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Some fairly spoily spoilers for a sequence late in the game in Uncharted 3

Butch:

So got some play in, there. Let kids watch. Don’t judge.

Did the plane. The plane was pretty fucking cool. That whole “Am I dying? Wait, I’m not dying I’m, wait, a thing, and HEY!” bit with the falling. Very cool.

Then did the desert.

Hmmm. The desert.

Hmmm.

I’m still kinda processing the desert.

I mean, ok. It was cool having you have to do things like walk across that ridge when you’re teeny tiny in the expanse of the desert. It was….cool? Odd? Coolly odd? Oddly cool? when it switched to FIRST PERSON and made you take Sully’s hand. Wasn’t it? What WAS that? What was that WHOLE SEQUENCE?

I’m not sure. You start. I’m hot and tired and I have to process.

But then I got back to good ol’ fighting. Boom boom boom. Amazing how that tiny drink of undrinkable water turns you right back into a killing machine.

Feminina:

That whole desert sequence was interesting. One of the trippy bits I mentioned. I mean, what WAS all that? Dehydration and exhaustion induced hallucinations, but…narratively? We see Sully, who Drake cares about, hear evil Helen Mirren, who has been his main enemy recently…no sign of Elena (his relationship with her is uncomplicated or at least one that doesn’t trouble him?)…

And just from a game standpoint, it was kind of weird. Strangely non-action-based, but cool…weird, cool, weirdly cool, as you said.

I did like how thoroughly that undrinkable water refreshed him.

Butch:

I’m….not sure what’s going on. Plus, wasn’t that Lawrence of Arabia there? The quotes?

I sort of feel like, over these three games, we’ve watched the studio that would turn into the storytelling juggernaut that did TLOU grow up. One was the first good story it wrote when it was 14. 2 was the really cool story it wrote when it was 18 that got it into college. This seems to be that experimental thing that dudes do at hippie colleges when they’re “finding themselves” and “pushing the envelope” and smoking weed. And then they grow up and make TLOU.

It was like a strange hodgepodge of what ND does so well (these days): making gameplay part of…things. Making you walk across the ridge. Even my kids asked “Are you doing that?” and I said yeah. There were a couple times that it was unclear if you were even IN a cutscene, and Drake didn’t move until you pushed forward. The player was saying “What is this? What do I do?” Which is cool, in a weird proto-TLOU way.

But yes. Good gameplay experimentation, but……what?

I will say what is weird, and what has had me thinking the most: the ONE bit where it went first person. That was BIZARRE. I mean, what the HELL was the game doing there? I mean, ok, I talked above about blurring lines. Making you do all this stuff so you feel all “What is this? What do I do?” with him, but making you look out of his eyes for two seconds when the WHOLE REST OF THE TRILOGY is third person was weird. And if it was “blurring the lines” (He is you! You are him!) it was ham handed and didn’t work.

We’ve talked much about the line between player and character. We use “I” and “You” and “Drake” and “Geralt” and “Jessica” interchangeably sometimes, even switching over the course of a conversation. So we have a rather casual relationship with the line between us and the character whether it’s a third or first person game. So why did this break seem so jarring? Like, JARRING.

Especially as the OTHER way wasn’t jarring. I had no problem at all going from looking through Jessica’s eyes to looking AT Jessica whenever she talked. When MOST of the game was first person, the switch to first didn’t matter to me at all. But this here? This was weird.

Wonder why. Thoughts?

Feminina:

I think maybe the brief shift to first-person, which is indeed odd in the context of the series, was meant to heighten the ‘trippy’ factor? Like, you the player are sharing this altered perspective, and we will literally alter your perspective to make that clear?

Does this work?

Meh…I have to admit that I personally didn’t even register that the perspective had changed, making it either ineffective, or perhaps very effective on a subconscious level. You, on the other hand, found it jarring, and were pulled out of the flow of the story by it, so I’d have to say not very effective.

But as you said, it’s really interesting to see what the games are doing as we go through the series. This may be just an intriguing idea someone had that didn’t really work for everyone, but hey, why not try it…we left in that whole ship level, after all!

Butch:

Hmm. Yeah, I get that altered perspective idea. It certainly WAS trippy.

How did it not register for you? You had to actively take Sully’s hand. He was there, all haloed in the sun, reaching out to you (Trippy) and you had to push forward to reach out to him. And you saw your/Drake’s hand.

It was odd.

This game does seem FAR more experimental than the last 2. Not in terms of narrative. It’s still jumpy shooty man wants thing before bad guy gets thing. But the desert, the ship level….even gameplay, like playing with the perspective of the jumpy in the ship, with the rooms sideways.

Though I was about to type “playing with time” before I realized 2 did that, too….

Which might go to why people were less into it. Experimental doesn’t sit well with everyone, especially when not every experiment worked. Or the way they’re done. Another beef I had with the desert bit was that it went on a long time, or it felt like it did. Now, maybe that was intentional. It was supposed to feel like a slog through the desert. But two quotes? Two wells? Even Drake said “I’m going around in circles!” Yeah, thanks game. I mean, I get it, I do, but…. good doesn’t always fit, experimental doesn’t always work. I think the desert did good things, but in a way that just….didn’t fit. I mean, a really good pizza is great…but not at a Chinese buffet. And this was buffet pizza in a lot of ways.

New term!

Feminina:

I do totally remember the bit where you (/I/Drake: we could totally get some verbal mileage out of analyzing how/when we use different terms to refer to the PC) reach for Sully’s hand, I just didn’t really make note of the shift when it happened.

I also felt that the wandering in the desert bit felt long. Intentionally so, no doubt, but there was a definite point where I was thinking “OK, this is really working at making me feel that I’ve been wandering aimlessly forever and will probably die here.”

Can we also go back a bit and just note that it’s kind of awesome that after all that work getting on the plane, Drake immediately crashes it in the desert? I mean, it must have been in the air for about 10 minutes before it caught on fire and fell to earth, killing everyone on board. That’s efficiency, Drake.

And then, no wonder we had to wander in the desert for about 100 hours before miraculously stumbling on the place we needed to be. (And its restorative undrinkable water.) Next time, try to let the plane get you at least CLOSE to your destination, man.

Butch:

It was very, very effective on that front. The wandering aimlessly forever front.

Though in reality that was a surprisingly short level, if one can call it that. Awesome, but short.

There was also a good dovetail between a very exciting “I’m dying no I’m not” with a long, drawn out “I’m dying no I’m not.” When Drake fell out of the plane (see me switching from me to Drake?) I thought “Damn I gotta do that again…..hey…..taking longer than usual to fade to black and white…..” before it dawned on me that that thing had a yellow, grabable mesh. Utterly convinced that was death…..and then it wasn’t.

Feminina:

Yes! I did like how when you fall out of the plane. It’s “OK, death, prepare for reload” and then…”hm…oh, hey, I’m NOT dead, I’m supposed to be doing something! Oh no, I have to do it quick before I AM dead!”

It nicely replicates the momentary paralysis of shock, and then the terrified fumbling to survive.

Butch:

It did. NICE gameplay touch. THAT was an experiment that worked. That I enjoyed.

This game goes hot and cold on that front. Just played some more. Did the “I’m on a horse” bit, which was, really, eight ways of awesome. Then did the “I’m fighting in a sandstorm” bit, which was, really, eight ways of annoying. Went from so cool to so infuriating. Yes, Sully, I KNOW I’m supposed to get a fucking RPG. Fuck off. Why did I save you?

You know what I realized when riding a horse? There’s a LOT in this game that would be pretty mind blowing in 3D….

Feminina:

Or in virtual reality! The wave of the future!

The horse bit was pretty fun. And then the sandstorm was kind of annoying, although I didn’t actively hate it. It was a mixed blessing, really…I could run off into the sand to heal up (as one does: nothing like having your skin scoured by blowing particles and inhaling a bunch of dust to make you feel 100% again), but people could also emerge from the sand and surprise me.

I finished 4 last night…sorry. It was pretty good, though! As usual, I only found about 40% of the treasures, and did not find the Strange Relic.

Butch:

It wasn’t so much the sandstorm (though the dude with the minigun was a pain) so much as the bit AFTER the sandstorm with the snipers and the trucks that were hard to see, and the RPGs that were hard to find. THAT bit was pretty bad. And if you died fairly early in that, you had to go ALL the way back to the dude with the minigun. Boo. Boo bad save points. Boo.

Of course, I was tired, it was hot, I had already played a lot, so maybe I had something to do with it.

I’ll loan you one of my relics.

No need to apologize. You apologizing for being so far ahead is like apologizing for the sun coming up. It just is. It just happens. It always will.

I’m at 89%. I’ll get there.

Feminina:

You’ll get there. I’ll putter around with Gone Home in the meantime.

True, the bad save point issue is a real thing. I did have to do a lot of running around over and over in that post-storm bit. I think they sometimes throw in a bad save point on purpose to increase the challenge level and make us appreciate how they usually do pretty well with saves.

I don’t think I did a single hard save in 4, after the one that differentiated my game from Mr. O’s. There’s no point…usually they do it well, and if they don’t, it’s intentional and they won’t let you save around the point they want you to start at anyway.

Butch:

Gone Home is pretty short, and you’ll no doubt finish it soon.

Then what?

I hear the Witcher expansions are very good. Get some swordplay in. I’d do those someday, if there was nothing else.

Meh. That level was challenging enough with the trucks and the RPGs being hard to find. Bad save points are a cheap way of increasing challenge, methinks.

I only do hard saves to see how far along I am. They don’t seem to do much otherwise. I guess they’re there if you’re sharing the game, and I’m not. So there.

Feminina:

Speaking of save points, the dark side of autosave is that one gets into habits. Of not doing one’s own saves. And then one spends half an hour on Gone Home and turns it off, forgetting that saving is a thing people do, and one has to start all over again. At least it wasn’t that much time, or that complicated a game.

I played the first Witcher expansion, and quite liked it. I’ve been waiting for the second one…if it’s out, I’m totally playing it.

Butch:

It is out. It’s called “blood and wine,” and it, not surprisingly, got great reviews.

Important safety tip re Gone Home. I tried not to chuckle. Failed.

I got nothing. I played some witness, I was hot and tired, and I played like shit, and got angry as hell, and figured I didn’t have it.

Mrs. McP has class tonight. Can I do 11 percent and finish?

Feminina:

I’m so going to get Blood and Wine, then! All right, I know what’s next on my agenda.

11% isn’t much, but wouldn’t it be more traditional to do 8%, and then have 3% to come back to later? Just a thought.

Butch:

Ah, right. Good point. Strangely, my last several play sessions have all been around 8%, too. Should be perfect timing.

It’s only fair. I don’t want to be all “This ending was SO good” when really it was just the ending that I did correctly.

Blood and Wine is also supposed to be a good 25, 30 hours or so. Should keep you busy for a week or two.

Feminina:

Yeah, you need to judge all the games by the same standard. If that means quitting in exhaustion 10 minutes from the end every time, so be it.

The first expansion was a decent length. I don’t remember exactly how long, but I spent a satisfying amount of time on it. I’ll just have to remember all the controls so I don’t spend all my time charging at things I want to sneak up on and so forth.

Butch:

Indeed. I aim for fairness.

The new expansion is supposed to be a lot longer than the first one, so add time. They don’t cheat you, they don’t.

All the more reason to get gwent!

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