Miscellaneous · Video Games

Terrible Games That I Bought (for some reason): Bloodbath Kavkaz

Have you ever heard of a “little” title called Hotline Miami? If you’re someone who looks at screenshots only, it’s a game you’d think is the worst thing ever, and from a glance, it’s hard not to see why someone would think that. The thing about Hotline Miami is, however, it was made by 2 geniuses who knew what they were doing and poked at people’s reactions to it. I’m not going to ruin the big surprise that the first game holds, but I think that if you do beat it and tried your best to follow along with the plot, it’s a great idea to look at an analysis of the events afterward to fully understand what I’m talking about here.

…oh wait, I’m supposed to be talking about a shitty game… my bad! Bloodbath Kavkaz, or Hotline Kavkaz (as it was originally called before Devolver Digital, the publisher of both Hotline Miami games, told the developers of this steaming pile to rename it), is not a good game. It’s not terrible because it’s a game that tries to copy off of the success of one of my favorite games of all time, people take inspiration from everything and it simply wouldn’t be fair for me to judge a game like that. It’s a terrible game because it was made by people who didn’t have a grasp on what made the mechanics in Hotline Miami work so well, to begin with.

The camera is terrible, and so is the movement. Everything feels clunky, and your ability to see the enemies is tampered by the fact that you can’t look around (basically what I meant by the ‘camera’). I’ve heard common criticism of Hotline Miami be that the AI is randomized so it’s almost pointless to think out your actions, and while I can understand that argument, I think the unpredictable movement gives the game the edge to let the player use its tools to come up with new tactics as they play… not in Bloodbath Kavkaz! When the AI isn’t just straight up cheating, it’s braindead. It doesn’t matter that the bad dudes you shoot at are stupid because you can’t look around the map like you can do in Hotline Miami, so the game becomes a giant game of trial-n-error over skill and thinking.

Also, there’s a story. All I could get from it was that it’s about some guy joining back into something (it’s not really ever made clear what he’s getting back into), and then I shot some dudes, and then the game glitched and the language switched backed to Russian. Oh yeah, that happens allot. Several times, while reading the poorly translated dialog that becomes comedic gold in areas where it shouldn’t (it’s seriously as if they used Google Translate or a person who isn’t very well-versed in the English language, to do the work for them), I suddenly wouldn’t be able to read what the developers intended me to read. It also starts out in Russian with the only way to switch it to English being buried in its options menu, and a super-buggy level editor that looks suspiciously like Hotline Miami 2’s editor, but only in Russian and with 50 times the bugs of Miami’s editor.

Yeah, don’t buy this horseshit. I bought it for less than a dollar, but even if I got it for free I still would have felt ripped off. Again, Kavkaz isn’t apalling because it apes a mesmerizing game, it’s apalling because the developers clearly wanted to make Hotline Miami but couldn’t understand why it was mesmerizing at all.

Miscellaneous · Video Games

Buyer’s Remorse: Shlock of the Dead

Let me tell you a little cautionary tale about a little thing called ‘buyer’s remorse’. If you don’t know what buyer’s remorse is, don’t worry. Imagine you have an old neighbor down the street named Joe. According to others, he’s selling Air Jordans for just $20, so, you go up to Joe, 20 bucks in hand, and buy the pair of shoes. You go home, rip into the packaging a little bit, and realize that Joe may not be the most honest person in the world. The shoes are really just 10-year-old Nikes, their soles have holes, their backs are torn, and worst of all, the only thing that resembles an Air Jordan is a picture of what you could have been lazily taped onto the shoes. That is buyer’s remorse, the feeling of regret for something you’ve purchased.

Now onto the story. The year is around 2011, some time after Christmas. My cousin has given me a Gamestop card, as always, and I go to spend it. At the time, I was really digging Rock Band 2, even though I already owned the newer installment. I liked the band system, and when friends came over, it was clearly my game of choice. I go over to the isle for PlayStation 3 games, and on the new shelf, I find a game called ‘Rock of the Dead’. There are no used copies of this game, just one new copy lying there, awaiting a buyer. That buyer was me – and woah boy, do I regret that.

Imagine if Rock Band 12 came out and its music selection was all relatively unknown rock and roll songs pulled from great albums. Also, imagine that game had unresponsive controls, even if you calibrated it 20 previous times to no avail. That is Rock of the Dead, or, as I’m more used to calling it in the far recesses of my mind, Schlock of the Dead. Everything about this game defines mediocre, but that doesn’t compare to just how unpleasant it is to play. It’s a game about killing zombies with Rock n Roll, and even it’s beyond dull writing with a weak performance from Neil Patrick Harris couldn’t make that premise exciting outside of the game’s design documents. Oh, and did I mention the game was unresponsive more than half the time I played it?

Perhaps the biggest red flag that this game was going to be as good as Elephant Pubes on a Tricycle is that it’s published by a little-known studio known as ‘Conspiracy Entertainment’. Their “fantastic” track record consists of numerous Licensed titles on the GBA, GBC, and Gamecube, and also some interesting shovelware on the Wii, such as Anubis II, Billy the Wizard, Ninjabread Man, and much more tragedies. If you can’t tell by that list, Conspiracy is not exactly known to pump out quality products. It was also distributed by Ufo Interactive Games – who’s games list shares some comparisons with Conspiracy’s, but at the time, was also filled with more shovelware than tie-in games. This was originally going to be only on the Wii – the worst sign of all. All of this should have been a red-flag to me, but I straight up ignored it and bought the game anyways.

And the worst part? Not only was it 30 bucks, but I could never refund the damned thing… at least, that’s what they told me when I bought it. Let this be a cautionary tale for all you young buyers: look closely into the shit you’re intrigued by BEFORE you buy it.

Freebie Fridays · Video Games

Freebie Fridays: Hard Time

Note: apparently, there are 2 versions of Hard Time - one a 2D version on
mobile, the other, a 3D game on PC. This review refers to the original 
version, released on PC.

Few games truly describe what a ‘Guilty Pleasure’ is to me than MDickie’s ‘Hard Time’. I don’t know what can really be said about the game that can’t be seen while watching someone play it, but fuck it, I’ll give it a go anyways. Hard Time is a game that WANTS to be a prison simulator, that WANTS to be taken seriously, but it’s not. It’s a game where you can make a low-poly version of Duke Nukem (without the catchphrases) that immediately attempts to murder everyone in his ward, using his fists and what very little knowledge he has. In short, the game sucks for reasons I’ll get into, but I’d be damned if I didn’t say just how much stupid, stupid fun I had with this one. I almost did another cheap and shitty game from my Steam library whose main purpose is to work as a dispenser for trading cards, but I couldn’t help playing this for more than a second.

My first experience with ‘Hard Time’ was creating my character. I immediately tried to make Hank Hill, naming him ‘Pro-Pain’, and giving him a ponytail by mistake. I then quit after less of a second of playing. This was because of technical issues related to the windowed mode and my 2 monitors – which I will spare you the details of. Either way, I created a new character… the same exact one. I began my crusade through the prison with the warden. The silly dipshit was just standing there giving me orders with a machine gun in his hand. It’s a good thing for the warden that guns do fuck all in Hard Time, you can unload clips upon clips of ammunition into your victims and they will still stand up anyways. After years of unloading countless metal shells into his chest, the warden was down. Then I wandered into my cell block.

‘The warden’s dead’, the speaker said, ‘but we don’t know who did it’, it finished, despite the fact that bullets leave a clear marking and I was still carrying the only gun responsible for inflicting such harm. And then a strange man walked up to me. He said, ‘I know you killed the warden, he was a good friend of mine’. I then proceeded to unload my infinite supply of slow pain into him until somebody knocked the gun out of my hand. After numerous bursts of uncontrollable rage, Pro Pain was a growing name in all wings of the Prison block… and yet no one talked about me. No chats about how he removed 2 legs off a guy, kicked him the head 50 times, then finally finished him off 4 days later… silence.

And then I gave up. Hard Time is interesting for some time, and it does make for some genuinely silly videos or discussions, but I’d be lying if I told you that this game was good. For a serious prison simulator, it makes no sense that there are swords everywhere, or that the wardens can decide to kill each other for no reason. Its controls are stiff as all hell, it’s mechanics are broken at moments, and the camera is terrible and often times clips into objects it should stay away from. All of this is to say before I mention just how ugly it looks, who blocky and gray environments are, how character models are just so poorly done and look so janky. This was all done by one man, which is understandable, but understandable doesn’t always mean exceptional.

Hard Time, is, after a while, a hard time to enjoy. It really isn’t good, but that said, it’s also damned well fun at the same time. It’s a real mixed bag, but it’s one worth checking out if you have the time to.

Miscellaneous · Video Games

Remembering the PlayStation TV

I bet you're wondering where the next Freebie Friday addition is - 
in which case, you're probably a mere figment of my imagination, 
but that's beside the point. Trust me, 
the next addition will come soon... just, not today. 
Instead, I'll be talking about the PlayStation TV: a short-lived, 
ill-fated companion to the already failing handheld system, 
the PlayStation Vita.

I remember there was a time when, while scrolling on YouTube, I saw a Japanese trailer for the PS TV. I thought it was ridiculous at the time, and in only a way Sony could handle things, they set it up to release alongside the PlayStation 4 – November 2013. Setting it up to release at this time was essentially a death wish for an add-on to an already dying platform. Again, Sony being Sony, they released it anyways. I think it’s safe to say: this quirky little device is on its death bed beneath the surface.

If you don’t know what a PlayStation TV is – and I wouldn’t blame for it – it’s essentially a PlayStation Vita that hooks up to your TV. It’s got it’s Operating System and some games I suppose. Though I never really tried it, I do believe you can stream things like Netflix and Hulu on here, but, just like the PS Vita, high quality of these services should NOT be expected. The real selling point of this was not just the ability to play PS Vita games on your TV, but also to stream PS4 games to another room. In my opinion, that selling point is rather weak considering the PS Vita can do the exact same thing, but not everybody knew that, so they used it as a selling point.

What really killed this device, however, was a total lack of support. To give you an example of this, one of the more recent games to be compatible with this device is Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number… a game released in 2015. It also supports the complete first season of Telltale Games’s ‘The Walking Dead’… but you’re shit outta luck if you want to continue Clementine’s journey, as the only piece of that game (Season 2) available is the very first episode – as someone who owns a physical copy of TWD:S2 on Vita, I can confirm this. The PlayStation TV failed even harder than it’s predecessor – and even that still has small doses of Indie Titles releasing on it. Why Sony decided to pit it up against the powerhouse of the PlayStation 4 is beyond me, but this is coming from a business that created a powerhouse of a handheld device and forgot about its existence in much less than a few years time, so it really doesn’t surprise me.

As a system… it’s okay. Though some games do have touch controls not available if you have the standard PS3 controller, they do make up for this with the ability to switch the device into a touchscreen mode. It’s a little clunky, but considering what they had to work with, it was the best effort they could do. As for the games – they run just like they did on the Vita. If you’re looking for an affordable games system with more than just a couple of games on it, this shouldn’t bother you, but if you want to play Borderlands 2 with 2 more people and a consistent framerate, you’re better off finding another solution.

In general, it’s sad that the PS TV died so quickly. Maybe it wasn’t the best of ideas, but it sure was intriguing. I’d say I’m disappointed, but Sony is notorious for this type of thing. I never expected it to be a smash hit – but at least some recognition for it would have been nice. Maybe if you’ve got a ton of Vita downloads that are compatible with it and don’t want to buy the games again, it’s worth a look, but despite how soft I am towards it, I really would recommend you steer clear of this dead deer.

Thank you, Amazon.com, for the featured image on display.
Rants · Video Games

Rant: Why I think Breath of the Wild’s story sucks

2017 has been spectacular for games so far, with instant-masterpieces like Nier: Automata, Nioh, Resident Evil 7, and so many more. Well fuck those because Zelda. Yes, if you have any mild interest in Video Games, you’d know what a smash hit Breath of the Wild is, getting more than enough 10/10s’, and a fanbase that will temporarily shut down your website if you don’t say super nice things about it (see Jim Sterling as a prime example of this). After playing it myself, I can agree that it’s a fun, but flawed, game… with a bad plot. I don’t get what convinced the world that the typical “Save this shit, you lazy cunt”  reasoning in a game’s story to get you to do something is new and fresh, something that you should beat people to shit over should you spoil it. Spoilers: it’s nothing new. “But,” I hear some overly-defensive soul say, “it’s all about the journey!”. That’s where I laugh in the face of those naive enough to think that the supposed ‘journey’ is enough to excuse a shitty, cliche story.

The journey, in my opinion, is a valid excuse when talking about a story that, while not perfect, is somewhat new in some regards, yet still decent in it’s own right despite the creativity it may lack. Think Indiana Jones, for example. This movies rely on this feeling that the journey overcomes the overall arching plot, but beneath that surface, decent stories await. Yes, their ideas may not be new, but the writers (I’m just going to forget about that Indiana Jones movie for now) damn-well know how to twist new ideas out of it. By the end, it doesn’t matter if the plot is new or old, the journey intensifies that feeling that what is happening is important. Meanwhile in Zeldaland, Gannon has taken over Hyrule! The idea of a villain winning isn’t ol- wait no it is. The Usual Suspects, Se7en, hell, even The Empire Strikes Back are all examples of this. You can use the excuse that Gannon isn’t himself, but that doesn’t fix the fact that, whether or not the villains won previously according to the lore, it’s a story where a young man sets on a quest to kick evil in it’s ass and prevails. Breath of the Wild, for all I know, might as well be a season of any listing of terrible recent shows, like Lethal Weapon, as it brings nothing new to the table, but acts smirk in lying that it did.

Zelda isn’t in a league of it’s own, either. It’s tri-hards (hehe) deserve to called out for their terrible actions (insulting + threatening someone over an opinion you don’t share and taking down their website as a tantrum will NEVER fall under ‘questionable’), but to say that Zelda is the ONLY one to pull this bullshit is wrong. An example of a game that does this right is 2012’s Journey, another one would be Earthbound, the rest that get it wrong are the countless RPG/JRPGs’ in which the world is in ruin because of some evil force and needs 1, or more, hero(es) to save it… does that sound familiar to you at all?

A point that I think needs to be further emphasized is that I don't 
hate BotW. It has solid gameplay, and I'd be damned if I didn't mention
it's fun Open World. Thing is: this shit has been said time and time again,
both by it's supportive (and in some cases, like the tri-hards,
overly-supportive) fanbase, people who aren't in that fanbase but like
BotW anyway, and critics alike. If you're silly enough to think that
I needed to point out what everybody else has already pointed out
for what I say to be valid, then you're quite the funny little goose.
-Logan
Reviews · Video Games

Review: Lone Survivor (PC, PS Vita and PS3)

What is it?

Lone Survivor is a 2012 2D Survival Horror game in the same vein as the Silent Hill series. Developed only by one man, Jasper Byrne, the game has been ported from the PC all the way to the Wii U and PS4. It follows 1 man, only referred to as ‘You’, who’s a ‘Lone Survivor’ (just like the name), as he attempts to escape his Apartment complex, which has been invaded by some unnerving monsters, to say the least. Along the way, some interesting things happen, and the main characters meets intriguing, albeit minor, figures. It really is a game that should be experienced without much knowledge, so sorry if I’m cutting far more information than I should off.

The Port Report

So, I played this on my PS Vita, PS3, and PC. I have only managed to finish the game on the latter, but I’ve played enough on all 3 to say that the differences are VERY minor. All 3 run practically the same, without missing a track of music, sound effects, or even performance issues. The only real difference is in the controls, which are simple enough for this to be translated to basically any platform it was ported to without a major difference in that regard. If you’re struggling to guess which platform you should get it on, just know that there are no real major, game-changing differences between them.

The Director’s Cut does add a few new endings, but since it’s release, essentially all versions are The Director’s Cut, without needing to re-buy what was previously purchased on PC.

The High Points (Pros)

Right off the bat, Lone Survivor has a brilliant, distinctive art style. Yes, it’s all pixel art, but the way it’s done is jaw dropping. Environments feel alive without ever needing to resort to an art style that would do that instantly. When it comes to the sound department, that’s amazing, too. Despite only being 30 minutes-or-so long, the soundtrack here is amazingly done, adding to the already fantastic atmosphere. Sound effects, like those from Monsters, are also amazingly done, too. All of it really adds up to an unnerving atmosphere that did crawl under my skin at moments. What should really be commended, however, is the story, writing, and choices. All 3 tie together expertly, adding a real sense of urgency to the actions players take in Lone Survivor. This game is perfectly ambiguous to make you think a little, but not too much, about what’s happening or happened. The controls are also incredibly simple, without ever having something that feels clunky across all platforms.

In Summary:
+ Beautiful art style
+ Amazingly atmospheric
+ Excellent sound design – from music to sound effects
+ Great story, Choice-Based Gameplay, and writing – all tie together perfectly
+ Good, simplistic controls

The Low Points (cons)

There are only 2 things I can think of here, but both do get annoying. The mapping scheme, and an annoying chase sequence. The game is presented in 2 dimensions, but the maps you’ll use to help you get around are crafted from a top-down perspective of the building, or part of the building, you’re in. While I did eventually get used to this, it took me nearly forever to do so. Then there’s a late-game chase sequence. Again, I won’t be spoiling anything, but it was far more frustrating than anything else. It was a real game of trial and error whether or not I could progress there, and that’s what actually stopped me from progressing for quite some time. That said, you can certainly beat it, and it’s something that only really happens once.

In Summary:
– Awkward, mind-boggling maps
– An annoying late-game trial-n-error chase sequence

Conclusion

Despite it’s awkwardly confusing maps, and that one crappy chase sequence, Lone Survivor is well worth trying. It’s beautifully atmospheric visuals, excellent sound design, simplistic controls, and excellent mixing of choices, story, and dialog make it a strong contender for one of the better indie games out there. I get that what I’m saying here has been said before, but trust me: this one’s worth it.

Verdict: A-

Image used taken from: TVtropes.com
Freebie Fridays · Video Games

Freebie Friday’s: Totally Accurate Zombielator

I have over 50 games on Steam redeemed via a key from Giveways. Allot of them suck, and this is just one of them.

I don’t usually like to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to popular games. When Five Nights at Freddie’s was hitting it’s abnormally massive peak in popularity, the most I’d played of the series was less than 4 minutes of the first game on a tablet – the games just don’t resonate with me. Totally Accurate Battle Simulator is one of the newer crazes when it’s comes to the indie scene… and I’ve yet to play anymore of it than I already have. Truth be told, it’s a silly joke stretched out way past it’s prime, a semi-solid premise with ho-hum execution – but that shouldn’t stop you from trying it, especially when you can get it for free right now. When April Fools rolled around, the developers decided it would be funny if they made a satirical piece about all the Open-World-Online-Zombie-Survival Games clogging up the release charts, with the majority of them not even finished yet.

It’s a funny premise, so I gave it a try. 6 minutes later, I left wondering why I’d spent my time with it at all. Surprisingly enough, when you have a First Person game where your character moves around by ragdolling in unexpected ways, the results are going to come across far lower than should be expected. The short time I played with TABZ was infuriatingly slow, and this is coming from someone who can watch 2016’s Arrival without complaining about the snail’s pacing. This is to say nothing about the games zombies, which are also infuriating to deal with. Since this is mocking a survival game, guns are supposed to be rare, with melee weapons lying around like everybody had a new year’s party by directly murdering the person next to them. The combat in this game is clunky as all hell, and I got into far more of it than I should have within the time I played it. Considering how unabashedly slow and bizarre the movement is, whether I hit an enemy or not with the Fire Axe I picked up was a total gamble, and not a fun one at that. To credit this joke-game, however, the world is quite pretty, giving off a beautiful atmosphere despite the whole thing being done as a quick gag.

And that pretty much describes it. It was made to be a quick gag, and it clearly shows. The gameplay is nothing short of abysmal, but the visual style these developers have really is something to behold. Despite it being a gag, I find it funny that this was distributed through Steam Keys, as if the devs are hoping to revisit it one day. Maybe one day, if the player base isn’t as extinct as the Dinosaurs in the coming months, I’ll revisit it and get different impressions, but for now, I dread the thought of spending another second with this.