Wednesday, June 27, 2012
First, let me explain where I stood on the original ending debate. When I first saw my ending, I was pressed. Initially, I rejected it. However, I thought about it for a couple of days. I didn’t really discuss it much because I didn’t want too many opinions tempering my thoughts. After a few days, I still wasn’t satisfied, but I didn’t hate what they did more than I hated the execution. The lack of closure bothered me more than that—along with some of the plot holes and the Normandy’s confusing jump. I wanted to know that my Shepard didn’t do this in vain.
I was ready to hear opinions after that, specifically from people who liked the endings. I faced another problem there. Most of the discussion about the endings brought out two kinds of people. The kind who have nothing to say beyond “Meh… Endings suck.” And the ones who accused disgruntled fans of being “whiners.” I wanted to hear argument about both sides that were well thought out and find out why they felt the way they did about the endings. So, I did discuss the ending with someone who liked them that was very well thought out. Those discussions did a lot with helping me to make peace with my ending while seeing why someone might really love the ending they got.
I was never really one of those people who wanted the ending changed completely (but I didn’t discount the argument of people who did want those endings gone). I never wanted to roll around in the rubble with my LI. I didn’t want an Ewok dance party. Hell, I didn’t even expect my Shepard to make it out of this trilogy alive. I just wanted it to make sense somewhere, somehow. The Extended Cut of the endings did its job in mostly making me feel like Shepard had accomplished something even after the fallout.
Everything after this will be spoilerish, and this is longish. I'm not sorry for it.
Friday, June 22, 2012
This conversation I had in the helicopter after meeting with Pritchard to reboot... I liked how he (Sarif?) asked me if I wanted to just smack around the baddies a little bit or did I want to make them bleed. And then he asked if I wanted to get up close and personal or if I wanted to do long range kills. Is this standard procedure in the game or just an example of how I can choose to basically run a mission however I want? Because if given a choice, I don’t want to stealth anything if I don’t have to.
Speaking of which, how the dialogue choices are handled makes me happy. I think, out of the games I’ve been playing lately, this one handles it the best. It’s less visually intrusive than the dialogue choices in The Witcher, but more detailed than Mass Effect’s paraphrasing system. (Those are the two games I’ve been playing recently.)
The only thing that I’m finding myself annoyed with is the crouching/cover thing. The switch to 3rd person view doesn’t aggravate me as much as I thought it would, but I hate that when I leave cover I’m almost always crouching. Now, there would be nothing wrong with that if I’d made Jensen crouch before going into cover, but I usually don’t. I just go into low cover by holding the command key for it, and I wish the game would recognize that and put me back in a standing position when I leave cover. Nitpicky, I know.
But other than that gripe (and I have one other, but I want to see if it continues to happen before complaining about it), I like it. I had a rocky start with the controls, but we’re going places now.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Slightly spoilerish, maybe.
At this point, I am surprised at how amused I am with this game. I still have my beef with the combat, but I even like the combat a little more now that I’m getting some variations in my moves and have picked up the Igni sign to go along with Aard. I’m enjoying the story more now that I’ve followed Geralt and finished the first chapter of the game.
Geralt is hilarious, and he is largely why I’m finding myself so amused. At first, I was a little put off by how deadpan he is, but I like how he’s turned out to be this snarky monster hunter, and at some points in the game how he’s all, “Oh, that is so unfortunate… dramatic pause… Yo, where’s my money you promised me?” It’s as if I’m just expecting him to insert a Kanye shrug in some of these conversations. I call him Casually Disinterested Geralt.
I thought it was hilarious how, even though Geralt needed this information on the Salamandra and the villagers’ trust, he still had the audacity to ask that they pay him (usually 200 orens, but he’s open to haggling) along with giving him the information for the trouble of taking care of the monsters for them, and they agreed to this. Villagers, how do you work? Geralt is a hustler.
I’m learning a lot about life by playing this game. I think I can incorporate these things into my daily life. Things I’ve learned from playing The Witcher:
- It’s okay to fight monsters in the middle of the night while drunk.
- It’s okay to extort money from people you need favors from.
- It’s okay to aspire to be a professional gambler.
- It’s okay to let the villagers get killed by ghouls because they leave behind stuff you can use… like money.
- It’s okay to meditate in a forest full of monsters at night.
- It’s okay to sleep with anything that is vaguely female when you do something vaguely nice for them.
- It’s okay to have drinking contests to extract information from others.
Why am I not surprised the darkness in the villager’s hearts, the obvious moral decay in that town, is what attracted The Beast? But moral decay seems to be the theme in RPG games. Anyhow, I knew it wouldn’t be Abigail or something she conjured up. That would’ve been too easy and predictable. However, I did half expect The Beast to turn out to be the Reverend, which probably can still be viewed as just as predictable. But the villagers did turn out to be monsters in their own right.
That battle with The Beast gave me some fits. I don’t think I leveled up properly for that battle because as I mentioned before I’m mostly just winging it with talent points distribution. I think I died like 3 times before finally getting it. Abigail helped a little by healing me as long as she wasn’t distracted. I tried to keep the barghest off her to keep her focus on the healing, but she was stab happy. Anytime I knocked them down with Aard, she was right there stealing my quick kills when she should’ve been healing. And what’s this about toxicity? I got my first warning about that during that fight.
Just a general gameplay note.
I like how they handle the journal/codex/books in this game. Usually reading the information that journal/codex entries and books provide is optional. While I’m the type who devours those entries because I love things that add to the story, some people skip it, especially if it adds nothing to how they play the game.
In this game, reading your journal/codex entries and books are pretty much required. You can only learn about alchemical ingredients you can skin off a monster if you’ve read about them or if someone told you about them. Entries will also tell you their weaknesses, tactics, and what fighting style is most effective against them. I’m thinking the same goes for herbs. You have to know about them first before you can find them.
Your journal is your recipe book, as well, telling you the ingredients and the quantity needed for potions. And unless you’re playing on easy, every bit of that information comes in handy. I’m playing on normal difficulty which stated that some alchemy would be needed (easy doesn’t require alchemy; and hard requires quite a bit of mandatory alchemy). At first, it didn’t seem like I would need alchemy, but I learned better as I progressed. So, buying books in this game isn’t a wasted effort.
Another general note: the reused character textures. That’s driving me nuts. I know that happens in tons of games, but there was a moment when I thought I was looking at Vesna’s dead body and it was really a woman named Ilsa. I can see it more for some of the unimportant characters you don’t interact with, but maybe not so much for characters you have a high likely hood of encountering.
Started Chapter Two last night, but I’m at the very beginning. I just got far enough to gamble with my new elf friend and fight for the right to go down in the sewer and exterminate a cockatrice. Mikul has made it to my Kill Bill death list. I’ll get that little bastard, even if I have to write a fanfiction about it if they don’t give me that honor in the game. LOL.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Still working my way through this game. I actually ended up restarting it to record a little bit of my playthrough and to go through the tutorial again and really pay attention to the mechanics of the game. I’d only been half paying attention to the information given during my old save, which is probably why I was so lost.
The combat system still isn’t my favorite and feels clunky and awkward, but I’ve picked up enough of a steady groove with it to not die as quickly as humanly possible. I’ve only died maybe two times since playing this game with many near deaths under my belt. You almost had me Nadir, but behold, the power of mutton!
I’m still only so-so with the leveling and potion making. The potion making is starting to make more sense as I do it more. I’m still having some issues where I’ve learned a formula, gathered material for the formula, and made the formula, but it’s still not showing up in my inventory. Where the hell is the Specter Oil I made? That would come in handy at night against the drowners, ghouls, and barghest I’m encountering since I don’t have a silver sword yet. In fact… Should I have one at this point?
And no, I’m not messing up the potion. I’m aware that could cause my formulas not to show up, but I’m pretty sure that is not the issue. I’ve been very careful about it. Vesemir’s “don’t screw this up” talk makes me take extra care to check and double check what I am doing with these potions.
And while leveling isn’t hard work, I’m still a little lost on what I should be doing exactly. I just kind of click on random things and then hope I haven’t messed up something completely. Okay, I do understand it a bit better than before, but I’m still just going with whatever it lets me take at the time. I still maintain that I was not leveling up in my old play through because I see that a message comes up on the screen about meditating to increase my skill. And I swear I never saw that message before I restarted the game.
The characters are a little disconcerting with their lack of facial expressions and very little tonal inflection. And some characters do use a lot of emotion in their speech, so it’s even more amusing to listen to them speak passionately about something without changing their facial expressions. The Reverend is hilarious to talk to for this reason. I don’t consider this too much of a big deal since I’ve played games that were much worse in that facial expression department.
Right now, I am still at Vizima (which I want to keep calling Virmire because of Mass Effect, but settle on Vizmire). I’ve made it further along than with my old save at this point, but I know I’m playing very slowly. My first playthrough will always be the longest and slowest because I try to do and learn as much as I can. Subsequent playthroughs are much shorter. I’m helping that old coot of a reverend light his damn eternal fires and trying to get villagers to trust me.
I like how Geralt is all about that cash. The reverend has information and help that Geralt needs, and Geralt still says, in that so calm voice, that he’s got to get paid if he’s going to do this. And the old coot agreed to it. I also like how Geralt basically shoehorned in on the monster hunter’s business and has the hunter paying him to fight monsters. Smart man. Geralt and I are going to get along just fine. He knows my heart.
I’m also starting to see just how snarky Geralt is. I compared his demeanor to Ryo Hazuki’s from SHENMUE. His voice is always deadpan like Ryo’s, but unlike Ryo who is a bit gulliable (and rightly so since he’s a teenager), Geralt has all this deadpan sarcasm at his disposal. I’m loving all these calm “You said what to me?” moments he keeps having with people, and they’re all like, “Nothing. I didn’t sass you, sir.”
The only real off-putting thing is the women in the game. I already knew that sex between Geralt and the females he’s helped is the reward of choice. I have nothing against sex in games. I’m that gamer that explores all the sex options in a game and make ridiculously immature jokes. However, it’s still borderline creepy in this one. The porn star moans… God, save the queen. Is your vagina magic? Because if it’s not, I’m going to need y’all to start coming up off some money or some potions or something. And I don’t know why I keep expecting something other than that from them when the game pretty much says, “Nope, vagina it is.”
I am enjoying the game a bit more, even if I do spend some time muttering at my screen about potions and leveling and wondering why this random dwarf told me to fuck off in those exact words. Stay tuned.