Get Cory Learnt

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Trailer Park Boys: Greasy Money • Reach Season 3

I’ll talk about this game in a minute, but what I first want to discuss is the guilt of video gaming. I think this is a good post for Left Click Right, so I’ll write about it later, but to cut a long story short, an Executive saw me playing video games on my lunch break today and it made me feel guilty.

Should I feel guilty? I was playing on my time, and there’s nothing wrong with the hobby itself – so why does gaming still attract guilt? Why is it still a hobby that needs to be kept in the closet? If I was looking at ABC News I wouldn’t feel guilty, but if I was skimming Kotaku then I would. The stigma of gaming is still alive and well, and I hate it … I’m going to give this some more thought and share them later on.

In the meantime, the game I was playing when I was ‘caught’ was something new to my repertoire: Trailer Park Boys: Greasy Money. It’s essentially a clicker, but there is some story that goes along with it – seemingly broken into ‘seasons’, which I suspect are a little like Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms quests.

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I have to admit, I do like a sprinkle of humor and a smearing of character in my clickers. I think it adds a lot of substance to an otherwise mechanic-focused game. The first few missions, or ‘seasons’ as the case may be, sees you opening up a fuel station (using stolen fuel), and a strip club.

Who says gaming can’t teach you anything about economics?

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I’m keen to get a little further into this game, considering my long-standing love of clickers, its ease of use and its low barrier to entry. There is some more work to be done in learning the broader mechanics, but it seems to be more-or-less the same than every other clicker I’ve played … the only exception being where the buttons are placed.

I can see this being on the regular clicker rotation for a little while yet. Now, if only I can avoid doing so when big bosses are on site waiting to judge me harshly for my extra curricular activities.

Eyes On The Road

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed • Hit an opponent with a weapon while looking backwards • 10G • 13.69% of gamers unlocked this

A bit more Sonic today. Incidentally, as I logged on to type this entry, the top entry in my news feed was an article from MyNintendoNews which was reporting on the composer for upcoming Sonic Racing title.

The conspiracy theorist in me suggests that Xbox may have timed the release of Sonic All-Stars Racing as a Games with Gold title not all together accidentally.

Of course, as a result, I went hunting around the web for more details. I feel like this is a title that I should have heard about, or (more likely) I had heard about it in passing and then promptly dismissed it, but as I read about the new iteration (or reboot? Or just all-around new game?) of Sonic Racing, the less I became excited. Destructoid, in particular, were particularly scathing of their first look at the game – boiled down to “not particularly impressive”.

Yikes.

One thing that was common while reading though, was comparing the new title to All-Stars. What was equally common was the fondness for which author’s had for this game – an emotion which I probably think is ‘a bit far’ for what is a fun little racer, but I am nonetheless pleased to see it still holds up in the view of ‘real’ critics, and not just in the mind of a rambling blogger who is clutching at nostalgia.

(In case you haven’t worked it out … That’s me … I’m the rambling blogger)

In other news, I’ve been trying to find myself a new gamertag. Yes, I’ve reached that point in my gaming life where I feel like a bit of an identity refresh. I don’t know whether to go with an obscure combination of letters and numbers (which really appeals to me), or find myself a witty combination of words and mash them together, or just suck it up and stick with what I have. What I find soothing is that I have the option to make the change – and that on its own means that my anxiety around my online identity remains in-check. I look forward to another E3 where Sony continue to just show games and offer no service improvements.

Either way – if you follow me on Xbox and you suddenly find yourself with an obscure new friend on your list – then check that it’s not just ‘the new me’ first … but don’t worry, I’m yet to find any evidence that a new online day improves one’s ability to play games.

Sonic Drift

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed • Did a 10 second Drift as Sonic • 10G • 15.91% of gamers unlocked this

I am probably a bit too bitter, twisted, and just all-around jaded today, so it has taken me a bit longer to get around to writing this entry than I would have liked. The day started with the unfortunate loss of some family jewellery, peaked when it was recovered, crashed a little during the craziness of my 9-5 job, and now, finally, in the twilight of the working day, and in writing this blog, I can finally take a breath.

Insert Breath Here.

Right. Sonic. Have I mentioned that I bloody love Sonic? I was a SEGA kid growing up, so when it comes to Sonic vs. Mario wars, I’m always going to come down on the side of the little blue hedgehog, regardless of how many friends were kicking ass in Goldeneye 007 (still the greatest game of all time) or Mario 64 (which I spent a wonderful week playing laid-up in hospital as a child). The broader catalogue of SEGA characters in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed means that there is – perhaps not ‘nostalgia’, but certainly a warm-and-fuzzy feeling towards this game, kind of like a hybrid between the fun of playing Mario Kart combined with the joy of playing – for example – Yoda in Soul Calibur IV.

Full disclosure: I have played a considerable amount of Sonic Racing on the PlayStation Vita long before it was released as part of this month’s Games with Gold. As one of the few decent racing games on the Vita, it got a workout more from a gameplay, rather than a novelty, perspective while I was playing it, and so it is perhaps with the fondness of a handheld gamer that I launched it today on the big screen anticipating a quick but jolly good time.

I wasn’t disappointed, and in fact, I was even a little impressed.

I don’t know if this game has been “Xbox One X Enhanced” or whether it was always this solid on the 360, but this game looks great, it plays well, and was simply just an excellent experience from start-to-finish. I had a quick skim of the achievements to see what I could earn in one or two races, and had settled on ‘finish without getting hit’, but obviously it’s hard to determine if/when you’ve been hit, and so I ended up practising my drifting for a few corners, enough to be able to unlock this achievement.

Will I play again? Absolutely. I hope that there’ll be a few more Sonic achievements over the course of this week!

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that please you, and the revitalisation of a 90s legend is absolutely one of mine.

Eastbound & Down

Project CARS • Run the California Highway in under 9 mins in a US car • 20G • 0.30% of gamers unlocked this

At the moment I’m driving my parents’ Holden Commodore (I’m not sure what the American GM branding is) and I had a moment at the traffic lights tonight where a sneaky fellow driver thought he could sneak into the lane beside me and overtake me when the light goes green. This sort of behaviour has been making me irrationally angry lately, so I wasn’t having it tonight after a heavy training session and a ravenous hunger to sate, and so I put the pedal down when the light went green and was delighted at the power that the engine sent to the wheels as the Commodore lovingly pushed off the line and sped ahead of Mr. I-think-I’m-better-than-everyone-else.

This is a rather convoluted way of saying: It was a moment of joy in an otherwise high-pressure and busy, busy day – so in an effort to rekindle, or recapture that feeling, I took to Project CARS for my digital fix of racing, and hunted through the achievement list to see what was doable in the half-hour before bed.

It turns out that speeding down a highway in an American car does the trick nicely.

It was a fairly tight race in the end … I only set myself up against one opponent (because who needs that much extra challenge), but he still came in four seconds behind me. That’s dedication from the AI.

There’s a few other achievements which look reachable in Project CARS, but I think I’ve gotten my fix from this session tonight. Best not burn the euphoria out too soon.

Race Winner

Split/Second • Win your first Race event • 10G • 66.34% of gamers unlocked this

As promised, here is an achievement for winning my first race in Split/Second. I actually replayed the first race that I played yesterday when I earned my few achievements for using my powers, but this time I changed car up to one with a little worse handling traded-off for more speed.

Turns out that was the right decision.

Truth be told, right up until the last minute I fully expected to come third place again. A well timed application of my powers and, simply, not crashing, saw me cross the finish line in first and grab this achievement – but it was the metaphoric nail-biter right up until the end. I’m not sure where this falls on the spectrum of ‘Ben is useless at racing games’ vs. ‘inherent difficulty’, but I suspect that there is a strong argument for learning how to balance the powers out better in order to gain the advantage. There’s also scope to master drifting (the best method for increasing your power) a bit better as well.

Needless to say, there’s just all-encompassing room for growth.

Hop-a-Long

Cars 2: The Video Game • Hop 20 times in a single event • 10G • 67.31% of gamers unlocked this

I’m having a few problems between Xbox.com and the Xbox App lately, so it’s been a bit of an effort to collect all the details I need to be able to prefix my blog post correctly, but I suppose the important thing is that I’ve earned this achievement today, and I’ve taken the steps to document it. I thought that the issue was to do with backwards compatibility and the contemporary Xbox UI inability to display the older titles, but it seems like even the games on Xbox One X I’ve been playing aren’t correctly registering on the App or online either, so it seems like it’s just one of those gremlins causing issues with the overall network.

The ultimate in first world problems.

Anyway, today I had both kids awake, and I also had to go and get some blood tests, so I had to fast and wasn’t able to eat breakfast with them. Instead I did what every deadbeat Dad does and played video games instead, but I made it a family game so that we could talk about what was happening while I played.

That game was Cars 2: The Video Game, and in the interests of full disclosure, I will admit that I’ve never seen the movie. I think I’ve watched a small fragment of the original Cars, but even then I can’t really remember what happens beyond the condensed story that is in the small hardcover book in my son’s bookshelf.

What I do know is: it’s a video game where you race cars.

I started my session with the basic tutorial and training guide, but I was almost ready to go back to sleep it was that dry, so I was delighted to have access to a mission early on. I had cherry-picked this achivement as a piece of low-hanging fruit, as there didn’t seem to be any ‘win your first race’ gamerscore to earn, and so I had to go hunting for ‘something’ to start the day. It seems jumping ten times while you’re mid-race is enough to make that happen.

There was another achievement on the list for completing tricks during a race, so I suspect that might make an appearance tomorrow – though it is Friday, I might save myself up for another run at the complicated Call of Duty mission from yesterday.

Buckminster x10

Rocket League • Damage a total of 320 panels in Dropshot • 75G • 5.98% of gamers unlocked this

I’ve spent a little more time with Rocket League this morning. It’s been really nice getting back into the swing of things actually. My stats currently show a little over 50% win rate, which is probably about right, considering I’ve split my career between PC and console(s), so imagine what it’d be like if I’d actually concentrated on one platform and really spent the time learning the game!

I forgot to take any screenshots of me earning this achievement in Dropshot, because, to be perfectly frank, it’s been the exception of my Rocket League activity for the day. In fact, I earned this achievement early, and from there I just jumped into a few casual online games and stuffed around with the best the internet could match-make me with.

I downloaded a few other games from the Game Pass catalogue last night – family friendly ones that I’d be able to play with the kids around, considering they seem to want to spend more-and-more time watching on what I’m doing on a screen, I figured the few minutes they spend watching me, it’d be better to have a couple of safe titles up-my-sleeve that they could watch, rather than needing to pause the game, set them up with an activity and then sneak back to finish off an achievment. That sounds worse than what it actually is – I spend an awful lot of time with my kids, and I love gaming with them as well – but if I’m needing to get an achievement that has some ‘adult themes’ associated with it, I’d rather do it when they’re in bed, or otherwise preoccupied.

In other gaming news, I’ve been spending a bit of time on my PC this weekend, just testing the waters for what I could do to get it ‘gamer ready.’ I’ve grabbed a couple of good build guides from PC Part Picker, and printed a pricelist from MSY and I think I’ve pretty much settled on what I want (though I might change my mind a few times about what I decide when it comes to a Video Card – the element that holds it all together), but now it will just be a case of having the time, money and inclination to bring it all together. The delicious temptation of online shopping also calls to me, particularly when I can save $20 per piece of hardware – it adds up!

I think once I’ve finished this challenge, it would be good to invest more time in PC gaming. I’ve been trying to play Horizon Zero Dawn on the PlayStation and I’m just so bitter with Sony for their below-par service that I can’t absorb any joy from the experience. I love my Xbox, and I suspect that there’ll be more and more chances to bridge the Xbox-PC Gaming divide going forward, particularly under Phil Spencer’s leadership – while still giving me capability to access almost every game imaginable thanks to Steam, GOG and even DRM-free downloads from my years’ worth of Humble Bundles.

But again – time, money and inclination are all hard task masters.

The Smart Driver

I’m not really sure that I’m happy with how the achievements are structured in Mad Max. I think it’s a good game (which would probably be so much better if I’d watched any of the Mad Max movies, yes – any of them) but I’ve only unlocked the first real area of the map and it’s huge! It takes so long to navigate around it between points of interest that to finish any of the achievements – mission or collectable-based – is going to take a long time. Time I don’t really have the … well, time for, nor the inclination. 

The map is a bit clunky as well. Normally in these types of games I’d be able to mainline the story. A-Z in the shortest amount of time possible. But the map doesn’t really define what missions are necessary to advance the story, instead just categorising missions broadly as ‘Wasteland’ missions, which I recalled as being not necessary to do in order and I could come back to at any time. I’m sure that’s not how the game works – but either I’ve missed a tutorial somewhere or the learning curve is getting away from me a bit.

After trying all the different things on the map to work out how to advance the story, I found one of the races which was simple enough to win, particularly seen as I had a controller go flat near the end, and I was able to have a bit of dead air and still switch controllers and cross the finish line. This achievement was for finishing the race – plain and simple. It’s another one of those simple task achievements, which are good for nights like tonight (my gaming time is being chewed up a little bit with House of Cards), and I know I have one about eating maggots up my sleeve if required. 

This achievement is worth 5G and 18.78% of gamers have unlocked it.