Next Castle

Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle…


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Dishonored Replay

I was getting annoyed with waiting for the Dragon Age DLC on PS4 (May?!) so I spooled up my old PS3 and popped in Dishonored. I hadn’t played the game for over two years, but for some reason it was calling out to me from the shelf. 

My job has been really hectic lately, so I haven’t had as much time to play games as I would like. Still, I wanted a challenge. So I played through for the “Clean Hands”, “Ghost”, and “Shadow” achievements, and as of this evening: Mission Accomplished!!

Of course, now that I’ve played through without killing or even being seen by anyone, I have a strong desire to go through another playthrough where I do the Exact. Opposite. Yeah, I think that’s what’s next. Just realized I never went for the High Chaos ending (I’m such a softie).

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Checking save data.

AAARGH!

Haven’t played Dragon Age in a while and thought I’d tune up the old PS3 tonight–start in on Awakening again. You know, get all amped up for Inquisition.

But I’m stuck at “Checking save data.” I remember this being a problem before, but it always cleared up eventually (read: 5 minutes later) or was fixed with a hard reset. Now I’ve been staring at this screen for 15 minutes and have already tried resetting 3 times. I feel like blasting something into oblivion. See:

This is how I feel. Blast you!!!!

I need something to do for the next two and half hours before I get into some late night UAT for a software release and now, in my usual stubborn way, I am determined that it will be playing Awakening. Even though I have dozens of other games and 3 other systems to play them on.


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Chocobos and Eidolons

I’ve progressed further in the game. I won’t go into too many details for the benefit of those who despise spoilers, but let’s just say that my party has been cursed. As a player, I can’t be too concerned with this because the awesome side effect of the curse is magic. Yay! I have magic! Strangely enough, there’s no magic meter. Just like physical attacks, magic attacks are only limited by the time it takes your action meter to fill.

I’m also learning more about the characters, and at one point we almost get some answers out of Sazh about his life (does he have a family somewhere or something?), but then he gets all vague again. Meanwhile, Cowboy Bebop-esque music plays in the background. You know… the slow harmonica music? After the cutscene with vague Sazh, the Datalog now has a place where we can read about all the main characters. And the chocobo chick has an entry!

The chick has no name, as voicing the true identity of the animal might trigger ripples of destiny across Cocoon and cause a hurricane in Eden. Either that, or Sazh just hasn’t thought of one yet.

I snortled with laughter for a while, at which point my bf asked if I was okay. Yeah, I’m okay, just a total dweeb.

Fairly soon after this we have a score of cutscenes. There have been quite a few cutscenes in this game so far, I must say. And then, what do you know, our party splits up again and Snow is on his own when he comes up against a shitload of enemies. I’m doing pretty good and then BAM, the twins show up. Who are the twins, you ask? Good question:

Apparently, together they make up an Eidolon called Shiva. Eidolons are legendary creatures that sometimes attack people with my curse. If I can defeat the creature, it will join with me and fight at my command when I need it. Very much like the aeons in Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2. I’m learning lots of lingo as we move through the battle tutorial and eventually, after a hard-fought battle, I’ve got an Eidolon of my own. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that hard. Okay, maybe all I had to do was hit the equivalent of “defend” over and over again. These Eidolons don’t go down like regular enemies–you’ve got to “Libra” them to figure out what technique you need to use to bring down their defenses. It’s original, but also kind of strange, that I just have to keep defending in order to weaken one twin while the other one keeps healing everyone on the field, including me. Does anyone else think that the picture of Snow sitting on Shiva looks mildly inappropriate? I mean, Shiva is essentially a motorcycle made up of two women that Snow sits on/between. Huh.

That’s all for now–happy Labor Day weekend, everyone!


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Changing Things Up in FFXIII

I start up the game and my bf asks me if I’m watching an after-school special. Hahahaha! Yeah, the music in the start screen isn’t the best. Has it ever been? While the game is loading, I get the most recent bits of story scrolling along the bottom of the screen, which is kind of nice.

Okay, so we’ve changed things up. Since the last cutscene I am now playing as “Snow.” My team members and I progress much the same way Lightning did–things are getting a little boring. I have no control over my team members and we’re moving down what feel like narrow hallways. Then we have a cutscene with some civilians and a few REALLY cheesy lines from our characters. That gets fixed with explosions!!!!!

Alright, so now I’m playing as Lightning again. We get attacked by a Myrmidon, and Sazh is doing bad. I keep having to use potions to keep him alive. I think it’s because I somehow got behind the enemy. There’s no real maneuverability–in other words, I can’t make my character walk around behind the enemy, but it might happen by accident, which is annoying because the physical position of the characters seems to determine how they are attacked or how much damage they take.

Despite the annoyance I’m feeling regarding the battle system, I love the Datalog, accessible from the menu screen. I can check the story as it progresses (trust me, you’ll need this if you want to keep up with what’s going on), and there’s an Enemy Intel section. Awesome! I don’t have to waste a turn or use an item to scan enemies–it fills in info automatically after your first encounter with an enemy. Of course, if you want the info right away (during the first encounter), you can use the Libra technique. I get stats like HP, status immunities, and vulnerabilities. Also, “Notes” like “Attacks quickly and relentlessly.” Nice.

There’s a cut scene and I’m back playing as Snow. I head forward and pick up a new weapon. Oddly enough, I already have to make the decision to up my attack power to the detriment of my magic power. Since I don’t know any magic yet, I guess that’s okay. So far I’m not liking that I can’t effect my party members at all. I mean, I don’t even know Gadot’s HP–it just comes up as ???. Maybe he’s too unimportant to have stats. Things progress… it’s kind of boring because we just keep moving forward.

Alright, now I’m playing as Hope and I’ve got Vanille in my party. Wow, her voice is annoying. Also, my character, Hope, is WEAK. I read the Datalog “Events” section and learn that he’s apparently full of rage and loathing for Snow because he blames Snow for his mother’s death. Wow, I really did not get that range of emotion from him at all. In fact, the only reason I understand what’s going on in this game so far is because of the Datalog.

And then I realize that, even though I’m walking around as Hope, I fight as Vanille when we run into an enemy. Her weapon, which I’ve just found on the ground???, is pretty cool.

Anyways, as I progress through this new environment with Hope and Vanille, I’m finally getting the hang of preemptive strikes. Ghouls are really easy to sneak up on and beat. Eventually, I’ve got every encounter down to about 4 seconds.

… And then I’m playing as Snow. I progress by myself for a while (thank God for grenades), and then it’s back to Hope and Vanille… and then it’s to Lightning and Sahz… and then we’re all together and fighting as Lightning, Snow, and Sahz while the “kids” hang back (I guess 3 is the max party?).

Really, the constant party changes are kind of a thin disguise for the extremely rigid battle system which has, so far, allowed for no choice or variation. And when I’m a few hours into a game, I’d really like to take the wheel, already! Hopefully, things will get better–we still haven’t learned any magic, either. Til next time!


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Start of Final Fantasy XIII

The intro is short and sweet (nothing like Final Fantasy XII), and then they throw you right into a battle. My thoughts during the intro:

Graphics look amazing. How did I ever play games on a 20″ standard TV?

Huh… weird voiceover…

So I guess I’m a prisoner… the guard looks straight out of Star Wars!

Cool–Lightning kicks ass. And the bird in Sahz’s fro is freaking adorable.

I have glowy blue powers!!!!

Are we in the Matrix? This city looks weird…

Lightning’s hair and eyes look awesome.

Huh… Did I just start a revolution?

Giant animal mechs are popping out of portals? … And our train is being chased by a flying scorpion?

… and now we’ve crashed. Crap. Up and away!

My first battle is against the mech scorpion that crashed our train. The battle system seems pretty standard–we’re fighting in real time but it takes a while for my action meter to fill up and act on the attacks that I choose. It’s a little more automatic than FFXII, in that I can just let the game decide the best actions to take and I don’t really have any control over what the other person in my party is doing. I’m not sure I like that… at least in FFXII I could switch over and make a character do something specific. Maybe this will change later? I take down the scorpion, but it’s up for a round two. My health regenerates, as does the scorpion’s, and then I beat on it for a while. Eventually, it goes down and I get… 4 stars? And 6 potions–nice.

After the first battle is over I page through all the menus to get a handle on things and then progress to the save point. There’s a “shop” at the save station, but I can’t buy anything because I’ve only got 200 gil. Hopefully I’ll get more as the level progresses. I walk along the linear path and pretty soon I come up on my first enemy encounter–I take out the 2 guys in record time and get 5 stars! But no spoils 😦

When I run into my next enemy, I realize that my HP has regenerated. Apparently it does this after every battle, which is kind of nice. Means I won’t be running through potions like crazy. I don’t have any magic that I can see…

I continue to progress. There’s only really one way to go and I find a few treasure orbs (no chests in this game!) along the path. Finally, one of the treasure orbs gives me something good: an Iron Bangle! My first accessory! I’m feeling nostalgic already.

I keep walking… So far the battles have been ridiculously easy. Since the first one, when I got 4 stars, I’ve gotten 5 stars every time and haven’t had to use any items. And nobody’s dropping any items! Boo! Finally I get something from a mech dog that’s interesting: chipped tooth? I wonder what I can use that for. Eventually I come up on a bridge and a cut scene ensues…

The bridge goes out and lots of people scream as they fall to their deaths. Hmm… that was kind of cool. Then Sahz stops me from doing a blue glowy flying thing, which pisses me off. Back off, man! So we both make a jump and then we get in a mini-boss fight where we learn about that annoying STAGGER! message I kept getting. Hm–okay. So, despite the fact that you have to wait for your action meter to charge up before you can attack something, and you have no real control over your other party members and when they attack, timing is a big deal in this game. You have to chain your attacks one after the other so that your enemy reaches “critical mass” eh-hem, I mean “stagger.” Then they take massive damage from regular attacks (for a limited time anyways). Well… I guess I’m getting it, because I make quick work of the enemies.

I’ll be back later with more impressions of this game!


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Making Money in “Red Dead” and Other Religious Experiences

I’ve completed some of Bonnie’s and some of the Marshal’s missions, but I haven’t tried to advance the story much yet. I’m having too much fun hunting, killing people and looting their bodies, and gambling. Sadly, I only manage to win $5 in my first game of poker, and I lose at my first game of Five Finger Fillet, but then I get the hang of it and whoo! I cleared the table and won $50 in my second game of poker.

Making money in this game is FUN!

You can accept bounties to earn money, too. Before I got the lasso from Bonnie, I wished for a way to take my bounties back alive (and double my money), but then I got the lasso and I kept accidentally killing the bounties along with all their buddies. Oh well. Bounties don’t really seem worth it, anyways, because I have to travel a long way to get to them and then I’m attacked by eternally respawning enemies who I assume want to steal my proof of the bounty before I can get back to the Marshal’s office and collect. It’s quite annoying.

Hunting, though… that’s fun. And the animals move so realistically. I’ve killed cougars and wolves and armadillo and longhorn and cows and horses and jackrabbits, and then I sell their pelts and meat and various accoutrements for money. I’ve got close to $1000 already, which comes in handy when the heat comes down on me. Funny story about that…

So I run across the young girl who was talking to the priest during the opening credits, and she’s out in the desert on some sort of religious experience. She doesn’t want my help, even though she’s dying from thirst or heat or whatever, but I give her some medicine because that’s what the game’s telling me to do. I don’t think she takes it–she just keeps flopping around going on about salvation. So, silly me, I decide that I’ll just lasso the girl, hogtie her, throw her on my horse, and take her to the nearest town so she doesn’t die. But now I’ve got the law after me for kidnapping! You try to help someone out and this is what happens. Of course, some lawman is shooting at me and he hits the girl where she’s tied up on the back of my horse. And she DIES. Dang it! Then I’m all pissed off because now I’m going down for murder, but I finally get out of range of the lawman and when I go to put her body down, she come alive. It’s a miracle! A real life miracle! Well… either that, or she’s an essential character. Ha!


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Red Dead’s John Marsten

The voice of John Marsten sounds cool–like a real cowboy. Also, strangely like a hoarse Bill Paxton. Of course, all my illusions are shattered when I look up the voice actor on IMDB.

John Marsten aka Rob Wiethoff:

Are there no real cowboys anymore?

I remember visiting friends of my mothers’ when I was young. They lived in the Texas panhandle and had a ranch–complete with horses and a pig sty. The husband always wore cowboy boots, pressed blue jeans, a starched, button-down shirt, and a Stetson cowboy hat. He was a real cowboy.

They still have the ranch, but since his second heart attack, they’re both on a raw food diet. It’s a strange world we live in…