Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Pointlessness of Physical, Dying Light Is Great & A Cyclops Appears  


Random thought -- I've been a collector of physical games (meaning discs, cartridges, and so on) for quite a while, but I've noticed over the last year or two that I haven't really been going after it like I used to. Part of it is that more and more of the games that I like (usually smaller, experimental or niche titles) only exist in an electronic download format, but another part of it is the changing nature of the games themselves.

For anyone who's even been even halfway paying attention, the number of games that routinely ship with bugs and glitches these days is absurd. There's absolutely no question that developers and publishers see "ship it now, patch it later" as a normal, acceptable thing now, and in light of this, I see less and less value in having a physical disc. I mean, what’s the point of owning the plastic when so many games don't work properly without huge day-one patches.

I've always enjoyed collecting, not only because I like the art and because these games are kind of like trophies on my wall, but because I always thought that at some point in the future I'd be able to plug in some old systems and share these games with my kids and grandkids -- or in a worst-case scenario, I’d have something to keep me busy while I hide out in my post-apocalyptic bunker. That's just not possible anymore. 

Oh sure, there are still plenty of discs to buy and the cases still look just as pretty, but knowing that a large number of them won't work or that they'll have significant problems without being connected to the Internet has taken some spark out of it… The same enjoyment just isn't there.

It's kind of a sad realization after so many years of collecting, but I have to admit that there's no real purpose in dropping cash on what are effectively coasters… Are we to the end of the "functional software in a box" era? Perhaps.


Although the Dying Light review for @Gamecritics was handled by @GC_Danny, I've been eager to play it for a while, and I just started it a few days ago.

Before I began, I was a little dismayed to see so many mediocre or indifferent reviews, and my Twitter feed was full of writers who were not shy about mentioning how bored they were, or how brown the game was. I took note of those criticisms, but at the same time, Dead Island (from the same developers) was a game that I deeply, deeply enjoyed and the critical sphere took great joy in crapping all over that, despite the fact that it went on to become a huge success with fans and spawned several offshoots. 

Suffice it to say, I expected that the same pattern might repeat here and I'm glad I didn't listen to the naysaying because I've been enjoying the hell out of it.

Calling a spade a spade, it's quite fair to say that Dying Light is Dead Island 2.0 with parkour added.  However, the parkour is pretty fab. It's great to be able to jump and climb on basically anything in the environment, and outmaneuvering zombies never gets old. Dodging through a crowd, climbing up to the top of a broken-down bus or nearby building, and then dropping Molotovs down from the roof delivers a laugh every time.

Many of the criticisms I read also talked about poor writing and a bad story… Although I'm still quite early in the main campaign, I can't see what all the complaining was about. Though the main plot isn't anything revolutionary, it gets the job done more than respectably.

Apart from that, I've been finding the sidequests to be fascinating. Lots of unusual situations and interesting characters have been popping up, not to mention more than a little comedy. Although I'm usually the type of person who goes down the critical path in most games, I've been having a great deal of fun going from quest to quest and seeing what they have to offer. 

Some of them are simple fetches (and I skip most of those) but a surprising number have a lot of dialogue, and it's great to see some of the same characters popping up over and over again. One guy who gets his arm cut off by the main villain pops up later, he remembers that I was there, and he references past events before engaging me in what he's doing now. It’s kind of awesome. By following these quests I get loads of story mini-arcs, and it’s satisfying to see how these characters are faring.

On the other hand, I can see how playing too much of this game at a time could wear someone out, which I suspect led to a lot of the reviewer apathy. I'm sure that if I was trying to beat the game on a deadline, eight or ten hours of it a day of it would get old really quickly. Since I’m just playing for fun (what a novel idea!) I've been pacing myself to doing two or three missions night, and sometimes indulging in some of the random events that pop up as well. (There are lots!)At this pace, it still feels fresh and engaging, and I look forward to playing every night. In fact, it feels almost like going through the adventure in real-time, day by day.

While I’m generally happy overall, the game doesn’t offer a manual save (GRR!) and it doesn’t always autosave when I make it to a safe house – it’s the most insane decision ever.

Another criticism which comes to mind is that the developers need to let go of their preference towards weapon degradation. Weapons fall apart really quickly at the beginning, and while that can be eased over time with certain skills and better gear later on, I don't think the systems here really add all that much to the formula. I mean, I end up carrying 12 weapons in my backpack because I'm afraid the one I'm using is going to fall apart, so there’s no real tension or risk/reward there. 

I also think less environmental scavenging would be good. I find myself sometimes blowing past areas which have loot just because I don't want to take the time to search or leave myself open to zombie attack, and when I do scavenge, it's usually a bunch of the same stuff… I mean, there’s no thrill in finding my 75th bag of coffee beans, you know? Perhaps fewer opportunities to loot but with greater rewards would be a better way to go, making it feel like more of a special thing and less of a chore.

Overall, I'm really, really enjoying Dying Light and it's been delivering pretty much everything that I wanted from it, and even more in some respects. If you’re even remotely inclined towards giving it a try, I say do so.


In other games news: Still playing Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate (of course) although after logging about 120 hours, I'm slowing down a bit. The battles are getting tougher and it's requiring more strategy, so I'm waiting for some of my fellow hunters to catch up before doing some of the group stuff.

Also, still playing Marvel Puzzle Quest. Just recruited Cyclops to the team earlier this evening. It's been quite a while since I read any X-books, so I was surprised by his costume. 

I’d never seen this one before and I have absolutely no idea what's going on in the world of the X-Men, but he was always a character that I enjoyed so it was great to see him again. Seems like he's got some nifty powers coming too. 

Speaking of which, my Luke Cage is almost maxed, and although I wasn't sure about him at first, he's become a recent favorite. If you play the game, my build for him is 5/3/5 because he hits like a wrecking ball in yellow and black, and I’d rather have that high offensive output rather than the little bits of defense over time that his red provides.


Couple of quick links -- the first one is for Monster Hunter weapon tutorials from @AEvanko. I've linked to this before, but these tutorials are superb and I'm going to continue to share as much information as I can in the hope of getting more people to play Monster Hunter!

The second link is the Persona 5 trailer which is so goddamn stylish that it hurts. I wasn't sure how I was feeling about the idea of another Persona game after putting so much time into three and four, but one look at that trailer and I was instantly pumped. Fantastic stuff!

Finally, here are the latest reviews to hit @Gamecritics:

> My review of Rollers of the Realm (Vita)

> @KayinAmoh's review of Guilty Gear Xrd Sign (PS4)

> Criminial Girls: Invite Only (Vita) also from @KayinAmoh

Thanks for reading!


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