Friday, July 29, 2011

Fukubukuro 2010 #5 DOG DAYS

I love stories about heroes trying to escape hell.  Reading an essay about After Hours an oft-forgotten Scorsese brought this to front.  While opposite in tone, trying to escape Hades is the core story of both that movie and


Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days.

If you played the demo, and didn’t instantly love it, I can’t help you.   10 seconds into the demo and I was frothing for it.  By the end of the demo I wanted to drink deep from Dog Days’s (YES that’s the one part of this whole thing I’m sure is grammatically correct.) cup.  I needed Dog Days bad.  Then I heard it was 5 hours long, and man no.  Action movies on blu-ray are 19.99 USD.  I ended up waiting a month until Gamefly put the game directly into my mailbox.

I co-opped the game at the house of the man I co-op games with.   I was equipped with a energy drink that tasted like Crystal Light Lemonade and 30% sugar.  He had a pepsi max.  I also had a little, then regretted that this year I had given up zero calorie beverages.  The situation called for it, even though I vastly prefer Coke Zero to regular or diet.

We blasted through that game in seven hours. We laughed like hyenas at the naked level.  The sucker-punch ending made me step back and go, “That was pretty good.”  My friend might have liked the game less than I did, but was being polite.  I couldn’t pry a verdict out of him.  The game fully satisfied me from beginning to end.

I again lamented it’s 60 dollar price point.  Games can’t continue doing this.   Back-Mops breaking all sorts of records doesn’t mean anything when it takes 2 less people to generate the same level of profit from one sale.  I briefly considered, years ago, with the success of Katamari Damacy that maybe, games would get universally cheaper.  This generation ended up being more expensive all around.

2 months later, 3 months after it’s release, Dog Days was all of 19.99 at Best Buy.  I bought it and immediately played through the game again offline.   Then I tried online, which was already something of a ghost town.  Any complaints I can level at the game are in the multiplayer.  The online stages are not nearly as gloriously genius as the single player levels.  I can’t mute the jackasses that made me sit out the 5 minute match I waited 10 minutes to play because he held me up then threw me to the ground and shot me before I even got the QTE prompt to get out of the hold up.  I did find a few people to run through the single player with, and everything is glistening level design.

If you didn’t like the demo, I can’t help you.  The demo starts with a fantastic escape from a restaurant out the back way, and might be the only time the level doesn’t make sense in reality because I can’t remember where the actual restaurant entrance is.  You also hop over the same broken wall a few times.  But when it is time to MURDER CHINA, the level design is perfect.  If you played this alone, maybe this is why you didn’t find it genius.

There is always two paths, the straight path for Lynch, the side path for Kane ( the side path for Lynch, the straight path for Kane.)  The man taking the straight path is there only as distraction to the private body guards for the mafia elite and to not get killed.  When the side path gets a clear shot at the white suit cleanup team, they have to kill as many of the chinese military as possible before they realize he’s there.  The low-level gangsters will then focus on Kane, giving straight path Lynch a shot at headshotting the police officers just trying to kill two unstoppable men.

Our demo level has K and Mister L escape onto a street.  On the left side is a video store.  On the right is a building under construction and a catwalk.  On the street you have convenient cars.  One man should obviously be fighting through the video store, the other is his cover fire.  Cars sometimes blow up, and the catwalk’s cover will get blown to bits.  Our video store hero’s cover is good for the most part.  Most of your opposition is flooding out of a restaurant down on the left side, which has a lot of propane tanks around it.

A later escape has you in an area with three warehouses and a dozen different ways to approach the problem of murdering everyone and getting out of China.  Every failure feels like you did something stupid.  Getting away with something stupid is a sigh of relief for you and your partner.  After a dozen times of playing through the game I'm still getting surprised by myself of my co-hort's discovery at another way escaping everything we deserve.

There was no reason this game was going to be a success at 60 dollars.  It’s too much of a decision.  Hell if I could recommend it to anyone for that price.  This game might of set the world on fire at being released at 19.99.  I0 Interactive might still have been a development studio.  This game features at least 3 scenes I had been waiting for in an action movie.

Friends on Steam ended up getting the game for 5 dollars when it was 5 dollars on Steam.  I was happy at everyone on my list that suddenly had that game in their possession.  Either way, this friend complained that their were no civilians in the game, even though the opening movie somewhat promised there would be.  I didn’t have a response to that, it somewhat bothered me in my response playthrough.  The satisfaction in killing all of armed-China came back, and I got over it.

His other complaint was all the enemies had the same AI if they were military personnel or thugs jumping off moving motorcycles.  I didn’t notice this either, maybe because what you were fighting was just another bit of windowdressing.  Through their own actions Kane and Lynch end up having the entire city of Shanghai hating them.  The game gives us just enough showing that we don’t need any telling about them.

Dog Days is fantastic, brief and features a shootout at a McDonald’s.  I’ve been waiting for that for years.  It has the most glorious idle menu screens.  The 15 seconds of running across an empty lot and an helicopter flies over is worth more to anyone than the entirety of Brak Fops and most action films.  The guns are stupendously loud!  Everytime I play the game I have to remark, “Holy lord, I’m kind of killing a LOT of people.”

In short: My good friend Chris Pinner can forgive Dog Days because the bodiless camera is just following Kane and Lynch, and you’re not the camera.  He has a thing for FPS games not showing the body you see.  I hope he loves Breakdown (Japan does Half-Life and Halo is Xen.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Radiant Historia (DS) Dragon Quest VI (DS)

I sunk a good 26 hours into Dragon Quest VI: The Subtitle hoping it would get interesting it didn't.  It almost defined how lazy Dragon Quest games can be.  You have a dream world and a real world with the same sprites, tiles, backgrounds, music, and colors.  The only thing to definerate the two is the story tells you one world is FAKE the other is REAL.    Around hour 15 the main plot drops away and the game goes, "I don't know...go do something, whatever."  Then you're left playing Dragon Quest except the little stories aren't as good as VII, it doesn't have the graphics of VIII, and your "motivation" for traveling the world isn't nearly as strong as in V.  It's the worst Dragon Quest until the day I play II.  Which is actually apparently even worse.

So I managed to stop myself from grinding and try out Radiant Historia instead.  Which also has the dual worlds element, but the story keeps you guided along and you have easy access to knowing what you are supposed to be doing at all times.  Something about it just made me run out of steam 6 hours in.  I think it was because the positives were "alright" and lack of negatives were getting by. 

I was staring at the story and 4 times in a row the solution was "learn something in the other world that had just been mentioned in that world."  At least let me feel a little bit clever.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Paragraphs about Movies

And we're back!  After Hours is a mostly forgotten Martin Scorsese film.  I say that as a man who is only a fan of Scorsese over how much I enjoy The Departed.  I'm pretty sure I heard about After Hours from Mark Kermode my absolute favorite movie critic.  It's a fun film!  I always enjoy stuff about people trying to escape circumstances (see: Kane and Lynch 2 Dog Days.)  This film is about a man who just wants to sleep with a girl downtown, and turns into his inability to escape downtown New York.

Watching the bonus features on Shinjuku Incident I found out the whole point of the movie was probably the one thing everyone takes from the movie.  "I guess Jackie Chan can kind of act."   The problem is you're always seeing it as "Hey It's Jackie Chan as NOT an action star."  It does show Japan's illegal immigrants which I was unfamiliar with but am relatively certain are pretty similar to how they are displayed until the movie goes "what!?"  Also terrible things happen to the likable guy three scenes in a row.

Rango I saw on the plane back from Tokyo (hey I went to Tokyo for a week!)  It was better than I expected it to be.  I regretted I wasn't watching it on a huge screen where all the animals could be as disgusting and filthy as they needed to be.  Entertaining!

Source Code was perfect for watching for one dollar in a moldy theater.  I definitely felt like I got my dollar's worth out of that film.  It's not something to go out of your way to see or own for multiple viewings, but It was fun enough for my time.

The best thing I could possibly say about the 4th Pirates of the Caribbean film is that since April it has been about 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day in Texas.  The film got me in a cool dark room for two hours.  As much as the settings and costumes and atmosphere carried me through to owning all three of the previous films on Bluray, I don't recommend anyone wasting their money and time on this one.  It's amateur hour with Johnny Depp.