Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Listen Up, Pendejos!

Garcia Fucking Hotspur is in town to wreck everybody's shit.  At least, that's how I felt when I started playing Shadows of the Damned earlier today.  Yes, it's a new year, but the nominations over at PA haven't gone up (which is a little suspicious and disheartening) so everything I get in before that point (Or, like, the 9th when I made my first post in the series of GotY posts last year) I'm counting towards last year played.  It's sort of cheating, I know, but damnit, I can't not count Shadows of the Damned (and Sonic Generations, which I'm likely going to try out tomorrow) towards GotY after playing it since I haven't voted/made my list quite yet.  It's that good which just makes me all the more excited for Lollipop Chainsaw that just had a new (sort of annoying to watch) trailer go up.

I do have my complaints, but they're fairly negligible and I've eliminated one fairly completely already:  the controls.  As soon as I started in the tutorial (which was fantastic, btw) and I started aiming, I went, "ohhh nooooooo" because I started flashing back to RE4.  I have just never been able to find RE4's aiming controls 'precise' by any measure of the word, which means my cursor just sort of flies around, which means I can't do well at the game.  While Shadows of the Damned is inherently better than RE4 (I was going to add the quantifier of "in this department" here but, nah) for allowing you to move while aiming it still had the same fly-around, loose aiming that I'd come to loathe.  So I had to do what I've never done in a game (in recent knowledge) and go into the sensitivity and adjust it to waaaaaay down, I think to the two bar point.  It's a -lot- better now.  Once the game gave me a melee option on top of that....yeah.  I'm good.  It's good.

The voice-work is quite enjoyable, even going into the endearing range at certain points (storybook time with Johnson, for example) and I have no real complaints with that so far, aside from the fact that the animations don't always quite match them.  Which is not so much a problem with the VA as it is with the animation department, obviously, but a disconnect between the two bears mentioning them both.  For a moment, I didn't even notice Steve Blum starring as Steve Blum starring as Garcia Hotspur, which I think says a lot for his work in the game.  Sure, you know it's him eventually, but at the start, you just get to enjoy the accent for what it is and even after you get that, even if you're trying to think of all the other roles you've heard him in.  His banter/exposition with Johnson as you go on is quite nice as well - very funny and enjoyable without coming off as too forced, despite Johnson being your tutorial vessel for the start of the game which I'm still in.

What I'm most surprised about is the general atmosphere the game has, as it's quite honestly schizophrenic....but in a good way.  The banter and such between Garcia and Johnson distract from the fact that you're playing a game that can actually unnerve you at points, like when you stop to take a look at just where in the hell (pun not intended) you are only to realize that there's a pile of corpses nearby or a hellish bramble growing up out of the ground, looking a distinct blood color.  Or, as per a moment earlier that managed to completely take away my grin and replace it with a slight unnerving feeling, when I went down an inclined road to get some ammo and was followed by a compliment of rolling, groaning severed heads, of which I didn't realize what they were until I stopped and went back down to double-check on them.  It's a nice blend, I think, and one I'm pretty interested in following further.

Something else I have to say for the game is that either I'm just really good at it, or it is really intuitive with showing what it wants you to do without outright telling you first, obviously waiting to see if you need a bit of friendly advice before shoving it down your throat.  I've had two boss fights so far (though I suspect the first was just a mini-boss) and with both, it was easy enough to look at them and figure out exactly what I needed to do with them both.  I actually felt like the game taught me its mechanics without telling me them which is something we're sadly lacking these days.  Without giving too much away, after exposing the weak points of both bosses I fought against, the second reminded me of the first for a very obvious reason, which let me know to start shooting it, which I think is just what we need.  No hand-holding, no "Okay, this is what you have to do, don't forget to breathe..." levels of over-exposure, just the game sitting back in its chair and watching you play it, looking to see if you struggle before letting you know "Hey, you need to do this." and reclining back once more.  This might change later on, but I'm fairly impressed with it currently which is a statement that goes through for pretty much the entire rest of the game.

On the whole, I've just really enjoyed Shadows of the Damned even for what little I've played of it, and I'm fairly glad that I've skewed my own system to let it into the runnings for my GotY.  Not sure where it's going to be placed (nor am I sure about any of the other games, this is going to be really damn difficult) but it's going in there somewhere.  And aside from that, it's just a really good game, obviously, that I'm glad I decided to throw in despite wanting to destroy thousands of Mobile Suits with DeathScythe Hell some more.  Because goddamn, DeathScythe Hell is badass.  But that's a conversation for another day, obviously, as this has been Shadows of the Damned time.


  1. I know Shadows isn't exactly the type of game one needs to wax philosophical on, but...

    It has such a classic and honest-feeling narrative. C'mon, think back to 80s Nintendo and Capcom fare - some evil monster from beyond the veil has made off with my girlfriend, 'cause he plans to give her some of that hot underworld lovin'. Nuts to that! I'm gonna' dive into hell, kick some ass, and come out the other end with my honey!

    It strips all the subtext away from classic games like Super Mario Bros. and Ghosts N Goblins, and says it flat-out: The King of the Underworld kidnapped your girlfriend, and he intends to sex her up. Get her back.

    There's something very endearing about that.

  2. Yeah. I was honestly surprised that there was barely a cutscene before the tutorial, and then right after that, there was just a very simple cutscene and BAM, Title screen, GAME IS STARTING.

    The whole way it started, really, with the credits before that and such, setting it up like a 'road movie' or whatever it has it sort of billed as....It was really really impressive. It does just draw you right in in the simplest way possible.