Video Games

Started by Chris L, Aug 08, 2017, 11:35 pm

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Chris L

I'm starting this thread mainly to lure our friend @valmont into a conversation, but anyone else interested in video games of all kinds is welcome to join in. Darin (AKA @valmont) is as big a video game fanatic as I am, so if he's still finding time to play, I'm sure we'll find some things to talk about.

Darin, I know you were a fan of the early Metal Gear games. What's your take on the latest, and perhaps last, in the series, The Phantom Pain? I've been putting off playing it and have only recently started getting into the early missions. It has a much larger and less linear world than the early entries in the series, with a phenomenal amount of freedom in how to achieve your goals. The early missions seem a bit repetitive, though, with Snake breaking into various bases in the Afghanistan desert to achieve whatever his goal is. The base-building looks interesting, but I haven't really figured out how to do it. I made the mistake of selling off too many of the materials I found in the first couple of missions and I think it's slowing development a bit.

I still haven't gotten as deeply as I'd like into Fallout 4. I can only get killed so many times before I shut it down and play something else. And I've found myself sucked unexpectedly into Ubisoft's games. I know you like their early Splinter Cell games; how do you feel about the recent ones? I've become addicted to their distant cousin, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands, which has a vast open-world Bolivia with narcos on every corner eager to shoot at my team of special ops guys. I'm also having a surprising amount of fun with Far Cry 4, which is apparently a near perfect clone of its predecessor, Far Cry 3, but also has a fairly large open world. Have you played these?

Let me know if you've found anything else interesting.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

valmont

I love the genre of stealth games.  For me,
I haven't played a Metal Gear game in a long time. I had Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater for the PS2, and then I went back and picked up Metal Gear Solid for the PS1.  In terms of story I felt Metal Gear Solid was the best of the three -- a pleasant combination of naively earnest political thriller whose specifics were always fairly vague, with campy, over-the-top comic-book action.  The games gradually became more plausible and grounded in something approximating reality over the years.  The Phantom Pain looks interesting, but I'm not sure how I would like the desert-in-broad-daylight setting.  The jungle setting of Snake Eater was very frustrating for me, and I don't think I ever finished the game.  I prefer my stealth in an urban setting, in the dark.

The Splinter Cell series was always more grounded in reality, and came closer to ticking all the boxes for me in terms of atmosphere.  For me, the appeal of the stealth genre is a lot to do with the opportunity to fantasize being a ninja.  The missions were laid out in a mostly linear fashion.  Now and then you might encounter an alternate route, but usually, even in an environment that ought to be fairly open, such as an office building, your choice of pathways is artificially limited by locked doors or piles of rubble.  In spite of this, the games are designed well enough to give you the illusion that you are discovering a way forward rather than simply following the path laid out for you.  I played the first four in the series - Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Pandora Tomorrow, Chaos Theory and Double Agent.  It's a frustrating game franchise because each game re-maps the controls and you have to learn them all over again.  As you might expect, the latter two games are more polished in terms of gameplay, but I am fonder of the first two for their interesting locations and attempt to construct a coherent political thriller.  I would have kept with the series, but Ubisoft's DRM practices became more and more obtrusive, and I finally could not support them anymore.  I would love a stealth game in a Bethesda-style open-world setting.

I haven't played Far Cry.  The gameplay looks interesting from the videos I'm seeing.

Fallout, I think you know, is one of my favorite game series.  But I found the combat in Fallout 4 brutally difficult (and I never had problems in FO3 or FONV).  I may have lowered the difficulty setting, I can't recall.  Your choices for character development are limited, which for me is a huge step backward.  It's very hard to play as a stealth-oriented character, and as far as I can tell nigh-impossible to play as a diplomat.  In the endgame, you have to choose one of the factions to side with.  No matter which side I chose I always felt like an observer rather than a participant.  I played one game through to the end, and my second game I abandoned about two-thirds through.  What had kept me playing was the exploration and the sense of place, which I felt was better realized than in any of the previous Fallout games.  I also liked some of the characters very much.

I'm currently playing through Fallout 3 yet again.  It gets an A for atmosphere, but a C minus for level design.  Some of these areas are just a chore to get through.  And there are only a handful of interesting characters.  My plan was to play the whole game plus the DLC, none of which I had ever played before.  I always want to play it after the fourth of July. :)  As my character begins to approach a godlike mastery, though, I am not sure how much longer I will want to play.
I was born to ask "why was I born?"

valmont

One of the best stealth games I've played is, oddly enough, a 2d side-scrolling platformer, Mark of the Ninja.  It boasts gorgeous art, a fluid and intuitive user interface, and some charming cut-scenes.

The trailer from Klei Entertainment really doesn't do it justice, making it look more like a frenzied action game than one where the player can take their time.  (Note that nothing remotely like that music appears in the game, whose soundtrack is nice and atmospheric)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEELmpqPOFc
I was born to ask "why was I born?"

Chris L

I checked my Steam library and discovered I already owned Mark of the Ninja, but hadn't installed it. I'm installing it now.

Ubisoft's DRM configuration through the Uplay app is frustrating, but I find that I can get by with it. (For some reason their games can only be installed on internal drives.) Unfortunately, they seem to be one of the major purveyors of stealth-style action out there. Their game plots are becoming repetitive -- a series of missions to take down major villains by working your way through their lower-level assistants -- but the way in which they handle this varies from game to game. I really enjoyed Watch Dogs, set in a large, open map of Chicago, where the stealth involves hacking into a fictitious public surveillance system called CTOS, where you can use security cams to do much of your work for you. It's entirely urban, except for some missions set in Pawnee. (One particularly clever mission has you talking an NPC through the interior of a building entirely via security cams.) Though the campaign missions are sequential, the side missions can be taken in any order and most can be approached with a variety of play styles, including non-lethal takedowns. I couldn't stop playing it and though I'm finished with the main campaign I still have some side missions left. (There are some bonus arcade games hidden inside the main game as psychedelic "trips," the best of which allows you to attack downtown Chicago as a giant spider tank that can climb walls, but these are entirely optional.)

I'm now playing a game called Sniper Elite 4, from Rebellion, that you might like. It's a stealth shooter set in WW2 Italy where you're a sniper on your own in large, open sections of the country, mostly in small and medium-sized towns. I find the sniper play style surprisingly relaxing and you can play at your own pace, hitting a number of optional and required targets on each map. Non-lethal takedowns are possible, but as the title implies your best bet is to shoot people from a long distance using other sounds to max the noise of your shot. I'm thoroughly caught up in it and looking forward to getting to the DLC, a 3-pack set of scenarios where you discover and stop the Nazi atomic bomb project. The graphics are gorgeous, especially the night-time scenarios.

For a more cartoonish stealth game, have you tried Invisible Inc.? It uses top-down graphics for a series of fairly simple scenarios in which you play a pair of trained operatives breaking into mega-corporations and gives you a set of tool for getting past guards in turn-based play. As stealth games go it's casual, but fun.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Chris L

Halloween is coming, which means it's time for playing scary games. @valmont, you've expressed an interest before in playing horror games at this time of the year. Do you have anything lined up to play? I have some suggestions if you don't (or even if you do and want to try something new).
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

valmont

Quote from: Chris L on Oct 26, 2017, 10:57 pmHalloween is coming, which means it's time for playing scary games. @valmont, you've expressed an interest before in playing horror games at this time of the year. Do you have anything lined up to play? I have some suggestions if you don't (or even if you do and want to try something new).
Suggest away!  I never did finish White Night, which is one of the scariest games I've ever played (ymmv), or the Vanishing of Ethan Carter, which was the sacriest game I'd played until I played White Night.  And oddly enough one of the most viscerally terrifying experiences in a video game for me was exploring Hubris Comics in Fallout 4. 

Ethan Carter is a first person mystery adventure with an utterly unique game mechanic in which the player explores an environment and can see bits of the past by manipulating objects, and must decide on the proper sequence of these bits.  When the sequence is correctly determined, a cutscene plays, showing us what happened and why.  It's a really clever compromise between storytelling and player agency.
I was born to ask "why was I born?"

Chris L

Oct 27, 2017, 09:21 am #6 Last Edit: Oct 27, 2017, 10:11 am by Chris L
I've played Ethan Carter and it's graphically gorgeous with an interesting story, but I got stuck at a point where I was trying to reach a large house that was clearly visible from much of the town and surrounding area but had no clear path leading to it. I stumbled around in circles for an hour or two and finally gave up in frustration. Maybe I should try again.

I wasn't familiar with White Nights, but it's inexpensive and I just picked up a copy on Steam. I'll try it later.

My recommendations follow. The first two are from 2013, so you may already have played them, but I just discovered them within the last year. I'll list the current Steam prices.

Gone Home ($4.99) - Not a horror game per se, but if you play it alone in a dark room you might disagree. A wonderful piece of what I've heard described as "environmental storytelling" where you have to explore a beautifully modeled and interactive old house to find out why your family isn't there. It took me between four and six hours to complete it. I found it compulsively playable.

Outlast ($3.99 during Steam Halloween sale, normally $19.99) - I'm not a huge fan of survival horror, but this is the best one I've played. Some jump scares, but mostly a terrific atmosphere of dread. You explore an abandoned mental institution that's been turned into...well, that's what you have to find out. I'm stuck somewhere in the middle, so maybe you can help me finish it. ;)

What Remains of Edith Finch ($13.79) - More delightful than scary, but it's in the right spirit. A beautiful animated children's book for adults that resembles Gone Home with more elaborate and imaginative animations. You explore the house you grew up in to find out how each of the members of your family died. Each death is told as a flashback in a different style of animation and they're all amazing. (Some are interactive.)

I could recommend others if you've played those, but those are the best that I can think of right now. You may or may not like Dear Edith ($2.49), a divisive game among players that I love but that's mostly about walking through a bleakly beautiful island in the Hebrides while listening to scraps of poetic, sometimes cryptic, narration. It's not scary (though, as you put it, ymmv), but I found it moving.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Bobster

I'd love to find some sort of fun Christmas game (preferrably for iPad/iPhone).

nulipp

If you haven't played the new fourth installment of The Room series called Old Sins, it's REALLY REALLY wonderful.  I couldn't put it down and stayed up ridiculously late on a school night finishing it.  Absolutely the best of the series.  

Now I need to go back and actually finish The Room 3 ...
I chose, and my world was shaken. So what? The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not.

Chris L

I'm still working on the second game, but maybe I'll take a look.

I'm currently hooked on the 2016 reboot of the Hitman series on PC. It's the most amazing stealth game I've ever played, with living environments and multiple ways to accomplish missions, a lot of which require substantial ingenuity. I've never seen a game offer so much freedom and player agency within fairly limited but highly complex environments and a host of realistic, intelligent NPCs. It's compulsively playable. (And worlds better than previous Hitman games I've seen.)
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

valmont

Quote from: Chris L on Feb 09, 2018, 06:06 amI'm still working on the second game, but maybe I'll take a look.

I'm currently hooked on the 2016 reboot of the Hitman series on PC. It's the most amazing stealth game I've ever played, with living environments and multiple ways to accomplish missions, a lot of which require substantial ingenuity. I've never seen a game offer so much freedom and player agency within fairly limited but highly complex environments and a host of realistic, intelligent NPCs. It's compulsively playable. (And worlds better than previous Hitman games I've seen.)
Steam is having a sale for the Chinese New Year, and Hitman is one of the discounted games, so I grabbed it.  It will be a while before I get to play it -- Steam says it will take 2 days to download.  :o
I was born to ask "why was I born?"

nulipp

I've been on a "new-iPad-nothing-else-happening-in-my-life" mobile game kick the past week. After finishing that newest Room installment, I went back and finally finished Room 3 and then worked my way through The House of Da Vinci, an obvious but impressive Room knock off.
I chose, and my world was shaken. So what? The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not.

Chris L

Quote from: valmont on Feb 17, 2018, 08:29 am
Quote from: Chris L on Feb 09, 2018, 06:06 amI'm still working on the second game, but maybe I'll take a look.

I'm currently hooked on the 2016 reboot of the Hitman series on PC. It's the most amazing stealth game I've ever played, with living environments and multiple ways to accomplish missions, a lot of which require substantial ingenuity. I've never seen a game offer so much freedom and player agency within fairly limited but highly complex environments and a host of realistic, intelligent NPCs. It's compulsively playable. (And worlds better than previous Hitman games I've seen.)
Steam is having a sale for the Chinese New Year, and Hitman is one of the discounted games, so I grabbed it.  It will be a while before I get to play it -- Steam says it will take 2 days to download.  :o
Are you running on a 56bps modem? :o
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Chris L

Quote from: Chris L on Feb 17, 2018, 10:19 am
Quote from: valmont on Feb 17, 2018, 08:29 am
Quote from: Chris L on Feb 09, 2018, 06:06 amI'm still working on the second game, but maybe I'll take a look.

I'm currently hooked on the 2016 reboot of the Hitman series on PC. It's the most amazing stealth game I've ever played, with living environments and multiple ways to accomplish missions, a lot of which require substantial ingenuity. I've never seen a game offer so much freedom and player agency within fairly limited but highly complex environments and a host of realistic, intelligent NPCs. It's compulsively playable. (And worlds better than previous Hitman games I've seen.)
Steam is having a sale for the Chinese New Year, and Hitman is one of the discounted games, so I grabbed it.  It will be a while before I get to play it -- Steam says it will take 2 days to download.  :o
Are you running on a 56bps modem? :o
It takes up about 70 gigabytes on my drive, by the way, which if it doesn't make it the largest game in my library, probably puts it in the top 5. So I can see why it would take a while. Still, we have a 100 mbps connection that runs at about half or so of that rate most of the time and I would guess I could download that in maybe four hours. So even if you're on a slower connection, I doubt it'll take two days. What kind of results do you get when you type "speedtest" into Google? (Pause the game download before you try that, obviously.)
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?