A New Challenger Appears!

July 8, 2008

Another long drought in the beleaguered land of OHPC-istan is interrupted by the life-giving rains of my prose.  Yes, I bless you all again with my presence before I most likely scuttle back under the rock from whence I came.  As always before, I didn’t actually intend to go so long without posting, but after finishing up the classes mentioned in my last post, I’d just sort of been out of gaming too long and didn’t really know where to start in order to have something to post about.  To be fair, I also had a hell of a time trying to get back on the horse as far as my comic-reading went, as well…  In fact, I still have a bunch of issues of DMZ to catch up on.  So anyway, excuses, excuses… back to the title of the current post.

Some of you already are aware (since I know you in meatspace) and others of you may have spotted the super-stealth-ninja updates to the List (I’m sneaky like that) indicating that I am now the proud owner of one 80GB PlayStation 3 (this being the titular “new challenger”).  I had been holding off on the PS3 at first due to price considerations and general lack of interest in the system’s exclusive games roster.  Sure, the price came down with the introduction of the 40GB model, but given the pile of PS2 games I still have yet to complete, I’d like as much backwards compatibility as I can get my paws on.  The 60GB with the full backwards compatibility is, of course, discontinued and the prices are still way high on eBay.  The Metal Gear Solid 4 bundle with the 80GB system was the sweet spot for me.  With it being a limited edition, I couldn’t count on Sony making the 80GB system available ever again, so I pre-ordered the system from the Gamestapo and received it after a relatively-minor amount of drama with UPS.  With the new system come new games that need to be completed, of course, making progress on the original games on the list that much harder.

Two new games were added as a result of these goings-on: Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction and Resistance: Fall of Man.  “A-ha,” you may exclaim, “your schooling has failed you as you mistook the number 2 for the number 3!  You purchased the Metal Gear Solid 4 bundle and so I know you own that game in addition to the two you’ve named!”  You may at this point twirl your moustaches smugly whilst grinning triumphantly.  Or not.  Either way, twirling or no, I made no mistake in my previous statement as I do not intend to play Metal Gear Solid 4, and in fact will trade or sell it at the first opportunity.  Since the last Metal Gear game I played was the first Metal Gear Solid and I didn’t even finish that, I’m in no position to jump on board with the fourth installment.  Nor do I have any desire to play two and a half old games that I successfully avoided their first time around just to have the background necessary to watch play this one.

So.  Two additions accounted for… but eagle-eyed readers (you should probably see a doctor about that… or maybe a vet… not sure if having an animal’s eyes is really normal, but if it works for you, then hey… who’m I to judge?) will have noticed a total of three extra games on the List.  The final one being Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates on the DS, which I had been eyeing for some time and finally decided to snag once my classes had finished up back in May.

Through all of this, my overall percentage has, in fact, gone up.  From what, I cannot say off the top of my head, as I was too dense to note where it was before I started doing my sneaky-sneaky-behind-the-scenes-no-proper-posting List updating, but I suppose I could figure it out… [does some subtraction, some division] I’m gonna say 29.5%.  So from 29.5% up to 31.9%, the reason being that I finished every game I’ve added.  In some cases, multiple times (sort of).  Crystal Chronicles I played through a solo game in the multiplayer milieu first, and actually did so multiple times in order to get through all the difficulty levels… it was a pretty addictive game.  The single-player portion was tedious at best, however, with annoying characters and a storyline that I REALLY couldn’t have given a damn about, but a mission’s a mission and I soldiered through it solely to be able to tell you all I’ve done so.  Ratchet & Clank is another one that I played through multiple times, although the subsequent playthroughs were quick affairs of maybe two days or so, since it’s basically a New Game + situation.  I actually went through as much as I did to stretch the life of the game… it really is excellent, and with only one other game on the PS3, I wanted to make it last as long as possible.  I even went so far as to obtain every Skill Point in the game, despite my original assertions on this blog that I wasn’t going to do such a thing.  In truth, my original position is that I’m not going to require myself to hit 100% within each game, but as with Metroid Prime 3, if it happens, it happens.  Finally, then, just today (erm… yesterday, technically) I finished up Resistance with all its delectable alternate history goodness.  I may still go back through that one to get a few more Skill Points in there, although probably not all of ’em as some of ’em seem like they’re gonna be a lot more trouble than they’re worth.

And so, my updating duties completed for this quarter, I now take my leave of you.  I want to talk more about the PlayStation 3 in general, and so if all goes well, I should be posting my thoughts about the system in the near future.  I would’ve liked to go into it in this post, but the hour’s getting late, and the wordcount’s getting obscene.  Just as I mentioned in my last post, I want to get back to more-regular posting, but I make no guarantees so’s I can’t actually break any promises.


Lost Update

March 24, 2008

So remember my last post where I said “I’m going to make every effort to stay on updating now that I’ve started again.”?  Well, what I meant to say is that I’m not actually going to do that.  Now, I did fully intend to keep up the updating, but as before, there was always something that was keeping me from it.  Specifically, this time, two things: school, and lack of progress.  I actually knew that the school bit was coming up when I made my last post, but I underestimated the amount of reading it was going to entail, and thus didn’t think it would have an impact on my mission, rendering it pointless to mention.  Holy hell was I wrong, but you don’t really care about/need my bitching, so we’ll move on.

It’s coming up on three months since my last post (a few weeks away, but close enough).  Despite this, I’ve only managed to sneak in the time to complete one measly game… and it wasn’t even on the list to begin with.  Lost Odyssey, you’ll notice, has now appeared on the list with a nice satisfying strikethrough effect on it.  I probably should have snuck it up on the list without a proper update, as I’ve done with other titles in the past, just to make sure that the list itself  (and thus the percentage, of course) gives an accurate representation of just how much work I have ahead of me.  I didn’t do that, however, and so you’ll just have to live with it.  The game was great.  It goes without saying that the graphics are beautiful, and the music was fantastic (if a mite repetitive), but flashy presentation does not a good RPG make.  It’s got a nice old-school sort of feel to it, most particularly in the battle system, hearkening back to NES days, even, with a battle system that requires you to enter an action for all of your characters together before the round resolves itself.  While ATB systems have their place, I found Lost Odyssey‘s system to be not only satisfactory, but a rather nice change of pace.  Also, although it may be silly of me, I kind of enjoyed having the game spread out over four discs (nevermind the shoddy packaging they fobbed off on us North Americans)… back in the PS1 days, it always seemed to give a physical sense of progress when you had to get up and switch discs, and while the act itself is kind of annoying, I don’t mind it coming back, even if the PS3 fanboys will point it out as a 360 shortcoming.

Anyway, having just finished the game today (well… yesterday at this point, if you want to get technical), I thought it best to give a bit of an update and remind everyone that I’m not dead yet (I think I’ll go for a walk!).  This time, however, I’m not even going to try to pretend that further updates will be forthcoming in anything remotely resembling a timely fashion.  I certainly hope that they will be more frequent, but I’ve obviously shown that this is far easier said than done.  With that being said, then, there will be more updates as time goes on… my progress may have slowed, but the project is still alive.


Hiat-astic

January 4, 2008

So as many of you may have noticed, I haven’t been updating this blog on what you would call a regular basis. There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this: I’m kind of a turd. Now, in my defense, it started out that the entire month of October was taken up by finding and subsequently moving into a new apartment. Following that, I suppose I could try to say that November was taken up by getting settled into said new domicile, but at that point the argument starts to weaken. December… umm… Holiday? Okay, so in reality after losing October to the moving a little lump of Lazy started to snowball and I kept finding excuses not to write. That’s over with, so now you will be graced with my textual wit once more! Huzzah!

I was not completely inactive during my little hiatus, as close scrutiny of yon list will attest. Oh no, in fact I have added quite a few more obstacles to my path, including Halo 3, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Mass Effect, God of War II, Odin Sphere, and Super Mario Galaxy. Some of these (read: two) I not only added, but also finished. Halo 3 I actually finished in less than a week. Mass Effect took a bit longer, but ultimately fell like so many before it. Both games were awesome, but you already knew that. Phantom Hourglass, on the other hand… not so much. Well, the game is pretty good. The Wind Waker-style graphics are nice (I was a big fan of Celda), the control scheme is interesting and well-executed, but the gameplay itself is just terrible. The sailing parts are pretty annoying, but really are forgivable. What really brings the game down is the wretched Temple of the Ocean King (or whatever the hell it’s called) that you have to traverse approximately 37 billion times throughout the course of the game. It would be one thing if you could skip all the parts you had already been through each time you have to go back, but you can’t. Sure, you get to warp halfway down after you’ve been through a few times, but halfway doesn’t cut it here… you still end up having to re-do puzzles you’ve already done numerous times before. There’s no excuse for gameplay like this in this day and age. It’s a cheap, dirty, nasty way to extend gameplay and if it weren’t for this accursed blog, I would write the game off completely. In fact, it’s almost enough to make me want to write off Zelda games in general (I’m sorry, Zelda baby! I didn’t mean that! Here’s some flowers! Please take me back, Zelda baby!). Anyway, that thing’s been steamin’ up my DS for weeks now because I just can’t bring myself to play more of it right now… especially not when I have other, better games waiting for me.

A goodly amount of my gaming time during this extended break was devoted toward the PC, which of course I’m not counting for this project. This is unfortunate, since The Orange Box came out towards the beginning of October. What makes that an unfortunate occurrence is that its release prompted me to go back and actually finish Half-Life 2 itself. When HL2 was originally released, I played through it up to the “Nova Prospekt” chapter, which anyone who has played the game will most vividly recall for one particular sequence in which you must weather a siege within the walls of a former penitentiary with nothing but three of the most rickety-ass turrets ever manufactured. You would think that with all sorts of fancy alien technology the Combine would be able to build a better turret than we lowly humans. You would think that, but you’d be wrong. Observe.

HL2 TurretTF2 Turret

Which of those would YOU want to have watching your back? The one that could topple over at the first mention of a stiff breeze or the one with four sturdy legs and frickin’ rocket launchers strapped to the top of it? Yeah… me too.

Anyway, the point of all this is to say that I ended up stuck on HL2 (just after the turret siege… I had to switch to Easy for the battle, but I did make it past that part) when I first played it. The advent of The Orange Box, however, incited me to play through the game once again, and this time I made it all the way through without getting stuck. I then followed by starting (and finishing) Half-Life 2: Episodes One and Two, naturally, since I could finally actually play them at that point (Episode One had been out for a while, of course, but I hadn’t finished the HL2 storyline and I’ll be goddamned if I’m gonna jump ahead in a series like this). Then came Portal, which only took about two days’ worth of playing to complete (two short days at that), but was so totally worth it. So you see, even though they don’t count, I actually finished another four games during my little “break.” (Note to self: do NOT mention that you’ve also spent, quite frankly, ridiculous amounts of time playing Team Fortress 2 instead of the various console games on your list). Dammit! I didn’t mean to type that out loud…

I’m going to make every effort to stay on updating now that I’ve started again. I really don’t have any worthwhile excuse, as I discussed above, but at least the time away wasn’t a total loss. In addition to finishing Halo 3 and Mass Effect, both of which I mentioned before, I also completed Killzone: Liberation during the hiatus. Hopefully progress will continue without any further 3-month-long snags.


A Visit from Master Chief

September 25, 2007

‘Twas the night before Halo when all ‘cross the land
The fanboys lined up, pre-order slips in hand;
Their cash was laid down, receipts guarded with care
In hopes Master Chief soon would be there;
The noobs, though, were nestled, all snug in their beds
While visions of Cortana danced in their heads.

There would be more, but I fell asleep trying to write the rest late last night after finishing Gears of War. Given that it’s no longer the night before Halo, I figured I’d just go ahead and post what I have and move along. I didn’t pick up a copy of the game yet, but I fully intend to just as soon as I get out of work this evening, and then it’s Covenant-smashing time!

What with all my complaining in my last post, I didn’t get around to pointing out that the completion of Metroid Prime: Hunters actually pushed me over a milestone. That game was number 21 out of the 81 games that are currently on the list, putting my percentage at 25.9%… I’m more than a quarter of the way through! Gears of War, then, just puts me that much further up, bringing the percentage to 27.2% ever so briefly, before I grab Halo 3 tonight, which will bring me down a bit to 26.8%.


Over-underrated

September 23, 2007

If you’ve ever taken a look at a listing of underrated or overlooked games recently, there are a couple of titles you’re bound to come across: Psychonauts and Beyond Good & Evil.  One of these games was a wonderful platformer with an inventive premise, a genuinely funny sense of humor, and about five people worldwide who were willing to buy it (including myself).  Psychonauts is an example of exactly what should be included in those underrated game lists.  Beyond Good & Evil, on the other hand, is crap.  I realize there’s a decent chance that I will be vilified, maligned, and otherwise bad-mouthed for saying it, but it’s the truth.  If you had asked me a few days ago, I would’ve given you a completely different answer… one more in accordance with the blind adulation that gets heaped on the game by anyone who fancies themselves a connoisseur of video gaming.  Then again, a few days ago I hadn’t touched the game in over six months, and had completely forgotten most everything about it.

Earlier this year, before I began the One Hundred Percent Completion project, I had started over from scratch on Beyond Good & Evil after having made no real headway in the game a few years back when I originally picked it up.  I made some decent progress this time and I recall having been enjoying it for the most part, but for some now-forgotten reason, I set it aside (as is my wont, obviously) and essentially left it for dead.  Move forward seven months or so: after completing Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, I decided to move on to Gears of War and Beyond Good & Evil, with the idea that I didn’t have too much work left on either of them, and it would be nice to knock ’em out before Halo 3.  As it turns out, I wasn’t really that far into either of them, although Gears seems short enough to finish quite quickly regardless.  The real surprise, though, was not my lack of progress on Beyond, but rather the sucktasticality of it.  The controls are much looser than I recall from before, making it difficult to move through the game properly; the performance of the game was lackluster, with lot of hiccups and slowdowns, as if the PS2 couldn’t handle what are, really, some unspectacular graphics; the camera gets stuck in strange spots rather easily, preventing me from telling where I was or what I was doing.

I’ll be the first to admit that the storyline is quite interesting, and the setting has a lot of potential, but during this third attempt of mine to get through this game I’ve realized something that many people seem to want to deny, which is that a good story cannot truly save a bad-to-mediocre game. The fact is, I’m actually rather pissed off about this whole situation, as I had fond memories from my run at the game earlier this year, and I was looking forward to getting in and finishing it up.  Turns out, it’s going to be much more of a chore than I had initially expected.

Speaking of partly-brilliant but tragically-flawed games, I finished Metroid Prime: Hunters this afternoon.  While I understand that Nintendo was trying to use Hunters as a bit of a spin-off from the main-line Metroid games, allowing them to utilize the DS’s wifi for an unprecedented portable multiplayer experience, I still feel like I kinda got ripped off on the single-player aspect.  The game is a wonderful showpiece for the DS, illustrating just how powerful and versatile the little machine can be.  When the only upgrades available in the game are new weapons, however, it quickly stops feeling like a proper Metroid.  Where’s my Space Jump?  My new visors?  My new armor suits?  Instead of these items allowing for more interesting explorations, Hunters only offers six special weapons to find, giving Samus a total of eight weapons (the six special weapons plus her trusty Power Beam and Missiles, of course), more than in any other Metroid before or since.  This is great news for multiplayer, as more choice means more fun, I suppose, but given that I tend to dislike playing multiplayer, and given that Metroid is traditionally a single-player game, I find Hunters to be a disappointment.  Anyway, here’s hoping for a proper Prime on the DS in the future.  In the meantime, I believe I’ll switch my focus back over to the PSP, taking on either Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters or Killzone: Liberation.


Scurge: Hive

September 20, 2007

I completed Scurge: Hive this morning before work. I was able to get the list updated during the day, but couldn’t find the time to post properly about it. The game was short (a little over 12 hours), but it felt wretchedly long. The problem is that there isn’t a lot of variety to the game. Every area you enter, you have exactly the same goal, which you go about in exactly the same way. If I wasn’t on a mission here, the game would’ve been ignominiously relegated to the never-to-be-finished stack with nary a regret. Which, as bad as this all sounds, is not to say that it’s a bad game. In fact, despite some pretty hefty swiping from the Metroid series, it still seems to have a feeling of originality to it overall. I was particularly fond of the weapon system, wherein each enemy type (biological, mechanical, and energy-based) was weak to one weapon, but would receive a boost from another. For example, mechanical enemies will take extra damage from the EMP beam, but if you hit an energy-based creature with it, not only will no damage be dealt, but that creature’s speed and attack power will increase. There were quite a few spots where swarms of all three enemy types would come at me, requiring some pretty nimble weapon switching.  I suppose given the low cost and relatively quick boost to my percentage, Scurge was worthwhile… but I won’t be clamoring for a sequel.


Two Primes down, one to go…

September 16, 2007

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, while ostensibly the final Metroid game in the Prime series, is not the final Metroid game on my list. With yesterday afternoon’s completion of Corruption, that distinction falls to the sadly-uninspired Metroid Prime: Hunters on the DS. Metroid Prime 3, I must say, was great despite the low difficulty. There were some challenges to be had through the game, but nothing like the frustration of trying to track down the Sky Temple keys in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. In fact, this was the first of the Prime games in which I actually attained 100%, and I didn’t even consult a FAQ to do it. There are two factors introduced in this game that made such a feat possible: bookmarking and unlockable in-game, on-map item locations.

Honestly, it’s the little things like that which truly made Corruption as good as it is. Every time I would spot a missile expansion or other unreachable upgrade, I was able to highlight the room that contained it using the bookmark feature, making it a cinch to head back there when I had obtained the necessary means to reach it. Eventually I reached a particular room that allowed me to set up my maps to show each and every one of the expansions, as well as which ones had been collected and which ones not. Another cool little touch is an integrated Wiimote battery meter in Samus’ helmet. Take a look at some screenshots of the game, and you may notice some blue lights on the top of Samus’ helmet just above the energy indicator on the visor itself. In some of the screenshots there are two bars lit up, in others there are three. While playing through the game I had actually failed to notice these until I was down to one bar and it began to switch between yellow and blue light. I remained confused on the purpose of the lights until finally that last light switched to red and a message popped up on my visor warning me that my battery was running low.

Next up, then, is going to be either Beyond Good & Evil, as I believe I’m quite far into it and shouldn’t have too much trouble completing it in a fairly speedy manner, or Gears of War. With Halo 3 just around the corner, I’m hoping for (although certainly not expecting) another burst of completions like unto that which preceded the coming of Bioshock last month. On the portable front, Scurge: Hive is coming right along, and should be knocked out quite soon, freeing up my DS for Metroid Prime: Hunters, assuming that I can actually figure out what I was last doing in that game. I fully expect, however, to be confounded when I make my next attempt at Hunters, as there really is no mechanism in the game (so far as I recall, at least) to keep track of where I need to go next, and it’s been far too long since I last played it for me to remember.