Thursday, July 28, 2011

Big mechs and annoying bugs

Still on the Lost Planet trail and things are going pretty well. Mission 8 was my latest challenge and it took me nearly two hours to complete once I'd finally dropped the boss - which is probably the longest of any level so far from start to finish.

The main issue was the fact that it was made up of a bunch of large areas all chock full of nasties trying to do me harm. Luckily there was a constant flow of T-ENG and a helpful checkpoint in one of the bigger rooms that allowed you to clear out the room, hit the checkpoint, and then delibrately die. This would let you respawn with all of the enemies still dead but all the T-ENG tanks and VS machines would respawn. Allowing you to stock up on energy and equipment before moving on.

In fact the trick of hitting checkpoints and then going back to empty areas for energ, weapons and target marks is vital throughout and one that people really should take advantage of in order to make things as painless as possible. It has certainly come in handy on more than a few occasions and is practically a neccesity in order to have the right set up to beat most of the boss fights.

In fact the mission 8 boss was made amazingly simple thanks to using a mech with two sets of homing lasers and leaping around on the higher ledges like some kind of madman. He only hit me once and that was due to me jumping into a wall (I think I got distracted by the pretty colours or something).

Mission 9 is next up and I'm hoping to get it done tonight, then move onto the last two level style challenges over the weekend. Shazam!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The quest goes on....

My drive to finish off Lost Planet is still as fresh as ever, though my progress took a bit of a hit last night. After slogging through the first two sections of Mission 7 and snagging all the target marks along the way I just had to negiotiate the last area and beat up the boss.

Unfortunately, I didn't quite realise that the only VS suit on the last map had an occupant that I really needed to dispose of first. Instead I just went ahead and blew everything up then found myself facing off against the boss on foot, the last checkpoint being just before he showed up. I had a few attempts to beat him this way, but it really was impossible, as most of my weaponry would do minimal damage while he could kill me in one or two hits, with pretty much no way for me to regain lost energy.

I finally threw in the towel and restarted the whole level, meaning I had to find all the marks I'd already gotten and redo the first two areas in their entirety. If anything this just highlights that preparing for the boss on each level is more important than anything else. Second time around I carefully shot the pilot from the last VS suit and made it my own, before I proceeded to pummel the boss in about fifty seconds flat. Job done.

While I will admit that certain sections feel cheap and frustrating on Extreme difficulty (like a giant worm eating you in one move and negating the last twenty minutes you spent building up T-ENG), on the whole I'm enjoying the mix of strategy, planning and skill that each area requires. When this game hits 1k it will be the best completion on my list by a long way. Hopefully I can get it done prior to heading off for Gamescom but time, and two more playthroughs, will tell.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Extreme difficulty and proving a point

I think anyone over a certain level of gamerscore has been on the receiving end of hate, usually revolving around having no life but also occasionally about the very games they play in order to get to said score.

The number of times that someone has said I play nothing but kids games is kind of annoying to be honest. Esepecially as a bunch of kids games can actually take more skill and time than any number of AAA titles that the self same gamers fall over themselves to play.

It is with that issue in mind that I've tried to go back to a few of the hardcore games sat around on my gamertag in a bid to finish them off and add a bit of a layer of respectibility to proceedings. Frankly this is more for my own satisfaction than anything else, as I know for a fact that very few people will have completed games like COD 3, Gears, Rainbow Six Vegas et al which I most certainly have. However, in my seemingly never ending quest to finish off everything I play I am determined to get some big guns finished off.

My first target is Lost Planet, a game that has one of the most notoriously difficult solo campaigns on the 360. Extreme mode may not be quite on a par with DMC4 or Ninja Gaiden 2, or even the crazy ass sequel Lost Planet 2 (which is just redonkulous), but it is most certainly right up there.

Many moons ago I sat down and did all of the online achievements and never even touched the single player side of the game. That was February 2007, which just goes to show that I never really give up on anything. Fast forward over four years and my first job was to run through the game on Easy in a bid to unlock Extreme and get my first tier of target marks out of the way. For those that do not know, there are four difficulty settings (Extreme is locked until you finish the game on any other setting) and each of them has a set of marks hidden on every level. The twist is that they are hidden in different places on each difficulty and can be notoriously hard to spot or reach. Fun times then.

Easy was just that, as you had plenty of weapons and T-ENG to keep you going, plus enemies were pretty easy to deal with and robot suits could be found around every corner to give you an advantage. The use of T-ENG is two fold, as it powers certain weapons and all the VS suits but also tops up your energy bar when you are wounded as well. Run out of T-ENG and you can expect a quick and messy death - hurrah?

Extreme mode is a different kettle of fish, as your T-ENG drops rapidly and there is much less of it to be found. Enemies do a lot of damage and there are more of them, plus you don't have the luxury and safety of VS suits to blast your foes with for the most part. Rapid shooting, careful energy management and finding target marks that are often in ludicrously out of the way places all make for a bit of a nightmare. Plus, some of the boss battles are staggeringly tough if you do not get to the preceeding checkpoint with the correct level of energy and weaponry.

So far I'm six missions in (out of eleven) and in some ways it is living up to its billing. I am still a bit impressed with how smooth my progress has been thus far though, as I've managed to get all of the marks on each level and do away with everything that has been thrown at me. Some of the boss battles came down to a mix of luck and skill, getting the right hit at the right moment and dodging at just the right time. With some fights taking me nearly an hour by themselves this is not for the faint of heart, but assuming you approach it in the right way then it shouldn't be a problem.

Of course, I still need to find all the target marks on Normal and Hard mode after I'm done with Extreme so my quest will not be quite over and done with if I'm to max out the game. Though after surviving Extreme I should be ready for anything and the marks are nowhere near as weirdly placed on the other difficulties. In fact if you really wanted to make Extreme mode easy you could just get a couple of marks on each level as you go, then replay chapters and snag the others - saving you having to make the perfect run to get them all at once. It may take a bit longer but would probably save on frustration, so I'd recommend that if you have the time and patience for multiple Extreme plays.

Suffice it to say that I'll be pretty proud of this bad boy once it gets done and it is certainly a refreshing change from all of the easy movie tie-ins that I've been reviewing recently. Green Lantern, Captain America and the latest Potter have all come and gone, with a bit of fun but relatively short playing times. At thirty hours into my Lost Planet commitment it is hard to say how much longer I'll be at it, but it will be time well spent and I'm thoroughly enjoying the challenge.

For all of you looking for something to stand out on your tag then I heartily recommend it.

My upcoming to do list includes Supreme Commander, World Snooker 2007, Fairytale Fights, Eternal Sonata and Risen. Quick and easy then. Though I may pop back to Lego Star Wars: Complete Saga and Republic Heroes just for a break and some easy points depending on my tolerance levels.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Big robots, funky t-shirts and busy times

This year has kind of snuck up on me a bit - I mean can you really believe that we are all the way into July already? Me either.

It turns out that I've actually been pretty damn busy so far this year and things are only likely to get worse in the near future, as Gamescom is right around the corner and that should lead to a plethora of content for me to wrap my head around. Still I cannot say that I don't enjoy sitting down and writing about games, and if I could find a job doing just that then I'd be all over that like a fat kid on cake. As it is though I'm happy chipping away at reviews and the odd event for and anything else is just a bonus.

In fact it is a bit of a surprise looking at just how many reviews I've knocked out so far this year. When I factor in the pre-Xmas rush then it will probably be my busiest one on record to be honest. Though at least I've managed to go ahead and fully complete most of the games I've stuck on my own tag from a review perspective - only FEAR 3 is still outstanding from recent times, but that is due to the fact I'm waiting for a co-op buddy to go through Insane difficulty with and do the few co-op only challenges I have left. Nothing too taxing, so hurry up and rent it already Rich!

Games like Green Lantern, Transformers and Dungeon Siege have come and gone - the last one looked like a fairly easy 1k but I just couldn't find a posse to do the 4 player stuff with, so I went ahead and just played it on my backup account and traded it in. I really don't want to get any more semi-complete games stuck on my tag if I can at all help it.

I also polished off Alice which I really enjoyed and LA Noire which I was a touch disappointed with. The story was entertaining enough (though the ending was extremely poor) but the actual gameplay was alarmingly repetitive. Plus, you had a wonderfully recreated 40's LA with very little actually going on - as the few side missions and collectibles really added nothing. A shame, but I'm glad I gave it a go considering the hype it received.

Moving forward I'm trying to go back and finish off a few more of my outstanding games with Fairytale Fights the first on my list. The game requires no less than six completions (one for each difficulty in both solo and co-op) so it will be a bit of a drag but at least I can coerce the wife into playing and she seems to be enjoying it so far. After that I may go back to Lego Star Wars and Republic Heroes - mainly due to the fact they are two easy games that shouldn't take too much effort for me to polish off. Hopefully.

I also have Captain America and the latest Potter game incoming this week, hence my reluctance to start anything outright new, so that's two more things to keep me occupied.

With the constant stream of games incoming it is a wonder that I have time for anything else, though I did splurge on some nice t-shirts from insert coin clothing. They do fuinky takes on a variety of games and I would highly recommend that you check them out if you can. They were so good that I ended up ordering four. Maybe I'm just weak......