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Video Games: Keanu Re3ves Is Breathtaking

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I've been alternating between Dawn of War III and NorthgardDawn of War III is sort of okay, with reasonably competent gameplay, but it feels like a rather half-arsed halfway house between Dawn of War I and II, satisfying none of the strong points of either.

Northgard is far more enjoyable. It's basically The Settlers meets WarCraft and is a lot of fun, with a strong focus on resource management and exploitation. There's a few niggles I'm not keen on (mining stone is hugely difficult and you need it for building upgrades) but there's a lot to it that's really enjoyable.

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And so what if game production costs are going north of $100 million for a AAA title? The video game market is plenty big enough that if you produce a good game you will still make a very health profit at $60/game. The problem is if you put out a series of shit games at a cost of >$100 million each then you are going to lose a lot of money. But also, so what? Should the consumer have to fork out for higher game prices because studios keep making expensive unprofitable crap?

That's not really the problem. The problem is the companies producing shit games at $60 a pop and people still buying them, which then makes the rest of the industry ask why they are bothering. Okay, calling Battlefield and Call of Duty shit is perhaps a bit harsh (they are usually at the least competent), but they are mediocre and they are iterated on almost annually with virtually zero innovation. Assassin's Creed went down that road but, remarkably, Ubisoft realised that mistake and made the development times longer and that seems to have paid off well, with the last two games being the best-received of the entire series. It'd be good to see some of the other AAA-near-shovelware series doing the same thing (like, why can't there be a Call of Duty open-world team-shooter game?).

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Gamers having a high addiction rate to games helps the industry in that gamers spend too much on games, but it's still a finite pool of money. What predatory monetisation in $60 AAA games does (fee to pay as Jim Sterling likes to call it) is concentrate gamer spending into fewer games. The result of which is inevitably fewer game purchases, which does then start to affect the profitability of good AAA games that in a time before fee to pay games would have made a return for the studio. the death of single-player games isn't a phenomenon that would happen naturally, it's a phenomenon that AAA publishers desire so that consumer spending can be concentrated into the high margin, high volume lootbox and other predatory monetisation practices for a lower volume of new game output.

 

Well yeah, but with income being squeezed, particularly for the young, they don't have that much money to spend on games. With real-world income (adjusted for inflation) being lower than it has been for generations, whilst young people in say the PS2 era could (and did) buy 1-2 full price games a month, they can't do that now, and they may only but 1-2 full price games a year, and pick everything else up on sale.

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Got suckered into getting Total War Warhammer II by a friend, who showed me the Dino units. Already spent over 100 hours in 3 weeks :dunno:. I knew it was going to happen, was avoiding TW games for this very reason. Now I dream about movement APs, construction queues and army management :bawl:

Playing the Vortex campaign as Lord Mazdamundi, but I've been ignoring the ritual stuff and focusing on Conquest mode. I expect I will lose the race, but I don't really care. Just needed the game to hold my hand through the introductory campaign to get used to TW changes, since my last one was Rome. Took a while to realise that having big dinos meant that I didn't have to build siege items and that infantry could climb walls!

During my third ritual got my ass handed by triple army (2 Chaos and 1 Skaven intervention). Had to reload a few turns to prepare properly. Skink Priests saved my ass. That block army ability helped me separate the armies so it wasn't a 1v3 fight. Slowed down Skaven and one Chaos army (who sacked one of my settlement) and managed to 2v1 the first army. Kept slowing the Skaven and took out the second Chaos army. After that it was cruise mode. But well into 130 turn territory and Chaos is starting to show up. On top of that, Teclis (High Elves) are amassing 4 fucking army at one of my settlement even though we aren't at war (asshole is tresspassing to boot!). So now I need to get my armies there asap otherwise I feel a war declaration soon. I am strength no 1 and they are 2, and they have heaps of military alliances, so not looking forward to that development at all. Basically going to go to war with half of the continent.....

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Did not expect Collection of Mana <3 . I really hope they do Legend of Mana, and that this is a sign of things to come. Between Squaresoft and Enix there are a shitload of NES/SNES/GB franchises that could use this treatment. I think The 7th Saga had a japan only sequel for example. Terranigma never made it to the US. and FFIV-VI collection would be awesome. (with or without an "after years" treatment for VI) 

Also "Final Fantasy Adventure" holds up really well. It lacks the personality of Links Awakening but does that same kinda combat in a more interesting way two years earlier.  

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Werthead said:

I'm more on board with the Final Fantasy VII remake. The graphics are impressive, the character updates look pretty good and combat looks more solid, especially with the optional pause and order mode, and being able to switch between characters more dynamically.

What needs further clarification - somewhat urgently - is the scale and scope of Episode I. They've said it's going to be the size of a "full game" and they see the whole release package as being similar to FF13, which took four years to complete in full. But how much new content will there be? Will Midgar be a full open-world environment with lots of new side-missions and optional content? They seemed to be saying that in much earlier interviews, but not so much in recent ones.

There's also the fact that Midgar takes up about one-quarter of the original game, so does that mean this will be four episodes or the more heavily-rumoured three?

What I wonder about is if they'll transfer over items/weapons/materia/level between the episodes.

Or if they'll decide to make each new episode a complete reset. With everyone starting each new episode exactly the same, irregardless of what they had at the end of the previous one.

 

Edit: Words hard.

Edited by A True Kaniggit

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Terrific E3 showing for Nintendo. A lot of it is ports and remakes -- it is Nintendo, after all -- but there's some original stuff coming out as well.

That Link's Awakening remake... I'm not big on that art style, but it's one of the best Zelda games ever made. The thing that blew me away about that trailer was the music. LA always had a great soundtrack, but hearing it with real instrument samples instead of chiptunes was breathtaking.
 

6 hours ago, RumHam said:

Did not expect Collection of Mana <3 . I really hope they do Legend of Mana, and that this is a sign of things to come. Between Squaresoft and Enix there are a shitload of NES/SNES/GB franchises that could use this treatment. I think The 7th Saga had a japan only sequel for example. Terranigma never made it to the US. and FFIV-VI collection would be awesome. (with or without an "after years" treatment for VI) 

Also "Final Fantasy Adventure" holds up really well. It lacks the personality of Links Awakening but does that same kinda combat in a more interesting way two years earlier.  


Amen. I absolutely loved Legend of Mana and I would really like to see it re-released. The fan-translated ROM of SD3, along with the PAL ROM of Terranigma, have circulated for years, but SD3 is finally getting a proper US release.

Terranigma is an incredible game and it's a crime it never got released in the US. However, it was developed by Quintet, and I'm not sure what the situation is now with the rights to it. A US release on Switch would be amazing.

The Mana and Contra collections being available immediately was a really nice surprise. Those games were a big part of my childhood.

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1 hour ago, A True Kaniggit said:

What I wonder about is if they'll transfer over items/weapons/materia/level between the episodes.

Or if they'll decide to make each new episode a complete reset. With everyone starting each new episode exactly the same, irregardless of what they had at the end of the previous one.

 

Edit: Words hard.

They will probably transfer over for people who have save data. 

It's not like its a new concept or anything. I'm not as old as a lot of the people here but I remember that they had multiple discs for their Playstation games. Granted, they are single games split apart by size, but there are other games that have separated their games by episodes and sold them as individual games with carry over as far back as 2002.

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For those of you with Switches, there's a sale happening on the E-Shop. It's Nintendo, so it's not like games are on sale for 90% off, but there are some good deals on indie games and ports, and some first party titles are as low as they're ever going to go on the digital storefront.

 

 

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13 hours ago, Mr. Fancy Pants said:

I loved the 360, and I think launch time has little to do with the success of a console. In my opinion, Microsoft did the same thing as Sony did with the PS3. They had too much hubris. They thought they could do no wrong, and, in many ways, these companies do have a ton of leeway when coming off console successes. But they typically make decisions that are fundamentally annoying (and sometimes outright hostile) to gamers. The Xbone had numerous moments like this that I remember. Games that only worked if you had internet (they must have changed this later?), a convoluted trading system, and hot off the heels of Snowden's release of classified info that we are being upon (in the U.S.) perfectly collided with the Xbone's inclusion of an always on camera that required internet access to work--and again, when announced, was mandatory. 

Sony's responses sealed the deal. I still remember their little "ad" at some conference where they showed how you trade games on the PS4. One guy handed his physical game to another guy. I mean these were big deals. Xbone could have come out early/late/exact same day as the PS4, but their choices on that console made many gamers feel like choice was being taken from them.

I think the biggest coup for Sony was the same one for Microsoft on the previous generation: price. Because of the mandatory Kinect, Xbone was 499 at launch, and the PS4 a hundred bucks less. Very similar to PS3 being 600 bucks and nothing they could do because they added a blueray player to the machine while the Xbox 360 made the HDD drive optional (therefor they could sell their units cheaper). All the reactive responses from Microsoft when they saw the tides had turned were too late. They'd lost the fight right out the gate.

I'm not saying Microsoft won't come out ahead on this new round, but it depends on if they learned from previous mistakes. I think the most important rule is that whichever new console is cheaper, that's the one that will win. I know when those 600+ price tags start getting reported for the next console, I'm going to say, "No way." So when the second console announces something like 500-550 dollars, I'll grudgingly accept. Even though that was way out of any price range I was willing to pay back in 2013. Hell, if they're over 500 bucks, I'll be honest, I may not even buy another console. All they do is collect dust. I could put that money toward a new PC.

Unless Sony trips itself up in some way this is exactly what will happen. There's a lot of good will towards Playstation right now, especially because Sony is very smartly and vocally not on the multi-player live services bandwagon, all while enjoying the benefits of having exactly those types of games on their platform by way of 3rd party live services games. The norm for Playstation is to be the head of the console pack. MS and Nintendo only get to be ahead if something disruptive happened. With PS3 is was both Sony shooting itself in the foot, and Wii being a huge deal. Nintendo has shot its load with Switch, and it's doing exceedingly well, but it's mostly getting the handheld gamers. So for Sony's PS5 strategy Nintendo is a completely known quantity, and MS and Sony's machines will virtually be appealing to a different market. I'm not hearing anything disruptive coming out of MS right now. So it's down to Sony to not shit it's own bed. Which they have done before and not just with Playstation.

I have read speculation (or is it true?) that PS5 will be launching at $499. That could be a bit of a problem if Xbox Two comes in at $399. But hardware under the hood is pretty similar for PS and Xb so I don't see how there would be a $100 difference in launch price. Sony is apparently shooting for a SSD, if MS sticks with HDD then that could make for quite a price difference.

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My latest exploits in TW: Three Kingdoms need another write up. I've fought and won the largest battle so far since I started this game, and probably the largest since my Attila days: 2 v 4 where my two armies were at full strength, while the AI's forces were 2 full stack armies, 2 partial stack armies, and all not quite at full strength.

Campaign map prelude

The AI actually outmaneuvered me on the campaign map. It was a relatively narrow corridor between mountains to the south, and the Yangtze river to the north. I had 4 armies and was trying to push the AI back. The AI sent 2 of its armies down the Yangtze and they deployed behind me. It became so I could only engage with 2 of my armies at a time, while all 4 of the AI's armies would be involved. All computer calculations gave the advantage to the AI. I decided to attack the enemy faction leader army with my 2 best armies (best generals and most experienced troops).

Initial phase

The battlefield was heavily forested, but fairly flat. I had guerrilla deployment on a portion of my army (including my trebuchet) and so I deployed them in an advanced position to see where the enemy was deploying, and use the trebuchet to goad the AI into attacking me. This didn't work. Sun Ce, the enemy leader, pulled back quickly, to join his forces with the incoming reinforcements. I decided to do the same, and slowly moved my troops through the woods and joined up with my reinforcing army. The distances and terrain resulted in becoming invisible to each other, so a cat & mouse game began. I had little cavalry outside all the general bodyguards, but what I had I sent out as scouts. They were invisible to the enemy through the woods, until they got close. At last I found them, and proceeded to deploy my army accordingly. The scouts served as a goad, too, as the enemy attempted to close in, and came within range of my trebuchet, thus prompting him to start engaging fully.

Main engagement

The AI's troops had been moving around far longer than mine, so they were already at very tired state by the time they closed in. My trebuchet fire through the woods set some trees alight, which further helped to sap their morale. My two biggest strengths were the superb crossbow units unique to Kong Rong, and a whole bunch of Azure Dragons, the elite armored glaive & bow units you unlock through reforms. I heavily outnumbered him on the range units side, but the AI had more cavalry, and his strength was the elite units that are unlocked when declaring emperor. 

While I set up a defensive formation, the AI came at me haphazardly, enraged by the trebuchet fire and crossbow fire. I'd say the critical move that won me the battle was to use my crossbowmen effectively. I didn't let them fire-at-will. I targeted the more powerful armored units, or lancer units, and didn't shoot at shielded units, thus conserving ammo for as long as possible. I used my champion generals to engage enemy generals, and I used my cavalry to go around and hit at enemy range units.

I repulsed attack after attack and routed enemies with my cavalry or completely obliterated them with arrow fire. The AI's generals died or were routed.

Final phase

Since the game doesn't allow more than 2 armies per side on the field at a time, as the enemy started losing units, more started entering the field. The distances were great, though, and they came piece-meal. Some of them gave me some trouble, but for the most part I dealt with them, but my ammo eventually ran out for all units. The final wave came more coherently. Some of my sword & shield units got caught far away from my main line by enemy cavalry and I lost them, but I reformed my lines one last time, with no ammo left, to meet the final charge. With so many losses on the enemy side, this last wave didn't really have the stomach to fight, and they broke quite fast.

Aftermath

I captured some of the enemy generals. None of them wanted to enter my employ, so I executed the more experienced ones who had some valuables on them, but released a couple who were just at rank 1 or 2. In the end it was a "close victory."

 

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1 hour ago, Werthead said:

That's very cool! I have to admit I wasn't too impressed by the dialogue and acting in the cinematic trailer they released, but the gameplay is sounding good. Here's hoping they deliver!

13 years after I first wanted to play it, I took advantage of the Switch sale and bought Final Fantasy XII.

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A number of outlets saw a hands-off demo of Cyberpunk 2077, similar to last year's. I imagine CDPR will release the footage at some point, but here is one pretty detailed write-up.

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4 hours ago, Corvinus said:

I captured some of the enemy generals. None of them wanted to enter my employ, so I executed the more experienced ones who had some valuables on them, but released a couple who were just at rank 1 or 2. In the end it was a "close victory."

Haha. I suppose the game doesn't allow you to just rob your prisoners?

Murder mandatory. 

 

Fun battle description.

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23 minutes ago, A True Kaniggit said:

Haha. I suppose the game doesn't allow you to just rob your prisoners?

Murder mandatory. 

 

Fun battle description.

Yep, there are only 3 options: employ, ransom, or execute. I guess if you ransom, they don't just leave with their clothes on their backs. :P And the employ option is only available if the characters in question don't have high loyalty to their faction.

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Posted (edited)

I actually wanted to say that I finished Batman: Arkham Origins this evening, but the game stubbornly refuses to be finished. I already finished the campaign this weekend, now I returned to collect all the Riddler data packs and wrap up the side-quests involving apprehending Black Mask and Bane's second-hand man. While I was at it three more murder cases popped up for me to solve and once I got those wrapped up, Gordon suddenly called and asked me to take in 20 escapees from Blackgate. I couldn't help but sigh in frustration. This game... Come on, give poor Bruce a break! After this bloody Christmas I wish for him to go on a long vacation for once. XD

The ridiculous 100% completion aside, it's solid. I can't understand why people actually hated on it by release. Yes, it is recycling the map of Arkham City and the mook chatter used to be funnier, yes it is lacking Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill (though their replacements do a fairly good job, except when Batman forces himself to a Christian Bale hoarse croaking for no reason). But the story is fun, to have SWAT team going after you as well and the combat is great as usual. With many great boss fights to boot...

Edited by Toth

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5 hours ago, Caligula_K3 said:

That's very cool! I have to admit I wasn't too impressed by the dialogue and acting in the cinematic trailer they released, but the gameplay is sounding good. Here's hoping they deliver!

13 years after I first wanted to play it, I took advantage of the Switch sale and bought Final Fantasy XII.

Yeah, the writing for CP77 does seem to be below the quality of The Witcher 3. They did haemorrhage a lot of staff after that game was finished, I'm just hoping their best writers didn't bail with them.

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19 hours ago, The Winged Shadow said:

Got suckered into getting Total War Warhammer II by a friend, who showed me the Dino units. Already spent over 100 hours in 3 weeks :dunno:. I knew it was going to happen, was avoiding TW games for this very reason. Now I dream about movement APs, construction queues and army management :bawl:

Playing the Vortex campaign as Lord Mazdamundi, but I've been ignoring the ritual stuff and focusing on Conquest mode. I expect I will lose the race, but I don't really care. Just needed the game to hold my hand through the introductory campaign to get used to TW changes, since my last one was Rome. Took a while to realise that having big dinos meant that I didn't have to build siege items and that infantry could climb walls!

During my third ritual got my ass handed by triple army (2 Chaos and 1 Skaven intervention). Had to reload a few turns to prepare properly. Skink Priests saved my ass. That block army ability helped me separate the armies so it wasn't a 1v3 fight. Slowed down Skaven and one Chaos army (who sacked one of my settlement) and managed to 2v1 the first army. Kept slowing the Skaven and took out the second Chaos army. After that it was cruise mode. But well into 130 turn territory and Chaos is starting to show up. On top of that, Teclis (High Elves) are amassing 4 fucking army at one of my settlement even though we aren't at war (asshole is tresspassing to boot!). So now I need to get my armies there asap otherwise I feel a war declaration soon. I am strength no 1 and they are 2, and they have heaps of military alliances, so not looking forward to that development at all. Basically going to go to war with half of the continent.....

My Lokir Felhart Dark Elf Vortex campaign got completely side-swiped by High Queen Kalida attacking my soft targets really early on. So I fell so far behind on the Vortex rituals that I ended up instead killing off all the Skaven, Lizardmen and High Elf factions rather than actually taking control of the Vortex. It was a long hard slog, and I also ended up being at War with Naggarond because they decided to ally with fricken Tretch Craventail what I attacked him instead of allying with me. What can you expect from a Druchii I suppose?

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37 minutes ago, Werthead said:

Yeah, the writing for CP77 does seem to be below the quality of The Witcher 3. They did haemorrhage a lot of staff after that game was finished, I'm just hoping their best writers didn't bail with them.

Writing for a near-future, US-based setting is a bit of a different skill set than writing for a medieval fantasy, Eastern European-style setting. There's still 10 months left until the game releases though, which I'd hope would be enough time to tighten things up.

The main issue I've seen, from the limited amount of content that's come out, is that they're doing that thing of putting in too much overly elaborate swearing that doesn't sound like how anyone would actually talk. It's the same trap a bunch of TV writers in the US had back in the early 2000s; suddenly they had the freedom to use swearing, and went over board.  Taking out/replacing lines like "We don't need all this cocksucking attention!" seems doable to me.

Of course, if there are bigger picture issues like problems with quest design or character arcs/motivations, that's a much bigger problem that wouldn't be so easily fixable. However, I don't think we've seen any evidence one way or the other on that.

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Keanu Reeves as your ghost sidekick that talks shit every so often sounds so incredibly awesome. What a stupidly great use of talent. 

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