Played a bit more of Judgment, in to the second chapter now, and it definitely does pick up quickly. This is the point when you start opening up the major side activities, with the side-case investigations and the drone racing. The former so far has proven to be very funny and amusing, and this seems to be where they've put most of the silly goofy side stories that these games are known for. So far it's been having me track down idiosyncratic perverts and a case where I had to hunt down a missing person, who it turns out was trying to evade a stalker, to which it's revealed that the person who hired me was that stalker posing as someone else. So I'm looking forward to going through all these little quirky cases and stories that seem like a good companion to the larger, more serious main plot. The drone racing is pretty fun too. It controls very well and is fun to fly, and they very quickly have you pulling off some impressively tight manoeuvres to get the edge on the competition. Definitely more involving than the slot car races in previous games. I'm still not particularly fond of Yagami himself, but it's still pretty early on, and there's enough interesting and colourful things going on around him that his personality doesn't seem like such an issue right now.
Also, a strange little detail. There's a pinball minigame in your office, which puts up a Unity engine splash screen when you start it up. So it looks like the devs were messing around with the engine and decided to put the results of their work in the game. Rather odd, but interesting detail. It does however mean that when you quit that minigame, the main game has to load the entire thing again like you were just booting it up.
Still chipping my way through Bioshock 2 as well. The audio mod has turned out pretty well, but it's not without problems. The audio balance is much better and guns have more kick, and the world has more ambient atmosphere to it, but it still doesn't compare well to the first game. I think the mod has also introduced some bugs too. Some sound effects get cut off when they shouldn't, sometimes music doesn't play properly, and occasionally the voice effects on the Little Sisters doesn't seem to work. I'm not sure if all these issues are due to the mod, since I doubt it really does much to the game. It's just rolling back some of the changes an old patch made. I don't know if the better balancing makes up for these issues either. It's a bit of a catch-22 I guess. The game seems rather buggy in general too. I've noticed quite a few lighting bugs. In areas where you're supposed to be in darkness, certain objects will be lit up as if they're in normal light. Can't seem to find any mention of fixing that issue online.
And even though I'm still enjoying the game overall, I'm finding myself somewhat disappointed at how it doesn't really fulfil its potential thanks to polish issues. It has more complex combat mechanics, and the way you interact with Little Sisters is way more in depth and interesting than in the first game, but swapping through weapons feels kind of clunky and like it's prone to breaking because of some fiddly quirk in the way it works. Because of that combat isn't really that smooth, as switching weapons, trying to manage all your defenses during the Adam gathering sections, just doesn't come together quite as well as it should. It's a shame, because all the parts are here. It just needed a little cleaning up to make it all work as intended.
Lamb as an antagonist isn't that compelling either. Not that this is news to anyone, since it's always been a popular criticism of the game. It's a shame coming off the first game, with how strong Ryan is in comparison. I try not to compare games too closely with things like this, judging one game by the standards of another, even sequels. But here I think you can't really avoid it. Both games are trying for something similar, in the very same setting too. Lamb is supposed to be a charismatic leader with a strong ideology that people flock to her for because they find her inspiring, like Ryan. Except while he had a clear (if very flawed) vision with a purpose, Lamb just doesn't have that. It's like they tried to create something that was a counterpoint to Ryan, but without any real reason for doing so. Ryan was an individualist, so Lamb is a collectivist. Why though? In service to what ideal? There isn't one. She doesn't really seem to have anything going for her that would make people follow her except that she's not Ryan. I suppose it was kind of inevitable that Lamb would be lacking in this game. This game being made by another team, and carrying on from a game where the entire world was modelled around Ryan and his ideas. That game had a clear focus and was built from the ground up to fulfil that. Here it's someone else who didn't come up with the idea, taking what was left over from it when it already did everything it was supposed to. And instead of having anything more to say along the same lines, they tried to spin it off in another direction in a way that looked like it didn't have the same strong inspiration behind it.
Not that I resent the game or the developers for that. It's just an unfortunate result of the circumstances. Building on the mechanics was clearly the focus for this game, which is fine. It's just a real shame that on that front things didn't stick the landing either, despite actually having some really good ideas. Or at least that's how it feels now. Maybe things will feel more cohesive and better once I get a bit further in.
I also picked up Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2 in the Steam sale, and I'm liking it so far. They changed up the formula quite a lot from the first game. While that was more of a straightforward 3D collectathon platformer, with distinct worlds connected to a hub, this one is more of a large open world with lots of smaller more linear levels dotted around it. Probably a shift influenced by what a lot of other games in that genre were doing at the time. Here I think it works fairly well though. It speeds up the pace of playing the game by making objectives go by much quicker, and breaks the game down in to more bite-sized chunks, rather than feeling like you need to do all the objectives in a big world at once. But at the same time, it does make the game feel like it has a bit less of a personality than the first. Levels don't have so much of a sense of place now, and they don't have such distinct themes either. Just a different style of thing I guess.
Another thing I got in the sale was the Crucible DLC for Darksiders 3. I wasn't planning on buying the DLC for this game until it was all out, but having the bundle of all the DLC for only 1/3 of the price before it's all even released was too good to pass up. This DLC is pretty much the same as the Crucible from Darksiders 2. Just a wave based combat gauntlet. Something that isn't that interesting by itself, but is a fun late-game challenge if you're in to the combat. So far I haven't got too deep in to it, but something that stood out to me about it is that it actually looks like it has some effort put in to the writing for it. While the game in general actually has pretty good dialogue scenes, I didn't expect to see that at all here. The character who oversees the arena is very adamant that this Crucible is the only one in the world. When Fury brings up that she's heard that there might be another, he nervously tries to shrug it off as being fake, and that his one is the only true Crucible. So it sounds like there's some reference there to this challenge in the last game, and that there's something going on between the characters you find hosting each one. I don't expect it to end in some shocking revelation, but I was surprised how well the delivery was on those lines, and how they even bothered to inject some intrigue in to what you would expect is a really self-explanatory mode.