Wednesday, 19 March 2014


Emily persuaded me to buy some games because they were cheap. What is going on?

  • Nier, because everybody says it's quite good and really sad, and what I need are more sad 360 games in my life.
  • The Darkness II, because the previous game in the series was excellent.
Other than this, gameplaying has been a secondary concern to Emily trying to get a permanent Visa for UK residence. This means she'll never have to renew her existing one, which is nice, and it's also a step to becoming a full citizen once that's possible.

However, I have started Nier and I'm not sure what to think of it just yet. The prologue took forever because I unwisely chose the Hard difficulty and everything takes forever to die. I might change it to Easy on this save if possible, and if not just start again, because I'm not too far in. It's standard action RPG fare so far, although there are the hints of massive tragedy in the air.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Liberation and Conworlding

It took me three days to beat Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD, and I had a lot of fun. It plays quite similarly to Assassin's Creed III, but has the higher pace and more immediate connection to the plot that Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines have - in short, I wish the main entries in the series were more like this! There were some frustrations; Aveline seems very happy to randomly jump off things rather than making safe movements, and some of the 100% Sync criteria are very arbitrary and random to achieve. I like the story; again, I knew nothing about this period and location, so it was quite instructive for me. Aveline really comes off as torn between two worlds, and while Abstergo's manipulation of the truth might be quite simple, I like how little needed to be edited out in order to achieve their goal of whitewashing. Recommended, for sure. Enjoyed it a lot more than I'm enjoying Black Flag!

There is a slightly darker side, though. Emily pointed out one of this game's central mechanics is changing outfits; Aveline can swap between 'Lady', an aristocratic puffy dress thing that removes most of your killing potential, 'Assassin', where you're... an assassin, and 'Slave', where you are punished more severely for publicly offensive acts. Note that this is also the only Assassin's Creed game where you play a female character. Is this sexist? It's an interesting mechanic and one Emily and I would like to see in a more prominent game; Liberation was originally only for the Vita, and it might not be a coincidence that the main character is a black woman. Now, the Vita version did not sell particularly badly, so I hope this is actually just a sign that Ubisoft is considering more widely varied main characters. It would be interesting to see some sales data, as there has historically been this concept that male gamers do not like to play female protagonists, unless they are super sexy all the time. Aveline is certainly attractive, but is almost always completely covered up and certainly doesn't act like a femme fatale.

In some non-gaming news (sort of), I've began working a little more seriously on Craze, the fantasy world I've had in mind for many years now. Originally it was the setting to a game, also called Craze, but I spend so much time thinking about it that I really want to flesh it out and make it consistent. To this end I've acquired several books by Mark Rosenfelder, who has a real talent for explaining things that should be obvious. I already had it in mind that creating a world, complete with at least 5 different cultures, was going to be a massive pile of work, but his books more clearly lay out all the different things that have to be thought about, it's very useful. Maybe I'll also eventually write that game - I have a JRPG-style thing in mind but with a lot of branching paths and the ability to play as your own character as well as 'the hero'.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Washington Revisited

Before I get into the games I've actually been playing, here's a short list of acquisitions:
  • Got Sid Meier's Civlization Revolution via Games with Gold
  • Got Toy Soldiers: Cold War via Games with Gold
  • Emily bought me Avadon: The Black Fortress for Valentine's Day
My patience with Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition's final bonus dungeon has started to wear thin, so I decided to get started on Final Fantasy II Anniversary Edition. Emptyeye had prepared me a little for how the game works, so I was all ready to beat the snot out of my own characters, but I haven't really needed to do that too much yet. However, I have got into a few fights specifically to level my character's Magic and MP stats. Right now I'm in Mysidia, trying to figure out how on earth to get out of Mysidia without dying to random encounters.

I also randomly started playing Battle Isle on a whim. I remember when I was 12 or something I bought this Battle Isle Platinum collection which had much of the entire series in it, including the expansion to Incubation which I never had. Now I'm finally getting round to playing them, and the first BI is okay so far. Annoyingly enough I had to look up a password to even get to start playing the single player vs. AI levels, and I've played a couple without any trouble. My first attempt at the mission 'EVOTY' resulted in abject failure, so I might need to rethink it a bit.

The major success story of the last couple of days is beating the entire Assassin's Creed III DLC called The Tyranny of King Washington. I knew it wasn't very long, but because of my problems beating the first instalment (bug preventing one of the later missions being beatable) I was eager to rush through and just do the story missions, in case something similar happened. Not so, and I was able to destroy most of the expansion pack with no problem. To that end, I decided to get 100% Sync on every mission, which meant I needed to reload checkpoint quite a few times, but it wasn't too bad. The plot itself is interesting, though Washington is such a terrible and unrepentant figure he's kind of one-dimensional. Worth the season pass.

I've also finally started practising Ultima Underworld for Crystals for Life. Done a few runs through, my current best is 22:10, far away from the current record of 17:25 which uses the same route. I still have a lot of work to do, and even more to learn the sequel, which I've never speedrun before. So many people are starting to drop out of the marathon, I'm wondering if there are going to be 9 hours spare for me to do Dark Cloud...