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Watch Dogs 2

So I got the game (thanks again, baby!) and after a few days of playing it, I’m a bit disappointed by it or I got spoiled playing the first game.  War Dogs 2 kinda/sorta takes up where Watch Dogs left off with DedSec, a notorious hacker group dedicated to expose the corruption of personal data and freedom by the Blume Corporation and its ctOS 2.0 system, the upgrade a necessary one after the hero in Watch Dogs did a number on ctOS 1.0.  Set in San Francisco, a small group of hackers and Marcus, our hero this time around, is still running around putting the screws to Blume and while I think the story line in Watch Dogs 2 is kinda weak, it’s at least a bit familiar.

The controls have been a bitch to relearn; the only similarities to the original game is driving (and destroying) cars along with aiming and shooting.  I’ve gotten killed several times just because I’m pushing buttons I got used to using in the original game and buttons that, in the second game, don’t do a damned thing.  There’s a distinct lack of deployable weapons; in the first game, I could pick up a weapon and it would go in my “pack” and could be selected easily enough; in this game, if I’m holding a weapon and pick up another, the one I”m holding gets discarded so all I have is two weapons and as far as weapons go, they’re pretty wimpy at this stage in the game.  I mean, I have a silenced pistol, which made me happy to see… except when I walked up behind a bad guy, sighted on the back of his head and pulled the trigger… and he turned around and killed me.

What the fuck…?

Two things I kinda like:  The cops, who were conspicuous by their absence in the first game, are seen patrolling the streets of San Francisco but they don’t mess with you as you’re breaking every traffic law that ever existed, well, until you fuck up and rear end one of them – then they’re on you like a very bad habit and they are damned persistent as in the first game; in fact, it’s harder to escape and evade these cops.  The other thing is the NPCs, which are roaming all over the place.  I turned a corner and scared one into falling down; she got up and instead of walking away, she stormed over to my car, dragged me out of it, and punched me in the face!  So I punched her in the face but then somebody came to her aid and started beating me with an umbrella… and I had to knock them out, too.  Later, during a mission, some chick was driving in front of me and just stopped in the middle of the road and I tapped her bumper… and she got out wanting to fight and, well, you can probably guess what happened.  What’s even funnier is watching the civilian NPCs actually starting fights with the cops when I have them arrest somebody because of information I planted about them; once, I guess the cop took offense to the man punching him in the face… because the cop shot him.

At this point in the game play, I’m not sure I really like this game as much as I did the first because, as previously mentioned, I don’t have the tools readily available to do things.  For instance, by my fifth mission in the original game, I had to ability to “distract” a pursuing helicopter and even shoot the sniper while the chopper pilot fought for control.  In the new game, I have to collect a whole lot of stuff – then activate a lot more stuff – before I can get this needed ability, which shows in the main mission I’ve yet to complete… because the sniper in the helicopter keeps killing me before I can make good my escape.  It’s frustrating because in this mission – I have to bust somebody out of Alcatraz – it’s a long, drawn out process to eliminate all the guards using stealthy methods; just going in there and shooting up the place isn’t an option.

It doesn’t help that I don’t have enough good camera angles; it also doesn’t help that there aren’t that many things I can use for booby traps and of those things that do exist, only one of them is lethal… and it’s nowhere near where the main body of guards are hanging out.  All of the other potential traps just put them to sleep and they eventually wake up again.  In one attempt to free the prisoner, it took me over an hour to clear out all the guards before I could actually go inside Alcatraz and spring the guy… only to have that fucking helicopter – which somehow seems to know exactly where I am in the prison even though they can’t see me – blow me away before I can get close to escaping.  It’s annoying and aggravating and that’s being nice about it so I wound up quitting the mission so I can do some other stuff so I can get some stuff so I can deal with the helicopter.  That didn’t make me happy having to do that; I can accept screwing up a mission because of a mistake I made but I just have a problem with failing a mission because I don’t have the tools available to deal with all possible threats – it’s like taking a knife to a gun fight.

This game has a couple of toys:  A drone and an RC (remote controlled) wheeled thingy call a Jumper… because it can really jump up onto things.  The Jumper is cool because I can use it to sneak into places and do the physical hacking that sometimes has to be done while I sit outside and away from guards and the cops.  Moving vehicles in this game is just as crazy as in the original game (you just do not want to know how many cars and motorcycles I’ve trashed and I wasn’t actually being chased) so controlling these toys is a bit iffy.  I use the Jumper a lot and I’m just now getting the hang of sending it into air ducts and sneaking past motion sensors, etc.; piloting the drone isn’t that bad but unlike the Jumper, it can’t interact with anything – I can spy on things, interact with a camera, even hack a NPC but I can’t use it to unlock anything that requires physically being able to plug something in.

Like I said, the story line leaves something to be desired and, just my opinion, I would have thought that for Watch Dogs 2, they would have recruited Aidan – our hero in Chicago for the first game – to help them get rid of Blume and ctOS 2.0 once and for all.  Instead, the only character they brought back from the original game is one that not only didn’t actually do anything in the first game, he’s not doing anything in this game except running his mouth, the video game version of an REMF – a rear echelon motherfucker – who’s good for sending me out on missions and getting me killed while staying nice and safe back at headquarters.  Don’t get me wrong – the game is fun and has a few surprises – like at least three gangs that I’ve identified so far and gangs you can sic on a target or even the police.  One mission had me stealing a car from them, something they weren’t happy about nor were they happy about my blowing up quite a few of their members prior to snatching the car so it wasn’t surprising that they chased me all over the Bay Area until I finally managed to ditch them… and the cops who got in on the act.

It took a little while for Watch Dogs to grow on me but it’s taking much longer for Watch Dogs 2 but I’ll keep hacking away at it and, who knows, maybe this game is really better than it appears at the moment!

 
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Posted by on 6 July 2017 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Road Rage

If you’ve read about my playing Watch Dogs, you’ve seen where driving a vehicle in the game is a comedy of errors but I forgot to mention something about that:  When driving in this game, I have a major case of road rage.

Now, in real life driving, it’s not as if I’ve had some unkind things to say to some of my fellow motorists, you know, the folks who drive under the speed limit or when the light changes to green, they’re sitting there as if they’re waiting for another color and, yes, I’m sure I’ve given people reason to be a bit… miffed at me.  But this game makes me nuts when I gotta drive somewhere.

The folks who designed this game could have made it very interesting if they made you obey traffic laws or risk getting pulled over by the cops, a problem since you’re the main character in this game and the cops would very much like to have a very long talk with you about your vigilante behavior.  But since they didn’t, it get to run traffic lights and stop signs, drive on the wrong side of the road, cause accidents and, sometimes, when driving from one location to another, I will run vehicles off the road… because they’re slowing me down from getting to where I need to be.

Now, unless I’m doing something that has a time limit, I’m really not in a hurry to complete a main mission so, um, there’s no reason for me to be in a hurry and I can actually obey real-life traffic laws… and Lord knows that I’ve tried to drive like I’ve got some sense… and it’s just not working.  I drive along nicely and they drive so slowly that, um, I get impatient and the road rage commences along with breaking every traffic law in existence, oh, like driving on the sidewalk, for instance.

 
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Posted by on 2 July 2017 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Watch Dogs Update

On 27 June, I finished the final act in Watch Dogs, technically beating the game even though there were many other activities – side missions – that could be done.  I did a few of them but the others, well, after the intensity of doing the story line missions, stuff like tailing someone seemed mundane and unexciting so there was only one thing to do:

Start over from the beginning.  As I clicked the “A” button on “New Game” I saw the warning that all my previous progress would be erased and, for a moment, I was reluctant to continue because I’d gotten a ton of money, had every weapon that could be had, even had a rather impressive stable of cars I’d hacked from NPCs and/or outright stolen as they sat empty at the curb or wherever they happened to be parked.  Not sure if I ever mentioned it but carjacking someone will guarantee those pesky, swarming cops will be all over you in a heartbeat if you don’t remember to activate a Jam Calls and cut off the call for help.  That was a lesson I learned when I first started playing the game… and I haven’t carjacked anyone since.  Anyway…

I figured that if I had accumulated all that stuff once, I could do it again; I also thought that now that I know what has to be done and could kinda/sorta easily remember how I did it (or eventually managed to do it), the second time around should go better… which is exactly what didn’t happen.  I still crack myself up trying to drive in the game and you should see the look on my face when I have to get into a car chase because I know for a fact that some T-boning and quite a few head-on crashes are gonna happen, right along with mowing down any hapless NPC who happens to be in my erratic path of travel.  What has amazed me is how I’m making mistakes that I didn’t make the first time I played, simple stuff like turning around so I can scan the area behind me (some of those bad guys are pretty damned sneaky) and stepping right off the edge of a building, killing myself and having to start the mission over again.

I don’t know if it’s me or it’s a gamer kind of thing but I find myself being more… careless even though I know good and damned well that some missions require a lot of patience and stealth and I’ve found that, on several occasions, how I finished a mission the first time doesn’t work the second time through – damn you, Ubisoft!  Some missions were easier the second time through while the ones that were easier the first time have proven to be anything but.  There’s one mission where I have to infiltrate the gang’s headquarters (and a place I’ve been to already in the game) but using a thug I’ve co-opted to do my leg work.  I have to get him to his boss’s server room unseen by the gang members roaming around all over the place and, of course, in the path I need to guide him and then only using and hacking the various cameras.  Well, folks, the first time I did this, my patsy only got busted (and got the shit shot out of him) once; the second time?  I was consistently getting him caught and shot and I realized, oh, around the third or fourth time failing the mission, that I couldn’t remember exactly how I did it before.  I realized that I did remember how I did it; it was just a thing that what I did the first time wasn’t working the second time but, yeah, I managed to get my patsy in place and accomplish the mission even though the fool got cold feet and eventually got busted by his boss (who is also his cousin) and, presumably, tossed out of a window.

I’ve gone into combat areas without making sure I had everything I needed, like an important tool called a ctOS Scan which, when activated, gives me a picture of where all the bad guys are located.  I learned that going in “blind” is really dumb and I got my ass shot off several times before I literally slapped myself in the head because I’d forgotten something important:  I could quit the mission, go load up on all the stuff I needed, and do the mission again.  Duh.  I’m still doing stupid shit, namely, blowing myself up with IEDs and grenades; the way you toss these items can be iffy especially when you’re hiding behind something.  An arrow-like thingy pops up and you have to point it to the area you want the device to land, but the targeting arrow thingy doesn’t always point where I think it’s going so I wind up tossing a grenade… right onto whatever I happen to be hiding behind.  Or, once, I tossed a grenade toward a cluster of bad guys and, my friends, I was kinda drooling over being able to take them all out at one time… until the grenade bounced off of something and landed in my lap.

I’ve learned a greater appreciation for the game’s physics engine, let me tell ya.  Now, it hasn’t all been a series of self-induced fuck ups; I’m still having fun playing the game the second time and I’ve developed a fondness for infiltrating Gang Hideouts.  For these you have to target and tag the person to be taken down without killing him but the bad guys around him are fair game.  Okay, okay, so a few times I accidentally killed the guy and had to start over and, um, okay, a few times, the damned fool walked close enough to a perfectly placed Proximity IED meant for someone else and blew himself up.  Those things aside, I arm myself with my silenced .45 or maybe the silenced SMG (sub machine gun) and have found myself giggling gleefully as everyone except the target gets a bullet to the head, leaving just me and the target who gets beat down with my trusty ASP baton.  Well, um, damn, one such mission didn’t go well and the target got away and I had to chase him down and take him out without killing him, which I did (after causing so much damage and civilian casualties that not only did my rating go down, I was feeling kinda bad about it) but not until he managed to call  his boys for back up and now, they’re chasing me and they are as relentless as those damned cops.

I wound up destroying my car and before it blew up and killed me – and make me restart the mission – I bail out into the river and start swimming… and the bad guys are on the other side following and shooting at me.  I’m thinking they should give up in a moment… but they don’t and I’m a sitting duck swimming around to find a place I can get out of the water – sadly, I can’t stop swimming, pull a weapon and shoot back.  Eventually, I get to dry land and the bad guys I didn’t managed to wipe out during the car chase are still getting into position to take me out.  Now, what I should have done was get out of the water and haul ass away from them… but, no; I arm myself with my M1017 – a “Barrett” .50 sniper rifle – and I’ll admit to having a Borderlands flashback.  I take out the guy “closest” to me – he’s hiding behind a wall directly in front of me on the other side of the river and I send a bullet through the wall and take him out.  Yeah, it was like that but, wait, the moment gets better.  One of the things I learned playing Borderlands (which has the most excellent sniper rifles) is perfectly leading a moving target and executing the perfect head shot.  No, it’s not as easy as it sounds (and I know that because I’ve actually had weapons training so I do know how to shoot) and thanks to the game’s physics engine, which perfectly simulates gun movement due to breathing and heartbeat – you can see the wavering when you aim.  Anyway, the last bad guy is running down the road and I pick a spot I know he’s gonna run through and pull the trigger…. now.

His head exploded – never saw that in the game the first time – and I actually started laughing my ass off because the shot was perfect even though the actual controller motions were anything but.  I said, “Thanks, Borderlands…” and walked out of the area and onto the next mission.

 
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Posted by on 1 July 2017 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Watch Dogs

I came to this game “late,” meaning I didn’t get it when it first came out (whenever that was) and Watch Dogs 2 is already out there.  If you remember my last post about gaming, man, this game was making me nuts because I was learning what it was I had to do and driving the various vehicles.  Well, I finally figured out how to play the game and I’m on the last thing to do in story mode:  Find the guy I was partnered with in the beginning of the story and end him since he’s the reason why Aidan (our hero and sometimes villain) got into this mess in the first place.

I’m still wrecking vehicles as if I’ve never used an Xbox controller before, though…

There’s a sense of familiarity with the game now; as I roamed the city; instead of me asking myself, “Where the hell am I?” and other such question as I did so often early into the game, it feels like I’ve been playing this game for years instead of about a week or so.  As I was hurtling from one part of the city to another to do another task, I really noticed the quality of the graphics in the game and they’re beautiful and quite realistic, right down to the sound tires make when going across a drawbridge.  There are day cycles, night cycles and it even rains and the game’s physics engine is so good that while driving in the rain, I pressed the accelerator too hard… and spun out as if I’d hydroplaned.  I just wish that the people who created the game had provided an option to adjust the controller sensitivity; there are times in the game when I’ll react to something quickly – but Aidan doesn’t; sometimes it’s just annoying, sometimes it’s gotten me killed.  Still, my son-in-law (a fellow gamer) did warn me that the controls were hard to get used to when he said that I should check out this game.

This game, more than any other game I’ve played, reminds me of an older game called “Crackdown,” which took the gaming world by storm (and won all kinds of awards including the coveted Game of the Year award) with it’s amazing graphics and open world/sandbox platform which gave you a whole city to play in while being able to interact with the actual gaming environment in a way that hadn’t been done before, like being able to pick up a car or even one of the many non-playable characters (NPCs) and throw them.  Those of us who loved Crackdown are waiting with bated breath for Crackdown 3, which promises to turn sandbox-type games on their heads.

Watch Dogs, at least for me, has this same kind of feel as I roam this version of Chicago and interacting with the environment, from hacking people’s cell phones to being able to jam communications, cause area-wide blackouts and, one of my favorite “hacks” in the game, blow up guards by detonating any grenades they’re carrying.  This game has puzzles in the form of hacking computer system; some are easy, some are rather complicated and then made even more so by only giving you a few seconds to complete connections before the “intrusion” is detected and now you gotta start over again.

As when I play Borderlands, there are some moments when you’d better not even think about charging in the front door with your gun blazing; stealth and some kinda serious thinking are called for; it took me almost an hour to penetrate one facility simply because the direct approach kept getting me killed whenever I tried it from different approaches.  One hack, called a ctOS Scan, lets you see where all of the bad guys are in a target area; some patrol in fixed areas, some roam around a bit unpredictably and, as you might expect, as usually between you and the target you need to get to and hack… and then you have to escape.

I like the weaponry in the game, from IEDs to fragmentation grenades along with a slew of pistols, assault and sniper rifles.  So far, my favorite weapon is the Spec Ops silenced 1911 .45 pistol; when you’re skulking around a place and the cameras (which you can hack) aren’t providing enough views of the target, stealth is called for and since, um, I’ve come to love shooting bad guys, ah, man, there’s no better thrill than having one of those pesky guards approach where I’m hiding and I get to put a silenced round into his unsuspecting head… then cap the guy who finds his body in the same fashion.  I like the sniper rifles – I learned to really like them playing Borderlands – but aiming them can be… suspect to the point where they’re not as reliable as I’d like.  Then again, if the game designers made it too easy, the game wouldn’t be all that challenging, would it?

One task I had was to intercept a convoy of bad guys and take down two suspects… and the best weapon for this was the semi-automatic grenade launcher.  Admittedly, it took me a few times to complete this mission and for a couple of reasons; one, it was hard for me to tell the bad guys from the innocent civilians running around my kill zone and the bad guy I didn’t see would off me.  The other thing was it just took too long for me to switch from my grenade launcher to an assault rifle or maybe an SMG, although the game says there’s a quick switch toggle but, so far, I’ve not been able to get it to work.  But, yeah, that grenade launcher is sweet because as much as I like shooting bad guys, I also love blowing up shit!

Even though I’ve gotten used to the game, um, I still find myself doing dumb shit like, uh, hmm, blowing myself up with my own IEDs/frag grenades.  Or like the few times I was standing at the edge of a building and accidentally hit the “climb down” button, jumped off the building and died.  Or, as I did last night, turn a corner the wrong way and wind up getting wedged into a space I can’t get out of while the bad guy I was chasing got away.  I’m sure Linda gets a kick out of listening to me rant and rave at my own stupidity as I play the game as I either cuss something out or call myself an idiot or a dumb ass for making mistakes that, at this point in my ability to play the game, I shouldn’t be making.  But, sometimes, yeah, it’s my own fault; I got caught up in the moment of taking out five or six very bad guys and had totally forgotten about the half dozen Proximity IEDs I had sowed in the area and, um, especially the one I walked right past which, yup, exploded and took me out.  Even the cat looked at me funny as I kicked my own ass for such a stupid oversight.

The last mission is proving to be the bitch to end all bitches; I’ve attempted it five times now and, so far, nothing I’ve done has proven successful and the fact that the game designers gave the “Chicago PD” a swarm mentality, sheesh, well, it’s hard to get shit done when every damned cop in the city – along with a helicopter I can’t shoot down – is swarming all over me at almost every turn.  I need a plan… and I haven’t come up with one yet so I’ve been running around the city doing the side jobs, like tracking down burner cell phones, ammo dumps, and even preventing street crime to improve my reputation with the civilian population so that when they see me, they won’t drop a dime on me to those pain in the ass cops.  One really laughable moment came when the cops finally ID’d me and put a warrant out for my arrest; apparently video game cops aren’t fans of vigilantism as their real counterparts are.  I’m listening to the news talking about the warrant when a NPC standing in front of me pulls out her cell phone, says, “It’s him!  It’s The Vigilante!” waves at me, and takes my picture.  This is what I love about open world/sandbox type games – you just never know what the NPCs will do, like the one who was entertaining two ladies and beat-boxing for them, or the one guy hanging with his homies and spitting rhymes and, yeah, even four guys hanging on a corner and crooning in perfect harmony.

I’ve actually stopped what I was doing to just watch the NPCs and the shit they do.  I also get a kick out of how they do “normal” stuff, like get into car accidents (and without my help); some have road rage and if you bump into one, don’t be surprised if they cuss you out and threaten to whup your ass.

I really like this game and so much that I’ve started it over on my second Xbox One profile, the thought here is that, hopefully, I’ve learned from my mistakes made the first time so the second time should be better… and that’s not proving to be the case.  Oh, sure, I know what I have to do now but that doesn’t make it easier to do but, at least for this “do over” I already have the silenced .45 and, ya mon, it’s a game changer…

 
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Posted by on 25 June 2017 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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