Last Week’s Gaming – March 23rd, 2020

Ticket To Ride

So my first week of working from home is complete. Gearing up for week 2.

Hi everyone.

Rabbit and I have been pretty sick this week, so we both worked from home while resting up and getting better. All up we are both fine, but with the current issues, it’s better to be safe and isolate ourselves.

There are prices to pay. Mainly I didn’t get to play board games with Alpal again this week like I was looking forward to doing. At least I know she got some Steam game inspiration from last week’s article. 😀

On the plus side, I have had time to sit and start tinkering with my recording/streaming setup! This has me excited for sharing my reactions to video games and stepping up the Talking Tech articles as well. I will share some more thoughts about all this below. 😀

Potion Explosion – Android/Steam

Writing my digital board game article, I realised I hadn’t played Potion Explosion for a while. So I took the opportunity to fix that. 🙂

I still only play against AI opponents, because I don’t have to wait on people on the internet. I can get many games in with the AI compared to a single game online. If that is your biggest complaint about a game, you know something is going right with the gameplay. 🙂

Next week if I play again, I have set myself a challenge to start playing with the potion/Professor combinations more. I have one single combo (basically the default settings) that I tend to play with. I feel like I am limiting myself with the possibilities by doing this.

I will let you know how that little experiment goes next week. 🙂

Potion Explosion
I need to give to give other potions a good run. I have played the same combo for a couple of years now!

Ticket to Ride – Xbox/Steam

While I have played the digital version of Ticket to Ride recently, I realised I had to play it again to grab some screenshots.

Oh no, what an awful position to find myself in!

Also talked about in last week’s digital board game article, all of my thoughts on Ticket to Ride hold true. Want a game you can sit back and enjoy? Ticket to Ride should be on most people’s short lists.

Eventually, pattern recognition will kick in and people will be battling for routes at a cutthroat pace. This is where the expansions come in – for very little money, you can almost get a new game!

Ticket To Ride
I came so close! This is fairly typical of my 5 player scoring though 🙂

One Deck Dungeon – Steam

Like I wasn’t going to give this little dungeon run another go. 🙂

I am getting to the point I am thinking of buying the expansion to play on PC. I have the stand-alone expansion Forest of Shadows physically. Still, as I have said, I love the quick play digitally.

There is a new poison mechanic introduced in Forest of Shadows, as well as new potions, rooms and monsters. There are also new heroes to play with. As I said, you can play Forest of Shadows stand alone, but you can also bring across your powered up original heroes as well.

That’s another one we will have to wait and see what I do next week. 🙂

One Deck Dungeon
Now you know why the Yeti hides from me :p

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore – Switch

I didn’t get too into Tokyo Mirage this week. That said, my Switch is sitting next to the bed for a quick round or two anytime.

The combat so far is relatively repetitive, and the pacing is throwing me off quite a bit. Exploration feels awkward in Tokyo, as you have many small areas to explore but fixed camera angles. That, coupled with the Japanese Pop Idol subplot, has me skipping text more than I thought I would.

That said, the bite-sized nature of the adventure makes for a great break between the more action-heavy games I am playing. I know exactly what I am supposed to be doing days later with the objective and Topic system.

Hopefully, I will get more into it again when I have finished the extra stuff I am doing at the moment.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore
Flashy moves are great, but like Summons in Final Fantasy get a bit boring

Control – PS4 Pro

I played this a lot early in the week, but hope to pick it back up Sunday. The uneasy feeling that the start of the game me has passed, and I am pretty sure that’s because I haven’t been subjected to more Threshold Kids videos! 😀

Power-wise I am doing pretty well. I have now unlocked levitating and started claiming more Objects of Power. The game is excellent, and now I want to spend a couple of hours backtracking and tackling side missions.

Now that I have gotten into the game, I am 99% certain that this will be my next Platinum Trophy run. The same locations in the Oldest House are a bit repetitive, but combat has been nicely ramping up. Now I am getting into the exploration and collectable aspects as well.

I just need to make time to finish Control before the full release of the next game. 🙂

Control
Having a chill time turning enemies into friends 🙂

Resident Evil 3: Racoon City Demo – Xbox One S, PC

Resident Evil 2 last year was a game I basically inhaled. I didn’t Platinum it, and I probably never will. Not because I don’t enjoy it, but because some of the requirements just seem a little out of reach for my skill level.

I can dedicate time and get better at the game, but I have so many other games I want to play it will feel like work.

In a couple of weeks, the remake of Resident Evil 3 comes out, and I can’t wait to play it! So it was with glee on Friday I downloaded the demo on every platform I can play it on. 🙂

But this takes me into a side project I have been playing with the last couple of days…

Resident Evil 3 Racoon City Demo
No scary screens here. But even on the Xbox One X, I love the reflections the devs managed to get working in this engine!

Coming Soon – DOOM Eternal!

I preordered and even preloaded Doom Eternal in preparation for last Friday’s release.

Usually, I don’t play first-person shooters. Destiny and Doom are two notable exceptions to this, and I have given away Destiny 2. But Doom 2016 bought back great memories of the original games, and I am looking forward to playing this reboot/remake going forward.

And then I thought about it. What if I recorded my initial reactions for a game I have been looking forward to? So I have been tweaking my setup using the Resident Evil 3 Demo as my test setup!

This means I can start also planning videos for my Talking Tech articles, hopefully making them a bit easier for you. It also means I can finally get into the video projects I have been sitting on, like taking you through old games I loved back in the day. 🙂

Streaming Test
Getting the setup sorted. It's close!

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Final Fantasy VII Remake Demo Impressions

FF7 Remake Demo Feature

Calling it a Game Preview or a Demo Review feels wrong.

So earlier this week, Square Enix quietly dropped the demo for Final Fantasy VII remake on PSN. I had it downloaded within 2 hours, but I couldn’t play it until the next night.

Hey, you know what it’s like. You could start playing for an unknown amount of time now, or save it until tomorrow night and have a reward for getting through another day 😀

I have finished Final Fantasy VII maybe 15-16 time? Just over a dozen. I know this as for 10 years, I played Final Fantasy VII every October as an annual play.

It is the same demo that was available at PAX Aus 2019 and isn’t the ‘new’ preview that reviewers have gotten their hands on. It took me just over an hour to finish the demo, compared to the section of boss fight I got to play last year.

TL;DR: If you are interested in the game, play the demo. It’s just long enough and shows off the new game brilliantly.

Wait, that’s it? Play the Demo?

No, that’s just if you want to experience it for yourself without hearing anything about the game. True, if you are reading this, you want to know about it, but I like to leave the choice 🙂

If you are like me and of that age that you remember the original release, this demo has another facet that might interest you. Remember in the build-up to Final Fantasy VIIs release on PS1? Remember that demo we all played over and over again that came with Official PlayStation Magazine or your local equivalent?

This is the same demo remade. Same mission, same endpoint, same urge to play it over and over again. If you want to know if Square Enix is doing this just for the money, look at this. Are they remaking because of the commercial success anything with Final Fantasy VII on it? Of course, that’s a factor.

Midgar
I was in awe when I first saw this screen. That feeling as not diminished.

But to quietly remake the demo to that level and not blast the PR trumpet? This is a game being built with love, and it shows.

So what did you think?

I don’t think many people haven’t seen the new graphical style of Final Fantasy VII Remake. I have been trying to avoid spoilers, but headlines and opinions in podcasts make it through.

The game is beautiful. One thing that I love is there is virtually no transition between exploring Midgar and combat. Random encounters, at least in this first ‘tutorial’ section of the game, don’t seem to exist. I have mixed feelings about this. It’s harder to over level your characters, which is a tactic I use in any RPG. At least if you want to go explore another corner in a room, you don’t have 10 minutes of extra combat because of surprises.

If it wasn’t already obvious, Square Enix has really earned the Remake moniker. Final Fantasy VII Remake might have the same core story, but it’s an entirely different game. From the start of the game, turning left after the train (veterans know what I am talking about) smoothly transitioned into the station, and the station felt bigger.

Hero Landing
As Deadpool said - murder on the knees :p

I thought it would take a long time for anyone to challenge Capcom in this area. Resident Evil 2 Remake was just so good, and I can’t wait to play Resident Evil 3 soon. My original plan was playing bursts of Final Fantasy VII in between other games.

Nope. All other video games will be put on hold until I finish Final Fantasy VII Remake.

What did you think about the changes? How was the combat?

Remembering I have only played a small slice of the game; overall, I love the changes made so far. You now have smashable crates to explore as well as chests. There are plenty of areas to go and explore in a now-familiar open-world setting. The changes they made you can see are things they couldn’t do on the PlayStation 1.

Sure, some things they could have implemented like smashable crates. But the number of new areas to explore just in the demo would have made Final Fantasy VII 10+ discs!

Level Exploration
It's easier than randomly mashing X to find a secret, and looks cool

I was worried about the length of the game when I heard that the Remake was becoming episodic. After playing the Demo, I’m good 😀
Sure, I will be waiting like everyone else to see what happens outside of Midgar. Waiting bites. But it took me 2-3 times longer to casually investigate my way to the first reactor. I haven’t tried hunting yet – I am leaving that for the full release.

Combat I am still trying to come to grips with. Overall it’s excellent, and I am enjoying it. The tactic of swapping between different characters during combat or issuing commands feels good. Waiting for your ATB gauge to fill to use some of your skills like materia feels like Final Fantasy VII. Still, a lot of fights I just wailed on the enemy with the attack button.

Unlike Final Fantasy XV which felt like ‘Hold Attack To Win’, Final Fantasy VII Remake has a combo system. Nothing crazy, but you can time swings or hold attack for a combo. It’s not dexterity heavy, and it’s not as slow as turn-based. It’s a solid middle ground I think most players will enjoy.

First Control Tutorial
The demo drops you straight into the action. The tutorial is solid, and not overly intrusive

There are a couple of downsides, though. I keep hitting R2 to run during combat, and I don’t know why. I hit the run button, but that opens commands during battle. I don’t seem to be able to run during fights? I can roll away with evade, but running towards an enemy when they leap away appears to be a no-no. This could be user error, not a shortcoming.

And you know something? That’s my biggest complaint!

Spoilers?

Not here. Saying the demo takes you to the end of the first Mako Reactor isn’t really a spoiler. You know the original and have an idea, or you have never played, and the words are meaningless.

When I was playing, I was hoping for a save point so I could call it a night. I was also hoping I could continue my play from the demo in the main game. You can’t. You will have to play the first section again, no matter what.

Generally in a Final Fantasy game, the first 2-5 hours are a lot of story setup and boring to replay over and over. The demo will have you replay the opening again, but you don’t go far enough in that it’s a chore. You also get enough of a tease on story changes without making seeing them again a chore.

Mako Reactor
I always pictured rivers of Mako in the original, but this looks so amazing!

So your verdict?

No rating here, as it’s just thoughts on a demo. But if you are interested or on the fence about Final Fantasy VII Remake, play the demo. You will have enough of a look at the gameplay to let you know if you want to play it or not.

Personally, this is just another reason I can’t wait for April. I will probably be hitting this hard during the Easter long weekend, and I think I will love every second of it 😀

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Resident Evil 2 – 1 Shot Demo Review

Resident Evil 2 Cover
Resident Evil 2 Cover
Released 2019
Platform PS4 Pro (Reviewed), XBox One, PC
Publisher Capcom (Website)
Developer Capcom (Website)
Homepage Website
Players 1
Category Survival Horror

One more time around the block has taken on a whole new meaning

I am a Resident Evil fan – to a point.  The series kind of died for me after Resident Evil 4.  The more ‘run and gun’ style of 5 and 6 just didn’t quite do it for me, but Resident Evil 7 definitely took steps to bring me back to the fold.

And so it has been with great interest I have been following the news on the Resident Evil 2 Remake.  Remaking a game that pushed so many boundaries with a technically impressive engine was always going to have my attention.

But something other than just a new shiny coat is being applied to Resident Evil 2.  We are getting a true remake of a masterpiece.

The roots of the game are more or less identical, but the details are being tweaked and new puzzles and mechanics introduced.  Things that just couldn’t happen in 1988.

The police station is being expanded, story elements are being cleaned up, and the puzzles and paths will be new.  If you think you won’t have trouble because you have mastered the original game, think again!

Resident Evil 2 That Timer
30 minutes. It sounds so long, and then you start playing.

So what is the 1-Shot Demo?

It’s more or less exactly what it sounds like – a demo that you can play once.  For 30 minutes to be exact.

Now there are plenty of workarounds to this, mostly consisting of starting up with multiple accounts, but there really doesn’t seem to be too much incentive to do this.

You can’t save from what I can work out, so nothing is going to travel across to the ‘real’ game.  There may be a way to get an item as a bonus in game, similar to the dirty coin in Resident Evil 7, but I don’t think so.  The Resident Evil 7 demo was a long drawn out evolving experience, this is 30 minutes on the eve of the formal release.

But I could be wrong.

So I start the demo and instantly miss the booming ‘Resident Evil’ as you start.  Ahh well, it is only the demo I suppose.

Playing the Demo

There is a way apparently to ‘finish’ the demo with both Leon and Claire but I came nowhere near doing this.

I was having way too much fun exploring the police station instead of trying my best to ‘solve’ the game.  That said though, I played enough to be excited about the full game coming out on the 25th!

The demo opens at the front desk of the Racoon City police station.  Immediately I was enjoying the light work and feeling of the building, just like I did at the start of Resident Evil 7.

Resident Evil 2 Demo Begins
Ahh. Raccoon City Police Department. The years have been kind!

The controls were the same more or less as 7, so I started running around and exploring immediately.  On-screen prompts began appearing, so if this was your first time playing a Resident Evil game you would know what you were doing pretty quickly.

The updated controls were definitely welcome.  The old ‘tank’ controls were a staple, but that doesn’t mean they were great to play with!

Moving around and looking at everything in the over the shoulder view was amazing, and instantly removed a lot of the fixed camera angle frustrations we all had with the original games.  Want to look behind the screen?  Move behind the screen and look – it’s that simple.  No more ‘walk behind and click like crazy hoping you hit the right spot’ shenanigans of the old days.

Resident Evil 2 Whats behind the desk
If you can see it, you can probably walk to it. The footprints also may be a clue someone can walk there.

Wandering around the foyer, I was taking my time and slowly examining everything.  I was enjoying the graphical treat of my eyes, and even playing with the sound coming from my TV I could hear nuances in the footsteps that made me smile.

In the middle of the area, a huge statute with three circular impressions was clearly visible.  I wonder what needs to be put in here?

And this is where some people lose it with Resident Evil.  Why are there three medallions needed to open a secret chamber in a police station?  Why is everything protected by items that require backtracking and weird logic?

Because.  It’s not a great answer, but it is the best I can come up with – sorry.  If these sort of puzzles annoy you, don’t play Resident Evil, at least the earlier ones.

Resident Evil 2 What Goes Here
Location for 3 empty collectable pieces. It's either a secret passage or a big reward.

Later titles seemed to have easier puzzles overall, but the insane security and inventory management is a series staple – you can either roll with it or go mad trying to work it out.

At this point, I smiled.  I got a warm feeling inside, and I stopped for a minute.  This was indeed taking me back to the Resident Evil I fell in love with, and I was only a couple of minutes into the demo.

My brain had already fallen back into the old style of thinking.  I was actively looking for the clues and areas that just don’t fit to find the medallions I needed for the secret passage I already knew was there, even before the story told me about it.

I found what I knew would hold one of the three medallions straight away – a shield with a curiously round central area and a combination lock. conveniently close to the central area.  Again, this is a staple of the series – multi-part puzzle?  The first piece is right next to you, but you will have to go elswhere to work out how to unlock it!

Resident Evil 2 What could be found here
I need round things, and this obviously has a round opening. Could it be connected?

And where would you go?  To the big door that says ‘Keep Out’ obviously.  True, this is partial knowledge from trailers and other players talking about their experience.  But really, if you have finished any Resident Evil game, you know what to do.

And from here I will stop explaining what I was doing and thinking as I worked my way through the game.  If you are smart, you won’t spend the first seven precious minutes looking around the first room of a timed demo like I did.

But I loved every second I spent doing it!

Resident Evil 2 Now where should I go
Keep Out. Good advice. No one would ever leave anything in here I would need later.

What was right

The controls were great and felt even more responsive that Resident Evil 7.  Audio, as I mentioned, was fantastic barring a couple of hiccups I am hoping are demo related.

There was an area of wet floor that you splash as you enter, then have ‘normal’ footsteps in water up to your ankles.

As I said, hopefully it was just demo related, but playing Resident Evil 2 with the PlayStation Surround Sound headphones is going to be amazing if Resident Evil 7 is any indication!

Graphically the series has never looked better.  I enjoyed the look of Resident Evil 7, but the same run-down areas got a little boring after a while.  Looking through one floor of the police station, each office and room had its own particular feel.

Sometimes it was visual, like the administration area or locker room.  Sometimes it was the audio again – wooden floors vs tiled for example.

Also the zombies – oh the Zombies.  In Resident Evil 7, while characters looked great the Molded all looked very samey.  Here, each Zombie so far has had a distinct look that has been interesting to watch.

Resident Evil 2 Exploring the Station
You may wonder what is so amazing about the graphics here. Play it and see - trust me 🙂

There are also some new mechanics and tricks I either don’t remember from the original or have been added.

One such trick is you can now board up windows in the Police Station to stop Zombies from breaking in.  I am assuming this will come in handy later in the game, helping to create choke points so you don’t get overrun.

Not all changes help you though.  For example, your combat knife – a required tool to get past that otherwise indestructible yellow tape – know can break.  Yep, weapon destructibility (at least for one weapon) is now a part of Resident Evil.

I don’t mind a challenge, but items breaking is rarely something I appreciate.  It’s not enough to put me off at all, but I know players that won’t play Breath of the Wild because of items breaking.

And end game shenanigans remain in full force apparently!

Once you finish the demo, you get to see some new trailers.  One such trailer confirms Hunk returning, otherwise known as the 5th survivor.

This was a harder mode where you played a smaller story with all of your items given to you at the start of the game.  While you begin well armed, you need to keep your items close as you can’t pick anything up during the story.

If you can beat this mode, there is also one of the most ridiculous and hardest modes I ever remember playing – the Tofu survivor.

Resident Evil 2 Tofu Survivor
The toughest piece of soy product you will ever meet.

This may be a joke scenario and character in a lot of ways, but this is the hardest mission in Resident Evil 2.  Basically a replay of the 4th survivor, but you have only a combat knife and a few herbs for the whole game – only the best can finish this mode.

I was never one of them in my youth.

But everything I played in this demo confirmed my hopes and soothed a lot of my concerns.  Resident Evil 2 2019 is on track to be an amazing game for series veterans and newbies alike.

There is still plenty of opportunity for Resident Evil 2 to let me down.  You can’t rate an entire game on a 30-minute window of playtime.  But almost all of my concerns have evaporated.  I am truly looking forward to playing Resident Evil 2 again.

Resident Evil 2 Good Tidings
Such a happy place to come back to after all these years

I just hope Square Enix is taking note.  Want to rebuild a fan favourite?  Looks like Capcom has nailed how to do it.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Resident Evil 2 - 1 Shot Demo

Final Thoughts

It’s a free demo, available for another couple of weeks.  You can grab it on Steam for PC, or the PlayStation Store/Microsoft Store for PS4 and Xbox respectively.

If you are unsure of what a Resident Evil game is, grab yourself a copy of the demo.  If this doesn’t grab you, neither will the full game – that simple.

But for me, I still have one major regret.  Why does Resident Evil 2 have to come out 4 days before Kingdom Hearts 3?  Too many great games coming!

Overall
7/10
7/10

Pros

  •  Demo shows not just a nostalgia cash grab
  •  Taking an ambitious project to new heights with modern tricks

Cons

  •  30 minutes flies by
  •  It’s a Resident Evil game – not for everyone