It’s Holiday Time!

Happy Weekend TAY!

It is the end of school here for my son as of last Friday, so the holidays have officially begun in my house. My wife is off work starting Monday for 10 days, so it will be nice to all be home together and not have to go anywhere. I do have to prep for people coming here and that’s less fun, but thankfully the bulk of the visitors won’t be here until the 27th, so I have a little longer to put off getting things done.

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I had a good week of gaming despite being busier this time of year with various shopping adventures and winter prep projects. The weather has finally turned to winter here and we’ve been getting little bits of snow off and on for a couple of days now. Thankfully I had my winter tires put on last week and I wasn’t embarrassingly late doing it this year as is often the case.

I finished off Just Cause last weekend and while I’m glad I played it to see the origin of the series, I’ll never play that again in my life. As I said before, I’m sure the engine tech was amazing at the time, but it is just too old in too many ways to be satisfying now. Not that old games can’t be satisfying, but early open world games are just so unpolished compared to games now that it really isn’t something you will want to revisit.

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Just Cause had a good sense of humour and there are some cool ideas and over-the-top scenarios that were fun, especially the last few story missions. The end of the game made up for lots of the old janky gameplay throughout the rest of the game. I hope the sequels carried over the tone of the original while of course improving on the gameplay and controls.

I also managed to get in some more Saints Row 4 with my buddy on his Twitch last Wednesday and that feels so fluid and refined after playing Just Cause. Plus, it has a sense of humour that eclipses Just Cause at every turn; Saints Row 4 is really a pleasure to play from almost every aspect.

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Well, except for the crashing. It was extra crashy during our last session and completely locked up on me several times. It was pretty bad the first time we played it a couple years ago, but instability of the game seems slightly worse now. Maybe evolving Nvidia drivers or changing to Windows 10 have exacerbated the problems. Still, a crashing Saints Row 4 is still a lot more fun to play than most games out there. It will be a couple weeks before my friend and I can get back to the game due to holiday obligations, but I’m itching to play more of it.

Since I finished off Just Cause, I was supposed to go back to StarCraft and play the Zerg campaign...but I didn’t. I enjoy RTS games when I play them, but I never feel at all compelled to play them. I don’t think I had my fill of shooters with Just Cause, so I decided to play another shooter before returning to StarCraft.

Geostar’s review of Binary Domain reminded me that I already owned the game on Steam and that I was looking forward to playing it when I bought it, so I decided to play that. After quickly realizing the voice command system wasn’t going to work well for me (and didn’t seem to work well for anyone), I was up and running.

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And running is the key word here. Unlike many cover based shooters, Binary Domain immediately struck me with how quickly it moved. You move quickly at the default speed and at warp speed while running. More than that though, all the actions are executed quickly and there is a general sense of speed to all the interfaces. It is refreshing to play something that doesn’t slow down for anything but cutscenes.

And the cutscenes are well done. It looks like they are full mo-capped for a nice flow and the dialogue and story are solid. Other than Sega’s seemingly inability to voice black people in games with anything but ebonics, I am surprised how much I enjoy the acting and story.

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Geostar’s review covers many of the same things I enjoy about the game such as the gameplay and the enemy hit reactions. I don’t have any of the control problems with the game on PC that Geostar had, since I am playing with an Xbox One controller and that seems to be how it was intended. Also, since the game is older and I’ve got graphical power to spare running it, I am able to run the game at 4K scaled down to my TV resolution of 1080p. It results in better image quality if you have the extra overhead (see here for the reasons). What is often the problem is that the UI doesn’t scale well with many games at 4k and you end up with an interface too tiny to be practical. However, even though Binary Domain is a few years old now, the interface scales perfectly without any options for scaling the UI. Whatever Sega does to accomplish this needs to be adopted by other gaming companies right away.

I’m looking forward to getting more time with Binary Domain. It might be a little generic in theme and presentation, but it makes up for it with the thoroughly enjoyable gameplay.

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Other than that, I spent Friday setting up our newly arrived Rock Band 4 “Band In A Box” and we are taking our second attempt at the game. Everything seems to be going well with the setup and the vocals are still performing well since the last update. It will take a while to get everything up to speed, but I’m very encouraged so far.

Oh yeah, my family finished off the third episode of Minecraft: Story Mode last weekend as well. My son and I still are enjoying the story, but it keeps putting my wife to sleep, so mileage may vary from player to player. Certainly not Telltales best, but very family friendly.

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I imagine the weekend will be filled with Rock Band 4 setup (I really want to try “Can’t Feel My Face” on RB4) . If I have some solo time, it will be for Binary Domain but I really hope my wife and I can get back to Life Is Strange which we haven’t played for over a week.

What are you playing this weekend?