Last Week’s Gaming – May 11th, 2020

Sleeping Dogs Tactical Uniform

I don’t know about you, but I have been so tired lately.

The world is as it is right now. Due to work, I haven’t had much real downtime. I have had times that I crash, but that isn’t great, and it has started to take its toll.

So another week without much gaming, up until Saturday where I spent way too much time playing Sleeping Dogs. How much? My controller drained from 100% charge. It was great.

But why tell you about it now? That’s what the entry is for below!

Elder Sign: Omens – PC

I gave this another go this week. Fixed up the screen resolution, so now it looks right when I play.

I only played one game, and I lost badly. Even though the gameplay stops until you make a decision, I was playing distracted and with gaps in gameplay. My team got wiped, mainly because I kept forgetting to see what items they had.

Let that be a lesson for you. Don’t take a ‘simple’ game for granted. Some are designed to punish such lapses in concentration, and Elder Sign fits in this category.

Elder Sign Omens Cthulhu Campaign Start
I haven't played a hard campaign for a while. Jumped straight to Cthulhu. Oops.

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4

I tried to get into Final Fantasy again last weekend. I am really looking forward to playing this through, but I was really not in the right frame of mind to play it.

Work has stretched me mentally for a few weeks, and I saved right before essentially a boss fight with Rude. After not playing for a week, I like a ‘normal’ fight to get the muscle memory kicking in again with the controls.

Real-time combat, new boss patterns plus brain rebelling at even minor multitasking lead to a bad time playing. This isn’t what you want to experience when playing games. I have put it down again for a bit, but after a couple of long weekends expect me to come back with renewed vigour to this one.

I did manage to beat Rude first try though. That was satisfying, but I also closed the game without saving. Guess I will have to kick his pretty butt again. 😀

Final Fantasy VII Remake Flower Mural
Earlier in the game, we picked some flowers. This was the result.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Rude
Mid fight cutscene, but it was satisfying to see his glasses broken

John Wick Hex – PS4

This game is the reason I have an Epic Games Store account. Early on in the piece, they were offering $10 credit on purchases to try to bring in people. It worked – I preordered John Wick Hex for about AUD$6.

It came out during PAX 2019. I jumped on and tried to play, but it kept crashing on me. I closed it up, expecting to wait for some patches. And promptly forgot about it.

Well, it came to PS4 last week, so I fired it up. Pure turn-based gameplay sounded right for my frame of mind. I cleared the first couple of levels, and then the crashes started. Again.

I want to get into John Wick Hex. When it works, the gameplay is engaging. The challenges are achievable, just not easy. But the crashing – oh, the crashing. Why.

With no in-round saving (which I agree with, it would be too easy otherwise), having to start and hope the random crash doesn’t happen again is infuriating.

I think I will check out the state of the PC version, and if it’s doing better might try John Wick Hex as an initial streaming choice.

John Wick Hex Gameplay
As you play, everything is cut into time units between turns
John Wick Hex Replay
When you finish a level, you can watch the replay in realtime. It is very satisying - when it works

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

I haven’t really been giving Animal Crossing the love it deserves. I finally got my island to the level that the shop is upgrading. Turnip sales aren’t treating me well – I barely made a profit from last weeks sales. This is on me though – I forgot to check prices until Thursday!

One thing I did do last Friday was start playing with the designer. My first design? Site logo, of course! And I have made it the flag for my island. That was uber satisfying, and I am sure some smart cookie has already made a way to do this better by importing pictures.

Animal Crossing New Flag
This made me happier than I thought it would.

But sitting at my desk with YouTube playing while drawing dots was satisfying. I also paid off my third room. This week, time to start getting the island ready for K.K. Slider!

Also, I watched Show of the Weekend on Sunday finally. The Outside Xbox/Outside Xtra team is excellent to watch and relax to. And last week, they did the show from within Animal Crossing! Check it out if you want to see some friends having a great time in the cutest way possible.

Animal Crossing Flora Leaving
One of my islanders also departed. I miss Flora the Flamingo already.

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition – PS4

Speaking of watching people, a friend of mine spookedshibe began streaming again. She started streaming with Sleeping Dogs, a game that I heard was an overlooked classic from the PS3/Xbox 360 days.

After watching her for a couple of hours, I came away with a lot of interest. Enough that I went and bought it on PSN and started playing it.

Combat is reminiscent of the Batman Arkham series, including environmental takedowns. Missions and adventures are like Grand Theft Auto, but with a mix of humour like Saints Row. Driving is surprisingly reminiscent of Burnout, including achievements for jumps and ‘safe’ driving over 60kph.

There were some frustrations. If you fail a counter, you are exposed for a second or two, just like the Arkham games. There were times though this kind of pause just happened mid-fight. When driving, sometimes I would visibly miss a car, but get launched into the air. It was hilarious to watch, just random.

Given the age of the game and how infrequent these happen though, I will give it a pass. I did one mission that I had to repeat a couple of times because of the combat pause, but it was a unique mission. This will become my explore game between Final Fantasy VII I think.

If you would like to see someone that has played it relive the game, check out spookedshibe’s Twitch channel.

Sleeping Dogs Racing
Stills don't do it justice, but racing really feels like Burnout without the slow motion takedowns
Sleeping Dogs Fighting
Oh, I forgot to mention - you are an undercover cop doing things like this
Sleeping Dogs Tactical Uniform
In a strange game quirk, I can run around in a police uniform, and the triads don't blink at all

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 next time,

JohnHQLD

Final Fantasy 7 First Impressions and Thoughts

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Logo

It’s been 15 years since this has been teased as possible. Now Final Fantasy VII Remake is here.

Final Fantasy VII was my first Final Fantasy game. This is a big reason why to this day it has a special place in my heart. I have found for most people this holds true.

Before anyone jumps up and down, no Final Fantasy VII isn’t the best one. Final Fantasy IX has that honour in my opinion. Final Fantasy X until now was my recommendation for people new to the series.

But enough gushing and praise for Square Enix – want to see me play the first little bit?

As I said repeatedly, if you aren’t sure – get the demo!

This is one episodic series I wouldn’t wait for them all to come out either. It could be years before the next part. Luckily, with 30+ hours of gameplay, you will have plenty to stick your teeth into. 😀

Until next time,

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

More Final Fantasy VII Remake info coming June

It looks like it is coming along nicely!

Last week, Sony had its second State of Play event. It’s still essentially a Nintendo Direct rip-off inspired presentation, but they seem to be finding their feet with the format reasonably well.

I still haven’t had a chance to go into everything they showed in full depth, but the new teaser for the Final Fantasy VII Remake looks amazing!

I don’t quite get a lot of the negatives I hear around this remake.

Is Final Fantasy VII a beloved game? Yes.  For many players around my age, this was their first Final Fantasy game.  That is nostalgia gold right there.

Was it a perfect game?  Nope.  Not by a long shot.  A great game sure, and one I still love playing today, but not perfect by any means.  So why just bring out the identical game again?

So Square is remaking it.  Not HD Remastering, a full-blown remake.  Gameplay that was set because of old limitations can be overhauled, not just the graphics.  Look how well Resident Evil 2 remake has been received – this can be done very, very right.

Personally, I am looking forward to Final Fantasy VII Remake. It may crash and burn horribly, but I want to see what happens before making any judgements!

I am hoping the news coming in June at the ‘Not E3’ Conference will finally include a release date.

What about you?  Is this something you are looking forward to?  What is your favourite Final Fantasy so far?  Let me know on Twitter @JohnHQLD or drop me a line on Facebook!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD