Tag Archives: co-op

Marvel Heroes Omega’s squirrelly performance on consoles

I’ve long wanted to play Marvel Heroes since it came out in 2013, but after seeing just how large the download file was from Steam–somewhere over the 30 GB mark–I decided to hold off. Then I completely forgot about the optic blasted thing, even after its double renaming to Marvel Heroes 2015 and Marvel Heroes 2016, until Gazillion Entertainment announced that it was coming to consoles this year, still as a free-to-play beast (not to be confused with Beast, the NPC you need to speak to during one of the main story missions). Anyways, it is here, it is rebranded once more as Marvel Heroes Omega, and it is a good amount of mindless fun, with some technical issues peppered throughout the experience. Let me and my army of squirrels explain.

To start, this is Diablo starring superheroes, that you play with a controller. At least that’s how I’ve described it to others. I’ll go more into the gameplay mechanics in a bit, but let me sum up the story, written by Brian Michael Bendis and which would be right at home for a long-running Saturday morning cartoon series arc. Legendary no-gooder Doctor Doom obtains the Cosmic Cube, which is capable of transforming any wish into reality, irrespective of the consequences. He uses this device to incinerate the Watcher. On the flip side of things, Madame Hydra and HYDRA have facilitated a breakout, freeing several super-powered inmates. You, the player, whether you are everyone’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, Captain “The Captain” America, or berzerker claws-only Wolverine, must go on a series of quests to take these villains down and put a stop to whatever Doctor Doom’s end-game plan is. Total domination, I’m assuming. The story is told via text in mission logs and dialogue with other peeps, as well as stylized, hand-drawn cutscenes that make you feel like you’re right inside a comic book. One problem: so far, I haven’t see a single brown hair of Squirrel Girl, despite her being my main hero and almost level 40.

Marvel Heroes Omega is without a doubt an action role-playing game, or ARPG for those that like to keep things short. You can tell immediately by looking at it and seeing the camera perspective, as well as the UI that puts a number of spells that once called numbers on a keyboard home now associated with the A, B, X, and Y buttons. It’s also a free-to-play game, but unlike Candy Crush Saga and Final Fantasy: All The Bravest, there’s no energy system that restricts how long you can play for, nor do the microtransactions seem to get in the way or block people from playing most of the game. Many of the superheroes cost a high amount of real money bucks or special currency, but you can grind out the latter as you play through the single player content and other modes. I think all the alternative costumes are in loot boxes, but I’m not certain of that.

Here’s what you do in Marvel Heroes Omega: beat up baddies and gain levels. In short, kick butts and eat nuts (only if you are Squirrel Girl, which, thankfully, I am). As characters gain levels, they gain passive stat increases and power points, allowing the player to further define the abilities of that character, and each character has three power trees in which they can spend points. These focus on a certain mechanic or play style, such as melee, guns, explosives, ranged, or special ranged. Currently, I’ve unlocked an ally for Squirrel Girl named Tippy Toe, who wears a pink bow and does some series damage. Also, I can shoot a squirrel like a machine gun. Without paying any money, you can play every single character in the game up to level 10. Then you must unlock the character to continue gaining levels and powers, which I did for Squirrel Girl, and I’m currently saving up special currency to buy Iron Man for Melanie so we can continue playing this together.

It’s not a perfect launch, which is somewhat disappointing, considering they’ve had years to work on at the very least the foundation of this game. The concrete floor, the support beams, the installation–that stuff. I’ve had Marvel Heroes Omega crash a handful of times already, dumping me right back to the start menu with little explanation. There’s insane slowdown when things get crazy with a bunch of superheroes all unloading on a single group of enemies at once. Also, if you try to move ahead in the level before it has finished loading, you hit an invisible wall until the game catches up with you. Not total deal-breakers, but irksome issues regardless.

I’m a couple chapters short of finishing the main campaign for Marvel Heroes Omega, but that doesn’t mean this adventure is over. Far from it. After that, I’m curious to see how my Squirrel Girl will grow as a character via other modes, and I do want to see how other heroes play, such as Gambit or Kitty Pryde, but probably only to level 10. I don’t think I myself have enough superpowers to grind out special currency for another character unlock after Iron Man. I’ll never say never, but I also won’t say likely. Also, at some point, I need to give at least one of the following three titles–Marvel Ultimate Alliance, X-Men: Legends, and X-Men: Legends II – Rise of Apocalypse–a shot, all of which entered my gaming collection some years back and remain untouched, cases on a shelf.

2015 Game Review Haiku, #40 – Lara Croft: Guardian of Light

2015 gd games completed lara-croft-and-the-guardian-of-light

Find mirror of smoke
By yourself or with Totec
Never stop rolling

From 2012 all through 2013, I wrote little haikus here at Grinding Down about every game I beat or completed, totaling 104 in the end. I took a break from this format last year in an attempt to get more artsy, only to realize that I missed doing it dearly. So, we’re back. Or rather, I am. Hope you enjoy my continued take on videogame-inspired Japanese poetry in three phases of 5, 7, and 5, respectively.

Playing co-op the solo way in Lara Croft: Guardian of Light

guardian of light gd cooping by myself

I keep saying that I’m working at completing games saved on my limited Xbox 360 hard-drive space in hopes of then deleting these finished games and making room for those in my growing download queue too large to acquire until some room clears up…but really, I’m dragging my feet. Or rather, my hands. Sure, sure, I polished off The Raven‘s first episode and Assassin’s Creed II some time back, but it’s not enough. Not when Microsoft keeps giving out full retail games as digital downloads, with each ranging between 6 and 9 GB of required space. Feel free to insert a first-world problems snarky comment here; I’ve earned it.

So, over the weekend, I took a good hard look at the list of games on my Xbox 360 and decided that I had let Lara Croft: Guardian of Light sit idle for far too long. According to How Long to Beat, it should only take me about six hours to complete. I think I can do that, especially when you consider that my save sits somewhere around the fourth or fifth level; basically, I just took down the magically deadly T-rex, which was previously a stone statue. Perhaps that means I only have about four or five hours to go if I really get to work and don’t run into any snags. I don’t plan on trying to collect every weapon or relic or do all the challenge rooms that are unearthed, simply finish all the levels.

Perhaps I’ll have more to say about the main storyline or rolling around, dropping button-controlled bombs, and blasting enemies with a staggering assortment of weaponry, but for now, I want to speak about co-op play, as Lara Croft: Guardian of Light is designed mostly from the ground up to be played simultaneously by two players. Either with a friend beside you or across the great expanse we know as the Internet.

Ultimately, honestly, I just wanted to unlock the four Achievements tied to co-op play, because I guess I still care about these things, which are as follows:

lc gol a friend in need ach

A Friend in Need (20G) – Play Co-op mode

 

lc gol leap of faith ach

Leap of Faith (15G) – Catch Totec with the grapple while he is jumping over a death fall

lc gol return to sender ach

Return to Sender (15G) – Reflect an enemy’s projectile back to him using Totec’s shield

lc gol jump jump ach

Jump Jump (10G) – Jump from Totec’s shield while he is jumping

 

Here’s the rub: I did unlock them all…by myself. Yup, I sunk low and played a two-player game with myself, jumping back and forth between two controllers on my lap, one for Lara and one for Totec. First, I did try to find if anyone was online and playing, but after numerous attempts, no games were found. Which makes total sense, seeing we are five years out from its launch, especially given that there’s already a sequel to this, called Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. Second, I don’t really have many IRL gamer friends, which is one of the reasons I still haven’t even purchased a second controller for my PS3.

To be honest, because I did this single-handedly (well, not literally), these Achievements feel all the harder earned. Though the first one, A Friend in Need, simply required me turning on a second controller and starting a co-op game. Easy peasy there. It gets gradually more difficult. Jump Jump saw me holding down the left bumper on the controller for Totec, while using the other controller to get Lara to jump on his shield; after that, while still holding down the left bumper, I had to hit Totec’s jump button and quickly follow it by hitting the jump button for Lara, which took a few tries. Leap of Faith required similar tactics.

However, to unlock Return to Sender, which requires Totec to use his shield to bounce an enemy’s projectile back at them, one must make it to the second level. That means completing the first co-op level, and for the most part, I could simply leave one character standing still in a corner while the other character took care of enemies and puzzles before moving both of them along the main path. There are two sections in that first level where both characters need to be constantly moving, working in tandem, and this proved challenging as I had to juggle moving both Lara and Totec and using their respective skills–Totem can create platforms with his spear while Lara can use her rope thingy to make bridges and climb walls–truthfully, I’m still amazed I got through it all.

With those silly Achievements now mine, all I really want to do left with Lara Croft: Guardian of Light is complete the main story, with little concern to score challenges and collecting all the weapons or relics. Once that’s done, it’ll be uninstalled, and I’ll be one step closer to maybe causing chaos in Just Cause 2.

Dead Island’s a lively tropical vacation full of zombies

dead island thoughts and stuff

Back in October 2013, I grabbed a digital copy of Dead Island for $4.99 on the PlayStation 3 and played for a little bit, actually finding it too unnerving to play solo, given that any group of three or more zombies proved deadly, and the to-ing and fro-ing for fetch quests felt both depressing and lonely. I don’t think I got out of Act I or even hit level 10 with whatever character I selected before putting the whole thing aside. Flash-forward to February 2014, and Dead Island is given out as a freebie for Gold users on the Xbox 360. Figured I’d try one more time.

For those unaware, Dead Island is a first-person, zombie-killing survival loot fest. What does that mean? Well, you will kill zombies, find better weapons, and use them to kill more zombies. There’s a high focus on melee weapons though guns do pop up later and are less exciting. The game takes place on the fictional island of Banoi, a tropical resort destination located off the coast of Papua New Guinea. You play as one of four survivors who discover, after a crazy night of partying, that the island’s gone to heck–undead heck, that is. Back on the PS3, I started off as Xian Mei, a hotel receptionist and spy for the Chinese government, but decided to go with former football-star Logan Carter for this second go-around, seeing as he is much better suited for wielding blunt weapons.

Your goal is, naturally, to get off this zombie-infested island alive. Along the way, you’ll do smaller quests for other survivors, like finding a necklace or reuniting siblings. All the quests exist to simply get you out in the wild, killing zombies, finding new weapons, and gaining XP. This can be a lot of fun, generally when it is you versus one or two zombies; it’s all about crowd control and managing your stamina, which runs out fast with each hard swing of your hammer or spiked baseball bat. Breaking a zombie’s bones or slice its head off in one swift action is very satisfying, even if the game occasionally bugs out or feels too tough for one person to get through.

Well, something happened the other night. I was playing through the campaign by myself, specifically the Act 1 mission where you have to protect a mechanic’s workshop while he tinkers with upgrading your van with some zombie-blocking armor. Naturally, all the noise he creates draws in a bunch of biters; I finished the mission just fine when, out of nowhere, another player joined my game. This player was clearly much higher in level than me–his gun shot bullets that set zombies aflame and put them to the ground in one single trigger-pull–and I figured he’d see what I was up to and decide I wouldn’t be fun to co-op with, given the differences between our characters. But no–he lingered. And then two other players joined, both just as high in level as him. They wanted to adventure with moi.

With these three other power-spewing players by my side, we blazed through the remainder of Dead Island‘s Act I and got pretty deep into Act II before I had to drop out to make some phone calls and play something less terrifying before bedtime. I wouldn’t necessarily call it fun for me or how I even wanted to play, as I spent the majority of my time just walking behind them, watching zombies getting slaughtered and free, unearned XP added to my character, and there seemed to be little I could do. Given that Act II begins in a new area, I wanted to explore more slowly and on my own, but these three were eager to just move on to the next mission, often firing guns in the air as a signal for me to hurry up and over. A part of me felt bad for abandoning them; heck, they joined my game, and were here to assumedly help me. So I followed behind for a good while, earning lots of XP, money, and weapons, and missing every important story beat along the way. Now that they’re gone, I feel very out of my element–like I don’t belong in Act II.

As you explore Banoi, the game is constantly letting you know that so-and-so is nearby, just click this button to join their game. I tried it once or twice, with it putting me really far away from the other player, to the point that I was basically still just playing solo, but listening to someone’s choppy voicechat. It’s a neat function that seems to work well enough, but I think I need to turn it off, at least until I complete the story once. Right now, I feel like I’m missing a lot of the atmosphere and small details by just jumping from quest to quest, completing a handful in under an hour. Maybe they were all boosting for Achievements, but I’m not really interested in that stuff anymore.

It sounds like Dead Island is a pretty long game. The level cap is 50, and I just hit 25, and there are still two more acts to go. I’ve come across some online grumbling about how these final sections are less fun than exploring the beach/resort area. Already, I’m disliking the city/church area, as there are way too many zombies to realistically handle; I’ve found myself sprinting past enemies more often to not. It’s also more closed off, with narrow alleys and buildings, whereas the beach felt very open. I’ll keep going though. I don’t want to be a zombie.

It should really be called New Coin Battle Mario Bros.

New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Wii is all about co-op play, as well as co-op murder rampages spawned from the nine-times-out-of-ten frustrating co-op play. But that’s actually only accurate towards traditional co-op. Let me explain further.

Recently, Tara and I visited her brother and played some New Super Mario Bros together. He was Mario, and Tara and I each played as the mushroom dudes. We picked a few levels, and it was clear that we were not destined to get to the flagpole together. Maybe one could make it, but not all of us. We ended up hitting each other with thrown turtle shells or knocking each other down death-holes. Sometimes power-ups would get stolen or friends left behind. It was especially tough on levels that moved, especially ones in the clouds where timing jumps was crucial to survival. Having your co-op partner blocking your way never helped. Eventually, we just gave up on all of this and switched over to the Coin Battle co-op thingy.

In this, the goal was not necessarily to make it to the end, but rather to collect as many coins as possible. Once all players were dead…or all hit the flagpole, coins were counted up and the player with the most won that “round.” We set an attainable goal of winning 11 rounds, and went right to it. Well, first, I switched over to Luigi, but otherwise we went right to it!

Coin Battle can be described in one word: murder.

Yup. Murder is key. Pick up once-your-friend Mario, throw him down a hole, and steal all the coins he was after. Then, if you got more than everyone else, kill yourself and win the round. It was amazing to see strategies forming on the spot; for instance, getting Yoshi can be an extremely winning tactic. That dino you ride can swallow up another player in his mouth until you are comfortable enough to spit them out where they most certainly don’t want to go. This Coin Battle game turned out to be a blast, chaotic as anything, and I think it ended like so:

Sean: 11 wins
Paul: 10 wins
Tara: 4 wins

I’ll win next time, I swear!

But yeah, I have a hard time believing that anyone can actually play successfully the main game with co-op partners. And if they can, well…they deserve a medal.

More like The Clash at DEADhead, right?

With Tara’s help, Scott Pilgrim and Kim Pine took down The Clash at Demonhead in Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game, a pretty tough level just for the amount of enemy goons it throws at you. I can’t believe I even tried going at it solo; only got as far as the one-against-two fight of Scott versus Envy Adams and that drummer with the robotic arm. Immediately after that, it’s an extremely tough fight as extreme vegan Todd Ingram tosses us around in a back alley like ragdolls. Not even the Vegan Police could stop him…though they tried.

We lost all our lives in this level, and we definitely landed the final blow as we were down to a tiny bit of health. That sort of felt frakkin’ fantastic, that did. The co-op in this game is actually quite great; you can reanimate fallen allies, you can perform co-op attacks, and you can even pick each other up Simpsons arcade style and use as a weapon. It’s bizarre and funny, but sometimes you might just need a Kim to throw, so there you go. Afterwards, we went shopping, and then tried to take on the next level, which was full of NINJAS. Needless to say, we got our butts whipped, but we’re jonesing to try again. Just gotta get Scott and Kim some awesome food to go.

I think Tara’s first experience so far with Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game was good. She said she kept getting distracted by all the people in the background, but she learned many of Kim’s moves fast and got good at knowing how to attack and when to reanimate. I tried explaining to her the RPG elements here, but even I didn’t fully understand it. “Uh, you buy food, and that’s how you gain XP. But you don’t know what each food item does until after you buy it. And even then, it’s hard to tell what kind of difference it makes.” Yeah…something like that. She did remark that she loved how it both looked and felt like an old-school game.

Maybe we’ll play some more tonight? I hope so. Roxie needs to go DOWN!

Co-op in Dragon Quest IX is kind of a flop

So, over the weekend, I got to try a little co-op adventuring in Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies. And I have to sum up my experience in the very words of the many dogs you’ll meet during your journey to collect seven fyggs (magical fruit that have been eaten by townspeople only then be returned to you whole and untouched…if that is even possible): nng nng nnnnnggg. In short, co-op is kind of a flop, but then again, I suspect I know why.

See, my sister and I got the game on the same day, its release day at that, and we played for a good amount later that evening. But then I had to return to the hubbub of life up north, and she stayed home in South Jersey on a mini-cation, wherein she got to play a lot more DQIX than I did. Needless to say, by the time we got together again for some co-op play, she was double my levels (37 or so to my paltry 16s) and nearing end-game material. This made for lame co-op questing since…I was not there yet.

For co-op play, you can do two things: let someone into your world, to help you on your quests, or travel to someone else’s world, to help them on their quest. Experience and gold is shared, and visiting adventurers can open as many blue treasure chests as they want. Now, if you want their help in battle, you have to make room in your team, basically dropping off a party member or two. This also means that, while adventuring in my sister’s world of really high-leveled enemies, if caught in a battle too far away from her, it’d just be me, solo, fighting against the devil’s army. Sure, I could call her into action, but it wouldn’t work if she too was already in a battle, now a fighter short. So we had to stick together, and I basically just visited some of the new towns and grabbed some early recipes since I couldn’t afford anything. Then she came into my world to help me beat Leviathan, which was nice of her to do. Other than that, there wasn’t anything crazy exciting about the experience. She also got some additional quests from me since I was to DL them from WiFi and she was not.

I can see where the co-op would work best. Either playing together from the start, or playing together for all the post-game quests and treasure maps and so on. Those are probably the best options, but I doubt it’ll happen again for me. Still gotta figure out how this “tag mode” works as there’s a special event coming up at the local GameStop…