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bobdog's Mini-Reviews Corner / Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Last post by bobdog on October 15, 2018, 12:24:27 PM »
I was pleasantly surprised by Clandestine. It has elements of better games like Deus Ex, Splinter Cell and Alpha Protocol, in that it allows your character to sneak and hide, with the support of a hacker (which can be played by another co-op player) to shut off cameras and open doors on your behalf. (You also must take on the hacker role in a single-player game.)

You are a new female agent who is conscripted to free another agent after a huge security breach identified a number of spies around the world. So the first mission shows you how to bounce back and forth between your agent and the hacker supporting you. You learn how to turn off cameras, open doors, and hack special equipment, while also sneaking around, knocking out foes, and collecting information. You will often have to act quickly to turn off a camera, move into its view, and then turn off another camera while exiting the last one’s view. If you’re too slow, an alarm will alert nearby enemies that you’ll have to either hide from, incapacitate, or even kill.

After the mission, you return to a new headquarters, where your boss and his associate debrief you and get you ready for the next mission. Within the HQ, you can talk to other agents, get training and gear, and read reports. Your goal is to find the entity that leaked the spy network, and take him into custody. But you’ll need to get information from his associates first to even figure out who that person is. Along the way, something doesn’t quite feel right with your new circumstances….

Subsequent missions take you to fancy homes (where you must constantly avoid someone who knows your identity), construction sites, embassies, underground lairs, office buildings, and more. You can choose to leave foes alive or to kill them, with some of them possibly affecting later story elements. If you successfully avoid incidents like camera alerts, hacking alerts, and even deaths, you gather a “Low Footprint” rating, which means you’ll face fewer foes in the next mission. So it’s always best to sneak around, turn off cameras, drag bodies out of public view, and refrain from physical and environmental kills.

Maps aren’t too small or large, the branching storyline is interesting and drives the plot, and the main two antagonists have complete arcs and backstories. The debriefing cut-scenes are a little wooden, but overall voice work is nicely done.

I enjoyed Clandestine, and can recommend it if you like any of the games previously mentioned. 7.9 out of 10
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bobdog's Mini-Reviews Corner / Clandestine – November 2015 [Score: 7.9]
« Last post by bobdog on October 15, 2018, 12:23:26 PM »
I was pleasantly surprised by Clandestine. It has elements of better games like Deus Ex, Splinter Cell and Alpha Protocol, in that it allows your character to sneak and hide, with the support of a hacker (which can be played by another co-op player) to shut off cameras and open doors on your behalf. (You also must take on the hacker role in a single-player game.)

You are a new female agent who is conscripted to free another agent after a huge security breach identified a number of spies around the world. So the first mission shows you how to bounce back and forth between your agent and the hacker supporting you. You learn how to turn off cameras, open doors, and hack special equipment, while also sneaking around, knocking out foes, and collecting information. You will often have to act quickly to turn off a camera, move into its view, and then turn off another camera while exiting the last one’s view. If you’re too slow, an alarm will alert nearby enemies that you’ll have to either hide from, incapacitate, or even kill.

After the mission, you return to a new headquarters, where your boss and his associate debrief you and get you ready for the next mission. Within the HQ, you can talk to other agents, get training and gear, and read reports. Your goal is to find the entity that leaked the spy network, and take him into custody. But you’ll need to get information from his associates first to even figure out who that person is. Along the way, something doesn’t quite feel right with your new circumstances….

Subsequent missions take you to fancy homes (where you must constantly avoid someone who knows your identity), construction sites, embassies, underground lairs, office buildings, and more. You can choose to leave foes alive or to kill them, with some of them possibly affecting later story elements. If you successfully avoid incidents like camera alerts, hacking alerts, and even deaths, you gather a “Low Footprint” rating, which means you’ll face fewer foes in the next mission. So it’s always best to sneak around, turn off cameras, drag bodies out of public view, and refrain from physical and environmental kills.

Maps aren’t too small or large, the branching storyline is interesting and drives the plot, and the main two antagonists have complete arcs and backstories. The debriefing cut-scenes are a little wooden, but overall voice work is nicely done.

I enjoyed Clandestine, and can recommend it if you like any of the games previously mentioned. 7.9 out of 10
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I haven't played Batman yet, but will soon.

Season 1 of Telltale's Batman starts out so promisingly, but by the end of episode 2 makes one of the same mistakes Batman: Arkham Knight did and never really recovers.  I just bought Season 2 when I heard Telltale was shutting down, so I'll let you know if it's any better when I eventually get around to it (gotta knock out Assassin's Creed Origins and Middle-earth: Shadow of War first). 

For what it's worth, my favorite Telltale games have been The Wolf Among Us and Tales from the Borderlands.
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I can only imagine a lot of their costs went to simple licensing fees. And with 6 or 7 IPs they were working on with 5 episodes each, they'd never have a chance to breathe. TWD was amazing. Wolf Among Us was too. I initially didn't want to play Borderlands, and then loved it and thought it was their funniest effort yet. And Game of Thrones was a perfect match for the nebulous gray area that their games encompassed.

I haven't played Batman yet, but will soon. And I'm interested to see what their interpretation of Guardians of the Galaxy might be. But I absolutely refuse to play Minecraft.

Sadly, the technical side did not keep up with the stories, and Michonne was maybe the worst offender I've yet played.
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It's a shame for Telltales though... They have great products... The Sam & Max series was hilariously fun. I loved their take on Borderlands with Tales of the Borderlands, I had a great kick playing Wolf Among Us. However I think their problem was A) that they were relying far too much on others' IP and not enough on their own ideas. When the studio will finally close, they will have produced 5 Walking Dead games... Five (6 even counting the 400 days DLC)!!  What was the point? They're not Activision crapping a new Call of Duty game every year for God sake! What was needed was diversity and novelty if possible and those past years were far from that. B) They took on so many licensed projects that they ended up killing themselves slowly. It's no secret that the working conditions at Telltales were far from optimal with an unending "crunch time" (while in other companies crunch time mostly takes place during the weeks preceding release). As the French saying goes "qui trop embrasse mal étreint" or very roughly translated -- I'm translating the idea rather than the words here -- "By embracing too much one ends up holding nothing".

But in any case here's another developer with great potential that goes down the drain. It's always sad.
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bobdog's Mini-Reviews Corner / Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Last post by bobdog on October 08, 2018, 09:35:21 AM »
In honor of the impending death of Telltale Games, I present this review. I’ve played most of Telltale Games’ entries starting with The Walking Dead, which I gave a perfect score, and most have been very good to excellent “stories”, but have faltered as “games.” Unfortunately, The Walking Dead: Michonne is my least-liked of the new crop.

Michonne follows the title character through a shortened 3-episode jaunt in The Walking Dead universe. Each episode is also shorter than other Telltale titles. Because of this, you really never get to know any of the characters in any meaningful way. I just played the original TWD title for comparison, and in that one, I did everything I could to ensure that Clementine was safe. As Lee, I got to know the quirks and foibles of especially Kenny, but also Doug, Glenn, Lilly, Ben, Christa, Omid and many others. In Michonne, there’s a bad lady named Norma, and a girl named Sam and … a bunch of cannon fodder.

Michonne attempts to make us feel something for these others, but from the first scene, we are introduced to a bad-ass lady who has no problem killing zombies. And unfortunately, because her daughters are dead, she also has no reason to live. So I spent the rest of the game essentially playing a Chaotic Neutral character: if it didn’t impact me directly, I generally didn’t care. I’d throw people under the bus, say whatever I felt like, and generally court death every chance I could.

When you play as such a character, there’s really no need to get to know anyone else, because they’re all going to get killed soon anyway – either by me or by the zombies. And those that sacrificed themselves for me, I didn’t really care, because I was just going to walk on afterward. So no real character development to Michonne, although she does reach some closure by game’s end.

One huge gripe: the technical side of the game was really poorly optimized. I read forum after forum entries about how people couldn’t get the game to set itself in 1920x1080 widescreen mode, or to get out of windowed mode. I encountered this several times, so the only suggestion was to Alt-Enter and put it back in windowed mode of 1600x1200. This of course stretched out the images incorrectly, and the window frame was of course obnoxious. Toss huge load times into the mix, and I got the feeling that the game just wasn’t built correctly.

The other gripe I has was with the new “interactive” mechanism. You had to mouse over an area, and then it would give you 1 to 3 options, like “Look”, “Talk”, “Open”, etc. This was extremely clunky, especially since the original game seemed so smooth in how you interacted with everything.

Overall, even though Michonne was much more active than other Telltale Games I’ve played, I just don’t know if I’d recommend it other than on a deep sale, and if you’re a real fan of the show. 7.1 out of 10
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In honor of the impending death of Telltale Games, I present this review. I’ve played most of Telltale Games’ entries starting with The Walking Dead, which I gave a perfect score, and most have been very good to excellent “stories”, but have faltered as “games.” Unfortunately, The Walking Dead: Michonne is my least-liked of the new crop.

Michonne follows the title character through a shortened 3-episode jaunt in The Walking Dead universe. Each episode is also shorter than other Telltale titles. Because of this, you really never get to know any of the characters in any meaningful way. I just played the original TWD title for comparison, and in that one, I did everything I could to ensure that Clementine was safe. As Lee, I got to know the quirks and foibles of especially Kenny, but also Doug, Glenn, Lilly, Ben, Christa, Omid and many others. In Michonne, there’s a bad lady named Norma, and a girl named Sam and … a bunch of cannon fodder.

Michonne attempts to make us feel something for these others, but from the first scene, we are introduced to a bad-ass lady who has no problem killing zombies. And unfortunately, because her daughters are dead, she also has no reason to live. So I spent the rest of the game essentially playing a Chaotic Neutral character: if it didn’t impact me directly, I generally didn’t care. I’d throw people under the bus, say whatever I felt like, and generally court death every chance I could.

When you play as such a character, there’s really no need to get to know anyone else, because they’re all going to get killed soon anyway – either by me or by the zombies. And those that sacrificed themselves for me, I didn’t really care, because I was just going to walk on afterward. So no real character development to Michonne, although she does reach some closure by game’s end.

One huge gripe: the technical side of the game was really poorly optimized. I read forum after forum entries about how people couldn’t get the game to set itself in 1920x1080 widescreen mode, or to get out of windowed mode. I encountered this several times, so the only suggestion was to Alt-Enter and put it back in windowed mode of 1600x1200. This of course stretched out the images incorrectly, and the window frame was of course obnoxious. Toss huge load times into the mix, and I got the feeling that the game just wasn’t built correctly.

The other gripe I has was with the new “interactive” mechanism. You had to mouse over an area, and then it would give you 1 to 3 options, like “Look”, “Talk”, “Open”, etc. This was extremely clunky, especially since the original game seemed so smooth in how you interacted with everything.

Overall, even though Michonne was much more active than other Telltale Games I’ve played, I just don’t know if I’d recommend it other than on a deep sale, and if you’re a real fan of the show. 7.1 out of 10
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bobdog's Mini-Reviews Corner / Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Last post by bobdog on October 01, 2018, 10:20:53 AM »
UnderDread is one of those games that is definitely not the game you thought you were going to be playing. From the teaser trailer and screenshots, it appears to be something akin to Thief, where you are sneaking around and picking up loot. And I suppose there is some truth to that, but in practice, the game is completely different.

UnderDread starts with a voiceover that your daughter is missing and the only one who might have a clue to where she’s gone is a detective, who last visited a local castle high up on the mountainside. We then start the game inside the castle proper with no real transition. The opening map basically tells you how everything works. You open up drawers to find objects you’ll need, or hints and notes from the detective. You also get the first glimpse of a ghostly apparition, that you can scare away by using a certain scroll. Then you quickly move to the dungeons – the second of three levels.

After arriving in the dungeons, that ghostly apparition will return, except you can’t get rid of it now. Instead, you have to crouch behind specific pillars until it goes out of sight, upon which you can move to the next location before crouching again for a minute while it passes, before moving to the next location…. All the while, the ghost skeleton sounds like a … whale song, maybe? There’s no deathly shrieking (thank God) or moaning, but believe me, you will hate whale song by the end of this game. And there’s really not much reasoning to some of the locations you can crouch – some are acceptable while most are not.

Here’s where the game starts to falter. This is a first-person adventure game, but unless you spend one of your hard-earned Hint scrolls, you almost never know what you’re supposed to do next. First up, you have to lower a statue by flicking levers from green to red. I kid you not – there are probably 40 of the G-D levers that you have to search out on the ground, on ledges, on bookcases, inside dozens of treasure chests – there is no rhyme or reason to where they are located or whether they could even be connected physically to the statue.

Along the way, you’ll find hundreds of different colored bottles, jewels, large coins, knives and more. But you can’t touch them or pick them up right now. Instead, you have to wait until you access the next objective – which is to find an undetermined number of knives – before you can pick them up. After the knives, you access a new area in the level that is sort of a safe room (remember, that stupid whale-singing ghost is still roaming all around and you have to stop every minute or so to wait for it to go past).

After the safe room, you find a pit on the bottom floor, which says you need “a lot of holy water”. Again, you have to go ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE START OF THE LEVEL, sneaking past ghost-boy the whole way, to pick up all the holy water vials that you’ve seen dozens of times before. But of course, you won’t find all 6 vials that you need, so you’ll have to waste some of your hint scrolls to find them. And I know this is spoiling the experience, but once you accumulate all the holy water, you can finally kill that bastard and shut him up.

Only to learn that you need EVERY SINGLE COLORED BOTTLE REMAINING IN THE LEVEL to create an acid to escape -- all of which you have passed by a million times before….

….

….

….

Oh, we haven’t even gotten to the WORST part of the game yet!! No, that honor is left for the third level, in the mines beneath the dungeons.

[Sigh] … breathe … count to 100 slowly and exhale ….

In the mines, we have to cross a chasm to obtain a book. But the boards to cross the chasm are found in several different places. This would be simple, but instead of our ghosty associate, we now have a party of dozens of dead men ambling by, complete with ghastly shrieks and moans. The whole thing looks like absolute crap. It’s literally a slide show of 5 slides that creeps down the hallway toward you, and if you somehow get stuck in the accompanying red mist, you have to start over from the last autosave (which in themselves are rare and spread out).

So you have to remember a lot of safe areas to get around this enemy type, and there’s even fewer of those than the previous level. Find the book and return it to the miner’s camp. (And remember that you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing because unless you spent a hint, you’d never know.) After this, another passage opens up and you can escape the mines to a small room where your daughter had been held, but that you need to leave to find her. And then end the game with “… to be continued” BS.

I could go on about how you can barely run faster than your walk, and that if you do, your stamina meter is agonizingly slow. I could talk about the stupid apparitions that just cover your screen indiscriminately for no reason. I could mention the random jump-scare sounds that assault you so much that you get numb to them after about the 20th time. I could certainly elaborate on how you will find dozens of the same notes you’ve already found. I could write about how annoying it was to scour levels from start to back for items that I had already passed dozens of times.

But I won’t. Instead, I will simply tell you to skip this game, as it’s not the game in play that it appears to be in the trailer. 5.8 out of 10


[P.S. I did find a secret, but never went all the way through with it. On the second and third levels, you will find large coins. If you find the right receptacle (1 near all the treasure chests in 2nd level, 1 in 2nd level’s safe room, and 1 in the 3rd level in the farthest tunnel on the book’s side of the chasm), you can place 4 to 5 coins in each one to enter a secret room. Inside the room is a key. Get all three keys, and you can open a cell in the final room. Unfortunately, I didn’t find enough coins on the last level to get a key, but I’m curious who the skeleton is in that cell – maybe your daughter??]
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bobdog's Mini-Reviews Corner / UnderDread – March 2016 [Score: 5.8]
« Last post by bobdog on October 01, 2018, 10:18:19 AM »
UnderDread is one of those games that is definitely not the game you thought you were going to be playing. From the teaser trailer and screenshots, it appears to be something akin to Thief, where you are sneaking around and picking up loot. And I suppose there is some truth to that, but in practice, the game is completely different.

UnderDread starts with a voiceover that your daughter is missing and the only one who might have a clue to where she’s gone is a detective, who last visited a local castle high up on the mountainside. We then start the game inside the castle proper with no real transition. The opening map basically tells you how everything works. You open up drawers to find objects you’ll need, or hints and notes from the detective. You also get the first glimpse of a ghostly apparition, that you can scare away by using a certain scroll. Then you quickly move to the dungeons – the second of three levels.

After arriving in the dungeons, that ghostly apparition will return, except you can’t get rid of it now. Instead, you have to crouch behind specific pillars until it goes out of sight, upon which you can move to the next location before crouching again for a minute while it passes, before moving to the next location…. All the while, the ghost skeleton sounds like a … whale song, maybe? There’s no deathly shrieking (thank God) or moaning, but believe me, you will hate whale song by the end of this game. And there’s really not much reasoning to some of the locations you can crouch – some are acceptable while most are not.

Here’s where the game starts to falter. This is a first-person adventure game, but unless you spend one of your hard-earned Hint scrolls, you almost never know what you’re supposed to do next. First up, you have to lower a statue by flicking levers from green to red. I kid you not – there are probably 40 of the G-D levers that you have to search out on the ground, on ledges, on bookcases, inside dozens of treasure chests – there is no rhyme or reason to where they are located or whether they could even be connected physically to the statue.

Along the way, you’ll find hundreds of different colored bottles, jewels, large coins, knives and more. But you can’t touch them or pick them up right now. Instead, you have to wait until you access the next objective – which is to find an undetermined number of knives – before you can pick them up. After the knives, you access a new area in the level that is sort of a safe room (remember, that stupid whale-singing ghost is still roaming all around and you have to stop every minute or so to wait for it to go past).

After the safe room, you find a pit on the bottom floor, which says you need “a lot of holy water”. Again, you have to go ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE START OF THE LEVEL, sneaking past ghost-boy the whole way, to pick up all the holy water vials that you’ve seen dozens of times before. But of course, you won’t find all 6 vials that you need, so you’ll have to waste some of your hint scrolls to find them. And I know this is spoiling the experience, but once you accumulate all the holy water, you can finally kill that bastard and shut him up.

Only to learn that you need EVERY SINGLE COLORED BOTTLE REMAINING IN THE LEVEL to create an acid to escape -- all of which you have passed by a million times before….

….

….

….

Oh, we haven’t even gotten to the WORST part of the game yet!! No, that honor is left for the third level, in the mines beneath the dungeons.

[Sigh] … breathe … count to 100 slowly and exhale ….

In the mines, we have to cross a chasm to obtain a book. But the boards to cross the chasm are found in several different places. This would be simple, but instead of our ghosty associate, we now have a party of dozens of dead men ambling by, complete with ghastly shrieks and moans. The whole thing looks like absolute crap. It’s literally a slide show of 5 slides that creeps down the hallway toward you, and if you somehow get stuck in the accompanying red mist, you have to start over from the last autosave (which in themselves are rare and spread out).

So you have to remember a lot of safe areas to get around this enemy type, and there’s even fewer of those than the previous level. Find the book and return it to the miner’s camp. (And remember that you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing because unless you spent a hint, you’d never know.) After this, another passage opens up and you can escape the mines to a small room where your daughter had been held, but that you need to leave to find her. And then end the game with “… to be continued” BS.

I could go on about how you can barely run faster than your walk, and that if you do, your stamina meter is agonizingly slow. I could talk about the stupid apparitions that just cover your screen indiscriminately for no reason. I could mention the random jump-scare sounds that assault you so much that you get numb to them after about the 20th time. I could certainly elaborate on how you will find dozens of the same notes you’ve already found. I could write about how annoying it was to scour levels from start to back for items that I had already passed dozens of times.

But I won’t. Instead, I will simply tell you to skip this game, as it’s not the game in play that it appears to be in the trailer. 5.8 out of 10


[P.S. I did find a secret, but never went all the way through with it. On the second and third levels, you will find large coins. If you find the right receptacle (1 near all the treasure chests in 2nd level, 1 in 2nd level’s safe room, and 1 in the 3rd level in the farthest tunnel on the book’s side of the chasm), you can place 4 to 5 coins in each one to enter a secret room. Inside the room is a key. Get all three keys, and you can open a cell in the final room. Unfortunately, I didn’t find enough coins on the last level to get a key, but I’m curious who the skeleton is in that cell – maybe your daughter??]
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bobdog's Mini-Reviews Corner / Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Last post by bobdog on September 24, 2018, 09:11:48 PM »
Dead Secret is an interesting first-person adventure mystery. It is definitely built for VR applications, as seen in the menu, and in how you view certain objects. Also, you move via jumps rather than simply moving forward one step at a time. But overall it works.

Graphically, the game is solid but simplistic. Character models and items look fine, and the small farmhouse and attached barn that you explore are interestingly detailed.

At the heart of it all is a murder mystery. You are a small-town reporter who is eager to jump to the big leagues by cracking open this case in the heart of the Kansas countryside. Once you enter the house, however, things don’t necessarily go as expected, especially since you have 6 potential suspects. It does have some puzzles but they’re honestly pretty simple – probably so that the VR people didn’t have to do so much manipulating of objects.

The game is only 3-4 hours in length, but in that time, you’ll need to figure out what the murdered doctor was working on, who had a motive to kill him, and the identity of the actual killer. Along the way, you get little pop quizzes to see if you’ve been paying attention. Occasionally, the killer will stalk you, so you have to find a way to hide or escape – those were actually kind of frightening, especially when I was found.

The VR thing is a bit detrimental to the overall non-VR version, especially when you have to access your inventory, which throws a circle of items on the screen that you have to roll your mouse all around to see everything. I understand they did it for multiple applications, and that’s okay, but it’s still not ideal for the version that I played. I didn’t guess correctly the first two times or quite understand the reason why exactly our victim was killed. I also never quite understood exactly what the device was created to accomplish. Maybe I should have read my notes a little better.  :turnhappy:

But otherwise, I can recommend Dead Secret. A few changes and it would have scored higher in my estimation. 7.9 out of 10
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