Seem to have developed an ear infection. This is decidedly not helpful for the already poor mood and physical status. Oh well.
Gives me a bit more time to fiddle around with some of the recent releases that I have otherwise been neglecting, however, so might as well drop a bit of info on them; in no particular order I offer up a short tidbit on the recent items that have graced the PlayStation’s drive.
South Park: The Stick of Truth / South Park: Fractured But Whole – RPGs with South Park attitude. Is there much else to be said? The PS4 port of Stick is a little glitchy – thank God it autosaves, or there would have been more than one incident of significant progress lost just because it arbitrarily likes to go to a black screen and then crash on you – but they’re both solid lightweight RPGs that do well to encapsulate the franchise’s humor. The games seem to understand that video games are supposed to be fun and don’t try to drown you in spectacles and worthless “content,” which is a rarity these days. That being said, if you’re not a fan of South Park‘s typical humor, you’re probably not going to enjoy the games… they both feel like you’re interacting with an eight-hour marathon of the show. In my book, though, that’s a good thing.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins – I thought the original AC was a good game. Not a great game, not an amazing game… but certainly a good one, with a lot of potential. Then ACII came out and met most of that potential, and it was amazing. Then we got Brotherhood and Revelations, which slipped a bit from the heights that Ezio’s first outing reached, but were still solid entries. Then we got ACIII, and I sort of gave up. I picked at IV and it’s companion piece Freedom Cry, which were better than III and Liberation, but still didn’t do much to capture either my attention or my wallet. Unity, Rogue, and Syndicate likewise drifted by with little care, which likely would have been Origins‘ fate as well, had I not needed a third game for a sale offer.
I’ll say this; Origins is not a very good Assassin’s Creed game… but it’s a very good Witcher 3 reskin. Seriously. Take away the monster-hunting aspect and the fantasy elements, replace them with intel-gathering and Ancient Egypt (we’re just going to ignore the sci-fi modern part, because honestly, it doesn’t even feel like that part serves a purpose anymore, and it interjects so rarely it’s easy to pretend it’s no longer there), you’re 3/4ths of the way to describing how the game behaves. Side quests, XP grinding, and piles of pants to compare .25% stat improvements on. It’s decent, though don’t expect the story to be as great as Witcher (or even AC or ACII), be willing to accept a bit of clunkiness (can we just give up and jack Infamous or Shadow of Mordor‘s wall climbing, please?) and some of Ubisoft’s typical “climb the thing and then check off all the little icons it gives you” laundry lists, and you’ll probably have a good time.
Shadow of War – Speaking of Mordor; here’s the sequel. This is probably the biggest disappointment of recent games (which I suspected would go to AC, though to be fair, I didn’t go into that one with high hopes); even so, it’s still good. Just not the “where the hell did this come from and why is it so awesome?” surprise of its predecessor. Plus it’ll annoy some hardcore Middle Earth fans (“Wait, Shelob is a hot chick instead of just a demon spider!? We are betrayed!”) as there were… questionable decisions made and it plays a little oddly with established history and lore in ways that reek of fanfiction – “We’re gonna forge a new One True Ring and go kick Sauron’s ass!” – but mechanically it’s very solid and more of what was fun about the first game; stealthily slaughtering orcs, while forming elaborate self-realized subplots with them through the Nemesis system.
It suffers from the same malady that Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II did; the sequel to an at least semi-canonical game that fit well into an established mythos and timeline hosing that connection in favor of a nonsensical, fanfiction-esque story while retaining the good gameplay elements but doing very little to evolve or update them. Like that game, it’s fun, but could probably have waited for a sales bin purchase.
Evil Within 2 – Well. They got rid of the letterbox, at least. Other than that Evil Within 2 decided not to fiddle with the basics too much. They did apparently feel pressure from the industry’s trends and cram it into a semi-open world with sidequests, which feels a little odd, but basically, if you played the first game and you liked it, it’s worth poking the sequel… but if you despised the original, there isn’t anything new and exciting here that’s going to make you a convert, unless you just really hated the letterboxing. (Don’t worry, though, letterbox mode is an unlockable “extra” if you miss it that much.)
The story also doesn’t even try to make much sense, especially if you start picking at it (for starters, why does the evil megacorp do the things they did to Sebastian years before the Ruvik incident? Where the hell is Ruvik? Why does no one just shoot Kidman in the face instead of putting up with her fuckery? And the big one… what the hell is the actual purpose of building STEM units? As in, how does that provide any benefit whatsoever to either Evil Megacorp (TM) or humanity?), but it’s mostly there as a thin excuse to go romping through folks’ subconscious, stealth killing zombies the whole time and collecting vials of their assorted innards and bodily fluids to inject into your brain to give you superpowers.
One thing, if they do a third game; can we please, please disconnect the camera from Sebastian’s hip? Just pull it back like 5 more feet. I don’t care how in love we all are with Resident Evil 4, the camera in that game is crap and aping it is just frustrating, especially if you’re trying to add in stealth mechanics in an open world.
That’s it. Going to crawl back into bed now and hope I don’t die. Have fun, kids.