Too Easy, Too Hard...Someone Straighten It All Out!

Happy Weekend TAY!

Whew, am I glad that week is over. I had a lot going on and maybe a touch of the flu near the end of the week. I’m happy to have a quiet weekend of sorts. My son has a public speaking assignment to work on and he is doing it on the history of Minecraft. Of course, I have to help with such assignments, seems the teacher passed the buck to the parents and made this an “at home”project.

Last week ended up being a great week of gaming as I had a varied mix of things on tap.

I finished off the Zerg campaign in StarCraft. I had no difficulties with the last mission of the campaign and slaughtered the opposing Protoss forces. The Zerg are just so much fun! I love the squishy aesthetics and the “Aliens meet the Borg” presentation is right up my alley.

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After finishing off the campaign, I decided to take another break from Starcraft to mix things up a bit and not get any of that RTS burnout. I was all set to restart Dying Light and make a solo attempt at the game since my multiplayer game fizzled out. However, I just can’t escape The Witcher. Everything you see now seems to lead back to The Witcher 3. Reviews all start feeling like “Six Degrees Of The Witcher 3”. I can’t stop it, even my Xbox One gave me a free copy of The Witcher 2 today. Everywhere I turn, there’s another Witcher!

So, having never played any of the series, I thought I would go back to the beginning to absorb the whole story of The Witcher (Enhanced Edition) on PC.

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And, well...hmmm….

Ok, so I was expecting MUCH worse graphically. People often complain about how clunky the original is. I was surprised how nice it still looks and the interface (aside from not scaling optimally at 4K) works well. I am usually not one for paying close attention to the story in RPGs, it is a rare one that keeps me interested with the narrative, but the beginning of The Witcher definitely has me captivated. I’ll be interested in seeing how long they can keep my attention. Once people start blathering on about killing a cellar full of rats or collecting some herbs off a mountain for their sick mother; that’s usually when I start tuning out.

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But the combat...oh dear, the combat. I think that might just break me.

I don’t like the “clicky” combat of the Diablo-style dungeon crawlers or the many other RPGs who use this combat interface. I find nothing more soulless than just having to click periodically on a baddie and watch my avatar do all the work. For me, video games are the best when they are all about controls and my mastery of them. I relish pushing my reflexes to the max and learning to master the aspects of a fluid combat system. There is not really any of this here in The Witcher. There is a second click you can do at a specific time during your characters attack that will start a combo, but this is little more than the combat mechanics of Super Mario RPG on the SNES. It’s not terrible as a mechanic, it is just terribly boring.

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Someone here on TAY (sorry, I have forgotten who) mentioned they played the game on Easy to just see all the story. That might be an option. I’m playing on Hard and this difficulty is just going to prolong the boring combat. However, without a decent combat mode, I fear the game will have little else to offer. Talking to people in video games is one of my least favourite things to do. I’ll have to see I guess. I’ve only just finished the prologue in the game, so maybe it will improve.

I was able to get in a night of play on my buddy’s Twitch channel last week. We stopped with Saints Row 4 since it was being so crashy and generally unfriendly on Twitch. My friend and I had previously completed the game a year or so ago, so there was basically only some DLC to mop up. We moved on to Saints Row: Gat Out Of Hell which we bought on sale not so long ago.

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Wow, I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting too much here. I’ve heard mixed things on the game but I was very surprised on the fairly drastic change to the flying mechanics. This new mode works so much better than the basic flying in Saints Row 4 and makes for a much more interesting game in a 3D space. So far, I’m really grooving on the whole thing.

I also dig being in Hell as opposed to the simulation in Saints Row 4. The simulation was very cool, don’t get me wrong, but it is nice they gave me a new locale to play in. Plus, what former headbanger doesn’t like a nice portrayal of Hell? Much of the look of the game would feel at home on the cover of an 80’s metal album. I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to this one.

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I also inadvertently started a second solo game last week, which is something I usually avoid doing. I bought Tron: Evolution on the last Steam sale and heard it might be a pain to get working. I installed the game to see what was up and, of course, it wouldn’t load right off the bat. So, after a quick trip to the Steam Community Hub, I found the solutions I needed.

First was an upgrade to Windows Marketplace (Games For Windows Live) and that got me into the game. Next was some .ini editing to get 4K resolution, enable hardware PhysX support, and to remove the unskippable (and very long) cutscenes that happen every time you load the game. Non-skippable cutscenes should be deemed a crime against humanity.

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As I was fixing all this stuff and testing out the resolution changes, I inadvertently got sucked into playing the game.

I had read varied reviews on Tron-Evolution, but I think it is a great game so far. I’ve also heard it isn’t a “Tron-game” since it plays a lot like Prince of Persia, but I’m not really sure what a “Tron-game” is. I mean, the game focuses on your disc which is your only weapon and everything sure looks like Tron. There are lightcycles and tanks too, so I think we’ve ticked all the boxes that would make a “Tron-game”.

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The combat is a lot of fun and less forgiving than Prince of Persia and other similar games. The difficulty of the game is not for the faint of heart and this is my only problem so far.

I know my reflexes are dulling as I age, but I can more than hold my own in most games on Hard. I started Tron: Evolution on Hard and though it starts relatively challenging, I did alright. Then I hit a brick wall. I reached a section where I was locked into a small portion of a street and a Recognizer drops off four enemy units. It was a hell of a fight to just kill these units, I must have failed 10 times or more before reaching the second wave of even harder bad guys. If you fail the second wave, you have to repeat the first wave again. After what must have been 30 or so attempts, I threw up my hands and opened a web browser to investigate the difficulty levels in the game.

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It turns out the game has a New Game+ mode and that the difference between Normal and Hard is substantial. Hard is apparently designed for repeat play since you carry over your upgrades and character level. I’ve encountered this problem before with games where the difficulty levels are designed based on the assumption you’ve started on Easy or Normal and then would carry on with the higher difficulty levels with the NG+ mode.

I don’t mind dropping the difficulty as Normal still provides a challenge, though it is a lot easier than Hard was. My problem is that the balancing of the difficulty levels was poorly done. I was having a ball with the game on Hard up to the point I hit that wall, but at that point it was readily apparent that I was not properly equipped to handle the difficulty on Hard the first time through. So, off on Normal I go I guess. At least I can adjust it back to Hard later if my upgrades make Tron: Evolution too easy down the road.

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Other than my son’s homework I don’t have many plans for the weekend. We aren’t supposed to get the big snow hitting the U.S. right now, so it looks like I’ll play it by ear. Likely more of The Witcher and Tron: Evolution and hopefully I’ll get back to Life Is Strange with my wife. Rock Band 4 should have my Rock Band 1 tracks ready to go for Xbox One soon, so that will be fun on the weekend with my family as well.

What are you playing this weekend?