Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The king returns, Lara Croft & Osiris, [embargo!], Undead Darlings, and Kingsman: Secret Service  


To start things off tonight, here’s a link to our podcast discussing E3. The full crew covers the show, the press conferences, and the games that caught our eye.
 Also, if you'll recall what I said in my last update, I promised a huge surprise and I wasn't lying… Tim Spaeth is back on the show as a part-time host, and this episode marks his triumphant return.

I couldn’t be happier.


So, let's talk about some games.

Witcher 3: This is going to be my last Witcher update for a while, I promise. I got back into it hoping I could push through until the end, and although I still really like the game, I just can't play it right now. 

I totally overdosed on the sidequests and I gotta put it down for a good, long while to recover. I still want to finish it, but I have clearly proven to myself that it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris: I picked this one up on sale a while ago because I really enjoyed the first (Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light) and I'm definitely all about the co-op these days. Although it’s not as good as the first, it’s a pretty similar thing – basically an isometric action/puzzle game, totally playable by one person but greatly enhanced by the addition of partners. This time, up to four friends can adventure together.

The biggest gripe I have is that the screen feels too zoomed-out. Lara and her pals look like miniature versions of themselves, and it’s hard to discern depth in some areas. Some of the boss fights feel a bit cheap, too.

I don’t want to sound too negative, though… Many of the puzzles are pretty neat, and the co-op dynamics are still good. Lara can throw a grappling hook to some of her teammates to let them wire-walk across gaps, teammates can boost or pull each other up to higher areas, and a whole bunch of other little things pop up like that. There’s always something requiring a second person’s input, in a good way.

I've been grooving on it overall and I would have happily sprung for the DLC, but it's only sold as a season pass for about $30, which is three times more than what I paid for the base game. Squeenix’s pricing structure here is completely out of whack, and while I'm happy to complete the game, I'm going to pass on the extras.

[Embargo Game]: I got a pre-release code for this one on Vita (it's also on PS3) and I've been putting a lot of time into it. I can’t type up a formal preview at the moment, but I think giving some general impressions is probably fine…

Basically, you control a team of psychics, each with their own different kind of power. Pyrokinesis, flight, precognition, and so on. It plays out like an SRPG similar to XCOM and the like, although it’s not based on grid movement; characters can travel anywhere. However, the biggest twist here or is that this game takes quite a bit of direction from Danganronpa in that there’s a traitor(s) within the group, so it's up to the player to figure out who it is.

I'm going to stop talking about it now, but I will say that while the inspirations are clear to see, it definitely takes the material in a fresh direction. I’ll also say that at this point, it seems like a real winner.

Undead Darlings: I'm not a big fan of Kickstarters and I don't usually back them, although there have been a few exceptions here and there. That said, one was just announced today that I think will be of interest to a great many of you who read this blog. 

Coming from people who used to work at NIS, it's a dungeon crawler/visual novel and oozing with anime cuteness. These guys know their audience and I'm interested to see what they do with this. If this kind of content is up your alley, go check out their page and see what you think.


…And now a bit of movie talk to round things out. The wife and I just watched Kingsman: The Secret Service the other day, and it kinda blew my socks off. I didn't have a lot of interest when it came out because the trailers made it look like a kids’ film, but we rented it on a lark, and I have to say, it was a total surprise -- it's basically the best James Bond movie that's ever been made.

In a nutshell, a lower-class British kid gets drafted into a super-secret spy agency and goes through the insane training just in time to help stop an evil mastermind from carrying out his nefarious plan. Simple and straightforward, but well-done.

Samuel L Jackson absolutely shines as the Apple/Google-like quasi-CEO bad guy, his henchwoman (Sofia Boutella) is awesomely deadly, there are loads of cool gadgets and the action sequences are amazing. Although it's quite graphic (unexpectedly so!) the fights are full of "oh my God" moments that thrill.

If you’re like me and dig spy films but have been unimpressed with the recent Bond flicks, this is the perfect remedy. Kingsman takes everything that's cool about spies, jacks it up to 11, and freshens everything from top to bottom. Total thumbs up.


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