Playing & Rambling #4: Finishing the Fight…No, Not That One

It’s been a while since I’ve last shared what video games I’ve been playing as of late. Long story short, July marked the start of the Summer 2018 anime season so all of my blogging efforts went to that. I didn’t have much time for games anyway. With that now settled, I can come back to this series of blog posts. Personally, I would prefer to write something more along the lines of what I did for Persona 4’s 10th Anniversary. However, video games are huge time sinks for me so I’m hoping something low-stakes such as this post will serve as a nice middle ground in the meantime. I’m hoping to do this every other Sunday but it all depends on if I had a lot to play and say.

Anyway…

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action (Steam)

The only game I got from this year’s Steam Summer Sale. I would’ve gotten more but I’m trying to not spend a crap ton of money right now and if I had to just buy one game, this was at least a great pick.

I really love VA-11 Hall-A, so much so that I ordered a copy of the Vita version from Limited Run Games after I beat it. There’s so much about the game that I enjoyed. The colorful cast of characters, the strong writing, the terrific soundtrack. What I enjoyed most though was the omission of dialogue choices. It’s not the most multi-routed narrative but I still love that your experience is dictated based on how well you read your customers and serve them. This game also has a day-to-day cycle which forces you on making your choices in the game count. It reminds me a bit of Persona in that regard.

I plan on coming back to this game to get all the achievements and maybe once that’s done, I’ll share more in-depth thoughts about the game.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Switch)

Played a few more levels with my Donkey Kong-loving friend. I still like the music and level design but I also still can’t platform even if my life depended on it. My friend is so much better at it that it feels a little disheartening.

One hilarious mechanic I noticed is that you can just jump on your partner’s back and let him or her do all the jumping. You don’t need to do anything! It’s so funny…and I might’ve abused that trick when I got frustrated with the platforming…

The Order: 1886 (PS4)

I played the campaign during a handful of hangouts with friends. I’m pretty sure one of them borrowed it from the library as a joke. None of us were planning on it but we’re all of the opinion that if you can play a game for free, you might as give it a try. Oh and we played the whole game on Hard because we’re idiots. Yay…

Let me tell you something: I didn’t think you could make steampunk London with werewolves, vampires, and the Knights of the Round Table boring…but this game found a way. This was the most generic shooter I’ve played in a while. Firefights are reduced to simply hiding in a corner and shooting when the enemies stop shooting. The color palette is just multiple shades of gray. Most damaging is that the story is filled with uninteresting characters, an overabundance of cutscenes, and unmemorable locations. It’s baffling how this game takes something that sounds so cool and makes it so forgettable. I got so frustrated with the game that I stopped swapping the controller on deaths and I just let one of my equally bored friends beat the game for the whole team.

It was at least fun sharing the frustration and boredom with others. If I had played this by myself, I’d think this was a waste of time.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (PS4)

A library pick-up that I myself made. I’m not that big of a Call of Duty fan. I mean, just to give you an idea: the last one I really enjoyed was Black Ops 1 which was eight years ago! The overall control scheme for the series is perfect but the campaigns have become so forgettable and I care little for competitiveness of multiplayer or whatever monetization schemes Activision cooked up. That all said, I had the chance to play for free so why not?

I beat the whole campaign on Hardened Difficulty and I thought it was okay. The Exo-Suit stuff is somewhat neat but very few levels were designed to make valuable use of them and a lot of the cool futuristic gadgets are only used in specifically scripted events. There were at least two levels that I really dug. One was a stealth mission that gave a fair amount of agency and the other had a fun gimmick where you can’t reload and need to constantly pick up new guns. Other than that, it’s the same old set-piece, linear hallway driven nonsense I’ve seen in prior Call of Duty titles. Not even Kevin Spacey could save this story though it wasn’t like I wanted him to considering what hindsight now paints his career.

Granted, Advanced Warfare is probably still a better experience than Ghosts though. That game’s sole redeeming quality was a motion captured dog.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (Xbox 360)

Went back to this game for the achievements. I put achievement hunting on hold because of college and it only now occurred to me that I can now get some more while I have the time. I might as well since CE:A is the only Halo you can get all the achievements in without Xbox Live Gold (which I have no desire to renew right now).

I was a big Halo fan during middle and high school and I do love the very first game but some of these achievements are ridiculous. Me and a friend just got the achievement to beat “The Library” on Legendary in 30 minutes or less and that was hard to pull off, even with some of the time-saving tricks we looked up. Another one that drove me crazy involved beating “Two Betrayals” on Heroic or Legendary without killing Grunts. Years of Halo has made getting headshots on these guys pure instinct so resisting the urge to kill them was not easy. In hindsight, I should’ve waited until I hung out with my friend but I’m an idiot so I tackled this achievement solo. I did get it on my first try but I never want to be paranoid about stinking Grunts ever again.


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