Wolf 2 Complete

Wow, that was a quick turnaround! I managed to play Wolfenstein II for a couple hours here and there throughout the week and made a final push over the weekend, finally completing the game last night. It turns out I was at the very end of the game on Sunday but had stopped to go play some MTG with my roommate, so within 30 minutes last night it was over. There are DLCs and things but I’m going to pass on those, as my girlfriend bought me a copy of The Old Blood, which is the prequel to the original game and should hopefully fill in some story gaps. I should be able to complete that one long before Youngblood comes out, but at least I’ll be able to say that I played all of Machine Games’ Wolfenstein titles on offer.

What a crazy adventure this game was. There are some spoilery screenshots ahead, so if you haven’t played this year old game, you might want to skip this post.

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From getting beheaded on national television to having your severed head put in a jar and then attached to a cybernetic body, this was surely a crazy experience. Seeing an aging hitler, and finally getting your revenge on the Frau was an amazingly fun time. I was hooked from start to finish, and though there wasn’t anything too challenging to complete, it was still not the easiest shooter I’ve played through. There are varying difficulty levels, so most players should be able to find their sweet spot. Graphically the game was amazing, if not a little gory. As a matter of fact there is a bunch of adult oriented content in this title, from sex scenes, to the aforementioned gore, to various vulgarities and slurs. But if you aren’t a snowflake, you’ll probably be able to take it for what it is. I’m not sure why this game got some negative reviews, as there wasn’t anything I took issue with, but perhaps I’m part of the crowd the game was designed for. I look forward to the next iteration that’s for sure!

The New Colossus

The Steam Summer Sale is in full swing and as usual I was tempted by some titles that have long been on my wishlist but are normally full priced. It’s hard to pass up a good deal, so I was trying to justify spending the money while having a conversation with my girlfriend. I really couldn’t justify the expenditure, but she pulled the trigger for me. I’m a lucky guy! As you could probably guess by the title and picture above, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus has been on my list for a long time and it was 60% off during the sale so for $24 it came into my possession.

During my first session with the game, I was already impressed. It gets a little graphic and touches on some important social issues within the first thirty minutes, but otherwise feels much like the original. Graphically it seems to be done in the same engine because I feel like it’s similar enough to The New Order, but I also haven’t played that one in quite some time so perhaps there have been some updates that I’m unaware of. I was happy to see that it supported 21:9 aspect ratio and 2k resolution, so it looks glorious on my new (ish) monitor. I saw no issues with framerate drops or hitching/tearing. It flows seamlessly between cut scene and game engine and I have been enthralled with the storyline once again.

I’m still impressed by the way these developers managed to take a 1990’s FPS with zero story and turn it into this magnum opus, but I’m glad they have because it feels like so much more than a mindless shooter. Sure, the game is fairly linear and has its share of big fuck you weaponry and explosions, but in between we see the humanity of this world and these characters and it’s a nice change of pace from the hoorah military shooters that have dominated the marketplace for so long. Similar to titles like Bioshock, this one has a compelling story that keeps you invested after the firefights have calmed down.

When the game opens, it gives you a little snippet of what happened in the first game, and then picks up precisely where it left off. B.J. got a little fucked up at the end of the first game, and gave the order to blow shit up despite the fact that it would kill him. Thankfully his friends came to his rescue, but the extent of his injuries were pretty dire. He floats in and out of consciousness, having flashbacks of his childhood (which seemed pretty fucked up) while his friends cut out bits of his guts and whatnot. Eventually he recovers, just to find that the ship he’s on is under attack, and finding that his legs aren’t working at that juncture. Equipped with a wheelchair and a gun, he goes on the offensive.

Through the first few scenes he eventually gets captured and his friend gets beheaded. The evil leader from the first game is back and wants to make the revolutionaries pay. She fat shames her daughter, tries to force her to do the beheading and then takes matters into her own hands. Thankfully at one point while trying to kill another friend, he breaks loose and shoots some of the soldiers, and in the ensuing scuffle B.J. is able to get into the power armor that had been worn by his beheaded friend and can now use his legs again! The Frau escapes while her daughter helps the team to escape and release their U-boat from the airship’s grasp.

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At this point I took a break but intend on pushing through this title fairly quickly. My girl also ponied up for the Dark Souls Remaster and I really want to get going on that series so I’ll have more to write about in that regard soon.

Did you grab anything in the Summer Sale?

The Council: Episode 2

The second episode of The Council released last Tuesday, and I managed to complete it over the weekend. Fair warning, there will be some spoilers in this post, so if you’re playing the game you might want to see things through before reading on.

Similar to the first episode, you’ll run around as Mr. De Richet still looking for clues as to your mother’s whereabouts, and performing various tasks in the interim. During the course of this episode however, some bad things are afoot, and your detective skills will come into play. We finally meet the owner of the island manor, and the final guest (the leader of Spain) arrives. One of the women you met in the first episode is brutally murdered, and what appears to be some sort of pagan or satanic ritual has transpired. You are charged with finding out who killed her, and at one point are able to give your opinion as to who might have done it. I threw one guy under the bus, only to need his help in getting out of a locked room later on. Further clues seem to point towards your mother’s involvement with thing going on around the island.

The gameplay is identical to the first episode, though my play through featured less confrontations during dialogue. Most of my time was spent examining the crime scene, questioning guests, and exploring the manor, including a portion of the exterior (garden) all the while picking up consumables and books to earn skill points, along with solving a number of different puzzles. At the very end of the episode, I had just opened an underground passage leading under the garden hedge maze, where I found the body of one of the manor’s servants. A cliffhanger ending, we’ll have to wait a while to see what happens next. Here were my results from the three quests in the episode:

Overall I still really enjoy this game. It’s a little slow paced, but it is engaging in a way that most games aren’t these days. I look forward to the next episode!

Pillars of Eternity: Blind Playthrough

Despite owning Pillars of Eternity for a long while, I’ve just recently gotten around to trying it out. I’m a big fan of isometric RPGs — both the action and party based varieties, and have been since the early days of Diablo and Baldur’s Gate. Obsidian was involved in the creation of some of these old school RPGs, and their experience shows! This isn’t the action RPG variety, but rather the party based kind, where the action is more strategy based than how fast you can mash buttons. Most gamers will know all about this sort of game, and most RPG fans probably ran through this title more than once by now. Pillars of Eternity 2 is already on the horizon as well, so this was a good time to dive in and try to strike one of the deeper games off of the backlog list. I have plenty more to go as far as the backlog goes, and plenty more to explore in Pillars as well. I’d like to notate that despite knowing about the game and knowing that it was similar to cRPGs of old (along with reading good things around the blogosphere) I’m basically going into this playthrough blind. I’m going to attempt to not look up anything and just play through naturally.

After firing up the game and watching a short into movie, I was greeted by the character creation screen, and I was surprised by how feature full it was. The cRPGs of old that I keep referencing made use of AD&D rulesets and so the character generation would reflect that and though this feels similar, there are races and classes that aren’t D&D specific. The stats and skills for each character feel fairly original as well, but that old school feel is still present. It’s just a prettier version of the tried and true, and sometimes that’s all the Old Guard needs. I was taken aback initially by the amount of race and class combinations possible, but assumed that it wouldn’t really matter as you tend to pick up a fairly balanced party in these types of games. I ended up settling on playing a Druid.

I went heavy on Intelligence because I figured if this game was anything like other modern RPGs I’ve played (such as the Dragon Age series), having a bevy of spells at your disposal is rather useful, and sitting in the back with your main character while your AI controlled party beats on things tends to be the best approach. However, it seems that the druid is more about shapeshifting into bigger animals (I chose boar form) and diving into the fray. Whatever the case, the choice doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference as I suspected.

The story unfolds in a similar fashion to most isometric titles, with some in-game dialogue scenes, and then other more animated cutscenes. The graphics are crisp and the animations tight and the lighting effects are excellent. Combat flows well, though I have to get used to only being able to cast spells a certain amount of times per day… but it’s such a throwback and tugs on the right nostalgia strings nonetheless. Apparently you’re a traveller who’s sick and trying to find out what’s going on, but there’s a shroud of mystery that has yet to be lifted. I’m still fairly early on in the campaign, travelling a modest distance to this point.

Earlier this evening I reached Magran’s Fork after being turned away from the Gilded Vale, but I did pick up a wizard buddy. We were clearing the zone when a pack of wolves overwhelmed us and I called it a night. Overall I’m really enjoying this title, it feels really good to have the nostalgic feel in a modern title that still shows its roots. The Dragon Age and Mass Effects were true to their roots in a similar way but still upped the graphics and brought the gameplay in the 3D realm so they were good but this is good in a different way.

It’s refreshing.

The Council: Episode 1

I didn’t hear about The Council while it was in development. I didn’t even know it had released, but spotted it on the Playstation Store recently, and was intrigued by this lead photo. Clearly there are some historically impactful people in that picture, and I was interested to see what it had to offer. The description of the game led me to believe that it was a “choices matter” style of narrative adventure, and this is what you can expect. You could point to similarities between this title and the variety of Telltale Games’ well-known series, but honestly it’s more akin to Monkey Island than any of their recent titles. Still, it can be said that if you enjoy Telltale’s narrative style you will probably enjoy this game and  your choices do matter. However there is a bit of depth added to this game that wasn’t present in many of TTG’s. First of all, you’re given the ability to choose a class:

I rolled with becoming an Occultist because it sounds rad, and honestly it doesn’t really matter which one you choose due to the fact that your gameplay (choices) can open up the other options. Furthermore, you’re presented with a set of skills based on your class, all that will start at level 1. You can further level these skills using points granted to you as you gain experience. Different actions you take within the game accrue this experience, and it is given to you when you complete “quests.” These are quests as you would think of them in the RPG sense, because you are only walking around from room to room scavenging for clues and having the periodic conversation with the other characters. But things are tallied up at the end of these quests and you’ll gain more points to acquire more skills. Some can be later unlocked by reading books and performing actions so then you can put your leveling points into those as well to open further actions and dialogue options. The game will point out when you lack a certain skill and you’ll know that you’ve missed a certain path that could have been taken if you had it.

There are parts that require your attention, such as puzzles and conversational battles of wits. Confrontations only allow you to make so many mistakes, and your dialogue options will change as your skills do. You have an effort bar that will be used to perform certain actions or use dialogue options that pertain to skills and there are consumables to refill this bar (and remove negative conversational effects). I guess this is starting to feel more like an RPG after all! Opportunities are more like the QTE’s you’d be familiar with from Telltale games. They do help you on your way though so you should be paying attention while you play this game.

At the end of your missions, aside from gaining XP and being able to spend your points, you’ll also get a breakdown of ways you succeeded and ways that you failed during that quest. Alternative pathways are also presented, presuming you’d want to play through another time. I was halfway tempted once I saw the trophy list, as many of the achievements will require additional playthroughs, but I believe I’ll wait until I’ve played through the additional episodes. It’s an intriguing political romp, where you’re rubbing elbows with the people who rule the world in their day and age. I won’t spoil anything as this is a fairly new title, but it was very enjoyable and I look forward to more! It’s unclear at this point as to when episode 2 will release, but if we typically expect episodic content at a fairly rapid clip I expect you’ll hear more about it from me within a couple of months. The Council is also available on Steam.