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Next Quiz Date: January 11, 2014
Subject: 999 (Nintendo DS)
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61  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Fire Emblem 3DS on: August 27, 2013, 08:28:36 PM
So I've been playing a ton of FE:A and I'm really looking forward to talking about it on the podcast.  I think this game's difficulty is an important point of discussion because I don't quite see the point in the harder difficulty modes.  I played on Normal Classic until around chapter 9 and found the game way too easy.  Hard Classic was quite challenging.... until I opened up the DLC and could grind for hours.  After a few quick DLC maps, my guys were tanking and killing just like my crew on Normal, only they were substantially higher level.  So now my question is, why should I keep playing on Hard?  It will certainly take me longer, but I'm going to get the same result either way.  I guess most strategy games are easily broken and grinding usually makes any RPG easier, but here it just feels like busywork on the harder modes.  Not looking for a fight or anything (I like the game quite a bit), but it just doesn't feel balanced in a way.  To be fair, FF Tactics had a similar problem in that a little grinding made the main quest missions easy as hell.  Just looking for some friendly discussion here. 
62  Media / Miscellaneous Games / Re: XCOM: Enemy Unknown on: August 21, 2013, 10:55:06 PM
....fix the encounter system and this might just be my most anticipated game of the year.

Seriously, I loved EU, but I can't stand the way you encounter enemies and found some horrible glitches that got men killed on my iron man playthrough (literally had a cyperdisk spawn on top of me and another time my sniper blew up his own piece of cover and died on the next turn from a critical across the fucking map). 
63  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: RPGFan Podcast (Random Encounter) Thread on: August 12, 2013, 05:14:43 PM
I can honestly say that the more controversial parts of Dragon's Crown did not influence my score.  They are a factor in who I will play the game around/with, however.  And, if we always talk about how video games are art and how they illicit emotional responses, shouldn't we also point out if something offends/detracts from the experience?  I hear people talking about crying or getting angry with certain actions in video games, but just like any other art form video games have the capability to offend. 

Not really looking for an argument here.  I think it's a very healthy debate that needs to happen. 
64  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: RPGFan Podcast (Random Encounter) Thread on: August 11, 2013, 09:49:43 PM
Episode 68 is live.  Enjoy!
65  Media / Miscellaneous Games / Re: Naughty Dog's The Last of Us on: August 03, 2013, 01:33:25 PM
Got to Winter on hard and had to quit.  I just hate how the game forces you into combat at times and how the enemies become fucking bullet sponges on higher difficulties.  I think normal mode got the combat part right but there were two many resources while hard mode is the exact opposite.  My last death was caused by trying to run away from a bunch of dudes and I got shot five times in a row and ended up stun locked.  Sorry, I'm not putting up with that shit.

It's a good game.  Sometimes it's great.  However, I feel like this game would be getting eaten alive if the story wasn't so "good."  I honestly thought the story was fine and well told in places, but it wasn't anything special (outside of the awesome ending, of course).  It's an 8 or 8.5 out of me.  The dissonance between the world and the "game" part is just too great for me to bear, and the stealth mechanics are far too random and glitchy to rely on them.  Tried to sneak up on dudes during Fall's end sequence and they would break animation and spin around and shoot me every damn time.  Again, great game when it lets you play how you want, but I can't stand it when you're forced into combat and the game just spawns enemies.  The best moments are when you come upon a group and have to figure out how to approach the situation. 

And before anyone says anything, I feel the same way when other stealth games force me into combat.  Couldn't stand the stupid stairwell scene in Metal Gear Solid, or the awful finale in Hitman 2. 

And why the hell does this game get away with so many of the chief complaints about other games released in the past year?  Resident Evil 6 is, rightfully, picked apart for having the whole "Pick up a key, now the enemies attack" bullshit, but it's here in this game too.  Other stealth games are picked apart, again rightfully, for hive-mind AI, but all of the hunters know where you are if one sees you.  Again, I just look for consistency in my reviews, and I feel like Last of Us is getting away, at least among critics, with the same shit that other games are crucified for.  I remember Gametrailers made a huge deal out of the fact that you can throw a bottle in front of an enemy in the new Hitman and he will only notice the sound when it hits a wall.  And yet, not one peep from the site when Last of Us does the exact same damn thing.  Maybe it's because, to its credit, Last of Us doesn't do this kinda thing nearly as often as other games, but it's still there and quite annoying when it happens. 

Sorry to rant.  Got really pissed on my last death and I think I'm shelving the game for good.  I'm glad people like it, and I think it's probably the most important game of the year.  I just hate the fact that the game was apparently critic proof among most of the press (though i do think Polygon was a little harsh at points). 
66  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Dragon's Crown (Vanillaware RPG, now 2013 all regions) announced for PS3/Vita on: July 31, 2013, 11:10:06 PM
Online co-op is locked until you finish the first nine stages.  After that, you get a B path trough each level to fight a different boss.  At this point, the online portion of the game is open.  You can play local co-op from the start.  

Hope that clears things up!  
67  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Dragon's Crown (Vanillaware RPG, now 2013 all regions) announced for PS3/Vita on: July 31, 2013, 08:01:59 PM
Oh, I agree!  The art is quite amazing.  Even the more risque pictures are absolutely gorgeous.  I can't deny the artist's abilities. 
68  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Dragon's Crown (Vanillaware RPG, now 2013 all regions) announced for PS3/Vita on: July 31, 2013, 07:40:40 PM
As many people already know, I'm a teacher at a boarding school.  I was very much looking forward to playing this game with some of my students.  We have a blast playing Smash Bros. and various other games.  If any of my colleagues saw some of the more risque scenes in Dragon's Crown, however, I'd be fired in an instant.  And the fact is that the female characters are seen as sexual objects (the princess and elf being the notable exceptions) while the male characters are all big burly fantasy drawings.  Some of the stun animations on the amazon in particular look like they were ripped out of some hentai film.

Again, I'm very comfortable with my hobby.  I don't hide the fact I'm a gamer or that I'm a teacher who plays video games.  My job, however, is based around interactions with children, and much the same way I wouldn't allow them to watch Game of Thrones I would not allow them to play Dragon's Crown.  The fact is that you can have very sexy character designs without resorting to some of the more... provocative sights in this game.

Jessica Rabbit is a really good example, Neal.  She's a buxom character who exudes sexuality.  That's not a problem on it's own.  The problem would be if we chained her to a bed, draped a barley there sheet over her body, and then allowed you to prod her with analog stick clicks and watch her writhe and cry out.  That's where Dragon's Crown goes too far.
69  Media / Miscellaneous Games / Re: Naughty Dog's The Last of Us on: July 25, 2013, 01:01:45 PM

Some of these are pretty extreme, sure, but I saw a lot of the animation style glitches (enemies getting caught in animations or breaking away for a second and coming back).  


My criticisms may seem overly harsh, but let me be perfectly clear; we need more games like The Last of Us.  We need more games that push for new things, ideas, ways to play, and levels of immersion.  We need more games that treat the audience like they're adults.  We need more games that leave you to figure things out and don't insist on stopping you every five minutes to explain a new mechanics.  We need more games that push us forward instead of just releasing the same old shit year after year with a new paint job.  The Last of Us is a very important game, and I think the high sales numbers will get more developers talking about new ideas. 

Now, don't ever makes a sequel to this game, Naughty Dog.  Let it rest.  Let it stand for something new and important. 
70  Media / Miscellaneous Games / Re: Naughty Dog's The Last of Us on: July 25, 2013, 12:31:19 PM
Played for about a half hour just to see if my opinion has changed on the game.  Here's some of the shit I ran into:

-Runner model was showing up on my listen view but not in the actual game.  Had me completely paranoid in a good way until I realized it was a glitch.
-Did the brick throw smash on a dude and it alerted some other guys.  Fine, no problem, except one guy was locked into an animation and stood completely still and would not break from it.  He was just pointing a gun down a hallway.  I thought maybe he was waiting for me, but no, he was just locked into his animation and didn't respond.
-Started combat on a couple of other guys and a damn Molotov bastard spawned right behind me.  I was more confused than anything else.

Again, I just find the game too glitchy and sporadic to really register as a GotY candidate for me.  The experience is great, I liked the story (though outside of the ending I didn't really care about it that much), and the atmosphere is spectacular.  The actual game, though, well it's kinda buggy and broken in places.  I think it's meant to be, though.  It's supposed to be tense, messy and ugly in places.  I get all that, but maybe I just prefer my games to behave a certain way and follow certain routines.  The random factor in Last of Us can lead to great story moments but also completely work against the other parts of the game.  There's a real dissonance in the storytelling and actual way the game operates at times.  For example, the game makes a huge deal out of survival and scavenging for supplies, but then you kill an enemy holding the exact same pistol as you and he was firing with unlimited ammo but you can't even get one bullet off of his corpse?  Why not give each enemy a set amount of ammo and let the game go from there?  How awesome would it have been to have an enemy run out of ammo and then rush you for a change?  Probably too hard for the game's engine and development team, but these kinds of things really bugged me and ripped me out of the experience of playing this game.  

I think it's odd that there are two groups of people with this game; those who love fighting the regular humans and hate the monster enemies, and vice-versa (though I'm sure Stephen will say he liked fighting both equally).  I've heard people talk about broken AI and botched animation on both sides, so I think it really comes down to how you play.  If you go pure stealth than the human enemies seem to respond the most logically and prove quite fun, while the infected tend to behave erratically and break immersion by seeing you through walls and shit.  Meanwhile, straight up combat with the human enemies is kinda weird at times, with them being more than happy to sit behind cover and wait for you to flank them or losing sight of you when you run away.  Infected enemies are fucking crazy to fight in straight up combat and get really scary in really panicked "Oh shit, oh shit" type way.  
71  Media / Miscellaneous Games / Re: Naughty Dog's The Last of Us on: July 25, 2013, 10:28:42 AM
I liked the game quite a bit, but I wouldn't say it's my game of the year.  I doubt it will be in my top five.  Playing through the opening areas on hard again showed me just how scripted and frustrating the beginning areas can be.  Enemies that are already aggro when you enter the scene, boring chest-high wall shootouts, and awful level layout in the first few clicker areas shows just how great the game eventually gets. 

Also, I hate how they introduce the bow given how powerful and fun it is.  They give you a tutorial to use it on the first clicker you encounter, and it won't kill him in one shot.  I thought, "Well, this is a useless piece of shit," and didn't touch it for around three hours.  Then I used it out of desperation and without any upgrades it was one-shotting enemies at a decent range.  That first clicker is designed to take more than one shot, which threw me off of the mechanic.  That's the arbitrary stuff that really got to me while playing it. 
72  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Shin Megami Tensei IV on: July 24, 2013, 05:11:31 PM
Some of the last bosses require more luck than anything else.  I watched a youtube video of one in particular, and the player just got lucky that the stupid boss kept using a regular attack with the physical barrier up.  I tried to do that and got walloped with magic spells.  Changed my tactic to block magic and ended up getting hammered with almighty spells.  Maybe the guy was playing on easy, I don't know, but I was able to beat the boss with a lot of luck and patience (well, not much patience as I was basically screaming my head off for an hour at the bastard).  The last boss on chaos is actually quite easy... unless he spams an unblockable attack that can ruin your whole damn day.  Needless to say, beating the game this afternoon wasn't exactly fun.  Feel like I need a cigarette and I've never even smoked before.  
73  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Shin Megami Tensei IV on: July 24, 2013, 01:34:46 AM
Is it wrong that I really really like the first possible ending? 
74  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Shin Megami Tensei IV on: July 23, 2013, 08:01:40 PM
Y'all know I have a tendency to dwell on the negatives with a game, but I can't stop playing SMT4.  Just picked up Megidola for my MC and I am just devastating everything that stands in my way.  Kinda feel like Dr. Manhattan. 
75  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Shin Megami Tensei IV on: July 23, 2013, 10:18:17 AM
I'm certainly on the positive side and would have put out a review fairly close to Derek's score for our site.  The battle system, atmosphere, wonderful demon fusing, and exploration elements are all pretty damn spectacular and easily better than Nocturne, IMO.  I actually feel the same way about SMT4 as I did while reviewing Xenoblade.  There are so many great moments and truly innovative design decisions made towards improving the JRPG.  At the same time, though, there are some boneheaded things that can't be ignored.  

I'm coming into the home stretch and the last dungeon area I cleared was especially frustrating with the camera and way enemies spawned around me.  I'm sitting at around 80 agility and still losing the first turn on some fights.  I had to save scum like crazy during one section because the game would randomly give the enemies the first strike no matter what I did and one of them would always paralyze my entire party.  I checked my stats and I've saved close to 400 times!  
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