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.



Unknown said...

Wow, that's lots of gaming! Explains the popping up of your Gamertag on my xbox alot lately ;-) Great reviews, will need to try Borderland soon, but already have a big backlog of games to play. Now focusing on Dragon Age, Assassin's Creed 2, Avatar (is really not so bad as the critics say. has a wonderful world to explore)

Have fun!

Gerald Hibbert said...

Heh. Assassin's Creed 2 is lots of fun. I got bored searching for all the weird symbols, though, because even though the game database tells me which buildings they're on, it doesn't tell you where the buildings are, which is bloody annoying frankly.

I've got better things to do than loop florence trying to match a small picture against the game details.

I should probably just look at a guide ; )

But yeah, otherwise, the game is awesome!