Tag Archives: Hector

2013 Game Review Haiku, #8 – Hector: Badge of Carnage, Episode 3

games completed 2013 hector ep 3

Save that Clappers Wreake
From a carnival of bombs
Say “avocado”

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

The highs and lows of Telltale’s The Walking Dead

telltale the walking dead thoughts so far

At this point, having completed four out of five episodes for season one of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, I know exactly what I like about it and exactly what is not working. It’s a shame there’s some good and bad here, as the good has the potential to outshine the bad, but then the bad is just so disappointing that it could bury the good. Yeah, that was totally clear writing.

I like adventure games, especially the point and click ilk. Please note that I didn’t say love, as I’ve really only fully experienced a few, such as Wadjet Eye’s The Blackwell Legacy series, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP, The Sea Will Claim Everything, and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, but I had a pretty good time with those. In the past, I’ve tried playing games like Hector: Badge of Carnage, Machinarium, and Beneath a Steel Sky only to get stuck and give up in  obvious frustration. The things I often like in adventure games are the stories and the ability to click on lots of things for fun (or even bland) descriptions, and the parts I often find unwieldy are inventory management, obscure puzzles, and pixel hunting. The Walking Dead does a lot of great story work, but is hampered by none of the previous things mentioned, rather modern day quirks that really take it down a notch. Let’s start with the bad, then the good.

To begin with, the Achievements. Yes, they are meaningless things, but their inclusion in The Walking Dead is so noticeable that they have to be accounted for. Some have funny titles, often silly or referencing pop culture or even snide, especially based on the group’s current situation. The Walking Dead is not a very funny game, though there are the occasional moments or quips, but the premise itself is rather bleak, and seeing how episode four ended, it’s only gonna get darker. So earning Achievements with names like “You Fight Like a Dairy Farmer” and “Too Much Salt Will Kill You” right when emotional moments are trying to sink in is a bit like losing a loved one and then getting slammed in the face with a custard pie. Again, in the end, the Achievements are completely meaningless, it’s just that they are quite invasive when one is immersed in a world overrun by zombies.

The next problem I have might only be related to the Xbox 360, but I don’t know. It could be on other platforms, and it has to do with loading screens. They come up at the worst time, with the worst transitions to them. It’s just a simple cut away to a boring screen that says NOW LOADING… on it. For instance, near the beginning of episode four, Lee is climbing a ladder in a house to see what’s up in the attic. You actually control Lee as he climbs the steps, one by one, music swelling, the promise of something major soon to be revealed. You get to the top step and…loading screen. This is just one example, but the pacing and tone is often knocked aside on most of the loading screens as they often happen during large moments. I dunno, just like with the Achievements, they really took me out of a great gaming adventure.

Lastly, and don’t worry, I’ll get to some good stuff shortly, when you fail an action scene, more often than not, Lee dies and you reset to the start of the action. For me, this was particularly jarring. These moments where you have to shoot a zombie in a particular spot within three seconds are disappointing in that you are just thrown into it with no guidance and will most likely lose the first time. After you fail that first time, then the game tells you what you’re supposed to do. Gee, thanks. In episode two, at the motel, you used the four-pronged cursor to highlight enemies and shoot with the A button, but this time around they switched to a more traditional RT shooting convention; either way, these moments are not the greatest and seem ham-fisted for gamers that want more out of their puzzle games. I could do without, personally.

So those are the things about The Walking Dead I’m not digging. Otherwise, wow. The story is riveting, and each character comes across fully realized from the word go, making every choice a struggle, whether it’s simply a line of dialogue or a heart-breaking decision. Or, in the case of Ben, an easy one. The timer on dialogue options is a wonderful motivator, and my Lee is the kind of guy that cares deeply about Clementine and tries to keep the group happy; at first, he worked hard for Kenny’s respect, but now that matters no more. I understand that a lot of the finer plot points can’t be changed, but the small interactions between characters and the relationships you construct are where this game shines. I do play with the notifications turned on, something I’ve seen others suggest turning off, as they can potentially negatively future decisions. So far, I’m okay with them.

I will most likely be finishing up episode five tonight or this weekend, and I don’t expect any new gameplay twists to really shake up the formula. Hopefully it’s all story to the end, but I’m sure I’ll have to stumble my way through an action scene or two before the credits roll. Regardless, I’ve been pretty impressed with the effect The Walking Dead has had on me, even with a few problems. I’ll definitely be playing season two as it comes out, episode by episode, whenever that is, ready to make some choices.

2012 Game Review Haiku, #16 – Hector: Badge of Carnage, Episode 2

With some help, Hector
Discovers who the sniper
Is, by Merlin’s beard

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

2012 Game Review Haiku, #9 – Hector: Badge of Carnage, Episode 1

Disgruntled Hector
Full of brill commentary
Stop that sniper arse

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

Not your typical hero in Hector: Badge of Carnage

I don’t remember when exactly, but there was a sale on Steam recently, and for the low, low price of $4.99, one could get all three episodes of Hector: Badge of Carnage, a smarmy point-and-click adventure game from Telltale Games. That price seemed absolutely right, and my curiosity had already been flicked upwards after watching Giant Bomb do a Quick Look. Unfortunately, at that point, the wife and I were knee-deep in helping ghosts move on to the afterlife with the Blackwell games–and I just couldn’t sneak away to anything else until all four of those mysteries were solved. So I bought the package, downloaded all three episodes, and promptly ignored them for the time being.

But we finished those ghosty chronicles up, and now I’m ready for my next set of adventure games. Trust me, I have plenty to choose from: Gemini Rue, Jolly Rover, Beneath a Steel Sky, basically everything from the recent AGS Bake Sale, and a number of miscellaneous projects from Ben Chandler (City, Airwave, Heed, and so on). Whew. That’s uh…a lot of adventure games–and counting. I am sure I missed a few. In fact, I know it for certain; I am just too lazy to name ’em all. But the glory of being played next goes to Hector: Badge of Carnage, mostly because the tone and vulgar humor is the polar opposite of everything I’ve been playing recently, not counting Saints Row: The Third. It’s a refreshing if inappropriate breath of fresh air.

Originally, I began this post as a means to get some early impressions out, but  I didn’t finish writing it until today, and I went ahead and beat Episode 1 – “We Negotiate With Terrorists” over the weekend. So, yeah. This is now kind of a mix of impressions and final thoughts, with a magical haiku review to follow soon.

Hector: Badge of Carnage (Episode 1, “We Negotiate With Terrorists”) is, besides a really long title, a point-and-click adventure game set in the seedy spot of Clapper’s Wreake. A terrorist with a sniper rifle has locked himself up in some building and taken hostages, and it’s up to Detective Inspector Hector to fulfill the crazy man’s demands. And they are as so:

  • Fix the clock tower
  • Help tourism flourish
  • Close down the local porn shop

Actually, those aren’t terrible things to want from a place one might call home. I think we were all expecting something more akin to a boatload of money, a helicopter to escape on, and the promise of being set free. This terrorist is trying to make the world a better place; shame he keeps shooting cops in the face whenever they creep near. But anyways, off Hector goes to solve these many mysteries, and the answers aren’t too difficult to unravel so long as you remain open-minded and try everything. And I mean everything–giving a blind guy a doped-up homeless man as a sexual bribe is not as far-fetched as it sounds. At least, not in this game.

If you do get stuck, Hector: Badge of Carnage features two hint systems, both of which are fantastic. One is Lambert, a fellow T.W.A.T. member, who you can ask questions at; the other is an actual hint menu, which can literally tell you what to do or be as vague as you’d like, with nudges in the right direction. I used both of these, and they really help to keep the player immersed in the game without feeling like one is cheating using a blatant walkthrough guide. I had particular trouble figuring out how to demolish the porn shop until the hint system showed me that I had missed doing something specific with an item I had picked up earlier on. Thanks, hint system. You saved me from getting frustrated and never coming back.

Besides the crude and sometimes confusing humor, the other aspect of Hector: Badge of Carnage that really appealed to me is its look. There’s a sharpness to the animation and art style, and the cutscenes are nicely put together. Reminds me of Penny Arcade, with bold lines and quirky character designs. As is always the case with point-and-click games, discovering a new screen or place to click around on is always a treat, and here it is no different. Upon finding the porn shop, I literally stared at the screen for a few minutes, soaking it all in, all the nasty visuals.

The only negative I can really throw at Episode 1 – “We Negotiate With Terrorists” is that it ends on the worst of worst cliffhangers. There is literally no conflict resolution after meeting the terrorist’s demands, which works for the episodic format, but bugs the bleep out of me. But I’m in for the long haul, and have already begun Episode 2 – “Senseless Acts of Justice”, which is going well so far and keeping up the tradition of toilet humor and toilets as plot devices. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.