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Monday, August 29, 2016

No Man's Sky Review

Welcome to LittleWatt Gameplay. I'll be reviewing No Man’s Sky in this post. The review will be several categories with a 0-10 rating in each category. The numbers will be tallied up at the end for the overall rating.
My how my feelings have changed from my initial thoughts post to this review. But first a little about the game. No Man’s Sky was developed by Hello Games, a small indie group from the UK. It's a single player exploration and survival game based in a procedurally generated universe where our own solar system doesn't appear.
Fun Factor: This is the hardest category for me to rate. I hate to say this game isn't fun. But at the same time I can't say this game is barrels of fun, either. No Man’s Sky is a game with a limited audience. That being said, I'm not convinced anyone but severely hardcore fans will find this game overly fun. Scored 3 of 10.
Replay Factor: Once the game’s primary goal is completed, which is apparently reaching the center of the universe or galaxy (something that isn't quite clear even though the two aren't synonymous with each other), I would be hard pressed to say the game is replay-able. The mundane, and often arduous, tasks would forfeit any desire to start over and try it again. I would be surprised if even the hardcore fans would start again. Scored 1 of 10.
Story Factor: Well there isn't much story. The game allows you to learn other languages but that isn't really what I would consider story. This game is completely about an individual exploring planets and moons and mining necessary consumables to survive. Even the alien interactions are solely for the purpose of reaching a goal. Scored 1 of 10.
Imagery Factor: Now this is where the game shines. Although much of the imagery in the game is the same, regardless of what planet you're on, the images never get too old. During my gameplay, I found the images amazing even though they were rather cartoonish. I found myself fascinated by the color schemes, the blues were amazing, the greens were lively, and the images of each planet’s atmospheres were inspiring. No matter how gloomy the planet was, if you found a cave filled with colors, you felt immediately warmed. Scored 6 of 10.
Overall Factor: The score here won't be great. That isn't to say the game is as bad as the score, though. I tried to base each score only on its respective merits, and in doing so, the cumulative result will mark the game much lower than it really is. I do believe there will be a special group of consumers who find the game breathtakingly amazing. And for those people this review will be blasphemy. But I'm not writing this review to please any one person or groups of people. Scored 2.75 of 10.
Last Minute Gripes: The game lacks any kind of real action. Sure there are moments you have to blast some predators or angry drones. And at times fighting off pirates is a must. Maybe even engaging in a full space battle is an option, but it's relatively limited. The opening to the game was incredibly long and drawn out, and this alone could have easily turned players off the game. That's not to say other games don't have long openings, but the opening to No Man’s Sky just felt excessive. Maybe it's because you are so alone, which is kinda the point. The game aims for you to feel small and insignificant, and for that it does a magnificent job. Unfortunately for me that vast emptiness was more than I could tolerate and I've shelved the game. But since it does make you feel small so well, I'm going to give the game rating two extra bonus points. Score it 4.75 of 10.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Welcome to the LittleWatt Gameplay blog. This is where I preview, review, and share other thoughts in the gaming world. For this post I'm going to opine about my biggest gripe with gamers. 

It seems as though any time people don't find video games to their liking they go on a tirade about the game. And one thing that always comes up in said tirade is a rather weak justification why the game is bad. There is some comment about “the game is so repetitive” or “it's the same thing over and over again.” And there has been a lot if this gripe surrounding the recent release of the much-anticipated No Man’s Sky. And, yes, most of the game revolves around repeating the same mundane tasks to reach goals to start over again with the same mundane tasks to reach goals to start over again…

I respond to this type of complaining two ways, generally. One, all games are repetitive. This is especially true with shooter games and sports games. Shoot a bunch of adversaries, move to the next stage, shoot more adversaries. Wash, rinse, repeat. And sports games are simple enough to be self-explanatory. In fact many of my all-time favorite games are nothing more than the equivalent to Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. 

The second type of response I give to gamers who growl and snarl over how repetitive a game is: If you can develop and produce a better game then do it. It's always easier to gripe about someone else's product than admit to yourself that you couldn't do any better. Let's face it, if you were that brilliant, you would be developing the best—non-repetitive—game ever made. And you would be laughing all the way to the bank. 

If you don't like a game, that's fine. Not every person is going to like every game. That's why there are several different genres of games available. Developers and producers understand they have a specific customer base and they target that base. But don't use the excuse that a game is repetitive. Life is also repetitive. Get over it.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Dying Light Initial Thoughts

Welcome to LittleWatt Gameplay. Several weeks ago I was asked what game I had played that with the best story. I believe my response was something to similar to “I don’t know that I have ever played a game with a story or storyline. I mean where is the story in Madden Football or Gran Turismo? There isn’t one. And I suppose games like Metal Gear Solid and Tomb Raider 1, 2, 3, had some story to it but not much. And I’m certain Resistance: Fall of Man had a story but I wasn’t interested in doing anything in that game other than shoot the chimera and get to the end.
I recently finished DOOM (the 2016 release) and found it had a fairly decent story in it even if it was easily glossed over or dismissed altogether. The story had to be read, which easily slowed the game down from its balls-to-the-wall gameplay. Who wants to slow down to read anyway? It would be easy for me to argue DOOM had the best story in any game I’ve ever played.
But that isn’t true anymore. Although, I’ve put several hours into Dying Light, I’m still only fifteen percent finished with the game. Now I’m not certain if all the side missions are included in the game completion percentage, and if they aren’t, then the game will move along quickly as I’ve only done a few main story missions. Compare that to seven or eight side missions or quests. Hell, I’ve even done a scene for a movie with some film director whose camera I tracked down during a side mission. And I have to say splattering forty zombies with a double barrel shotgun in under two minutes (I think) was great fun (I had forty-four seconds remaining).
Even though all that zombie killing is great fun, and gets even better once the player levels up and the weapons can be modified into serious zombie destroying tools, the story behind the game is equally good. There are some real-life politics and stereotyping in the game. Some high drama and backstabbing. And the commentary of the main character is wonderfully clever and witty. And the thing is, all the quests or side-missions are key into unravelling the entire story.
Initially, I found the controls to be complicated and not well thought out. But I was also coming off hours and hours of DOOM where all the controls had become second nature, and they were also fairly standard controls. But now that I’ve put more hours into Dying Light the controls are easily to handle and don’t feel nearly as cumbersome. (And with the acquisition with the grappling hook everything thing has become just a bit easier—you’ll need to be survivor level twelve to receive the grappling hook.)
During the night missions, stealth plays a major factor in succeeding. Again with the grappling hook night missions will become far easier. During my first night mission, I was killed in short order but have successfully survived the night four times without even being noticed. Still, the stress level goes up quite a bit during the night, armed with the massively destructive double-barrel shotgun or not. (All those hours spent looting, accomplishing side missions, stealing airdrops from thieves, unlocking all the safe houses,and killing zombies will level you up quick enough to get specialty weapons. But you can craft one of the best weapons in the game right away—the Molotov cocktails. These bottles of flaming liquid will dispatch nearly all enemies, and multiple enemies, with little to no effort. One Molotov is good for a least six dead zombies all at once so long as they are grouped together. Nothing works as efficiently.

Dying Light is a must play game for anyone interested in first-person, zombie, horror, or survival games. And it has a wonderful story to boot.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

No Man's Sky Initial Thoughts

Welcome to LittleWatt Gameplay. Quite possibly the biggest game for PlayStation 4 for 2016 has been released and I'll share my initial thoughts about No Man’s Sky.

No Man’s Sky is a space exploration and discovery game developed by Hello Games. It's a procedurally generated game, which means something that I'm not sure I fully understand. Here's a link to help explain it.

I'm not going to get into graphics and gameplay and all that jazz with this initial thoughts post. But I can say the game runs smooth and the images can be fascinating.

I open the game as a crash-landed space explorer to my best guess. There isn't any story so far so I'm only able to piece together what I've experienced. My first job is to repair my busted ship—which for me is a similar looking machine to the X-wing fighter. I have to search the area to find repair items. The items aren't hard to find (once I got the handle on it) but they're vast distances away from the crash site. I'm armed with a multi-tool, which looks a lot like a toy blaster I had as a kid. The kind you pulled the trigger on and sparks shot out the top or sides. And I'm inside a protective suit that needs various repairs during my sojourn for organic materials and various items from the periodic table.

My character is all alone aside from the plants and various creatures on the planet. (There is an element of creepiness during the exploration because anything can appear at any time). And these drones that are sometimes friendly and sometimes not, which may have to do with me destroying a couple.

The game is open world to the extreme, which for all intents and purposes, is all new for me. I'm not convinced I'll enjoy the game yet. Perhaps when I finally get off my initial planet and into space it'll improve. And there will certainly be more aspects to No Man’s Sky once I get further into the game, but my big concern will be my attention span for the game as it unfolds rather slowly for me.

And although this game may eventually be one I could easily place on a shelf and forget about, I do believe it'll be a big success for Hello Games, PlayStation, and gamers all over the world. And perhaps beyond.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

DOOM Review

Welcome to LittleWatt Gameplay. I've now completed my first game since I began this blog. So that means it's time to write my first review. The review will be scaled from zero to ten in several categories. Here's some history of DOOM

I line up the shot!
DOOM, a first-person shooter, was first released on December 10, 1993 by id Software. Although it wasn't the first, first-person shooter it did remake the genre with heavy violence and gore and 3D graphics to IBM-compatible computers. Do you all remember IBM-compatible computers? DOOM II: Hell on Earth was released in 1994, which was followed by addition releases from that same engine, and Final DOOM released in 1996. In 1997 DOOM 64 would be released followed by a several year hiatus. In 2004 a prequel of the first DOOM as released but with all new technology. All of the previous versions of DOOM would have secondary releases except Final DOOM. There are books, comics books, and a movie based on DOOM. All in all, a successful institution. 
The newest version of the game, titled DOOM, was released on May 13, 2016. And that is what this review will be covering. I haven't played many first-person shooters so I won't have much history to compare DOOM and other games in the genre. This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version. 

I'll be rating the game in different categories with a scale from 1 to 10. 

Fun Factor: wow this game was a hoot. It moved quickly and the interest stayed up. And I stayed up late many nights playing the game. That being said, I'm scoring DOOM an 8 of 10. 

Replay Factor: I often returned to previous missions to complete missed challenges, work on weapon mastery, or discover missed secrets. I found myself enjoying the game as much when I repeated a level as I did when I first played the level. I mean pulling a demon’s arms off under the influence of the Berserk power up or hacking a demon in half with a chainsaw never gets old. Again an 8 of 10. 

Story Factor: I found rating this a bit more difficult. The story in DOOM is there and it's a good story. But the story isn't easy to follow with the multiple ways it unfolds. At times there was the magnificent demon voice narrating a story during the trips to hell. Other times Samuel Hayden told a story. But most of the story was developed with the Data Logs, which could easily be glossed over or ignored altogether. Understandably, DOOM is designed for high RPM fun and too much story would lug the engine, but at the same time I felt like the story needed to be more forced. Certainly the artifacts picked up in hell don't take away from the energy of the game. A similar design needed to be employed for the rest of the story. Say, for instance, Olivia tells the story of the demons and Hayden discusses Mars and the work done on Mars. For story factor DOOM receives a 6 of 10. 

Imagery Factor: I considered breaking this category into several but chose against it since this category is rather subjective. Sure there are obvious differences in last generation console and current generation, and even current generation compared to PC games. So I felt it best to keep concepts like graphics and images and real life modeling and soundtrack in one category. For DOOM, the imagery factor is high—8 of 10. The soundtrack was perfect, high octane and aggressive, which fit exactly with DOOM. There are several sections in the game where the imagery was so life-like it can easily be passed off as real. The smoke and fire and explosive barrels are all images that appear real not game. And I could easily peruse my gameplay videos and literally take hundreds of incredible stills. Other things like Samuel Hayden's size was subtle imagery. And Olivia’s degradation in the game as she slowly fails to accomplish her promises. And several of the gruesome images in the game tell a subtle story. One of which we would expect when dealing with demons and hell. 

Overall Factor: This is an accumulation of all the category ratings added together with category totals and averaged out. DOOM gets an above average score with a 7.5 of 10. 

Last Minute Gripes: I didn't include this in the main review because it didn't play a significant enough part to be included. Although the game never locked up on me, it did have a glitch or bug or something in one level where the mission challenges weren't being recorded. This forced me to complete the mission and restart. Ultimately this didn't have a detrimental impact on my game goals and was only a minimal annoyance. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Dying Light Fitness Challenge

Welcome to LittleWatt Gameplay. I hope you're enjoying the blog and the videos of my gameplay on YouTube. 

For August I'm focusing on Dying Light and will be finishing up DOOM. Also of note No Man’s Sky will be out on August 9. I haven't decided if I'll do videos for that yet. But enough of all that business, let's get to the challenge. 

In Dying Light there's a focus on parkour. And for those who don't know what parkour is I hope I'll help you understand what it is. Perhaps some history first. 

Here's a little information on parkour. And if you go by the simple textbook definition you'll be able to find suitable obstacles to use. http://www.wfpf.com/parkour/

No I don't expect people to launch themselves off rooftops or do flying somersaults over vehicles traveling at 40 miles per hour. I mean that shit is just nuts. There's a fine line between brave and idiotic. I wouldn't expect people to climb a fence like Jackie Chan, either. But I do think there are some simple parkour things people can do safely and get in a great workout. Find a balance beam at a local park or walk the curbing along the sidewalk. Climb a jungle gym. Do pull-ups on the monkey bars. Vault a park bench. I have a skateboard park where I live and it gets no use whatsoever so I'll be doing some parkour something or other there. 

Now I'm definitely not a parkour-er and won't claim to be. I won't be doing any cat grabs and muscle-ups any time soon. My strength to weight ratio leans way too much on the weight side. Still that doesn't mean I can't try. And who knows maybe by September 1 I'll be able to do cat grabs and muscle ups. 

So here's the challenge. Three days a week do twenty-five minutes of parkour outside. Being outside is important. Or check a local gym for parkour classes. Now I understand it's August so be sure you exercise safely. Drink plenty of water and take it slow. Going balls to the wall is a good way to get injured. At least until you get better. Then you can speed it up and drink more water. I expect everyone will be sore after the first time since it isn't something most people do. But go and have fun. And get healthier to boot. 

Now go out and have fun. Most importantly be safe!