Monday, January 16, 2017

Play Log: Back to God Eater

God Eater Resurrection
I played a tooon of this game last summer when it came out.  Just recently decided to get back into it. It's super fun.  I'm on Rank 14 now, finishing up the story and maybe going for the Platinum.  I played through most of the story using spears, blast guns and (in the later half) assault guns.  I've finally gotten just a little bored with my loadout though, so I decided to revisit other weapon types.  I still think hammers are really damn cool, but what I've really fallen head over heels in love with now is scythes.  I didn't think much of them when I was first starting out, but they're synergize so well with certain Predator Styles and skills.  I use Predator Style bonuses that boost oracle with each hit, and with the scythe's long range and ability to hit multiple times per sweep, I can rack up tons of ammo really quickly.  So now I use a scythe and blast gun, with custom shotgun-style canister rounds.  My scythe also has a chance of stunning enemies.  So I play the mid-range game, zoning enemies with the scythe while harvesting absurd amounts of oracle.  Than as soon as the paralysis kicks in, I move in and unload shell after shell into their face.  It does massive damage and usually breaks a lot of armor.

I've been doing a lot of tinkering with shotgun shells in general, mainly to make sick-looking airburst rounds.  Unfortunately, it seems like the game always calculates shell damage based on the distance between the player and the enemy, even if the mechanism firing the shell isn't actually the player, but a control orb launched by the player.  That's pretty unfortunate.

Oh, and the Vita's Party function works pretty well!  I used it to play this game for a couple of hours with friends over the weekend.  We would run missions and just chat about stuff.

Had someone I played send me a friend request the other day.  I'm not sure what the point of friending random people in this game is, since there's no chat system, and no way to interact beyond private battles.

Matchmaking's still rife with Shadow and Blood players, but at least I played a somewhat unusual Blood player recently.  He used all neutral cards.  I've been thinking about trying out a neutral card deck myself lately, as there are neutral cards that are very explicitly designed to synergize with other neutral cards.  Trouble is, I'm not sure which character would be best suited to a neutral deck.  I mean, they're neutral cards so maybe it doesn't matter.

Switch Stuff
Nintendo made a number of questionable calls here with the Switch.  The fact that they're doing paid online doesn't bother me in and of itself, but what they're offering for the price seems a little insulting.  NES/SNES games that you can only keep for a month?  A phone app for voice chat?  Come on, guys.  And while they teased a lot of upcoming projects, both 1st and 3rd party, the actual launch lineup seems pretty sparse.

That said, it's a really interesting gizmo, and I want one.  And that Breath of the Wild trailer was truly amazing.  I went from being largely uninterested in that game to wanting to play it immediately.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Play Log: Happy 2017?

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations
Started and finished the first case.  So far, so good.  It's just as good as I remember.

I'm finally starting to come into some decks I can have a bit of confidence in.  Though right now this game's meta is pretty frustrating.  It feels like almost every player I run into these days is playing Bloodcraft or Shadowcraft, and it's getting really old, really fast.  That said, there are some interesting Forestcraft and Dragoncraft decks coming up too.  And we can't forget the all-powerful Dimensional Shift Runecraft deck.  With a bang and a boom!

Tiny Rails
This is one of those "games" where once you get up and running, you basically only boot it up a couple times a day to check in on it and spend any accumulated resources.  I like it well enough, though.

Super Toss the Turtle
Apparently this is a souped up version of an old Newgrounds flash game.  When I saw it, it instantly reminded me of this browser game I once played on Cartoon Network's website.  Basically, you have a cannon or catapult of some kind, and a hapless animal, and the goal is to launch it as far as you possibly can, using the environment and a limited amount of manual nudges.  This one's extra silly.  My poor turtle got shoryuken'd by a walking banana, suicide bombed by a Mad Max-style biplane, and had the stuffing kicked out of it by Super Saiyan Goku.

Cowboy Bebop
I've seen more than my share of anime, but this has long been one of the gaps in my completion list.  Don't get me wrong, I've seen Cowboy Bebop.  But only what episodes I would sometimes catch on Adult Swim back when I was a kid.  I've never done a proper, continuous viewing of the series.  Anyone who's even dabbled in anime will have heard plenty of praise for this show, as it's widely considered to be not only one of the greatest series of all time, but a very good gateway into the medium.  It's not uncommon for products to buckle under such prestigious reputations, but from what I've seen so far Cowboy Bebop really does earn every ounce of praise.  I'm only a handful of episodes in and it's already one of the most charming, engaging shows I've ever seen.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
I powered through all of season two a week or so ago.  I'm still not sure what my overall opinion of IBO is.  There are things I think it does better than most other shows in the franchise, there are things that I think it does well, and there are things I think it does poorly.  For example, the action is top notch.  Or more specifically, the choreography is top notch.  The animation, however, often looks cheap.  The music is also great, and I really like the character dynamics.  Yet at the same time, I find it difficult to even remember many of the characters' names, even as I enjoy watching them interact.  The show does dialogue and interaction well, but the characters themselves aren't very interesting individuals, with some exceptions.  I also am still not really taking to the show's mechanical design.  The only suite I really like so far is Vidar.  Barbatos is cool, but that has more to do with it having a lot of cool scenes rather than it being a particularly cool MS, at least to me.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Play Log: Downtime

I've been on winter break for the past few days, and I've mainly used that extra time to play a lot of Civilization V.

Civilization V
I don't love this game, so I don't know why I keep coming back to it, but I do.  Like The Sims 3 (which I actually do like, a lot), Civ is a game that I play intensively for a week or so and then forget about, only to inevitably come back to it some months down the line.  I'm not very good at the game, so I ended up playing at Warlord level (which is just a step below Normal difficulty).  What's engaging to me about Civ games nurturing an empire.  I always go for science or culture victories, and try not stay out of wars.  I find war in these games to be really tedious until you get air power, so it's not fun for me, even when I'm winning.  So when I get leaders like Askia and Dido, who want nothing more than world conquest, things get very unsatisfying very quickly.  Ironically though, in my current game as America I've become by far the most militaristic entity.  It all started when Dido decided to invade me for no apparent reason back during the Ancient Era.  I fended her off with everything I had.  Fast-forward to the Information Era, and Dido's long been conquered by other civs, while my military has become the largest and most advanced on the planet.  The last thing I did before quitting out was nuke Austria's capital to delay them from stealing my scientific victory.  They're the biggest country in the world in most respects, and their military is second only to mine, so I suspect I have a huge war in my future.  But for the time being, they were content to give me all of their luxury and strategic resources in exchange for peace and their capital.  If, after the peace treaty expires, they want a war, they'll have to come to me.  I wasn't ready for Dido, but I'll be ready for Austria.

Mount & Blade: Warband
The Mount & Blade games have always been a curiosity to me.  With the Steam sale on, I decided to try one for myself.  They always seemed to have a strong cult following, and now I can see why.  I'm not sure I've ever played a game quite like Warband.  Basically, you're a nobody who's decided to venture to the land of Calradia (modeled somewhat after medieval Europe) to make a name for themselves.  Calradia is a continent occupied by six factions, who are pretty much constantly at war with each other.  It's also infested with bandits, looters, raiders, and deserters.  What you do when you arrive is largely up to you; you can take up merchanting, sign on as a mercenary for one of the factions, fight in arenas, whatever.  But whatever you do, you'll want to have some followers to protect you, as Calradia's a dangerous place.  So you end up building an army.

Right now my group sits between 30-50 men.  It's a humble number, hardly an army, but most of them are really well-trained, some even elite fighters.  It's enough to make your average band of cutthroats flee on sight, and enough to lend meaningful aid to large-scale battles between lords and kings.  For the past couple months I've been operating in Swadia as a mercenary group.  I like Swadia well enough.  Eventually I'd like to own land there.

Invisible, Inc
Well, Klei's done it again.  I didn't like Don't Starve that much, but it was a well-made game all the same.  I feel mostly the same about Invisible, Inc, except I think I can have a better time with this one.  It's really tough, even on easy.  It's almost discouragingly difficult, to be honest.  I never really feel like I'm making significant gains, and mistakes are costly.  Still, I like the game well enough.

I don't know if I just suck at this game, or if my decks suck.  Probably both.  I rarely win.  But I'm still having a good time with it.

World of Tanks Blitz
They just started some sort of Winter Festival Event.  I got a day of premium time (which I used exactly 0 of), some credits, and a Tetrarch.  Kinda crappy.  All of my missions these days have been for Tier 6, which I only have my Cromwell for.  I love playing the Cromwell, but I'm still not sure how to play it successfully, especially in Tier 6/7 hybrid games.  The Cromwell's best-in-class mobility means it's often the first on the scene, but you don't want to first on the scene, because that makes you the center of enemy attention.  My best games so far are ones where I stay on the periphery, taking potshots and being a nuisance, or in the case of Supremacy, zooming off to take an unguarded enemy point.  And then everyone calls me a coward because I'm not jumping in the fray, guns blazing.  At least the 75mm HV packs a decent wallop.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Play Log: Mobile Gaming Strikes Back

Getting a new phone has motivated me to give mobile gaming another look.  Having finished Justice For All, it's about time I moved into the trilogy finale.  I really goddamn miss Company of Heroes 2.  Like, a lot.

World of Tanks Blitz
The extensive amount of time I've put into the Company of Heroes games has gradually turned me into a light tank enthusiast.  I even ended up writing a term paper on British WW2 tanks a few months ago, and it was fun as fuck.  Anyway, I've been eyeing World of Tanks for a really long time, but never had the gall or spare moments to jump into it.

Well, I don't have a computer capable of playing World of Tanks, but I do have a lot of free time now.  So I opted to give World of Tanks Blitz a shot, which runs quite nicely on my Surface.  At first I tried it on my phone, and it's a functional experience there but kinda hard to steer.  Playing with a keyboard and mouse is way better.  I don't know how closely it resembles the main game, but I'm having a good enough time with it.  I played pretty intensively over the past two weeks or so, making a beeline straight for the Cromwell.  Now that I've got my nimble British cruiser, I'm content to just pop in once or twice a day and play some matches for the multiplier bonus.

And admittedly, I'm afraid my skills won't get me much farther, anyway.  Tier 6 is already pretty serious business, I can't imagine what 7-10 are like.  Nah, I'm happy messing around in tiers 1-6.

Michiko and Hatchin
The next anime I decided to watch after Chaika.  I'm on episode 18 or so as of this writing, and it's a damn good show.  Definitely one of those anime that even non-anime lovers can get into, and I think it deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with shows like Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo.  The dub is also really good.  I might go so far as to say Michiko herself is dubbed better in English than in Japanese.  In Japanese she's kind of a cool, tough character in the vein of Major Kusanagi.  The English dub paints her as reckless, and quick to fly off the handle.  I think the latter suits her behavior a little better.

Hitman Go
I got this (and Lara Croft Go) on the cheap a couple months ago, just got around to trying it out.  I love the aesthetic and general concept, but it's way more of a puzzle game than I was expecting... I played the first several levels and wasn't really hooked at all.

People weren't kidding, this really is Hearthstone: Anime Edition.  And fuck it, I'm totally okay with that, especially because it seems every bit as mechanically competent as Hearthstone.  I've only dabbled in Shadowverse so far, but the thing I'm already enjoying about it over Hearthstone is that it has a lot of singleplayer content.  There's a central storyline, with voice acting and cutscenes, it's neat.  And the developer seems to give out card packs like nobody's business.

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
Fun little game!  The gameplay's not that amazing, but the presentation is stellar.  The writing's fun, the animation is expressive, and the art's quite nice.  It's a game with a lot of character, even if its actual gameplay isn't anything to write home about, at least so far.  And hot damn, why does every female character in this game have to be smokin' hot?  The protagonists, the antagonists, the NPCs, the enemies, if it's female you can bet they'll be ridiculously curvy and voluptuous.

Kingdom Rush
I've played Kingdom Rush before.  Tower Defense is historically one of my favorite game genres, and so I was quick to give it a shot when people started talking about it.  I wasn't impressed.  I'm still not impressed.  I'd like to keep with it a little longer this time because it is a serviceable game and I want to see if it has anything more to offer than I'm seeing.

I got this for free from Ubi's 30 Days promotion.  I've never played a Rayman game older than Origins.  I don't know if I'm into it.
So, my Xperia Z3 Compact had a bit of an episode.  Being in a position where I can’t afford to not have a phone for an extended period, I promptly looked for a replacement.  Perhaps weirdly, the fact that my Z3c essentially died on me didn’t really stop me from looking once again at Sony first for my new phone.  The reason is that despite this incident, the Z3c really was a kickass phone.

Truth be told, I was getting ready to enter the market for a new phone anyway.  I loved my Z3c, but it was starting to show its age, and my finances were reaching a point where I expected I’d be able to replace it soon.  One of the potential successors I was already looking at was the Xperia XZ.  For the most part, it looked like a proper continuation of the Xperia Z-series, and not to mention was simply gorgeous.  But I had some reservations.  There were some things here and there that I felt Sony could improve on, and so my plan had been to wait until Fall 2017 and see what they had in store.  If their next phone hit all the bullet points, I would probably be able to afford it day one.  Otherwise, the XZ would have certainly dropped in price by then, and I would buy that instead.  This little incident forced my hand, and so here we are with a brand new Xperia XZ.  I’ve now been using it for a couple of weeks, and felt like writing some impressions of it, compared to my darling Z3 Compact.