Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dragon Blood Armour on Steam

I just grabbed the Mass Effect 2 preorder on steam. I noticed that people who have bought Dragon Age Origins get some free armour, so I started to look into it.

What you need to do is log into (or create) a bioware account here:
There are a few options for porting existing accounts (for example, an EA account).

Then, go here: http://social.bioware.com/redeem/ and enter the code that you can see in your steam console (the Standard Game CD Key).

DAO should then start downloading the armour. Simple!
I'll let you know if it works on Mass Effect 2.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bayonetta, ∞ climax mode

Did the title work? It was supposed to be ∞ climax mode.
For whatever it's worth, here's what I did to beat it.

First. Red and Yellow (and green) lollipops for the win. Don't be afraid to use them, at least on your first playthrough.

Rosary beads almost the entire time - you can almost kill groups of trash mobs with a single evade.
Play around with the others and see what you like. I stuck with the moon for the most part, but played around with butterflies, the Star of Dineta (health when you taunt), and Eternal Testimony (2 free magic points). Eternal testimony is great for level 14, the Space harrier level.

Bazillions and Kilgore. Bazillions are awful for combo score, but great against harmony, and gracious/glorious. They also shoot through stuff, so they're good against armour like Ardors, and will target the red spot through beloveds and other mini-bosses, meaning you can take them down in a few hits.

Shuruga/Gunchuks and Onyx Roses. Gunchuks will stunlock most things for a bit, letting you set something up, and in small rooms, the shrapnel flying around can do some pretty impressive damage. They're most effective against large groups of weak people, doing lots of light damage to many.
Shuruga (and later, Pillow Talk) is essential against bosses.

I also accidentally found that for grace and glory, full charge kilgores on the arm work wonders. The timing seems just right. Start a PPP combo. Max out each hit, so you get 2 rockets from the first 2 hits and 4 from the third. Each time, they'll attack you, but they're just too slow and will get a rocket in the face. I need to finesse it somewhat, but it seems to work a treat. Obviously, if there are lots of them around, keep an eye out.

For bosses that are far away, Kilgore hand and feet is good, because the wicked weave will actually shoot towards them. For bosses that are close (jeanne, basically), Gunchucks are helpful, but really weak, so it's slow progress. Rosary beads are your friend. I find the moon with Jeanne to be pretty useless in Climax mode, because she's rarely close enough for the counter to hit, but the beads will often catch her and leave her open.

And also, I found the prologue the hardest non-boss level of all. I tried it at the start, and then left it to the end.

And, finally, for Father Balder, after grinding for an hour against him, I pretty much took him entirely in yellow lollipop mode. No shame there ; )

Bayonetta 1000

Update: I cracked this. My strategy is here: http://blog.lickmyear.org/2010/02/bayonetta-crow-77.html

So, umbran crow 77, in the hard Alfheim on chapter 6. You bugger. But let me backtrack.

I finished Bayonetta over the weekend. By finish, I mean, I got 1000 achievement points, so I've cleared all three stages. Of course, like all good games, there are plenty of challenges left which don't have achievements - for example, platinum award for an entire stage (normal, hard, etc). I'm about 70% of the way through normal. Apparently, it unlocks Jeanne. Which is nice. Although you have to start a new game.

I also got a new sword - "pillow talk", which is basically a lightsaber.
You can see all the "secret" weapons here:

Pillow talk starts at 15 seconds or so. Note the ridiculous charge mode!

I also got Sai-fun, or the nunchuks, or gunchuks.
They're, erm, interesting. They're really fast - you can stunlock pretty much anyone, even a Gracious and/or Glorious, although they'll break out after 5-6 hits. They're incredibly weak, although in an enclosed room, they kick ass, because they fire off shrapnel which ricochets around the room and causes quite a bit of collateral damage.
Also, the charge move sends out a load of hits, a bit like a shotgun, which then fly around the room if they don't immediately hit something. The timing for dodge offset is a bit strange, but I'm working on it.
I can't quite decide the perfect use, though.

In other news, the Bazillions (lazer guns in the first example above) are pretty fun. They don't give a good combo (in fact, they give an awful combo score) but they shoot through armour, and also do a fair bit of damage. For most trash mobs (regular angels, etc) you can kill them in a couple of hits. Which is nice. Plus, they're good against grace and glory (and friends) because they stun them. Also, they take down Harmonies in a couple of hits, which is good, because harmonies are without a doubt, my most hated enemy. I find them hard to predict, and tough to hit. So thank you, bazillions. woot.

Now, back to Umbran Crows. There are 101 umbran tears of blood to unlock in this game. The first 50 are just the 50 achievements. For 50, you get a magic regeneration bangle, which is incredibly useful on Isla del Sol (the space harrier level) because it effectively grants you unlimited missiles.

Now, the next 51 are crows hidden around the levels. For normal, I found them all myself. For hard, I found about 75%, and for ultimate climax, I just gave up looking, and used a guide, because I didn't want to have to spend more time in the levels than is necessary at that difficulty. I'm on 100, with only one left to go.

This last one requires you to complete an alfheim - 7 torture attacks and only be hit 3 times. And in addition, the enemies are on fire and enraged. Awesome. And what enemies? The first wave is 4 burning angels and a burning Ardor. The 2nd wave is another burning ardor and 2 x fairness. Those dogs. With electricity. God damn. And then, joy, 3 joys to finish it all up.
And remember, you can only be hit 3 times.

The problem is the magic. It's really hard to build up enough magic to toture them. So you have dodge and taunt and all sorts. Very annoying. The closest I made it (and the point at which I went to bed last night) was down to the last joy, at 25% health, when time ran out.

Very, VERY frustrating.

I can't help but think that the designers put the crow on the wrong side of the bridge. In all the other locations, you don't have to fight the alfheim to get the crow - just this one.


I'll keep you posted if I crack it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bayonetta hidden references

I found this article, discussing hidden references in Bayonetta, which is pretty cool.
There are spoilers in there, though, so if you've not played it, and are planning to, don't read that page. It'll ruin it for you. Seriously.

Now, to my beef. The second one (about Eggman) is completely wrong. It claims you're burying Eggman, which is nonsense.
Here's the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQLRBOmluNA#t=0m50s

So, what happens is that you're burying Rodin, to tempt angels over. Enzo is using what's called a simile (or maybe a metaphor, I confuse easily), to say that everyone dies in the end. So, yeah. That's annnoyig.

Also, on that article, the quicktime links didn't work in Chrome, Firefox or IE (shudder) under windows7 64 bit. They just rendered as black boxes.

So, what's left? Well, I nailed some of the achievements last night - cleaned up the Alfheims and the Witches tombs. Had to get help for the last 2 alfheims. I spent a couple of hours searching (at least you get an idea of which level they're in) but no bones. When I read the guide, I realised that I'd never have found them without it.

So thanks to renegade, who posted a guide over at gamefaqs.

Otherwise, it's time to get back on that horse!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sunday Gaming

Luc came 'round yesterday, and we played some Bayonetta, and some Modern Warfare - we did a couple of new levels on the co-op mode, which was cool. Split screen actually works out ok.
After that I fired up DJ Hero and cleared out the medium mode - all tracks completed, and most of them 5 star. I think I'm 45 or so stars short. But I'm going to move up to hard, I think.

Expert, right now, is just too much (except on the very easy songs).

This is still my favourite track

So unexpected. A lot of the tracks are really very good indeed.

More importantly, the immense fun and joy I got from playing through medium has pretty much dissipated. That is, the first 15 or so games I played, I had a big grin fixed on my face. Partly through the translation of my actions to stuff on the screen, and partly through the epic songs (MC Hammer/Vanilla Ice, that one above, Jazzy Jeff's stuff, etc). The more I play the songs, the less they're unexpected.
So, moving up to hard has actually made the game massively fun again. It's considerably harder than medium, and has a lot more things going on, and it feels more like you're actually working to generate the music, than just playing simon says.

I'm not sure if that actually makes sense, but hopefully you get the gist.

Anyway, today, late start (got up at 1, oof), so playing a bit of Bayonetta, and then an early night.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What else? DJ Hero

Scotty came round a couple of days ago, and we had a big day of gaming. It was pretty awesome.
We played some Bayonetta (he agrees it's bonkers), and then fired up DJ Hero. We didn't play much else.

For the record, the Scratch Perverts tracks are utterly bonkers.
This (and 'beats and pieces') are probably the ones that hurt my arm the least.
I think the thing I like about it is that the samples are telling you they know it's a game, and they're looking to test you, but still with the insanely cool music. Anyway.

In other news, I've bought everything I can in Bayonetta, and I've been playing with some of the accessories. All I can say is, I wish I'd bought the one that triggers witch time earlier.
Makes clearing the levels the first couple of runs a lot easier. I had misread the description, and thought it was something entirely different (it triggered witch time at the start of combat, not when you're hit. D'oh).
However, the Moon of Mahaa-Kalaa (spelling?) is even better! Sort of. It gives you a 'repel' on incoming enemy attacks. That is, they're just ignored. It also stuns your attacker, giving you a nice opening.
However, if you repel as you're hit (like bat within), it will repel, counter and start witch time. And the witch time lasts maybe a second or two longer than normal. So you can get in an extra wicked weave or string of hits.
It also lets you trigger witch time against people like Jeanne. Very cool accessory.

I'm currently chasing Nunchuks. Really really want them. I've platinumed the first 5 stages. Which isn't a lot, but I refuse to use the same tactics as others, who reload levels when a verse goes badly. Plus, I need all the practice I can get.

Also, the moon of M

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lego Batman

I went back to Lego Batman last night and finished it up, got all the red bricks and minikits and stuff.
It's a cool game, but there are way too many different things you need to do. That is, in Lego Star Wars, you have light force, dark force, high jump, grapple, small people holes, droids and shoot targets, and that's about it. And later on, you can give jedi the ability to grapple and so on. You never need too many people in one level.

Conversely, Lego Batman has bombs, gliding, diving, glass to smash, things for the joker, things for the penguin, mind control, tech outfit, magnet suit, vacuum cleaner, high jump, grapple, poison, ice blocks, strong-man items, women-only doors. It means you're always switching between lots of characters, which quickly becomes boring. Especially when they'll put redundancy into levels. Like, Batman has a glide suit, so why do I need to include Killer Moth to glide. And the penguin has bombs, so why include Batman's bomb suit? Poison Ivy can jump high, do poison and the women doors, so why do I need catwoman?

All the characters are very cool, but I still end up thinking 'guh, too many people' on every level.

Oh well.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bayonetta, more

So, I've been playing some more Bayonetta. I kept thinking I'd pick up another game, and give that a go, but no.
Bayonetta's pretty much owning me.

There are a few hidden levels called 'Alfheim' (I don't know how many) but I've found 7 while replaying levels 1-3. It's insane. The difficulty just keeps getting higher, and as anyone who's played it will know, trying to beat 3 angels, 4 flying things, Grace & GLory and Fairness and Fearless. And you can only be hit 3 times. And you've got to get 5 torture kills (not attacks, kills).

I mean, seriously?
Of course, it doesn't help when I find videos on YouTube showing how it's done.
Sadly, embeds are disabled, but here's a linky


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Month off

Wow. 2 months. Really? I'm a lazy slacker.

Ok, so, what's been up? Well, I've taken a month (January) off work, to play video games.
I've been playing a bunch (take a look at the bottom of the post - I've included a link to a gamercard).

What's been taking most of my time is Borderlands, and Bayonetta. Oh, and on the PC, Torchlight. Borderlands is pretty sweet - first person shooter, but procedural weapon generation. What does this mean? It means that rather than meticulously programming each weapon, they have a bunch of variables, and when you find a weapon, it'll have a number of random stats - mostly adequate, rarely awesome. They've stolen the whole WoW categorisation, with grey, green, blue, purple, etc.
And the visuals are incredible - sort of cel-shading.
Apparently, it didn't used to look like that, it's something they changed during development, and (much like Crackdown) I'm very glad they did.
Also, it has levels, classes, and talents, as most games seem to have these days. Critical shots are in the head (or equivalent), and you get little numbers every time you shoot something.
The RPG elements tick the right boxes for me,
It's taken up far too much of my time (maybe 30 hours?) and I'm just starting to dabble with multiplayer. My only problem with online is that the matchmaking is a bit rubbish. You wait ages for the list to load, and then by the time you join a game, it might be full. Or the host may have changed the character he loaded with, so a level 1 game turns out to be a level 40 game. Bah.

If you had some friends with whom you could reliably play on a frequent basis, this game would be incredible.

Bayonetta. Well. What do I say that hasn't already been said? If you don't know it, here's the synopsis. Woman wakes up in lake 20 years ago. Has to fight/kill angels for reasons I don't want to ruin. Does so with terrifying elegance. Repeat.

The cut-scenes are awesome, in the original sense of the word - that is, they inspire awe. Indeed, they're quite the most ridiculous hing you can see in a game at the moment, which isn't to say they're bad - quite the opposite. They're, well, awesome. The game itself is very enjoyable - it's a fighter in the same vein as Devil May Cry. Given that the creator of DMC is behind it, you should realise that that means it's pretty much the most refined version of a brawler yet seen.

I never really played the DMCs, although I did spend a lot of time with DMC4, and also Ninja Gaiden (both Xbox and 360). I like the style, although the constant pushing of dodge is going to give me early onset of arthritis, I'm sure of it. But I digress. The core mechanic in Bayonetta is Witch Time - that is, the ability to slow down time when you dodge at the very last minute. Fortunately, most of the trash mobs have a habit of making a particular noise and flashing their weapons at the right time, which, after 30 minutes of head-melting, starts to make sense.

Then you remember parts of the tutorial, like extending combos by keeping your finger pressed down on a button after an attack to exit shooting (from your arms *or* legs), so a punch-kick-punch combo, which was really rather small, becomes something quite large. You're attacked, though, because it now takes longer. At which point you realise you can dodge from the attack during the combo still going, trigger witch time, continue the combo, and punch whatever tried to hit you in the head with your hair. Pity the foo'.

It's also very well paced - what you hope/pray is the boss on the first level (it's not) is actually just cannon fodder later on, when you're hoping/praying that you just missed the witch time trigger - these guys surely can't be immune, can they? (answer: yes they can).

Each chapter (there are many) is broken up into verses. Each verse is scored with a medal, so you have some idea of your progress. And, some verses are hidden, or at least require a lot of backtracking to find.

There's also currency, with plenty of things to buy, including new techniques, accessories, items and, of course, costumes.

I just finished my first playthrough, and got around 375 achievement points. That means there are still loads to go (replays on the two harder difficulty settings for example) and lots of things left to buy. My play history is largely littered with stone statues at the moment, so I need to go back and fix those first, as well as find some of the crazy hidden levels - 2 on the very first one that I should find.

I'm not going to lie - there are times Bayonetta feels really cheap - for example, there are creatures that, the first few times you fight them, you're left thinking 'how is that even possible?'. And, the final boss has one particular attack which feels like it's plain cheating (instant auto-kill) until you work out what you need to do, and even then, you can still die.

Anyway, gripes aside, Bayonetta's wicked. Download the demo, see for yourself.