Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Final Thoughts - Assassin's Creed China [PS4]

Title: Assassin's Creed China
Genre: 2D stealth action game
Developer: Climax Studio
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Platform played on: PlayStation 4
Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Completion Status: I have completed the campaign
Trophy Status: 9 of 18

Hmm, I'm not quite sure what to say about this one. While it is in an Assassin's Creed universe, it feels like a not as well implemented version of Mark of the Ninja.

Source - assassinscreed.ubi.com
It is a 2D stealth action game where you are rewarded the most if you are stealthy and the least when you are up close and personal. When you complete an area, you will be rewards with a ranking which is based on how you completed the section of the area. Brawler means that you are close and personal where you fight enemies and they know you exist. Assassin means that you assassinate enemies, however, no one knows that you exist. Shadow means that you passed the area without killing anyone with the exception of certain areas that don't allow for this (like boss fights). These three rankings are further subdivided into Bronze, Silver, or Gold based on how well you do. While I appreciate that the game allows for you to do what you like, I find it odd that it penalizes you for not being stealthy. I understand that this is because you are supposed to be stealthy, but the title is Assassin's Creed, you are an assassin, yet somehow you get penalized when you achieve Assassin instead of Shadow.

Source - assassinscreed.ubi.com
There are a fair amount of controls, although it isn't as bad as it seems. Left analog stick is used for your movement, d-pad is used to select the type of 'projectile' that you choose to use. I say 'projectile' since your first one is actually you whistling, whereas the rest as actual projectiles. Right analog stick is used to aim your projectile which is activated by pressing L1. R1 when pressed in conjunction with L1 fires your projectile. R1 is to use a rope dart which pulls you to the ceiling if possible. L2 is to crouch and R2 is to run. X is to jump, square is to perform a light attack with your sword and triangle performs a heavy attack. You do get more moves as you go along, but I have left them out so that you can discover them as you go.

Source - assassinscreed.ubi.com
At the beginning, you don't really get many options since you are retrieving your arsenal of weapons as you progress through the game. Your main weapon is your sword which you get in memory 1 (they call levels or chapters in this game a memory).

Source - assassinscreed.ubi.com
At the beginning of the game, you have regular soldiers who don't have anything special, later on you fight ones with shields which will block frontal attacks which require you to destroy the shield or jump over them and attack from behind. The progression works well with no stop to the new types of enemies that you face. It is fun and keeps things fresh as you go along.

Source - assassinscreed.ubi.com
The art is very nice with the water paint style really standing out for things like flags and the main character's scarf. It works fine for the rest, no issues.

Source - assassinscreed.ubi.com
It was interesting to hear that everything is actually in Mandarin as the voice overs and you don't have a choice to change them. Subtitles are on all the time.

Source - assassinscreed.ubi.com
Story-wise, I thought that it could be a separate game with no need to add 'Assassin's Creed' to the title. It doesn't seem to add much to the universe, although this is game 1 of 3 (India and Russia), so maybe at the end, it is more complete.

I feel that I got my money's worth for the game, however, I'm not sure if I would suggest this when I feel that Mark of the Ninja is a superior game. However, if you are looking for a game like it with Assassin's Creed universe, it isn't bad.

Come back next Wednesday for my Final Thoughts on The Swindle for PlayStation 4 / Vita.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Final Thoughts - Sound Shapes [PS Vita]

Title: Sound Shapes
Genre: 2D Platformer
Developer: Quesy Games / SCE Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Platform played on: PlayStation Vita
Available on: PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
Completion Status: Game has been completed
Trophy Status: 34 of 34 (base game), 55 of 55 (DLC packs)

A 2D platformer where you progress through levels and as you go through them there are notes that you can pick up and they will add to the music. So in order to get the full track, you need to pick up all the music notes scattered throughout the level. I would say that it is similar to Amplitude, but instead of having to complete a section, you only need to hit one note and that note will continue.

Source - www.soundshapesgame.com
The levels are formatted like a soundtrack. A different music style and composer is given for each one and each soundtrack is broken down into individuals tracks. It is interesting to hear the different types of music based on the notes that you get.

Source - www.soundshapesgame.com
The controls are simple, left analog stick to move, and square to speed up your dot, which also happens to make you not sticky anymore. If you don't press square, you stick to your surroundings which allows you to move vertical or even more along the ceilings of levels. Your goal is to make it to the end which has a radio looking thing that you need to touch to complete the track. Any notes that you find along the way are a bonus to help you fulfill how the soundtrack should sound, however, all the notes are optional and you can complete all soundtracks without getting the notes.

Source - www.soundshapesgame.com
After you finish the campaign, which involves you completing all of the soundtracks, you unlock Beat Levels and Death Mode Levels. Death Mode Levels are based on a small section of the original campaigns levels but with difficult challenges. At the beginning of the level, you will be told how many notes you need to get within a certain time. Some are harder than others but I believe with some skill, practice and some luck, they are all achievable. A lot actually has to do with where the notes spawn which is outside of your control. So, keep at it and you should be fine.
Beat Levels are levels where you hear the beat and you need to place notes on a blank music sheet. You are told how many notes there are and you tap and hold to place notes and you are supposed to mimic the original beat. You can press the volume on the top left to replay the beat and it is your job to play the notes correctly. Imagine if you were given Yankee Doodle, and you had to write down the notes to make the song, that's what you are doing here. While this mode is interesting, I found that I didn't have the skill to do this well and I just ended up completing them by using an FAQ on all the levels.

Source - www.soundshapesgame.com
There is a level editor where you can create your own levels and share them with others to play. However, like LittleBigPlanet, I found that I was never interested enough in making my own levels, however, I would have no problem play other people's levels. Unfortunately for me, I found that I wasn't very interested in playing after I finished campaign and I completed all the death mode levels and beat levels. So, the game's longevity is dependent on how much you like making levels or playing other people's levels.

I feel that it was worth the discounted price that I got it for but I don't think that it was worth the original price tag.

Come back next Wednesday for my Final Thoughts on Assassin's Creed China for PlayStation 4.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Final Thoughts - Mutant Mudds Deluxe [PS Vita]

Title: Mutant Mudds Deluxe
Genre: 2D Platformer
Developer: Renegade Kid
Publisher: Renegade Kid
Release Date: December 17, 2013
Platform played on: PlayStation Vita
Available on: Windows PC, Nintendo 3DS, iOS, Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
Completion Status: Game has been completed
Trophy Status: 10 of 10

Mutant Mudds Deluxe is a game that I got on PlayStation Plus and while it took me awhile to get to it, I finally got the chance to do so and I ended up really enjoying the game, a lot more than I expected to.

Source - http://operationrainfall.com/

Like most 2D platformers, the mechanics are simple. Left analog stick to move, X to jump, X again while jumping to float, and square to shoot. Each level is pretty short with a 4 minute timer which is reset when you die. Part way through the level there are checkpoints that you reach where if you die after that, you will respawn at the checkpoint with the same 4 minute timer. You run around and you shoot water on mud monsters and there is a variety of them, but none too difficult.

Source - http://www.renegadekid.com/
As you progress through the game you unlock three different power-ups that you will uncover as you play through the game and you will find that you will swap through either extended hover (extends your hover time) or power shot (makes you shots more powerful) since they seem to be the most useful. The last one, vertical boost, is for accessing certain areas within levels, however I didn't find that it helped me pass levels much.

You begin the game in a hub where you see a bunch of doors (20) and you enter them to start the level. In each level, there are 100 diamonds in the level, which you collect in order to unlock the three power-ups. When you complete the level, all diamonds that you collected are saved and you only need to collect the missing ones in the future which adds to the replayability of this game.

Source - http://www.renegadekid.com/
You can complete the game by just playing the initial set of 20 levels, however, you will notice that there are three symbols at the top of each door. The small symbols means that you have collected all the diamonds in the level, the big symbol means that you have collected the water sprite within that level, and the final symbol means that you have completed the hidden G-Land / V-Land levels. If you are interested in more content, you need to collect all the diamonds, all the water sprites and complete all the G-Land / V-Land levels which unlocks Grannie who has another set of 20 levels which are similar to the initial 20 levels but harder. So there is a lot of content in this game even if it doesn't look that way at the beginning.

Source - http://www.renegadekid.com/
Once you have completed all of that, there are also secret characters that you can find within the game that allows you to use them, however, they are just palette swaps with no real difference in gameplay unlike Grannie who can use all three power-ups at once.

I played and finished the game during my eastern Europe trip and while it was frustrating for some levels, I didn't feel that the game was cheap with my deaths.

If you are looking for a 2D platformer, I don't think you can go wrong with this one.

Come back next Wednesday where I will give my Final Thoughts on Sounds Shapes for PlayStation Vita.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Final Thoughts - Hotline Miami [PS Vita]

Title: Hotline Miami
Genre: Top-down twin-stick shooter arcade action game
Developer: Dennaton Games (Abstraction Games for Vita)
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release Date: June 25, 2013 (PlayStation Vita)
Platform played on: PlayStation Vita
Completion Status: I have completed the campaign
Trophy Status: 30 of 35

Hotline Miami is a game that I picked up when it was given away for free on PlayStation Plus in October 2013, 5 months after it was released on PlayStation 3 / Vita which was released on PC on October 2012.


Hotline Miami is a twin-stick shooter where you control your characters with the left analog stick and aim with the right analog stick from a top-down perspective. L will pick-up / toss your weapon, R will fire your weapon / swipe with your weapon / punch with your bare fist. You lock-on to an opponent by tapping on them on the front touch screen and unlock by tapping an empty area. Also, you can tap and drag on the touch screen to view areas near you so that you can see where enemies are located. The controls are pretty simple aside from the tapping which is odd since you cannot lock-on to enemies while moving / aiming since you need to take your thumb off one of the analog sticks.

The story is a bit odd to say the least. You wake up in a room and you hear the phone ring, which you pick up and someone tells you to go somewhere and you have to eliminate all the people at this address. Rinse and repeat for the most part. I thought that overall, the story was pretty forgettable but what makes this game stand out is the gameplay mechanics.


It is a very fast paced arcade game, you get points for how quickly you go through a level, how you beat your enemies (whether by guns / melee / weapon), if you execute them (if you perform a ground kill), and by chaining kills by killing a bunch of enemies quickly, you get a combo based on number of kills over a period of time. If you don't kill someone within a period of time, the combo drops down to 0 and you have to restart the combo counter. It all adds to you trying to do as much as you can in the shortest period of time.

There are a good amount of chapters within the game (over 10) and within each chapter, there are floors that you need to clear, starting in the earlier chapters with just one floor and going up to four floors in the later chapters. You complete a floor, go to the next one, rinse and repeat. Luckily, when you die, you respawn on the same floor with the weapon that you started with, so at least you aren't starting from scratch. However, this means that if you start a floor with a gun with low ammo, you are always stuck with it unless you restart the chapter completely. There is only load time when you have select a chapter, when you die, press X and you respawn and you are back at it, so the quick load helps with the process.


As you progress through the game, there are two types of collectibles, letters and masks. Letters you will find in most levels and they are just a tiny pixel, so they are easy to miss and I just used a walkthrough to get them all. Masks are shattered throughout the game and you can obtain them by doing well on certain chapters or finding them in certain chapters. At the start of each chapter, you pick a mask that you want to use and you are stuck with it for the entire chapter, so choose wisely. Each mask comes with a different perk, such as 'move faster', 'more ammo', 'punches kill', 'combos last longer', etc. Also, as you progress through the game, you unlock new weapons (guns, melee weapons, and throwing weapons) based on your cumulative score through the game. So, as you progress, you will see a larger variety of weapons available within the levels which are randomly generated per level but at their fixed spawning location.

I had a lot of fun and frustration with this game due to the frantic nature of how the game is supposed to be played. You can take it slow and go room by room and kill enemies as you see them. However, the AI behind them are random, so some will stumble into various rooms one time, and the next they don't, some will attack you when you open a door, and sometimes they won't. So you can either do it nice and slow (although this will effect your score) or you can try to go quick (but you may end up dying a lot due to enemies you didn't expect).

I have finished the game and I thought it was a lot of fun. It trains you well from start to finish, the number of enemies increase, the types of weapons vary, the number of levels increase and overall, it just seems like there is more to take in.

It is very graphic and extreme in terms of violence and that may be off-putting depending on your tolerance for violence (ground kills usually involve you bashing in someone's head repeatedly or pouring boiling water on their face, stabbing them with a broken pool cue, etc).

Overall, I really enjoyed the title and would recommend it and I look forward to trying #2 when I get a chance.

Come back next Wednesday for my Final Thoughts on Mutant Mudds Deluxe for PlayStation Vita.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Intro

As I listen to podcasts and read things online, I noticed that it seems like everyone who does well at what they do seem to be committed to it, have a fixed schedule, and update as frequently as required in order to get to where they are.

The goal of this blog is to do that as well as help me remember some of the games that I liked and disliked and the components that make up those issues that arise from the games. I noticed that I play a lot of PlayStation Plus games since I got it and I have acquired quite the collection and I am working towards completing them.

I will try to post once a week on Wednesday mornings 7:00 AM EST on an impression, a review, or things that are related to what I have played. And I hope to maintain this at least once a week. I will also try to have a post at the beginning of the month to look back on what I have played and things that I look forward to playing during that month.

My first post next Wednesday will be about Hotline Miami that I have played and completed on PlayStation Vita.

Hope you enjoy the blog and come back and visit from time to time.