Tag Archives: open-world game

2015 Game Review Haiku, #61 – Fallout 4

2015 games completed fallout 4 institute ending

Sided with my son
For a better Boston, not
Knowing ’twas over

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.

There’s chaos to create in Just Cause 2

gd early impressions just cause 2 xbox-360

When I first got my Xbox 360, some many years back, I maintained a small collection of games, doing what I don’t do now, which is finishing one before getting another. That all said, I did delight in some extra dessert now and then by downloading free demos of upcoming games, such as the ones for Crackdown 2 and Dragon Age II. I think you can still download free demos to this day, but at this point I have little time for teasers and would rather just wait for the full thing to either come out or be dropped into my library as a monthly freebie. The times, they are a-changing.

Well, way back in 2010, I sampled a bit of Just Cause 2, as this demo did not hold your hand, but rather set you free. There was a short cutscene to explain why Rico Rodriguez, the man with the grapple hook and hunger for explosions, was on this tropical island, and then you have thirty minutes to do whatever you want. I remember restarting it multiple times, trying something new with each go and really enjoying any and all chaos I could create. Strangely, this never did result me in purchasing a full copy of Just Cause 2; thankfully, all I needed to do was wait five years and then I’d get a free copy from Microsoft.

In Just Cause 2, you take control of Rico Rodriguez, an undercover U.S. operative on the Southeast Asian island of Panau–which is not real, people–to track down a former friend, who has disappeared with top-secret intel and a lot of money. There’s also an oppressive dictator to deal with, as well as three rival gangs who are waging war on the island. I’ve only done the first two or three story missions, so not much has unfolded yet, but I’m sure I’ll get to all these plotlines soon enough. Y’know, once I get my fill of running amok and blowing up enemy territory.

Let’s get this out of the way: the story is not written well, made only more ridiculous by the wooden voice acting. Rico’s actor sounds like he is reading the script for the very first time and they only have the ability to do one take. Good thing I’m not here for the story, as playing and making things explode feels really good, especially when you can use Rico’s magical zip-line thingy to zoom away from all the destruction. Like a true cool action hero. I’m not stellar yet at performing stunts while riding on top of vehicles and aiming the grappling hook is occasionally a nightmare. Still, if you can hit an enemy on a rooftop with it and pull them off to their tumbling doom, I highly recommend it. The gunwork doesn’t feel amazing, but I am more of a grenade-tossing maniac from on high sort of chaos creator.

Truthfully, I didn’t mean to dive right into Just Cause 2 after finishing Lara Croft: Guardian of Light and deleting it from my Xbox 360’s hard-drive, but the game was in my download queue already and automatically started once it saw there was enough space opened up. I’m still working on Final Fantasy IX‘s third disc, LEGO Jurassic World on the Nintendo 3DS, and need to get back to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, especially with V only days away from release, though I won’t be getting to it until I finish Peace Walker and Ground Zeroes. Oi. Talk about chaos, right?

Collected all those scattered Blast Shards in inFAMOUS 2

infamous 2 collected all the blast shards

I’m nearing the end of inFAMOUS 2–sorry, quick aside, but I previously wrote the game’s name as inFamous 2, and the copyeditor in me will not rest until I owned up to the error and corrected it going forward even if it is a weird way to write something–and I don’t expect to ever play it again despite their being two paths to go down. One is good and saintly with ice powers in tow, and the other is evil and dark, circled by fire. If you know me, you know which way I’m playing; for those that are new, I’m always a good Samaritan first. It’s not that I don’t enjoy playing evil from time to time, but I get the sense that the game doesn’t change a whole lot by doing a few missions morally different.

With the last mission, I assume it’s the last since it is called “The Final Decision,” in sight, I’m trying to wrap up a number of side stuff before I close the book on Cole’s second chapter. My main objectives are finding all the Dead Drops, liberating the second island fully, and collecting all the Blast Shards. Maaaaaybe play a few more user-generated levels. Out of those three dreams, I’ve now found all hidden Blast Shards, and as a collectible, they are both a lot of fun to collect, as well as extremely rewarding in that a set number of them increase the amount of electricity power Cole can use. They remind me a bit of Precursor Orbs from the Jak and Daxter franchise, and nothing of those dumb flags from Assassin’s Creed. There is certainly an art to collectibles, something I’d like to explore down the line.

Basically, any time you ping the New Marais map for sources of electricity, Blast Shards appear for a second or two as a blue dot. Then you gotta find them, and they are relatively easy to see as they are glowing crystals, but most of them are tucked up high on rooftops or ledges, meaning you have to do some climbing. In total, there’s 305 of them, and you’ll come across them every step of the way early on in the game. It’s only after you’ve found about three-fourths of them that you have to begin paying attention and hunting them down, which is not as tiresome as one might think, thanks to Cole’s superhero powers of zipping up buildings and gliding across telephone wires. I found my 305th one out in the water last night, and upon collecting it, Cole accidentally took a dip, dying from the splash. Regardless, I got the Trophy, and I do believe it’s my first Gold one, unless I got one in Vanquish.

Tonight’s goal is to find three (or maybe it’s four?) more flying birds for the rest of the Dead Drops. I think I have run out of side missions though, meaning I can’t free the second island from enemy oppression. Might be wrong, might have to check online to see if there’s anything else I can do. After that, it’s off for Cole to fight the Beast, use the RFI, and watch another classic ol’ Western with his best bud Zeke. Mostly because then I can download Sleeping Dogs (free this month for PlayStation Plus users!) and have some more zany open-world fun, though probably with a lot less zapping and sticky ice grenades. Can’t say that for sure though.

Sly Cooper 4…

…where, oh where, art thou?

Please hurry up and come into existence. It’s been way too long since I’ve played a really fun, stealthy platformer. I know there’s a new HD/3D package getting worked up for the PlayStation 3, but that doesn’t cut it for me. I want a new adventure; I want to get the gang back together; I want to tip-toe across city roofs in a gorgeous, expansive open world à la Grand Theft Auto IV or The Saboteur. I know it can be done. Especially with the cel-shading. I’m just waiting, waiting, waiting, and I’d like to think I’m not the only one here. Let’s go, guys at Sucker Punch Productions. Don’t make me get The Murray to come over and rough y’all up…

Smoking cigs and killing Nazis

The Saboteur is far from perfect. Far far far far far. That’s five fars for those not counting. It is littered with glitches and bad control schemes, suffers from unclear mission objectives at times, and fails graphically once France starts slipping back into color. But I can put that all aside because–and this is important here–the game is a lot of fun. And it’s more forgiving than Grand Theft Auto IV ever tried to be.

So yeah, here’s the summary so far. You’re Sean Devlin, an Irishman now living in Paris, France, who gets sucked into a plot to take down some Nazis. Revenge is the fire in his blood, and along the way he’ll meet a cultured cast of characters, as well as strengthen the resistance of the people to the Nazi regime. I’m not too far into the main missions yet so that’s kind of all I know at this point. Maybe he’ll meet Brad Pitt…I mean Lt. Aldo Raine at some point. No one can predict the future.

The main missions so far are of the usual open-world ilk. There’s one where you follow another car, but don’t get too close to it. There’s another that charges you with escorting a lady friend around. There’s one that puts you into the sniper role, handing out death from high above. A lot of the missions are just set before you with a generic objective: kill the Nazis, for instance. It’s up to you to figure out how to make the end happen. You can either be sneaky and go around the enemy base or charge right in, guns a-blazing. I don’t recommend the latter. While Sean can certainly handle guns and grenades and setting off timebombs, he’s a much stronger assassin. It might take an extra ten minutes or so, but sometimes it is safer to walk the long and slow road, creeping by, silencing those that need it.

But the best thing about The Saboteur, for me at least, is the ambient freeplay missions. These show up on your map as tiny white dots, indicating that something there is important. It might be a Nazi sniper tower you have to destroy or a lookout point (a la Assassin’s Creed) or even just a perfectly placed spot to do a wicked car jump. Either way, there are hundreds of these. Maybe thousands. Remember, I can’t count higher than five. Just check this image out, which is only a tiny part of the world map:

Yeaaaaaaaah. But what is so nice about this is that it caters to my completionist OCD and allows me to just pop into the game for thirty minutes, take out a few ambient freeplay missions, save, and shut down for the night, fully knowing that I at least accomplished something. That I whittled the number of white dots down a sliver.

There’s always something to do in The Saboteur. Going after perks, ambient freeplay missions, collecting cars, playing the game’s main missions, just exploring, smoking cigs, saving citizens. It kind of goes on and on.

That said, Sean, just like Niko, is hard to like. He curses a little too much and a little too dramatically; there was one comment he made about eating a nun’s arse. I don’t know. I cringed? Yes, I cringed. Then again, he’s easy to like because he kills Nazis. And we all dream about going back in time and doing that ourselves. Well, maybe I do. Can’t speak for you, silent reader.

But all in all, a fun game. Maybe even an underappreciated one. Will come back to that claim once I’m further through it.