Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Games in 2015: Winter p1

December: The Order 1886 (PS4), Final Fantasy VII (PS4), Gems of War (PS4).

The game looks like this...all the time. 100%, no jerks or blips or texture errors.
The Order 1886 was a really enjoyable experience. The story takes place in London, and the Knights of the Round Table have survived and protect Britain. You play as Sir Galahad, who fights anti-government rebels and werewolves in this gothic steampunk, Tesla-fueled alternate history. This plot is in the minority of perspectives that is not cynical about government and authority. Mechanically, it uses a polished Gears of War engine, but has very little firefights in between some top-notch cutscenes. After the opening cinematic, the camera kinda starts following one of the characters, and that's when I realized the game's scenes were all rendered in realtime, and absolutely gorgeous.

The first Playstation had a bunch of games where pre-rendered scenes were a lot more fluid, with way better textures, and it was pretty obvious that the game system just couldn't produce graphics at that level. These cutscenes usually took up huge amounts of data, relative to the game, which explains why all those multi-disc games that still had less than half an hour of cinematics. The Playstation 2 generation kept this intact, mostly; DVDs could hold so much more data, and you got cutscenes with graphics way better than the realtime rendering again, this time in higher resolutions. Then the devs got really bold and started having cutscenes with realtime rendering. When my friend told me about Halo 4's graphics, I was pretty excited. The visuals are quite amazing, but he was referring to the pre-rendered cutscenes. Halo 4 has quite amazing cinematics, but I don't personally call those graphics: your Xboxes are simply playing a video file.

The Order has realtime cutscenes, meaning your Playstation is capable of keeping those rich textures and details throughout the whole experience. I stopped for a half hour and fiddled around in Tesla's laboratory because the intricacy of all the gadgets and projects was so distracting and breathtaking. This game doesn't have much replay value, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth your time; please play this game.

Final Fantasy VII still holds up as my favorite game overall. The soundtrack is what shuts out all other competition. Nostalgia helps a lot, and I have written a whole entry to this game's story.

*boring voice* MANA SURRRGE!
Gems of War is an amazing freeware gem-matching game. Mobile games are dogshit, and this game almost behaves like one: the matches/rounds/levels last 3-5 minutes, and the game's graphics consist of moving cards and overlaid effects. Each color of gem you match gains you that color mana, which your troops use to cast spells and destroy the other team. You gain XP, gold or souls after every match. As your character levels with XP,  Each match costs gold to play, but your winnings are usually about 3 times this cost. Gold is also used to buy kingdoms, which provide a daily gold bonus. Souls are used to level your troops, which help you win more! The main reason this games is awesome is because you very quickly grow out of time penalties.

Why ohh why do you only have one music track?
Most free mobile games are built to take your money. They do this by having some bullshit mechanic that either suddenly ramps up difficulty, or makes recovering resources very time-consuming. Mobile gamers usually don't mind spending a buck to save a few hours' recharge time. If you really suck at Gems of War, the penalty is a few hours before your kingdom generates you some gold. The reality is that the 3 of us in my friends circle have never had this happen...the game pushes you along, with decent payoffs for victory, and you keep playing. The antithesis of this game is Frozen: Free Fall. It's also a free, gem-matching game. The bullshit mechanic is that every 4 hours or so, you get 10 lives. It costs 1 life to play a round, win or lose. You can't win lives, and most of the levels have either a fixed amount of moves, or your board starts in one configuration and your first dozen moves are already programmed. It works for mobile gamers because they just want a few minutes of entertainment. It's a little harder to fool console gamers; when we sit down to play games, it's clear we're not going anywhere for a while.

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