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January 22nd, 2012, 00:02
I just finished Batman: Arkham City. Excellent game marred by some console holdovers. It's very much an action game but there is a little "RPGness" to it with your ability to choose upgrades. The story was also fairly good and had an excellent ending. (Unlike the previous game, the final battles were quite fun.)

The battle action is fast, furious, and an absolute joy to watch. They often look like finely choreographed fight scenes from an action movie instead of a video game! Every once in a while you'll see Batman teleport a couple of feet backwards or some such and I did have troubles convincing him to attack the guy I wanted attacked (targeting consists of pointing in the enemy's general direction and hoping for the best) but I enjoyed most battles.

Unlike Arkham Asylum, the game world is pretty open. I had a great time just travelling around the city - particularly when there was a timer ticking and I had to get to the other side of town quickly. They've also got more Riddler trophies. A *lot* more. I swear half the roofs in town had some sort of puzzle set up and quite a few allies had something as well! Riddler must have been working for years setting them all up.

For an open world, this place has a LOT of attention to detail. The enemies are pretty much clones but the city itself… wow! The level designers and artists did a great job, IMHO. (And it looks excellent with 3D Vision, too.)

I'm not really a big Batman fan. Mostly I've just seen the movies and played Batman: AA. However, even with just those, it was fun to see the characters come to life. And they are SUCH characters! I wish we could get more over-the-top characters like these in our RPGs. In fact, the bad guys were so good that Batman came off as rather bland.

Catwoman makes an appearance in this version, too. She shows up early then vanishes for quite a long time, only to pop up again toward the end of the game. Her skills are somewhat different than Batman's and her animations are quite different. I found her to be a nice change of pace. If only I could have used her animation-style costume instead of that damned biker outfit….

One of my beefs with the game are the saves. There's no option to save when you want. I found myself grabbing going into buildings or grabbing Riddler trophies just to convince the game to save. I think the saves are all stored out on Games for Windows Live, too, which really made me nervous. I never lost a save but I did hear people complaining because they did.

The game does lock you in to the story toward the end. I was starting to get real worried that I was going to miss a ton of trophies and side quests because the game was headed for it's epic conclusion and insisting that I actually save the city from impending doom instead of trying to land on a button with enough force to open a trophy cage. There was no need to worry, though. Once the story ends, you're free to roam around and finish off the side quests to your heart's content. In fact, you even gain the ability to switch between Batman and Catwoman when you want instead of having to wait for the story to switch them for you. My latest night playing the game was actually just after finishing the story!

All in all, great stuff. It's sad that it had to make allowances for those ancient console systems but it's still very much worth the price. Playing time will depend a lot on how many side quests you do but I would guess it would take about 30 hours for a quick run through and more like 60 for a completionist.
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January 22nd, 2012, 01:01
I've been meaning to finally try the Tex Murphy games for a while now. I bought the last 3, that are commonly considered to be the best ones, and I planned to start with Under a Killing Moon after the holidays. But instead, something possessed me a couple of days ago and I bought and played the first one instead: Mean streets… the one that is supposed to be the worst of the bunch. (Well, I got that because I had very little work to do that day and I wanted something simple to play in a window, and it served that purpose perfectly.)

The odd thing is that I actually really really liked it! Now this is a 1989 game, which, in computer game years, means ancient - nearly prehistoric, and as it seems back then game designers still tried to invent the wheel, and sometimes they ended up with something more similar to a square instead. In this case, the game sacrifices all depth of gameplay and brings together four completely different gameplay styles that are not only rather simplistic and shallow but some are just bad - out of place and pointless.

In essence the gameplay consists of asking person A about person B so that you can learn where you can find him, then you fly there, you may have a gunfight and either you get to talk to him about person C or search his place for clues. Your goal is to solve a murder and it soon evolves into the stereotypical 'collect n items' task. On top of it all the game is actually so easy that there's almost no challenge to be found in it - as long as you pay attention and make sure to keep good notes there's no fear of getting stuck.

So what did I like so much about it? This game delivered something that no other game I can think of has: a proper detective story in a completely non-linear game where I (the player) got to do all the detective work. I searched for clues, I interviewed people, I beat some up and I payed informants, I connected the dots and I reached the end by myself. There weren't any puzzles that would require me to travel to another city to find that one paper clip that can be used to open the door of the room where I can find the cheese that I can use on the mouse etc… and there was never a case when I was forced to find someone's lost wallet before they'd give me information nor were there any Christmas cookie recipes to be deciphered while the great detective does all the actual mystery solving and giving me only a choice of the order by which I can ask a limited number of filtered questions. It was an extremely easy mystery to solve but, for once, I did it all by myself.



(Well… it now seems that since I started with this one, Under a Killing Moon will have to wait until I'm done with Martian Memorandum too.)

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January 22nd, 2012, 19:57
Scratches: Director's cut
Scratches is a point & click adventure game with a horror theme. It won Just Adventure's game of the year award back in 07 and is generally considered to be one of the best adventure games in recent years.

The game starts like many horror stories with you, as an author, staying in an old Victorian age mansion for a few days, to work on your book. The mansion is located in a rather secluded area, with a 20min drive to the nearest town or village, so you are basically on your own. Of course being the curious person as you are, you soon start to explore the large mansion, and you soon find out that it has an interesting history to it. I won't spoil what for you, if anyone is interested, they should play the game. The creator of the game openly admits that he was inspired by H.P Lovecraft, and the game has a slight Lovecraftian feel to it. That being the feel of one of Lovecraft's more creeping horror stories, not focused around large tentacle creatures. The horror is more along the line of a cozy horror movie, one which is nice to watch while curled up under a blanket, with a cup of tea in your hand, and not a blood & gore or a jump-scare horror movie.

Controls are similar to those of Myst 3 or 4, in that you move from node to node, but can rotate and pan your camera on each node (though the options menu contains a slideshow option, which i take makes the game play more similar to Myst 1 or Riven, but I did not try that). The puzzles are not very Myst like though, and are more inventory based, though it is the kind of inventory based puzzles that actually make sense, where things work like you would expect them to, and where you are given hints on where you can find the more hard to spot items (so there is not a whole lot of pixel hunting going on in this game). The difficulty of the puzzles is relatively average, there are no "Schizm" style puzzles here, but neither are the puzzles as easy as in say "Amerzone". Most of the puzzles feel well balanced and not once did a puzzle feel unfair. It should be noted that in an interview the creator of this game pointed out that an early puzzle got a lot of complains (and as I was aware of how this puzzle worked after having seen the interview, it gave me no issues). In a hallway there are 3 African pots, and there is a picture in a servants room of the same points, which gives you a hint about what you are supposed to do with them.

Overall, I found the game to be very well made. The puzzles were fun, the mansion was interesting to explore, the story made sense and it was just creepy enough to send a slight tingle down my spine. This game is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys adventure games.
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January 23rd, 2012, 22:34
I finally finished going through umineko no naku koru ni, a truly massive visual novel which as far as I know is a pretty good runner up for best visual novel ever.

There are many thingies that could be criticized and stuffies that could be discussed, yet at the same time it is, without a doubt, so awesome as to grip someone as unrepentantly ADD as I am for such a really long experience. Ryukishi07 may be criticized because of this and because of that, but he is truly skilled in making you care about the little fictional people and playing with your emotions in horrible but lovely ways.

The way he managed to get away with trolling a big segment of his own fandom in such a cruel way is simply adorable, though maybe I wouldn't find it so funny if it had been the side of the fandom I was actually in instead of the side I was actually against. After being for so long kind of scared they would be right and thus all my emotional investment in the series would come to nothing but pain, enough as for me to actually take so long of a break before finally reading the last two and a half episodes, I found not a small amount of catharsis in the entire Golden Land War idea. A literal metafictional war in which the characters make a desperate and epic last stand to protect the theme and meaning of the story, which is also their only chance of a happy ending, from their so called fans, so obsessed with their own ideas and interpretations they are willing to destroy the story itself? That's why I love Japan.

And then those fans who survived the butthurt nova went back to ignoring the obvious and to bicker about this or that ridiculous idea and whining about how their questions have no final answer. Taking into consideration the story's arc words, the final episode being nothing but a development on the ideas of truth that had been appearing since the very begining, and thingies on 7th Expansion's own website the attitude becomes just too hilarious. Talk about completely missing the point.

Anyway, that aside it was a fitting end to Umineko No Naku Koro Ni all the same. Awesome characters being awesome, hax main cast being hax, a great sense of thematic closure, the most beatiful scene ever for Beatrice and Battler. Even Evatrice and Lambdadelta get their own time to shine, Battler gets a final chance to channel Kinzo and the Ushiromiya spirit, and to be utterly manly and so cool it hurts, and all of the evil lolis get punched and humiliated one way or another. I aprove.

The little minigames and puzzles were entertaining and there were a couple of really tough cookies in there, and the logic puzzle dressed as a murder mystery was really well done. But the final choice was kind of underwhelming, in any case. It is impossible to make the wrong choice if you paid any attention at all to the themes and the plot. I kind of suspect it was just another way in which Ryukishi reinforced the theme and meaning instead of an actual choice.

Finally, and as expected from Umineko, the music builds the atmosphere, the mood, and the emotional layer all by itself, and it is incredibly good from beginning to end. Serious contester to best videogame music ever.

I am kind of disappointed, though, in that we haven't had any true conceptual duel since End of the Golden Witch, and that doesn't change even at the end: All battles are epic melee affairs resolved in a couple of declarations, deeply abstracted conceptual stuff, or based instead on the embodiment of the Ushiromiyas' ability to hax reality by means of their magical lemming like mindset and their incredible sense of entitlement. There's nothing here to take away Kinzo's Window's place as the best conceptual duel ever.

And maybe they should have given ANGE her own witchy dress of awesomeness, the jerks. I know they went and fixed it for the PS3 remake, but still…

Anyway. Now it's time for me to spend the next couple of weeks finding gaming empty and boring until the emotional overdose dies down and I can try to play a new game or visual novel without going, like, meh, it sucks compared to Umineko. Bo-ring, etc.

Maybe I'll go play Ougon Musou Kyoku or something in the meantime.

Tell me more, tell me more… Like, does he have a car?

Let's opera! Il Trovatore.
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January 24th, 2012, 13:00
Originally Posted by Vii Zafira View Post
umineko no naku koru ni
What does this mean in English ?

Has it something to do with the Knights Of The Ni ?

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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January 24th, 2012, 14:57
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer
What does this mean in English ?
It means "When the seagulls cry."

It is a visual novel divided in eight different episodes: Legend of the Golden Witch, Turn of the Golden Witch, Banquet of the Golden Witch, Alliance of the Golden Witch, End of the Golden Witch, Dawn of the Golden Witch, Requiem of the Golden Witch, and Twilight of the Golden Witch. Those are divided in two packs: Umineko no naku koro ni and Umineko no naku koro ni chiru.

It is a very interesting story if you can deal with unabashed post modernism in a setting that takes neo platonism quite literally, to the point ideas become weapons and debates become duels to the death. It also has a very strong and eccentric set of characters that spend eight chapters trolling each other in the most brutal ways, a very twisted mystery, and influences that can be argued run the whole gamut from weird interpretations of quantum physics to original fey lore, western demonology, tropes from golden age mysteries, and more. It's pretty weird, and surreal.

The music is awesome. Some examples: The executioner, The great detective knows, Worldend dominator, Happiness of marionette, Hope, The dark and crazed requiem of Purgatory.

Which serves to compensate for the visuals being barely passable at first. They grow on you by the end, though.



Wahahahaha! On a mad night like this!

Ahem, sorry. Anyway, there's a PS3 remake that gives the game way cooler visuals and professional voice acting along some other stuffies, but it seems it will neither be translated nor published in the west as Sony doesn't think the west is ready for visual novels that aren't about bad fetish porn. There's also an anime that covers only up to Alliance of the Golden Witch and even then doesn't manage to live up even a little bit to the visual novel's awesomeness, and that throws away much of the logic games and twisted debates the visual novel is known for along most character development. And there's a fighting game as well, which is pretty good and just received an expansion less than a month ago but is totally unplayable without either a pad or a keyboard that accepts three or more keystrokes at the same time. Literally unplayable, as you can't use half the thingies the characters can do.

The idea of it being a game is disputable, however. Up until Twilight of the Golden Witch your only interaction is reading walls of text upon walls of text while listening to the awesome music, smiling at the crappy sprites' interactions, and trying to solve the mysteries the series present by yourself, with the hints given, before they are resolved by the characters themselves. Once in Twilight you also get some puzzles and mini games, all of which serve only to allow you to see extra scenes that reveal some bonus hints for you to understand some still unresolved story elements, and a single choice. So even among visual novels it is one of the less interactive ones.



Edit: Wow. Sowwy for the wall of text. It seems it went from being a small explanation to an entire introduction without me taking notice.

Tell me more, tell me more… Like, does he have a car?

Let's opera! Il Trovatore.
Last edited by Vii Zafira; January 24th, 2012 at 15:29. Reason: This and that.
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January 24th, 2012, 15:17
Thanks. Never heard of it before.

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January 24th, 2012, 21:41
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Thanks. Never heard of it before.
It's quite interesting visual novel, but suffers much at the end. Prepare yourself for reading tonnes upon tonnes of text and doing nothing but that. There's no interaction in it - none at all. Beware - the "game" is wacky as hell and requires special frame of mind to get into.

If that's not your thing I recommend checking out the fighting game Vii wrote about. Also quite crazy, but aracadey as hell.

Originally Posted by Vii Zafira
A literal metafictional war in which the characters make a desperate and epic last stand to protect the theme and meaning of the story, which is also their only chance of a happy ending, from their so called fans, so obsessed with their own ideas and interpretations they are willing to destroy the story itself? That's why I love Japan.
As much as I liked it, I think the in the end it was fairly weak metafiction - it only served as a device of confusion, and the story behind it was not quite stellar either. It had all flashes but little substance - which is exactly why it's so disappointing. Oh, the potential wasted here… I can't get over it. An example of good metafiction would be pretty much any Discworld book by Terry Pratchett, where the whole world is designed as a metaphor of abstract concepts that sometimes get realised all too literarly.
Last edited by mrowakus; January 24th, 2012 at 21:56.
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January 24th, 2012, 22:58
Originally Posted by Mrowakus
As much as I liked it, I think the in the end it was fairly weak metafiction - it only served as a device of confusion, and the story behind it was not quite stellar either. It had all flashes but little substance - which is exactly why it's so disappointing.
By the end there wasn't much more to do, really. The plot is finished in Dawn of the Golden Witch, and the mystery is explained in Requiem of the Golden Witch. Twilight was mostly a love letter to the fans Ryukishi liked and a fuck you letter to the fans Ryukishi despised. It is, in a way, fanservice, yes. Utterly so, even. I won't discuss that.

But still, I don't know if it was all flash and no substance. It can be argued behind all the flash there's that, say, a substance in here. Behind all the showy stuff and the fanservice there is a layer of meaning, even if it depends on everyone to decide whether it is enough or not to justify it. I would dare saying that while Dawn finished the plot and Requiem finished the mystery, Twilight finished the theme.

I believe there's nothing wrong with it, myself. I did enjoy the theme, and I did enjoy the ideology, and I did enjoy what Ryukishi was trying to say, so I did like the last chapter. If anything he was bitten in the tail by the sheer amount of characters he had to let share the spotlight at the end, and I did consider kind of ridiculous he kept adding new characters up to Requiem of the Golden Witch. That was just kind of overdoing it.

And the final scene with Battler and Beato in the magic ending is the most beautiful thingie ever. End of the Golden Witch already had taken Battler, a character I hated with passion, and turned him into a character I loved as much as I used to hate him until then, but it was that final scene in Twilight that turned that him into This is what men should be all about, damn it! BATORA OPPA! Hottest guy ever! *squeee*

Ahem. Which is a miracle of character development, and goes to show how much love Ryukishi poured into the growth of his characters. Maybe I got too emotionally invested in the story, which is possible given who and how I am, but I loved the end mostly because of that, of how the characters had gone such a long way they all deserved a chance at not being eaten by a black hole of tragedy and cynicism.

However, keep in mind I don't really like the kind of metafiction Terry Pratchett does, so maybe we have far too different tastes. I liked Umineko's kind of metafiction because how it fits with neo platonism, gnosticism, and similar ideas, so how literal and flashy it was I found to be part of the point. I.E: Ideas as actual beings that fight each other looking to deny opposing ideas to the point they stop existing. So I found a lot of meaning behind it. It wasn't subtle, sure, but when the entire point of the episode is sending those ideas across what's the point of being subtle about it?

And it has to be worth something that loli ANGE was so bloody cute she almost managed to defeat all of my anti-motherhood defensive measures in a single swipe, which means Ryukishi is so far the only writter to ever get even remotely close to breaking through. That was so scary.

Originally Posted by mrowakus
There's no interaction in it - none at all.
Hey! What about the puzzles at Ange's halloween party, Trollkastel's murder mystery game, and Ange's final choice?

You can neither say there is no gameplay nor interactivity in Umineko!

Originally Posted by mrowakus
Beware - the "game" is wacky as hell and requires special frame of mind to get into.
Considering Ryukishi07 became one of my favorite modern "pop" (as opposed to, say, serious business like) writers, like, totally ever because of Umineko being the kind of story I enjoy the most I'm going to take this as you saying something about my standard frame of mind in here. ChibiMrowak is a total meanie!

Originally Posted by mrowakus
If that's not your thing I recommend checking out the fighting game Vii wrote about. Also quite crazy, but aracadey as hell.
This video is a good way to explain the mindset you need to enjoy Ougon Musou Kyoku, the fighting game.



Edit: Have you read Higanbana no saku yoru ni already?

Tell me more, tell me more… Like, does he have a car?

Let's opera! Il Trovatore.
Last edited by Vii Zafira; January 24th, 2012 at 23:50. Reason: This and that, and stuffies too.
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January 24th, 2012, 23:58
Vii, I have to admit I didn't even know what a Visual Novel was before you came here. I guess they're not all that popular out here in the West.
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January 25th, 2012, 12:59
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Vii, I have to admit I didn't even know what a Visual Novel was before you came here. I guess they're not all that popular out here in the West.
Dat's, like, totally true. It's (very) slowly changing, though.

But don't fret! Soon enough you'll know all you ever wanted to know about them, and probably even a couple of thingies you would have preferred never knowing. I just need to find a Vii enough name for my super duper hyper-mega-cool thread of visual novel's reviews and discussion.

Tell me more, tell me more… Like, does he have a car?

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January 25th, 2012, 13:11
I just finished Hitman: Codename 47.

Let me just start by saying that it was definitely one of the hardest fucking games I've ever played. There were times that I literally wanted to smash my keyboard in frustration. Some of the missions were just ridiculous, and whoever it was on the design team that thought it was a good idea to not allow in-game saves is simply an asshole. *end rant*

I can understand why Hitman scored so low with most people. You simply have to be masochistic to keep playing it. I think I'm just stubborn . Towards the end I simply had the mindset that I was going to beat the game instead of letting the game beat me.

Not that it wasn't enjoyable. Some of the missions were very good, and I got a strong James Bond vibe in some parts. I think it could have been a truly great game if not for certain design decisions. Obviously the lack of in-game saving was one of those decisions. Imo, they should have allowed the player to save at least once or twice during missions.

Another thing I took issue with is that most of the missions are nearly impossible to finish on your first attempt. There is definitely a trial and error aspect involved, and I'm not a big fan of that. Still, I found the majority of them to be interesting enough that I didn't mind the multiple restarts.

I'm looking forward to playing the other games in the series though. I've heard they're a lot more forgiving than Code 47.
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January 25th, 2012, 14:05
It is not so much that the later Hitman games are more forgiving when you make mistakes as in they give you a proper chance of actually seeing them coming. And the missions are more designed around stealth than they were in Codename 47 (the jungle in Codename 47 is hated by many for basically encouraging gunplay, in particular the last part of it, where you are supposed to infiltrate the base. I just sat outside and picked the enemy off one by one with a sniper rifle).

Visual novels are just a subgenre of Interactive fiction, which was popular in the 80's, but which is a near dead genre these days. Some people still make them on their spare time though.
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January 25th, 2012, 15:20
Originally Posted by Fnord
Visual novels are just a subgenre of Interactive fiction, which was popular in the 80's, but which is a near dead genre these days. Some people still make them on their spare time though.
Ehm…

Visual novels and ADVs are especially prevalent in Japan, where they made up nearly 70% of the PC game titles released in 2006.[2]


In the west they never were really popular, but in japan they have been growing steadily since they were first spawned. There are many development houses who do nothing but visual novels, and several respected "pop" writers whose main focus is on those, like Ryukishi07 and Urobuchi Gen. Nasu Kinoko, too, if you can get past his truly awful and shameful sex scenes.

The wikipedia page on Visual Novels has a lot of information that can be useful as an introduction.

Tell me more, tell me more… Like, does he have a car?

Let's opera! Il Trovatore.
Last edited by Vii Zafira; January 25th, 2012 at 15:32.
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January 25th, 2012, 15:30
I should have said that I was talking about the western market. And 70%? That is crazy! One almost gets the impression that the only PC games being sold in Japan are visual novels & bullet hell shooters
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January 26th, 2012, 09:30
I don't think this one will be of interest to most people, as I've seen many advising to just skip it, but since it seems I'm going through the Tex Murphy games for the first time in order, I might as well make a post for the second game Martian Memorandum.

Unlike its predecessor this one is a rather conventional point and click adventure game. This means no flight sim, no silly shooting sequences, no text parser and no note taking. It also means that there are puzzles that have little to do with actual mystery solving while Tex takes over most of the investigation - the feeling of doing the detective work myself is mostly gone.

The game is very easy (harder than Mean Streets but that one's amount of challenge was closer to zero). That was obviously intentional as there's a 'help' button, very prominently displayed, that will guide you through the puzzles if you get stuck. Overall I'd say that as a point and click adventure game Martian Memorandum is decent.

But here's the thing: this game has a great story! And I don't mean that it's 'great for a game'. No, this is way beyond the usual rubbish that game stories are. It's a proper noire detective mystery (in a science fiction setting) that's as good (and probably better) as most of its kind you can find on film or print, plus it's extremely appropriate for this medium (I've always thought that noire detective stories would be most appropriate as computer games) If you care for that kind of story and you are not allergic to 20 year old adventure gameplay then you are not doing yourself a favor by skipping it.

"I am not interested in good; I am interested in new, even if this includes the possibility of it's being evil"
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Last edited by holeraw; January 26th, 2012 at 20:08.
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January 26th, 2012, 19:54
Galactic assault: Prisoner of power
Galactic assault: prisoner of power is a turnbased strategy (or rather tactics) game along the line of Battle isle or Advance Wars, where you control an army on a hex grid, with each unit usually consisting of more than one "thing" (be it infantrymen, tanks, artillery and so on). Much like in Battle Isle & Advance Wars units will lose combat efficiency as they take damage (representing loss of men), and you can (again much like in Battle Isle or Advance Wars) repair your units or build new ones in certain structures.

The story is based on an old Soviet era sci-fi novel called (in English) either Prisoner of power or The Inhabited Island (the later seem to be the more common name). I had not heard of this book before I started playing this game, but it is apparently one of the defining books of Soviet sci-fi during the 60's. Sadly either the book is a confusing mess, or the developers knew very little about how to transfer the story from a book into game form (I guess it is the later), because even though I have finished the game, I really have no idea what the story was all about. 4 warning factions, someone called Max and someone else called The Wanderer being part of one of them. And you were fighting with Max and The Wanderer… or something. Each mission starts with what I expect is a few sentences from the book, describing what is going on at that moment in the story, but it all feels so incoherent. The manual is not much better. In fact, it is worse, as it is horribly written. After reading the manual I was sure that this game was made by a Russian company that had tried to translate the manual in-house, but the company that made the game is actually from the UK. To make matters a tad bit more confusing, the game might actually have been developed in Belarus.

The game itself fares a lot better, though it is far from perfect. The engine runs smoothly and I experienced no technical issues at all, the core rule system used seem to be quite robust, offering a good amount of tactical options to the player, and there is a wide variety of units in the game, all filling their role. The balance between the different sides seemed to be quite good as well, with one exception, the Insular empire had one unit that in my experience felt a bit broken (their amphibious tanks. I might be wrong though, they might just have been a good counter against my playstyle.

While the core gameplay is quite solid, the mission design was not always as well thought out as it should have been. The first 3 levels were relatively easy, level 4-6 were quite challenging and at level 7 the difficulty spiked quite badly. No other level (out of the 17 levels) was as hard as level 7, though level 16 came close. In both of these cases (and in another level), I suspect that the developers thought that the player would be able to advance faster, killing more units per turn, those levels also have horrible choke points that can be flooded by enemies.

Overall the game was good, but not outstanding. If you are looking for a new TBT and have played the more popular outings, then give this game a try, but if you are new to the TBT genre, there are better games to play (like Elven Legacy, Panzer General, Advance Wars and so on).
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January 26th, 2012, 21:31
Originally Posted by Vii Zafira View Post
By the end there wasn't much more to do, really. The plot is finished in Dawn of the Golden Witch, and the mystery is explained in Requiem of the Golden Witch. Twilight was mostly a love letter to the fans Ryukishi liked and a fuck you letter to the fans Ryukishi despised. It is, in a way, fanservice, yes. Utterly so, even. I won't discuss that.
A lot of what criticize about the series stems exactly from this facet - fanservice + inconsistency that stemmed from it. Also, it appears I am one of the "fans" he didn't like.

But still, I don't know if it was all flash and no substance. It can be argued behind all the flash there's that, say, a substance in here. Behind all the showy stuff and the fanservice there is a layer of meaning, even if it depends on everyone to decide whether it is enough or not to justify it. I would dare saying that while Dawn finished the plot and Requiem finished the mystery, Twilight finished the theme.

I believe there's nothing wrong with it, myself. I did enjoy the theme, and I did enjoy the ideology, and I did enjoy what Ryukishi was trying to say, so I did like the last chapter. If anything he was bitten in the tail by the sheer amount of characters he had to let share the spotlight at the end, and I did consider kind of ridiculous he kept adding new characters up to Requiem of the Golden Witch. That was just kind of overdoing it.
We are in agreement here. At some point it went from quality to quantity.

And the final scene with Battler and Beato in the magic ending is the most beautiful thingie ever. End of the Golden Witch already had taken Battler, a character I hated with passion, and turned him into a character I loved as much as I used to hate him until then, but it was that final scene in Twilight that turned that him into This is what men should be all about, damn it! BATORA OPPA! Hottest guy ever! *squeee*
To be perfectly honest I haven't finished the last part - I am out of steam for that now, and chapter 7 did little to make me eager to see the end.


Ahem. Which is a miracle of character development, and goes to show how much love Ryukishi poured into the growth of his characters. Maybe I got too emotionally invested in the story, which is possible given who and how I am, but I loved the end mostly because of that, of how the characters had gone such a long way they all deserved a chance at not being eaten by a black hole of tragedy and cynicism.
Agreed - for the most part the character development was top-notch, even though it was all kinda predictable. Again, can't see anything about what happened in the Twilight, but I have every reason to believe I won't be surprised - seeing how EVERYTHING I assumed in ep 1 got confirmed (I blame sudden bout of clairvoyance) - there can be only one right ending.

However, keep in mind I don't really like the kind of metafiction Terry Pratchett does, so maybe we have far too different tastes. I liked Umineko's kind of metafiction because how it fits with neo platonism, gnosticism, and similar ideas, so how literal and flashy it was I found to be part of the point. I.E: Ideas as actual beings that fight each other looking to deny opposing ideas to the point they stop existing. So I found a lot of meaning behind it. It wasn't subtle, sure, but when the entire point of the episode is sending those ideas across what's the point of being subtle about it?
I too found the unabashed approach behind it all endearing and it hooked me over from the start - but let down near the finish - the moment it started wearing off, and more subtlety was in order - the way it was delivered was not very satisfying. It was too mawkish to my tastes and reeked of cliche formula. It WAS aptly used, but I expected more from it.

And it has to be worth something that loli ANGE was so bloody cute she almost managed to defeat all of my anti-motherhood defensive measures in a single swipe, which means Ryukishi is so far the only writter to ever get even remotely close to breaking through. That was so scary.
With Ryukishi I have the same problem as with other Japanese authors - they seem unbelieveably talented. They have their distinct voice. They know their trade. But goddamn their do not use their potential to the fullest and get bogged down by fanservice and general popular demand. They use over the top modes of presentation just to please their audience, but in doing so they become repetetive and unoriginal. All too often the show/manga/anime starts with an interesting premise only to abandon it in favour of the most trite of cliches towards the end - or worse - use those cliches in the same run-of-the-mill way throughout the series, and the premise thinly veils that. In such cases it's evident to me that either the author himself did not know what he wanted to achieve at the start and just went with the flow as the story run, or that he limited himself for some reason. As it is such people resamble more skilled craftsmen that know what the public wants - but not a genuine fully realised author.

Having said all that, I liked Umineko in the end. It is a good visual novel with many twists and turns, and exciting happenings all over. It's "only" good, even though it could have been great. I enjoyed the theme, liked many characters, up to a point was fascinated by the mystery itself. However, it lacks focus that could make it truly memorable, to my mind. Still, you were right earlier - it appears we have too different tastes. Oh well, there's alway Bulhakov.

Hey! What about the puzzles at Ange's halloween party, Trollkastel's murder mystery game, and Ange's final choice?
Ignorance is bliss

The fact that you have to wait for all that till ep 8 does not help to introduce new "players" to the series.

You can neither say there is no gameplay nor interactivity in Umineko!
Fine - There's no gameplay and interactivity in Umineko from episodes 1 to 7! Unless I missed something - I really "played" the "game" in huge intervals - over three years, I guess… and still haven't finished it. But no - other than checking who was how murdered there was no interactivity.

Considering Ryukishi07 became one of my favorite modern "pop" (as opposed to, say, serious business like) writers, like, totally ever because of Umineko being the kind of story I enjoy the most
Fair enough. Good it works for you. I think it would have worked for me too if some conditions were met… alas.

I'm going to take this as you saying something about my standard frame of mind in here. ChibiMrowak is a total meanie!
Now you are acting like my sister, out of the sudden.

This frame of mind is one of my own. I mean - you have to be at least slightly into magic, religion, other cultures and be - let's not be afraid of the word - a storyfag with inclination towards detective novels to appreciate what Umineko has in store. Otherwise it's no dice.

Edit: Have you read Higanbana no saku yoru ni already?
If that was directed to me - no I haven't yet. But since it's you who are recommending it I will take a peek at it over the weekend.
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January 26th, 2012, 21:49
Originally Posted by Fnord View Post
It is not so much that the later Hitman games are more forgiving when you make mistakes as in they give you a proper chance of actually seeing them coming. And the missions are more designed around stealth than they were in Codename 47 (the jungle in Codename 47 is hated by many for basically encouraging gunplay, in particular the last part of it, where you are supposed to infiltrate the base. I just sat outside and picked the enemy off one by one with a sniper rifle).
Plus, in the later games you can actually just sit around the corner and shoot every single enemy in the head as they come through the door. I guess the difficulty is something I sort of appreciated about the first game, and generally speaking I like to play games on "easy", if you know what I mean.
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January 26th, 2012, 22:47
Coming back to the topic - I really haven't had time to play many games recently, least of all finish them. However, there's one title that I completed in one go, amazed by the sheer quality. It's Blue Planet - War in Heaven - a Freespace 2 mod. Frankly, I didn't expect this level of polish from some semi-random mod on the web - but boy it surprised me. It had it all that's the best about space sims and a little bit more.

War in Heaven is sequel to Blue Planet: Age of Aquarious - an uneven mod with many fun ideas which were held back by some decisions related primarly to the presentation of the story (Fly 15 mins in empty space, because characters have to have a chat… zzzz. Oh, you were shot down! Again 15 mins of snoozfest). I still recommend checking it out - by the standards of todays industry it's marvelous.

Now, War in Heaven takes place in the Freespace universe you know from original games - after the events presented there. The twists is - without spoiling to much - you are in the middle of Terran-Terran conflict, and the position of the side you are fighting on is desperate. Over the course of 15 missions you will have a chance to partake in the most decisive and gruesome battles of the war.

In all those battles you will see tonnes upon tonnes of new ships, starfighters, bombers, weapons - the likes of which you haven't seen in the original game. The best part is - it's not just the models. New units and weapons were given completely new abilities that you can either witness (the barrage of nuclear missiles launched from a capital ship is a sight to behold) or use yourself (fighters that have reverse thrust which opens way to new maneuvres).

Of course that's not all. The area the game truly shines is the presentation of the story and how greately it reinforces the gameplay - truly a model. The team behind the project learned from the Age of Aquarious. While there are a few slower missions, and some cutscenes - now they use it meaningfully without wasting ones time. They even added a key combination that let's you skip story fluff - which is useful if you were shot down and already know the most important details. But the "fluff" is not why I think the story is great - no. It's the events that happen during the missions that keep you on the edge of the seat, always anticipating the unexpected, always craving for more.

Much of that is owning to the missions structure - how it meticulously looks like real military operation, with every ship, every wing designated to its own task - and you playing the role in all that. You quickly learn to pay attention to what you wingmen and HQ are saying - if they report fighter-sweep bombers - you hide behind capital ships - if they say to leave a battlecruiser alone - they have good reasons to.

On the surface it's very limiting but once the chaos starts you really realise the meaning behind it all. If you don't take down beam cannons on battle corvettes your battlecruiser will be locked in a pointless combat with minions letting priceless carrier escape from the battlefield. Also there are countless points when something unexpected happens, like enemy getting reinforcements, and everyone going in panic - then it's up to you to decide the best course of action. There are few more exhilirating moments in entire gaming than spearheading a raid on enemy cruiser to disable its beam cannons before it will get into reach of your defenceless convoy. This is especially true when you are swarmed by enemy fighters, and trying to issue orders to your wingmen to keep your tail safe.

You could argue all of it was present in original Freespace 2. True, but not to this scale. The starship battles are huge with dozens of capital ships exchanging constant fire, people shouting, praying, despairing, going batshit crazy from fear. You feel like a small, but important cog in a machinery far beyond your understanding. This is marred by lack of voice acting - it's sometimes hard to read all those messages when you have two bandits on your tail and they are bombing your convoy, but you have to grin and bear it.

On the whole, I whole heartedly recommend it to any Freespace 2 fan. And if you haven't played Freespace 2? Do yourself a favour and get it off GOG, ebay or somewhere else. Then install Freespace 2 open mod (Installation Instructions) with all the modern eyecandy on board. War in Heaven should already be in that package (full installation).

Here are a few linkz for the undecided:

In game intro (Did I mention the absolutely fantastic music score in the game?)
Random mission
Random mission
Random mission
Last edited by mrowakus; January 26th, 2012 at 23:03.
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