The Shackled Wolves - 2021 Games Completed Thread

sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
SteamWorld Quest - The Hand of Gilgamech

I love the SteamWorld games. Their art, their humor, their gameplay. But I wasn't too sure about Quest. I'd never done a true card rpg before, excluding Paper Mario: Sticker Star which I hated with a passion.
I had enough time to play this before Pokemon came out, so I decided to give it a go.

I was more than pleasantly surprised. It was a fantastic game. It had all things I loved about other SteamWorld games, and it made the card mechanic something I could understand and eventually master.

SteamWorld Dig is still my favorite in the series, and I hope we get a third. And I definitely want another SteamWorld Heist game. But this was so much fun and definitely worth the price.
 
SteamWorld Quest - The Hand of Gilgamech

I love the SteamWorld games. Their art, their humor, their gameplay. But I wasn't too sure about Quest. I'd never done a true card rpg before, excluding Paper Mario: Sticker Star which I hated with a passion.
I had enough time to play this before Pokemon came out, so I decided to give it a go.

I was more than pleasantly surprised. It was a fantastic game. It had all things I loved about other SteamWorld games, and it made the card mechanic something I could understand and eventually master.

SteamWorld Dig is still my favorite in the series, and I hope we get a third. And I definitely want another SteamWorld Heist game. But this was so much fun and definitely worth the price.
Same boat as you, I'm not sure if there's a faster way to get me un-interested in a game by saying "deck building". I liked it too but it's probably my least favorite of the series. I'm personally holding out hope for a Heist 2.

Did you hear they're making a brand new game though? Only got a trailer that doesn't say much, but it's going to be a 3rd person game.


They're also making a game called The Gunk which comes out next month I believe.
 

sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
Same boat as you, I'm not sure if there's a faster way to get me un-interested in a game by saying "deck building". I liked it too but it's probably my least favorite of the series. I'm personally holding out hope for a Heist 2.

Did you hear they're making a brand new game though? Only got a trailer that doesn't say much, but it's going to be a 3rd person game.


They're also making a game called The Gunk which comes out next month I believe.
OOOH! I want to know what this new game Headhunter is about. The trailer got me excited. Thank you for sharing!

The Gunk looks fantastic, but Damn, it's for XBox which is the system we don't have. Steve2 has a gaming PC, so maybe I could play it on there.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom


Shin Megami Tensei V (NS)

What if a JRPG had huge, intricate maps full of elevation, jumping puzzles and the like?

What if a JRPG focused less on quirky characters, and more on big idea beats for its story?

What if a JRPG was more about the gameplay than the narrative?

What if a JRPG was designed to kick you in the shins with its difficulty?

Then you'd get Shin Megami Tensei V.

There's no "hoarding items cause maybe I'll need them then never use them" in this game; items are just as much as a vital component in winning battles as the demons you level, fuse, and bring to your party. Stat debuffs/buffs are literally game changing; there's no "I won't need that, I'm on Normal" here with regards to non damaging status moves like in Pokemon or most other JRPGs.

Nothing is given to you for free in this game; even healing at save points costs money. Also yes, there are save points; and no checkpoints. If you're MC dies, you lose all the progress you had since your last save. (There is a super easy Safety difficulty that apparently has checkpoints but you have to download that separate; I haven't tried it myself but apparently it breaks the game in such a way as to it becoming unfun and boring) That being said, you always have the tools and time available to you to overcome any obstacle.

Whether it be talking to an enemy demon and convincing them to join your party, fusing your demons together to create powerful new combinations, finding respawning relics to get more money or a quick health/MP boost in the world, or finding a Korok equivalent called Mimans to help unlock permanent passive boosts in the environment; so many options are there for you to dig your teeth into.

This isn't a game to get attached to the characters in while they make lighthearted moments by the campfire, it's a gameplay loop first kind of game. And honestly, it works really well. It may not be for everybody, but it was a great time for me.
 
Journey to the Savage Planet + Hot Garbage (XB1)

Picked this up on sale and really enjoyed it. Just one of those games I never got around to until now and I'm glad I did despite some issues. I think it had a lot of inspirations but I believe the game it took the most from was Metroid Prime. First Person exploration based with platforming and upgrades that help unlock new areas and find new items. You have a scan ability for documenting enemies, flora, alien tech, etc and can be used to activate switches. There's a grabble beam too. It's not 1:1 though, you can get a ground pound and seeds/plants to use as bombs or an electric attack. One seed can be tossed onto certain walls to make your own grabble points. Most of this is unlocked via skill trees, so while some are mandatory, how you want to unlock the rest can be up to you.

I think the game is at it's best when your exploring at your own pace. There is a main pathway you can stick too, but the whole plot reason why you're on this planet is to determine if it's fit for human life and to catalogue everything. The environments are open ended that at most given points there are multiple ways to go. Once you leave the starting area you step onto a field with many ways to go and a mountain off in the distance. There's a lot to find too, health/stamina upgrades, alien alloys needed for crafting and lore logs/videos. The movement in this game is great especially towards the end game. There are some niggles, like not being able to grab onto some ledges to pull yourself up. I don't think it's explained, but it feels like some edges have a rounder hitbox that makes the game struggle with it, but who knows? Another issue I can see people having that didn't bother me too much is how upgrades are handle. Instead of just finding the grabble beam or bombs, you find a special item that'll make you able to craft it back in your ship. Every teleporter in the game is linked together including the one in your ship, so it's never too tedious. But these environments are fun to explore, once you think you got the lay of the land in mind (there is no in game map) you turn a corner and suddenly you feel lost again in a good way. The lack of map did throw me off at first, but it doesn't really need it. Every zone is distinct enough to know where you're too, and once you climb that mountain for example, you can look down and see everywhere. I do wish it had binoculars, but it's a great feeling seeing everything like this. In the end game area I had to go to a certain location, so I got to a high spot and mentally mapped out my route myself and it's satisfying.

Unfortunately I think the combat can be a pain but it's serviceable I suppose. The boss fights all mostly play out the same, but some normal enemies can be a pain and I think the reason is because this is the loosest lock on mechanic I encountered. So some enemies' weak point is behind them on their tail, but you can only lock on to the weak point and you gotta be damn near pixel perfect, but it's behind them so while they're running around I don't think you can lock onto to them at all. Maybe you can and I'm half a pixel off or something. It also feels weirdly easy for them to break the lock on. Scanning enemies can also be a pain since it's easy for them to move and disrupt it. I think the worst encounter had you fight these enemies in an arena with poison gas shooting up from the ground, and falling fruit from higher up while you're focusing on the monster. It's first person, I literally can't see where everything is coming from. One enemy can send shock waves up from the ground, but again, I can't see behind me or to the sides so how can I dodge this? Best advice, just throw sticky bile to prevent them from moving.

Thankfully, combat isn't what you'll be doing most of the time. Again, it's not awful, and I'm fully prepared to admit I could be doing something wrong or not understanding how the lock on works.

I also enjoyed the setup and comedic tone. The game takes gallons of piss out of capitalism and advertisements. Every time you go back to your ship ads will play on the tv, after most boss fights you have can file a report and your boss will send you a video. Most of these are done with real people instead of in game character models, and the actors did a great job. The few that aren't are pretty cheesy 3D models that are pretty funny too. Your A.I. companion also did a great job in my opinion, but if you find her annoying you can turn her down in the menu. You also get ads in your email, like one for a Plague-Be-Gone to help prevent the Black Death founded after the permafrost melted. It'd be funny if I weren't so scared of climate change.

Also, no pausing. Sure you can go into a menu, but it doesn't prevent enemies from attacking. I don't think even going into the Xbox menu pauses. To test it out I started a video on my ship, went to the console menu, waited a few minutes then returned to find the video stopped. The game also has co-op and I imagine it'd be fun, but I also imagine you'd need a partner with the same mindset as you, whether you want to fully explore or just do the main missions. I'd be interested in trying it out one day.

Hot Garbage is the DLC add-on. It's basically just more of the game with a couple of new upgrades. If you liked the base game and wanted more, than give it a go. It's pretty short but still fun.

I was sad to hear that the studio got bought by Google then shut down soon after, but thankfully they reformed into Raccoon Logic and got the rights to the IP as well. Consider me a fan of them and eagerly awaiting what they're making now.
 

Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary World Tour (NS)

For years, I have heard much about Duke Nukem, including the now infamous Duke Nukem Forever way back in the 90s, but up until now, I hadn't actually played the franchise before. Once World Tour came out on Switch, I knew I had to add it to my retro collection of digital Switch games. It did not disappoint.

It's certainly a dated game in some regards which I'll get to later, but overall it holds up remarkably well. Not to mention this comes across as a rather unforgiving game, but given it was designed for KB & M on PC back in the day, adapting a dual analog layout isn't the greatest, but motion controls do help mitigate some of the drawbacks. I wished the movement wasn't binary so if I wanted to slowly walk my way, I could do that, but running is either on or off. The aiming was also very twitchy to the point where I had to dial down the sensitivity by a good amount (less than half, which is less sensitivity than I normally set it at). This is why I feel all retro-styled PC shooters should be updated to include native support for a KB & M on your console. I feel the general design of these games are at a disservice when used with gamepads, and beg to be used on native controls. In a rather unusual situation, I actually turned on auto-aim to make the controls more manageable, which I don't normally do with shooters on console. This is also helped with the new ability in this version to rewind the game if you die (provided you don't use cheats which...I may, or may not have used them at one point...). I used to scoff at games that included a rewind feature, but now I kind of get it...

Level design is certainly a trope of "lets throw in whatever design choices our designers come up with," and it does not always lend itself to the most intuitive experience. The platforming aspects, with the binary on/off running means timing your movements correctly can be take some getting used to. Again, this is helped mitigated by the motion aiming assisting the dual analog in my opinion, but even still, movement feels very floaty, even more so compared to Doom 1993, which I felt was more grounded (think of the difference between playing with Mario compared to Luigi). There's a learning curve. Once you've done mastering how to run again, there are a ton of secrets to be found ala Doom 1993, and I did not find all of them, but did accidently discover many along the way. There were several times when I got lost, or it wasn't always made clear where I had to go. It definitely caused a little frustration along the way, but at the same time forced to really examine the entire level, and wonder if there was a breakable wall in a bathroom, or a tiny little hole just big enough to fit Duke's enormous, and bulbous...hair?

But anyway, drawbacks aren't that pronounced, though it does hold it back from total greatness. Enemy variety could've been better, although this might be a result of the technical limitations of the day. I wish the boss fights were more grandiose, and epic, especially giving this is a freaking alien invasion. Send in your biggest, and baddest dudes to fight against Duke Nukem (The final boss was a huge letdown quite frankly). I also would've liked if there was more variety in the levels themselves, although spending time in a ship in space was cool though. Same thing with weapons. I hardly used the shrinker, or the reverse version of that, nor did I use the fire weapon. It was normally the shotgun, chain gun, or rockets most of the time, plus the devastators when the moment called for it. A double-barrel shotgun would've been cool, and maybe a laser type weapon as well. And given this was designed for a keyboard, selecting weapons, or your items was not very intuitive. Several times I was trying to use a the jetpack, but prior I was in the water, so it defaulted to the scuba gear, and you had to manually switch back again to the jetpack. I believe with a keyboard, all the weapons, and items are tied to individual keystrokes, so that would make the experience more intuitive, and easier to manage.

As far as graphics are concerned, it's the same "3D" type game like Doom in that the 3D is faked, which also does cause a lot of distortion when you look up, or down. Thankfully, the developers tweaked this with a True 3D mode which uses a proper 3D calculation to eliminate the distortion. I want to say they added an actual Z-axis/buffer to the engine in this version, and allowing to switch between modes using a button prompt is more nostalgic than anything. I kept it on the new mode the entire time. Performance was mostly locked 60fps, although there were times when the performance did dip, but it was more the exception than the rule.

Still, great game, and could see revisiting it again from time to time. Given the amount of episodes, and levels there are, it is easy to pick up, and play, and maybe I'll tweak the controls again to see if I can make it control better.

I prefer original Doom to this.
 
Rules of Nature....I mean, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (XB1)

Before playing through this again I wasn't sure if this or Bayonetta took the top spot of Platinum Games, after this playthrough I may have to give the nudge to Bayonetta.

For the nitpicks, Chapter 5 is just part of Chapter 3 in reverse and Chapter 6 is just a boss fight, so the game feels a bit rushed toward the end. The camera can be a right bitch at times, spazzing out and having enemies attack off screen. Some enemies can also be annoying, granted though that's par for the course of Platinum. The first time through is you getting your shit bopped before graduating to the second playthrough where you become the master.

Getting in the zone and nabbing a S or A rank on some sections is damn satisfying. Ultimately, I just love how dedicated this game is to it's own style. It's beyond over the top with a suitable soundtrack to accompany it. I had a smile on my face the first few chapters pretty much non stop. I was ready for it to be done though, but I think that's probably because I wasn't fully in the mood for this type of game. I bought it on sale and didn't expect to give it a go so soon, but I did anyways. With these kinds of games you gotta have your big boy or girl pants on all the time, so any lull in my desire to play a high octane action game only meant more times getting hit.

Still, what a fucking game.

I prefer original Doom to this.
Them's fighting words
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Halo Infinite (XSX)

You know, I was incredibly hesitant (or maybe...cautiously optimistic) about Infinite after I learned it would be open world. I knew it would be serviceable enough, as I felt 343 did a better job with 4 and 5 than most people, but now having played in that giant sandbox I will say this game is nothing short of amazing.

Halo has often been described as being about the combat, first and foremost, as opposed to level design. Everything in this game reinforces the core philosophy of "go have fun and shoot things". Each squad of Marines you rescue in the world map give you more Valor (which is used to unlock requisitional weapons and vehicles), but the most captivating thing about them is the fight you get into because of it. You have massive keeps and fortresses in the open world that are just as long as some of the entire levels were in Halo 1. You collect Spartan cores to enhance your abilities to make combat that much more dynamic and fun.

Now I'm not saying the level design is bad; far from it. The level design is amazing in a lot of ways; it's just that this game isn't about showing you a beautiful landscape, it's about showing you a nice juicy group of Unggoy to shoot with your Scorpion tank's main gun.

But yeah, the combat is fucking great. The music is great. The story was pretty interesting and the boss battles were fun. I have no idea how the game runs on last gen but on my Series S it ran fantastically stable and smooth.
 
Pokemon Red (3DS)
A Hat in Time (XB1)

For this Pokemon playthrough I did the nuzlocke challenge. Rules are:
1) If a Pokemon faints it's considered dead, either release it or stuff it in the PC forever
2) Only the first Pokemon you encounter on any route is catchable, even if it faints or runs away that's it, no second chances
3) Nickname your Pokemon to create a stronger bond

There are optional rules but this is my first day so leave me alone. I picked Squirtle and called him Beef. I wanted a Nidoran but got a Rattata instead and called him Chicken. I wanted a Pidgey so got him and called him Milhouse. Milhouse eventually died to a one hit crit of confusion from a Drowsee.

Some others were catched that I never used like a Mankey named Friend. Managed to get a Gyrados after giving my Magikarp named Ace to the Day Care, but after remembering how much XP that chunky boy needs I didn't use him. Eventually my main team rounded off with a Venemoth named Fuzzy and a Vileplume named FourTwenty. Only the most mature names I can think of.

Let me tell ya, even though I know this game, there were some moments of panic. I somehow managed to survive two critical self-destructs, and I was worried about Sabrina. Chicken eventually died to my Rival before the Elite 4, so my only viable Pokemon were Beef, Fuzzy and FourTwenty. Problem was Fuzzy and FourTwenty were in their early to mid 40s. After some grinding and rare candy, Beef got to 64 and FourTwenty to 48ish.

Beef took out the entirety of Lorelei who I was worried about and Bruno who was nothing. Fuzzy took care of Agatha with Psybeams since Night Shade only does the user's level worth of damage (i.e. a level 64 attack will do 64 damage). Took awhile but Fuzzy did it. FourTwenty took care of Lance's Dragonairs and Dragonite since they're programmed to do psychic moves against poison types. I used Toxic which increases poison damage per turn, then laughed at how a 15 level lowered vileplume took out these dragons. Beef beat all of the Champions Pokemon except for Venusaur, Fuzzy did that.

I was worried I'd fail since I don't think I ever did the Elite 4/Champion with only a three Pokemon team (minus a few meat shields if I ever needed emergency healing) but I did it, and I felt really proud.


A Hat in Time is an indie 3D Platformer akin to Mario 64 and Sunshine. Even does the Sunshine thing of every time you select a new mission or return to the HUB World it'll show off what's new, then do the same screen transition to gameplay. Every hat gives you a new power and they're quite fun, ranging from a range attack, sprint, and ground pound. The levels are well designed and full of charm, but I can't quite love this game as much as I want too.

For some reason up and down on the camera stick doesn't just look up or down, but zooms in and out. Meaning if you want to jump to a lower platform, which you'll have to do a lot, there's no real comfortable way of doing it. Fully zooming out looks down a bit, but still not ideal. It frustrated me a good bit in some levels. When the area is wide open with little verticality the game plays fine, but in tight spaces it can spaz out and zoom in way too much. Example is a set of levels based on a train. Inside the train can be frustrating, the level set on top of the train is perfect.

Boss fights are pretty good but some can go on a bit too long. And going back to the charm of it, I really mean it, this game has a style and does a really good job with it, from it's writing, to level aesthetic and music. Just makes me wish the camera was better, but ultimately I think it's worth putting up with it despite some bullshit. I started this game a couple of weeks ago so it didn't have it's hooks in me.
 

Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
Doom 64 (NS)
Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter (PC)


Doom 64

I technically finished this a few weeks ago, but I was also feeling a bit guilty because in order to finish the game, I used the password system to load up the final level with all the Doom keys. So.........I had no fricking idea there were secret levels in Doom 64, and could not also figure out why I couldn't beat the final level (also felt the Unmaker weapon was lackluster to boot). I decided to look into guides for it, and that's where I heard of the Doom keys, and immediately rage quit. I was so mad at myself, and that was also when I discovered the previous Doom games also had secret levels as well. Also, not too pleased I only just then had heard about it. And I've played classic Doom for years off and on, but never knew of this, let alone the secret levels, and secret keys. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised because it feels it was inspired by the likes of Turok, which had the secret weapon, and had to find the parts to make it.

So after rage quitting, I used one of the passwords, loaded up the final level, and beat the final boss within a couple attempts. This is a game I want to revisit soon next year because I started a new game on a harder difficulty, and this time was going to try, and get to the secret levels, and collect the doom keys in the process. So expect another playthrough next year for that.


Serious Sam

Ah yes. The spiritual successor love-child of Doom. Like Doom, Serious Sam has loads of enemies you destroy, areas to explore, secrets to discover, AND like classic Doom, there are secret levels (2 to be precise).

I've played the first game maybe a dozen times throughout the years, and back in March I think it was, I wanted to play it again because of the 20th anniversary since the franchise began. My intention was to record gameplay, and edit and create my own tribute video in time for the anniversary date. That, of course did not happen, but I still wanted to record footage so I could still make the video that I have had some pre-production done with getting a script partially written, and some ideas jotted down for what footage I'd like to use. It might take awhile though since I'm going to try my hand at DaVinci Resolve, which does require some bit of a learning curve. I'm hoping to have that video done sometime next year.

First Encounter is still a great game to play even today, and when it comes to old school shooters, it's hard to hate Serious Sam. Sure, the types of levels you encounter are not well varied (something the sequel fixed), some of the boss sections aren't the greatest (The thousand frogs is probably the worst Boss), and I just realized how quickly you can actually beat the game. But it does make up for the fact you can play at more serious difficulty levels (although I think Mental difficult is just an insult), and the levels themselves do have several secrets to be found, which I still have yet to find them all.

Definitely one of those franchises I could see myself playing every year, or simply picking up and playing whenever. It's just good fun.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Five Night's at Freddy's: Security Breach (PC)

Definitely not your run of the mill, made by 1 guy type of FNAF game anymore. I won't say I didn't have issues with it but in the end I liked it.
 
I technically finished this a few weeks ago, but I was also feeling a bit guilty because in order to finish the game, I used the password system to load up the final level with all the Doom keys. So.........I had no fricking idea there were secret levels in Doom 64, and could not also figure out why I couldn't beat the final level (also felt the Unmaker weapon was lackluster to boot). I decided to look into guides for it, and that's where I heard of the Doom keys, and immediately rage quit. I was so mad at myself, and that was also when I discovered the previous Doom games also had secret levels as well. Also, not too pleased I only just then had heard about it. And I've played classic Doom for years off and on, but never knew of this, let alone the secret levels, and secret keys. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised because it feels it was inspired by the likes of Turok, which had the secret weapon, and had to find the parts to make it.
I quit at the final boss too. I knew about the secret stages but never got them. I did beat this years ago on an actual n64, so I thought I could do it again, but jeez I could not.


Five Night's at Freddy's: Security Breach (PC)

Definitely not your run of the mill, made by 1 guy type of FNAF game anymore. I won't say I didn't have issues with it but in the end I liked it.
I meant to ask if you were gonna stream it, I guess now I’ll just wait for your YouTube upload
 
Kaze and the Wild Masks* (PS4)

When I think I got my GOTY list sorted out, here comes Kaze at the last minute. It was released earlier in the year and I passed at the time since I heard multiple times it was too expensive for what it was. It's currently on sale so I snagged it with a birthday PSN gift card and damn queen this game is a ton of fun.

To sum it up super quick: this is basically Donkey Kong Country, which is fine with me since I love DK Country. Each level has 4 letters to collect and hidden bonus rooms. Kaze picks up barrels and floats identically to Dixie Kong, you can jump out of a roll/spin even in mid air, some enemies can be matched to their DK counterpart, there are bramble stages where you fly and attack very similar to Squawks with a mask ability, auto-run stages that are similar to mine cart levels and much more.

No joke, some levels feel like someone made a rom hack of a DK game where Dixie is the only playable character. I know I'm making it sound like a creatively bankrupt clone, but I think it manages to rise above it. Ultimately, what's a platformer if the controls and level layouts are trash? I can safely say this game has no bad levels and the controls are butter. It also helps the pixel graphics are gorgeous. Clearly a lot of work and passion did make it in here. There are multiple words with a bonus level each, time trails, the previously mentioned letters, bonus rooms and a target of 100 crystals per stage. There's a trophy for speedrunning the game in under 2 hours which I totally slayed. All in I got around 9 hours between both playthroughs (one to 100% and one to speedrun).

Granted, if the idea of yet another indie 2D platformer makes you roll your eyes, well I doubt this would convince you otherwise. And sure, I am a huge DK fan so there's that too, but it's not like we're drowning in DK-like games at the moment. Seems like every 2D game these days are Metroidvanias or rogue-likes so it's pretty refreshing playing a level by level game again. I simply cannot deny just how much fun I had with it over the weekend.

My only gripe with the game is the music. For these types of games I want to have a bopping OST that gets the blood flowing, but this one is pretty chill, a bit too chill. The ice and underwater music are probably the best since it fits having a more serene sound, but when I'm running away from an instant death tornado I kinda want the music to reflect that. Maybe it's because the music seems to be on the quiet side though. Again, it's not bad, just not prominent as I'd like.

So yeah, consider me a fan, would love to see a sequel, and these devs are now on my "keep an eye on" list.
 

Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
I quit at the final boss too. I knew about the secret stages but never got them. I did beat this years ago on an actual n64, so I thought I could do it again, but jeez I could not.
That's a lot more reassuring really. Like I said, I'll be revisiting Doom 64 next year, so I hope to actually complete it in its entirety. I'm all in on the Doom train now that I ended up buying Doom Eternal for Switch (might've been a bad idea, but whatevs). Minus Doom 3, my Switch is my full Rip & Tear Machine.
 
Crysis Remastered (XSX)

First time playing Crysis. I remember my friends talking about it in school when it launched but never got to play it myself, I doubt my laptop would be able to run the OG.

There’s some good stuff here but there’s also some good ol fashion bullshit. It also feels like two separate games stitched together.

Game 1 is fairly open with large levels and multiple ways to do the objectives. One level had me tasked with taking out anti-air guns. The level started on a hill across a river overlooking the enemy bases. There was a road next to me with a jeep and I could see some enemy road blocks. Fuck that, I thought, I’m just gonna jump off the cliff, swim across and yeet some red barrels at the guns and blow them up that way. It worked and felt very rewarding making my own fun.

However, sometimes it’s a needlessly hard game. Enemies can spot you really far away whereas there is so much foliage and trees that spotting them yourself can be a challenge. They also deal a lot of damage. With your nano-suit you can turn invisible or turn on super armour. I once came out of cloak and died at full health within a second, just instant death. So stealth can be annoying. My go to strategy was to drive a vehicle through the front gate, causing as much ruckus as possible, breaking line of sight, going invisible, then moving to the objective while the survivors look for me where I use to be. With the freedom the game gives you, it often worked. After a couple of levels I got use to switching between suit modes and the game became more manageable.

However, Game 2 becomes an overly linear scripted action game against bullet sponge enemies. On rails shooter section, no freedom on how to do things, etc. It loses what made the first half so good. It’s kinda crazy how vastly different both halves feel from each other.

So overall there are qualities I like, despite some frustrations I do look back fondly. I hear 2 and 3 are more linear overall but still not as bad as the second half of 1. I’m looking forward to them, but I’m gonna play something else before 2.
 

Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
Crysis Remastered (XSX)

First time playing Crysis. I remember my friends talking about it in school when it launched but never got to play it myself, I doubt my laptop would be able to run the OG.

There’s some good stuff here but there’s also some good ol fashion bullshit. It also feels like two separate games stitched together.

Game 1 is fairly open with large levels and multiple ways to do the objectives. One level had me tasked with taking out anti-air guns. The level started on a hill across a river overlooking the enemy bases. There was a road next to me with a jeep and I could see some enemy road blocks. Fuck that, I thought, I’m just gonna jump off the cliff, swim across and yeet some red barrels at the guns and blow them up that way. It worked and felt very rewarding making my own fun.

However, sometimes it’s a needlessly hard game. Enemies can spot you really far away whereas there is so much foliage and trees that spotting them yourself can be a challenge. They also deal a lot of damage. With your nano-suit you can turn invisible or turn on super armour. I once came out of cloak and died at full health within a second, just instant death. So stealth can be annoying. My go to strategy was to drive a vehicle through the front gate, causing as much ruckus as possible, breaking line of sight, going invisible, then moving to the objective while the survivors look for me where I use to be. With the freedom the game gives you, it often worked. After a couple of levels I got use to switching between suit modes and the game became more manageable.

However, Game 2 becomes an overly linear scripted action game against bullet sponge enemies. On rails shooter section, no freedom on how to do things, etc. It loses what made the first half so good. It’s kinda crazy how vastly different both halves feel from each other.

So overall there are qualities I like, despite some frustrations I do look back fondly. I hear 2 and 3 are more linear overall but still not as bad as the second half of 1. I’m looking forward to them, but I’m gonna play something else before 2.
This is the same developer who had some of the most infuriating A.I. in any shooter when the original Far Cry came out in 2004. Didn't matter how far away you were, or how much foliage there was. Even three years later, they learned nothing when doing Crysis. There are some folks who consider it to be one of the greatest games ever made (Digital Foundry's Alex Battalia certainly thinks so), but surely they know the limitations of the A.I...right?

And it's not as though A.I. was simply terrible back then in the early to mid aughts. F.E.A.R only a year after Far Cry 1 proved how good A.I. can be, and what can happen when the enemy tries to flank you. Hell, go further than that to 2002's No One Lives Forever 2, and that had quite good A.I. for its time. Interestingly, those two games were made by the same company, who also went on to create Shadow of Mordor with its sophisticated A.I. system. Monolith Productions seem to be good at this sort of thing interestingly enough.

Crytek are so good at creating game engines, and extremely good eye candy, they forgot that A.I. should be included in the discussion. Maybe they used too many CPU resources for the physics system in Crysis (Cry Engine 2 was designed for single core CPUs in mind with very high clock speeds, so hyper/multi-threading wasn't setting the world on fire).
 
Death’s Door (XSX)

Yeehaw managed to slap one more out before the year’s end.

If you like isometric action games with puzzles and secrets to find, then I highly recommend this one.

This is the same developer who had some of the most infuriating A.I. in any shooter when the original Far Cry came out in 2004. Didn't matter how far away you were, or how much foliage there was. Even three years later, they learned nothing when doing Crysis. There are some folks who consider it to be one of the greatest games ever made (Digital Foundry's Alex Battalia certainly thinks so), but surely they know the limitations of the A.I...right?

And it's not as though A.I. was simply terrible back then in the early to mid aughts. F.E.A.R only a year after Far Cry 1 proved how good A.I. can be, and what can happen when the enemy tries to flank you. Hell, go further than that to 2002's No One Lives Forever 2, and that had quite good A.I. for its time. Interestingly, those two games were made by the same company, who also went on to create Shadow of Mordor with its sophisticated A.I. system. Monolith Productions seem to be good at this sort of thing interestingly enough.

Crytek are so good at creating game engines, and extremely good eye candy, they forgot that A.I. should be included in the discussion. Maybe they used too many CPU resources for the physics system in Crysis (Cry Engine 2 was designed for single core CPUs in mind with very high clock speeds, so hyper/multi-threading wasn't setting the world on fire).
I’ve never played any Far Cry games including the first, but I have heard horror stories about the AI in that one. Shame they never figured it out in time for Crysis.

You mentioning FEAR made me realize I really should get around to the Shadow of Mordor games. I’ve watched a couple of videos by Whitelight and MandaloreGaming about FEAR and they go into why the AI is so good. The very short of it being the level designer and AI programmer actually worked together to make the levels work with the AI in mind, that and the mountain of voice clips they recorded.
 

Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
I’ve never played any Far Cry games including the first, but I have heard horror stories about the AI in that one. Shame they never figured it out in time for Crysis.

You mentioning FEAR made me realize I really should get around to the Shadow of Mordor games. I’ve watched a couple of videos by Whitelight and MandaloreGaming about FEAR and they go into why the AI is so good. The very short of it being the level designer and AI programmer actually worked together to make the levels work with the AI in mind, that and the mountain of voice clips they recorded.
That's quite interesting actually. Build the levels around the A.I. rather than the other way around. What a novel concept!

I want to say there was something similar implemented for Killzone 2 and 3 as there appeared to be a lot of behind the scenes type videos leading up the launch talking about the A.I system. The developers talked a lot about how it reacts to your presence, plus its navigation with the environments, so things such as taking cover, and peaking out to see if you're around, and such.

This discussion here has followed to a good 20-30min conversation with my Wife talking about A.I. in video games just as I was typing this. How it relates to Autonomous Driving systems in cars, the eventual machine learning, and how A.I. systems that will likely be integrated into society on a massive scale. Will A.I. be inherently narcissistic, and think for itself, or will it adapt a more human side where it'll think for others, whether other A.I. systems, or humans, and other living creatures? But then if we program A.I. to think more human-esque, then is it really better than ourselves?

Yeah, this conversation went far too deep into a more philosophical level. My brain hurts now, and I need to game. FFX HD sounds about now.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
Metroid Dread* (NS)

Holy crap, what an awesome game. Amazing what a fresh save file and knowing where to take a detour does to change the experience.

Seriously, I was not pleased. I was very, very let down when I first played Dread. Not that it was bad, but that it was...annoying. I was getting stuck in some pretty meh game play loops - EMMI chase, mini boss, EMMI chase, Stepmother Brain, EMMI fight, big boss. Rinse, repeat. The huge rooms felt like they were substituting scale for actual exploration.

But on a replay? Fabulous.

I was playing Dread too much in spurts, when I had half an hour here or there. When you can sit for a couple of hours and look around? That's when it opens up and reveals its secrets.

Beautiful, handles like a dream, and lots of room for replayability. I can kvetch on there maybe being *too* many upgrades, and that it's more of a safe synthesis of Metroid ideas rather than an avante garde step forward.

But what is here is perfect for the moment, really. It's a big middle finger from Mercury Steam to their haters. And it's a not-so-gentle reminder from Yoshio Sakamoto that he knows what he's doing, thankyouverymuch.
 
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EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
A Short Hike (NS)

All of the hipster-y, neckbeard, gourmet-coffee sponsored Twitch streaming, gaming nerd things you've heard about this game?

Somehow, they're true.

This game came recommended by @CitizenOfVerona and it's fantastic. It lives up to its name (I took my time and still beat it in probably under 2 hours), but it is absolutely perfect for its runtime. Some mad scientist thought "what if I made Animal Crossing into a 90-minute Breath of the Wild adventure that looked like Phantom Hourglass?" This is videogame exploration distilled into its purest form.

Remember a particular day that was memorable for the little touches? This is a game about that sort of day, and I can't think of a sweeter game to end 2021 with.
 
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