Noi #19 – Look at my Horse

Sporting the Toon Link for the first time sirs.

The lack of updates on my part is due to some stuff happening over here. To spare you a long boring segment, I’ve been studying computer engineering for a good 2 1/2 years now. However, I realized that outside of programming, nothing in the field interests me. So instead, I’ve made plans to change to a music school to study singing and whatnot, as well as taking some associate degrees in anything else I’d be interested in from the main engineering course. It’s a lot of money and time spent down the drain, but I’ve made some changes to my personality and way of life over the past years, as well as made some invaluable friends, so it’s time and money well spent.

Now, things are looking bleak in the video game front. With the killer Spring ’10 season upon us, nearly every game that didn’t make the cut in 2009 is being sprung upon us within the coming months, leaving many wallets dry among the sea of collector’s bundles, special editions and special offers. Big name titles like Mass Effect 2, Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars and No More Heroes 2 and Bayonetta have already been sprung upon us, with other titles like Bioshock 2, White Knight Chronicles, Dante’s Inferno and Star Ocean 4: International coming within the coming weeks. For that matter, I’d like to do some mini-reviews on two games I’ve played that have been released since the beginning of the year, as well as my thoughts and amount of hype for the games that are coming soon.

I’ll do the later in a future post to not clog this up too much, so read on for my mini-reviews on Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond, Bayonetta and Mass Effect 2.

Games played this year –

Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond

Containing parodies ranging from Mario to Bioshock to Portal, the latest title in the Matt Hazard series takes the series in a 2.5D direction, taking the third person shooting into a mix of Metal Slug and Contra, where enemies are just tossed at you in massive waves without mercy. The game is a fun trip back to the time when games didn’t hold your hand, as the game’s difficulties themselves are self described. People looking for an easy beat need not apply, as the game Normal difficulty, “Damn this is hard”, can get incredibly difficult at times, testing the skills of many players with the motivation to kick some ass. For those without the cojones to do so, “Wussy” mode gives you an unlimited amount of continues so you can play through the game without too much trouble, though you won’t feel very accomplished doing so.

The character design is brilliant, with enemies that parody the respective games the stages are based of, and Matt himself being a parody of modern main character design. The gameplay is entertaining, as it adds the ability to shoot into the background, taking out enemies before they even get to your own 2D plane, and the writing is great, as Matt chases across stages in chase of Lieutenant Neutronov, a russian scientist who has stolen Matt’s past 2D self in an attempt to erase him the past so that Matt has no future. Or something like that.

Final Verdict? It’s a good shoot em up for those looking for a challenge, but people with weak constitutions need not apply.

Bayonetta

When Bayonetta was first announced, it couldn’t have been farther in my list of games to get. The character design was completely unappealing, it didn’t interest me at all, and the marketing for the game completely put me off with it’s “lol sexy woman” publicity. Skip forward to a few months before the stateside release, I downloaded the demo for the game and it completely changed my perspective for the game. Suddenly, here was an action title that had come completely under the radar for me. I noticed something that made the game make more sense. Did the game need to be completely absurd and over the top? No, it didn’t. Nor did it need to have Bayonetta going half-naked for everyone of her signature attacks. But if didn’t have those things, Bayonetta simply wouldn’t be remembered as she is now, a sultry lady who doesn’t give a crap about anyone but herself, and would be just as happy slaying demons and angels as she would be pole-dancing.

Necessary? No. Does it make the game stand out among the crowd? Yes.

Atmosphere aside, the gameplay is over the top, dynamic, and surprisingly, fun. With three different difficulties available at the start, Normal and Easy/Very Easy modes for those wanting to just breeze though it, anyone can find the right way to play through the game, as the combat is quick, responsive and easy to learn. It’s somewhat like a Devil May Cry meets God of War, with attack combinations performed by alternating between the punch and kick buttons, but the moves performed are things that Dante himself would love to be able to do. The attacks themselves are customizable, since as you unlock new weapons in the game, you can choose whether to equip the weapons on your feet or on your arms, swapping between two different sets of equipment with the press of a button. Easy and Very easy mode also include an accessory that let you automatically perform some of the more complicated special moves by just pressing one button.

If there’s one thing that Bayonetta lacks, it’s a clear grasp of what’s going on in the plot. Maybe it’s just me, but I had no idea of what was happening until much later in the game, where they take the time to point out Bayonetta’s origin, as well as the reason for the events that were happening. Until that point, I had only played the game because of the sheer craziness of everything that was going on, which may confuse some people who like to know why the whole city you’ve been exploring suddenly undergoes a volcanic eruption, or what the things you’re killing from the beginning are.

Final Verdict: Unlike my first impression of the game, Bayonetta delivers with it’s fun, fast paced and ever-changing gameplay. Those looking for a more serious title or something with a deep, complex plot might be disappointed. While the game does have it’s serious moments, the atmosphere is so absurd that it simply can’t be taken seriously at all.

Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 follows the the actions of Commander [Insert Name Here] Shephard after his triumph over the Reaper Sovereign at the end of the first game. To keep this as spoiler-less as possible, stuff happens, and Shephard gets a new suit, an upgraded Normandy and has to travel the galaxy recruiting an elite team to combat the Reaper threat and the newest threat to the galaxy, the Collectors. These bad dudes have been kidnapping humans off the far-off colonies, and it’s up to Shepard to find out what they’re up to and stop them.

Unlike the first game, Mass Effect 2 takes a more shooter-like approach with it’s gameplay. Med-pack healing is gone in favor of regenerating health, overheating weapons with infinite ammo replaced with “universal” thermal ammo clips, and the whole skill system being reworked so you only upgrade powers and special ammo, as well as overall damage instead of increasing damage for specific weaponry.

Mass Effect 1 at the top, Mass Effect 2 at the bottom. (Click for Full-Size)

While Mass Effect 1 had plenty of quests to choose from, a major complain was that most of the quests were repeats of each other, something I can agree with. The sequel turns this completely around, sacrificing number of missions with having you do something completely different in each one, from investigating the a space station haunted by a defective VI in a Dead Space-like setting, to escaping from an exploding fuel facility full of mercenaries. It’s a step in the right direction, though the lack of overall mission number does leave you wanting more by the end. Regardless, every mission is well-done, with none of them feeling like fetch quests in disguise or the like.

If anything, the reasoning for the above has to do with how the ability to land and explore certain planets is completely removed, instead being able to “probe” every planet for minerals which are used for every kind of upgrade, be it weapons, armor, or new parts for your ship.

Probing Uranus for minerals.

The Paragon/Renegade system has been worked over too, removing the Charm and Intimidate “talents” from the first game and making the choices available depending on how many points you’ve gained in either side. The actions done on either side are also well-made, as making a Paragon choice doesn’t make Shepard look like a total wuss, with some Paragon choices being even more badass than the Renegade choices. In addition, there’s a new interrupt feature where with the press of a button/mouse click, you can make Shepard perform a Paragon or Renegade specific action in the middle of the scene, such as shooting a gas tank (featured below) or stopping a squadmate from shooting someone without the right intentions.

If anything, the big draw to Mass Effect 2 is seeing how the choices made in the first game affect the world in this game. While you do meet a ton of characters who were directly or indirectly affected by your choices in the first game, it seems like the full repercussions are going to be held for Mass Effect 3, whenever it’s released. The choices made in this game, however, are somewhat on a bigger scale than the ones in the first game though, as it’s possible for even your whole squad to kick the button during the game’s ending if you rush through without precautions, which makes me curious as to how this will be handled in the next game, since any squadmates that could die in Mass Effect 1 are non-playable in this one. We’ll just have to wait and see on that one.

Final Verdict? While the overall game has been polished to the sheen, it’s lost some of it’s RPG aspects in the process. Given all of the marketing the game is being given, I’m not surprised that the game was slightly dumb downed and straightened for the masses, yet it works. It’s still by all means a terrific game that both shooter AND RPG fans should enjoy, though people interested in delving into the game might want to give the first game a twirl before playing this, as the default choices (that would otherwise be picked from playing through Mass Effect 1) for starting a new game from Mass Effect 2 are pretty terrible.

And that’s that. Hopefully I can motivate myself to write up the next “Games I’m looking forward to post”, though I’ll probably already be too late for White Knight Chronicles, which comes out this week.

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2 Responses to “Noi #19 – Look at my Horse”

  1. Aahhhhhh.. I want ME2 so bad.

  2. Nice. Noi with a singing career. 😀

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