Tag Archives: Black Friday

Captain B.J. Blazkowicz resolutely takes on the Nazis

I’ve got bad news: I know all the spoilery bits for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus already. That’s just one of the few sacrifices I had to make to listen to Giant Bomb‘s 2017 GOTY deliberations, along with knowing where things ultimately go in NierR:Automata, Yakuza 0, and Persona 5. Oh well. Thankfully, I was able to complete both Night in the Woods and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild just before the year came to a close. But considering that I’m only just now finishing up Wolfenstein: The New Order, here’s hoping I forget many details about the much-talked about sequel…whenever I get to it (my prediction: somewhere in late 2019).

I got Wolfenstein: The New Order, along with the follow-up/prequel Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, The Inner World, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, during Microsoft’s big Black Friday sale in that crazy year called 2017. Anyways, I’m trying to make a more conscious effort to the play the games I buy instead of letting them sit for months unattended, and so I recently loaded up Wolfenstein: The New Order, kept it on the default difficulty setting, and quickly got about putting Nazis in their place. It’s good fun, if surprisingly straightforward, both in terms of gameplay and plot.

I’ll do my best to provide a plot summary. Some three years after the destruction of the Black Sun portal, the Nazis deployed advanced technologies, which enabled them to turn the tide against the Allies. On July 16, 1946, at dawn, U.S. special forces operative Captain William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, accompanied by pilot Fergus Reid and Private Probst Wyatt III, took part in a massive Allied air raid against a fortress and weapons laboratory run by General Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse. Unfortunately, the three of them were captured and brought to a human experimentation laboratory where Deathshead forced Blazkowicz to choose one of his companions to die–either Fergus or Wyatt. Afterwards, Blazkowicz escapes the laboratory, but suffers a critical head injury, rendering him unconscious and putting him in a coma for 14 years. He comes back to life in a psychiatric asylum in Poland, now determined more than ever to find his friends and blast apart some Nazi faces. Phew.

Wolfenstein: The New Order is a first-person shooter that, at many times, asks to you to do things stealthily. There’s also cover-based shooting and entire sequences where you are exploring an area or solving some simple puzzles. I came at this as I do all first-person things–cautiously. Unfortunately, when the chaos kicks in and you are discovered, the best thing to do is keep moving and don’t stop firing. The game is pretty generous with armor, health, and ammo pick-ups, so, honestly, go nuts. However, when I got to Chapter 12: Gibraltar Bridge, I hit a serious snag, finding the difficulty–even on the normal setting–to be a bit much to overcome. I’m not alone in this. You are basically climbing up a broken bridge, at a serious disadvantage, with numerous enemies high above you and out of sight. After about ten or so attempts, I gave up and dropped the difficulty down to “Can I play, Daddy?”, which at first bothered me, but then I had a good time mowing down everyone in B.J.’s way without even giving a second thought to taking cover or needing more health.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Wolfenstein: The New Order is its perk system. Instead of collecting XP and leveling up your B.J.–keep it clean, kids–to spend skill points on perks, you earn upgrades by doing specific tasks. Kind of like in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, where if you want to raise your blocking stats with a shield, start blocking with a shield more. These minor upgrades enhance Blazkowicz’s combat aptitude by increasing his maximum health, ammo count, and damage taken, which is all well and good, but you are playing on the easiest of difficulty levels this doesn’t matter much. Still, going after them is enjoyable, and I really had a good time sprint-sliding and killing Nazis to ultimately strengthen my skills at…well, killing Nazis. Also, you can totally take advantage of key checkpoints in certain levels to grind out some of the trickier perks, which I totally did.

So yeah, that’s Wolfenstein: The New Order. I’m currently playing clean-up on some of its collectibles and Achievements (none of them related to difficulty settings though), but I suspect after that I’ll move on to Wolfenstein: The Old Blood…soonish. Eh, maybe. I also need to finish Prey, and then I’d love to get into Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Eep, too many games.

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The triumpant return of Dragon Age: Inquisition

gd-da-inquisition-impressions-skyhold_front

I gave up on Dragon Age: Inquisition and Girgna the dwarven warrior pretty quickly after hitting that bug with meeting Blackwall, deciding that this PlayStation 3 version was not the right version for me. It constantly froze at the war room table and other places, and the tiny text made every quest description a guess to my eyes. Basically, every time I turned it on, I knew I was taking a chance, that all my progress could very well be for nothing. That the tears in the sky weren’t the only forces working against my gaming desires to collect herbs and turn in missions. This was back in January 2015.

Let’s zip forward to around now, to the Black Friday hubbub and shower of sales, both at retail and online, and Dragon Age: Inquisition is deeply discounted for $16.00. Keep in mind that this is the Game of the Year edition, which means it is brimming with DLC and pre-order bonuses, but also for the Xbox One, a system that seemed to run the game just fine if reviews and forums were to be trusted. Plus, this is much less than I paid for my original, broken and abandoned-by-Bioware PS3 copy around the time it was originally released. I couldn’t resist, and thus I am back in this bloody, high fantasy world, collecting Elfroot with every step.

Strangely enough, I am now playing as an elven rogue named Felena, but other than the pointy ears and white-ish forehead tattoos, she looks identical to Girgna. I guess I always subconsciously default to a certain style when playing as a female avatar. Oh well. I’m digging using a bow and arrows way more than charging headfirst into the action only to get my health meter depleted in a few swipes. I’ve also made it further than I did on my first go and have pleasantly discovered that there’s a wee bit of Suikoden in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Don’t get too excited–it is, after all, just a wee bit, but I’ll take it over nothing.

Many will urge new players to Dragon Age: Inquisition to not dawdle and waste away in the Hinterlands. Sure, there’s a ton of things to do in that section of the map, but you only need to do so much to move the story forward plot-wise, and I suggest this too. Granted, I still put at least eight hours into the Hinterlands before even visiting the Storm Coast for the first time, but I am stubborn and wanted to recreate my original adventure as much as possible. Anyways, plow forward, and you’ll eventually leave Haven behind for a full-fledged castle called Skyhold, and it is here that you can wander from room to room, seeing where each of your recruited companions are calling home. Sure, you don’t have 108 of them to find, but I still found it more exciting and rewarding to explore than the ship in Mass Effect 2. Plus, you can play decorator, changing the windows, curtains, beds, thrones, and so on to your creative heart’s desire.

I’m going to gently dip into spoiler territory for a moment, meaning this is your chance to run for the hills. Staying? Okay, cool. The quest before you get to Skyhold is about losing Haven, which has been acting as a subpar headquarters for the Inquisition as they figure out where they are going. At one point, you can actually save certain villagers and people in Haven, but must also fight off the waves of demons heading your way simultaneously. Unfortunately, I couldn’t save everyone. Those I did are now in Skyhold, momentarily safe, and those that perished…well, they are no more. This bums me out majorly, as I didn’t realize any of this was possible and naturally didn’t rely on saving and re-loading to keep every sentenced soul alive and well. Every Suikoden playthrough is a single-minded mission to bring all aboard and keep them breathing, especially during the war battle sequences. I want to apply the same mentality here.

All that said, I’m ecstatic to be back in Dragon Age: Inquisition, and that the game is running smoothly on the Xbox One, with the only oddness being a glitch or two where a character will suddenly float up in the air and then land elsewhere. I saw a dragon to this to a giant, too. To me, that’s just magic. I really enjoyed the scope and some of the stories from Dragon Age: Origins and wisely skipped out on the second entry, but this one seems pretty solid, with plenty to do, even if I am growing tired of picking up Elfroot. Just kidding, Elfroot is life. No, literally…I use it to replenish healing potions. I’ll let everyone know if I’m able to revive Gremio right before the final fight.

Turn-based trial and error assassinating with Hitman GO

gd early impressions hitman go

The Hitman series and I have not exactly clicked over the years, which is strange, seeing as these are stealth-based games with multiple paths and ways to succeed, with one often using the environment or disguises to get jobs done than simply firing a bullet from a sniper rifle miles away. It’s that whole “this sounds better on paper” thing, seeing as I could barely get through the opening parts of Hitman: Blood Money and walked away from Hitman: Absolution fairly early on, though I’d still like to return to the latter eventually and give it a second shake.

Good news, everyone–Hitman GO rocks! In fact, it’s my favorite Hitman game so far. Yup, this turn-based, puzzle board game version of Agent 47’s stealth assassination missions is basically everything I do like about these games, but with a super strong aesthetic and enough challenge to get me scratching my head, but returning for more after every level. I bought it the other night for $0.10–that’s ten cents for those with eyesight problems–through Microsoft’s online store as part of their weekly sales for Black Friday, though I’m playing it on my laptop and not a tablet/phone as it is probably intended to be experienced. Too bad, so sad.

There’s no story in Hitman GO, and there doesn’t need to be. Instead, each world, represented by a vintage-looking board game box, collects a handful of themed levels together, with the main goal either being to reach the exit unnoticed and alive or kill a specific target, often draped in red attire. There are side objectives as well, such as collecting a briefcase or completing the level in a set number of turns, and those go towards acquiring stars, which will help you unlock future sets of levels. Every character is represented as a tiny figurine, even mimicking the “toppled over” effect of taken chess pieces when knocked down. I liked this in Crimson Shroud, and I like it once again here.

Truly, it’s the board game aesthetic that has me transfixed. Here’s a true fact about me: if you are ever looking for me in a bookstore, you can generally find me at the board games shelf, ogling just about everything, fascinated with all the games and possibilities, saddened over the fact that I don’t have anyone to play these things with. Recently, I gave Machi Koro a good hard look, amazed at the colorful, friendly artwork. If a real, tangible version of Hitman GO existed, I most assuredly would be staring at it for a while, as i do when I play. You can rotate the board around for a better view or to simply admire the small, off-to-the-side details.

I’m currently in the middle of the second world’s levels, which have introduced new, tricky mechanics like hiding in potted plants or using trapdoors to teleport around the screen at the cost of a turn. My biggest struggle right now is with the knife-wielding enemies in teal shirts that turn 180 degrees, as I still don’t grok when it is wise to move towards them. Strangely, it’s when they are already facing you. It’ll take some practice, though I’m sure there are other elements down the road that will be just as hard to figure out.

A negative, sadistic part of me wonders if I’ll hit a wall when I get to the Blood Money-themed levels–yup, I know they are forthcoming–and tasked with tossing coins to distract guards, but we’ll see what those ultimately look like when I cross that path. Until then, may all your puzzles be murder.

Nintendo announces two new DSi colored bundles

That’s right. More colors for the Nintendo DSi. And it only took the world a hundred years to give us a Mario pipe-green one. I mean, I thought that was a no-brainer, but maybe that’s just me. Green’s also the best color ever to be a color, and everything should be green, Nintendo DS consoles especially. People, too. Insert your own Soylent Green is people joke!

Well, now we have one. A green Nintendo DSi, that is. It’s debuting this Black Friday, but it’s probably only available in limited numbers. First come, first gobble up. Also, the bundle comes packaged with a free game (Mario Party DS) for the price of just a standalone DSi–about $149.99. Cool, cool. If Tara and I didn’t already own fine and dandy DS Lites (mine’s black, hers is black and blue), I’d totally spring for this. But, alas, currently, there is no need in my life for a third DS system, even if it is an upgrade so-to-speak with its nifty camera and slightly bigger bod. Might just wait this whole crazy ride out until the 3DS drops and see how that floats or flops. I totally didn’t mean to rhyme there.

Anyways, check out Nintendo’s newest baby in all its beautiful, green glory below:

Mmm hmm.

Oh, and there’s also an orange one available…but who cares about that color.