Friday, 2 September 2016

Handsome Jack Mask Farming in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

A couple of days ago I wrote a review, well... It was more like a comparative wanna-be article about Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. I mentioned that I started playing the Borderlands games solely because of my Handsome Jack fangirling.

Naturally my main character was Handsome Jack's Doppelganger. I loved playing him, his reactions were hilarious and he was extremely entertaining to play. However, after finishing the game on normal and killing the last boss I had only one goal in mind. FARM HANDSOME JACK MASK! It was an ultra rare skin drop from the last boss. Normally people move on to higher difficulties to level up and get better equipment but no, not me. I wanted the damn mask!

I don't farm things, I also do not play FPS games but freaking Handsome Jack made me do both! After intense farming and killing the raid version of the last boss about 100 times, I finally got the ultra rare legendary quality Handsome Jack skin for my Doppelganger. I don't know why I even farmed for it as I can only see my character in menu but still that bloody mask was so important to me. It feels so satisfying to finally have it! I have no regrets! :D

Sunday, 28 August 2016

HITMAN™ Sapienza Review

Hitman Sapienza managed to surpass the sheer brilliance of Paris despite some glitches here and there. During my gameplay, I disguised as a therapist and smothered my target to death with a pillow while he was crying about his mom, had an affair with a lab researcher disguised as a golf coach and poisoned her, roleplayed Heisenberg and dissolved corpses in acid containers in a Hazmat suit, stabbed my target to death with a ceremonial knife disguised as the Plague Doctor, shot a water plane my target was using to escape with a cannon (yes an actual medieval cannon), sniped my target through a telescope, disguised as a Priest and dropped a church bell on my target, played dead in a church morgue so on and on...

What’s even more amazing is that all these things I already mentioned hardly cover half of the things you can do in Sapienza. The level design is absolutely stunning, I found myself ignoring the mission and instead taking dozens of screenshots in my first playthrough. The level complexity is much higher than Paris mission. Paris had only 2 targets; however, Sapienza adds an additional task to complete on top of 2 targets you need to assassinate. One can’t help but feel overwhelmed once you start the level for the first time as the map is much bigger and more complicated. IT FEELS AWESOME!!!

I should also mention the most important change which came with Sapienza is that challenges don’t require you to complete the mission anymore. I spent about 20 hours in Paris cause you were required to complete the mission for challenges to register. Sapienza removes this requirement, except for the challenges specifying that you need to complete the mission, which aren’t that many (but they are the most prestigious ones!). Thanks to this change I actually managed to complete the game 100% in terms of Steam achievements in only about 7-8 hours. Although I admit that the briefcase to carry Sniper Rifles without alarming civilians is still missing :/

Regarding glitches, the most annoying one I ran into was when I started the game in the safe house to pick up my sniper rifle. There was noone to see me, I was in a safe zone where I wasn’t tresspassing, the whole building was empty and somehow my status was “compromised” until it became “hunted” for absolutely no reason at all. Another one was something that deeply upset me as a Pacifist; at the end of a level 4 escalation contract in Sapienza, I found out that my score had a penalty for a “non-target kill” which is impossible cause I only killed one person and that was the target I had to assassinate in the first place. I didn’t even pacify anyone (people on forums report that pacified people can randomly die)! The last glitch was a graphical one, as I was trying to snipe my target through the telescope he was using, the area became black and I couldn’t really see where the lens of the telescope was so I had to use earlier saves a number of times until I got lucky with my shot.

Apart from these glitches I had some problems with heavy fps drops inbetween saves. When I reload an earlier save, the game becomes impossible to play for a few seconds due to stutters and 2-3 fps until it goes back to normal after about 10 seconds. This is a known issue and there is already patch to fix it.

In final words, I actually enjoyed Sapienza a lot more than Paris and I can easily say that it's my favourite episode so far. If the episodes keep setting the bar even higher, I hope the later episodes will not struggle to reach the quality and standard of the earlier ones. 

Friday, 26 August 2016

Thief Review and Achievements Completion

Thief joins my list of 100% completed games. I can assure you that the stealth in Thief feels MUCH more satisfying than Dishonored. On Master (highest) difficulty during that nightmarish Chapter 7, I spent at least 45 minutes on the first room alone and then about 30 minutes on the 2nd room until I gave up and started using arrows to distract guards, which was something I didn't want to do because I was aiming for "no arrow" as a principle :P 

The game has custom difficulty options which is one of my most favourite features about it. On top of general difficulty for the overall game, you can add even extra challenges such as "slower movement", "no alarms", "no knockouts or kills". If somewhere along the line, you fail the challenge you set for yourself, the mission immediately fails. This very challenging and rewarding stealth definitely makes up for the negatives I'm about to mention in the upcoming paragraph.

There were problems with clunky controls such as taking cover behind a table instead of looting its drawers as both actions have the same key. AI can be either too punishing or forgiving in the same difficulty. For example if someone sees you moving quickly from a light surface to shadow, they can either go "Oh I think I saw something, ah it was probably the wind" or "Faithless, kill him!!" There were a lot of inconsistencies in their behaviour. 

Certain guard movements also change if you load a save. If you save when a guard is leaving his post and reload that save, you might find that guard coming to that post instead of leaving, which is how it's supposed to be according to your save. I failed a couple of times due to this as when I reloaded a save I somehow ended up between 2 guards who immediately saw me which was not supposed to happen. 

The city is insanely hard to navigate. The city is free roam but there aren't multiple paths to a location you're trying to go to, and that's coming from someone who has discovered every single secret room, passage etc. There were times I spent more time trying to get to the location in the map where I needed to start the next chapter than the time I spent playing that chapter...

If you want great and challenging stealth gameplay (depending on how you stealth), I'd definitely recommend Thief as it is a very rewarding experience except the subpar story. If you wanna shoot people with arrows, you can do that too I guess. I didn't do any combat so I can't say anything about it. I can tell you that there are lots of arrow options though and it's certainly possible to light enemies on fire if you use fire arrows on flammable objects such as barrels or oil puddles on the floor. I'm sure some of you would love that...

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Contrast and Thomas Was Alone 100% Completed!

Contrast and Thomas Was Alone join my 100% completed games on Steam. I currently have 54 (55 if we count base game of Fallout 4 without its DLCs) 100% completed games on my Steam account and I feel somewhat accomplished with this number. 

I really enjoyed playing Contrast except for platforming in shadows and insanely fast paced movement from the main character. The atmosphere in the game is pretty awesome and I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I particularly loved the voice acting too as it elevated the narrative. Contrast is full of amazing easter eggs so discovering all these pop culture references while working on collectible achievements felt quite entertaining. 

Contrast wasn't a very hard game to get full completion at all; however, it has a lot of missable achievements. The game has chapter select so it's rather easy to go back to a certain chapter to get the missing achievements. I'd recommend Contrast to anyone who enjoys a very solid story telling and easygoing puzzles.

Thomas Was Alone is a different story though. It truly made me realise why I hate platformers so much. I hated the controls too, I spent half of the time in a level just trying to pick the right rectangle. In some levels you are required to pick a certain rectangle, jump with that and immediately select another certain rectangle to jump on top of the first rectangle you jumped with. I don't know if this was an easy task on controllers but it was such a torture on the keyboard. The game was a lot of fun when it focused on puzzles rather than platforming but I absolutely hated the time I wasted on those bloody jumps I mentioned. Thomas Was Alone had a solid storytelling as well. Those rectangles have more character and personality than the characters from some other games. 

Thomas Was Alone is an extremely easy game to get all its achievements. The collectibles are quite hard to miss and you can easily select a chapter if you happen to miss one. The rest of the achievements are just jumping, dying and finishing the story. Anyone who likes platformers and puzzles will adore Thomas Was Alone. So if you're one of those gamers I strongly recommend this game for you.

Ps; I also completed Sneaky Sneaky but I am thinking of writing a more detailed review for it so I'm keeping that post for later. Although I really should start working on that review before I forget the game :P I honestly can't tell what's keeping me from writing it! I'm currently working on Unmechanical achievements, I should be done with it very soon. I'll update the blog once I'm done.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Volume Review and Achievements Completion!

After 10 hours of very entertaining gameplay I now achieved 100% completion on Volume, an isometric stealth/puzzle game from the developer of Thomas Was Alone. Thus Volume becomes the 52th game I got 100% completion on (53 if we count Fallout 4 base game without the DLCs).

I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed Volume. It felt more like a puzzle game than a stealth game though. On certain levels you are forced to get detected and then lose the enemies in order to progress. Therefore Volume can't be fully ghosted; however, majority of it can certainly be ghosted. 

One of the things I loved about Volume was that it supported a full pacifist playthrough. There are no weapons and it is completely impossible to kill anyone. But there are quite a handful of very useful gadgets that have to be utilised to either hide/disguise yourself or to distract enemies in various ways. You can create clones of yourself to set enemies on a goose chase while you sneak, you can set off loud noises to lure enemies away or in levels that don't have any gadgets you can simply whistle!

There is a nice difficulty curve in Volume. The game starts off being easy and then introduces new enemies, much more complex levels, new concepts and new gadgets. At the start, the game introduces a fairly easy enemy to evade called Pawns with a very limited field of vision, then you are faced with Snipers who has a very far vision but they fire slowly, then you get Turrets, Dogs, Knights (who can even see behind them) and they all require a certain gadget or strategy to evade.

Art style in Volume is certainly impressive.. The level design in all 100 chapters is absolutely gorgeous and graphics are fantastic. Chapters are quite colourful and they are stunning. I have one complaint though; as enemies are white, certain levels that have bright and light colours make it a bit tough to see which side the enemies are facing and how far their visions go. 

Apart from art, I was also mind blown by the amazing Volume soundtrack! I wasn't much of a fan of Thomas Was Alone soundtrack but music in Volume feels like heaven to my ears!. However, I absolutely hated how loud the notification sound is when you're detected. I even turned down the "volume" but despite me doing so there were still moments of jump scares when I got detected.

Subtitle window is huge....
Just in case I don't miss anything related to the story, I always turn on subtitles in games. Even though I can perfectly understand what is being said, I just enable them on purpose so as not to miss any details. Volume made me deeply regret this! The subtitle screen takes lower half of the screen and some chapters have insanely long dragging dialogues. There was one time I actually just waited before finishing the mission cause dialogue wasn't done by the time I completed the chapter. As subtitles cover a major part of the screen, it becomes insanely difficult to see what's really happening on your south side. Camera can't really be dragged either so on certain chapters I just had to wait until dialogues were over to progress cause otherwise I'd be running in blind to my certain death. If I'm on a suicide mission, I'd prefer to at least see it happen!

My final complaint will be about the game not giving the player options to finish the level in different ways. Most chapters only have one gadget (except some that have multiple) and almost all these levels don't give you multiple gadget options to finish the level. There are 9 gadgets in Volume but you are forced to use only one gadget per section of a level. Only a very few chapters give you 2 options to use.

In short, Volume is a very enjoyable game. I'd suggest Volume to anyone who wants a nice challenge without it being impossible or annoying. Chapters are a lot in number but quite short in content so it's a game that can be enjoyed even if you find 10 minutes of free time. I want to thank Mike Bithell for this amazing game and I can't wait to play his future games.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power Review and Achievements Completion!

I played so much Trine these days that I started dreaming about it. Even when I close my eyes I see Zoya grappling and swinging or Amadeus conjuring boxes. I guess it's about time I started focusing on another game to rid my subconsciousness from anything related to Trine!

Sadly I won't be able to make a post about Trine 2 achievements completion as I will not even attempt hard+hardcore gameplay. I'm missing only 4 achievements from Trine 2 and it will be like this forever most likely. So after getting a 100% completion on Trine Enchanted Edition and finishing as many achievements as I could in Trine 2 it was finally time to play Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power.

I read a lot of negative reviews about Trine 3. The game attracted a lot of hate and negativity. Before I played this game I was baffled as to why so many people hated this game that much as I thought it looked absolutely stunning from the screenshots. Let's face it! Trine 3 does have some breathtaking graphics!

Now that I got a chance to play the game myself I really see why Trine 3 is not received very well. The main problem isn't the integration of 3D, it's the camera angles. Camera doesn't exactly follow your character, it gets fixed on a particular spot same as in Trine 1 and 2. However the first 2 Trine games were 2D. Once you add 3D, camera angles start becoming a major player.

There should have been options to set camera angles in Trine 3. Due to this major problem I really didn't enjoy anything the game offered. Both platforming and combat (with namely Amadeus) felt like an absolute torture due to fixed camera angles. I missed a lot of jumps because apparently I didn't align my character with my landing zone very well. Especially during a certain chapter platforming and jumping between some traps, I won't spoil here, really made me want to quit the game. Combat with Amadeus was also a horror story. I conjured boxes to stomp my enemies but I ended up missing a lot because again I couldn't position the box right above the enemy I wanted to crush. Current camera angles don't let you position your character or boxes effectively so prepare to miss a lot of jumps!

I'll briefly state the other negatives about Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power. Difficulty is fixed and there are no difficulty options. Main chapters are too long and low in number whereas side chapters are too short. In order to revive a fallen hero you must stand on top of their spirit but sometimes this spirit can be placed at a location you were trying to reach before losing your hero. For example I was trying to grapple on a platform to get to the other side to collect a Trineangle, I made a mistake and Zoya died. When Zoya died her spirit was placed on top of the Trineangle I was trying to collect, not where my other 2 characters are located. So I had to reload the save to get my Zoya back as her grapple was my only way of reaching that platform. This happens frequently and it starts to get extremely frustrating.

I'll be honest, Trine 3 is an insanely annoying game. But it does have its positive points too, albeit not enough to remove my distaste while playing this game. I already mentioned that the game has stunning graphics. But I particularly enjoyed the map and chapter select. Once you select a chapter in the map, the game will show you how many Trineangles are in each checkpoint and how many you collected or how many you are missing (provided you have finished that chapter before). You can directly select these checkpoints and start from there to collect what you're missing. So if you are missing a Trineangle at the end of a level, you don't have to redo everything you've done previously. You can simply select that specific checkpoint, collect your missing Trineangle and you're done. Sadly the game doesn't have as many secret areas as Trine so most Trineangles are quite easy to collect; however, I still loved this feature and in my opinion it's the 2nd best thing about Trine 3 after its beautiful graphics.

Would I recommend Trine 3? Absolutely not. Unless you are a die hard Trine fan or an achievement hunter who wants to get a quick completion in 6-7 hours, I would not recommend Trine 3 at all. Trine 1 and 2 are already fantastic games so replay them if you want to get your Trine fix! :)

Monday, 4 July 2016

Steam Summer Sale Galore!

I still consider myself new to the Steam scene. Sure, I've had my Steam account for over 3 years now but I've only recently started using it properly for about a year now. I generally skipped any kind of Steam sale and I had a pretty good track record of 0 purchased games on sales so far :D Well that was until this Steam Summer Sale.

There were some games I set my eyes on months before and I wanted to make sure that I wouldn't miss the sale this time. Well I've never let my consumerist persona run loose like that but I might have gone a little bit insane. Of course I am not comparing myself to some of my friends on my list who bought over 30 games but I probably lost the control I think I had. I still bought nothing compared to what some of my friends purchased but I still bought a lot more than I expected I would. And I actually didn't spend a dime for more than half of them...

I had a limited Steam Wallet before the sale. I added the funds weeks before sale and I was gonna buy War for the Overworlds and Lumo. After I bought these two games I had a major dilemma: Multiple Indie games vs Alien Isolation. I went with multiple Indie games and bought 3 games instead of Alien Isolation. Thus my Steam Wallet was depleted.

But this wasn't the end of my Summer Sale escapades. I realised that I was hoarding more than 7 tabs of trading cards in my inventory. I had no idea why I kept them as I wasn't trading anyway so I started selling trading cards like it was my full time job. I decreased 7 tabs to 3 and bought 5 games alone with the cards I sold on Steam community market.

So let's draw a summary of how my Steam Summer Sale 2016 went:

Games I was gifted by my fellow friends <3:
  • Alien Isolation Complete Pack (My dilemma I mentioned above was pointless after all)
  • Everybody's Gone to the Rapture 
  • The Vanishing of Ethan Carter + The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Redux
  • This War of Mine
  • Contrast
  • The 39 Steps
Games I purchased with my Steam Wallet:
  • War for the Overworld
  • Lumo
  • Mafia II Joe's Adventures DLC (sadly I'm still missing Jimmy's Vendetta and The Betrayal of Jimmy)
  • Spy Chameleon - RGB Agent
  • Invisible, Inc
  • Not the Robots
Games I purchased by selling Steam trading cards:
  • The Book of Unwritten Tales II
  • Sneaky Sneaky
  • Quell
  • Knights
  • Frankenstein: Master of Death
My principle for the sale was that I'd only use my Steam Wallet. I promised myself that I would never use my credit card. However, I broke this principle for one time only and bought this:
  • Bioshock Infinite + Season Pass
Thus my first real adventure with a Steam Sale is concluded. It was a lot of fun! I purchased and was gifted some fantastic games. Until next time! ;)