Been a while since I wrote here, and in the past months I played some really memorable games that I wanted to share my thoughts about :)
(If someone could help me out: can I make a collapsible picture like on SG, instead of a link, or full picture showing?)
Assassin's Creed II
58.6 hours, no achievements
Assassin's Creed 2 is not an easy game to review 12 years after its release, but to be really upfront: it's a genuinely interesting game. Has a few hiccups in various departments, the faces aged…not super well, but there is so much fun and awe to be had. Great point to start the series, and one of the best games of the series, according to the many.
I'll start with the bad, because there's only a few, mostly annoying little things. The game is really easy - people around me thought it's super hard or something, because it's one of the most "gamery" game series and apparently everyone heard about it. But the game gives you tons of upgrade options, buries you under money and helps you out with the side of borderline braindead AI.
The bad thing is, that the real enemy in the game is the controls. In Crypts and challenge maps sometimes the rotateable camera turns into tank controls and you have to jump without watching, where you jump; along with this, rooftop ropes were my bane. There is just such a middleground-angle that you're not jumping on them from the side, not hoping on and walking from a 90° angle, just jump down like there is no tomorrow. Super small, but very consistently annoying thing, but I think that is the biggest recurring issue I found.
Kinda neutral points:
-As I mentioned in the beginning, many / most character faces are just ugly, likely weren't too pretty in 2009 either.
-Starting phase of the Ubisoft collectathlon. Not too bad, not super overbearing, but back in 2009-2010 I quit the game because I was so obsessed with chests, having enough money to get everything, going for the races that I barely played the story. And it was horrible. Don't do that with yourself, just pace the chests between the story missions ;)
Oh lord, there are so, so many.
I was very hesitant about the game, for me it's essential to play a game in peace, and raving fanboys and fangirls can really make an impact of my enjoyment. So the game being that old left me in the bubble of "why u play old gaem lol" and that was so good.
The game - weirdly - is a lighthearted adventure game. The one with a great treasure to be had, climbing mountains, buildings, outwitting your enemies, being cheeky like a swashbuckler. And the easy to abuse AI, repetitive combat and the lovely Florence does that.
And suddenly renaissance history combined with alternate history comes crashing down, with treasons, assassinations and plotting and politics. The game has beautiful, bustling streets, as you unlock cities and travel around, the music, the building style, the cleaniness of the streets change city by city. At points you just catch yourself sightseeing - it's such a weird feeling in an game about assassins :)
The music is incredible - never annoying, but it's always present, a treat to listen to. And the same is true for characters too - they have great voice actors that bring a lot of style and personality to each character. I was really happy each time when I could hear Mario or Leonardo, both such enthusiastic support characters. Huge, huge bonus points for leaving so much Italian in the game - and I guess the Italian accent was also well done? It felt really natural, and not comically overdone.
One other point I want to mention, that I didn't really expect: as the game goes on and plays through years and years, Ezio, the protagonist really goes though a change in personality. A bold, careless and hasty character turns into a more tuned back version of himself, who still appreciates his allies and is genuinely thankful for their help. This sounds weird when written down, but when dozens of hour of gameplay separates start from the end, and the change is gradual, it's interesting to think back and realize, what a change happened.
At this point I don't really know what else to write. I loved cllimbing buildings and getting ancient treasure. Enjoyed upgrading the villa to have then mostly useless mountains of gold. Adored Leonardo's and Ezio's talks with the accents. It was great reading the history logs of the badasses and the pests of the era. Loved Caterina Sforza's portrayal, and maybe the best moment of the game for me was returning to Florence, and out of nowhere the theme music blasting as the memory getting build.
They okayest okay game that ever okayed, and it took me 29 disappointing hours in two gos (played once and stopped halfway because of boredom). I'm kind of upset that they made it only okay, with the great ideas they were working with.
Jokes aside, it's a lukewarm game made out of a great idea, but it misses the mark in basically every single aspect so much that it's a perfect 6/10 game.
The basic issue with the game that they try to do everything with collectibles (There are 242 collectibles). To tell you creepypasta/camp fire stories, to solve investigations, to uncover ghost graffities because ghost kids gonna be ghost kids, and also to get information about your beloved past wife, the love of your life…wait what?
Jokes aside the game really is tone-deaf. Opens up with a super badass intro about the past literally scarring a person, then constantly talks about redemption (of a past criminal, to a detective), the love of Julie that made it possible. One of the main goals of the game is to get closure, so you can move to the afterlife and reunite with her. And while you're doing that, you have to collect 50-something "notes" to get memories of her. Talk about ludo narrative dissonance, the game is actively breaking immersion as the troubled Ronan collects stuff so the Player could know the stories. And you also need to stop playing and go to a menu to check them out.
The whole game cries "B studio". There are great ideas in the game, and the cutscenes look and play good, but everything else is just not so good. There are NPCs walking around with rigid backs, acting if they were humans. People straight out of the Uncanny Valley are hugging each other with dead faces, looping in animation. 90% of the NPCs don't move from their spot, and all of them have 2 thoughts. Do you feel lucky to have mindreading instead of talking? Are you happy that the protagonist being a ghost is how actively being used to deliver unique presentation and narrative?
The NPCs are blatantly copypasted, like out of three cops two are clones of each other, having the same thoughts. At least 5 random passerby has the same quotes. Did they run out of money? Couldn't get 5 more people, or just 10-15 new lines with the actors slightly changing their voices? You can poltergeist electronic items to lead/distract NPCs, but they only react to that when the game tells you to do so. You can cover the police HQ in printer paper, they won't notice until you need to do that to cover up a jailbreak.
And it gets weirder. They made a fridge to be unique by having kid drawings and photos on it. Then copypasted in the Apartmans location's every flat. They made special post-it notes to hide small jokes and ideas - then copied it over the police HQ, the museum, and a few other places. They made genuinely funny books instead of just coloured blocks to show on a bookshelf - then copied the same group of 4-5 books THREE TIMES ON THE SAME SHELF.
I just don't get this game, it's… just baffling. Such a mix of attention to detail, and cutting corners to an incredible level at the same time. And I think there are unfinished content too - you can use ghost residue solely to hide from demons, and half of the game is filled with the ghost-spots, but no demons. And as there are 2D pictures(???) of ghosts being around and disappearing as you get closer (and a few real ghosts) you wouldn't need the ghost residue to show you that you aren't the only one "alive". Also in the Quarantine Hospital area there is a super talkative ghost, someone who needs help, and a lot of items to examine - as with the other ghost quests, but this one is just there… both of these smells like abruptly cut content.
All in all, I guess hurried release / development hell / lack of funds is the culprit here. It's a pity, genuinely.
So many things could have been used - if the game sticks with the use of many NPCs, they could have just have interesting or funny thoughts, like normal people have (Like the little notes of random people in Watch Dogs). What to eat, oh-so-hating Jeff, wondering if they left the oven on… not 5 people thinking in the same 2 sentences, and 3 asylum patients sharing the same ideas.
Or just have fewer, but more interesting NPCs (VtM Bloodlines did it really well).
FFS, you can walk through cars, walls and closed doors - call me shallow, but nowhere a funny easter egg, an interesting world detail, just collectibles and copy-pasted assets. Such a lack of creativity, nothing to do with the ghost powers but follow the script and collect collectibles.
Oh, and the ending has a fucking amazing plot twist that should have happened at least an hour earlier. Then it could have any effect on the player, not just finishing the game in a cutscene and maybe in a QTE-like sequence, not even really leaving them time to process it.
It's a game not made to be interesting, but to have X amounts of hours for the player. It's serviceable, it works well, but it could have been so, so much more.
(Posted on Steam as a positive review. There aren't really things in the game that are objectively horrible. I liked it well enough to feel disappointed about it, and I don't regret playing it)
This game was a blast!
If you happened to be on the officially unofficial discord around the time when I played / finished it, I barely could stop talking about the game. It's "Japanese-crazy" with all of its ups and downs.
Slightly tone-deaf in some parts, going into Bioware-buttshot levels of ogling on the eyecandy sniper girl.
Having huge bossfights with crazy designs and action pieces that are up in the MGS WTF levels. Like giant snake-like transformer road robot that shoots missiles at you while you're escaping with a futuristic garbage truck.
Again, Bioware-level of awkward romance/sex scene
Again-again, Bioware-like "who comes with me" missions where you can earn your teammates trust to unlock scenes, story options and make them perform better.
Joke aside, the game really smells like what if Bioware made a shooter that is barely an RPG (use nanomachines (son!) and upgrade your gun) and it works weirdly - really well.
It's weird to see in a shooter, but the team members actually have personality. Some a bit too overtuned and meme-worthy, but everyone likes Big Bo. But the game also has recurring jokes, and making jokes of the jokes, like how a character is usually grumpy about "only I know what a covert operation means?" then blows up a manhole in the middle of a café when escaping the sewers, and then suddenly nobody cares. I don't know if this is deliberately written in this way, or just gets awkward, but makes the game have super strong Alpha Protocol vibes. It may contribute to the over-the-top-iness (hehe..piness) that the studio absolutely understands the importance of making a cutscene good. Camera setting, movement, close ups, team-ups - everything is highly cinematic, effective and suggestive and print-worthy.
The characters just doesn't care and go full absurd - and this was another huge surprise, that the game is absolutely outstanding and setting up, and delivering timing based comedy, along with some crazy dialogues. (Sadly it went Fallout 4 before Fallout 4, you communicate through picking short prompts and then saying nothing, just waiting for the reply. It's weird as the protagonist is super talkative in the cutscenes)
Attention to detail is remarkable: the manhole gets cordoned off after you exit it, the lights light up when you stand to a urinal that is not even on the main path, the location uses Japanese and/or English text at various locations, depending on the location's function - Café for foreigners, international labs, or local undercity.
The combat felt great as well. By blowing up limbs of the robots you can disarm them, make them crawl around, or by removing their heads they shoot eachother. The last one is great, as you can "flank" robots who carry riot shields with this trick, opening them up for an attack.
This feature, coupled with the special personal weapon of yours with a stun/shockwave option, the ability to fire from cover, and commanding your team makes a pretty tactical, and proactive shooter.
DAAAAAAAAMN meme as the pretty chinese sniper appears
Kain, the best boy and baddest ass french ever
Just one thing the gang has to put up with
Grand Theft Auto III
35.5 hours, no achievements
TBH I didn't even write a review about this on Steam, I don't really know what to say, and it's not helpful for people.
I played this game as a teenager, maybe 12-13. Or something like that, because I barely understood English, and repeatedly got surprised that the pink blob I needed to reach is a car once, another time a guy who should be taken into a car, or that they just shot me. So I was stuck on the first island, mostly driving around, and using panzer + guns cheats to murder people and yeah, that was the game. Also couldn't drive for shit because always went 100 on gas.
Now I understand the story, every word. I was driving as I should, I remembered the location of respawning weapons and boosts, and (with a guide) collected enough mystery packages to have a few weapons + body armor on my base, +2 bribe stars.
And suddenly the game is easy. With preparation and/or using the obviously bad AI it's an easy game for the most part, which let me appreciate the storyline more.
It's a very well made game with some really, really ugly and dated character models. While it was a huge thing on its own when it got released, I don't think it has a lot of things for someone today, if they never played it. It's likely the subject of the "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny phenomena. I enjoyed playing it, but compared to the joy of remembering AC2 as I wrote its review, thinking about GTA 3 fills me with only closure, but I think that's fine.