How Can I Make This Better?

Schedule slip sucks. But while I keep working on my latest pieces, I’ve got a question for anyone that follows this blog- Any suggestions for sprucing up the page? I’ll admit it, I’m bad at making things aesthetically pleasing. I’ll be experimenting with some of the default layouts, but that only goes so far, so any feedback would be seriously welcome.

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Making Awesome a Challenge: Overwatch VS Warframe

I was playing Mercy in Overwatch, and I couldn’t help but notice how fun it was. Gliding from trouble spot to trouble spot, healing people up, nimbly dodging enemy fire, it’s an amazing experience and certainly not what one would expect from a healer.

In Warframe, I main a healer because I don’t have dem 1337 DPS. My guns and mods lag behind those at the top of the heap, so I need a build and a role that don’t rely on having the biggest numbers. So I play Trinity. You know what I do as Trinity, 99% of the time? Hit 2,3, and 4. It is so damn boring. And what makes it worse is that this is a game with a beautiful movement system. You know Genji, with his double jumps and air dashes and wall climbing? A pro Warframe player makes a pro Genji player look like a chump in the movement department. Even the super slow, tanky bastards like Rhino. I know I gave Warframe and DE a bunch of flak in my review, but if you ever do anything with Warframe, watch an experienced team navigate a map. It’s a work of art. All that said, Genji is more fun to play in general, because you actually do something with the movement. In Warframe it’s just a way to get you in front of a group of dudes so you can nuke them with a grenade launcher or a frame ability (They’ve been moving away from that by reworking Press 4 to Win frames such as Saryn and Mag, but they’re not there yet).

Most of the effort in Warframe is front-loaded. Rather than play a huge amount so you can instinctively juke out enemies or attack at the perfect moment, you play a huge amount to perfect your build so you can disintegrate anyone you so much as look at. And the better your gear, the less in-game skill you end up needing. You don’t need fancy movement when you can supercharge everyone’s movespeed with Volt, or can Wormhole across the map with Nova. You don’t need the awareness to juggle multiple points of interest when you can cause Chaos in the ranks with Nyx or slow every enemy on the map with Nova. You don’t need to aim particularly well when you can spam Simulor rounds with Mirage or apply a double damage buff to the entire map with Nova yes I am still bitter about how ridiculously all-purpose her ultimate is moving on.

Point being, both games take work to git gud, but Overwatch hands you situations where you can shine playing as your favorite hero while Warframe hands you moments where you throw big numbers and CC at the enemy’s big numbers and their CC and it’s not nearly as satisfying even though I’m dealing something like 1600% my weapon’s base damage. DE, kindly continue your trend of working on frame synergy and cool weapon mechanics, alright? There’s a bunch of great stuff in your game but it’s not at the level it could be, not yet.

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8/27 Update- Can Summer be over yet?

Sorry guys, it’s looking you’ve got another weekend with no reviews X.X

My life outside of Vidya Gaems has nearly destroyed my sanity over the past few weeks, as this is when my job is the hardest and pretty much every friend I usually vent to about my little problems has much bigger more pressing matters on their plate. So I’ve been playing not to discover cool new worlds with new mechanics, but to hide out in the ones I already know like the back of my hand while I tell myself this madness will only endure for… what, 3 more weeks?

As I’ve mentioned prior, I’ve got a bunch of stuff in progress, and I started a review of Aquaria, but I’m just… not feeling up for that “die a lot while you learn how everything works” stage.

I do have one article I’m going to try to finish by today, but it’s not a proper review. Nah, the games I mentioned there aren’t at a point where I can review them competently yet, but I should probably add them to the to-do list.

Thanks for listening. I hope to resume my scheduled programming more consistently in the coming days, I’m just in a rough spot as of late.

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Salt and Sanctuary

Welcome back everyone. Today we’re covering Salt and Sanctuary by SKA Studios, released as a timed PS4 exclusive in March of 2016 before making its way to Steam in May. The tl;dr description is “2D Dark Souls with platforming,” but I’d not be giving the devs proper credit if I stopped there. In S&S, you play as a lad or lass escorting a princess across the sea for a diplomatic marriage. As things tend to go in this game, your ship is boarded and you are left on the shores of a mysterious island. Now, in theory you’re out to find the princess, but the game kinda forgets about that and lets you focus on exploring the place.

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Leveling up looks much spiffier here, no?

From there, it’s the same basic formula: Cool locales, challenging battles, and cool gear to build your character into a deity-slaying badass. As the title would suggest, you upgrade your character with Salt, and you’re always on the lookout for new Sanctuaries, which feel like bonfires crossed with a reasonable extension of the Covenant system in Dark Souls. See, Sanctuaries are controlled by different Creeds. You’ll often find empty Sanctuaries you can take for yourself, but just as often you’ll get to a new safe haven and find someone else has already set up shop. Thankfully, they’re okay with someone from another Creed crashing on their couch and raiding the fridge for healing items. Even so there’s just enough drawbacks to make you consider converting such places to your own Creed with a rare item or just wiping the place clean in a tough brawl. The lack of multiplayer (outside a limited split-screen option) is a jarring change, but I feel everything else makes up for it.

Speaking of which, I really appreciate that the devs made several such changes to make the game more accessible while still giving the player a thorough ass-kicking if they aren’t careful. There’s more shortcuts between areas that reward exploration with a swift route to whatever area you’re currently having trouble with. There’s always a Sanctuary or mini version very close to the boss rooms, and boss rooms are marked by a candelabra. This means the process of “try, try again” is a bit easier than in Dark Souls. Salt is taken by enemies that manage to kill you, but any bosses that do so only need to be hit for ~25-30% of their health to get it back. Another good change is that most of the “apply X damage to weapon” items can be gained fairly consistently. And last but not least, the fact that you have 2 currency types (with their own rates of loss on death) means you won’t forgo items with useful effects (including “Apply X damage”) on the grounds you need the levels more.

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As for presentation… If you’ve played SKA Studio’s Dishwasher games, the art style will be very familiar, but this world is bleak enough for it to work here too. The sound effects are suitably clangy, burny, and “oh dear that sounded painful” to enhance the combat, and the world is beautiful in a mournful way, like Aquatic Adventure with the color washed out.

The skill tree is nice too. Rather than having weapons and spells be locked to specific stats, you grab the skill that applies to the weapon you need. For example, a magic sword you can craft from the remains of the second boss takes the second level of both the Magic and Sword skills, and it’s a greatsword so you’ll need the 3rd level in Sword if you want to wield it one-handed. It’s also good that things that synergize well sit near each other. For example, Dexterity and Strength based upgrades extend outward from Sword and Polearm skills, which benefit from both, while Hammer and Knife/Bow/Whip skills are as far away from each other as possible, same with Magic and Prayer upgrades.

That brings me to the world building. Here lies another fine example of taking a good system and improving on it further. Creed-related NPCs will properly explain what their premise is in an attempt to recruit you. Non-creed related NPCs actually move around such that you’ll run into them when they have more to say rather than happening across some new dialogue as you retreat to an old hangout. There’s a bestiary to help explain what the heck enemies like “The Queen of Smiles” are supposed to be, further fleshed out by descriptions on the items you transmute from their severed limbs. Even the individual slots on the Skill Tree have lore! Thanks to this, there’s very little exposition to dump in the player’s lap, and it feels more like they’re learning about the world as they’re exploring rather than being spoon-fed.

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Enough of the darned swords!

On the complaint side, I shall open with saying that bosses get a little predictable in how they’ll behave as their health decreases. Every boss I’ve seen thus far has a slow, exploitable attack in their earlier phases that gets a lightning fast “gotcha!” follow-up later in the fight. It makes a long fight take even longer and some of the follow-up strikes can be hard to judge. For example, when the Queen of Smiles is nearly down, she’ll throw out swords like before, then charge across the screen while pretending to be a windmill in a hurricane. I still don’t know what makes the difference between safely dodging and getting punted, so more indicators for attacks like that would be helpful. Continuing on, respec options are more limited, with a handful of tokens that let you refund individual spots in the skill tree rather than have a fresh start. Also, and I know this has been said before, but a map would be handy. One of the first areas has like 6 exits, with their destinations varying noticeably but the paths leading to them looking remarkably similar.

Anyway, that’s Salt and Sanctuary. If you like the idea of a challenging RPG, but find Dark Souls too tricky for it’s own good, give it a go. It’s $18 on Steam, and I’d say it’s worth the price of admission.

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Battlezone 98 Redux

Right, so full disclosure: I a massive Battlezone fanboy, so let me get this out of my system: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

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So… context: I played Battlezone 64 and Battlezone 2 a great deal as a kid. We’re talking a stupid amount. And then I found out it got remastered and released by Rebellion in April of 2016.  Little annoyed I missed it then, but hey.

The premise is pretty cool- It’s the time of the Cold War, and there is a reason the US is so intent on the space race beyond “Let’s show those commie bastards how it’s done.” A strange new material known as bio-metal has fallen to Earth in meteorites, and it promises to revolutionize the design of vehicles and structures. So the US makes it to the Moon with an expeditionary force in search of more, using Armstrong and co. as a smokescreen. Then it turns out the Russians made it there too, and things get interesting. The story is mainly explained through mid-mission radio reports, (de)briefings and voiceovers from the main character of the USA side of the story, Grizzly One. RTS campaigns are usually solid in my experience, and BZ 98 Redux is no exception thanks to the variety of mission types, even if the structure of said missions is showing its age.

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I figured I’d be a pro after all my earlier practice, but it turns out the N64 version was intentionally toned down difficulty-wise. I lost on the the first two missions on the remake. Ow my pride. Thankfully there is a difficulty selector, but it effects both enemy AI and damage, and I kinda wish they were separate sliders like in Mount and Blade.

Now, Battlezone is an Action-RTS. This means that you get to dodge incoming fire with your personal vehicle while trying to coordinate reinforcements and building defenses and calling in supply drops to replenish your ammo and armor which you will need VERY VERY OFTEN.

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There’s a lot of multi-tasking, is what I’m getting at.

Before I cover the aspects of the game that aged poorly, allow me to say there are a number of concepts that came about in this series are still cool today. You can have ammo and repair modules (or high explosives) launched to your current location, courtesy of the production plant/catapult known as the Armory. Your vehicles have a central energy reserve that produces all munitions, so a tank, for example, can fire shells or bullets or mortars as the situation dictates without being slowed to a crawl trying to carry it all, and repair/ammo modules are universal. You have several kinds of missiles, each with their own tracking medium and thus their own counter and vehicles they excel against.

The coolest part, in my opinion, is the ability to change what guns are on a vehicle. You can swap out the standard “AT Stabber” cannon for the harder-hitting but slower firing “SP Stabber,” for example. Or, as many vets suggest, put SP Stabbers on both of a tank’s cannon mounts and twin-link them to rapidly obliterate targets. You can arm any vehicle with your ordnance of choice as long as they have the appropriate mounts for them.

The combat is quite fun too. There’s a few oddball weapons to shake things up, and hover tanks are much more fun to fight with than the regular kind, especially with the varied terrain this game offers. I must warn you however that the AI is a little… ruthlessly vindictive in that it will target your most important stuff given any opportunity, and it loves to focus on you in particular. It’s an acquired taste, to be sure.

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Note- Using retreating pilots for target practice is only acceptable when they’re virtual, be they commie pinkos or capitalist dogs.

Presentation overall is in a weird spot. The new textures and effects make the game look much much prettier than it did back in the day. I’m not sure if the sound design got any changes, but I don’t think there is much room for improvement there beyond cutting down on repeated alerts and acknowledgements. The terrain still looks artificial, though, and the menu system still feels limited. Select All and Attack-Move are genre staples for a reason, guys!

Now, I give BZ some serious kudos for all the bold design choices mentioned back up towards the top of this piece. However… In trying all these cool things, BZ has a bunch of rough spots, and they grate just as much now as they did when I first played. Why do I have to fling new guns to every unit I want to equip with them? Why is it such a bear to restock ammo and armor when the game requires it nearly nonstop? Why am I limited to 30 pilots for an entire base (unless I use a certain trick to restock them)? I hope BZ2 gets remastered at some point, as for all the flaws that game has, it does go aways to fixing a number of these issues. I’ll also say that the game has a steep learning curve even on Medium, as the game often has a way it wants you to do things and deviating from that unspoken plan means things will get messy in a hurry. It’s still a solid game even today, but I wish there’d been some changes to the mechanics, even if they were optional settings. I know some people love this game for its difficulty, but most of the things that are causing it seem unnecessary to me.

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Golem Tipping. It’s like cow tipping in space!

So, that’s Battlezone 98 Redux. If you enjoy hectic combat and multi-tasking base management, you’ll likely enjoy this game. If all this sounds overwhelming, I’d be more cautious. The game is $20 on Steam.

 

 

 

 

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8/7/16- Quick Update

Couple things:

1- In case it was not clear, no review this weekend. I was off on vacation, and while I’ve got a few things close to done, nothing’s close enough that I can reasonably complete it without undoing all the R&R I’ve been up to for the past few days.

2- As mentioned, I’ve got a bunch of things in the works, still deciding on what order to finish things. I’ve got a Deadnaut review almost done, but I think the game needs a revisit before I can be sure of what I’ve written there. There’s a few more that are closer to done, such as Saints Row II and the new Doom game, but I’m struggling to get them done, not just “it’s really close.” Also, a remake of Battlezone came out, which I’m definitely covering, but I’ve barely gotten started on that game.

 

Anyway, just letting you all know what’s up. Take care everyone, I’ll see you next time.

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The Consuming Shadow- Insanity Editon

Welcome back. The title for today’s review might look a little familiar to those of you have read my early stuff. Yep, we’re covering Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw’s horror-themed roguelike a second time, as it is now out of beta on Steam with a bunch of new features.

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As before, we play an unlucky fellow in a universe about to be invading by a power beyond mortal comprehension. In 3 days, an Ancient will enter into the human world through Stonehenge, and things are going to get unpleasant for the human race as a whole real fast. At the intro screen, you are presented with 2 options: Kill yourself to escape the approaching nightmare… or fight back. There’s a spell that can expel the invader, but you don’t know the sequence. You don’t even know who exactly is trying to get through. You have a car, a pistol with a few rounds, and just enough information to realize how ignorant you are. So you travel throughout England, investigating towns suffering from the Ancient’s machinations. You save who you can, but you’re mostly just preparing for your little suicide mission. Because the Ancient and the banishing spell change between runs (like everything else), you can’t just make an end run on Stonehenge on the first day, even if you are good enough to fight your way to the ritual chamber under the monument from the word go. However, the more information you gather, the more your resources deplete and and the bolder the Ancient’s forces become. It was a solid game when I first played it, and it’s only gotten better since.

The game has undergone some heavy duty polishing. Controls were streamlined, magic was given more focus, and the bonuses granted for leveling up have been revamped into a unique new system involving constellations. On top of all this, some completely new stuff was added on.

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The timer is always ticking down…

There’s a few different challenge modes (a blessing, as the game feels a bit easier than it did before), and an endless mode, each throwing cool modifiers into the mix to force players to adapt. There’s 3 unlockable new characters, with their own strengths and weaknesses. I quite like The Warrior’s playstyle as the chronic lack of ammo in the original had already trained me to solve most problems with melee attacks. On the lore side, there’s now a beastiary, which fills out a bit at a time as you encounter monsters, and each run is capped with an entry explaining how well you did, your general playstyle, and how rough a shape you were in by the end of it.

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The graphics are as bare-bones as ever, but the game still manages a solid presentation due to effective use of sound and leaving just enough to the imagination with the limited visuals and text. Even with the town descriptions and such being randomly pieced together like everything else, the quality of said descriptions is good and the writing still feels organic.

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These encounters are always a gamble. Sometimes you win big.

My one major complaint is that the Sanity management could use… something more. Plenty of things can demolish Sanity, some of which the player can do little to prevent, such as having to leave a room without killing a monster because something far worse is pursuing. Yet, the only way to reliably regain it is with a certain item that tops off the meter for several hours. There is a cooldown for using it again, but in my experience I was able to scrape along at low or even 0 Sanity until I was at Stonehenge, then just pop a syringe and brute-force my way through.

So that’s The Consuming Shadow: Insanity Edition. Pretty impressive that a low-budget game by a single critic delivers such a solid experience. If you want to see an indie horror game that isn’t a slender clone or following a creepypasta like a script, check it out. It’s $10 on Steam.

 

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Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City- Great Ideas buried under Bullshit

Welcome back. Today we’re covering a game that occupies a weird spot for me. I played the PS3 version of Operation Raccoon City and actually came away from the experience with some pleasant memories. I bought the PC port to try and recapture that feeling as I stepped up to say “Hey, this game wasn’t as bad as people said.” Of course, who do I find blocking my path but Capcom themselves? Turns out the PC port has Games For Windows Live built in. You know, that thing that has been DEAD for 2 years now? So I get a lovely little window that pops up every time I start the game, stating I need to sign in on a service that no longer exists or my online progress cannot be saved. This is, to borrow a phrase, aggressively abysmal product support, guys. Especially considering you had it baked into other PC ports at one stage and took it out, i.e.- you already know exactly how to handle this issue and you just haven’t done it for this game. I spent an hour combing both Microsoft AND Capcom’s product support pages after the guide on Steam failed, trying to find a way to get online to work, with nothing to show for it. Now, PC gamers generally expect a certain level of unnecessary bullshit between us and the games we paid for, but that doesn’t make it any less of a case of unnecessary bullshit, especially this time.

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It looks spiffy, but it handles like trash.

To get back to the game itself, this is Operation Raccoon City, released in May 2012 by Capcom. You play as a special black ops force sent in by Umbrella themselves to tie up some loose ends in the chaos of Raccoon City being overrun. You and 3 buddies get to do behind the scenes dirty work to make sure your employers are never connected to the catastrophe, and I recall the advertising making some pitch about “being able to change the path of RE history.” We’ll get to that later. Point is, the concept is solid.

Execution, meanwhile, is a trainwreck. The gun-play feels unsatisfying. Guns hit like beanbags, kick like angry mules or miss anything smaller than a barn door at 10 paces. As a result, you’re going to need the massive ammo capacities and ubiquitous ammo stockpiles cluttering the stages. On the other side of things, melee has actually improved.

Instead of stopping still in the middle of a pitched battle to remove your knife, or only punching guys that have already been shot, you can run up and drop knife combos on most enemies. You heard me- combos. You can chain together a couple slashes, or mix other stuff in with the Action key or even the Ability key. For example, I was playing as Lupo and slashed a mercenary a couple times before slamming their head into the crate behind me for a Brutal Kill, then a Vector bot sliced a guy and went invisible. Awesome. I looked online and there’s a full blown manual for it, showing borderline Metal Gear Solid level complexity in the CQC system, stuff like human shields and choosing whether to shoot downed soldiers in the head to finish them off or in the gut to draw the undead away, stuff I didn’t know about at all when I played on console. I mean, they really should have added a proper tutorial or manual in-game to explain it all, but props all the same.

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This is the lighting level 80% of the time.

That’s the other new feature. Since you’re in environments that will have zombies more often than not, you can make use of them. Shoot an enemy with a certain weapon to make them start bleeding, and all zombies will charge in after them. Additionally, if you get infected, then zombies will start to ignore you, seeing one of their own. There aren’t as many opportunities to take advantage of these new mechanics as I’d like, especially with no good way to communicate to your squad (human controlled or otherwise) what your intentions are.

Controls in general are iffy this time around. The camera is sometimes (I haven’t figured out exactly when or why it happens) very stiff when it comes to vertical movements, even on high sensitivity, so it can be a struggle to even properly aim at targets not on ground level. You can’t use the arrow keys to help steer when you’re sprinting, even though RE5 lets you do it just fine. Maneuvering around the menus feels clunky too. Why is “back” mapped to backspace, but exiting a menu completely is mapped to escape? And as I alluded to in the section on melee combat, half the buttons just aren’t explained on the PC version. I had to pause in the middle of a hectic gunfight when I realized the game had never told me where the heal button was! You also have to specifically aim at items to pick them up now, just being near them doesn’t work. And when a teammate is downed, the icon pops up exactly where they died, but you can’t revive them unless you’re standing directly over their corpse, which usually ragdolls five feet away, and you have to stand, which has gotten me killed in more firefights than I care to admit. Lastly, the big BOWs will ragdoll your character with every other attack, and they will generally hit you just as you’re recovering from the last swipe, leading to death by stunlock if your teammates don’t manage to peel them off you fast enough.

The AI is another problem. Remember all the stuff I complained about in RE5? It’s worse here. Yes. Worse. Somehow. Make sure you bring the medic, because they’re the only one that seemed to care that the entire team is running around at 1/4 health, and will try to deploy first aid sprays when you’re bunched together enough to all benefit from it. You’re gonna need it, because your teammates will walk into bullets like there’s no tomorrow.

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We finally get a chance to see more of Hunk… and this random merc steals the show.

It’s a shame, because it made me like the cast of Wolfpack less, which I did warm to over the course of the game. Their characterization through dialogue is rather one note (“Hunk but Cooler”, “Angry Black Man”, “Sadist German Doctor”), but with the Active and Passive abilities granted to each, as well as default weapons, you could start to see who does what and how these guys function as a unit.

I’ll also say that the environments, while overly dark, look good. The art style is different than it was in 4 and 5, but I like it, and when the bad mechanics aren’t getting in the way, you can appreciate some of the fights the game sets up. The game succeeds in turning fights into a massive melee of zombies and BOWs and soldiers with Wolfpack caught in the middle, fighting for survival. But now I gotta dive back into the stuff getting in the way of that.

The writing is garbage. Management is quick to blame Wolfpack for every little thing that goes wrong, even when it’s definitely not their fault. One wonders how Umbrella made it so far when even their elites are treated barely better than their rank and file. Then on the third mission a mercenary steals one of your mission critical items and proceeds to gloat, revealing several important pieces of information, including that he’s working for a powerful employer to collect information for “Operation Watchdog.” Management proceeds to say “We have no idea what’s motivating him, but he seems to have ulterior motives.” No shit, Management. And there’s a point soon after where they leave your team (see: the only competent people there) behind in a vague attempt at “You have failed me for the last time,” only to reconsider when Wolfpack refuses to politely roll over and die and instead kills a ridiculous number of their BOWs, inhibiting their field research. Almost like they’re an elite paramilitary unit designed for extreme situa-oh. And at the end you decide whether to kill Leon Kennedy and retrieve Birkin’s daughter to appease Umbrella at last, or leave them alive and start gunning for your former employers. Like everything else, it’s handled too badly to appreciate, with half your AI buddies turning on you no matter what choice you make just for a dramatic twist.

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I died 5x here alone due to wonky enemy spawns

The versus is another cool concept- you dig in and fight against the other team while waiting for the extraction chopper to touch down. There’s a catch though, there’s only 4 seats and 8 total people in the match. So everyone makes a mad dash for the chopper while trying to gun down the other team so they can’t get on board. But it feels forced and arbitrary: Why only send 1 chopper? Why don’t the guys on board said chopper just mow down the opposing faction when they try to board? Why do the survivors of each side decide to play nice just because they got a chance to sit down? And why on earth would you leave the medic’s borderline invincibility skill in for that game mode when it makes it trivial to just run to the chopper and board while being shot in the face?

All of this culminates in a frustrating experience from start to finish. Hunk tells your team to get out and let him handle the botched sample retrieval? Management decides the entire Raccoon City outbreak is your fault, moving the goalposts every time you do something to redeem yourselves. You enter a corridor full of Spec Ops soldiers, and immediately lose half your AI teammates because they decide to charge. You die to a hail of gunfire because your character decides “no, I don’t want to take cover behind that particular bit of wall,” or because it took an extra 2 seconds to aim at the green herb placed on top of a filing cabinet, or because the game decided that the best place to put a triggered spawn of a dozen riflemen is within pissing distance of the terminal you needed to operate to proceed. You decide to melee the daylights out of Leon Kennedy for a quick kill only to find out, surprise, the rookie cop has like 15x as much health as your elite soldier and will combo you to death the second he gets an opening. There’s just so many rough mechanics and bad design choices that shouldn’t have survived the first pass of QA it makes my head spin.

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If there’s a door, zombies will be exiting it shortly.

Okay, now I’m going to do something positive. I am to explain what Capcom could change to make this a decent title. Removing the blasted GFWL goes without saying, and I doubt they’re going to re-record voice lines, so let’s focus on the gameplay itself.

  • Remove all the weird control nonsense like needing to look at items and needing to control sprinting with the mouse. Make the former work on proximity, with healing items getting highest priority, guns getting the lowest, and everything else somewhere in-between. Remap the menu controls so either Esc or Backspace is used to back out of everything.
  • Do more to characterize your AI buddies through mechanics, while making them less dumb. Make Vector actually flank using his invisibility, make Lupo trigger Supersoldier when she’s pushing forward, make Bertha use Painkiller on a teammate that’s taking the majority of incoming damage and maybe add extra indicators so you can see when they’re happening. Make them actually revive people, so you don’t instantly fail the mission if something badly designed kills you.
  • Add some tutorials! Even just in-game manuals. Hunk outright says in the first stage “Remember your training!”
  • Get rid of the stunlock situations the enemy can trap you in. The only reason enemy soldiers don’t combo you to death is they’ll stop after a couple swipes. Make Leon and the other BOWs work like that or give players an out when they’re being pummeled.

Making these changes won’t make ORC an amazing game. I don’t know if it’d even make it a good game. But it’d still be 100x better than the mess I played through.

So… yeah, that’s Operation Raccoon City. I love a bunch of the ideas they put into this game, I just can’t give it as much credit as I’d like due to the flawed implementation and malarkey that gets in the way. It’s $30 on Steam, $40 for the version with all the DLC. I wouldn’t buy it unless there’s a big sale, and even then it’s not a priority.

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