Friday, August 19, 2011

Alice in 3 Parts: Part 3

III. Final Thoughts

Took a while for me to get to this post, but I'm bound and determined to get it out. My final thoughts on Alice: Madness Returns.

I managed to platinum this one -- it wasn't difficult, and it helped that I liked the game enough to try. Generally once I beat a game that's it. I'd rather move on to something else. But this became my twelfth (? or thirteenth?) platinum, with only one trophy really causing me a little frustration: Neighslayer. Hitting four enemies with a hobby horse ground smash was no picnic when the area of attack was so small. There are many competing rumors and thought online regarding strategies on how to get the job done, and if I remember correctly, this was the last trophy that I got for the game just because it was so frustratingly difficult. People also claim that this trophy is glitched though I don't really buy it. It's easy to shout 'glitch,' when you can't seem to get the trophy no matter how hard you try.

I read rumors that attacking Bolterflies and slimes won't net you the trophy. I can't vouch for the flies (though I don't see how a ground attack would be able to hit flying enemies in any case), but I got the trophy to pop by taking on a group of slimes.

My strategy for Neighslayer: I actually lifted this from someone on the ps3trophies forum. First I'd suggest attempting this trophy on Nightmare, since it's easier to hit things without killing them with your first or second strike of the hobby horse. Head to Chapter 3. After the second scroll, there is a cube puzzle. Once the puzzle is completed you'll enter a room with a bunch of slithering ruins in it. Throw a Clockwork bomb into the mix and let the slimes clump up around it before you let loose. It might take a few tries, but there are plenty of slimes in this room. I got it on my third or fourth group of slimes. If you run out of slimes, restart from your last checkpoint and try again.

After watching my husband play through bits of this game, I realized I really enjoyed the first chapter and parts of the second, fourth, and fifth. I didn't care much for the chapter centering around the Orient. It was long, and boring, with annoying, uninteresting enemies. The art style is still what blows me away about the game, especially the character design for Alice.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Alice in 3 Parts: Part 2

II. Alice: Madness Returns

I may not dress like a goth girl, wear dark makeup like a goth girl, or write depressing poetry like a goth girl, but I've always been more into the darker side of things, which is why a dark, grown-up version of Alice in Wonderland appeals to me.

When this game was first released, we weren't sure whether we wanted to get it. D. probably wanted it more than I did, because I had originally attempted to play the first game on the good ol' PC and was less than impressed by it (see previous post). There would have to be a mountainload of changes for me to think highly of Madness. The review I read in Game Informer didn't help. They gave it a 6.75 out of 10, and claimed that the original Alice game was far better, but I just don't get it. They, along with other reviewers, had a lot of nasty comments to say about Madness Returns, but I absolutely loved the game. I didn't run into any level glitches, and I guess I was so busy enjoying Wonderland to notice grainy textures. True, I don't play games just to review them, so maybe I'm not so jaded. When I pick up a game I'm looking to enjoy myself, not pick it apart piece by piece. So the frustrations reviewers experience, I simply didn't notice.

Alice herself is well-designed, a truly beautiful character. Each level in Wonderland has Alice in a matching dress. The art style is just wonderful. In a nod to its predecessor, there are familiarities in this game that people who played the original might recognize and enjoy, but there is enough new ground here that it doesn't feel stale or overused. My favorite part of the game was the level design. Alice can shrink at will, locating hidden pathways and traversing keyholes to obtain collectibles. She also has a triple jump ability, letting her glide through the air. This doesn't make the game overly easy by any means, but it helps ease frustration, especially if you die--usually you'll respawn right on the ledge you jumped off of.

The game makes use of minigames, breaks in the regular routine of things that annoyed some people. I honestly didn't mind them, and they aren't so overwhelming that they take precedence. I think too many people expect too much out of games these days. Alice: Madness Returns is simply a fun experience, and a breath of fresh air after attempting the original game. If I had to give it a score: 8.5 out of 10.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Alice in 3 Parts: Part I

I. American McGee's Alice

This game was originally released for the PC in 2000, and features a darker take on Alice in Wonderland. Set sometime after the events of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, the game takes place after a horrible fire killed Alice's family. Alice begins to lose touch with reality, and is institutionalized in Rutledge Asylum. Ten years later, Wonderland draws her back in, to a place that's been damaged by her own twisted mind. This is a far cry from Disney's Wonderland creations. This place is dark, oftentimes reflecting Alice's own insanity.

At one point I owned an original copy of the game for the PC, but I'll admit I installed it, tried playing a few minutes of it, and gave up in frustration over the horrible control scheme. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not much of a PC gamer, so if the controls are too hard to use, forget it. Cheap deaths do not make a game more challenging. At the time, I couldn't understand how anyone could expect a person to play a platforming game on the PC. I'm a casual PC gamer...I didn't even own a PC compatible controller at the time, and playing with a keyboard and mouse is generally not my idea of fun. So my earliest exploits into American McGee's Wonderland were unsuccessful.

Fast forward, eleven years later. A sequel (Alice: Madness Returns) is released. As an added bonus, EA offered a code to download the original game for free. Pretty sweet deal, right? Well, you'd think so. It took me about three hours to download Alice, and probably another half an hour to install it, plus the files for Alice: Madness Returns. So sitting down to give Alice another quick go was another exercise in frustration, but since it was released for my favorite system, and I got it for free I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. Maybe using a controller I was comfortable with would help me get over my previous dislike of the game.

I was wrong.

This game is terrible. Sure I like the character designs, but using a controller doesn't improve the control scheme at all. Jumping is difficult at best, and cheap deaths still abounded. To add to my mounting frustrations, I found myself having to save after every single jump since there isn't an autosave feature. I guess I'd expected the game to be updated a little, but it was a straight port of the old PC game, clunky features and all. The later levels were difficult to navigate, especially the mazes in Queensland, but the kicker is that I finally gave up at the Jabberwocky boss battle: Part 2. No matter what I tried, I died in one hit. I couldn't get any momentum going against this guy, and I must have died and reloaded at least fifty times. Talk about frustrating. Especially once I discovered that I was really close to the end of the game.

The battle system is completely terrible, as is the camera and the jumping. I liked the crazy weapons Alice collected, but after acquiring quite a few, I became overwhelmed. Why are there so many? And since there aren't any number keys on a PS3 controller, I had to scroll through the list with the D-pad.

The only reason I really sat down to play this game is because I thought Madness Returns might not make much sense without playing through the game the first time. However, that's not the case. I didn't really see much of a story in the original Alice game--Madness does a much better job at weaving a story into the gameplay.

My suggestion? Skip American McGee's Alice altogether. You're not missing much.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Completion of inFAMOUS 2

It took a while, but I finally got my eleventh platinum trophy. Yes, that means I had to go into the user-generated content creator to design my own level, but don't get too excited. I really wanted to go in and create something fun and unique, but it was nearly two in the morning and I just wanted that last trophy so that I could call it a night, so my level is pretty bland and generic. I'm not too worried about it -- inFAMOUS 2 came out a while ago. I assume most of the people that wanted to play it already have.

I don't want to give away too much of the game, but I found the endings (both good and evil) to be pretty bad overall. The final decision in the game didn't make much sense, though the good ending did bring a tear to my eye. Definitely worth a playthrough, though I did notice a lot of random glitches, similar to the first game. D. was a bit amazed since he claims he never ran into as many problems as I did. I should be a game tester I guess.

inFAMOUS 2 glitch list:

  • I still managed to fall through walls and fences, though I never actually ended up inside a building as I did in the first game.

  • At one point I was fighting ice soldiers near the ice tower and had just defeated a Crusher that was positioned on the second level, near a railing. The game kept replaying his death animation over and over, for about five or six times until it finally straightened up and let me continue blasting bad guys.

  • A couple of times, I'd complete a certain part of a quest, only it didn't register on the game. The most memorable incident occurred in my evil playthrough, during a sidequest where I was throwing cars at Nix. I threw one, but the quest didn't update my objective, so I couldn't continue. I had to restart the mission and go from there. I also had missions where the guy I was following died. With no way to move forward, I had to restart the mission.

My biggest complaint about these games is the fact that no matter which karmic choices you decide to make, the cutscenes and storylines remain the same. I really wish the development team would have dug a bit deeper, to make it feel as if your choices mattered within the actual story. Only the endings are really different. I just felt like Cole was meant to be evil as I couldn't imagine his good guy alter-ego saying some of the things he said.

Monday, July 11, 2011


I just started this game a few days ago, but there are three things I can say for certain:

I hate Nix.

Most of the user-generated content is terrible.

Kuo can get annoying.

I'm playing this one much the same as I did the first game: starting off playing on Normal as a good guy. For my second playthrough, I'll switch over to Evil and play on Hard. I learned something while playing the first game: being Evil is so much more fun. Plus Cole doesn't look much like a superhero. He's really an anti-hero. He could go either way, and people seem to fear him no matter what. Jumping straight from the first game to the second was a bit difficult since they changed voice actors. They have similar qualities, but I'd gotten used to Cole's original voice. The switch was a bit disorienting, though the new guy did an excellent job. And the graphics? There's no comparison. The second one is head and shoulders above its predecessor in that department. Simply amazing.

I really could have done without the user-generated content. I enjoy the missions Sucker Punch took time to create, and there are a few amusing missions I've run into by users (Electric Gear Solid anyone?), but the frustration factor is high for the most part. There are plenty of missions that give you no instruction, so you have no idea what you're supposed to do. There was one where I got a Mission Failed screen a couple of times, though I have no idea why, unless it's because I wandered too far away from the battle. And then there are the missions that just throw a ton of enemies at you, giving you almost no shot of winning. Oh, and one managed to freeze my game. Yeah, that was awesome. Stupid trophy that requires me to play 25 of these dang things. So now, I'm being kinda picky. I don't know how many Sucker Punch has created, but I'm sticking mostly to them when I come across them. If anyone out there has created one or played one that wasn't either stupid or difficult, post the name of it and I'll keep an eye out for it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dungeon Siege III

D. picked this game up and has been playing it a lot, even though hack-and-slash RPGs aren't really his thing. Here I thought he bought it more for me. He also checked out a copy so that we could play a bit together (more so he wanted to get some of the online trophies with minimum fuss, and that was the easiest way). Whatever. I haven't even gotten a chance to start the game, but here I am jumping in with no idea what to do or how to play, aside from what I learned in the demo, which I played two weeks ago. We skipped most of the story because I plan on going through and playing the game by myself, just so I can enjoy all the little nuances and story-telling. See, this is why it takes me a while to play through a game. Not only do I want to get the trophies, but I also want to experience the game.

I'm not sure I'll stress myself over trying to platinum DSIII as some of the trophies sound kinda difficult -- the hardcore one for instance. But we'll see. I'm in the middle of inFAMOUS 2 right now, so I'd rather finish that up before I jump into something completely new.

From what I played, there's certainly nothing amazing about DSIII. It's your typical dungeon-crawler, complete with crazy amounts of loot. Towards the later part of the game, it won't even really pay to pick stuff up as your gear will be way better. Been there, done that. And the voice-acting is generally atrocious. But that's just first impressions. I'll probably post more once I get more time with the game.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Becoming inFAMOUS

True story: The other day I was hanging out at my local video game store when some guy walked in to ask about that In Famous game. Two words. I could hardly contain my giggles. That doesn't even make any sense. Yes, people's ignorance is often amusing to me.

I platinummed (platinumed? neither looks right, but platinum shouldn't be used as a verb, so...) this game last week. I finally got around to playing it for two reasons. First, it was a free download as part of Sony's Welcome Back program following the network's month-long downtime. Plus, I really wanted to play inFAMOUS 2, which looked amazing.

My husband (henceforth known as D. because it's quicker to write and less pretentious sounding) played inFAMOUS when it first came out, got his platinum trophy and quickly traded it in before it lost value, despite my objections. Really, it was on my "to be played" list. Sometimes it just takes me a while to get to a title -- I'm kind of a slow gamer. I like to wring all I can out of a game before moving on. Anyway, imagine my excitement when I realized I could download the title for free, just for being a Playstation user. I wasn't sold on the game at first, as it didn't look overly fun to play when I caught bits and pieces of it in action. But an hour or so into the game, I'm like "I love this game." Granted, it got old by the time I got to the end, especially after playing through it a second time in order to get all the trophies. But I did it, adding my tenth platinum to the list. Yeah, not great compared to D.'s forty platinum trophies, but still something to be a little proud of. He knocks me down a peg or two whenever I feel like bragging, which isn't often. Still, I compare myself with most of his friends and come out looking pretty good.

I don't quite know how I managed this, as I don't usually sit around watching D. play games, but I caught peeks of both the ending of inFAMOUS and inFAMOUS 2, which didn't make me want to play the games any more. I knew pretty much all the major twists before they happened. Still, the games are well worth playing. I do have one complaint, and I'm not sure whether this was because I played a downloaded version or what, but I tended to run into amusing glitches here and there.

Glitch list:

This happened a lot more towards the end of the game, so I'm not sure if I was just running into incomplete code, or what, but I walked through a lot of walls and fences. One time, I jumped right through a wall and ended up stuck in a roof. Some mad jumping skills finally freed me -- I most likely found the same hole that got me into that situation.

At one point, I was staring up at a building, trying to locate an enemy, while at the same time continuing to walk down the street. The next thing I knew I was flying. Literally. Cole was in the middle of the air, pretty much just standing there, staring down at the tops of the buildings, which looked miles away. No way would he ever be able to get up there by himself. I spent a moment wondering how I might get down, since I wasn't moving, when I decided to attempt a Thunder Drop. That did the trick, bringing me back down to earth.

A less amusing glitch happened in pretty much the same way, only instead of free-falling it, I found myself stuck in the pavement. Jumping did nothing, but luckily a few seconds later the game decided I'd died.

A kind of scary glitch happened at the beginning of my game, during a news broadcast. Cole was watching a wall of TVs. I decided I'd watch and walk a little, so I started moving. In order to keep Cole looking at the TVs, his body kind of did this 180, without his head moving. It was a little Exorcist and kinda freaked me out. So I did it over and over until the news show ended. Ha!

During my Evil playthrough, D. was watching for a little while, and pointed out Cole's hand placement while he was climbing, asking "Does he always do that?" When pointed out, it did look a little freaky. His hands were way too close to his feet and his arms were stretched out, making him look more like a monkey than a person. And once I'd noticed it, I couldn't stop noticing it. Thanks a lot.