Thursday, 22 October 2015

Die Rolling - Mansions Of Madness

Last night. our gaming group got together to play a game of Mansions of Madness. MOM is a 1 VS many game set in the Cthulhu Mythos theme, so expect lots of tentacled beasts and people losing their minds/lives/other things.

My brother (The Keeper) is adept at playing the role of the person who tries to defeat the heroes as he has a natural panache for being evil, which left me, my father and our friend Mr. Bush, to play the hapless heroes who would go into the house(or monastery in this game) to uncover the foul truths within.

I'd played a game of this previously with my brother, we're both fan of Fantasy Flight games, even though in a FF game we always end up missing some of the rules. In the previous game my brother was the keeper and I was controlling two investigators. It was close to the bone, but the evil won in that game.

So, with a little trepidation, I tried to defeat him this time, but with help.

The components for Mansions are pretty good except for the miniatures. Whilst the miniatures look the part, you need to glue them to their bases and somehow squeeze their monster token into the base also - this can be pretty tricky as the thickness of the token and the thinness of the plastic base often take a few pushes and someone with long nails, to truly get the token all the way in so it's readable. On the larger monsters, it's a tad easier, because the hole on the base is a little bigger.

Unlike other adventure games I've played, in this game, when you come across a puzzle, you are presented with an actual physical puzzle in front of yourself. They are all quite simple to solve, but it's a fun mini game none the less.

This particular adventure had the three heroes splitting up trying to find a lost friend who'd tried to infiltrate a cult. From a heroes perspective it was a simple goal of moving around the house, exploring rooms to find clues, then going where the clues lead us.

The story is decided by The Keeper, who has a few choices to make as to exactly what the heroes have to do and some limited control of where things are placed.

Turn plays with the heroes moving two spaces and then doing an action of some sorts. After the heroes have moved, the Keeper gets his turn and uses a number of tokens he gains each turn to pay to summon monsters, spring traps, move those monsters or play various deadly Mythos cards on the heroes.

Like I said earlier, we tend to miss rules in FF games, and it's also worth noting that a lot of the text on the cards are open to interpretation which can cause a bit of hostility between The Keeper and the Players. It's never nice being singled out in any game, and as a Keeper, you've got your work cut out for you when there are a bunch of people teaming up against you.

We'd all forgotten the rule to roll for sanity when we saw a monster, which would have meant a lot of us would have gone insane and The Keeper had forgotten to check his win condition as he was so focused on destroying us using his minions. A mistake he won't be making again.

Highlights from the night: Ash-Can-Pete, who in our game was an unarmed homeless man with a dog, managed to do quite a bit of damage to various Eldritch entities. He also ran into a burning room just to finish off a very large Shogoth, ignoring all pain. My character did the majority of clue gathering, whereas Mr. Bush was our heavy hitter, with a Tommy Gun that just kept on dealing out the pain.

This particular adventure had the heroes winning - but in a cruel twist of fate... us winning, meant that we saved the day... but our characters were ripped apart by the angry cultists! This left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth as I felt that if we had won we should have won... however, it is true in fitting with the bleak Lovecraftian tone.


All in all, it's a fun game, however there's a lot of setup and rule querying. It'll definitely come back out on the table again.

If you like the sounds of this game, but don't like the idea of all the setup or heavy rules, then the superb Betrayal At House on The Hill is well worth a look at - an opinion of which will be posted on here at some point.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Play This You Bastard! - Vampire Rain Part 4

My team had just come across the "Advance" Team's van, which was riddled with bullet holes and had a little bit of blood splattered around for effect... but no bodies. This does not bode well.

Whilst inside the van we get a heads up from Hanson (The Tech Guy) who tells us we've got a lot of Nightwalkers travelling towards us. Their movement is strange however, as if they're looking for something... yeah no shit Hanson, they're probably looking for us and or the advance team (who I'm calling it, are dead or turned... we may come across one survivor but I reckon they'll not be long for the world)

Captain states that we need to kill the Nightwalkers so they don't discover the advance team's van, which by the looks of the van is a bit too late.

The Captain tells Kelly (The Lady) and Lloyd (Me) to take out the Nightwalkers in the area. "Shit" I think to myself, as I may as well be using harsh language against them for all the good my solo weapon efforts have done so far... but this time I'm given a Sniper Rifle. "cool" I think, but I'm still apprehensive, until Kelly tells me that when a Nightwalker is in human form, one shot to the head kills them.

...seriously, we're like over 4 missions in and she's only just getting round to telling me this now! This kind of information should be made known to the whole group, nay the world! But maybe this was covered in a tutorial I skipped, so until I play those, I can't really judge.

BANG! And the dirt was gone
I follow Kelly up to the rooftops and we're nestled safely up there. On the streets below are three Nightwalkers. I easy take them out with head shots, and they don't seem to mind when one of their own is blown away right in front of them, so that rain really must be effecting their senses (Or perhaps it's shoddy AI... I'm thinking the latter)

Suddenly the Nightwalker threat doesn't seem so much of a threat. These bastards go down quicker than a bottle of lucozade at a Tennis match. All it takes is a head shot when they're not all vamped out, and you can go home with a smile on your face knowing there's one less vampiric bastard roaming the streets.

Kelly tells me to relocate as she can't get a shot on the other Nightwalkers... why do I have to move? Perhaps she's higher up the chain of command than me, so I move and suddenly a Nightwalker is there and goes to attack me. I soil my pants and wait for the inevitable, but Kelly's got my back and the Nightwalker is soon pushing up Daisy's from hell.

I get a call from Kelly stating she's moving and that I've got to cover her, I get the sniper rifle out and follow her movements, but the only Nightwalkers about are on the street, so after taking them out she thanks me and tells me I have to move again as she can't see the Nightwalkers... if she can't see from there, why did she stop there in the first place?

Suddenly the Captain calls over the comms that the Advance Team van has been fixed and we should all rendezvous back there... all of us except me. There's some cheesy music played over this, hopefully to distract you from the logical thought processes that are being shat on by the Captain's orders as he orders me to kill any remaining Nightwalkers. Surely it'd make more sense for both of us to do it? Ah well...

I go jumping about the rooftops, killing several walkers on street level. This is easy. Then on my next building a door opens. I shit my pants, but the Walker (who is in human form) doesn't see me. A quick shot later (the bullet kind not the drink kind) and he's an Ex-Nightwalker.

A few more dead human form Nightwalkers and there's a cut scene of a Non-Human Nightwalker running... suddenly my team are under attack and I'm told to come help them. After a bit of careful navigation, I'm back at the car park with my team.

I don't think they're here to give me their ticket
Before you can say "Captain, the Advance Team are dead or worse" the door to the car park opens and a Nightwalker is running at me... great. However, as my team are here with me, we quickly take down about 3 of the bastards, with little to no hassle.

The Captain reckons that the Vehicle is too noticeable here, so we have to move it to a safe location. I want to suggest that Disney World is a safe location, but don't get the chance.

This was a fun mission which changed the way I viewed Walker battles. As long as I have a Sniper Rifle and they're in human form, they're no risk to me.

Play This You Bastard! - Vampire Rain part 3

Safe in the shadows
For the record, I'm an idiot. I have only just realised that the levels I was playing, were not tutorials. The tutorials are displayed underneath the story missions!

What you're looking at on the mission select screen is this:

Tutorial 1
Tutorial 2

I presumed that playing the story included the two tutorial missions underneath and that they were also selectable so you could try and beat your rank in that particular section without having to play the entire mission! I presumed wrong.

On my latest mission underneath it instead of Tutorial it says Trial, and has a description of "Get 5 of more B ranks to unlock" This is a nice addition to the game and adds to the level count. I'll try the trial once I've unlocked and tell you more about it.

So what happened on the tutorial missions?

Tutorial 1 - Don't Be Seen
This was a piece of piss. You literally had to sneak from one side of a road to another, without being spotted by Night Walkers. It took me all of 2 minutes and would have been quicker if not for being stopped for instructions.

Tutorial 2 - Necrovision
It seems that by pressing right on the D-Pad you bring up Necrovision. This handy little visual overlay reveals which humans are actually Nightwalkers. I'd presumed (again wrongly) from the missions I'd played earlier that any human could turn into a Nightwalker, but with Necrovision, it proves there are still humans about.

This tutorial mission has you on a roof with your team, using Necrovision to decide which human below is a Nightwalker so that the lady can take them out. It took me slightly longer as I found it hard finding all the humans, and the Nightwalker only came into view once you'd identified everyone else as humans.

So what have I learnt from the tutorials?

The first Tutorial didn't really teach me anything I didn't know from playing through the story missions, however it would have had me more prepared as as I stated in a previous post, when the Nightwalkers spot you there's a screen overlay of their eyes which becomes less and less transparent the more and more you are visible. When this first happened to me in the story mode I was a little unprepared for it, but soon realised what it meant. If I'd played the tutorial it wouldn't have come as a surprise.

The second Tutorial however introduced a new function that so far hasn't been touched on or needed in the story mode. Necrovision may come into play later, but so far I've got along fine as 100% of the people I've come across (who've seen me) have tried to kill me. A bit like a night out in Coventry.

Oh and I've also learnt the people's names!!

Me - Lloyd
The Lady - Kelly
Tech Guy - Hanson
Captain - ...Captain.

In my next update I'll check out the next story mission!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Two Weeks of Theatricality!

For the next two weeks I'll be hunkering down with my performance in "Dangerous Corner" at Rugby Theatre.

When I'm back I'll update with my continued play through of Vampire Rain.


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Play This You Bastard - Vampire Rain Part 2

Cool and the gang
In my previous post I'd mentioned how I wasn't sure if there were even any vampires in this game, due to the fact that the villain's are called Nightwalkers, and I presumed they were referring to prostitutes and not blood sucking murderers... I presumed wrong.

Any doubt I had to the legitimacy of the threat was swept to one side in an excruciating trial and error 3rd level, which was way more error than trial...

On meeting up with the Captain and the lady, we were told we had to go knock out an antennae which  was enabling the Nightwalkers to communicate. Obviously, we split up, as it's the wisest thing to do. (?)

I got to shoot my gun for the first time before I was able to leave the roof. I primed my weapon, which is a silenced pistol, aimed the gun at my victim and with no regret or remorse I shot a cold bullet into my target, and it fell to the floor without so much as a murmur of complaint.

Adamicus3rd 1 - Padlock 0

After defeating my first adversary, I used the stairs to get to ground level, so that I could then make my way to the Antenna. I get to yet another alleyway, and a cutscene happens. This is where I see the first Nightwalker.

A woman and a man walk into the alley ahead of me, he's beginning to regret picking this woman up from whatever rock she was hiding under and before you can say "It's a trap" she has a freakish spasm and turns into this game's version of vampires.

Another cutscene happens next where I get a call from the Captain telling me to shoot some birds that are in the alleyway so they don't give my position away. I do so, and the vampire moves to investigate, after which she moves back to the end of the alley she was guarding.

This section took me a good ten minutes to figure out how to proceed, I foolishly tried to take on the vampire and found out that being seen by a vampire is pretty much an insta-death, they're faster than The Flash and deadlier than something very deadly.

Moments before I was about to turn the game off and move to something else, I found I had to sneak around a different path, leaving the vamp to her own devices. It appears that anyone on the street will turn into a Nightwalker if they see me. You get a pretty cool sfx and visual for when they've seen you, and have a few seconds to get out of sight before they turn and pursue. When they're a Nightwalker they have a strange visual effect following them, (alot like the monsters from Deadly Premonition) which makes them look mildly more threatening.

I snuck around for a bit and finally met up with my team. Then a random guy spotted us as he walked to his car, as quick as you like he was a Nightwalker and running after us. The other members of the team were separated from me and I was thrown a new weapon to take it down with. (An automatic machine gun)

The weapons in this game may as well be firing jelly at the vampires, as they don't really seem to slow down when hit or even notice any damage. Luckily this particular vampire died pretty sharpish (team must have been shooting too) and we could continue with the quest. The head honcho at base decides that my character should go alone to destroy the Antenna (I think he must have found out that my character's been sleeping with his wife/daughter/pets.

A few moments later I'm climbing ladders, drainpipes and walking across ledges to get to the Antenna. One cool moment was before I was able to scale the building that the antenna was on, a door opened infront of me and a person walked out. Knowing that they turn if they see me, it did make me jump and I went and hid. Well done game.

Needless to say I disarmed the antenna, and was told to meet the others at the extraction point. As I approached the alleyway (another) I saw birds on the ground, I decided to shoot them, just in case. Luckily nothing happened. Till I got to the exit, my team turns up and a woman behind me turns into a vampire. We take her down with ease (as there are more people than me firing, because if it had just been my guy... I'd be dead.)

I also learnt in that level that the rain is working to our advantage as it dulls the vampire's senses. So it doesn't appear that rain is turning people into monsters as I presumed it was.

The next level had the team relocate to a new area, where the advance team's van was located (in a car park) The Captain, The lady and I step out leaving the Tech guy to do the logistics of it all. I volunteer to go check the car park out by myself... the others agree (cowards)

I begin to walk down an alleyway (this game should be called Vampire Alleyways) and see a dumpster. These are for climbing on and I figure the game wants me to go this way... sure enough if I'd carried on, I'd be dead as there was a vampire waiting by the exit of the alleyway near a dead body. As I manoeuvre around above it's head, it begins to walk away and the body turns into a vampire in a gruesome cut scene.

Just hanging around.
Continuing undeterred, I get startled again when a vampire jumps onto the roof in front of me, it hasn't seen me, but it did make me wee just a little bit with the prospect of fighting it (aka, restarting the chapter)
Luckily for me it jumped away over other rooftops. These Nightwalkers should be called Nightjumpers as they are able to leap large distances in a single bound!

I get to the carpark and surprise surprise I can't get in as it's alarmed, so I have to go to the security building where the alarm is stored and turn it off. What follows is quite a labyrinth of alleyways and roads, as I try to avoid various Walkers that await me. I get to the building and have to scale it and drop down in the courtyard, where two annoying security guards are patrolling, it takes a few attempts to get by them, but when I do, I get into the building and press a button. All done!

Just have to return now, so on my way back to the courtyard I see another door with an exit sign above it... I'm glad I took it as it led to stairs, and the door I was going to go through burst open to reveal a cop. I ran to the roof, and then got back to the ground.

Meeting up with my team, we found the van bereft of life and no bodies, but plenty of blood and bullet holes. What happens next? Find out in my next post!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Play This You Bastard: Vampire Rain - Part 1

Splinter Gear Vampire
This arrived in the post for me, so I ripped open the packaging and looked in horror at the game sleeve. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was all in a foreign language! "Oh no, they've sent me a foreign copy" was my initial reaction, but after firing it up, I saw that this wasn't the case. Phew.

For a horror game, it had already scared me before I played it. Kudos.

It starts with a cut scene of a woman walking home from work, she hears a noise, runs down an alley, and she's vampire bait. (Said vampire is clinging to the wall above her) I watch the next cut scene begin which is a montage (Fuck yeah!), hoping to gleam some information of the plot, but apart from seeing some missing persons database and a few character's faces, there's nothing. Except at the end there was a genuinely disturbing vampire lady... I'm not even kidding, the scene in question just focused on this vamped woman screaming. The image stayed with me as the cut scene ended and I was transported to the Menu.

As soon as I get to the Menu screen I realise this is going to be a bit *special* as the left analogue doesn't move your menu selection, the D pad does this... I can't remember the last game to go back to the D-Pad for this kind of thing.

I've got the choice of Normal or Hard, and what I've heard about this game is that it's unfair... so Normal it is.

Intro Cut scene time!

It all begins in a stuff office where some suit is shouting at an employee about how they're going to strike back against the Nightwalker population. I presume Nightwalkers are vampires and not prostitutes, but it's never really made clear. Through some lazy writing, we're told that in 300 days (I can't remember the exact number) the Nightwalker population will outnumber the human population. The boss in this place begins saying how they're going to bite back against the Nightwalkers (how ironic.)

Now we're in a town somewhere... it's raining (Vampire Rain?) There's a team in a van who are waiting for contact from the advance team. It seems they're all here to take out a "Prime" Nightwalker. Does that mean they're transformers?

The team themselves are made up of the gruff African American leader and a woman and two men who have no distinguishing roles. It seems the guy I'm playing, whose name evades my memory at present, was the lone survivor of a Nightwalker attack. There's a flashback where we see the guy (who is Metal Gear's Solid Snake's illegitimate cousin or something) standing in a room panting.

Vampire Rain - Now with REAL Panting action!
Back to the here and now, there seems to be a problem. (Not just with the fact that all the character's voices seem to be echoing) The advance team aren't answering, which infuriates the Captain as he goes back a long ways with the leader of the advance team and is worried, so he decides to take the main guy along with him to the rendezvous point, whilst the other guy (who is now relegated to being the tech guy) tries to get the advance team. What of the lady? Well she's told to just wait in the van. Why the hell did we bring her if she's not going to help?

Anyway, we're out and I'm actually able to control the guy. Luckily the left stick works and I'm not using the dpad to move him, now that would have been hard! We're sneaking about this town, and it's pouring with rain (VR?) but there isn't a sign of anybody.

Down an alley and two people come into sight... cut scene time. One looks like a fat priest, the other a really long armed tramp, the priest says they've got to get inside or they'll disappear like the others whilst the tramp doesn't really seem to give a shit about anything. Rather than talk to these individuals, the Captain decides we need to go another way. (Well we do seem to be trying to be covert I guess)

On our way there's a blood smeared sign painted on a wall, the Captain takes a look at it and reveals that it looks like the astrological symbols for the sun and moon... right.. okay then. He asks what the used to pain the sign with, my guy says "blood", the captain says it's impossible as the rain would have washed it off, to which my guy replies "They must have used a hardener", the captain responds "What kind of hardener?", my guy quips "do you really want to know"... The Captain doesn't.

What the hell is a hardener and how is my guy the world's foremost expert on it? I mean he could be as all I know about the guy is that he survived an attack... He may have been attacked at "Hardener College" for all I know.

We go along another alley, the captain in the lead, and I'm told to put my back to a wall and look round a corner. Cue Cut scene. This time there's some cops investigating what seems to be a broken street sign. They had mentioned that this town was overrun by Nightwalkers... but where are they then? Maybe they're being stealthy too? The Captain gets the tech guy to re-route us, it seems we're going to be going into a sewer. The lady calls and says she'll meet us at the entrance to the sewers... which the Captain agrees to.

To get to the sewers we need to climb over a few rooftops, which isn't too hard to be fair and the controls aren't amazingly intuitive but they're responsive so far.

After sliding down another pipe we get to the sewer entrance, where the lady is waiting for us. A bit of banter later and we're in the sewers.

Not much going on down here, we come across a body that's been the victim of a Nightwalker attack. The boss decides that it's best that the lady waits with the corpse. Why? Because he wants more alone time with me it seems. I admit it's the most logical thing to do, leave a member of your team to guard a corpse... okay, maybe it's not.

A little while later and we find a woman who's being attacked and is suddenly dragged away, we don't see who's got her, and the Captain stops my guy from going to help. The next we see of the woman is her legs as she's pulled up through a sewer pipe, presumably to the street level.

We move on out of the sewers and come to the building where we're supposed to meet the advance team... but no one is there.

This concludes the first two tutorial levels it seems, and I'm returned to the mission select screen. So far the game hasn't been awful, the dialogue is poorly written, but the gameplay isn't terribly. It's serviceable, that's how I'd describe it. Hopefully the next level will clarify that the Nightwalkers are vampires, and not pissed off prostitutes! So far it's not as terrible as I expected... but we'll see if my opinion changes as I continue to play this hated game.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Play This You Bastard! - Vampire Rain

Will I be as happy as this chap once I finish the game? I doubt it.
As a fan of video games, I have played my fair share of great games with amazing narratives and stupendous visual/audio effects. Some games I've played have made me question things, others have made me laugh out loud and some have even left me emotionally drained.

Not all of these titles have been Triple A blockbusters from a renown studio, some have been from smaller lesser known studios, people with a passion and a story to tell.

It's no secret that Deadly Premonition, a game that's in the Guinness Book of Records for polarising critical reviews of it, is my favourite game narrative. I finished the game and for about a week, I couldn't turn my xbox back on as it had hit me right in the balls in the final act and the ending was both tragic and beautiful. The graphics and game play put a lot of people off of this, but for fans, it's part of the charm.

Which brings me to Vampire Rain. A game that is so fiendishly difficult that it has made grown man literally soil their pants and eat the contents rather than go back to playing another second of the infuriating horror-stealth game.

Blade's really gone downhill since Trinity
I had a very brief go on a demo of Vampire Rain when it first came out about four years ago. I do not remember it. I remember the reviews though, which went from scathing to mad scribbles on a piece of paper as the reviewer had lost the will to live.

This title is on it's way to me, for the low low ebay price of £2.00 (inc. P&P so you know it's good... I mean the guy is practically paying me to take it off his hands) and I shall be spending some time with it.

Will I tire of it within moments of loading it up, or will I strive through the poor game play/level designs/voice acting/insane difficulty and finish the game?

Well, there's one way to find out...