Last Week’s Gaming August 24th, 2020 Escape The Clank Rage Fall

Thumbs up while moving beams try and knock player off platform

Why did I only take one week off? I still got some great gaming in last week though.

I have found when you come back from holidays you can see a pattern. Day one, you spend half the day filtering through emails, then answering emails and meeting requests for the rest of the day.

Day two, you start to get stuck into work fresh. Day three, the ‘Now you are back’ jobs start stacking up.

So while the number of games I played dropped this week, I had a great time playing the games I did get to play. But what did I play? Well, let’s not wait here to find out!

Another game in, another loss. After playing a couple of times now, I am 98% confident that I am playing ‘correctly’ now. My biggest issue is at the moment, the FAQ on the Themeborne site still doesn’t exist.

But, Escape the Dark Sector is fun. Alpal and I had a great time trudging through an adventure, and playing with someone definitely makes a difference.

Escape the Dark Sector gameplay - setup during act one
It's early on in the game, so why not fight and get some items?

Shuffling some cards, picking some dice, and getting straight into a game is great. And the new system means the chances of pulling the same cards over and over in the base game are next to none.

Even playing ‘properly’ though, it’s still a really hard game. We did at least make it to the boss. I even managed to convince Alpal that sneaking around an enemy was better than rolling dice! It was a one-off, but the chances of bad things happening in Escape the Dark games when rolling dice are really high.

Showing our health during gameplay
It was my character that got very smashed. In other news, I will be talking about how to make these reusable in the future.

I got Clank in Space (no, I won’t always use the !) when it first came out in 2017. I never played the original, mainly because of some cheap tactics that didn’t make the game sound fun. Think Deep Sea Adventures type flaws.

Clank in Space fixes a lot of these problems, but I only just played my first game this week with Alpal. And I will be playing it more soon. I had a lot of fun playing, but there was one catch. After one round of Escape the Dark Sector, Clank in Space starting to drag for me at the end of the game. I need to play more to come up with some firmer opinions on the game.

You will probably be hearing about Clank in Space sooner than you think… Keep an eye on the site for more news!

Racing to the artifaccts in Clank! In! Space!
It was a race of techniques. I could move, but not buy much in the way of help. Alpal could buy anything, but would move slowly.

Blood Rage Digital – Steam

So Blood Rage Digital has gotten some new updates. Still no ultrawide screen support, but there have been some other changes.

One that has actually annoyed me a bit is there is now essentially a ‘Are you sure?’ option when playing a card in battle or pillaging. This can be turned off, but it threw the flow of the game for me until I worked this out.

The more exciting tweak to me is the AI difficulty seems to have been worked on. I didn’t see it in the update notes, but I have gone from virtually walking over ‘normal’ AI to having to work for every point.

Scoring for first game of Blood Rage in a while. It's been a long time since I came fourth.
It's been a long time since I came fourth. You could almost guarantee 2nd place with 75+ points before the new udpate.

I am still enjoying the occasional bought of Blood Rage, and I hope that Asmodee Digital continues bringing good adaptions of such games. Developers Exozet is definitely doing their best, and if we look at Blood Rage Digital as a prototype that is being refined, I think there will be many great conversions to come.

Fall Guys – PS4

To say Fall Guys has had a massive amount of coverage lately would be an understatement. As Devolver Digital and Sony have included Fall Guys in PlayStation Plus this month, I thought I would have a look.

What I found surprised me. The premise is simple – you play through five rounds per ‘episode’ and try to be the last contestant in the game. It’s Takeshi’s Castle without those annoying real-world physics.

Race has begun where I am in the middle of a group of other contestants
Fall Guys is like going shopping these days. The activities are fine, if it wasn't for all the other people!

I am finding 3-4 episodes my limit in a play session, but even if you make it through all five rounds, the longest episode didn’t even last 10 minutes. The quick gameplay makes Fall Guys a great distraction or ‘filler’ game. Especially for free!

Saturday night I even got to team with spookedshibe and have a great chat while playing. Both of us would just chat away as we haven’t caught up for a while, and if one of us got eliminated, we would still have fun watching along.

A player trolling others for no real reason
Why is this person holding me back? Who knows! Some players will just play to stop others from finishing. Don't be them.

If you have PlayStation Plus, grab Fall Guys today and give it a play. It looks like there will be 60ish day seasons, so new events should be coming over and over again.

Word of warning though – if you want the Platinum trophy, there will be a lot of luck involved. Get Fall Guys for some fun with friends, not as an easy trophy haul.

Beat Saber – Oculus Quest

So for the last few months, walking 1000 steps in a day was a ‘big’ workout. I am not alone with this being the case. I have a few physical issues which have been plaguing me, and my lack of movement is making them worse.

So, with the house finally pretty much finalised, Beat Saber has come back into my daily routine. Well, that’s the plan. I have only started on Saturday, but I hope to keep at it!

Beat Saber is as good now as the day I first played it. Check out my review if you haven’t heard me gush about this VR game before, and/or this Spotify link if you want to hear the music.

Cutting blocks in Beat Saber
The Quest lets you record your gameplay, but the quality isn't as good as what you see in the headset

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

Last Week’s Gaming – August 3rd, 2020

Fairy Tail - Loading Screen

Looking forward to some holidays! My gaming backlog list is huge!

I am taking next week off work. I am really looking forward to it. There have been some initial experiments in updating the site, but not enough that I have decided what I am going to be doing in that regard.

And very little (if any) is going to be done next week. House pottering and general relaxing is my only real plan. This will undoubtedly include getting to some games I have been trying to get to for ages. Looking at you, 7th Continent!

But that’s all that is coming up. This is Last Week’s Gaming after all. So what have I been getting up to?

I did a review on Tsuro over a year ago, but I haven’t gotten the original game to the table in a very long time.

That got changed last weekend. My brain was fried, and the simple gameplay of Tsuro let me enjoy an old favourite. With only three players, the initial game was simply enjoying flying around making patterns.

It was when we got about half of the board through, the strategy portion clicked for Annabelle. It was her first game, and the theme of ‘just fly around and enjoy yourself’ wasn’t quite clicking. Then, she saw Alpal fly off the board, and it clicked.

For a more ‘gamer’ game, Tsuro of the Seas is still my first recommendation. That said, I haven’t played the newest version – it’s sitting on my shelf of shame.

That needs to be fixed at some point soon.

Tsuro - Out of Mothballs
It's been so long since I played the original. I have never recorded a game before last week!

Keeping in the low energy theme of our gaming day, Alpal bought out Wavelength for the three of us to play.

So we didn’t play it for points or anything, we just took turns giving clues and letting the other two players see how well they went.

Wavelength is a very simple concept. The clue giver chooses a card that shows and spins a wheel behind a cover to randomly pick a position on a scale. You then give a clue, and the other players try to pick where on the scale it sits.

Wavelength - Protein Shake
Our first spot on guess for the day. Annabelle and I have the same take on Protein Shakes!

For example, Annabelle picked a scale of Sustenance and Haute Cuisine. The clue was “Protein Shakes”. And yes, I am very proud of getting the first ‘bang on’ answer with Alpal on this one.

Teams normally get points based on how close they are, and from memory (it’s been a while) first team to 12 wins? Don’t quote me on that.

One of the best parts of this style of games is you can play it as you want. We just kept playing until we were done, and it was a great way to end the afternoon.

Fairy Tail – PS4 / Switch

That’s not a typo – I have Fairy Tail on both PS4 and Switch! Why? A turn-based RPG is a perfect complement to the Switch, but performance can also be a thing. Plus, I had planned on a comparison at some point.

I have mainly played on PS4, playing about 20-25 minutes on the Switch so far. During combat, everything runs great on Switch. Walking around in the world, there is noticeable choppiness when moving the camera around.

But, that’s the technical side. What’s it play like?

Fairy Tail - Over the top combat
Turn based combat with some Quick Time Events. But it's just as ridiculously over the top as the source material.

I am still very much in early game mode. Lots of fetch quests, and building up my team. The reason for starting from scratch has been introduced in such a way you don’t need to be a fan of the anime/manga to know what’s going on.

You are part of a guild of magic users that has been trapped in a stasis-like state for 7 years. In that time, your guild has fallen on hard times, and you need to rebuild the guild to its former glory.

That’s it. If you don’t know about Natsu, Gray, Erza and Lucy that’s fine. The game introduces characters at a reasonable pace, and character quests give insights into your team mates.

Fairy Tail - The Map Opens Up
I am very early in the game. There are plenty of areas of Fiore to explore still!

If you want frantic action-based combat or vast exploration possibilities, Fairy Tail won’t be a game for you based on what I have played. I have unlocked a couple of areas on the map, but each area is quite small with the same items/monsters spawning.

This could change later in the game, but I can see some people being bored with the slow start and repetitive nature in the first couple of hours of gameplay.

I will pick up Fairy Tail pretty regularly, as it is built for pick up and put down type play. If you are a fan of the series, I am very much enjoying what I have played so far.

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

Destroy All Humans! Remake Launch Date Announced!

Excited for another round of fun alien invasion madness!

Last year, I got all excited when THQ Nordic and Black Forest Games announced a revisit of a PlayStation 2 favourite. Destroy All Humans! isn’t a game for some, but it lets you take the aliens side in a B-movie parody setting.

This is a video game! Isn’t Wednesday supposed to be about exciting Kickstarters and the like? 

I tried. I hit a bit of a wall this week though.

Frosthaven is going great guns, and Resident Evil 3 from Steamforged Games went live today as well.

Frosthaven Cover Art
Excited it exists? YEP! AUD$250ish excited? Not right now...
Resident Evil 3 Board Game
Well made, but the gameplay didn't really click with me

I haven’t finished with Gloomhaven yet (not even really started!) so biding my time on Frosthaven. As for Resident Evil 3 – the minis are great, but Resident Evil 2 didn’t really click with me. This makes it hard to be enthusiastic about the follow-up.

Mainstream wise, no new announcements have really grabbed my attention either. Seems to be a slow week.

But knowing when I will be able to play Destroy All Humans!? That is worth getting excited about!

So what is Destroy All Humans!?

Players take control of Cryptosporidium 137 and make your way through various missions in this open-world adventure game. You play along with various cold-war era sci-fi tropes, such as rescuing a previous visitor and extracting human DNA for study.

Honestly, the original gameplay is pretty basic. You play Destroy All Humans! for the humour of the story and missions more than anything else.

The humour can be very sophisticated at times, and well in the toilet at others. Anal probes are a weapon choice and make it simple to extract DNA (think currency). Time appropriate pop references are also included. You can also scan the minds of other humans to help your concentration in stealth missions. This leads to some incredibly funny dialogue choices at times.

To get an idea of the kind of humour involved, if the reveal trailer doesn’t at least make you smile – probably avoid this game. 😀

So when is the release date?

Oh yeah, that would be helpful, wouldn’t it? July 28th is when I will be going to pick up my DNA Collectors Edition. I couldn’t help myself, the statue is awesome!

Destroy All Humans DNA Collectors Edition
It's not often I grab these versions, but I can see that UFO on my shelf 🙂

So early August, expect to hear me talking about my first impressions and hands-on with another revisit of the past 🙂

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Resident Evil 3 Review – Seeing S.T.A.R.S.

Resident Evil 3 Cover
Released 2020
Platform PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher Capcom (Website)
Developer Capcom (Website)
Homepage (Visit Website)
Players 1
Category Survival
Horror
Action

2019’s Resident Evil 2 may have set some expectations too high.

I am one of those people that grew up playing the Resident Evil series. I was in my early 20’s when I first played the original, and I still jump when the dogs first jump through the window.

Resident Evil 5 and 6 have not had a great time review wise over the years. I appreciate Capcom’s attempts to try new things. Still, I didn’t get excited about Resident Evil 7 until I played the demo. Gone was the heavily action-oriented gameplay. ‘Returning to your roots’ is on overused cliche description, but here, it fits.

First, let me clear the elephants in the room.

To play through Resident Evil 3 doesn’t take long, especially compared to modern games. My first playthrough was about 6 hours of playtime. For a fully priced title, this has some people crying foul.

Here’s the thing – the original game was also short. Replay was promoted in trying to achieve multiple endings, which can be fun to watch. It doesn’t change the fact that you play vast portions of the game over and over again.

The remake removes the multiple endings, and also some gameplay mechanics as they were linked. But if you stick with it, the higher difficulty modes add back a lot of the elements people were saying was missing. Playing on nightmare randomises enemy types and positions, but most people haven’t highlighted this in their scathing reviews.

Resident Evil 3 PlayStation Original
20 years ago, this was cutting edge graphics

The more significant issue to me is the price. Bottom line, Resident Evil 3 2020 is a bundle game. You get the remake, and you get a new multiplayer game – Resistance.

I am not interested in blind multiplayer games. I don’t want to join up with a whole lot of people I don’t know and play a game. Now, this is a personal game decision – I would rather play with people I know and have a fun catch up as we play.

As such, I haven’t even started up Resistance. But I have had to buy it to play the game I do want to play. I can see both sides on this one.

Getting more Resident Evil is rarely a bad thing to me, but I would rather have paid AUD$60 per game or maybe have an AUD$100 bundle option.

Resident Evil Resistance
I'm not saying it's a bad game, just I am not interested in it

If you do want to play Resident Evil 3 but like me don’t like the online multiplayer vs type games, wait until it’s on sale. But this review is all about the main Resident Evil 3 game, in all its single-player glory.

This definitely isn’t your standard Resident Evil build-up.

Resident Evil, and survival horror in general, have a formula. You start the game, have about 10-15 minutes of slow and ‘safe’ exploration, and then the game starts properly. It’s usually about an hour or two before your first boss fight.

Resident Evil 3 starts you off in a dream sequence with Jill Valentine, the character you play. Even if you don’t know anything about the series, this sequence gives you the information that Jill has problems with Umbrella and with dealing with the existence of zombies.

Then, you get a phone call that is interrupted by the games big bad Nemesis breaking through your wall. There is no subtle build-up here – you are thrown into the deep end straight away. You get that sense of adrenaline like the opening of a high impact action film.

Resident Evil 3 Here's Nemesis
I don't care what anyone says - this is the 'classic Jill' uniform :p

How can you keep up with pressure like that for the whole game?

On your first play, the tension is high, and all you want to do is get away from the monster hunting you down. But, this tension is only felt the first time.

This is where I say Resident Evil 2 may have set the bar a little high. When Mr X pursued you through the Racoon City Police Station, you never knew what to expect. In contrast, Nemesis only appears at set points. You always know when to expect him to make your life harder.

Resident Evil 3 And They Pull You Right Back In
You think you get away...

I have heard a lot of people talk about how this is a negative of the game. Personally, I think this is positive. But I will get into the reasoning of why I believe this when I talk about replayability. 

I tried Resident Evil before, and the weird puzzles and backtracking are frustrating and annoying.

Yep. The original PlayStation Resident Evil trilogy and the later Resident Evil 0 all have this problem. Having to go from one end of the map to the other to pick up weird components in order is a problem. Picking up too many items not knowing what to when, and having to drop vital health and ammo, is frustrating.

You don’t have any of this in Resident Evil 3. Not really. There are a couple of puzzles, but they are very streamlined if you have to do them. And that a great change – if you have to do them. A lot of puzzles are optional, and while you get rewards for doing them, they aren’t vital.

This kind of ties into people saying with Resident Evil 3 is so short. Streamlined puzzles and smaller areas that you can’t go back to cut out hours of ‘pointless’ exploration.

Resident Evil 3 Optional Puzzles
Don't wan tto solve the puzzle? Only a couple are now mandatory

So you don’t seem to be talking much about the actual gameplay…

I am kind of glossing over it in this review. This is for two particular reasons.

Firstly, the game looks fantastic, and the controls are great. Any of the screenshots and video footage demonstrate this. Based on the same technology as Resident Evil 2, this was pretty much guaranteed. Hence, going into the great graphics and flawless cutscenes (even if the content can be cheesy) is pretty skippable.

Secondly, as I said in my First Impressions, the Racoon City Demo is very representative of the final gameplay. You can download it on any platform, and decide for yourself if you enjoy Resident Evil or not.

So what makes Resident Evil 3 replayable?

When you first play a Resident Evil game, you can enjoy the (admittedly convoluted) story that makes the series unique.

Once you have finished the story, you can then continue to play to reach higher ranks and earn rewards. Some rewards are aesthetic, like costumes. Some make future runs easier, like infinite ammo rocket launchers.

Resident Evil and its set gameplay make for a magnificent training ground for learning how to speedrun. Did it take you 20 minutes to find the combination to a safe? Now that combination is known, you can cut out that whole section of gameplay.

Resident Evil 3 The Shop
You can even pick your own rewards with the new Shop system

It was also the series that got me interested in Completionist gameplay, long before trophies or achievements. Finding all of the documents and files around the world fleshes out the lore of the Resident Evil universe.

This still doesn’t sound like a game I would be interested in.

Doing this with the original games takes a lot of patience and dedication. Many players have given up because the grind to get to better rewards is too much. This is more than fair – Resident Evil isn’t for everyone, and not just because of the theme.

Resident Evil 3 has made the series accessible. Not easier – don’t get the two confused.

If you wanted to get started in Resident Evil, I would have said start with 4 and warn people that it takes a while to warm up to. Resident Evil 2 last year made this more manageable in terms of access, but I still would have said to people don’t be afraid to have a walkthrough handy.

Now, if you have any interest in Resident Evil, Resident Evil 3 is a great introduction. You can get a feel for the world, the logic of the series, and have it in a relatively bite-sized piece.

I know Resident Evil. Are saying it’s a series tutorial?

Not so fast. Yes, if you are a veteran to the series, the difficulty curve is lower.

Play on Hard. Give yourself the challenge. Then try Nightmare mode. Everything you are expecting from a Resident Evil game comes out to play. New combinations of enemies, locations, even adding randomisation of item locations. Nightmare mode is the real hidden gem of Resident Evil 3.

My biggest complaint is that the mode was so hidden in the game, and that very few reviewers are highlighting it.

Resident Evil 3 New Difficulties
Two 'hidden' modes - and it's not just tougher enemies!

For the first time, I have to ask an open question on some of these reviews. It feels like that they played Resident Evil 3 in Assist mode (the easiest way where you also start with an assault rifle) and called their game the entire experience. If that’s the case, I feel bad that they missed out on the experience they wanted. It was right at their fingertips.

Overall Thoughts

Resident Evil 3 is a solid new entry, and helps to solidify some of the series canon lore. It’s an enjoyable game, that I am on my third playthrough, and may try to Platinum Resident Evil 3.

I also enjoy the return to the ‘old days’ with demo versions that let you try before you buy. Really, take that I am enjoying the game and I think many would enjoy Resident Evil 3 as a recommendation, then try the demo.

I only wish they had greenlit Resident Evil: Code Veronica rather than Resident Evil 4 for the next remake.

Overall
7.5/10
7.5/10

Pros

  • Let’s you explore more of Racoon City
  • Increased enemy AI and new dodge mechanic are satisfying
  • RE Engine is beautiful on every platform

Cons

  • For series veterans, best experience is hidden
  • While the bundle value is there, if you only want one game it makes the other expensive
  • Segmenting sections stopping backtracking doesn’t feel right

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – April 20th, 2020

Final Fantasy VII Remake Views

Finally got a game night in – sort of. I will take it!

We are all still inside, and like all of us, this has put a crimp on my social activities.

Last week, we finally started getting an online games night launched. Pretty sure most of the bugs have been ironed out now, so JackBox Party this week!

But that’s what I am looking forward to playing. What about what I have been up to?

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes – Steam

I played a few games of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes when it first came out. Playing in virtual reality on PSVR, it is a fun logic/communication problem game.

Then with game nights, the digital games took a back seat to physical games, and my plans of bomb defusal nights withered away.

With everything that has been going on, finally picked a few games to try and play digitally. The first test – Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes!

Don’t have to worry about screen share. The bomb defusing ‘experts’ can see the manual on their system while we chat. Overall, it worked really well.

The biggest issue was trying to teach people how puzzles worked. Experts with the manual can just normally point to a section as they talk about how it works. Over chat and some without video at all, this made things a smidge harder.

Because a few people had a copy already, we could even switch up the teams which was fun. Still maybe a niche alternative for some, if you have a copy somewhere playing over voice chat was more fun that I imagined.

Keep Talking and Nobody Menu Explodes Menu
We didn't get far, and played a from a couple of sources, but Keep Talking worked well!
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes Bomb Disposal
Playing via group chat is a great way to get a game in - just harder to teach

Potion Explosion – Steam

I have talked about Potion Explosion a few times on the site. I love playing it solo against bots, but playing against people is always a better experience.

So I semi-broke my own rules, and we ended the night playing Potion Explosion. What I completely forgot to take into account was neither other played had played recently. Like, months to a year recently.

Teaching someone how to play Potion Explosion via chat only is an exercise. The rules are simple when you can see them in action, but turn based digital doesn’t help.

Potion Explosion Scores
Harls and Elle hadn't played for a while, but it was fun to finally play together again 🙂

If you play Potion Explosion online with friends, maybe make sure everyone has done the tutorial first. Even if you aren’t used to the rules, having the controls down will help everyone have a smoother time.

Animal Crossing – Switch

I didn’t spend anywhere near as much time on Animal Crossing this week as I thought I would.

It’s not the game losing appeal or anything like that. By the time I was going to jump on and play, it was 11ish at night, the shop was shut, and I just lost enthusiasm from that perspective.

This week though, I will be back to spending my lunchbreaks playing the Switch. Island renovation recommening!

Animal Crossing Fishing
I haven't even changed from my Bunny Day clothes. At least I caught a new fish!

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4

Another victim of my mindset, I didn’t play as much Final Fantasy as I hoped either.

I did make it through another huge section, and have had my boss fight after the second reactor.

My enthusiasm for Final Fantasy VII Remake remains, but I have started getting very frustrated with the controls. I don’t know if it was just me having a bad day or if the AI had decided to end it all. My party members would just walk into boss attacks that would wipe them in a single round. I would revive them, then they would stand there to be hit again.

“Switch characters and control them!” I hear someone shout. Yep, I did. Then my main character would run into the exact same spot I ran from, and get killed.

As I said, it could have been me. I haven’t been in the mood to play a lot this week, and that does have an impact. But if you feel like sometimes your party members are being dumb – I am pretty sure they are, at least sometimes.

Normally they are great and I almost forget they are there! See how I go next week and if the trend continues.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Chocobo Moogle Summons
Yes, you can summon a Chocobo ridden by a Moogle. Yes, I love this way too much.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Views
The sense of scale and just how beautiful the world looks amazes me every time

Resident Evil 3 – PS4

So I spent Sunday night finishing Resident Evil 3. Again.

I had intended as a second run through trying to find all the files and bobbleheads. It turned into a leisurely zombie fighting run. I haven’t made any progress towards S ranks or higher difficulties. I found 1 more bobble head statue. Out of 12 missing.

Worst of all, I am missing one file to read everything. Looks like a few more runs in my future. Oh, the humanity! :p

I don’t know if I am going to go for the Platinum Trophy, but I will talk more about that in Friday’s review.

Resident Evil 3
I spent so much time marvelling at the skyline, I forgot the path was on fire

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

Control Review

Control
Control
Released 2019
Platform PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher 505 Games (Website)
Developer Remedy Entertainment (Website)
Homepage (Visit Website)
Players 1
Category Adventure
Paranormal
Third Person Shooter
Abilities
Exploration

Ever wondered what happened if you mix Twin Peaks with a shooter? Control is the closest thing I have ever found.

Remedy’s Control is a game that sounds like it was made for a niche. The storyline is laced with paranormal elements. It’s a shooter that emphasis exploration and interaction.

On PC, it was hailed as the ‘right’ way to implement Ray Tracing. I know a few gamers that were put off. The thought they needed to buy a new graphics card to enjoy Control.

Like a meal that sounds wrong, if you are brave enough to take a bite, the rewards are worth it. This is one of those times where your worst fears are unfounded.

So what is Control?

You play as Jesse Fayden, and all you know is you have walked into a government building. That is empty. You have no idea what is going on, or what your goal is.

You get some objectives to give you direction, but you have no context to help you. If you watch an action movie, you know the first few minutes are the setup justifying the ensuing mayhem. The first few minutes of Control are you investigating an empty office building.

Jesse talks to herself, and then suddenly you realise she is talking to someone. She reacts to a soft geometric ring that we see as the player. At first, I thought this was an immersion technique, where Jesse talked to the player.

Spoiler – I was wrong.

Control First Document
Security checkpoint in Federal building. Normal. No one investigating why you set off the alarm though...

Eventually, you pick up a weapon. In the world of Control, this makes you The Director of the Federal Bureau of Control. No, it makes no sense. But it becomes a substantial part of your game world.

From here, you explore The Oldest House (the office building) and help others to stop a potential invasion while finding your brother.

Why play a game that makes no sense?

Why stick with a television series that makes little sense to you? There are small elements that promise potential and draw you in. For me, I just had to know what was going on.

Remedy nailed the opening story pacing. I spent maybe three minutes walking around thinking “Huh? What’s all the hype about?” Twenty minutes later, I knew I was playing until I couldn’t anymore.

That’s a bit vague. Details?

I know Control came out a while ago, but I also know that many people haven’t tried Control. Because of this, I don’t want to spoil any of the stories for anyone.

Yes, stories. Control evolves from a relatively short story game (maybe 6-7 hours?) into the story you want to make. Side quests can be a massive grind in adventure games, but I was genuinely looking forward to helping others in Control.

Now, these side quests don’t change the ending. There is a definite ending, and The Foundation DLC picks up right after this ending. There is no ending for this story yet in the traditional sense.

Control Objective Found
The screen stays pretty clear. Objective in the top left, markers fairly obvious.

That said, the ending of the main game isn’t a cliffhanger. I would describe it more as a good season 1 ending where you don’t know if season 2 is coming.

OK, so what actually is Control?

You can sum up Control as an adventure game with light RPG elements and shooting. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it?

This is where I try to get across that Control is greater than the sum of its parts. The exploration of The Oldest House is satisfying. Even though I got the Platinum Trophy, I have much more to explore. I grabbed the Deluxe version on sale on PS4, and now I have even more to explore.

By introducing the Astral Plane and having The Oldest House literally move, it makes progression feel satisfying. When you unlock new powers like Levitation, areas you have already explored suddenly have new paths available to you.

Control Astral Plane
The Astral Plane has a few uses, the most obvious being the tutorial mode for new abilities

The Service Weapon, your gun in the game, changes forms. Having one weapon sounds boring, nut you unlock these forms as you play. It means you get a pistol, Gatling gun, rocket launcher and sniper rifle all at the same time. It also makes sense of how you can carry so many weapons at the same time.

Most of the previous paragraphs sound strange, and yet in the context of Control makes perfect sense. Every character looked at in isolation is just weird, yet make perfect sense in the story. Actions and powers you utilise or set pieces you come across make sense.

Control Dr Darling
These video presentations actually feel right in the game

Even the Threshold Kids, the video series that initially freaked me out, became fun things to find. The lore you come across in the form documents and videos is interesting. Files and letters redacted nature serves as a hook rather than an annoyance. Videos that made you pull a face suddenly make something else click later.

But. There is always a but.

Yep. Control is no different. Side quests are fun, but some of them are so hidden that many people can pass straight past them. One of these quests was a room investigating luck. The instructions for how to ‘solve’ the puzzle were in plain sight, but there was no mission in my objective list.

The missions that are spelled out for you are relatively obvious fetch/hunt type quests. There aren’t many, so the ‘fetch grind’ that many adventure games suffer from. You can skip most of them, but if you do, you won’t end up as powerful as you could be.

Control Alternate Suits
Doing optional missions can unlock some new looks. This one is a paid DLC bonus.

The other catch is the action. People that don’t like shooters (like myself) can get turned off by an action-oriented game. While Control has a lot of action happening, it rewards patience and practice. Boss too hard? Level up and come back. These bosses tend to be optional – such encounters aren’t a wall.

The biggest hurdle to me is the story itself. It won’t click with everyone. A lot of people could give up purely because they are lost in the story. Every other ‘negative’ of Control has a subtle fix, except for this.

If you don’t get the story – ignore it. Control will let you do this very easily. I am not trying to say the story is irrelevant. People that dig will be rewarded. But you can focus just on the next objective and levelling up your powers and enjoy it.

Console, PC, RTX?

So here is a big one. I bought Control on PC cheap on the Epic Store, and again for my PS4 Pro. The PC version I bought to show how good it plays on my laptop compared to my PC, and that comparison is coming. I haven’t played it on any system that can take advantage of Ray Tracing.

A few people have commented that I am an RTX hater. This isn’t correct. Two years after the release of the Nvidia RTX line, only a handful of games take advantage of it. That is changing this year, but right now it’s still a very niche tech.

What does RTX bring to Control? Real-time reflections, beautiful lighting and realistic shadows. The cost to do this though is pretty staggering. I personally wouldn’t play Control on PC with Ray Tracing on with less than a 2070 Super.

This video shows Nvidia’s examples of Ray Tracing in the game.

Differences between my laptops 1660Ti and my desktops 1080Ti were slim. I don’t remember any difference in the experience. Sure, if I examined individual frames, I am sure I could spot differences. The feeling of awe is what I remember, and Control looked great on both.

Control 1660Ti
Jacket looks a little flatter but details are still crisp on my laptop 1660Ti
Control 1080Ti.png
Control on my desktop 1080Ti ultrawide

I only played a tiny portion on PC though. I played the game ‘properly’ on my PS4 Pro. Even at 1080p, there were some very noticeable frame rate drops on PlayStation. These only occurred in larger battles with a lot of powers in use. Not enough to ruin the experience, but it’s evident that Control is pushing the older consoles to their limits.

My personal feeling is paying anywhere from AUD$300 to AUD$2000 more depending on your graphics card (e.g. RTX 2060 Super to RTX 2080 Ti) is a lot to make one game look better. Hands down it looks a lot better, but I can do a lot more with that extra cash!

Digital Foundry did an excellent tech review of the different technologies implemented in Control you can check out below. But bottom line, I think you will enjoy Control on any platform you want to play it on.

Overall Thoughts

Comparing Control to Twin Peaks is very apt. The story is deeper than it appears, but it doesn’t drag everything out while feeding you the lines to follow. It also allows the player much more choice than might be immediately obvious at first glance.

The story won’t be for everyone. The action won’t be for everyone. But the way that Remedy has blended everything into an experience that is both familiar and unique is phenomenal.

If you are on the fence, with various sales now that it has been out for a while, Control is a safe buy for many people.

Overall
8/10
8/10

Pros

  • Gorgeous graphics
  • A lot more room to explore and customise than it appears
  • The balance between story and playing is pretty spot on
  • Much more to discover than the objective lists suggest

Cons

  • You get over close-ups of Jesse quickly
  • Frame rate dips even on PS4 Pro in battles with lots of enemies and powers can be distracting for that battle
  • Paranormal heavy storyline not for everyone

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – April 13th, 2020

20200413 Last Weeks Gaming Feature

You would think with being at home all the time, I would be playing more games!

Working from home is always a mixed blessing. Changes in routine are hard. Missing out on seeing everyone in person is hard. But I am hoping to turn all this into positives. Stick around and see how that turns out! 😀

But enough of all that, let’s get onto what I did get to play this week.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

So last week I started playing this global favourite. Well, favourite as long as you aren’t the Chinese government.

As I have said, the last few weeks have been hard on me. A game that I could just pick up and chill with was exactly what I needed. Normally, solo board games do this for me. Digital games make setup/teardown a non-issue. But even the small mental puzzle aspect of solo games was turning me off.

Enter Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I started playing late compared to most, but just in time to get the most of the ‘Bunny Day’ event. Sitting on the couch and exploring my island was just so relaxing. I haven’t taken advantage of a lot of the extras like Nook Miles Tickets. Apparently, I missed a fishing tournament. Didn’t even know that was a thing.

Animal Crossing Museum Opening
The first day I played, I got enough specimens to open my Museum straight away!

But I got a great review of my house improvements. Another thing I didn’t realise was a thing. I got all of the Bunny Day recipes and got the Wand reward. Now I need to figure out how to obtain Star Fragments! :p

I have played between 20 minutes and 2 hours every day. It’s been great. It’s not the high-level gameplay of Doom Eternal, or anywhere near as stressful as Resident Evil 3.

If you have a Switch, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a great little relax session, whether after work or just to game when everything else seems ‘too hard’.

Animal Crossing Home
I don't know how all this got a score over 20,000 - but I will take it hahaha

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4 Pro

So last week I gave my First Impressions. To say reception of Final Fantasy VII Remake has been interesting is an understatement.

Personally, my take is to approach Remake as a new game, with story beats that you will know if you played the original.

That said, I have played about 7 hours worth so far? Not because I didn’t want to inhale it – my plan was to play this non-stop over the week. I am now in the same position I would have been about 30 minutes into the original.

The graphics are gorgeous, the music is sensational, and the world of Midgar has been great to explore. As I said in my First Impressions, jRPGs aren’t for everyone. Easily five hours have been spent on doing side quests and not progressing the story. I stopped here so that I could play with Rabbit. Missing side quests – not a big deal. But I want to go through the story proper with her.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake First Impressions
Yep, shameless plug pic :p Doesn't stop the game from looking amazing though!

I stand by my comment of if you are curious, play the demo. There is no save feature in the demo, so progress isn’t carried over. Luckily you can’t progress too far, so replaying that portion isn’t too bad. And because you will be more familiar with the controls, you will blitz through combat the second time around.

It will be a long time before I can give Final Fantasy VII Remake a proper review. But I am really enjoying it, and that’s about all I can give it right now.

Resident Evil 3 – PS4 Pro

I gave my First Impressions on this one as well. I finished Resident Evil 3 this week. That’s not to say I am finished with it, just I got to the end of the game.

A couple of things straight off the bat. Yes, it’s a short game by today’s standards. I wouldn’t consider myself a Resident Evil pro, but I am experienced in the gameplay. I got through it in six and a half hours, with a fair bit of exploration attempted. I missed a lot of Mr Charlie bobbleheads, and I couldn’t see 3 documents.

Resident Evil games, especially Resident Evil 2 and 3, are designed to play multiple times. Partially to find everything, but also to unlock rewards that make new playthroughs easier.

Resident Evil 3 First Impressions
And yes, second shameless plug. Resident Evil 3 was so good though!

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis wasn’t supposed to be the third game – this tidbit came out years later. The true successor is Resident Evil: Code Veronica. The original game had the same ‘short’ complaints, but they got lost in multiple endings and the Mercenaries mode.

A lot of the complaints I have heard about Resident Evil 3 aren’t ‘wrong’, but I am curious about the lack of context of a lot of them. There are new story facts (found in documents) that now tie into the creation of Nemesis that relate better to the lore of later games. No spoilers, but I really appreciated these touches.

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

I will wrap the rest of this up in the full review Friday. But for today, if you are keen, try the demo. Maybe wait for a sale, unless you enjoy multiplayer. I don’t, so I haven’t even fired up the included Resistance game. But don’t let the negative headlines sway you – Resident Evil 3 is a worthy follow up to last years Resident Evil 2.

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 and Instagram!

Until tomorrow,

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

Resident Evil 3 First Impressions and Thoughts

Resident Evil 3 Raccoon City Demo Capture 2

Everyone’s First Impressions on Resident Evil 3? STAAAARRRRS!

Resident Evil 3 is finally here, and I have captured my first impressions! Don’t worry if you don’t get all the STARS references that will be flying around – it’s an injoke from the game, that you will get quickly if you play 😀

There is only one game I have been waiting for with more anticipation, and it is teasing me on my shelf.

Final Fnatasy VII Deluxe
It teases me :p

I am waiting for April 10th to look at this one. Not just because of the request for no spoilers from Square Enix, but day one patches and the like aren’t available. So, my plan is to do my first impressions as per normal – even though the start should be the demo that was recently released.

But enough of that teaser, on to todays game – RESIDENT EVIL 3! Resident Evil 2 blew me away last year, and the only reason I haven’t Platinumed it is because I haven’t had the time to dedicate powering through the later skill and time based challenges.

As much as I have been trying to stay away from reviews, headlines have flashed before me. Apparently the game is a ‘mixed’ experience. So what do I think after a half hour of gameplay?

Only one way to find out!

Is Resident Evil 3 a game you have been looking forward to? I can tell you from the demo, it plays equally well on PC, PS4 Pro and Xbox One S so you should have a great time playing it if you do!

Not sure if Resident Evil 3 is for you? Play the Racoon City demo – it is very representative of what Resident Evil 3 is like.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Doom Eternal First Impressions – I made a video!

Doom Eternal First Impressions

Doom Eternal has the tag line ‘Rip and Tear’. I play ‘Sticky Bomb and Pray’!

So I have had some start/stop video experiments that I have shared in the past. Today, there is another 🙂 Rather than try to write up how I feel about Doom Eternal, I thought I would do a video of my Early Impressions!

My plan was to play 15-20 minutes of a game for the first time, and give my live first impressions and reactions. What do you know – even with prep, that didn’t work out quite as well as I hoped! Doom Eternal’s soundtrack in particular turned out to be a challenge. Life finds a way indeed! 🙂

You can watch the video below, expand it up to full screen and all the usual stuff. You can also go over to my YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/johnhqldplaysgames if you have trouble casting or want to leave a like/dislike and a comment. Feedback is appreciated!

So today, let me introduce you to my first ‘First Impressions’ game video, where I sit back and enjoy Doom Eternal 😀

Slightly Extended Impressions

Once I had played through the above, I was actually a little sad that I stopped recording. Not that I wanted to make a longer video, but because I found out I was only a little distance from another really cool secret!

I discovered another secret only a few minutes after finishing up my Thoughts in the video. And this secret had me grinning like crazy!

Doom Eternal has cheat codes that you can find in the secret areas!

Doom Eternal Cheat Codes Found
This is such a great idea. And I had my original Doom collection on such disks!

I haven’t tried messing around with them yet, but I think these are a great idea. Plenty of times I would fire up the original DOS Doom games, throw on invincibility and all guns, and just blast away for a bit on fun for a little while.

Doom Eternal is going to let me do the same thing, and use these overpowered features to let you explore the map more as well!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD