Tag Archives: first-person shooter

2018 Game Review Haiku, #33 – Thirty Flights of Loving

A heist’s aftermath
Piece together what went wrong
Replay to learn more

For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

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SUPERHOT’s time only moves forward with the player

We’re a few months into 2018, or twenty-great-teen as the kids are callin’ it, and I’m finally cool enough to play SUPERHOT. Y’know, that mega indie hit from…well, it originated as an entry in the 2013 7 Day FPS Challenge, but was a full release on consoles and PC in 2016. Strangely, right now, the game is everywhere you look–it was a freebie for March’s Gaming with Gold on the Xbox One, which is how I acquired it, it was a freebie last month for Twitch Prime’s new Free Games with Prime program, and it’s currently one of the games bundled in Humble Indie Bundle 19. My lordy-loo. I guess there is just no avoiding it at this point. After all, SUPERHOT only moves when you do.

Okay, some setup, of which I will absolutely nail down the mechanics of this game, but not its narrative. SUPERHOT is an independent first-person shooter developed and published by the appropriately named SUPERHOT Team. The game mostly follows traditional first-person shooter mechanics, with you trying to take out enemies shooting bullets at you. The twist to all this is that time within the game only progresses when the player moves. Remember when Neo in The Matrix used bullet time to his advantage? It’s like that, but always. This often creates unique opportunities for the player to assess their situation and respond appropriately, turning each gunfight into one massive, slow-crawling puzzle wherein you’ll dodge a bullet, punch a dude, grab his gun out of the air, and shoot him in the face with it before a second goes by.

Now SUPERHOT‘s story…exists on several metanarrative levels. First, the player plays a fictionalized version of themselves sitting in front of a computer receiving DOS prompts, getting a message from their friend who offers them a supposedly leaked copy of a new game called superhot.exe, claiming that the only way to access it is with a crack. Second, launching the game immediately thrusts the player into a series of seemingly unconnected puzzle-combat rooms via different points of view, all based around killing hostile red dudes via the cool time slowdown method, after which the game glitches out and disconnects. After this crash, the player’s friend sends an updated version of the .exe file, which is apparently a new version of the game that fixes the “glitches,” and you go further down the rabbit hole, doing as the large, blocky text on-screen says because…that’s what a good videogame player does. Look, it’s something of a connective tissue, and that’s fine, but story is not at all the reason I’m playing SUPERHOT, nor what I will ultimately remember about it five years from now.

Visually, the developers got lucky. The game is presented in a minimalist art style, with enemies in ruby red and weapons in stark black, in contrast to the otherwise white and gray environment, which has the effect of everything popping before your eyes, especially those red bullet trails. I suspect this look was picked because it was quick and easy to implement during its days as a jam baby, but it really works great to boil SUPERHOT down to its essentials–an area, enemies, and all your tools to kill them quickly seen. When you shoot a red guy, he explodes into a bunch of polygons, like a window breaking, and it’s super satisfying to both see and hear. Once you successfully survive a level, the game replays all your actions like a mini action movie trailer, and you can save and edit the replay into GIFs and such, if that’s your thing (it’s not mine). Oh, and one can’t forget the classic bit of the booming “Super, hot!” voiceover that loops after you’ve obliterated every red dude in your way.

I enjoyed playing SUPERHOT; the playing of it was enjoyable. I didn’t really understand a lot of stuff around the edges or what story it was trying to tell, but that didn’t diminish the fun I had from slowly dodging an incoming bullet, throwing my empty pistol into the face of a red dude, catching the shotgun that they tossed upwards, and unleashing a spray of bullets in their direction, all within the blink of an eye. Every room was a puzzle, open to interpretation, and I played a few challenge levels and endless mode after the credits rolled, but it lacked something the frenetic, bouncy campaign had, nor did it do anything new. I’m glad I got to finally play SUPERHOT, and if you’ve not yet…well, it’s time to stop time, get yourself a copy, and start slowly making your way to the complete and total domination of red dudes.

2018 Game Review Haiku, #23 – SUPERHOT

SUPER HOT, SUPER
HOT, SUPER HOT, SUPER HOT
SUPER HOT, SUPER

For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

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.

2018 Game Review Haiku, #4 – Wolfenstein: The New Order

Select your timeline
And start killing Nazi scum
Orders from B.J.

For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

It’s lights out for the Destiny 2 open beta

I never got into the original Destiny, but I sure watched a good amount of coverage on that game via those chuckleheads over at Giant Bomb, enough so that I felt like I understood the ups and downs of Bungie’s latest sci-fi first-person shooter that wanted to be a big ol’ massive multiplayer extravaganza, but was severely lacking in the story department. Still, people went ga-ga for this thing and constantly cried out “The shooting feels great!” to any naysayers while I contently hacked away at Borderlands 2 and the online multiplayer aspect for Gears of War 4. That all said, I may be interested in checking out Destiny 2, especially now that I got to nibble a bit off the larger loaf via the recent free and open beta.

What was in the Destiny 2 Beta, you ask, probably already knowing the answer, but helping me segue into a new paragraph nonetheless? Well, it features activities from three core experiences to use the company’s own words: Campaign, Cooperative, and Competitive play. I’ll talk a bit about each below and my experience with shooting alien monsters that were shooting at me and accidentally hitting the “dance” button one too many times. Mmm-hmm. Evidently, you could visit a specifically hub section called the Farm, but only at a special time, that which I did not know. That’s fine. I prefer not to be social.

The campaign mission is called “Homecoming,” and it’s a mix of single-player action with some wave-based enemy elimination near its end where other real-life players can join in to help out. You are responding to an emergency distress call from the last safe city on Earth. Also, I forgot to mention, you get to pick an already decked-out character at the start of the Destiny 2 Beta, and I went with the Hunter class. I also tried out its two subclasses, namely Arcstrider and Gunslinger, preferring the latter greatly, but only after I figured out how to activate my super ability; I’m sure original Destiny players had no trouble with that, but the game never instructed me on how to pull this off, so I had to look it up in the control options menu. Anyways, it’s a short, linear, and perfunctory mission, where nothing goes wrong, with some story stuff at the end involving the word “light,” sometimes capitalized as “Light,” that went completely over my teeny tiny head.

Next up is the Cooperative Strike called “The Inverted Spire,” which tasks you with infiltrating an enemy stronghold alongside two other Guardians to take down all active threats. Also, here’s a bit of descriptive text that is lost on me–The Cabal awoke something deep beneath Nessus’ surface. Right. So, I went into this with two other players, one of who spent a long time jumping around the milk waterfall and trying to reach out-of-reach platforms. Eventually, you get to a big boss fight at the end, which is where everything went to crap, especially because communication was non-existent. I died, they died, we all died, and I eventually dropped out (sorry, peeps with gamertags I can’t remember). I can imagine this being easier and more fun, as well as rewarding, with a dedicated group of friends that are able to issue commands to one another. Plus, there wasn’t any loot to pick up, which is an important element for a loot shooter.

Lastly, there’s Competitive Multiplayer, and several versions of it to try out. I don’t think I could tell you what mode I played, but it was one team versus another, and we were trying to control certain points, indicated by capital letters, on the map and keep the opposing team from getting them. I wasn’t great at this, but I did manage to shoot a few guys and hold a flag for some seconds. It’s very quick and somewhat chaotic, and despite my constantly changing affection for Gears of War 4 online multiplayer, this was most certainly not for me. I felt like I barely had a chance to do anything, and when I finally did and something went wrong, it went bad fast. I’m sure there’s a whole cut of the population that loves this, but if I’m to play any Destiny 2 down the space road, it’ll likely be campaign stuff and Strikes, but only when I’m with a trusted group of Guardians. If such a group can exist.

So we’ll see come September if I’m interested in picking Destiny 2 up. I can concur with those that shouted about the shooting feeling good. It does. It really, truly does. I also like its overall look and the names of the weapons and pieces of armor and the tougher enemies, but I also want a good story, sue me. I don’t want to have to piece things together via websites and an app on my phone. I want characters, and I want those characters to interact with me in a meaningful way to get me to care about Earth blowing up or things going dark or whatever the plot turns out to be. Perhaps I’ll wait a bit and see what people have to say about it. Maybe while I do that I’ll play through all of Halo: Reach. Er, maybe.