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The Foxhole QuickViews / The Sinking City [2019 -- Frogwares]
« Last post by Starfox on July 30, 2021, 08:14:47 AM »
Well, that took me a damn long while to finally be able to play The Sinking City. First there was the Epic Games Store exclusivity (I won't enter into another polemic -- most people knowing me also know what I think about EGS policies) as I don't buy from them I had to wait for the release on Steam but then another polemic hit the fan, a copyright and property conflict between the developer Frogwares and their publisher Nacon (formerly Bigben Interactive) and the game was removed from Steam on the demand of Frogwares. Then I had to wait again. This month (July 2021) the game reappeared (about 3 months after it was removed) and since it was on sale I decided to get it before it disappeared again (apparently the dispute is still ongoing so one never knows). It's interesting to note that Frogwares seems to have a knack for getting into lawsuits messes with their publishers... first Focus Interactive and now Bigben/Nacon.

But enough drama and let's talk about the game itself.

The Sinking City follows the adventures of Charles Reed, a former U.S. Navy diver (this has some relevance in the game). WWI veteran, he decided after the war to become a P.I., job in which he proved successful enough thanks to some special -- some might say "out of this world" -- investigative abilities he developed after the ship he served on, the USS Cyclops (and yep, she did exist) disappeared under mysterious circumstances leaving him as the only survivor, albeit without any recollection of what happened. Then came the oppressing nightmares which led him to investigate the recently flooded Oakmont, a curious town with its own tradition, its own parlance and, even more curiously, which is absent from virtually every map.

This is on the docks of Oakmont that our story begins. Will Charles successfully uncover the darkest secrets of Oakmont? Who knows? He might...

So far so good... The Sinking City claims itself based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft which it is or should have been. Before being The Sinking City, the game should have been Call of Cthulhu published by Focus Interactive. Something happened though, Frogwares was out and instead Cyanide was left developing Call Of Cthulhu that I reviewed a few years ago. Meanwhile, Frogwares switched around different things and renamed their game. Still the game was meant to remain a "Lovecraftian" game with what that appellation entails: supernatural elements, psychological horror and a slow descent into madness for the main character and more generally other characters involved and of course... an old one...

Mission accomplished? Yes and no. First and foremost The Sinking City is a very good detective/investigative game which is not really a surprise considering that Frogwares has a lot of experience with their Sherlock Holmes series. Indeed, several investigative gameplay mechanisms are borrowed from those earlier games like the "Mind Place" (Sherlock brain neurons in the other games) where one can assemble the clues from a case to build deductions as to what happened or the "Mind Eye" with which Charles can see things invisible to others which also has its counterpart in the Sherlock games. Another mechanics in which you have to uncover scenes from the past and place them in the correct order to get the full story seems to be borrowed from The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. All in all I very much enjoyed the investigations in this game.

The game atmosphere however is a mix bag. Oakmont is well made and believable for the era during which the story occurs (mid 1920s), that is if you like rain, and storms, and more rain... There's not a lot of sun in Oakmont which I guess goes with the half flooded thematic of the game. There's really a good show of a town that was recently half-ruined by a flash flood even if the interior design is a lot of repetition as it was generated procedurally to reduce the development time (a few interior blueprints slightly altered to make them appear different and spread out across town according to each section -- poor, rich, warehouse etc...). it gets the job done but once you've seen three or four interiors you got the impression to have seen them all.

Another thing about the game is combat. Sadly this aspect of the game is lacking. There are post Flood creatures roaming the town that Charles will have to fight in just about any interior he visits. To be frank the combat is not the worst I've played but it certainly is far to be the best becoming eventually quite annoying and frustrating after a while. The Sinking City is not a game where one can buy and sell stuff. Each weapon available to Charles is provided as a reward for completing some of the cases during the main quest. Side cases themselves only bring ammo (that is the currency of Oakmont post-Flood) and components with which one can craft more ammo or grenades, medkits... etc.

Most side cases (or side quests) are definitely harder than the cases on the main quest with more creatures, harder to take down, especially if you only have your pistol and your shovel for melee combat. Unfortunately the game distribute side-quests haphazardly  (in fact if you don't look for them yourself you won't find most of them aside from the one provided automatically at the beginning of the game). More importantly the game does not provide any means to assert if a particular case is actually too hard for you. Which prompts this advice from most people whom played the game -- and I concur -- "Ignore the side quests/cases at least until you are awarded with the shotgun during the main quest". I know this sounds a weird advice but believe me it will spare you a lot of frustration.

The Sinking City does not hold your hand... at any point. For example, you are not provided with locations conveniently indicated on your map or on your compass. Instead, any location will be provided to you under the form of addresses like "In suchandsuch district, on Oak St, between Blablah St, and Weird Ave." You have to find the location on your map and pin it yourself. After it is pinned, it will appear on your compass. Same goes for practically everything. Even though there are icon indicating what can interacted with, one must be pretty close to have them displayed; no magical arrow pointing you toward the thing you should look at. Charles investigates, Charles draws his own conclusions and if Charles does his job well, he will either solve a case or obtain another location to pursue the next lead. And I'm not criticizing there, I quite loved the idea of going old school for once without the game telling you what to do and when to do it. In fact this particular brand of no hand holding adds to the atmosphere of the game. And it's still much easier than playing Morrowind... at least if you can read a map.

Too bad then that the whole combat routine almost destroys the atmosphere. As I already said combat may become infuriating and frustrating but it's not even the main problem. The problem is that there's so much of it compared to other Lovecraft-based games (like Call Of Cthulhu -- the most recent one -- or Moons of Madness) that you get the feeling after a while to be in a standard horror game in which you shoot stuff just because it's there. Which of course triggers the question: is open world the best setting for this kind of game? Don't get me wrong, I got nothing against open world, I have played and enjoyed a lot of open world games. In this instance however, the open world nature of the game provides a lot of distractions to the detriment of a particular atmosphere I've come to expect from a Lovecraft based game. In that area Call of Cthulhu and Moons of Madness do much better because they are closed games focusing on the story allowing the game to build up the atmosphere unimpeded. 

Not that there aren't some good Lovecraft moments in The Sinking City but they are mostly during in game movies and few and far between. The rest of the time what you get is a good detective game with annoying combat mechanics and monsters to waste your precious bullets and/or trench spade on. At no particular moment do you have the impression that Charles is slowly loosing it and if it weren't for the in game movies depicting his nightmares you could easily think that he's a well adjusted guy.

As you can surmise from all the above, I'm of a mix mind regarding The Sinking City. On the one hand I love the investigation aspect of the game on the other hand I quite dislike the combat mechanics. I like the overall setting of the game, the design of the flooded town (except for the repetitive interiors) and the open nature of the game and yet I lament the fact there are so few "Lovecraft" moments in the game, despite the graphical references here and there.

Would I recommend the game to people in search of a Lovecraft atmosphere? Possibly not. Better to turn to Moons of Madness or Call of Cthulhu. Would I recommend the game just as an open world investigative game... Possibly, if it were not for the combat mechanics which is really not the shining aspect of The Sinking City. In the end the only reason why I decided for a is because you don't spend 90% of your time fighting in this game (it's more like between 20-30%) which reduces the annoyance due to combat and because I eventually decided to rate the game as it's own kind of game and not as a Lovecraft based effort.

What is fascinating to me is that from similar premises, Cyanide and Frogwares managed to obtain two vastly different worlds and look and feel. There are common points that show that at some point the two projects where linked though. Charles Reed and Edward Pierce are both WWI veterans turned P.I., both are from Boston, both suffer intense nightmares, both possess some almost supernatural deductive abilities and both end up investigating a queer little town in Massachusetts almost completely ignored by maps but full of strangeness. The resemblance though stops there.

Of course, what I personally expect from a Lovecraft-based game may vary from what other people may expect so... feel free to try. And if one doesn't expect anything The sinking City is a good detective game if one can get over its combat mechanics (and especially ammo management).
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The Foxhole Gaming News Discussions / Re: Cyberpunk 2077
« Last post by Silver Sorrow on July 09, 2021, 06:08:31 PM »
Whoops. I've been so focused on mass effect (original) that I forgot that everything else (seasoned food, the internet, et al) existed.  :hammerhead:

I read somewhere that at least one of the CDPR devs is happy where the game stands now; apparently it's now where it should have been, had they the time to finish it in the first place.

I find this conclusion somewhat confusing for some reason, but never mind my muddled cognitive "skills."

Anyway, I read somewhere -- obviously I am so plugged into well-documented sources that I don't need to cite them at all  -- that they're at the point where a big update's on the way and free DLC isn't far behind.

Great, if true, but...will it be enough to get me to reinstall everything?

But I'm probably just being a pessimist again.

Nudity:

Public: Um...hey, there's a problem here. You--
CDPR: THERE IS NO PROBLEM.
Public: No, there is. It's--
CDPR: THERE IS NO PROBLEM.
Public: Are you kidding me with this crap?
CDPR: THERE IS NO PROBLEM. WE ARE IN COMPLETE CONTROL. THERE IS NO BUG. THAT IS ALL.
Public: But--
CDPR: THAT. IS. ALL.

I think they just don't want to admit that they're having trouble implementing a physics-enabled first person weiner.

CHANGELOG:
+ Fixed an issue where the player's dick kept smacking Judy in the face during conversations, regardless of lower body clothing choice. As this is a serious attack (perhaps even a hate crime!) and a complete disregard of her distaste for all things penile, we had no choice but to validate her feelings and utterly emasculate players using the "male" pronoun. See the final note below for more changes related to this decision.
+ Pride Month Update: The rainbow flag on Claire's truck has now been enlarged enough to cover the entire vehicle.
+ Related gameplay change: the player, regardless of gender pronoun designation, will no longer engage in violent races against others, but will instead be tasked with participating in pronoun-free affirmation parades that are -- and correctly so -- mandatory for the completion of the game itself.
+ Finally, lighter-skin tones and the entire male gender have been removed from the game completely, as have heterosexual romance options. This is a temporary hotfix (no pun nor insult intended towards players undergoing transition). We apologize to the players with "male" genitalia who identify as "female"; we are working towards a series of solutions that please each and every individual player, regardless of how "out there" a player's desired configuration may seem to narrow-minded racists.

ANYWAY.

Personally, I opt for underwear on my V, as I cannot feel comfortable knowing that he or she is going full commando in leather pants. Think about it.  :ss-weird1

It's just another in my long line of weird hangups, I admit.

The "secret" ending:

"You will need to make these specific decisions, without variation, and meet these specific requirements throughout the dozens of hours you'll be playing the game, in order to get this particularly shitty ending. Please refer to the spreadsheet provided...and please do not send any more death threats."

Quote
That's possibly one of those language mysteries that cannot be truly translated; you know, lost in translation and all that.

True; sometimes something just *is*... It's like jazz: if you gotta ask, you'll never know.

It is funny, though, when some egghead with a notepad starts asking questions.

"What does this phrase mean?"
"You don't want to know."
[scribbling furiously] "'...want...to...know.' Got it. Thanks!"
"Wait, it--oh, forget it. Have a nice day, white man." [malicious Native chuckling]
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The Foxhole Gaming News Discussions / Re: Cyberpunk 2077
« Last post by Starfox on June 28, 2021, 03:18:16 PM »
OK so here's the thing... In Cyberpunk 2077 you can opt to have your V wearing undies or be completely nude. And yet, for several months people were puzzled by the fact that even if you choose the "full nudity" option, your V, either male or female, wear a... I really don't even know what to call it because it doesn't resemble anything, it's like a modder who'd quickly had hidden genitals with a pieces of tasteless texture.

But that's not the bizarre thing there... No the bizarre thing is you're wearing underwear only in game like if your V is under the shower or has no clothes and it only affect genitals, not the breasts area. In the inventory screen though, your V is fully nude as it is intended with the proper option when selected at the start of a new game (this option cannot be changed once a game is in progress).

So of course that discrepancy got a lot of people (me included) asking why. But here's CR Projekt to the rescue:

Quote from: fron CD Projekt Red forums
Hey everyone!

I see this thread has grown quite a lot, so I'm here to dispel any doubts - lack of nudity (outside of the inventory) is not a bug, this works as intended. If you undress V, they will always have underwear in FPP and photo mode and any other cases outside of the inventory menu.

No need to submit it as a bug to our support :)

Best,
Alicja

Seriously guys... worst answer ever. You don't give a *WHY* which is what most people are interested in you just say "this is how it is and thanks to not mention it in the future". Granted, I can go with "it's not a bug and it's supposed to be that way" but then you have to give a reason why it's supposed to be that way because the way anybody defines it right not is total inconsistency -- because in the end, why does it matter to have a V not fully nude in game if they are fully nude in the inventory screen? I don't know, was there animations problems with the male version of V... Did you receive death threats by a Japanese committee of "we do porn but pretend not to by hiding anything genital"?

There are a truckload of options to choose from and as long as you don't give a real answer people will continue guessing. That will be amusing...

Oh and for the record... the "secret" ending so hard to obtain, so difficult to go through, and yet so underwhelming (both choices). Seriously I understand why it is so hard to get to this secret ending because that's probably the thing in the whole game that's shouting out loud "WE WEREN'T READY FOR PRIME TIME". Because I guess that if you had more time this secret ending would have been better. Please tell me you had other plans than this pathetic excuse for a *secret* ending...

Quote
I'm not exactly sure what "kuso-ama" means, but the more I dug, the more interpretations I found. "Poo poo woman" was the most literal, I believe, with "slut-whore" being one possibility. "Bitch" was one offering. Whatever the true meaning, I get the gist.

I played the game as male and got the same. So I can assume that you can safely discard "Poo poo woman" and "Slut-whore". "Bitch" would seem to be the reasonable option that could be used for both genders. It might be one of those insults that are purely language dependent and cannot be easily translated. Like "connard" in French that is generally translated as "asshole" and yet is not "asshole" because we have the exact translation of that insult that we are also using as an insult: "Trou-du-cul" which does not mean the same as "connard". So there it is. That's possibly one of those language mysteries that cannot be truly translated; you know, lost in translation and all that.

 :funup:
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The Foxhole Gaming News Discussions / Re: Enderal SE is available
« Last post by Starfox on June 25, 2021, 10:13:52 AM »
So I finished the SE version. 100 hours of play with exactly 2 crashes. That's a real improvement. No stutter of any kind even in the areas where the original was lagging on high-end computers.

Unfortunately that doesn't come without a tradeoff. it's not even the fault of SureAI there. It's just that moving from the 32 bits engine to the 64 bits one, the game sadly inherited of the stupid followers AI that is in Skyrim SE, Skyrim SE having inherited that from Fallout 4. So yeah, now you have followers that spend 90% of their time with their nose stupidly stuck in your ass (especially when you sneak), blocking the doors you want to go through, occasionally bumping into you so you fall from a ledge, and generally being a real annoyance (I still want to kill all the Fallout 4 companions when I play the game).

This behavior never occurred in Skyrim. there's something Bethesda did to Fallout 4 that was ported to Skyrim SE and render the friendly AI unbelievably stupid. Unfortunately that stupidity extends to all the followers mods developed for Skyrim SE and, of course, to Enderal as well.

Doesn't really matter if you play Enderal with anything other than a Phasmalist build but if you play a Phasmalist -- which I was in my game; a person collecting souls, to create talismans and summon minions -- you rapidly discover the same AI stupidity.

That and the sadly still occasionally screwed up ambient audio are the only major problems I've found with Enderal SE. Otherwise the game runs superbly.

Still very Mass Effect-y in essence but.. oh well.
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The Foxhole Gaming News Discussions / Re: Mass Effect 4, Dragon Age, etc.
« Last post by Starfox on June 25, 2021, 09:55:29 AM »
Tom Clancy is dead? That's news to me... no seriously.

Ooh, yeah he actually died. Really shows you how much I follow this kind of event  :realconfused:

That said when he was still alive he repeatedly said that he didn't care about video games (specifically he was talking about the Splinter Cell franchise) as in: I never played the damn thing, don't know what's in it so I don't care. They pay me for using my name... good enough.

I'm paraphrasing of course but I think that was the general idea.

A lot of book authors are like that. Recent example, Andrezj Sapkowsky that is still persuaded that Netflix would have created a Witcher series even if the games didn't exist. the guy is still upset because back when he negotiated with CDPR for The Witcher rights -- the first one -- CDPR offered him a percentage of all the upcoming sales of any Witcher game that would be published and the guy answered that the games would be crap, would never be successful so he wanted money now, not a percentage on zero. So CDPR gave him US$10,000. Of course he kinda changed his tune after The Witcher 3... wonder why  :lol:

But I get the idea that the guy prefers Netflix anyway... it's movie, with real actors!! Still I bet that without The Witcher 3 commercial success Netflix wouldn't give a damn.

But I digress... a lot...
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The Foxhole Gaming News Discussions / Re: Mass Effect: The Repackaging
« Last post by Silver Sorrow on June 25, 2021, 03:57:54 AM »
Quote
I wandered into Mordin's lab and checked the research terminal. Sure enough, the healing of Shepard's scars is considered a "ship enhancement" and costs 50,000 platinum to research.

Okay, weird realization: it was like this in the old ME2. For some reason, I just remember walking into the medbay and simply getting my scars healed without spending platinum on an upgrade. It turns out that I may have omitted a couple of details in memory.

My head is a sieve.
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The Foxhole Gaming News Discussions / Re: Mass Effect 4, Dragon Age, etc.
« Last post by Silver Sorrow on June 24, 2021, 11:18:29 AM »
It could...but you gotta be positive: "I'm absolutely positive it's gonna be worse!" ;D

Bioware, at this point, reminds me of the various Tom Clancy series that have carried on long after his death.
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The Foxhole Gaming News Discussions / Re: Mass Effect 4, Dragon Age, etc.
« Last post by Starfox on June 22, 2021, 10:21:10 AM »
Seriously? They just state that the guy started his career at Electronic Arts. How is that a good thing for Bioware future? It's thanks to EA that Bioware is in the state it's currently in and their solution is to give them a boss who's EA throguh and through?

Yeah, sure, that's going to work.

Quote
When you spend over 20 years in the industry, there are a small handful of studios on your bucket list in terms of teams you’d want to work with — and BioWare is at the top of my list.

Is he aware that Bioware is just a name right now? What made it great were the people working in it developing fantastic games. Right now 80% of those people including most of the writers (who brought us KOTOR, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Dragon Age...) are not there anymore. So what he's saying is that he's enthused to work for a *brand* with no real meaning anymore.

Ah, who knows anyway... That couldn't really be worse than it is... COULD IT?
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The Foxhole Gaming News Discussions / Starfield
« Last post by Silver Sorrow on June 16, 2021, 03:06:45 PM »
I don't really like the name, but what can you do...

...ANYWAY, there's been an actual trailer released. And there's even a release date, if you can believe it. I don't, not entirely, but they did make good on 11-11-11 for Skyrim...and Todd Howard even called it "Skyrim in space," so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. The date, by the way, is 11-11-22. This neatly sidesteps the ongoing war between Americans and Europeans over the month-day-year (USA) versus day-month-year (the rest of the civilized world) format.

[Absolutely Irrelevant Side Note: 2022 is also the year of the Tiger, according to the Chinese. This is my sign, apparently. And if I believed in astrology, this might mean something. However, all it inspires in me is the need to hie myself to Amazon immediately and replace all of my tattered Calvin & Hobbes books.]

Now, if they wanted to be cool, they should've used the month-day-year format and released it on the 12th, thus: 11-12-22.

See? Fun! Isn't this fun? You bet your sweet ass it is!

Speaking of fun...well. I'm not too excited by the trailer. Not too much going on...

[thoughtful pause]

Y'know, I can't remember the last time I saw a commercial for vanilla ice cream. Huh.

Okay, reeling backwards for a moment, flailing around miserably: Skyrim in space. What does that mean, exactly? Space dragons? Well...better than Space Herpes,** I guess. Much better than Space Gonorrhea (aka, Space Clap). Both burn, yes, but...
[**SEE: Ice Pirates (1984)]

...oh, horrible thought: SPACE WOOD ELVES! :ss-ahhhh

...ENOUGH. Never mind. There's even an official site, so go. Have fun.
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