[GTA5][Rambling] On music and inspirations, and why they make a game for me.

Hiring Tangerine Dream and DJ Shadow (and a few other greats!) to make the GTAV soundtrack was a stroke of goddamned genius by Rockstar. The score is one of the best action/thriller MOVIE scores I’ve ever listened to, even coming clones to Wang Chung’s “To Live And Die in L.A.”. It’s got that chilled, mellowed, 80s aesthetic of synths and sound textures mixed with the knowledge of what makes a track dynamic and when such moments need to be used.

The psychological and emotional impact of the score on the game and the gameplay is /immense/.

Especially in the missions where you’re playing as Micheal and he’s going all John McLane (I’m sure the animator had to watch Die Hard a few dozen times to get it THAT perfectly. Even the climbing, falling and jumping look just /right/!)

The whole game is underscored not just but that beautiful and awesome music, but also by pulling just the right amount of blatant scene and/or theme-rips from successful movies. Fargo, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, To Live and Die in L.A., 48 Hours… ALL of them (and many more!) get a shout-out in this game. Some are obvious, some are subtle. But they’re all used to great effect. People who know these movies will know what it’s all about. And people who don’t know these movies (sad wretches that they are… ), will still feel the impact of a scene/moment done /RIGHT/.

GTA5 has many flaws. Some because it’s by Rockstar. Some because it’s a game of our times and the current gamer-“core”-demographic. Some because of its almost blatant sexism that isn’t inverted as much as other tropes are. But the soundtrack and the use of “movie moments”? … They nailed it. And I think it’s a big part of why the game is the most successful selling piece of entertainment the history of video-gaming.

(Don’t believe me?

“In just its first three days after release, Grand Theft Auto 5 raked in more than $1 billion in sales. Compare that to this summer’s biggest blockbuster at the box office, Iron Man 3, which brought in “only” $372 million in its first weekend across the globe.”

“The game’s publisher, Take Two, was quick to note that Grand Theft Auto 5’s mere three days needed to reach $1 billion in sales makes it the fastest selling property across all forms of entertainment. To put the games sales into context across other forms of entertainment, the global music industry sees less than $1.4 billion in record and song sales each month. In its first month of release, Grand Theft Auto 5 looks set to outsell the entire global music industry.”

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/09/28/gta-5-sales-hit-1-billion/)

[After Action Review] “Sword of the Stars – The Pit”

(Let’s call this “After Action Review”, for reviews of games that aren’t really that fresh any more.)

So, The Pit.
Another RPG-lite Roguelike.

I really didn’t like it.
I tried all the classes, I tried all the difficulty levels and I tried to go as far as I could go.

And after four days of heavy-duty play I have to say that this game has no /soul/. It also has a brutal, possibly game-destroying, RNG.

Both of these combined make for a bland, frustrating experience.

Oh, it starts out fun alright. You start to explore the first few levels and how the three classes differ from each other in stats, skills and item load-outs.

And then, after a few re-starts, you realize that the RNG is just there to fuck you over. At times you can start a floor in a room with a locked door, not having picked up any lock-picks in the floors above, fail the roll to open the door… And end your game right then and there. Because it’s over for you and you have no chance to progress. This can happen before the fifth level down. Even on “Easy”. [EDIT: I’ve been made aware that you can destroy doors. This changes this point, slightly. But it raises another negative point: Doing this deprives you of XP. Which is fair, you failed the roll. But you’re ALSO deprived of XP if you’re unlucky enough to pick up a key. Gaining an apparent advantage should NOT penalize you, in my opinion.]

On the other end of the scale, you can start a game, look through a few loot-containers (and slimes) and find heavy weapons with enough ammo and support items to carry you through the whole game.

There is no consistency at all there.

As to the “soul”-lessness, this is down to how it connects to the SOtS universe. It’s all over the place. It has some of the humour and whimsy of the original SOtS game, but it’s utterly disjointed. The facility you are visiting is a very old Suul’ka science facility. Abandoned for hundreds of years. But still filled with Sol Force rations and crazed Terrans who were used for experimentation. Even though, as par the game, Sol Force has NOT been a star-faring nation for “hundreds of years”, nor have the Suul’ka been abducting humans to experiment on them.

And then there are the journal entries, which are written in a tone utterly disjointed from how the Suul’ka have been portrayed in the lore of SOtS. They’re written (and, in-game, auto-translated probably) as if by a teenage, human, TA who was dealt the job to document some experiment by his asshole-professor. Almost as if the facility was supposed to have been a Terran facility at some point in time, which was then changed during development, without going through the prior text assets.

Compared to SOtS 2 it’s still a better game. It’s workable. It’s feature-complete and it doesn’t contain any game-stopping bugs.

But when I compare it to its two biggest competitors (in my mind at least), it fails horribly.

Those two games are The Binding of Isaac and Rogue Legacy. An older and a newer game.

What those have which sets them apart from The Pit, is the sense of /progress/. With both of these game, you are constantly rewarded for progressing further into the game. Both games change themselves to adapt to your progress. You unlock new classes, new items, new things to find, changes in story and feel as well as in difficulty; and you change the probability of item drops in-game.

Nothing of this is present in The Pit, which lives solely on it’s three classes and three difficulty settings.

It’s just bland, overly random and, while good looking, not what it could be fidelity wise.

Perhaps “Mind Games” changes this, but as of now?
I really don’t want to spend any more money on this game. The base experience truly put me off.