Last Week’s Gaming – July 20th, 2020

Camel Up - Much nicer components

Not as much gaming as I would have liked, but one big tick off my finished games list. Final Fantasy VII Remake is now in the ‘Do I complete it?’ pile.

Fast intro this week. I didn’t get much gaming in last week, mainly because I was pretty burnt out and I am making a formal recovery effort.

This doesn’t mean that I didn’t get in any gaming though. in fact, I actually got to put the finishing touches on a game I have been waiting on for decades!

But more of that below 🙂

I reviewed Downforce almost two years ago. Downforce is to this day right up there as my favourite Restoration Games effort to date. Only Stop Thief! fights for that top spot, and possibly only Return to Dark Tower can topple it.

Why can I say that? Well, on my first “I am playing games just for me” weekend, Downforce was one of my first choices to get back on the table. Are there better games out there? Of course. But Downforce is consistently fun to play, and Alpal and I had a blast playing through a couple of races.

Need to get that Wild Ride Expansion still though…

Downforce - An old favourite makes it back to the table
It was so good to just sit and enjoy this simple racing game

The other fun game that I haven’t played for ages is Camel Up. Switching one type of racing to another, Camel Up is a fun game that prioritises betting and strategy.

Alpal also has the glorious Second Edition. Why is it glorious? The components have been upgraded for a start. I can’t wait to paint her coins! Also, the Pyramid is now hard plastic and works a lot better. There are also new rules in the crazy camels!

The best addition? The main play board now has a pop-up Oasis. This may be another purchase I am trying to tell myself I don’t need. Want, without a doubt, just not need. I am telling myself that anyway 🙂

Camel Up - Much nicer components
Not too much has changed gameplay wise, but the appeal for seeing the game on the table has cranked to 11!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

So this week, I basically didn’t play Animal Crossing. I jumped on for the first time since last Monday on Sunday night. I have a lot of clean up to do!

But while I didn’t play much, I did add a new bridge and move another villager home. The island makeover is happening slowly. Hopefully, I will be able to devote some time to that this week, but I have a feeling my daily adventures in Sleep Cove may be coming to an end.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is still a lot of fun, but it may soon turn into a couple of days a week visits rather than a daily end of day ritual.

Animal Crossing - My Games Room
My games room in my Animal Crossing home is coming along nicely

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4

What I did get into with gusto last weekend was Final Fantasy VII Remake. Last week, I wrote how I was almost at the end of the game. I got to the story ‘You can’t go back once you proceed’ points, and I thought I had only a little bit left to go.

Nope. There was a good 7-8 hours to go, and I stayed up Friday night and played through until I saw the credits.

A formal review will come, in what form and when I am not sure yet. But I will say, as a die-hard Final Fantasy VII fan, I don’t know where the internet uproar is coming from.

It’s not the same game with prettier graphics. Remake isn’t perfect, but I can’t see how people can claim it isn’t a Final Fantasy VII game. The story is familiar, but with new twists. I can’t really go into more without going into spoiler territory, and while it has been out for a couple of months, I am not ready to go there just yet.

One thing that did annoy me is you can’t capture anything with the PS4 in the final chapter. It’s all locked down. This was a real shame, as there were a couple of bosses I would have loved to turn into a desktop background.

And the final chapter is a boss gauntlet. Every fight is challenging in different ways, and you think “This must be the last fight” over and over again.

Final Fantasy VII Remake - Choices
Cloud is definitely not on the bench anymore! Alright, I like dad jokes. #sorrynotstorry
Final Fantasy VII Remake - Completion Run
Apart from a hard mode run, I need to do side quests like this to get the platinum

In the wait for the next episode/release/whatever Square wants to call it, there is only one decision left. Do I go for the Platinum run, or if I finally start turning my attention to The Witcher 3? What a terrible position to be in! :p

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

Last Week’s Gaming – July 13th, 2020

Final Fantasy VII Feature

Another week down, but not as much gaming this week 🙁 That said, what I did play, I played a lot! Huge strides made in Final Fantasy 7 Remake this week 🙂

Wow. Where did last week go? I sat down on Monday, and the next thing I knew, I was looking upon how much more work I had to do over the weekend.

So, in self-preservation, I kind of shut down this weekend. I slept so much on Friday night. Then on Saturday, I got absorbed in the fishing tourney on Sleep Cove. After that, I sat down for hours in Final Fantasy.

But why tell you here? That’s what the rest of the article is about!

Blood Rage Digital – Steam

Not a lot of detail in Blood Rage this week. I got in a couple of games, but both took me almost all day. That is the beautiful thing about turn-based games – if you have something else to do, you can just come back to it.

I haven’t been paying close attention to updates, so I am not sure how my widescreen fixes are coming. But it’s still a blast to fire up Blood Rage and have a game. Even losing, playing with different cards and the adaptive playstyles of the AI make each game a challenge.

Blood Rage - Amped Up
While I wasn't winning a lot of battles, I was making good headway in the stats race

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

I did SO MUCH FISHING this week! This was my first time being able to participate in the Animal Crossing fishing tournament, and I managed to unlock all 3 trophies.

I even managed to miss that I caught a new type of fish – a goldfish. I didn’t see that until today when I finally opened it back up. Sunday, I didn’t play. I think that is my first completely Animal Crossing Free day in about 6 weeks?

I have also started designing my island. I have started to get the housing lined up correctly and decided on a floral border around the houses. A little tight living wise, but in-game it works. For me, at least 🙂

I will start getting back into Animal Crossing in dribs and drabs this week. I finally got back into something I have been holding off on for a long time…

Animal Crossing Gold Trophy
A day well spent - virtual fishing for a virtual trophy. Also, my house got a facelift 🙂

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4

This was my Saturday night. I didn’t crawl into bed until just before the sun came up. So worth it 🙂

Last time I stopped playing, I had fought Rude for the first time then shut it away. The difficult fights are satisfying but frustrating. Playing when I was already pretty stressed wasn’t great.

Now, from Rude, I have stopped getting into Midgar after the big Shinra plan reveal. You know what it is if you know the game, nothing spoiled if you haven’t played.

I am hoping to make time this week to finish the game. Completing it though? I want to, I think, but not yet. Maybe a game I come back to during my next big game. My backlog is too large, and I really want to finish The Witcher 3 before the Cyberpunk 2077 launch…

Final Fantasy VII Sewer Fight
The battles take a lot of getting used to. So much is going on at anytime, and multiple foes don't make it easier

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

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

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

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

So the E3 Nostalgia Train continues with the Resident Evil 2 Remake

Resident Evil 2 Remake Feature

Another reason to relive a classic series

Resident Evil.  Like so many franchises I have written about this week, I have so many fond memories.

I remember jumping out of my chair and sending my controller the first time the dogs jumped through the window.  You know the scene.  Back when Resident Evil was still a horror franchise (or more correctly, creating the survival horror genre for many) I couldn’t get enough of these games.  This continued all the way up to Resident Evil 4.  It took Resident Evil 7 to truly reignite the spark for me.  And don’t listen to anyone else – the only way to play 7 is in VR.  It’s such an amazing experience.

But a few years ago, an announcement was made that many seem to have forgotten over time.

This got me really intrigued years ago.  Some games I have picked up and are low on the ‘go and play’ list are Resident Evil 0 and the Resident Evil remake.  I have yet to play Resident Evil 0 at all, and I have always meant to play essentially the GameCube Remaster.  On the Switch, I have the Resident Evil Revelations series to finally give them a go and are a bit higher on the list.  I started the original Revelations on the 2DS, but as a platform, it just didn’t quite cut it for me.

But last night (my time anyway), this was dropped during the Sony E3 presentation.

This looks amazing and is a real reason for me to elevate playing the remakes as soon as I can.

Resident Evil 2 broke a lot of ground back in 1998.  Back in the day, the graphics were amazing, but almost every part of the game just clicked.  The audio was that perfect level where you just forgot you were listening to a computer game.  The level design was unique and hid a lot of surprises for players.  The multiple storylines worked really well with the different characters.

Of course, there was also the cheesy voice acting that the series is infamous for, as well as the ever so popular tank controls and the like.  I mention this simply because the series had real faults that not everyone could get past.

But for me, the real thing that will delay me buying and playing Resident Evil 2 Remake?  Kingdom Hearts 3 comes out 4 days later on January 29, and I have been waiting a lot longer 😀

Until next time,

JohnHQLD