Devil May Cry V Demo Impressions

I was gutted when I couldn’t play Devil May Cry V when the demo released on the Xbox One.  Essentially the one system I don’t have but when the demo was announced for a future date on the PS4, my hopes had been delivered. I try not to watch gameplay trailers nowadays as I like to keep the game mostly a surprise. When a game gets announced that I like the sound of, I’ll have a look at the launch trailer and until launch I’ll watch some GIF’s and an odd video on occasion to get a better feel for a game. Most recently I did this with RE2 Remake. I barely saw anything of that and then a week before release I started paying attention. It feels so good when a thing you’ve just got an interest in, is right around the corner. And it isn’t because I’m not excited for the games, it’s just that I like to trick my brain into not being excited until closer to the time. That hasn’t been the case for DMCV. I’m really craving a great character action game and DMCV is hopefully exactly that. Bayonnetta 2 was the last fantastic one for me with Nier Automata scratching that itch but not wowing me as much as I hoped. And so I’ve been eagerly awaiting DMCV and watching most footage that has come out for it.

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So happy when I saw this pop up after the demo.

So with my excitement high I jumped into the DMCV demo and here are some of my thoughts on it. I will clarify that even though I said I enjoyed these games, I would never say I’m good at them. I clear them and sometimes on higher difficulties but the style meters and rankings at the end of each mission, have never been my forte. I stopped counting how many stone Enzo trophies I got in Bayonetta. And it’s not that I don’t try to do well, but it’s the same thing for fighting games, I just don’t learn the systems. I don’t have the patience and creative flare for it. I love watching it and when it all comes together for me and I do something cool I get stupid hype for it but I’m not one of those technique masters. Hell, I barely get far in the Bloody Palace’s of previous Devil May Cry’s. The moves that suit me and combos that I can perform easily become my staples in each game. Do they kill the enemies? Yes but they also kill my rankings. The reason why I bring this up is that in my brief time in the DMCV demo (3 attempts with 2 being successful), I can see myself learning the systems. Specifically the Devil Breaker system.

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An S is very good for me! It does go higher than this. Thought I should tell you before you start worshipping me.

So, my thoughts:

  • Devil Breaker is cool! You have 3 options in the demo: Gerbera, Overture and Punch Line. Up to 4 Devil Breakers can be equipped and each one can be used up if you opt to use its devastating functions.
  • You can’t switch between Devil Breakers without destroying the one you have equipped. I really like this functionality as it makes choosing the order of Devil Breakers important.
  • If you get hit in the process of charging your Devil Breaker or in mid use of its strong attack, it breaks. Fragile but powerful parts of Nero’s arsenal.
  • Gerbera is my favourite and my go to. It’s the mobility arm. Using it to damage enemies creates a short shockwave in front of you but my main use is its air manoeuvrability. Using it in the air while pushing the left stick in a direction will blast Nero a few feet that way. Holding the Devil Breaker button and releasing it in the air will launch bouncing lasers at your target. Holding it on the ground and releasing it, will launch a powerful, controllable beam that can hit multiple targets. A Devil Breaker that seems best suited for crowds of enemies with the option of destroying a bunch in exchange for destroying the arm.
  • Overture is more damaging than Gerbera and seems like a good Devil Breaker to have for standard enemy fodder. Tapping the Devil Breaker button (O) will blast a fracture of electricity from the palm at enemies. This needs to be up close but it does a good chunk of damage to enemies in range. Holding O and releasing it near an enemy will grab and launch the opponent away from Nero. The monster will then have a timed bomb attached to them. You can let the bomb go off when its countdown ends or you can shoot the enemy to prematurely set it off.  A great tool if you can aggro the enemy into its friends.
  • Punch Line is a big dumb flying fist. I love it! By tapping O Nero will launch the rocket propelled fist into his foe. The fist will then repeatedly loop around the victim, smacking it every chance it gets. It’s great for keeping an enemy distracted. By doing that, you eliminate them from the fight for a few seconds or leave them wide open to attack. By holding and releasing O, Nero will do a flaming uppercut to all in range. As you can guess, this does a lot of damage. I feel this Devil Breaker is best suited for stronger enemies or even bosses. The uppercut alone is a big deal as it seems the biggest and quickest damage dealer out of the 3. I may be wrong on that though. Gerbera’s laser is good damage but so easy to interrupt whereas Punch Line’s big finisher is big damage done very quick.
  • Nero’s gun, Blue Rose, can now preemptively load up several high damage bullets. Tapping square will fire bullets like normal but holding down square will load up 3 super charged bullets. When you release the square button, Nero will automatically fire one of those bullets. So the choice is yours, do you run around with 2 super bullets or do you do the charging in combat to get the full 3. It doesn’t take long to charge but I feel happy running around with 2 super shots ready to go.
  • It’s great that Nero still has the ability to pull his opponents close to him, it really does feel like a natural progression from his last game of now being able to pull enemies into his new powered up metal fist.
  • I’m willing to bet that there are a lot of ways to use the Devil Breakers in creative ways around certain enemies and bosses. I didn’t test it out much in the demo but in the boss fight, having Gerbera equipped seemed to be a huge dealing during one bit. Goliath starts inhaling and a massive suction whirlwind starts moving towards you. Using Gerbera I was able to constantly blast Nero through the air away from it. I’m not how you’d escape that otherwise. The other time I tried it I had another arm equipped and as I was getting sucked in, I was prompted to click L1 to launch my arm at him. Losing the arm in the process but evading any damage. I’m really excited to see the weird and unique ways each Devil Breaker can be used in certain situations. I feel there’s a lot of room for hidden techniques and cool moments.
  • I’m not sure how I feel about the running yet. It may be just because I’m so used to the mobility in Bayonetta but Nero does feel me weighty. It’s not a bad thing, I think that suits his style. But when running around out of combat, it didn’t feel as precise to turn as I was expecting. Saying that though, on my 3rd playthrough of the demo I felt comfortable playing but that might be because I knew more of the layout of the level. Only time will tell how I feel about this. I’ll have to see how I feel when the full game comes out.
  • The taunting is brilliant. I never really utilised the taunts in past games. Stupid me didn’t understand why you should taunt but now I understand for style points and to keep the style up during downtime in fights. It really helps that the taunts are incredibly likeable too and the enemies react to certain ones which can be pretty funny and empowering. Great detail that I fully appreciated.

And I think that about does it. There are loads of details I could talk about but I just wanted to get my quick impressions out there. Overall it looks beautiful, it plays for the most part like I hoped and I really excited to keep playing the demo to see what hidden gameplay mechanics I missed. If you fancy trying the game, I highly recommend this demo. Thank you for reading and feel free to sound off your thoughts on the game in the comments.

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January 2019 Free Time

Would you believe that I spent a large portion of my time on honeymoon, lying lazily on the couch, watching rubbish on TV? With the new wife obviously. If you said yes, then you know me well. The time off work and with my partner was fantastic. Was I productive? Ha, of course not! But you’re not here for productivity so let’s chat about the time I wiled away.

Games

dead-cells logo

Why won’t you let me win, Dead Cells?! Have I not been patient with you and dedicated enough time to you? I have a huge backlog of games to get through and yet there you sit on my PS4 dashboard. Taunting me with the potential of THAT run. The one where I beat the final boss for the 2nd time over my 60+ attempts. After all my 59+ loses, I still adore the gameplay of Dead Cells. Simplistic gameplay with oodles of complexity. What keeps me coming back after each failure is the way I fail in Dead Cells. When I lose, I don’t think the game is being unfair. I die because I get too bold, I play bad or the run just doesn’t come together. That’s what makes a great rogue-lite. When you lose and you can accept the loss. Because you know that you can do it and you will do it on another run. The next run? Only one way to find out! *Goes and plays Dead Cells again*

red-dead-redemption-2

Red Dead Redemption 2 continues to drift in and out of my sessions. It still hasn’t hooked me and I’m at the Epilogue now. So, I think I’m far past the part where I *get it* or it *just clicks* like friends have told me. Not to say I’m not enjoying my time with it to an extent. I think the story and characters are engrossing. It’s just the gameplay in-between which holds it back for me. I’m looking forward to finishing it, purely from a narrative experience but I can’t say I’m racing to play it.

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What a fantastic demo that Resident Evil 2 had! The concept of a timed demo seems unfair but it does a brilliant job of giving you that little fix that makes you crave more. Big fan of seeing more demos like it. I hadn’t even planned on buying it and yet my order is arriving tomorrow. I’ve played most of the main Resident Evil series, including 2 but I wasn’t that fussed about replaying it. The overhaul though is extraordinary. Zombies are scary again! Get the champagne out! I only experienced shooting mechanics for a dozen or so minutes but I really enjoyed how it felt. The fact that the aim takes a bit of time to finesse itself so you get an accurate shot is a huge deal to me. No more quick shots RE4 style. Precision is key. Zombies also take a lot to kill which I can fully get behind. And when there bodies hit the floor, I really struggle to tell if they’re dead or not. So much so, that I employed the Zombieland double tap method. In a game with limited ammo, I can see me firing an extra bullet into the deceased deceased as a bad habit. But, we shall see when I start my playthrough. I’m sure you’ll hear my thoughts on the game in the short future.

Films

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Starship Troopers really holds up! I watched this film when I was 7 or 8 and saw it mainly as a Sci-Fi/Action film. Guns, aliens, yelling and brief nudity were all bonuses to any film for a young lad. My wife was genuinely scared of this film as a child and when we were flicking through the channels on honeymoon (we don’t have a TV license so Sky was a luxury for us) she spotted the film and put it on to show me how gruesome and scary it was. I quickly explained I knew most of the classic quotes of by heart from frequent watching as a child. But when we settled to watch it, it became clear how great the film is. I don’t think the film was big budget but the aliens and special effects look pretty great considering its age. Not only that but the satirical aspect of it was completely lost on me as a child. Seeing all its intentions with an adult mind really made me appreciate the film on another level. And it’s just a great alien killing romp with some pure cheese lines that steal my heart with each watch. If I’m ever in charge of a battalion, ‘Come on you apes, you wanna live forever?’ will be my battle cry. No one alive could resist following me into battle after that rousing line! Highly Recommend

bad times

An interesting film that fizzled out towards the end and slacked in the middle for me was Bad Times At The El Royale. A really intriguing beginning, fantastically shot with a terrific soundtrack and a cast of actors that always stood out to me. The first hour I was fully on board with the mystery and style but it just couldn’t the premise for its almost 2 1/2 long runtime. With its initial setup I was expecting more of a mystery with twists and turns but the film quickly resolved its questions without much fanfare. It made me wonder throughout most of the film if I missed something or when the next big twist was coming. That was possibly my own downfall but it did seem like there should have been more going on than what was handed up, especially with the disjointed first act. But as I said, expecting more mystery is a personal fault in my viewing experience and perhaps not the films fault. I do think the middle drags and I found the end to be a bit bland but strong performances and music kept me interested in this film. I’m glad I watched it and I would suggest watching the film but I don’t think I’ll ever watch this again. Happy I watched it but it’s not very memorable. Light Recommend

Series

killingeve

I finally started Killing Eve. Watched all 8 episodes in one night so that shows you how good I think it is. Basic premise is Eve, a government investigator gets brought in to investigate a murder of a political figure. That’s the first episode and from there it escalates into a game of cat and mouse. The 2 leads are very well acted and the main villain really captures your attention. Fantastic performances all round and what I love about the show is even though it’s a dark series about murder and assassinations, it has a healthy dose of humour and dark humour. Which as a fan of early Dexter, I’m all about! Another praise I have to give this show is that it knows not to drag its feet. 8 episodes long and the plot moves at a good pace. Too many shows have a loose middle now from overextending their plot into more episodes but a lean experience is always more memorable than a drawn out one. Quality over quantity and Killing Eve is a prime example of this. Highly Recommend

Random Recommendation

invincable

For this month I wish to recommend the graphic novel Invincible by the creator of The Walking Dead. This is his attempt at the superhero genre and I think he does an admirable job of creating an entire superhero universe and hero. Mark Grayson is Invincible, a superhero that is essentially Superman but in his Smallville era except it didn’t take 10 seasons for Mark Grayson to learn how to fly. Invincible can fly, is quick, durable and super strength. He wins no prizes for originality but that isn’t what the series is about. Robert Kirkman has taken the highs of comic books and its tropes and recreated them in his vision. For instance, there is a Justice League equivalent where the Aquaman version is literally a walking fish man who is the butt of jokes. Just like how Aquaman was a joke character in general media like Robot Chicken. What I really enjoy about Invincible is how the characters evolve. Heroes have problems and downfalls, they aren’t always on top form like Batman and Superman. Heroes mess up and suffer consequences or change mindsets in a gradual manner. There is a lot of personality and progression with the characters and some of the storylines are great arcs. As I said, a lot of this stuff is borrowed from other comics but after 60+ years of comics it’s hard not to do that. But as I said, Kirkman generally puts his own twist on the tried arcs and brings a new flare to the basics. If like me, you enjoy general comic book films and like comic book characters and like to dip into the comics now and then, I highly recommend Invincible. Part of the reason I only read contained stories in comics like Planet Hulk/World War Hulk is because you can jump into those things with basic knowledge of the characters and the world and just figure the rest out as you go. But if I grabbed a random Spider-Man comic I would be completely lost with what is going on. Invincible has an easy starting point and an end, and at 144 issues, it’s not a huge commitment.

Anyway, that’s me for this month. Hope you had a good month and thank you for reading. Take it easy.

Marriage In Gaming And The Lack Thereof

I am married! Officially off the market and happy to be so. Currently on last day of honeymoon and been craving to write and so I thought I’d talk about what’s been on my mind predominantly the past month, marriage. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with my day. I’m talking about marriage in gaming.

When I decided to write about this topic I started to think over my 1/4 of a century gaming knowledge and I quickly realised how little marriage is in games. Considering marriage has been around for seemingly ever and is a tradition across most of the world, it sure doesn’t come across that way in video games. I can understand this to an extent though. Game publishers want the player to feel a connection to their protagonist or to want to play as a fantastical protagonist. Marcus Fenix from the Gears Of War series doesn’t look like an average gamer but the boulder in armour appeals to that fantasy element. Who doesn’t love pretending to be a badass? Marriage would only hold that fantasy back. Then there is the classic, regular person finds out they are the chosen one or falls into a situation where they save the world. I would be lying to say that I haven’t daydreamed about that in work now and then. Commitments like marriage, a job and family would also lessen that fantasy. Not saying I wouldn’t like that to be an element in games, but from a publisher stand point I understand. The average age of gamers is rising but I don’t think I’m far wrong in saying that the majority of game revenue is from the teenager to early 20’s demographic. As I’ve been ageing my game buying has decreased, as have my friends spending habits too. In my early 20’s I bought games willy-nilly but there is a reason I had more money and free time back then. I was devoid of commitments and any commitments I had were minor compared to today.  So I understand publishers aiming for that larger revenue.

As I said though, the age of the average gamer is rising and so I believe it’s time we see this being reflected in games. Not in all games it’d be a good way to distinguish your game from the crowd. Games like Mass Effect where you get a template character and a choose your own backstory section would bode well to have a marriage life option included. A checkbox that allows you to include a married life package or even create your spouse and children in a character creator. It would allow players to a wider range of character depth and for those that have a family, it’s nice to be able to experience that in a fictitious setting too. It doesn’t even have to be anything major in that marriage package. Could just be a home on a distant planet that you can visit now and again and have supper with the family. Or emails that you receive now and then about young Jimmy being bullied at his new school. In today’s games where we have an overabundance of things to do on the map, a little subplot about married life shouldn’t be hard to implement. The ability to play Commander Shepard as a family war hero rather than the swinging bachelor war hero would be a welcome change to some games. Is it necessary in all games? Absolutely not, stories function better at times if the protagonist is single and ready to mingle but in games where that doesn’t matter, a choice would be a welcome one.

Most games where marriage is a component, the marriage aspect is usually a story point. FFX and FFXV both have key plots that revolve around a marriage. The original Gears Of War trilogy has Dom’s personal mission of trying to find his wife Maria. Uncharted 4 has Nathan Drake struggling to adapt to a stable married life instead of his daring and dangerous past. While I enjoyed each of these, they are generally end goals or things to push the story in the right direction. Dom’s search is the exception there but it’s never the main story thread. There can be hours before Dom pipes up about his wife and even though I enjoyed that plot, it is a sub plot. What I want is a more natural married life situation. I want it to be there and to have meaning to the whole story or a majority of it. It doesn’t have to be the main focus but it should be there and not just something that dips in and out to add stakes or to propel a story beat. Even though those things are fine to do in games as well, I just would like to see it more fleshed out. When I was thinking about games that I’ve played that featured well done couples, I really struggled to remember any. There is one that I instantly remembered and one that I remembered really appreciating when I played it and that was Lost Odyssey.

lost odyssey

Lost Odyssey was a JRPG that came out on the Xbox 360 in 2008. It centres on Kaim, a member of the Immortals, a race of….well immortal beings. For some reason the Immortals lose their memories and what follows is a quest to recover Kaim’s memories and to save the land from disaster. Not a wholly original plot but what makes it for me is the introduction of the rest of the party. Specifically Sarah, Cooke and Mack. Sarah is also an Immortal who has lost her memory but it is revealed that Kaim and Sarah are husband and wife. Not only that but Mack and Cooke are Kaim and Sarah’s grandchildren. For the majority of the game, these 4 are together, traversing this world and trying to prevent disaster from happening. How often can you think of a game where husband and wife are a team in combat situations? How often are the children or grandchildren of these people involved? Not only are they an integral part of the combat and its mechanics but also the story. The kids and Sarah aren’t just chucked in for a bit of drama or aren’t the driving force at the start of the story. They all go on an adventure together as a family and I’ve hardly seen that in games. There are quite a few games where it’s brothers off on a mission together so why not couples? There is room to do a lot of creative things with marriage in gaming and not for it to be a basic mechanic in Fable 2 or some subplot to overcome. And while I don’t want those mechanics to disappear, I think it’s time we start seeing more representations of married, family or couples life in gaming.

Who knows, maybe I’m just high on married life. It’s only been a week since the day. Ask me how I feel about this in a year’s time. Maybe by then I’d vote to keep reality and fantasy as far from each other as possible. But until then, let me know your opinion and if you can think of any well done couple/marriage elements in gaming, feel free to share them as I’m quite interested in seeing more examples. Take it easy.