Good news, the joke month is over and done with. Bad news, it felt like the last 4 weeks passed by at an accelerated rate. When I wasn’t gaming or working this month, I’ve spent more time outside walking about and trying to enjoy the cool, spring weather. The issue of course is that I overheat in 70-degree weather so it doesn’t last very long. Thank goodness for sandbox games that allow me to be in hot places without actually overheating! Here’s the shortlist from April;
(Faces are difficult...Well, the face of Helmut Kruger is difficult)
Warhammer 40K Inquisition definitely scratched an itch I didn’t realize I had, but it’s not something I stuck with for the whole month. I don’t usually like loot-based games like this, and earlier this year I remember Diablo 3 being an incredibly dull experience. With Inquisition though, there were levels and quests where I was killed and others where it seemed like my Tech Adept and his army of drones were greatly overpowered. I also like how, even though I picked up a lot of loot, the game wasn’t throwing tens of pieces of loot at me for every container and body I looted.
There's a lot of loot, but I wasn’t micromanaging my equipment multiple times per level. Even though it was more challenging than Diablo 3 at times, and I enjoy the 40K settings I’ve seen so far, that wasn’t enough to keep me invested for very long. I played for fewer than 7 hours, but it felt like I spent much more time than that playing it. I’ll probably get back into it sooner or later, probably as a palette cleanser if I ever get tricked into playing something horrible like Borderlands again.
(I haven't made it to the Furry level yet, but I know it's here)
In Ultimate Alliance 3 I’ve finally unlocked Cable and all of the other X-Men except for Jean Gray. Based on my recent party makeup I’ve essentially been playing it as X-Men Legends 5. I still haven’t finished the main story mode yet. I spent a lot of time this month trying to get through the Danger Room mode enough times to unlock Cable, and out of all of the minor gripes I have with this game Danger Room goes above and beyond to be a major annoyance. Danger Room is meant to be played online with an opponent, but it can be played solo. Characters levels are shifted depending on the difficulty level, and EXP isn’t earned during Danger Room missions.
In order to get anything out of Danger Room mode, you need to win 3 rounds, and I’ve found this out through trial and error. The way its set up, I assumed it was a two-out-of-three type of model, but there are instances where I’ve won the first 2 rounds, lost the third, and was told I lost overall. Similarly, there were instances where I lost the first two rounds of Danger Room, won the third, and was told I won overall. What’s really annoying is how if my party is completely knocked out, it counts as a total loss instead of just a lost round. Danger Room also features random challenges which could be anything from jumping or dodging a specific number of times, all the way up to performing an ultimate alliance EX attack. Whichever team completes these challenges automatically attacks the opposing team with a debuff. These debuffs can be something as simple as reduced stats, to something as devastating as having your entire party frozen or paralyzed for up to 30 seconds.
For the rest of the year, there are a lot of things I can unlock by completing Danger Room gauntlets X numbers of times, but all I wanted was Cable, and to get him I only needed to complete it 10 times. Now that I have him, I don’t plan on touching that horrible, RNG nightmare mode again. In spite of everything that annoys me about Ultimate Alliance 3 (the weak plot, the long load times, the ISO-8 micromanagement, the frequent FPS slowdown), this has been the game I boot up my Switch to play. Despite the hurdles, I’ve had an overall positive time with Ultimate Alliance, and I’m going to see it through to the end. I still have to unlock The Fantastic Four!
(Steak. Well Done. Truly that is a...Black Order.)
Mortal Kombat 4 is difficult to get into. Mortal Kombat 4 on the PC is really difficult to get into. I only played for about a half hour, 45 minutes or so, but I just couldn’t get into this one. I don’t have a lot of nostalgia attached to MK4, and I still wish it was remembered more fondly, but it was difficult for me to get into and stay invested in this game compared to other Mortal Kombat-like games.
I’ve never played the original Metal Gear...that is to say, I’ve never played the original MSX Metal Gear, I’ve played the NES version previously. GOG was running a Konami sale so I grabbed it out of curiosity, and while I haven’t spent too much time with it yet my first impression was positive. It’s difficult to tell when I’m in danger of being spotted, but I like how each screen is laid out. Basically, Snake infiltrates Outer Heaven by solving sneaking and sometimes item based puzzles to pass from each screen into the next one.
The sneaking puzzles tend to just be timing-based from what I’ve seen so far since guard patrol routes, and camera movement speed seem to be fixed. Then there are the instances of guard rotation occurring if you wait long enough, or guards falling asleep if you wait long enough. It’s really weird to see such modern, subversive things happening in a game from the mid-80’s, but it helps keep me engaged with the content. It’s also cool to get some context on plot points that I remember from Metal Gear Solid; things like who Grey Fox is, what Outer Heaven was, etc. I’m having trouble focusing enough to play this game every day, or play for long stretches of time, but this has been my favorite Metal Gear to play since Solid. My take on this franchise is definitely unconventional, but I like what I like. Metal Gear on the MSX is something I like.
I’ve never played Sonic CD before, but it’s been sitting in my Steam library for months. 90 minutes later, I’m stuck on the boss fight with Metal Sonic and I have no idea what to do. The soundtrack for this game is fantastic!
I’m not sure why, but I felt a huge urge to play Duke Nukem Forever this month. There are a lot of elements to DNF that I like at face value. I like how Duke’s overshield is his literal ego, but I don’t like how easily satisfied he is when it comes to boosting it. Getting a million points in a broken game of pinball makes sense, and for Duke I can see how looking at himself in a mirror gives him a boost. Playing pool by himself though, and sitting alone in a personal gym curling one arm with a weight seems really empty, lonely, and kind of hollow. Duke Nukem Forever has a really dark story in it struggling to get out, but none of the characters really acknowledge it.
The phrase “it’s lonely at the top” is a common one, and it should absolutely apply to The Duke of all people. When it comes to gameplay this isn’t the best shooter out there by any stretch. If any game is worthy of the title “Boomer Shooter” it’s this one; Duke himself makes outdated references while following the hallways and corridors that are stitched together into a vague attempt at level design. Enemies attack you sure, but the patterns are easily memorized and their defense strategy is non-existent. It makes for a very safe, very easy-to-get-through kind of game that could easily be dismissed as being for boomers, and also you shoot things in it.
The most annoying thing I noticed about my playthrough this month was how pathetic the Devastator is. It’s alright in certain boss fights, but I get the feeling it was depowered somewhat when the weapon limit was raised from two to four. I originally planned on playing the whole base game and playing the DLC for the first time, but after I wrapped up the campaign I just didn’t have the energy to continue on. I don’t have Duke Nukem Forever, but for now I’ve had my fill.
(Honk to the Konk)
I first played Alien vs Predator years ago, when I worked at Blockbuster and could just rent games for free. It’s definitely a much smoother experience on the PC today, and I don’t remember the PS3 version looking this good in general. The things that remained the same though was how disorienting it is trying to play as a Xenomorph, and how strangely slowly and clunkily the Predator moves when I tried playing in that campaign. I spent most of the time playing the marine campaign, and I was surprised by how quickly there was a boss arena featuring a Xeno-Queen.
I realized that I hadn’t fought any Predators as a Marine yet, but it still felt really weird to see that giant Xeno at the end of the second or so level. What I liked about Alien vs Predator though was how the AI seemed like it was actively trying to catch me unawares rather than chase me down the moment they noticed me. I would notice a shadow moving in the corner of the wall, and it was either the lighting engine playing a trick on me, or it was a Xeno trying its best not to be seen. It’s annoying that the most fun I had with Alien vs Predator was the time I spent playing as a human, but I can’t deny that I had a bit of fun playing this earlier this month.
(There are 8 billion of these games)
A friend of mine on Discord bought me a copy of Armello and coerced me into playing it a bunch this month. I haven’t bought into the DLC, but that’s fine since I can access and use it when I’m playing with them since they have it. Anyway, Armello; it’s a digital board game that Total Biscuit played once years ago. The object of the game is to either become the King of Armello, or survive the King’s corruption.
There are various ways to win a game of Armello, but a lot of them involve getting into the castle in the center of the game board and surviving a few dice rolls. Each of the players you can choose to play as have their own traits and can be augmented with add-ons that allow for specific builds and playstyles. No matter how well you prepare though, Armello is a dice and card game and thus can easily demolish your gameplay strategy through sheer chance. I don’t think I’ve played for long enough to have developed a playstyle, but I’ve had a lot of luck just waiting everybody else out and getting prestige victories. Prestige is gained by killing Banes, other adventurers if they have bounties, and by completing quests. It takes a long time to get a natural prestige victory, but if the King is killed early and the person who attacked the King doesn’t survive, the victory automatically goes to whoever has the most Prestige points.
In theory, it was simple to collect four stones and purify the King, but I only managed that kind of victory once. This is one of those very few games I’ve played multiplayer, and even though everyone playing is beholden to the randomness of dice rolls and card draws it’s definitely more satisfying to defeat a player’s strategy rather than trying to subvert an AI. That’s not really saying anything profound, but I’m saying it anyway. The single-player experience isn’t terrible, but for the most part when I played Armello this past month it was with friends, and it was a really good time.
(Now if only I could find some people to play Goblins Inc with me...)
Injustice 2 is another game I reinstalled briefly to play with a friend. It was only for a day, but it was a day where I got acquainted with some fighters who I haven’t really played with. Beating up The Joker as Donatello is still satisfying, Injustice 2 still looks fantastic, and I still like Injustice 2 even if I don’t keep it installed on my machine for very long.
Hitman, specifically the 2016 reboot, went on sale earlier this month and it wasn’t until after I picked it up that I realized the third installment is still an Epic exclusive. Oh well, that doesn’t stop the first one from being an incredibly entertaining experience. Agent 47 begins the game by going on a few training missions for his handlers, and it’s set up early on that someone inside of the organization is pulling some strings, somewhere, that ought-not be pulled. The overarching plot plays out between missions, and is easy enough to overlook, but I’m curious to see where it goes in the other installments. An overarching narrative isn’t what I’m here for though; I’m here to dress as a vampire magician and drop chandeliers on people.
There are 6 primary episodes in this season of Hitman, but even though I’ve played through them all I spent a majority of my time playing through the first and final episodes. The first episode takes place in a Parisian mansion, the final a Japanese resort and hospital, and both offer unique security obstacles to overcome. The issue I’ve found with Hitman though is that once I’ve found an effective opportunity to pursue, I generally just do that for all of my subsequent playthroughs. In Paris for example, taking out the international supermodel Helmut Kruger and posing as him grants me free access to 90% of the map. Similarly, taking out and posing as a morgue doctor in Hokkaido grants roughly 90% free access to the map too. From the initial starting areas, these are easy disguises to come across, so trying to deviate from those paths is becoming more and more difficult as I go through more runs in those maps in an attempt to complete different challenges.
As far as taking out targets is concerned, that can be as easy or as difficult as I wanted it to be. There’s nothing stopping me from rolling up to a target with a big gun or a sharp thing, but the issue that arises is the inevitable retaliation from the target’s bodyguards. Luckily it’s usually easy to orchestrate an unfortunate accident by puncturing an oil drum, or exposing some wires. The choice to just massacre a map was always there, but with Hitman I found it was much more rewarding to infiltrate a secure area using only my wits and a bust of a cowboy. I enjoyed spending some time this month with Agent 47, and I’ll probably be putting more time into it sooner rather than later.
(He hit, he man)
WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT I I WOULD COME UP HERE AND SAY REALLY NICE THINGS ABOUT ALIEN VS PREDATOR, AND HOW IT'S ACTUALLY PRETTY GOOD FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW! HOW VERY SUBVERSIVE OF ME! HOW VERY #BOB-ISH TO TALK ABOUT A GAME SUBVERTING MY EXPECTATIONS! Actually, all joking aside, anything Aliens and anything Predator that isn't the arcade beat-em-up or their first two films not being absolute trash does subvert the old expectation. Another subversive element is how I'm inserting these sentences in lieu of making up a full on Band of Bloggers blog, HOW VERY SUBVERSIVE, AND CLEVER, AND NOT AT ALL LAZY!
It’s gonna be May. Well, it is May now, but at the time of writing it’s gonna be May. I have no idea what’s coming out this month...apparently Pokemon Snap 2 just came out so hopefully it’s great. The Mass Effect remaster trilogy is out this month, but I don’t trust EA enough to pick that up on day 1. I’m also worried the first ME might be changed to conform with the other 2. The big May release is Resident Evil 8, the one with werewolves, the Resident Evil 4 style village, and nothing else of note. I’m definitely going to play the demo, but unless it’s an 11/10 I’m not going to get it until it’s on sale for $20 a year or so from now. Let me know how it is, I’ll be here sending good vibes and hoping that Resi8 doesn’t drag on at the end like 7 did. I only just realized I haven’t played any 4 Resident Evil this month...oh well.