Hitman – Season 1 – quick impressions

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+, +, +, + Great variety of locations, with a couple being really great but a few mediocre and one and a bit actually frustrating <cough> Colorado <cough>

+,+, –  felt like a return to old form, particularly in the direction Hitman: Blood Money, which I liked, however the mechanics and number of options did not feel like they got enough improvements for the many years passed

+ the story was pretty interesting with implications, though not a lot of it

+, +, +, + a huge amount of dialogues and events making it feel like quite alive places

+, +, + the general writing of the ingame stories was very good

– the menus were somewhat confusing, a mixture of the unit structure of each episode maybe? For a long time i couldn’t figure out where to load when starting up

-, -, -, – i really disliked their push for “online”, i suspect that’s also what makes the loading/saving so slow and the menus so unresponsive, in general I resented the tendency to take freedom from the customer and give themselves more power through this.

– sometimes too hard due to crowds. This revealing problems in lacking skills for creating diversions and other quirks (is it so hard to carry extra coins?)

Each episode had it’s own little particularities so here’s some separate thoughts for them:

– 1) Intro : mediocre, interesting idea with the test but boring location

+, +, +, + 2) Sapienza great surprisingly living little town, great variety of locations, probably my favorite. If you’re gonna get just one episode I’d recommend this one

+, + 3) Marrakesh Interesting political insights and interesting location.

+, + 4) Bangkok Beautiful location, too bad it felt so constrained and small and some of the most beautiful places like that beach couldn’t be visited

-, – 5) Colorado, to me mostly uninteresting visually, inviting to fighting in a game not suited for it, involved a lot of frustrating save&loading which discourages experimentation

+, –  6) Hokkaido  the idea is interesting but the many locked doors create a narrow corridor constrained feeling.

Overall I’d give it a 2 on a -5 to 5 scale. I enjoyed it and look forward to the next one, but because the locations and experiences were so uneven I’d only get the next episodes when the whole season is out/on a sale because as much as I liked some locations others were not so great and would leave a bad taste for me to wait another couple of months to was hit.

Dishonored 2 – impressions

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Quick thoughts on credits:

+, +, +, +, +, + amazing environmental attention to detail, from the way old objects clutter to witches having a cup of tea and discussing among themselves on a chandelier until/unless they notice you

+, +, +, + again that amazing level design full of amazing secrets, wasn’t easy to find all the runes but it was worth it. Granted for one of them after trying a bunch of things had to look online. Otherwise however I have to say I loved their subtlety and logic, I like they d again like in Dishonored that they had a physicality to them, making sense somehow and not resorting to cheap tricks

+, +, + nicely deeply thought out universe with rich background and in-character storytelling

+, + great artwork, like it’s predecessors

-, +, + it felt very much like the original Dishonored. For the time passed it felt like there weren’t enough leaps either in technology or quantity of artwork. I mean it was better, but I was sorta expecting more. That being said the artwork was very good.

+, + this the game on the ps4 came with the original Dishonored + the expansions, which made me veeery happy. Although I’ve played them (shockingly) multiple times I look forward to replaying the brilliant expansions once more and their generosity of including it with the ps4 version brings me great joy and to somebody who hasn’t played them could potentially bring value in my opinion almost equal to the game itself despite the passage of time

– on the ps4 pro there were a lot of weird bright edge jaggies, where tiles in the walls met, not a big deal, and most of the time they weren’t there (maybe they even disappeared at some point)

+, +, +, + the infested houses were just aaaamazing, that mixture of luxury furniture and musical instruments with nature invading and the stories in there, told both by environments, and bits of journals… aaamazing

+, +, + some amazing sculptures!

+, + they took in artwork and style as well as original ideas from the 2 brilliant expansions to Dishonored, which were IMHO even better than the original game

– with the art style in the menus i felt it was a little step back from the excellent artists’ work shown in the original game, I also felt less impressed by the faces/expressions of the main characters, they got imo a bit too plasticy instead of that stylized cut look they used to have

+, – you can play it with two characters. This may introduce some extra replayability for some people, for me though, playing Corvo, this probably was the cause why it felt very much the same, with abilities being too similar.

+, +, + a lot of replayability coming from the amazingly interesting locations and events, also many interesting dialogues

+, +, + delightfully many paths through the environments

– At times it felt a bit difficult, or at least strangely balanced difficulty, with first escape mission being really tough while some later missions being almost silly easy

+, +, + path breaking approach with that time-travel map, that’s like 2 maps in one! easy to not appreciate that wonder enough. If they make a whole future game like that it’ll be truly a leap forward, and i consider this a very successful prototype.

Overall I think it’s an excellent game. I’d consider it above the original Dishonored but not quite the level of excellence of the 2 expansions. I wasn’t suuuper impressed simply because the bar was set so high and while the new game met it it didn’t (i felt) rise it in the same way as the original did. So overall I’d give it a 4 on a -5 to 5 scale, making it an incredible amazing game that I very warmly recommend!

Artsy Gamers, Secret Santas – 7th edition

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Want to gift and receive a game for Christmas aand make friends in the process?  Just leave a comment in this thread and a secret Santa will be randomly assigned to you while you will be randomly assigned to a lucky gamer/gamerette

Wuuppeee!!! Christmas gifting time is here agaaaain! Let the paaarty beegiiiin!!!

What?

On this magical occasion we shall continue our proud tradition, come wind or snow (we hope)! I’m starting to build a list of people who are interested in joining. On the 25th I will use this list to randomly extract (out of something christmasy, like a hat or something) everybody’s Secret Artsy Santa. Then I will contact the people on the list with info to their respective giftee.

The nitty gritty

For specifics I would propose a low budget Steam game (thousands of games at <10€. It’s more about the fun and the gesture than anything else). I propose Steam ’cause it’s the most hassle free and it’s digital instant delivery makes it convenient, plus I know quite a couple of us have an account lying around somewhere. However Good Old Games (gog.com) also has fantastic games at fantastic prices (and amazing sales) and so do other networks, so we’ve got even more options. Plenty of choices & probably a ton of fab holiday deals on fantastic games are guaranteed :D

Also if you just want to research what people might like now we have a steam group: steamcommunity.com/groups/artsygamer  and from it you can add friends and see their wishlist, in case you’re temporarily out of ideas, plus friending them now is not just nice but also a good preparation for when the actual gifting will happen.

Why would I do it?

Well… for the huge joy of giving, of course! Imagine you get to browse through a ton of games, remembering the ones you liked most, and share one with somebody, spreading the joy, making the world a better place! As an incredible added bonus you will also get to have a cool surprise waiting for you to unwrap. Even if you’ve played the game before it will be super fun to get it, knowing that somebody else (and you get to wonder who) reaaaallly enjoyed that game and thought it was special enough to share. It probably meant a LOT in their life… it’s magical to share that!

I want in! How?

Well, just leave a comment, gimme a private message (top menu), email, or facebook or even contact form… the popular quickie favorite: you could just leave a comment here if the email you’re registered with is the one you’ll want to be receiving your surprise on. Name + email … and that’s all :D

Jedi Outcast – The Movie

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A long time ago, in a galaxy still owned by Lucas….

The 2nd Death Star is destroyed, the Empire is crumbling (spoilers!). A couple of (no ordinary) mercenaries are sent to investigate a remote Imperial Remnant outpost. A menial task, at best… or is it?

Anyone who’s played Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (long title, huh?) remembers the story of the morally-grey, ex-Imperial Kyle Katarn, on his path to enlightenment (only because you can’t choose the dark side in this installment). What if some Australians took it upon themselves to bring the story to the big screens?

The group has disassembled the game’s assets and gave them a modern polish, using Unreal Engine 4 for the entirety of the project (shader, animation, dialogue, camera work etc.). Some assets (such as character animations) are lifted from the KOTOR games.

Apart from the new, modern look, the group has managed to create an “asset shuffler” of sorts, allowing for varied character outfits (Jedi Academy character creator-style).

Adobe’s VoCo is expected to be used for this, and for many such other projects.

It is currently not known when exactly the movie will be released, but, according to the team, “not this year”.

Hong Kong – Streets – Alexander Brandon [Deus Ex]

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I still so much respect for Alexander Blandon. And to make all of this in a module, Impulse Tracker format (.it)  if I remember right. Wooow! So much musical quality at such a low file size and low cpu consumption. Nowadays we take mp3 decoding for granted but i remember back then on my CPU there was a 5-10x difference in cpu usage between the two.

Unnatural History [Dishonored 2]

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What an interesting location, set design, props and environmental storytelling.

Hitman Season 1

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I was impressed with the passion of this review. I’ve avoided it so far because of the online and challenge components getting me skeptical… but after this review it’s totally on my radar.

Mad Max – impressions

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No, not the movie, the game, confusingly carrying the same title though being quite different.

+, +, + amazing visuals through a beautiful graphics engine, beautiful artistic sunsets and the dunes, looking at times spectacular

-, – infantile often downright stupid story with not credible world, and adolescent namings. I wanted to believe in the world, and I could’ve totally seen made it at least half credible in a Fallout kind of sense but it seems just down right silly

+, +, +, + amazing level design, by that I mean many camps and locations which although reusing assets are each lovingly designed in a way that invites exploration and discovery, each having it’s own specific character.

+, – passable but “meh” music

-, – the occasional frustrating “boss fight” locking you in and not allowing for open world solutions or alternatives

+ decent progression and leveling

+, + some genuinely interesting and memorable locations

Overall I’d simply say the world looks great and the level layout with a beautiful engine but destroyed by a worse than mediocre story. I’d give it a 1 on a -5 to 5 scale: worth playing for the world and discovery but showing many other problems. Still i think it’s a game worth mentioning because i suspect behind the unidimensional almost caricatural world is a team of people who put a lot of love into the game and it shows.

 

Song of Da Day: Saint’s Row 3

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didn’t much like the game, but this soundtrack… maaan, even makes doing the laundry fun!!!

Titanic: Honor and Glory

7

It is the year 1912, and you’ve somehow found your way aboard the largest man-made mobile structure on Earth.  Naturally, because it’s a plague-free couple of years, you find time to wander around the ship, bask in its beauty, and overall enjoy the view.

Oh, wait, all of this is about to be on the ocean floor in a matter of hours (spoiler alert).

The dedicated people at Vintage Digital Revival LLC are hard at work recreating the Titanic, down to every last watertight[citation heavily needed] bulkhead. Seriously.

The project is still in its infancy (the game engine seems to be at default settings based on some glitches caused by detail culling in UE4), and at this stage (much like Cameron’s “Titanic”) is devoid of characters. Gameplay should feature both a ship exploration mode, and a story mode.

It is estimated to be available for purchase somewhere in 2018, so sit tight.

There are 2 demos available for download on the developers’ website (alongside a beautiful gallery of in-game shots). The devs recommend having a whopping 8 GiB of system RAM, but it’s worth it.

Farcry Primal – impressions

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It’s amazing it took me like 8 months to finish this game despite loving it so very much from the launch date. Here’s my quick thoughts:

+, +, +, +, + Aaaaaaaaaaaaaamazing world, so very very big and open and fascinating to explore and beeeeeeeeautiful!!!

-, – too bad it didn’t had voice over. I mean in a way the primitive old language is charismatic, but on the other hand it breaks the immersion a bit not to understand it and it makes it feel a bit like a more “indie” budget title, which it totally doesn’t feel otherwise

+, +, +, + deep and complex story with a lot of moral grays. Many times I was surprised how they dared to be so “politically incorrect” with the kinds of things they said in the game, and the story. I’m used to seeing stories in which the hero is camouflaged for modern tastes and values yet in this game the story and the world is much more unapologetically tribe-vs-tribe, and even in this the game manages to surprise with complex tensions and interests, and even the major villain being presented in a way that made me go “WOOOW”, humanized through his child and brain illness, and even in the mutual deadly hate there is a place formed for mutual respect

+, +, + a nice variety of approaches, locations, from stealth to using animals and to full on spectacular action

– after the initial 20h of great discovery my interest plateaued for a while because of same world, yet what a world

+, +, +, + beautiful graphical engine, beautiful day-night cycle

+, +, +, + spectacularly realized vegetation, in looks, in color spectrum, in variety, in organic distribution

+, + an interesting approach of handling cold weather resulted in wonderfully dynamic experiences and emergent gameplay situations. I remember this one time when I was trying to silently take a village in the snow, yet I was freezing, so i would try to sneak past bonfires

+, +, +, + great variety in the terrain and locations

+, +, + a masterpiece in handling the animals, they are beautiful

+, + I was very surprised how many interesting and unique places to discover they’ve managed to create, with unique looks and atmosphere, world events, caves, ritual sites, villages…

+, + gripping level-up system with a lot of skills and objects to acquire while learning the land

Overall I’d say this is an underrated masterpiece of which i hear way too little of. I’d give it an amazing 4.5 on a -5 to 5 scale. I wish it had had dialogues but otherwise this is a one of a kind experience that totally took me by surprise, I really reeeeeeeally hope they’ll make a Primal 2 or even better further experiment with translating the formula through history.

Dishonored Lore

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Interesting story. Also it’s cool that they use the soundtrack from Demon’s Souls, also probably the origin of this lore tribute tradition.

Layers of Fear – impressions

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Finished it. It was a just one day experience, but it definitely was a memorable surreal one. We got the game not knowing what to expect, possibly nothing special, but after 1h of play I was so impressed with the quality of the historical elements in the environment that I went and got the addon on the spot (haven’t played it yet). Here’s quick thoughts while the credits are rolling:

+, +, + , +, + some amazing surreal moments of dream and paradox that I think would’ve had both Escher and Dali impressed. And some changes are so subtly and beautifully integrated that it’s amazing, like one moment you’ll be looking around a room and the next seeing it’s got an endless ceiling, but wonder if it was like that before, or turning around a room to find doors where you remembered walls… or things floating, just amazing moments.

+, + interesting mystery atmosphere, told through small things, placements of things, indirect letters, that kind of stuff

– there were also moments however when it felt like it had too many “booo!” scares… though I got quickly immune. The suspense stuff was better though.

+, +, + at times amazing soundtrack

– Though some story was there I wish there was more story and a bit less of the ‘gore’… just a bit, it mostly worked but it could’ve used IMO more monologue or something

+, +, + loved the historical household objects

+, – the classical paintings in the game were a perfect disturbing fit and wonderful in their ways. The only problem was there was too few of them and they repeated breaking a bit the great immersion.

+, + at times it looked technically very impressive, both as engine and at times even in terms of environment asset quality, there were moments I felt I was playing Bioshock, which is an amazing achievement for what I assume is a team/budget that’s much smaller

Overall I’d give this game a grandiose 3.5 on a -5 to 5 scale: a truly unique and extraordinary experience. Had it’s moments when it was harder to push on but overall it surprised and delighted in a way in which games rarely do and tends to be more the domain of movies: a constant journey of change, change in subtle ways, story always advancing almost without failure and failures turning into development and surprise. This game has greatly surprised me.

PS: though lacking that amazing tech this game is I think a worthy inheritor of the title of what P.T. might have been had it actually been developed into a (good) game. I definitely felt Silent Hill echoes in the game and a ton of ton of H.P. Lovecraft influences. What an impressive pedigree!

Battlefield 4 – impressions

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As usual, my thoughts are just for the singleplayer as I don’t care much for the multiplayer (might try it out at some point for 30 minutes, but not what I bought it for). So, here’s my thoughts:

+ decent music

+, -, – Really big open spaces. This is beautiful at times, but most of the times it feels “a little empty”.

– sometimes it lacks direction, easy to get lost in what you’re supposed to do next. At one point I spent many minutes (even in high story tension) trying to figure out what arbitrary thing I’m supposed to do next.

+, +, + some quite fantastic setpiece moments

+, +, +, + great variety of environments

– otherwise feeling a bit generic

+ a bit of a between soldier story

-, -, – I already mentioned how the world feels pretty empty and uninteresting (or rather overstretched), this is reinforced by lots of time spent in lock counter fire, easy to die, you’re forced to advance very slowly.

+ I guess with the right frame of mind (but I only managed to get it sometimes) you can enjoy the realism of slowly advancing

Overall I found it a generic AAA war fps, goes through the expected steps, in a kind of formula, with art assets that are passable but not incredibly memorable Still, decent enough to play and finish it which says something, so I’d give it a 1 on a -5 to 5 scale. The artwork may not be great/incredibly original but it’s consistently good and with some setpiece moments and great engine it sometimes even made me go “wow”, and the other times it was interesting to see all the military equipment which I’m assuming was research based on the real world.

 

Blighttown Eulogy

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Interesting perspective.

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