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Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (Switch)

After the huge disappointment of Breath of the Wild, which I just couldn't get into, I sold it and bought this game second hand. Fair trade as it turns out, I'll be keeping this one.

Just like the first game this one is a massive JRPG epic. These games are epic in a different way to something like Skyrim. In an Elder Scrolls game you have a 20 hour story and a world with hundreds of hours of side quests and random stuff. I like that too. But the Xenoblade games are different, they have close to 100 hour stories! Then there is all the optional side quests (which are dull TBH) and the meta game stuff like maxing affinities and doing the specific companion related blade quests. all that stuff could easily add another 100 hours. I just did the story and maybe half the side questing.

The story this time is similar to the first game, though it isn't so apparent just how similar until near the end. People live on the backs of giant titans that move around a huge world tree in a sea of clouds. You play as a type of warrior called a Driver. Drivers have the affinity to be able to bond with one or more entities known as Blades, through this bond the driver wields the power that comes from the blade. Confusing terminology is something you need to get used to in this game! The game mainly revolves around the relationship between Rex and his newly acquired blade, Pyra and their epic journey to the top of the central world tree. Along the way you pick up a band of other Drivers and Blades, most of them well written and memorable characters- especially the Zeke-anator and his blade Pandoria.

The world is semi open world hubs with some linear story driven sections. The systems under the bonnet of this game are very deep and multi layered and keep expanding even in the final parts of the game. For example in combat you have you standard auto attacks which charge up your drivers special attacks (called arts). Arts obviously do more damage and have special effects like healing knock down etc. But if you time an art right as an auto attack hits you get an even more impressive art attack. At the same time you're doing this you can tell your other party members when to trigger their arts with the left and right triggers. These art attacks build up a separate meter that eventually allows you to release a special attack at one of 4 levels. All of this builds up a party meter, which eventually can allow the entire party to launch into devastating chain attacks. Prior to these chain attacks your level three specials can place elemental orbs, based upon your current blades elemental affinity, onto enemies which can be burst by using the opposite element for massive chain damage- something that becomes almost compulsory to defeat late game bosses. Get orbs for all elements and burst them during a single chain attack and you can do damage figures in the millions and tear down bosses easily. Got all that? No? Too bad, because that's not even all of it and the game doesn't do a great job of explaining much of it. However, if you work at it and learn the games systems, it's very rewarding with a lot of depth.

I loved the game and have already begun New Game Plus, which I'll set aside for later. That's not say the game doesn't have some annoyances- mainly the usual JRPG issues. Whilst the characters are mostly great, well written, interesting and well voiced- it wouldn't be a JRPG without the annoying cute party member. In this case that would be the Nopon Tora, who I refused to use in my party unless absolutely needed by the story. To describe a Nopon it would be best to use a Star Wars analogy. Imagine a cross between an Ewok and a Gungan that is 10 times more annoying than both of them combined. Well, that would be a Nopon. I wanted to genocide the entire world of Nopons, but the game won't let me because they're supposedly good. And all the characters exhibit the usual JRPG trait in poor dress sense...I mean wtf Rex, those pants you're wearing? Seriously.

The game apparently has some performance issues after extended play time. Either they patched that out, or I'm really lucky as I had no issues at all, including no glitches or bugs in just over 100 hours. But the game isn't quite visual stunner. It looks okay on the Switch's own screen despite it's dynamic resolution supposedly dropping as low as 360p at times! I tried it on my 28 inch monitor in docked mode...but it doesn't look great when scaled up to a larger screen. Anyway I played it all in portable mode, that's what the Switch is to me.

If you have a Switch and enjoy the occasional epic JRPG you should get this for sure at some point. If you have a Switch and love JRPG's then this should be the first game you get for it.
Post edited June 01, 2018 by CMOT70
toxicTom: Is the 6 hours another complete replay or ending decision -> end?
Six hours would be another playthrough, which would be neccessary to get the other (more positive) ending.
Knights of Pen and Paper 2 Deluxiest

The PC version of the Android/iOS game. Did play it on my tablet two times, but it's so good and fun that I just had to replay it once more on my PC. That's one of those games where you can either play on short spurts of binge playing it, it's always fun!

That version has all the DLCs. Completed all, except the LVL40 dungeon of the last expansion because, while being a great game, the dungeons are not my favorite part of the game... ^_^

So far in 2018:
Enigmatis 2: The Mists of Ravenwood

Tiny Barbarian DX still kicking my ass, which means it was time for another HOG! Better than the first game in the trilogy, no bugs anyway. Also more modern in multiple ways. Main character dumb as a brick tho.

Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala

Got to the 3rd and final form of Tiny Barbarian DX final boss several times, each time I'm demolished pretty quicky... So I finished last Enigmatis instead. Inventory combination puzzles in a HOG, who'd'a thunk it!
Post edited June 03, 2018 by kalirion
PaterAlf: Six hours would be another playthrough, which would be neccessary to get the other (more positive) ending.
Thanks! So it's a rather short game then. I'm sometimes looking for games like this in between the 100+h epics.

One of the first Steam games bought there but managed to finish it recently, pretty short for action RPG tbh (was looking for something to kill time while waiting for new Path of Exile league).
You control squad of 3 humans/mutants through post apocalyptic Sweden that looks better than before cataclysm.

Game is grindy and quests are MMO-like. Everything, with main quest line included, led you to the depths of dungeons.

XP is not an issue - go to the rat nest, then some other hole and bam - max lvl in less than 30minutes.
But money? That's the biggest problem.
There is one good place to farm where implants and boosters drop like candies. And you need a lot of money for implants (permament stats boost) and skills boosters.

Here comes another issue - game encourages experiments with different characters and skills boosters, but you had to spend a lot of time to grind for money (in my case it was like ~5h?, not in one sitting tho) to start these experiments.
And here's the catch - boosters and implants are expensive and can't be removed from the characters' slots, only replaced with other one. Can't sell them, making money issue more painful.
Yet another catch - profits from increased stats become barely noticable after you reach certain value. You don't know which one and that sux cause these implants aren't cheap you know...

My squad was 2x Human 2H Brutes and mutant Medic (from dr Cerebro DLC). Human medic have better healing stream but can be interrupted, which you discover at the final battle and nowhere else. Welp.
Mutant medic have weaker healing but cast them instantly.
All characters had 2x Defence Implants, at least 6 Endurance ones and rest filled with their respectable stat (Strength for Bruisers and Focus for Medic).

Whole game is rather easy but then you reach final boss and get destroyed. Here goes your experiments with squad...
Oh and turns out - it was final boss but nothing says it was the end (squad was escorting courier with mysterious package to the outside world, tbh Fallout NV did it better).

In other words - cliffhanger. And we all love cliffhangers...
Post edited June 01, 2018 by SpecShadow
Just finished Medal of Honor: Heroes on PSP. I somehow figured that the first thing I want to play through on my "new" PSP is something short and that I "know". Plus I really was curious how shooters more advanced than Doom will work on a handheld.

So, I was both disappointed and positively surprised. The "disappointment" was that the game does not feature a traditional singleplayer campaign (which I was really looking forward to). It's more like the campaign in Battlefield 1942, a series of bot matches with combatants on both sides respawning, the difference being that you have only one life and will have to start over if you die just once - that's evened out with extended healing compared to the bots. They kinda pretend that there's continuity and the playable characters are named after the protagonists from earlier Medal of Honor games but frankly I couldn't care less about any of it, I didn't even bother to read through the briefings. So the game is just fifteen matches where you have to fulfill various objectives. Usually you have to either pick up items or capture strategic points, the missions typically last 5-10 minutes. Back in the day I would have considered that criminally short but considering my PSP backlog I couldn't care less about it right now. And if I really wanted to spend more time with that game I could always go for additional awards and medals which would actually be kinda fun, I guess.

Anyway, the game looks pretty good, I guess, much like Medal of Honor: Allied Assault or the first Call of Duty, which is more than good enough for a handheld game and it also sounds nice. What really impressed me, though, were the really good character animations, especially with death animations corresponding to the body part of the kill shot. It's a traditionally good aspect of Medal of Honor games but I wasn't expecting it in a game where the enemies are basically bots speeding over a multiplayer map. And the AI, while not super advanced, is pretty solid. Also the controls worked surprisingly well. Before even playing the first mission I made sure to choose the "Elite" control layout that uses the analogue stick for aiming. The only problem is that the stick is on the left side of the PSP, so it was inverted compared to pretty much any shooter I've played on controller in the last 15 years or something. And the face buttons are used for moving. Frankly it took me just like two or three missions to fully grasp the controls and the game played remarkably well.

Even though it was just a series of bot matches I enjoyed the game a lot actually. The gunplay was really great and gunning down groups of Nazis just never gets old, especially in the Medal of Honor series. Wouldn't really recommend it anymore due to its short length and dead online multiplayer but it was certainly a fun little experiment for me personally.
Well, this went quickly, my last post is actually still the newest one, lol. Just finished Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 on PSP on veteran difficulty.

So, my first impression was that it's going to be better. It's this whole OSS thing again where you're a single character doing secret missions during army ranger operations and this time it's a genuine singleplayer campaign, for better or worse. The levels are linear scripted missions again, you often have (immortal?) allies by your side and you advance through waves of enemies towards your objective. There's just seven missions (I think) this time but they are a tad longer, usually separated into several levels and also have checkpoints. Kinda sadly they replaced the medkits with automatic health recovery which makes this one a lot less dynamic.

What seriously sucks is that there's no music during gameplay, already because of this the game feels a lot cheaper than even the very first MoH games on PSX. And well, it's pretty mediocre. It's just a corridor shooter and sadly one without fancy sequences. They were a bit more imaginative with the objectives this time but that imagination was limited to using a bazooka or artillery to destroy fuel tanks or AA guns. There's just nothing interesting going on. No big battles, no stealth, no vehicles. Just running and gunning. Well, scratch the running, movement is ridiculously slow. I think while sprinting, which is possible for like one second before that sissy needs to take a break, you're still not as quick as in Allied Assault.

What really sucks, though, is the level design and enemy placement. Most of the time the game is ridiculously easy but when it's not it's due to pretty unfair enemy placement and lack of cover. And the game is criminally short, I would have probably finished it in like two hours if it weren't for that last friggin' sequence. Oh, that abomination, how I loathe thee. So everything was pretty much a breeze, a "hard" section until that point was one that I needed two attempts for. And then came the escape from some nuke factory. With a five minute time limit you have to make it out of that facility. The game just spams enemies wave after wave as you get closer to the exit. And when you finally see the end of the tunnel, when you think that you've made it, the game throws literally two dozen elite soldiers right in your face (so much that the game suffers from slowdowns). I'm fairly certain that this section alone took me as long as the remainder of the game. I wouldn't be surprised if it took me more than 30 attempts.

The gunplay was actually fun and I guess the game is still impressive as a handheld FPS, from that generation at least, but looking at it now it's just a pretty terrible and downscaled clone of Allied Assault with an immensely frustrating finale. Don't recommend this one.
Finished Four Last Things. A good but short point'n click with graphisms like paintings. I really liked it.

Full list here.
Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius (Free on GoG/Steam)

This game is part VN, part space combat sim. The VN, despite some flaws here and there, overally a pretty decent story. That said, it needed a bit of tightening up, and I was a bit confused by the ending in particular. I get that it's supposed to be a lead in to the next game, it still just felt a bit herky-jerk getting to the semi-cliffhanger.

The space combat I found fairly inconsistent. Some fights were quite easy; others were quite hard. That's perhaps the result of how I spent the money improving my ship - dumping money into laser damage/accuracy/energy was very effective for a while...until later in the game when it wasn't so much. Likewise, combats where the mission was to hold out on defense, or escort a defenseless ship (requiring both move/attack) I didn't have the right build for.

And at the end, the enemy has so many shield ships out that deflect lasers that they didn't work so well.

So I suspect the combat here actually does offer some challenge. About halfway through I just cheesed it and turned the difficulty down to minimum.

I actually enjoyed the game for the most part, but I didn't enjoy it enough to start the 6-7 hour journey over again.

The game does also offer binary dialogue choices scattered throughout. It's not entirely clear in many cases what difference that makes, however. Everything seems to drive towards the main plot plugging along undeterred nonetheless, and the game seems too unfocused (and the main character too emotionally distant) for the "romance" aspect to actually go anywhere meaningful.

But strip that out, and it's at least a decent sci-fi plot with some moral ambiguity around what happens when two empires square off, each pointing out the other's atrocities, and throw in a pack of bloodthirsty pirates who really aren't that morally ambiguous, but do have a legit claim that one empire is a bunch of jerks nonetheless.
Okay, this month is off to a very good start, lol. Just finished another game, namely Spyro the Dragon. I actually did a complete 120% playthrough, collecting every single bit of treasure.

It's kinda funny actually, I got the Spyro games on PSN earlier this year after finishing Banjo-Kazooie and discovering my love for 3D platformers. I did not have high hopes for this one, frankly, because in my experience all 3D platformers on PSX were pretty pathetic compared to the N64's, using terrible D-Pad controls most of the time. Out of sheer curiosity I installed it on my PSP to see if it's something that will play well on it. Well, I fell in love with it instantly and then discovered that it actually has good analogue controls and ended up finishing it on PS3. Now the dumb part is that there's going to be a remaster released on PS4 in just three months. I wouldn't even have bothered with this version if I had disocvered that before finishing like 70% of it. Then again, if I hadn't tried the PSX version I probably wouldn't have bothered with the remaster in the first place. Plus this endeavour had some historical value, I guess. And frankly, I enjoyed this game so much, I am going to get that remaster soon after it gets released and play through it again.

Anyway: the game is utterly fantastic. I thought it was going to be a mediocre game that just got famous back in the day due to aggressive marketing, a great mascot and a lack of notable competition on its platform. Well, that surely greatly contributed to the game's success but hell, it's a really extremely well-designed game and ironically that's probably because it was targeting a younger audience. The game is very accessible and just has "feel good" written all over it. The world is beautifully innocent, even the bad guy is huggable and that rocky soundtrack is just brilliant.

What the game really stands out with is how casual and simple it is while rewarding "hardcore" efforts. There's no unlockable skills or anything like that, no complicated adventure elements, no particular story, you just move out into the world collecting gems, eggs and freeing dragons by touching crystal statues, unlocking more and more levels until you face the huggable bad guy. Most importantly the game has a very clean design focused on the several abilities that define the hero and gets the most out of it. So you can dash, glide and breathe fire and later on you find some environmental elements that temporarily improve these. All the challenges are really focused on mastering these abilities and using them to their fullest extent. Sometimes you have to be imaginative about where you can glide or how far you can get with a power dash. When you finally discover such a solution it's just super satisfying.

Now, getting some of the collectables is infamously frustrating, as I discovered, and I admittedly used guides for reaching two of these spots. On one hand I regret it a bit, because solving these kinds of problems is one of the best aspects of the game and they were perfectly optional and not required to actually finish the game. Then again, these spots were designed in such a manner that reaching them normally would probably take hours of exploration and trial & error. I'm pretty sure I'd never reached at least one of them on my own, so I can't say that I regret using a guide for those.

Anyway, fantastic game. It controls well (mostly), it has some of the best animations and level design I've seen on PSX and it's just utterly fun to play. And it's a stroke of genius that while dashing the game controls almost more like a racing game. I wholeheartedly recommend it and hope that the remaster will live up to the original.
Post edited June 02, 2018 by F4LL0UT
Beat Wasteland 1 for the first time ever.
Used the Wasteland 1 cluebook hard in the final global map location. Enemies in final global map location were exponentially deadlier than the enemies encountered anywhere else in the game world...except maybe for packs of Humongous Coyotes in the Darwin Base nursery area.

Favorite random things in Wasteland 1 for me were:
-NPC companions starting to refuse orders after being forced into heat-stroke 30+ times so the MEDIC skill could be trained up by all party members.
-Harry the BunnyMaster living up to his title.
-The graffiti on the walls of the cafeteria in the Guardian Citadel.
-VAX the NPC android getting heat-stroke in the desert (no canteen in inventory).
Tiny Barbarian DX

Finally beat the final form of the final boss with only my final hit point remaining. Then the bonus episode. Then started playing Chapter 1 with the newly unlocked character but after the first boss decided "you know what, I need a break from this game." But it is a very good game, you can tell a lot of heart went into it. It just feels good to play it. Until you hit a difficulty wall and just keep dying. But overcoming that wall feels good. Until the next wall. Thankfully you get unlimited lives, and the normal checkpoints aren't far apart, it's the persistent checkpoints (where you can start again after quitting the game) that are much farther apart. You have to wonder why every checkpoint can't be persisted.
Post edited June 03, 2018 by kalirion
kalirion: Tiny Barbarian DX

Finally beat the final form of the final boss with only my final hit point remaining. Then the bonus episode. Then started playing Chapter 1 with the newly unlocked character but after the first boss decided "you know what, I need a break from this game." But it is a very good game, you can tell a lot of heart went into it. It just feels good to play it. Until you hit a difficulty wall and just keep dying. But overcoming that wall feels good. Until the next wall. Thankfully you get unlimited lives, and the normal checkpoints aren't far apart, it's the persistent checkpoints (where you can start again after quitting the game) that are much farther apart. You have to wonder why every checkpoint can't be persisted.
I think I need to replay this one because I think when I went through it, it only had two completed episodes...
Neverwinter Nights 2 Mask of the Betrayer, Jun 3 (GOG)-Just finished this one to wrap up the NWN2 bundle here. I thought the story and characters were really good. I had some issues with the camera and companions not following and I thought the spirit mechanic was just annoying. Leveling was a little meh because you start at such a high level anyways. It is easily the best expansion for NWN2 and I feel on par with the original campaign.

Full List
Post edited June 08, 2018 by muddysneakers