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bobdog's Mini-Reviews Corner / Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Last post by bobdog on October 14, 2019, 06:03:53 PM »
By this point, I should know better than to think that Double Fine Productions can’t come up with yet another weird game concept, applied to a standard gaming trope. Yet Headlander still manages to surprise by inserting its bizarro conceit inside a 2.5D Metroidvania game.

Essentially, you are a head in a space helmet, awoken by a folksy voice who calls himself Earl. You have no idea where your body is, but you can somehow move your head from one body to another. As the game continues, you learn how you can actually pull an existing head off, and replace it with yours to upgrade body types.

The game plays as a Metroidvania, with lots of interlocking hallways, secret areas and more. Some entries can only be accessed by your head alone, while others require a color-coded body – generally from armed guards that you have to take over. While patrolling the hallways, Earl will direct you to key tasks to help you hopefully find your body again. Larger tasks included finding and modifying certain satellites, navigating a very lengthy and laborious elevator system, playing a different kind of chess, and scouring a lunar base for clues. Secret areas allow you to slowly upgrade your helmet to fly faster, have more health or take more damage. But you also earn experience that can be put towards both your helmet and your bodies.

My biggest issue was that sometimes your head was so small on the screen that you couldn’t find it, and with tons of laser beams bouncing around, you’re liable to get killed. You also can’t skip cut-scenes, so when you died in the middle of a boss battle, you’d have to rewatch the same thing over and over again.

But the gameplay was very creative and generally fun, so I can’t fault it too much. 7.9 out of 10
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bobdog's Mini-Reviews Corner / Headlander – July 2016 [Score: 7.9]
« Last post by bobdog on October 14, 2019, 06:03:09 PM »
By this point, I should know better than to think that Double Fine Productions can’t come up with yet another weird game concept, applied to a standard gaming trope. Yet Headlander still manages to surprise by inserting its bizarro conceit inside a 2.5D Metroidvania game.

Essentially, you are a head in a space helmet, awoken by a folksy voice who calls himself Earl. You have no idea where your body is, but you can somehow move your head from one body to another. As the game continues, you learn how you can actually pull an existing head off, and replace it with yours to upgrade body types.

The game plays as a Metroidvania, with lots of interlocking hallways, secret areas and more. Some entries can only be accessed by your head alone, while others require a color-coded body – generally from armed guards that you have to take over. While patrolling the hallways, Earl will direct you to key tasks to help you hopefully find your body again. Larger tasks included finding and modifying certain satellites, navigating a very lengthy and laborious elevator system, playing a different kind of chess, and scouring a lunar base for clues. Secret areas allow you to slowly upgrade your helmet to fly faster, have more health or take more damage. But you also earn experience that can be put towards both your helmet and your bodies.

My biggest issue was that sometimes your head was so small on the screen that you couldn’t find it, and with tons of laser beams bouncing around, you’re liable to get killed. You also can’t skip cut-scenes, so when you died in the middle of a boss battle, you’d have to rewatch the same thing over and over again.

But the gameplay was very creative and generally fun, so I can’t fault it too much. 7.9 out of 10
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The Foxhole QuickViews / Shadow Of The Tomb Raider [2018 -- Eidos Montréal]
« Last post by Starfox on October 08, 2019, 11:14:10 AM »
Before I go any further, I need to precise here that unlike Tomb Raider 2013 and Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadow of the Tomb Raider was not developed by Crystal Dynamics (which was relegated to consultant role for this game).... Unfortunately, that shows.

When it comes to platformers puzzles games, there are two schools of design, and I will start with the one used in Tomb Raider 2013 and Rise of The Tomb Raider (Although this last one had a couple of areas clearly pertaining to the second school of design). This first school goes like this: let's design the world first then fit puzzles inside the confines of the world created allowing minor changes to better fit the whole but with this idea in mind: DO NOT DESTROY THE WORLD YOU CREATED.

And then there's sadly the "other" school of design, the fast one, the one you use because it is easier this way: let's design the puzzles first and in this case one can make them as complicated and convoluted as one wants and then build the world around. And if the world doesn't fit well, too bad... who cares?

The problem here is "immersion", you know one of the wonderful things that allows you to stick with the story and characters of a game until the end. School 1 (TR 2013): puzzles are inserted into the world so chances are your brain will not (or barely) register that something is wrong and will just accept the puzzles has part of the scenery -- even if it is sometimes stretched to the limits. School 2 (Shadow of The Tomb Raider and frankly most other Tomb Raider games) the areas around the puzzles -- especially the so called "challenge" tombs -- are so sketchy and quite frankly delirious and unreasonable that your brain automatically realize that what is in front is just a puzzle and the surrounding world the excuse for a box holding the puzzle.

Ironically Eidos claim at the beginning of the game to have had consultants, historians, cultural experts etc. in order to create a world as faithful and immersive as possible but then they immediately proceeded to the destruction of the immersion with inane tomb puzzles ranging from barely believable in their setting to outright idiotic.

That said, when the idiocy stops (meaning when you're not confronted to yet another inane puzzle tomb) the atmosphere and setting of the game are quite beautifully done, graphics are adequate so yes, the game is immersive as long as the immersion is not broken which is... well, mostly up to you. Because most of the immersion breaking moments occur outside of the main story, in the crypts and tombs no one forces you to explore (especially the DLC tomb challenges that one may acquire separately or -- in my case -- were included with a sale offer). The main story also has it's beautifully idiotic moments but, for the most part the immersion is relatively preserved.

Of course you may be a gamer attaching no importance whatsoever to immersion or being able tune out the idiotic elements of the scenery to just concentrate on the puzzle itself, in which case my previous remarks don't apply. Still, for me, this is by far the most problematic aspect of Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Immersion breakage (which is also the reason why I wasn't particularly fond of the old Tomb Raider games -- before 2013).

The story is banal enough... I'm not even sure I understood the interest of it (in regard to the two previous games). The story of Tomb Raider (2013) was setting the new Lara Croft character and her companions (from whom one, Jonah, would continue to follow her over the three games) and was also the occasion to have a very small glimpse of the enemy to come. The story of Rise of the Tomb Raider was a full blown confrontation between Lara and the Trinity organization and set itself as a continuation of the previous game. Shadow of the Tomb Raider however is about... well, destroying Trinity I guess, but the way it happens doesn't make a lot of sense, not if one considers that Trinity is an organization with an administrative council (Lara says so herself) and not just the one guy.

On a pure character level, Shadow of the Tomb Raider depicts a Lara Croft with serious psychological issues, obsessional and sometimes reckless behavior associated to bad decision making (which causes a whole village destruction at the beginning of the game). Say, not the kind of girl you'd fall in love with, really. Sure I get that there is a reason for the developer to put Lara in super excess mode but still it tends to annoy even Jonah whom ends up saying at one point "Not everything is about you!" And I 100% agreed with him at that point!! Well, if you play the game, you'll understand when that happens.

The gameplay here is a standard Tomb Raider gameplay (respective to the two previous games) with extended swimming capabilities (a lot of puzzles require exploring underwater) albeit without the rebreather from the previous game (hey why re-use an interesting piece of equipment when one can do it the hard way?). The ability of repelling has been added to the climbing moves. The special view that Lara could use in the previous game can still be used but generally reduced. For example you cannot anymore see surfaces on which you can have a grip. And if you increase the difficulty setting of the exploration, help disappear altogether (difficulty can be set separately for exploration, puzzles and combat). During exploration and climbing I've been sometimes confronted to sticky controls (both keyboard and controller). A same control can be used for different things and in some situations the game stop reacting seemingly wondering what is it you want to do. No need to say, that generally results in Lara's death. And you'll be attempting 5 times the same sequence of controls with the same result when suddenly the sixth time it will succeed and then encounter another series of epic fails a short time later at another point. In the two previous games when players died, they generally knew what they did wrong. In this game you can just die because the engine doesn't understand you; that's a little frustrating. I would recommend you to save frequently but since this game is based on checkpoints... Another amusing point during exploration is the flashlight. Lara has a flashlight: the player has no control over it. Sometime the thing triggers when there's enough light to see; others times it stays off even in almost pitch black areas. I don't know, maybe that's the conception of fun of the guys at Eidos Montréal.

Combat is just about... non existent. Which is too bad because some moves have been added. For example, you can now, standing on a tree branch, grab an enemy underneath and hang him up with your rope in a completely silent way. Unfortunately the combat in this game is so sparse and generally oriented in such a way that you can avoid it using stealth that in the whole game I had two or three big fights and I used the funny rope ability three or four times top (well, no five times as I triggered the achievement for this special move). Sure there are a whole lot of guns (handgun, SMG, rifles, assault rifle, shotguns) and even more bows that can all be upgraded several times for maximum effect but after a while you wonder what the point is exactly. They could have given the player the one gun and the one bow and do away with the upgrade system I'm not under the impression that the experience would have been altered dramatically. For that there should have been a great deal more fights than there is.  Short version, don't go in there expecting anything regarding combat as the two previous games, you'll be disappointed.

At one point in the story after longs hours with nothing else happening than exploration and tomb raiding one finally encounter enemies to fight and what does Eidos do? They strip Lara of all of her weapons (you know all the stuff you acquired and patiently upgraded in prevision of just such a rare moment) leaving her with a knife (allowing her a bow a while after) and no way to reacquire her finely tuned weapons before the time when she... doesn't need them anymore. No seriously Eidos... diamond stuff right there guys. But hey, those are the guys who developed the last Thief (so not a lot of combat) and who encouraged players with in game rewards to go through Deus Ex: Human Revolution and  Deus EX: Mankind Divided killing nobody or even better, ghosting it all (which they were already criticized for because The original Deus Ex was about doing what you wanted, not doing what the developers wanted.

There's finally a certain lack of originality in the design of some situations. For example there are two Run For Your Lifetm sequences one at the beginning of the game and another near the end that really seem only to differ by the fact that one is during nighttime and the other during daytime. You have the impression to do the same thing all over again and you're not impressed because of the sensation of déjà vu.

The ending is purely a copy past of the two previous games with different settings. Climb to the top of something nearly impossible to climb beating impossible odds then defeat the boss -- that is obviously cheating of course, because they wouldn't be "boss" otherwise.

All in all, Shadow of the Tomb Raider failed to impress me. Sometimes it proved to be enjoyable but more often than not riddled with annoyances (the simple fact that it took me nearly a year to finish this game -- no, it is that long -- is a testament to the level of annoyance I was confronted too, periodically forced to switch to other games just to get some relief). Still I grant an average score because of one fact: to me that particular game is a step back for the franchise which means that people who were not happy with the changes made to the puzzles in Tomb Raider in 2013 are finally able to rejoice... or not, difficult to know with fans.

Finally Shadow of the Tomb Raider left me with the feeling that we come to an end with this iteration of Lara Croft. After three games more of the same would obviously be too much. So... time for yet another reboot? Or to drop the Croft case entirely?
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bobdog's Mini-Reviews Corner / Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Last post by bobdog on October 07, 2019, 11:16:05 AM »
Through the Woods is little more than a walking simulator through the forests of Norway, but does have a few interactive portions and enemies to confront. What makes this short (only 2 hours) game most interesting is how deeply it steeps itself in Norse literature and history. I don’t know that I’d qualify it as a “horror” game per se, but it definitely had some times where I jumped, and the overall feeling of anxiety is palpable.

You play as Karen, and you and your son Espen came out to a lakeside cabin for the weekend. We quickly learn that Espen has issues with his widowed mother, as she always seems to be sleeping, rather than wanting to play with him. After your first night at the cabin, you awake late to see your son has gone outside. As you bundle up for the autumn weather, you go down by the dock where you told your son NOT to go. And then you see a man lifting your son into his canoe and take off across the lake. You immediately jump into the water and swim after them.

Through the Woods plays on the more realistic fear that all parents have: to lose your child, either to a disease or accident, or especially to a stranger. We learn that Karen is a flawed individual – she herself says she is not a good mother, but that she does deeply love her son. She also brings up elements that aren’t often talked about in games, about how parents don’t always like their children and can’t always connect with them. It doesn’t mean they love them any less; it’s just that not all people are great at parenting.

Karen’s journey takes her through some gorgeous outdoor locations whose topography is diverse. Occasionally you’ll pass through a deserted village, which you can enter and sometimes find notes left behind. You also might go down a one-way path and find something interesting at the end, like a keepsake or some artwork. You do see your son’s belongings here and there to let you know you’re still on the same track. About a third into the game, we come across some non-native wildlife and some bizarre sights, which let us know we’re truly in unknown country.

Is it all a fever-dream? Or is there something else at work here? The story, and the justification about everyone’s actions, including the man who took your son, are worth playing the game, so I won’t spoil exactly what is happening. The level design was really incredible work, although Karen’s somewhat stilted audio delivery has to be noted as a negative.

I’d love to see what this studio is capable of in the future. 7.8 out of 10
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bobdog's Mini-Reviews Corner / Through the Woods – October 2016 [Score: 7.8]
« Last post by bobdog on October 07, 2019, 11:15:09 AM »
Through the Woods is little more than a walking simulator through the forests of Norway, but does have a few interactive portions and enemies to confront. What makes this short (only 2 hours) game most interesting is how deeply it steeps itself in Norse literature and history. I don’t know that I’d qualify it as a “horror” game per se, but it definitely had some times where I jumped, and the overall feeling of anxiety is palpable.

You play as Karen, and you and your son Espen came out to a lakeside cabin for the weekend. We quickly learn that Espen has issues with his widowed mother, as she always seems to be sleeping, rather than wanting to play with him. After your first night at the cabin, you awake late to see your son has gone outside. As you bundle up for the autumn weather, you go down by the dock where you told your son NOT to go. And then you see a man lifting your son into his canoe and take off across the lake. You immediately jump into the water and swim after them.

Through the Woods plays on the more realistic fear that all parents have: to lose your child, either to a disease or accident, or especially to a stranger. We learn that Karen is a flawed individual – she herself says she is not a good mother, but that she does deeply love her son. She also brings up elements that aren’t often talked about in games, about how parents don’t always like their children and can’t always connect with them. It doesn’t mean they love them any less; it’s just that not all people are great at parenting.

Karen’s journey takes her through some gorgeous outdoor locations whose topography is diverse. Occasionally you’ll pass through a deserted village, which you can enter and sometimes find notes left behind. You also might go down a one-way path and find something interesting at the end, like a keepsake or some artwork. You do see your son’s belongings here and there to let you know you’re still on the same track. About a third into the game, we come across some non-native wildlife and some bizarre sights, which let us know we’re truly in unknown country.

Is it all a fever-dream? Or is there something else at work here? The story, and the justification about everyone’s actions, including the man who took your son, are worth playing the game, so I won’t spoil exactly what is happening. The level design was really incredible work, although Karen’s somewhat stilted audio delivery has to be noted as a negative.

I’d love to see what this studio is capable of in the future. 7.8 out of 10
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Off (and insane) Topic discussions / Re: These Cereal Bars Are Great
« Last post by Starfox on October 04, 2019, 03:36:35 PM »
Wait so that means that the American establishment has their eyes on us? They listen to us? Yea time to push along the full agenda of slightly controversial but always  fun ideas. Who knows, some of them might even end up being adopted like... stabilizing or even decreasing the planet population. I know, so crazy, so abnormal thinking... it boggles the mind.

Silver... you're on  :lol: Go crazy take the shot... and the heat and all kinds of hate mail.

Eating babies... I won't even touch that one with a ten feet pole... sorry. I'm still attached to my cojones and in no urge to see them ripped off (at least, not in that way :purplelaugh: ) but be my guest.
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Off (and insane) Topic discussions / Re: These Cereal Bars Are Great
« Last post by Silver Sorrow on October 04, 2019, 09:38:54 AM »
And a day after I post my own version of A Modest Proposal, I see this: 'We Got to Start Eating Babies': Ocasio-Cortez Town Hall Hears Bizarre Climate Change Proposal

:biglaugh:

She was trolling them obviously, but note that Occasional-Cortex didn't exactly reject her plea to eat babies...

...just know is that when I grab a bottle of BBQ sauce and a butcher knife and chase pregnant women through the park, I'm only thinking of the planet's future. :angel:
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Off (and insane) Topic discussions / Re: These Cereal Bars Are Great
« Last post by Silver Sorrow on October 04, 2019, 01:33:18 AM »
If my devotion to Lucky Charms cereal bars means banishment, then...to hell with 'em. I'll eat toast.  ;D

Quote
Well considering that the next TES game is due after the release of Startrain, or was it Starfall? Starmap maybe? Oh... no... Starman, yes?? Anyway since nobody has any idea of the release date of Starfield, the odds to see a TES game before several years are remote, unless Bethesda decides suddenly to kill or delay Starfield and to prioritize TES; they could only do that to attempt to regain some confidence among their fan base. Bethesda know that they have no margin for error with their next game, whatever this game will be. So I guess they'll want to play it safe, which means even more delays and knowing Bethesda... a lot of silence. Anyway, communicating is not what they do best as the past year has shown.

I wonder if there's a high divorce/separation rate amongst Bethesda employees. They're so lousy at communication that things cannot be all that great at home...

"Why won't you talk about about Starwhatsit?"

"..."

"It's clearly bothering you, Jim. I'm your wife, for God's sake...you need to tell me things!"

"..."

"Jim?"

"..."

"Jim??"

"..."

"JIM!"

"Woman, you tryin' to destroy me??"

[Narrator] But Jim had said too much. The Bethesda Kill Truck had been dispatched. Although his wife and children would eventually heal in time, holidays and family gatherings would always be bittersweet reminders of Jim's effect on their lives.

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This would wreck the future of the human race, maybe, but on the plus side it would be so good for the planet 

That's true. But there may be a different solution: we must think of promoting MORE children, because what would we eat when should we continue to pollute, destroy, and overfish and overfarm? There's the elderly, but I prefer my food to be...well, not so stringy. Yes, when "Veal" becomes the most popular baby name, children are indeed our future... :evil1:

I also have an idea or two about combining the homeless' soup kitchens with animal shelters, but I get enough death threats from the short-sighted as it is.

Quote
In other news maybe you've heard of the explosion of a Lubrizol factory in France last week.

I'm not sure. All anyone on the news talks about anymore is how much they hate Trump. But I'm sure they'll find a way to blame him for it, too. ::)

Anyway, good to hear you're okay. Just don't breathe deeply or eat anything grown locally for the next few decades, and you should be just fine. Until you start growing a third arm on your back, that is.  :lol:

(One headline: "Anxiety, questions linger after French chemicals inferno" Ya THINK???)

But I hope they get it cleaned up quickly. No one needs that shit. It's like when they were doing all that fracking here; we were having more tremors than California. Not kidding. It got to the point where I'd just sleep through the shakes; until the Devon Tower falls over (hopefully crushing [name of weather guy I don't like but will not name for legal reasons], there's no need to get our collective panties in a twist. I think there was a woman on the news who had some ceramic kitties fall off her mantlepiece, but other than that...we dealt with it.

Quote
The explosions were nice though, they woke me up at 5:30 in the morning and I was like "OK, who are we at war with now?". Then there was a low flying helicopter then another set of explosions then another (or maybe the same) helicopter then alert sirens (you know the kind they use for wartime bombing and such)  so it hit me "well, that must be something serious then" and I went back to sleep... seriously.

Sometimes in the world we live in, one cannot be bothered.

Exactly so.  :ok:  I sleep through tornado sirens; I figure my soul is prepared, so why worry about dying when I could be sleeping? My one fear is that if a tornado does hit my house, I'll somehow survive and then I'll have to deal with insurance and contractors and all that nonsense.
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Off (and insane) Topic discussions / Re: These Cereal Bars Are Great
« Last post by Starfox on October 01, 2019, 11:09:52 AM »
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These Cereal Bars Are Great

You know you could have been banned for that if I didn't know you  :lol:

Quote
I'm at a loss. There should be a new TES game by now.

Well considering that the next TES game is due after the release of Startrain, or was it Starfall? Starmap maybe? Oh... no... Starman, yes?? Anyway since nobody has any idea of the release date of Starfield, the odds to see a TES game before several years are remote, unless Bethesda decides suddenly to kill or delay Starfield and to prioritize TES; they could only do that to attempt to regain some confidence among their fan base. Bethesda know that they have no margin for error with their next game, whatever this game will be. So I guess they'll want to play it safe, which means even more delays and knowing Bethesda... a lot of silence. Anyway, communicating is not what they do best as the past year has shown.

Quote
Touch-Me-NotTM anti-molestation system
I like that,very Robocop in intent.

Quote
Outlawing children entirely.

This would wreck the future of the human race, maybe, but on the plus side it would be so good for the planet  :realconfused:

In other news maybe you've heard of the explosion of a Lubrizol factory in France last week. Well the said factory is (was considering the damage) less than 3 klicks from my living room; the smoke passed just over my head for most of the day... So I can expect a cancer in the next 10 years. Well, I expect most of Rouen population will be decimated at the very least  :hammerhead: We still don't know exactly what the fumes contained. The explosions were nice though, they woke me up at 5:30 in the morning and I was like "OK, who are we at war with now?". Then there was a low flying helicopter then another set of explosions then another (or maybe the same) helicopter then alert sirens (you know the kind they use for wartime bombing and such)  so it hit me "well, that must be something serious then" and I went back to sleep... seriously.

Sometimes in the world we live in, one cannot be bothered.
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bobdog's Mini-Reviews Corner / Re: Shadwen – May 2016 [Score: 6.8]
« Last post by Starfox on October 01, 2019, 09:43:24 AM »
It's true that presented this way I don't see why an assassin would embarrass themselves with a little girl (a liability in itself regarding an assassin's job) unless she has a part to play in the plan.
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