Friday, November 28, 2014

Game Diary.

Cutting down bushes in search of healing items and treasure is a cornerstone of this experience.

Four days ago, I beat the third dungeon in Adventure Time: Secret of the Nameless Kingdom, which is a dyed-in-the-wool Link To The Past tribute/rip-off.  A tribute, because to a significant degree it allows the player the actions and follows the structure of Nintendo's classic - exploring a mysterious and unexplained world, finding hidden rooms and solving hidden puzzles without an ounce of assistance from the developer, discovering new items and powers that allows access to an ever-expanding amount of the map and cutting down bushes to bankroll the whole affair.  A rip-off because, no, it doesn't do it nearly as well as Nintendid

Four days ago, when I beat that third dungeon, I told Kayla that this was Nameless Kingdom's moment of truth.  A huge aspect of what made LttP so stunning was the fact that, once you'd defeated its three dungeons and returned to the central castle, it turned out you hadn't beaten the game - that you weren't even close, and that was only the beginning.

If Nameless Kingdom simply ended after returning to the central castle, it would be a fail.

In haste, I returned to the central castle to see what there was to see... which was a door I could not access.  But that's cool - I'd just earned a new power after exiting the last dungeon, and surely it would uncover some secret in the world that would see me on to this next challenge!

I circumnavigated the map a dozen times, exploring everything, leaving nothing unturned that I could perceive.  There were still four NPCs I hadn't helped - I had no idea how - and so, in my desperation, I turned to the GameFAQs community for help, as no one else in the world seems to be playing this game.

After another day or so of trying to understand their instructions, I finally found a secret passage that held an NPC which wanted an item, in return for an item I could give to another character, in return for an item I could give to another character, and so on.

I still have two characters to go, I believe, until I get the book that allows me to read the mysterious tablets throughout the Nameless Kingdom - and I'm (insanely) trusting the game to actually offer some meaningful progress, at that point.

The last four days with the game were, essentially, spent getting nothing done and beating my head against the game's... rude design.

But here's the thing... LttP was totally-obtuse in the exact same way.  It's just that no top-down Zelda game since has suffered such player-punishing design.  Does that make Nameless Kingdom a brilliant tribute, or just a badly-designed game?

Either way, I think I just experienced its moment of truth, regardless of what happens after I gain access to that central castle.

I beat Far Cry 4 last night, and there is much to say on that subject.  It's fertile ground for a lot of discussion, but let me say briefly that it is exemplary, an immediate GotY contender, and I'm very interested in just starting up a fresh game and picking a different side throughout its campaign.

I'm feeling more than a bit under the weather, today, and am thus home from work.  I took this opportunity to, finally, turn on Grand Theft Auto V's PS4 version.

It does look awesome, for the record.  It looks great, I love the new songs, the heavier traffic isn't a problem, but I found I wasn't interested at all in returning to the campaign of Franklin, Michael and Trevor.  Running around in a narrative-driven campaign had, at some point, lost its footing as my archtypical Grand Theft Auto experience.

For me, the definitive feel of Grand Theft Auto has become driving my car.

Not Franklin's car, or Michael's, or Trevor's truck.  My car.

Well well, who's this dapper lady in the spooky hockey mask and black sneaks?  She's my GTA Online character - my buddy Kris got his character to level 100 last year, but at the time I was still subjected to Dragon's Crown's unbreakable hold.  I did, however, get a nice garage - and I got my car.

I transferred her over, put some next-gen touches on her customization and loaded my game.  I was on and island just off the coast.

The minimap told me my car was near by, so I hiked a few miles overland to the nearest road, and there was... Adder.  The Truffdale Adder is not My Car.  It's one of my cars - the fastest land vehicle in the game, worth a king's ransom - and it would provide fine transportation back to my condo.

This is the garage I wanted when I first saw screens of Grand Theft Auto Online.  A big, well-lit, minimal affair straight out of Bruce Wayne's dreams.  It's a cornucopia of muscle cars, beyond the Adder's presence, with an armored Buffalo for four-man jobs, a Dominator, two Gauntlets and a Phoenix.  But My Car is the Declasse Sabre GT Turbo.  In black.

It's usually pretty hard to find, and has no default spawn location in the world.  The Sabre Turbo costs about $110,000.00 to be outfitted to the maximum awesomeness I'm permitted, at my level.  It's as fast as it can possibly be, with the biggest engine, sharpest brakes, bulletproof tires and the finest racing tuning, but it'll take me until level one hundred to outfit it with the highest-calibre body armor.

It's heavy, but its acceleration is excellent and it lacks the grip of most high-performance cars.  There is, then, a certain lightness to driving it, as it permits beautiful degree of expression in skids and corners.  Its inertia informs your moves as you juke in and out of traffic, allowing it to catch its full weight on the right before you use the subsequent bounce to swoop back to the left.  You can anticipate just the amount of turn you have to give it, and will - at times - find yourself in perfect harmony with your car as it screetches along a highway at a forty-five degree angle after taking it to the shoulder to evade a big rig.

It's a wonderful car.  It's mine, and taking it for a spin up the coastal highway of San Andreas, zipping it through the city's core, is my definitive Grand Theft Auto experience.

And now, I think, I'm going to go lay down and see what the fuck Nameless Kingdom wants from me now.

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