend of Lotus

Making a Game Professionally With RPG Marker VX Ace

tjfixman

Just another WordPress.com site

sheriealexander

Organize. Play. Create.

Nerdy But Flirty

Gaming and geek culture website - by women, for women

What's Your Tag?

Video Games, Comics, and Shenanigans.

jonblogster

A light look at heavy shit