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Remember me – A hunt for memories

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What would you do if you could reset unpleasant memories, share your precious moments with your loved one, see things through their eyes, feel what they felt in that situation? And when you happen to have the ability to alter those memories, turn, twist and form them just as you like? Would you use it?

Nilin has this unique ability and ,as a memory hunter of the Errorist, decided to use it against the corrupt industry of memory trade and the city of Neo-Paris (You guess right, it’s a futuristic setting). Of course along her way, something went terribly wrong and she got captured and her memory deleted and this, ladys and gentelmen, is where our game starts.

A story full of questions underlined with philosophical flavour and rounded with action gameplay. Oh, I’m going to have fun with this one…in one way or another…

I will start with the gameplay. First of all, the levels are very, very linear. Most of the time, it is essentially a road with tiny branches in which upgrades wait to be collected by the player. You have to go from A to B to continue the story and you will meet obstacles along the way. Either enemies you have to fight or you have climb around an obstacle.

The combat system…is interesting. Yes, we settle with “interesting” here as description, since I lack a better term. You will fight, for the most time, hand to hand and try to execute combos. Nothing out of ordinary, but you decide which button does what effect in the combo. I’m aware how stupid this wording sounds, so let me explain this in a more detailed way. There are different combo-sets which you gain throughout the story and you can unlock different buttons to fill those combos, so you can execute them in battle.

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There are buttons which can fill up your Focus-Gauge (which you need to activate special attacks), some which do more damage, some which can heal you (…I can’t really come up with a decent explanation how this should work, other than Nilin has to be a complete sadist who takes pleasure in the pain of others.) and some which can enhance the effect of the buttons which follow in the combo. So you can create a combo-chain which does damage, heals you and does other nasty things.

Naturally, your enemies try to break your combo and they do a really good job. Of course, you can dodge and try to continue your combo, but with a narrow battleground with lots of annoying enemies, this isn’t as easy as it may sound. I have nothing against difficult battles, but some battles are difficult because I can lock the camera on an enemy which I want to keep in sight, so I can dodge its attacks.

For example, there is an enemy type which is stronger when other monsters/people are around. The logical solution to this problem is “kill the critters -> then kill the bigger critter”. This would be go smoothly, wouldn’t the camera switch when I take a few steps forward (you can’t control the camera by the way) in a way I can’t see the bigger critter attacking me from behind. It’s really annoying. The only time you can lock on an enemy is in “gun mode” (or rather the gun-like weapon which you obtain in the story).

But that aside, what is with the whole memory stealing and memory altering? That should be the focus in the story, right?…Right? It revolves around it, but the parts in which you use your altering ability are few and this is really a pity. How do you alter memories? Well, you see a sequence which you can rewind and you alter some details which lead to another outcome. It’s a really nice aspect of the game, but like I said, they are few, unfortunately. This system would be good for side quests in which you decide what the people think and remember. Ah, I should mention that this game has no side quests.

Now let’s get to the last point(s). The story and atmosphere.

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Corrupt state/industry? Check. Rebells who do questionable things? Check. An (at first) amnesiac protagonist? Memory dealing/altering? Check. Yes, we had all those things in a way. (Why am I reminded of Total Recall?) But what is important is the presentation and in what way you do it.

When I say, the story isn’t surprising and predictable, I have to add, that I have the ability or more the curse to predict twists and turns in a story before they happen. (Which led to my reputation of being a “walking spoiler”) So…How predictable was it for me? To say it metaphorically…Some things had the nasty flavour of a punch in the face, because I have not only seen it coming, but it was so predictable that it hurt me. (or rather my non-existent heart). But I will forgive that…somewhat, since the story is not that bad, not at all, just not the strongest or the best thought out. Just some things had me raise my eyebrow and say “Really now?”

I have to give credit for the designs in this game. They are interesting to look at and you have the feeling that someone has put thought in it and tried to make a good world and atmosphere which goes along with the story. On one hand there are the Slums with the ghoul like creatures  and other poor people who wither in pain, on the other the city were people talk normally to each other. It is not the best I have seen, but it’s well made. This and the naming theme in this game. (Slum 404, the Errorists, Bad Request…etc. and the fact that Edge has a resemblence to Alex Mercer (Prototype))

My conclusion on the hunt? I didn’t expect anything from it or at least, I tried to not expect anything. The Artwork is great and so is the world in my opinion, but in the gameplay and writing section it isn’t more than medicore. There was a lot of unused potential which was, sadly, not used. I could talk about the story more, but  I don’t want to spoil anything for those, who haven’t played it yet. I will sum it up in the words, such a topic as story is hard to bring in a game and this game bit a little to much then it could chew in the end.

For those who want to know what Nilin means…It means flower. Nalin means lotus, in the buddhism, its the flower of enlightment…Yeah.

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Posted by on June 7, 2013 in Ps3

 

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Bioshock Infinite – A hunt for clues through Rifts

Bioshock_Infinite_LogoNormally, I wouldn’t touch First Person Shooters at all, but I make exceptions. And one of these is Bioshock Infinite. There are so many reviews out there about this game and especially about its ending. That is why I don’t really want to focus on this alone.

Let’s say, besides my impression on the game, I try to interpret special parts of the story (which I noticed) and even the whole thing here and there. (Yes, It will be philospical, know-it-all and spoiler-ish, but I try not to retell the whole story)

So, if you haven’t played it till the end, I would recommend that you not read this.

The player controls a man named Booker DeWitt and accompanies him on his quest to kidnap a young woman named Elizabeth to clear his debt. Nothing to difficult at the first glance, if it weren’t for the fact that this girl is in Columbia. A city which flies in the sky and is inhabitated by followers of a self-proclaimed prophet.

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…I have a bad feeling about this…

Have I mentioned that this game has religious undertones? Of course, before you can enter the city, you will be baptized or rather “cleansed from your sins and be reborn as a new person.” This is a reoccuring theme in the game along with the “Bring the girl, wipe away your debt.” See the pattern?

Sin and Salvation. “Without a sinner there can’t be a reedemer.”

With that pointed out, let’s continue with the plot. Now DeWitt is newly baptized, enters the city and everything seems peaceful, almost utopic. People are friendly and polite, there is a nice festival going on and you can enjoy yourself in shooting galeries. We all know, this might turn into the living hell soon enough. 

Thirsty already? How about a drink?

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I’m always surpised that characters in Bioshock don’t even consider the option that such things could be dangerous for your health. “Ah, a bottle with an unknown, omnious glowing substance in it….Let’s drink it!” Cheers.

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Cheers, indeed…

But all is fine and good, you survive it, you get new powers, meet all kinds of strange people, until you get a note with the warning to avoid the number 77 to not blow up your cover. But hold on there. The number alone is an interesting one. If we pick up the religious motive, the number 77 is associated with sins and forgiving them as well it it a reoccuring throughout the book. Notable is as well, that the number is in certain numerology  systems associated with Jesus Christ. Again this whole sinner and reedemer theme. And there was a thing with the whole “False Shepherd”, wasn’t there?

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Jesus Christ, fate hates me so much.

This is the point of the game which marks the beginning of the end for the peaceful utopia. You have the choice to throw the baseball either at the couple or at the man with the mustache. Either way, your cover is blown and you have to fight, which brings us to the battle system:

My opinion on it is kind of mixed. On the one hand, its not bad, you can vary between powers and weapons and of course use the skyline of the city to assassinate people from above (…this sounds awfully familiar…) There are also different accessories to enhance your abilities and do nasty little tricks like vaporize your enemies when you do enough damage with your sky-hook. Nice effects, but I didn’t really need them.

What I absolutely don’t like, is the fact, that you can carry only two weapons at a time or rather two guns. That’s all nice and good, but you often don’t know when you need which weapon and since you can’t buy them and have to find them…

Let’s say, good luck against this guy if you have only a pistol and a sniper riffle. (not to mention the endbattle)

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But all in all, it’s quite solid, I would say. So, you fight your way through Columbia and begin to wonder how much police force they have, you finally reach your goal and find the girl in a tower. (I’m the only one who is reminded of a certain fairytale?) She is a normal young woman, playing, painting, reading through the day…besides the fact she likes to rip holes into the time/space continuum.

Goodbye, pausible explanations, Hello, mindscrew.

Elizabeth has an all around good character (although she reminds again of a Disney princess) and is really useful. I dare to say the most useful person with no fighting skill who you have to escort. I won’t go deeper into that matter, since other reviews wrote enough about her.

And again, I could point out a maybe interesting fact about her. Elizabeth is hebrew for “My God is an oath” or “My God is abundance” and the hebrew word for “vow” is associated with the number 7. Furthermore, she shares the name with two persons in the bible: The wife of Aaron (often called Aaron the Priest in the Old Testament) and the wife of Zechariah and mother of John the Baptist. (Yeah, that word again)…Wait, the prophet is named Zachary Hale Comstock…isn’t he? (…oh god, my brain…)

Now I will add some spoilerish flavor to it. Her other name “Anna” means “favor”, “grace” and also “mercy”. You have guessed it. Mercy equals reedemer theme. Maybe they have thought about that, maybe it is coincidence, who knows.

With that out of the way, let’s discuss the whole idea of choices and the ending. Let’s start the mindscrew marathon.

The whole theory about constants and variables is often commented and I support it by some degree. Remember the scene with the coin at the beginning? The two strange people?

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You can see at the board, it is always heads. So it means that it is a constants, since it always be Heads and never Tails. Later on you are given a choice between what Elizabeth should choose as medallion. Either the bird or the cage. It is a variable since it changes something, but then again it doesn’t change the outcome of the ending. So, it is a little variable with little outcome. Or is the ending a constant that cannot be changed?

It can also be interpreted as the illusion of choice. Such as, there exists the illusion that we can change fate through choices, but in reality it doesn’t change your fate, since it is already set in stone,

Another problem is Booker. Or maybe, my mind is already so screwed that I think it is a problem. Again spoiler. Booker is Comstock. So, correct me, if I’m wrong. There are two Bookers in the same dimension at the same time? (Booker didn’t choose to become the prophet and Booker who did) When this is possible that two people out of two different dimensions exist in the same dimension (which can be proven by Elizabeth’s case, since you see her more than one time in the same scene)…Where was the other Booker (the one who accepted to be baptized and the one who came with Elizabeth to this point) in the final Baptist scene?

Futhermore in the alternative universe, there is a Booker who is Comstock, a Booker who helped Vox Populi (and convinentely died) and Booker who travelled with Elizabeth. So why does Comstock still exist, although the other Bookers died. And if all the Bookers are from alternative dimensions, born out of different choices of action…Why do they exist at the same time? Did the scientists spawn them? But then again, in some timelines there are Bookers missing and the course of his history would change. Why not just “teleport” a Booker through the Rift, who is about to be baptized? (Oh god damnit…I swear my brain smokes)

And if we consider, the ending is a constant…Then Comstock would still exist, after Booker was “baptized” one final time, since it doesn’t change anything. The only explanation at that point is, that Elizabeth can change constants by will. Or the PlayerBooker is the Booker of this scene. (Booker here, Booker there, Booker everywhere…) teleported back to face his judgement. But then again, in an alternative Dimension, another Booker would have chosen to be baptized, since he didn’t travel with Elizabeth…

The only choice would be to kill every Booker in every timeline (which is infinite by the way – oh hey titledrop) to kill Comstock. Or this Booker is the only one with a Variable and thus the power to the change story. Talking about Spanner in the Works…that does mean there are more Comstocks…which results in Comstocks who succeed in their plans and could utilize Elizabeth’s Rift-Abilities to change…

Is that another illusion of choice or Elizabeth can change constants…or…whatever…I’m out. My brain can’t go on anymore.

Hopefully you enjoyed my little thought about this.

I for my part enjoyed the story very much, since it is so complicated and so frustrating and yet somehow beautiful executed. (It is hard to do that with Dimension-Jumping-Stories) I’m really a masochist at heart, it seems. Also the whole thing with there is no good and evil (okay, Vox Populi and Comstock could be more in the evil vs. other kind of evil- department, but I settle with gray and gray morality). I love the details, the atmosphere, the music…it is all around good, although the battle system is not the best I have ever experienced. ..

And now…

Would you kindly pass me some painkillers for my head?

 

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2013 in Ps3

 

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