08 June, 2014

Keepalive: The Last Story, Goat Simulator, Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Remnant

written by Blain Newport on Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Last Story

I "finished" The Last Story. The final boss had an attack that killed me in one shot. I tried taking defensive stance and it still killed me in one shot. I tried dodging sideways and it still killed me in one shot. I tried taking the game out of my Wii and watching the ending on YouTube. That seemed to solve the problem entirely. Overall I'd stay The Last Story is still a decent game about overly earnest young people winning against the corrupt world for no real reason. High fantasy indeed.

Goat Simulator

I took ill for almost all of the previous seven days. I knew I wouldn't be up to any extreme goating, but I needed the laugh so I checked out the 1.1 patch for Goat Simulator which added "goat parkour". Parkour is a word that gets used incorrectly sometimes. Parkour is about getting past obstacles with as little energy expended as possible, whereas most games add over the top acrobatic flourishes which are more in line with free running. For example getting just enough air to clear an obstacle then letting your momentum roll you over the top of it would be parkour. Whereas doing a flip for no reason would be free running.

What Goat Simulator gives you is the ability to run up walls a bit and run on your front two feet. Here I am running on my front two feet with a "rider" attached while a woman looks on and says in an Irishy accent "that goat is killin' it."

Honestly, I could be completely off on the accent. The Last Story assigns characters all sorts of English, Irish, and Scottish accents with no real basis in anything, and it's confused my ears.

Xenoblade Chronicles

Xenoblade Chronicles, however has been entirely English accents so far, I think. It's widely regarded as the best JRPG of the last console generation, so I figured if I enjoyed The Last Story, Xenoblade should be even better. Thus far, I'm not so impressed. I mean, it's fine, but nothing's clicking with me yet. The combat is MMO cool downs with some combos and extreme enemy telegraphing for flavor. The economy and side quests seem like time wasters mostly.

The most interesting thing it's done is try to invest the player in the characters and their relationships by making them a game mechanic. Characters like each other more if they fight together more. They also fight more effectively together and do better at crafting enhancement gems together if they like each other. There may be other benefits. Basically it's the super grindy version of Mass Effect 2's loyalty quests. There is also a major side quest chain to build up a settlement. It also gives a bit of caretaker satisfaction, but it also provided the most frustrating part of the game so far.

To complete the first stage of settlement construction, I need a Light Rain Element. The Light Rain Element drops off of a single monster at a less than 20% chance. And that particular monster only comes out during rain storms. If that wasn't bad enough, it's super resistant to physical attacks, which are all I've really got at this point in the game, and when it's health gets low it self destructs, producing no loot, so I get nothing for my efforts. To add insult to injury, I looked online and found that there was an earlier point in the story where I could have just traded for a Light Rain Element and it would have cost me almost nothing. But I've been permanently cut off from that opportunity, so I'm stuck with an awful grind. I will always remember this disrespect for the player's time when I remember this game.

But I've not nothing else I'm super anxious to play, so I'll just ignore that quest for a while and come back when my party is over-leveled and has better Ether attacks.

The Last Remnant

I was so sick at some points in the week that even the pretty laid back combat of Xenoblade was more than I could handle, so I went for the turn based fights of The Last Remnant. Actually, when I first spun it up I just watched the opening 20 minutes of cinematics and turned it off again. And eventually The Last Remnant also pooped on my parade.

The first fight of any difficulty is the player and a helper against a boss and two groups of bandits. Basically it's still in the tutorial part of the game. The winning strategy is supposed to be keeping the boss busy with your helper while you clean up the bandits. I tried that initially, but it didn't work multiple times. I figured this was a tutorial, so there must be another strategy. I was wrong and many more attempts proved that there wasn't a better way. I had just gotten unlucky die rolls. After reading online that I had been doing it right from the start, I tried the first strategy again and it worked. No player on earth likes battles to be decided by luck instead of choices they made. And to have a battle so early in the game with this problem, on the PC version of the game which was supposedly rebalanced, is ridiculous.

I don't know. Every decade or so I guess I have to remind myself why I never really liked JRPGs to begin with. I've heard good things about Lost Odyssey for the 360, but I think my due diligence for this decade may be done already. I may pick it up simply because I can't believe that an entire genre has nothing in it for me. But it certainly looks that way.

In full fairness, having juveniles hang around in bars with fish men and reptile bunnies is wonderful nonsense.

But the game's 80 hours. I don't think it'll be enough.

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