ADMAN’s Gaming Den – 16/08/2013

As I’ve been saying for a while now, games have been taking up a very large chunk of my time; probably to the point where I wouldn’t blame you for thinking I was possibly lazy. Regardless, I enjoy what I do, and recently I have been finding a new love with the medium exploring genres that I never thought I would ever enjoy.

And with that, Muramasa: Rebirth. It’s an awesome version of that game. It translates to the Vita’s control scheme beautifully and has a very robust and competent combat system. So if you never played the Wii version (Which I haven’t), here’s a quick summary; it’s a 2D MetroidVania Action game. You can play as two characters; Momohime, a princess who’s body is possessed by a demon’s soul (This is the only character I have finished so far). Or Kisuke, a fugitive from a Ninja Clan. The game has use and collect a large number of swords (108 to be exact), all with distinct abilities known a Secret Art. The game forces you to constantly forge new, more powerful weaponry to progress as new swords will take more damage than the previous one. The reason this is important is due to the fact that swords can break and be unusable. Luckily, you always carry three weapons at a time, and collecting souls off defeated foes refills the sword’s spiritual energy, repairing it.

The game is gorgeous by the way. The art is absolutely stunning.

As I mentioned, the combat is fluid and very simple to understand. It doesn’t take much to pull off attacks, most of the game’s challenge comes from mastering the timings and knowing when to use Secret Arts or when to change swords (Which causes an area-of-effect attack, damaging all enemies on screen). It wipes most of the frustration that you could have with a system like this away. Speaking of which, I often have an issue with many Vita games due to what I believe is input lag, but it this game it does not seem to be present at all. This pleases me.

Although most common enemies are not a problem, the boss battles can stand out at times. With the more varied attacks forcing you to master many of the game’s mechanics, as well as making you utilize other tactics. One example is a boss where you begin the battle being digested in his stomach, and slashing at him from the inside so he eventually pukes you out. Following this, he tries to flatten you with his foot, forcing you to have to dodge. Eventually projectiles are added and so forth. And that’s just one boss. There are quite a few in the game that are crazier than that.

Something that is also pleasing is the game’s aesthetics. The animations, backgrounds, character design, UI, and so on; all look stunning. Probably to the point where I would be willing to say that this is one of the most beautiful games I have ever played on the Vita. On top of that, the writing is pretty humorous, especially when Momohime refers to womanizers as degenerates along with many other insults. I highly recommend checking this game out, but keep in mind that you may have to import it, I don’t think it’s coming to the EU any time soon.

Moving on, another game I put a considerable amount of time into was PAYDAY 2, and with good reason. I didn’t play much of the first PAYDAY, it seemed quite difficult and kinda broken at times. However, with PAYDAY 2, the difficulty is more fair (For the most part) from the get go. Missions are far easier to understand and way more readable in terms of where the main points of interest are, such as guards, cops, safes, etc.

The leveling system also makes more sense, yes you still have to level to get more guns, but jobs give you the custom parts for said weapons, making the starting arsenal for more usable than before. Well, that and they give you more than one gun from the get go. Money plays a large part into the customization options, having to spend money to get guns, change parts, decorate masks, and even on in-mission assets to make the job a tad easier.

With a good set of co-op parters, you can have blast going through the missions to together. Planning out specific roles as each player uses a different tier, managing the crowd, and/or shooting your way out of their when the plan fails and you have to leg it.

There are a few things I take issue with. The “high-powered” guns don’t do as much damage as advertised, and weapons in general don’t feel very accurate. I’m often missing shots for no reason, and the game is not very forgiving with its hitboxes. Not to mention the unending swarm of police that somehow refuse to care that they are even being hit with high-speed, molten lead projectiles; and only exist to ruin your day.

The AI can be very problematic, especially playing in a stealthy way. Just last night, I was playing the mission “Framing Frame”, where the first day of the heist takes place in an art gallery, and I alerted a guard after he saw me for a split second from a small window on top of the roof.

Other than those issues, it’s a barrel of fun to play with friends, and I’m sure a lot of the issues will be fixed in time.

Probably the only shitty game I will be talking about today is Unit 13, which is trying too hard to be console game on a handheld. It is an awful mess of a game. It plays atrociously, the character takes up 80% of the damn screen and the FOV makes it impossible to know what’s around you. Not to mention things like the map, reloading, vaulting and taking cover, and so on; are all located on screen making the UI cluttered as Hell. On top of that, the AI is piss poor. They either ignore you, or instantly kill you in a few hits because they somehow saw you through some tiny hole between cover. The missions themselves are not very interesting, mostly consisting of “Go here, interact with this, then leave” type of gameplay.

Honestly, don’t play it. I only tried it because it was on PS Plus, and I wish I hadn’t. If you want a game that does this type of small mission structure but better and with more depth, play Metal Gear Solid Peacewalker, which is cheaper than usual on the PSN Store at the moment.

Gravity Rush is a pretty cool game if you ever want to check it out. I think it’s gonna be on PS Plus forever at this point, so you should probably check it out. Anyway, I had some money to burn, so I decided to buy the DLC costume packs. A few extra hours to play in that world doesn’t sound too bad.

Anyway, it’s just more of the same. A lot of “Pick this stuff up” or “Defeat all these guys” types of missions. Except now you get three dumb new costumes. Either way, it has reminded that the game gives me one Hell of a case of motion sickness. I feel pretty crummy just thinking about. Regardless, if you really wanted more Gravity Rush, I guess will add an hour or two of content for you.

As for my update on the progress of Persona 3 Portable, well a particular character died, and now I’m seeing the characters react to said event. So I’m at the last third of the game at this point. Time to keep grinding and fusing till the end.

I haven’t really progressed much with Persona 2: Innocent Sin. But I have been reading up on some of the plot details, and I have to say that if this story is related to the P3/P4 universe, then a whole lot of things make sense now. Although it’s still pretty crazy. I’ll give more of an update as I go through it.

I recently bought I played a few games that I think are worth mentioning here. Starting with The World Ends With You, which is a JRPG on the DS that uses the cool looking art style that you might associate with something like Jet Set Radio. You know, the hopped up street graffiti look. It’s still early into the game, but the whole dual-screen combat system is very confusing. Basically you control your character on the bottom screen with the touchscreen, and the other character is on the top screen who you can interact with using the face buttons. Although if you control one, the other is taken over by the AI anyway. The game seems like a neat idea, and it definitely has an intriguing art style, I just hope the combat doesn’t drive me up the wall.

Virtue’s Last Reward is the sequel to 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. The game is a basically a puzzle game where you have to solve a series of mini-games to escape a particular set of scenarios. And when it’s not trying to kill you, it plays out the story in a graphic novel type way. I haven’t put a ton of time into either (I literally just got “999” a few hours ago in the post) so I cannot attest to the quality of the characters or story. However, it’s been years since I last played a game even close to this. It reminds me of adventure games of old, and the premise has my attention.

Finally, 3D Dot Game Heroes. I’m not gonna beat around the bush here; it’s fucking Zelda. It’s a 3D, voxel-based re-creation of Zelda. And that seems really cool. Mostly because you can create a whole bunch of weird shit with the in-game tools. I’ve put a good hour into it, and I’ll look forward to playing it again as soon as I’m done playing ICO and Valkyria Chronicles.

Next week: Progress Report (Possibly?)

Later.

-ADMAN

About Adam Lutton

Game Designer / Programmer
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