Sunday, August 28, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up in Gaming - August 21 - August 27

Earlier this week, I managed to finally beat Darksiders.  It was a long, oftentimes difficult journey, and at parts, I wasn't sure that it was honestly worth it.  I didn't really care for the last.....hour or so of gameplay prior to the end-fight as it just seemed a little....not arbitrary, but it could have been considered a little better.  Even when I took to the final boss fight, I couldn't help but find a thing or two to complain about, but when I won?  When I finally got that ending, all I could do was sit back and tell myself that yes, it was indeed worth it.

That said, there were quite a few cracks in the armor that only seemed to get bigger and bigger as the game went on, which only frustrated the whole experience more than necessary.  Again, I know the core of most of the frustrations were that I was trying to play the game on Apocalyptic first clip (and, well, -did-, getting like five trophies when I beat it for my efforts.  That was almost worth it alone.) but some of them were very, very clearly design.  Design like the previously grumbled about Voidwalker sections, and, well, every part after that.  (Which isn't much.)  It's hard to say much without spoiling the ending, but I will say that a collect-a-thon is something you base the start of a game around, or throw in towards the start or middle, not something you throw in at the end as a 'key' for the final boss encounter.

Then the final boss itself honestly lacked the sense of scale and grandeur that even some of the other, less-important fights had.  Admittedly, the first part of it was fun for me, if a little paint-by-numbers, but it just went off the deep-end there at the end in a way that honestly would have been better served if they took a page from the pages Uncharted:  Drake's Fortune and made the final boss less about 'fighting' the boss and more about 'getting' to it.  But oh well, it honestly wasn't too challenging, offered more good than bad, and lead directly into the amazing ending that was wholly satisfying.  Even if the whole of Darksiders was 100% worse than it was, that ending alone would have been enough to place Darksiders 2 solidly on my radar, so suffice to say it is there.

In a move sure to surprise no one, after I felt I was sufficiently done with Darksiders for now (Got the Abyssal Armor, but didn't have the desire to go for more than that with the Lifestones and Wrath Cores and such), I took it out, looked at my games, saw Yakuza 4 and remembered "Hey, I shelved that for DW7, and then got distracted" and quickly sought to remedy this by throwing it into the PS3 and starting a new game.  I mean, sure, I was only at the end of Akiyama's section with my last game, but this was an excuse to start the whole game over again, and that's not an excuse I'm going to overlook because, despite not playing it months(?), you all know the Yakuza games are my bread-and-butter.

And honestly, that's why I think I haven't played it for so long.  It's one thing to say you love a game and play it compulsively, but it's a whole other thing to say you love a game and not have to play it to prove as much.  Jumping into Yakuza 4 again just feels natural.  It's a game where I'm not going to get rusty at it, I'm not going to become disinterested because of the passing of time or anything, it's just a game that'll always be there, ready for me when I'm ready for it again.  Other games are challenges to clear, things to get through to see what the hype is about, or things to enjoy, but, much like inFamous 2, Yakuza (of any number) for me is just pure, condensed fun.

And it proved that much when I started it again and won my first (non-tutorial) fight by kicking bicycles at a guy until he fell over, unconscious, walked over to him, grabbed the sword he'd been carrying and proceeded to take out his partner by engaging in a HEAT action, slamming the hilt of the sword into the back of his head over and over again until he fell to the ground and spiked it against his head. (Not the blade part, Akiyama apparently doesn't know how to use a Sword in HEAT)  Grinning in glee, I went around, looking for my next fight and had a right bit of fun by throwing the guys I encountered around a few times and soccer kicking their faces in.  I'm not sure why I had my reservations about Akiyama the first time I started Yakuza 4, honestly; the dude is a fucking boss.

I think one of the best things to say for the game is that it's not a chore to look for sidequests/sidestories like it could be in other games.  Sure, you don't know where all of them are without extensive searching or checking a FAQ, but that's not really an issue as Kamurocho is just a wonder to explore, and I honestly know more about the map layout there than most of the surrounding areas.  Which is....kind of hilarious really.  At one point, the game is like "Go here" and I said to myself "Oh yeah, I just need to make a left here, go straight for a while and then right", like I was telling someone else how to get to the store from my house.  There's just that level of familiarity there which I find a little amusing, personally.  Of course, it won't be that way with the new areas for quite a while, the rooftops and the underground malls and such, but that just adds to the thrill.

I also put some more time into Phantasy Star Portable 2 this week, but, well, that's been the same as always.  I'm slowly edging towards higher levels (My MC is now level 94) but the keyword is 'slowly' and it's not without frustration.  You might have noticed a recent tweet on the sidebar yelling about how everything has a ton of HP and, well, it's true.  It's really rough throwing down against a single enemy for the amount of time you apparently have to, not to mention the damage they deal, but I've been managing to do so enough times to get by.

So, there's that!  Been a pretty good week this week, I should say.

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