Finished NieR: Automata (kinda)

Last night I finished the initial playthrough of NieR: Automata after about nine and a half hours of gameplay, most of which was enjoyable. I usually don’t like action games, but the beautiful environments and music in NieR kept me wanting to come back. I especially enjoyed a lot of the dialogue, some of which managed to creep me out. I’m not sure I understand much of what happened, but I’m hoping the subsequent playthroughs shed some light on the story (from what I understand there are five different experiences / endings).

One thing I really enjoyed about NieR was the option to insert auto-evade and auto-fire chips into 2B’s operating system. Sure, this effectively put the game on auto pilot by automatically evading enemy attacks and firing ranged attacks, but I still had a good time carrying out the melee attacks without having to worry about dying. I’m sure some people feel like this should ruin the experience, but I still enjoyed it.

The video below is about midway through the playthrough, and may contain spoilers (it shows one of the bigger boss fight sequences that I really enjoyed).

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PUBG: Hanging out on a boat

Early today in PUBG I started swimming across the water toward the military base to get to where the majority of the circle was, and as I was swimming it was nice seeing the number of players tick down while I was practically in my own world. Every now and then I would hear gunshots, but no one seemed to know I existed. It was a slow swim, but it was the most peaceful time I’ve spent with the ¬†game yet. At one point I heard a boat behind me, but I was able to stop and bob in the water undetected as it drove up onto the shore. I then continued my swim toward an unused boat in the water and hopped into it once I was sure there was no one around.

I had a great view of the sunset from my little spot on the water, and I sat there for quite awhile without moving the boat. Eventually I started to move around the island and came to a stop underneath the bridge, a position that gave me over from anyone who might be on either of the shores. There I could hear plenty of action taking place above me, and it was oddly satisfying to hear it all take place knowing that no one knew that I lurked below.

Eventually I made my way around the back of the island and abandoned my boat in order to more stealthily swim toward land. I planned to stay in the water as long as possible and then make my way inward at the last possible minute in hopes that most of the other players would be dead by the time I got on shore. It didn’t help that the only thing I looted up until that point was a pistol (three other players dropped in near me early on so I sprinted through two buildings and got out of there quickly). Unfortunately I was wrong in thinking I was near an area that would lead me onto land. I managed to make it into the top ten before I died helplessly, unable to find away inside the circle.

Jazzpunk is great, silly fun

I started playing Jazzpunk on the PS4 not long ago, and I have to say it’s a great palette cleanser of a game. It’s relaxing to run around and poke anything and everything just to see what happens, and often enough the most meaningless thing you come across can turn into an insanely absurd situation. It takes the habit of wanting to touch anything in sight and turns it into a rewarding experience, even if the entire thing is nonsensical. I’ve enjoyed the writing and look forward to exploring the world even more. It’s a great game to pick up for a few minutes either to calm down after a more tense experience, or if you just have some time to kill. I’d recommend checking it out if you haven’t already, either on PC or PS4.

Behold the Kickmen is an incredible game, even if you’re not into soccer!

 

Tonight I started playing Behold the Kickmen, developed by Size Five Games, and I have to say I’m already in love with it. I played through the tutorial (which the game strongly suggests you play, but in a lighthearted way) and jumped into the first match of the story mode and I think I’ve had more fun in the thirty minutes I’ve spent with it than I have with most sports games. Right from the start you’ll notice that the game doesn’t take the sport of soccer seriously. The tutorial features plenty of pop-ups that poke fun at the sport, seemingly coming from someone who doesn’t care much about the sport in the first place (Kotaku’s recent headline reads: “Game Developer Makes Soccer Game Without Learning How Soccer is Played”).

The writing in the game is so good that I can say I actually enjoyed a tutorial in a video game, probably for the first time ever. I had a smile on my face as I read the pop-ups halfheartedly teaching you the rules of the game, at least as interpreted through the narrator. Once I dove into the actual story mode things only got wackier.

Behold the Kickmen’s story mode seems like it’ll be a blast (I’ve only played the first match so far), but what’s crazier than the silly dialogue is the way the game is played. It plays unlike most soccer games you’ve probably played before in many ways. For starters, your players don’t even know how to pass the ball during the first match. You have to win matches in order to acquire skills, such as passing “THE MOST BASIC OF SKILLS!”.

To make things more interesting, as you’re playing the match you’ll see a dollar amount on screen that correlates to the crowd’s excitement. It’ll go up or down based on how well you’re playing, but you need to score a goal in order to bank that cash. You can then use whatever cash you banked after the match to upgrade your team’s abilities.

Everything about Behold the Kickmen seems passionately designed, and it’s by far the most stylish sports game I’ve ever played. I’m really digging the art, music and sound effects, and I’ll say it again, I’ve never laughed as much while playing a sports game. I can’t wait to see what the game has in store next. I highly recommend checking the game out. It’s only $3.99 on Steam ($3.59 until July 27) which seems INSANE for just how great it is so far. I can’t wait to play more!

-Jonathan Hirt-

 

Finally played Splatoon for the Wii U: It’s not grabbing me

With all the hype surrounding Splatoon 2’s release this weekend (Nintendo Switch), I decided I should finally play Splatoon on the Wii U. I bought a Wii U around the time Mario Maker was taking the world by storm (most of my interest came from watching Patrick Klepek’s Mario Maker Mornings videos). I enjoyed the console at first, but it quickly fell off my radar and began collecting dust. I’d fire it up every now and then, but as someone who doesn’t necessarily enjoy platformers I didn’t get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Even though I had heard nothing but good things about Splatoon, it just didn’t seem like something I’d want to play and I never gave it a second thought as the fact that I owned a Wii U started to fade from memory.

Last night I decided I should give my Wii U one last hurrah, and see if Splatoon would hook me. I’ve only played about thirty minutes of it so far (maybe four or five matches) and while I dig the style and some of the concepts, I’m not certain it’s going to hold my attention very long. I like the idea of trying to stake out territory and push the enemy team back by strategically painting the ground, but with no communication it seems like everyone just runs around and does their own thing. Because of this, every game I’ve played thus far has been a landslide in one direction or the other. It’s never felt evenly matched. Either my team is basically painted into our spawn with no way of advancing, or its the other way around.

It’s not fun to be painted into a corner this badly

Splatoon’s controls are also getting in the way of me trying to have fun with the game. The motion control aiming feels a little sloppy so far, yet the analog stick aiming isn’t any better. I’m not sure whether it’s just me not being used to the Wii U GamePad or if I need to tinker with the sensitivity, but it hasn’t felt great at all. I’ve found it difficult to place paint exactly where I intend, and even harder to try to take down enemies around me.

One more thing that’s got in the way of me having a good time has been the wait time between matches. After a few matches I got tired of waiting and just ended up turning the Wii U off.

Despite the problems I’ve had with the game so far, I can say it has a strikingly vibrant visual style. I love the way the colors contrast, and the UI is also well done. I especially like the mini-map on the GamePad that shows you all the paint.

I don’t mean to sound overly negative about Splatoon, it just hasn’t grabbed my attention so far. I’m going to give it some more time throughout the weekend to see if it grows on me before I put it down for good. If you have any tips or suggestions that could possibly improve my enjoyment of the game feel free to leave a comment. I don’t have any intention of getting a Switch anytime in the near future, so while it’s possible that Splatoon 2 is more refined and easier to enjoy, I’m not quite sold on the series yet.

Still having a blast in PUBG (and have tasted chicken dinner)

A little over a week ago I started playing PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS in duos, and it makes the game feel entirely different. My normal strategy of hide in a corner and wait doesn’t play well in a group, so I was forced to sweep from building to building actually engaging enemies as we moved inward to remain in safety. I actually had to take shots at people who weren’t first shooting at me (as you can tell I didn’t manage to kill any of them) which changed how I had been playing the game in a big way. It was a blast to be aggressive for once, and it made me more confident in my subsequent games.

Last night I was playing solo and someone ran up into my building without knowing I was there. I was able to take them out with an uzi and found an 8X scope on their body, the first time I’ve come across such a high powered scope in the game. I affixed it on my M16 and watched over the city below me. It wasn’t long before I saw two people engage in a firefight, and it was an awesome feeling to take out one of them from afar. The other player ducked back inside that building, unfortunately, and never poked their head back out. I decided to continue keeping watch over the city, as I had seen two other people walking around it, however this contributed to my downfall as I was shotgunned in the face while looking down the scope five minutes later.

In another game last night I found ideal cover by driving a vehicle up against a cliff and hiding prone underneath it. My backside was covered and I felt relatively safe despite being out in the open. I’ve found I actually tend to survive longer if I’m crawling in the grass than I do if I’m hiding in a building, I assume because most people gravitate toward solid cover and ignore the open grass. Unfortunately, this optimal cover didn’t last as I soon had to make the trek inward again. I eventually ditched the vehicle by a rock and began crawling slowly and carefully as I ended up well within the circle with plenty of tree and rock cover.

This turned out to by my best solo game yet, as the circle closed in on a wide open area and everyone had to abandon their buildings and work toward it. I stayed silent in the grass by the trees and watched as everyone started picking each other off. I could hear bullets whizzing over my head, but I resisted the urge to get up and just waited. Before long I caught a glimpse of someone working their way toward me, but they hadn’t seen me yet. I decided I needed to take action, and tried taking them out, but the sound of gunfire attracted more eyes and we were both put down by someone else. I finished 7th, in one of the most excited games I’ve played yet.