Tag Archives: Netflix

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Payday: The Heist and Payday 2

If you have Netflix, I highly recommend you check out Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist. It’s a 2018 true crime documentary series about the murder of Brian Wells, a high-profile 2003 incident often referred to as the “collar bomb” or “pizza bomber” case. I didn’t really have a great intro planned here, seeing as I myself have never once robbed a bank or attempted to, but I am fascinated by those that put these actions into motion. I figured I’d use this time to recommend a new show for y’all to watch, as if there aren’t enough of those out there right now. Also, Reservoir Dogs.

Payday: The Heist and Payday 2 are cooperative first-person shooters developed by Overkill Software and published by Sony Online Entertainment. In them, players use a variety of firearms to complete objectives, which are usually centered around stealing a certain object, person, or a particular amount of money. This is not a run and gun ’em all down kind of game. Killing civilians is punished; players instead may take a limited number as hostages. Should any player get arrested, which happens after taking enough damage and not being revived in time, during the heist, one of their teammates may release a hostage, allowing a trade to take place. While playing the levels, players will notice a lot of variation in a single level, as there are often a large number of random events programmed in.

Payday: The Heist focuses on four robbers–Dallas, Hoxton, Chains, and Wolf. Their first heist takes place at the First World Bank, where they enter a vault by using thermite hidden on the inside of a photocopier and try to steal a large amount of money. A post-game message congratulates the group, telling them that they are “set for life,” but recommends more heists, including robbing drug junkies in an abandoned apartment complex and ambushing a prisoner transport in heavy rain weather, simply for the enjoyment of the players. Payday 2 takes place two years after the events of the previous game. A new gang comes to the Washington, D.C. area to perform another heisting spree, and you can control of one of the gang’s twenty-one members and perform heists alone or with up to three teammates.

I…was never any good at either of these two games. Trust me, I tried. However, I always felt like I was dragging down my team and never knew what step to take next. Like, for instance, when the cops show up…do I engage with them or not? I often did, because that’s the mindset in a first-person shooter–you shoot the things shooting at you so they, y’know, stop shooting at you. However, this always ended poorly. I do like the idea of a cooperative heist game, as heists in general are cool and probably the only thing I enjoyed from Grand Theft Auto V‘s main campaign, but I would need to play this with friends and talk through our plans very thoroughly before taking action. Alas, on the PlayStation 3, I have no friends, and so that will never happen. Goodbye to both of y’all.

May your next digital bank robbery go smoothly, all you fans of Payday: The Heist and Payday 2. I’m rooting for ya, truly. Also, watch Heat, one of the greatest heist films out there.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

POLISHING OFF: The Unfinished Swan

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After polishing off Kung Fu Rabbit, I did another quick scan of the items closer to the top of my long, never not growing list of PlayStation Plus titles on the ol’ PlayStation 3, which still, to this day, probably gets the least attention from me. Yup, even my Wii U sees more turning on…granted, that’s mostly for Netflix in bed, but whatevs. I stopped on The Unfinished Swan, which, with its very name alone, demanded I jump back in, balls of paint at the ready, and complete whatever was left to complete. Turns out, not all that much.

It’s weird to realize that The Unfinished Swan is a game I totally played earlier this year, but them’s the facts. By the time credits had rolled, I had done a majority of everything there was to do, save for find all the collectibles, which in this game took the form as balloons hidden in the environment, and launch a blueprint box in the air at two different amounts of height. Anyways, to get those last ones, you first need to find all the balloons, as doing that then gives you access to the sniper rifle–calm down, Call of Duty players, it still only shoots paint and only for non-violent reasons–which helps to knock tossed items higher into the sky.

Honestly, the gathering up of balloons wasn’t as bad as I might have expected. I must have gotten a good chunk of them on my initial playthrough. However, maybe you are like me though–and if so, I’m sorry–and the thought of replaying entire sections of levels you just played to get a specific item or two can seem like too much or not a big barrel of fun, considering it isn’t anything fresh or unexpected. That said, with the help of the “balloon radar,” which fills up as you get closer to a collectible, it wasn’t too bad to find the remainder, except for the levels at the end of the game, which are dark and shrouded in shadows and spiders that only want to hurt you. At one point, I knew a balloon was somewhere nearby, but I had little light at my side and just started tossing paint balls left and right, eventually hitting it–talk about a shot in the dark.

After all that, I took one look at “Minimalist,” a Trophy asking the player to reach the Watchtower from the game’s opening level without throwing more than three paint balls, and an even harder look at a text walkthrough of how to do exactly that before deciding “no thanks” and uninstalled The Unfinished Swan from my PlayStation 3’s hard drive. To me, this swan was more than finished.

Completing a game doesn’t often mean finishing everything there is to do. For many games, long after I’ve given them a haiku review and post of final thoughts, there are still collectibles to find, side quests to complete, things to unlock, challenges to master, and so on. POLISHING OFF is a new regular feature where I dive into these checklist items in hope of finishing the game as fully as possible so that I can then move on to the one hundred and thirty-eight million other games begging for my attention.

 

See the horrors of prison life with 9 Months In

9 months in final thoughts

Premise-wise, 9 Months In was the point-and-click game from the AGS Bake Sale bundle that I was most interested in. See, you play as…dang, I can’t recall her name. Or even find out via the Internet because there’s not a lot of coverage for it. Maybe she never had a name, I don’t know. Let’s call her…Anna, a very much pregnant woman stuck in prison, with only a few days left until her due date. That’s not the date she’ll hit parole, but rather the date her baby will bust free from its own metaphoric jail. At the start of the game, she wakes up in her cell just like she has every other day of her sentence, except her roommate Susie is dead, strangled in her bed sometime overnight. Naturally, everyone blames her, and so she must do what she can to clear her name, and all that before her water breaks.

So yeah, that’s fantastic. No, really. I dig it. A murder mystery in jail starring your less-than-standard main character type. It’s probably something we might even see on the next season of Orange is the New Black, which is a lovely original show on Netflix starring one of the most diverse cast I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. Here, have some fanart. Also, if what I know about prison life is true in that show, then most of these inmates should be in beige-colored uniforms, not the newbie orange. But yeah, I digress. I’d totally take this kind of plot over another “escape this bedroom” kind of adventure game any day of the week.

Unfortunately, 9 Months In, as a game, is simply mediocre–and just barely. Surprisingly, there’s voice acting, but it’s mockingly bad and stiffer than a piece of wood. Dialogue is read out loud in a stilted, expressionless tone of voice, which leaves much to the imagination, but that might’ve been more successful if there had been no VO to begin with. The puzzles are pretty easy to figure out and see from a distance, like the mop in the closet and putting something in the officer’s cup of coffee. You only pick up a limited number of items, and there’s really only so many rooms you can explore in a locked facility. There’s also a big problem with the speed of Anna’s walking, which is glacier-like, and you can’t double-click to skip to the next room, a feature that newer adventure games are spoiling me with. Moving from the basketball court to the showers feels like a literal journey.

Choices matter, and that’s why pregnant Anna is in jail. And choices continue to matter in 9 Months In, as there are multiple endings to the game based on the decisions you’ve been making along the way. A score counter in the top corner of the UI lets you know how close you are to getting 100 out of 100, which I assume is the good ending. Alas, I completed the game somewhere around 87, which resulted in a conclusion felt rushed in order to finish the game in time for promotion. The story’s resolution, through bad voicework and unclear writing, left me wanting more. A solid explanation. Anything. At least a nice song plays during the credits, but otherwise, this was just okay.

So yeah, a bit of a bummer. 9 Months In sounded really cool, but doesn’t do its subject material justice. Guess I just need to hold out hope for an OITNB adventure game Kickstarter.

inFamous 2 is decent fun, but no shock to the system

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So far, inFamous 2 really makes me want to go back to free Nazi-controlled terrain in The Saboteur or stop kicking dirt around and finally pick up Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, y’know, the game I more or less got a PS3 for. Well, that and Ni no Kuni. That’s not to say that inFamous 2 is not worth playing, as it totally is…it’s just that the best elements within itself are the ones I’ve already cherished and loved in other videogames. But before I get to all that, I have a wee announcement.

I got a new TV. Now, now, hold on. I have to assume that, for many of you, the TV I got will be No Big Thang™, but you have to realize that all my teenage-into-adult life I’ve learned to live with or live without, and so I’ve been using a large, clunky television from 2005 that does not have all the fancy features one can get with stuff being made some eight years later. And because of this, many videogames I play on it suffer from tiny text syndrome, and unfortunately, that’s going to continue to happen. See, I didn’t get a replacement TV for the living room; instead, I got a wee 19 inch flatscreen for my art studio, which is set up next to where I draw and use my laptop. So now I can watch Netflix while I forever tone bad comics. However, since Tara and I don’t have cable, I needed to move the PS3 over to my new wee TV for all that hot action, which has a bonus effect in that I’m using it a lot more now. I mean, now it just sits there, looking at me, demanding I turn it on and play. Which is probably a good thing for my PlayStation Plus backlog.

Anyways, this is what my new wee TV looks like:

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I’m pleased to say that it does the job more than adequately, both for streaming movies/TV shows and playing games. Well, at least the handful of games I opened on it to see how they fared, which consisted of Joe Danger 2: The Movie, Ni no Kuni, and inFamous 2. At some point, I want to switch the PS3 and Xbox 360’s places, to see what Torchlight and Dragon Age: Origins look like, as they were the games I found to have the smallest text in my collection. No real rush on that though.

Right. So, inFamous 2. Never played the original, but it always looked neat, like a modern dark spin on being a superhero, with legit superhero powers. Lightning bolts a-way! The second game seemed to sum up a little from the previous adventure via some cool comic book cutscenes, but it’s not all really clear to me. Something about a Beast (or maybe it’s The Beast) hunting Cole down…I don’t know. I just like climbing buildings, collecting blast shards, and squirrel-gliding from roof to roof like a kid with no restrictions. And you can totally do that, for as long as you want, which is really nice. Morality-wise, I’m going down the righteous path, though I have–on accident, I swear–murdered a few civilians while trying to stop attacking monsters and such. Because it can get hard and chaotic and somewhat confusing once the lightning and bullets begin to fly. Basically, any time there are four or five enemies at once, Cole goes down fast, and I don’t know if it is my fault or not. I’d like to believe I have a decent handle on firing shock grenades and tossing cars, but maybe I don’t. At least the checkpointing is very forgiving.

But yeah, climbing up those towers reminds me of the clunky, but still satisfying climbing from The Saboteur. The way Cole just kind of magnet-like sticks to poles and ledges gets me all jittery for more Sly Cooper tales of thievery (old and new). I’ll probably burn through inFamous 2 rather fast over the next few nights–as I previously mentioned, now that the PlayStation 3 sits right next to my work desk, I’ll be more inclined to use it–but maybe then after I’ll dip back into some old favorites. We’ll see. Probably not. I guess I just like dreaming about this stuff openly.

The Sony PlayStation 4, my hopes and fears

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Well, it’s coming down to the wire, but here it is, a blog post on Grinding Down about the forthcoming Sony PlayStation 4. Later today, Sony is hosting a meeting which many believe exists to announce its newest console, the next in its line of PlayStations. Given that I just bought a PlayStation 3 only a few weeks ago and have barely found time to both play with it and explore its non-gaming functions, like Netflix and PlayStation Home, I’m not at all interested in owning Sony’s newest system any time soon, but I am curious to see what it’s going to be all about. As always, I remain cautious, but let me share with y’all some hopes I have, as well as my biggest fears, many of which can apply with whatever Microsoft’s new console is gonna be, too.

Here we go.

Hopes

New games in established franchises

From the look of things, Naughty Dog is done with the Jak and Daxter franchise, but I think they should open it up for a new trilogy. That kooky platforming series really did wonders for the PS2, and a new Jak game could easily sway me, especially if it is more Jak II than anything else. Let’s also get a new true Ratchet & Clank game, one that focuses solely on platforming and crazy-ass guns. Some steps have already been made, with Sly Cooper 4 coming out and surprising everyone, mostly because it came out with little promotion from Sony, but whatever–it exists. New IPs are exciting for their newness, but offering up a new experience in familiar territory can be quite comforting. Hopefully I’m not alone in that.

Bring back the forgotten

I want a new Jumping Flash! I want the rebirth of Crash Bandicoot. I want whatever might come after Chrono Cross. Remember how awesome, G-Police was? Yeah, me too. Now’s the time, as those franchises are old enough to hit the nostalgia funny bones and unknown enough that the younger generation might just think of them as new IPs, sad as that might be. A return to the glory days, ya know.

Enhancing PlayStation Plus

My only complaint so far about getting a free year of PlayStation Plus is that I don’t have enough time to play all the free games they give out. I’d love to see this service carry over to the new system, as it offers a ton of great content and discounts for a reasonable price. Granted, my first year is free, but I can see myself signing up for it once that runs dry.

Fears

No backwards compatibility

When the PlayStation 2 was revealed, the concept of “backwards compatible” was entirely new. You could buy the new console, but still play all the games from the previous one. Sah-weet. It’s a concept that is fantastic for gamers, but it seems that head honchos don’t love it, eventually snipping it as a feature from later remodels or iterations. I believe the PS4 will allow you to play (or at least download) Ps3 games, but maybe they won’t for a guaranteed amount of time. Which would stink considering how many great games are still coming out for the PS3, like Ni no Kuni and The Last of Us. But the times, they are a-changing.

Always online

Granted, with Wifi, always being online is easier to accomplish, but something about the restriction rubs me wrong. There are certainly situations that might cause for your Internet to be off, but your power still on, and the fact that you then couldn’t play the videogame you paid for on the system you paid for seems really offensive. Yes, I have Steam and use it frequently, but haven’t really run into any problems with always being connected. But Steam is on a computer, and a videogame console should really be treated as a separate entity.

Online no longer free

I’m really close on cancelling my Gold membership for the Xbox 360, since the only time I really use it is to play Borderlands 2 online, which is happening less and less these days. You don’t have to pay to play online with the PS3, something I’d love to see going forward. If that gets put behind a paywall…well, dang. Just yet another thing to pay for that should be part of the whole package. It’s the first step to charging players to save their game progress.

Gimmicky controller

I’m sure you’ve seen that image of a supposed PS4 controller, which has some kind of touchpad on the front of it. Whether this operates as a sort of main menu hub is yet to be determined. I just hope I don’t have to look down while playing to do something else; that only works on the DS/3DS, where the screens are very close together to begin with.

Hopefully we’ll know a lot more by tonight! Are you going to watch Sony’s presentation live or wait for reports to go online? Me, I’ll be watching Giant Bomb watch it live, as I need some kind of humorous filter to get through all the pomp that these events harness.

Achievements of the Week – The Burning Love Edition

Here we are for the second stab at rounding up all of those juicy Achievements unlocked during the last week. Don’t expect the naming convention of these posts to be conventional; they are born on a whim, on a phrase, on a wild brain-bite, with most often the first Achievement listed acting as the muse. Okay, let’s do this!

From Team Fortress 2…


Flamethrower (5G): Set five enemies on fire in 30 seconds.

I was trying so hard for this Achievement, managing to set three enemies on fire before a turret took me out. Was bummed. But then, after respawning, I quickly shuffled back to the warzone, lit two more dudes on fire, and ping. Glad to see that it didn’t have to be all five on one life. I have to imagine though, that since it took me about 10 seconds to respawn and five or so more to get over to the fighting, that it was down to the wire.


Nemesis (5G): Get five revenge kills.

Revenge is a dish best served BOILING HOT, YA BUNCH OF SNIPING SNOTHEADS. This one also tied in with the above Achievement, in case you couldn’t figure that out on your own.

I actually unlocked several more Achievements for Team Fortress 2, but I did them in a whoring kind of way and am not terribly proud of my actions. We’ll leave them unmentioned this week.

From Half-Life 2…


Hot PotatOwned (10G): Kill a Combine soldier with his own grenade.

Ha, funny.

From L.A. Noire…


Johnny On The Spot (30G): Respond to 20 street crime cases.

Petty crooks and ruffians are no match for the mighty Cole Phelps. I also unlocked the Miles On The Clock Achievement, which gets some coverage here. Closing in on a few more, such as The Long Arm Of The Law and The Brass. Maybe they’ll ping this weekend. Maybe they won’t. I’m no fortune-teller.

And that’s it. Been a slow week for Achievements, mainly because I was focusing more on other projects, like journal comics and Supertown comics. Writing up a crazy review of Minecraft. Watching some old Shark Week stuff on Netflix to make up for the fact that I don’t have the Discovery Channel currently. Oh, and moving. Always with the moving. Wish I could get Achievements for packing boxes and carrying them to my car, over and over and over again. Something like this, perhaps:


Professional Boxer (100G): Packed five consecutive W.B. Mason boxes, carried them down two flights of stairs, loaded them into your car, and broke a sweat.

Hells yeah.

Nintendo 3DS gets a price slash, and 3DS Ambassadors get 20 free games

The Nintendo 3DS has not had a stellar ride so far, skirting the edge of failure and occasionally dancing with the promise of success. From its initial system launch in March 2011, the pricey handheld ($249.99) has had to compete with things like smartphones and internal delays of vital applications such as the eShop, Netflix, and video hub, and while it does have a working gimmick of offering “3D without the glasses,” it’s not been enough to push the system into everyone’s hands like the previous DS did.

Nintendo is looking to shake things up with a hefty price slash, dropping the Nintendo 3DS to $169.99 on August 12; this is probably the fastest I’ve seen a newly launched system drop in price, which says a lot. The company is scared and trying to hurry up and make the 3Ds shine a little more, and they now have everything else in place to make the 3DS more than just a gimmicky block of plastic; you can surf the Internet on it, watch 3D videos, take photos, stream movies, and play games.

But what about sucker-chumps like me that dropped $250 on launch day, with slim pickings like Pilotwings Resort and Nintendorabbits? What does a price cut ultimately do for us but create grumbling sounds in stomachs? Well, early adopters of the system are now coined 3DS Ambassadors, meaning they are special, prized, and worthy of free stuff. Hey, I like free stuff. Especially great free stuff.

First, 3DS Ambassadors will get 10 free Virtual Console games from the NES era, including Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr., Balloon Fight, Ice Climber, and The Legend of Zelda. The other five have not been announced. Additionally, they will also be treated to 10 free Game Boy Advance titles, including Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Metroid Fusion, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$, and Mario vs. Donkey Kong. Again, the other five have not been announced…but yowza, that’s already quite a gathering of freebies if ever there was one. And from what I’ve read, these GBA titles will not actually end up on the eShop, meaning they are exclusive to 3DS Ambassadors.

It’s unclear when these games will be available to 3DS Ambassadors; I’m guessing some short time after the August 12 price slash. Or maybe right before it? I dunno. More details to come, I’m sure. Really looking forward to the free titles as I was just complaining to Tara about my disappointment with the 3DS, my severe lack of caring for it thanks to the delays and cancellations of desired titles. This helps…a bit. I’m still not in love, but filling up my 3DS with tons of oldies, but goodies is a great start to a better relationship.

Ambassador, out!