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Jamie John

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  1. Jamie John

    Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

    I've borrowed this off my brother as I've never really got on with Smash and didn't want to risk buying it only to decide it wasn't for me. I played it for a couple of hours this evening and so far it's been fun and frustrating in equal measure, just like it always is. Playing against more than one opponent is a bit overwhelming, and I struggle to actually see my fighter a lot of the time in the more frenetic battles, especially in handheld mode. I've been focusing on Spirit Mode, after hearing all the good things about it. I like the variety that the battles bring, as well as the constant nods to all sorts of different games, but I don't really understand the Spirit system too well and the game doesn't do an especially good job of explaining it all to you. If anyone could respond to the following questions I'd appreciate it: - How does your primary spirit's level and 'Attack Power' stat affect my fighter in battle? Does it just make them hit harder? - I've got quite a lot of fighters already and I don't know which ones to level up; should I just hang onto my level-up snacks for the time being? - What does novice, advanced, etc. next to each spirit mean? - What's dismissing spirits to harvest their cores all about? Is this explained a bit further in? - How do you build up your Final Smash meter? And how do you defend against others' Final Smashes? So far, whenever an opponent has used one against me it's been an instant KO. I really want to enjoy this and see what all the fuss is about, so any tips to get the most out of it would be welcome, too. Cheers!
  2. Jamie John

    What books did you read in 2019?

    5. The Black Echo, Michael Connelly The first Connelly I've read, I thought this was a satisfying page-turner with a couple of good twists that I didn't see coming. Reading it for the first time in 2019, however, 27 years after it was originally published, some of the characters and ideas felt a little hackneyed, but I enjoyed the Chandler-esque charm of it all the same. Recommended if you like police procedurals. Previous:
  3. Jamie John

    What games did you complete? 2019 Edition

    2. Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4) I have a strange relationship with this game. On the one hand, I've played it more or less exclusively since early December, for what must have been at least 70 hours (with no in-game gameplay clock, I've no way of knowing for sure). It's consistently the best-looking game I've ever played; whether you're riding through rolling expanses of spectacular open countryside or walking among the hyper-detailed, authentic streets of the game's settlements, the graphics are never anything short of incredible, and the much-eulogised lighting really is something else. Saint Denis, in particular, is a revelation of audio-visual fidelity that no other form of interactive entertainment I've experienced has bested, especially if, like me in the screenshot above, you ride into it the first time just as the dawn is breaking through the mist, following a tropical storm. That was a staggering moment. For me, the script, voice acting and character development is also unmatched; I can't think of another game whose writing is so sharp, or whose protagonists you ultimately care about more (except, perhaps, Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us). It's like an HBO drama. Most of the time you'd be forgiven for forgetting that you're playing a game instead of watching a lavish, mega-budget TV series. And therein lies the rub, because despite the length of the campaign and the amount of time you'll spend wandering this astonishing rendition of fin de siècle America, the truth is that there isn't really a huge amount of game in Red Dead Redemption 2. 95% of missions follow the same structure: you ride (without fast-travel) to the mission initiator, travel from that location to another location (without fast-travel), often with one or more of the other members of the gang, arrive at your destination, shoot some people, and that's pretty much it. Essentially, this game is an exceptionally-detailed walking (or horse-riding) simulator with (to steal another forum member's description - @Mr. Gerbik's, possibly?) the occasional shooting gallery. The few times you deviate from this structure you are given next to no agency as a player and essentially move to a particular place and press a context-sensitive button to activate a unique animation in order to succeed, and the only way of not succeeding is if you don't press the relevant button quickly enough. Beyond that, there's the mini-games, but whether it's fishing, playing cards, hunting, horse racing or half a dozen other distractions, all of them are novelties: something you'll try once or twice (if at all) before not bothering with for the rest of the game, unless a mission you undertake dictates that you must play them, in which case you'll follow the on-screen prompts to win. In this respect, at least, RDR2 reminded me very much of Yakuza 0, only in that game the arbitrary fighting sections are replaced here with arbitrary shoot outs. By far the game's most egregious crime, however, is how, in a world this beautiful and amazing, you're not really given an incentive to explore. Yes, exploring means that you occasionally come across collectibles, whether they're cigarette cards, or fossils, or cave paintings (although I admit I only stumbled upon one of these the entire time I was playing the game), but there's no real, meaningful reason to leave the beaten track: it's perfectly possible to complete the game with the weapon you have from the very first mission; health and stamina upgrades are acquired from simply getting shot or running; drugs, medicine and food are all plentiful enough in the missions, or can be purchased in shops; you quickly acquire more money from completing missions than you ever need, and incidental events or strangers are, with very few exceptions, found near roads that you will frequently be travelling back and forth along (without fast-travel). Apart from the occasional interesting note or letter that you may or may not happen upon when nosing about, there's not very much at all to motivate you from doing anything but going to the closest mission giver when the one you're currently playing comes to an end (after the obligatory gun battle, of course). This is especially frustrating when you consider that setting out by yourself to see what you can see, and being satisfactorily rewarded for doing so, is the most fun you can having with an open world game, as Breath of the Wild, The Witcher III, Skyrim and lots of others have proved. Having got to the credits in this game, and without any more mission markers on my map, I've no desire whatsoever to return to the game and explore the far corners of the world because I know that the rewards, if there are any, won't be worth the effort (and time) it takes me to find them. Sadly, the lasting impression I'm left with after finishing this game is one of disappointment. Rockstar have built an unbelievably rich world here that is ultimately a bit dull, and filled it with missions that are a bit repetitive, eked out by shooting gameplay that is, let's face it, a bit ropey and overly-dependent on auto-aim and slowing down time. It just feels like a huge waste. All that being said, however, the excellent graphics and compelling story were enough to keep me playing, and based on these two factors I'd recommend anyone to give it a go for at least a dozen hours or so, if only to coo at how gorgeous the world is. Overall, It's better than the first game in the series, which I enjoyed to an extent but always thought was overrated, but it's not as inventive, varied or simply as fun to play as GTA V. And I don't care what anyone says - the lack of (proper) fast travel is a huge pain in the arse. 8/10
  4. A few from RDR2. I've said it a dozen times already, but the lack of a photo mode in this game is criminal. Late game spoilers:
  5. Jamie John

    Final Fantasy VII (SEVEN)

    @Popo the character upgrade system in X was brilliant and fully customisable, if you wanted it to be, so you could change a character who would normally be a white mage into a tank, or change your red mage into a thief, etc, or have all your characters a particular way if you felt like it. The enemies were also pretty cool, especially if you did the Monster Arena challenges, which were a game in themselves. The characters, and their voice acting, however, were excreable, especially the leading pair. I still have nightmares about the whistling scene *shudder*. I didn't like the futuristic holiday resort setting that seemed to take up a lot of the game, either, or the lack of a world map.
  6. Jamie John

    Final Fantasy IX

    I'm very envious of those playing this for the first time. The first ten hours or so are fantastic. I still don't get why they released this before VII, though.
  7. Any news on a release date? That trailer looks awesome. I wonder if you can still back it on Kickstarter.
  8. This has become my new most anticipated game.
  9. Jamie John

    Final Fantasy VII (SEVEN)

    @RaoulSilva The artstyle in IX is the best of all the FFs for me - the character models are well animated and some of the background renders are gorgeous. The music is charming and the writing is very funny in places, Steiner and Queena (or whatever it's name was) in particular. On the other hand, while the first disc moves forward at a fair clip with some excellent FMV cutscenes, the pace slackens mightily when you move off the first continent and the middle is pretty baggy. There's some good endgame content, however, in terms of sidequests and exploration, at least; the final areas and boss fight become very sci-fi-esque, which is completely out of kilter with the otherwise Renaissance-era aesthetic of the rest of the game. The battle system also seems somewhat basic, certainly compared with the materia system in VII. I get the feeling they over-simplified it following the backlash over VIII's junctioning/GF system, which people didn't like. All that being said, however, it's a great game and, at about 40 hours, not as overwhelmingly huge as some JRPGS. I'd say buy it, but £18 is sticks in the mouth a bit when it's regularly sub-£10 on PSN.
  10. Jamie John

    Nintendo eShop (Software Chatter)

    It's sale update day today, isn't it? Any news of what's gone on sale? I'm hoping for Celeste or Mark of the Ninja.
  11. Jamie John

    Final Fantasy VII (SEVEN)

    Just 9 until 23rd March, I believe.
  12. Jamie John

    Nintendo Direct - 13.02 10PM GMT

    I thought it was a good Direct, not mind-meltingly awesome, but good nonetheless. Link's Awakening, DQXI, FFVII, and Astral Chain were the highlights for me. I've never played LA but loved ALBW so I've got high hopes. I'm glad DQ features an orchestrated score, too, as I know that the music was a big issue with the original release. Most disappointing was FE. It looked like Hentai Hogwarts JRPG and nothing like the 2D strategy games. I also don't think there was one female character in the entire thing who wasn't wearing hot pants, or a short skirt, or a long skirt with massive slits up the side, in the case of the teacher character. Sigh. Also, why is FFIX available now but not VII? That's the wrong way around. I love IX, but after the first disc it definitely drops off.
  13. Jamie John

    Nintendo Direct - 13.02 10PM GMT

    Oh yeah. Forgot about that one.
  14. Jamie John

    Nintendo Direct - 13.02 10PM GMT

    Why is everyone pining for emulated ports of bloody 20-odd year old games? I want some new IPs, please, Nintendo. We haven't had one since Splatoon, four years ago now.
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