24 February - 1 March 2020: What video games are you playing this week?
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Tell us what you're playing, how much progress you've made, what you like, and what you dislike this week.

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1. Video Game: Garou: Mark of the Wolves [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:1455]
Video Game: Garou: Mark of the Wolves
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Screwing around with this again.

The TOP system is a lot of fun. A seemingly minor addition that can really change how a character is played.
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2. Video Game: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1753]
Video Game: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky
Rudy
United States
No too far from Philly
Pennsylvania
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Started this one up again after playing Shadows of Chernobyl and Call of Pripyat.

It's early in the game but it feels lighter and easier than the other two so far, which I am OK with. However, radiation is no joke in this one. I am still having a really good time despite missing the tense atmosphere and dark mood of the game. We will see if things pick up in that regard.

I like how there are tons of side quests to find and take if I so desire. Sometimes it's fun to wander around and try to find ways to get into trouble, and so that is what I am doing right now. It helps that just about everyone wants to buy all the loot I am trying to offload. My only goal currently is to find a radiation reducing artifact and decent armor to put it in.
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3. Video Game: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:380]
Video Game: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
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The Year of Zelda continues.

Played quite a bit of this over the last couple of days. Finished two major dungeons, explored the overworld quite bit and have been going after as many secret "kinstone" treasures as I can find. Very charming game.

Compared to other Zelda titles I have played - which admittedly, is probably fewer than some folks around here - Minish cap clearly skews toward the world design itself, and away from individual dungeons. I know it has a reputation for being short, and that probably comes from players bee-lining from one dungeon to the next. But Hyrule is pretty interesting in this one, so I've spent comparatively more time there.

This game looks fantastic on the top screen of a 3DS XL. Resolution-wise, it's not the greatest fit for large displays, but played as intended, Minish cap is absurdly well-made. Incredible animation quality, art direction, etc. A real gem of top-town 2D gaming.

I can also appreciate that this game takes a playful approach to Zelda items and powers - stuff like the "Gust Cannon" is totally unlike anything I've encountered in other Zelda games, yet these new elements are assembled in a very Zelda way.
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4. Video Game: Tom Clancy's The Division 2 [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked]
Video Game: Tom Clancy's The Division 2
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Back on this one after a short break.

You have to decide where to 'call it' in a game like this, and originally, I figured either I would call it after clearing the True Sons out of the Capitol building, which is when the credits roll, and also when the game discards its leveling system and puts you into a "Gear Score" post game a la Destiny. But then I went ahead and advanced from World Tier 1 to World Tier 4 and defeated the Black Tusk at Tidal Basin. That seemed like a pretty good endpoint.

When the game launched last March, you could do everything leading up to Tidal Basin, which didn't open up until the first "Title Update" (gotta love all the Games-as-Service lingo here).

We just got another Title Update in the last few days (the 7th, I think), and that prompted me to take a look at World Tier 5. I was pretty surprised at how much real single-player content exists in this post-post-game. There's a massive double-mission where you are helo-dropped into the Pentagon, which is not part of the original DC open world. There's a major story mission at Camp White Oak (which appears to be the game's fictional rendition of Camp David). There's a new Black Tusk Stronghold at the Manning National Zoo following their defeat at Tidal Basin, and as of this week, there's a substantial double-mission on Coney Island which ties together some events from the original Division with the sequel (the first game is set in New York).

And on top of all that, once you reach World Tier 5, the game FINALLY comes up with a solution to the ludicrous variance in loot drops. For a while, it doesn't matter much that the loot pool is so wide. But as you get into the endgame and postgame, you become too invested in an elaborate build to opportunistically 'surf' on random drops. After Tidal Basin, though, the map has randomized "priorities" for loot drops that change every 24 hours, which leads to a somewhat pleasant pace of logging in, seeing if any of the priorities properly line up with any remaining content, doing that, and then logging out.

My equipped score at this point is 471 out of a max of 500. But importantly, my sawn-off is 500, my shotgun is an Exotic 495 ("Sweet Dreams"), and my primary weapon is a 467 M1A Classic, buffed in many ways including the unique talent "Perfect Vigilance." I didn't think I would find anything more amusing than an M1A rifle modded with the Ranger talent, but using the Lucky Shot talent is just the best (missed shots do not deplete your magazine, meaning you only reload after every bullet has hit, and you can freely terrorize moving targets).

I wouldn't mind sneaking "Perfect Tech Support" and "Patience" onto my build, but even as is, my character dunks on this game. I've been bumping the difficulty up to "very hard" (known in the game as "challenging") here and there, and I also solo'd an Alert-Level-4 Control Point without too much trouble.
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5. Video Game: Final Fantasy IX [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:104] [Average Rating:7.90 Unranked]
Video Game: Final Fantasy IX
Gabe Hawkins
United States
Virginia
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Working my way through disc 3 at the moment. I'm approaching a section of the game that lends itself to stepping away from the main story to spend time with side quests, so I'm looking forward to that.
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6. Video Game: iRacing [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked]
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Getting back into iRacing. I ordered parts for a new PC build, and I'm planning to upgrade my monitor setup as well. I've been running against the AI for now, waiting for the new season to start. I'll be running Class C Street Stocks, Class D K&N cars, and probably a handful of late model and C class truck races.
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7. Video Game: Warframe [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:1939]
Video Game: Warframe
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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Yep. I am trying again. This weekend was spent adding games and photos to VGG while watching/ listening to the FUT Champions Cup from Paris, so very little gaming that could not run in a window and be played casually.
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8. Video Game: Torment: Tides of Numenera [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:1691]
Video Game: Torment: Tides of Numenera
Joerg Schaefer
Germany
Frankfurt
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I read a lot the last days, i.e. I spent a lot of time playing Torment: Tides of Numenera. The majority of this game is dialogues with NPCs. The good thing is that most situations can be solved non-violently. The bad thing is that whenever I enter a crisis and have to fight, my party is woefully underpowered.

My main character is a clever nano (mage) who is doing surprisingly well given that I don't play mages in RPGs. My party consists of the rogue Tybir whom I have developed to be my primary fighter, the assassin Matkina who is my latest addition still trailing the others in experience and this strange thing Oom which I found in my mind and added to my party. Interestingly, most overviews of the characters don't even mention this thing as a possible party member. In fights, he contributes even less than the child Rhin which I had in my party for a while. But in conversations, I see how the tides will change for each dialogue option.

I'm in the Bloom now and have done every sidequest so far except for one which got deleted when I left Sagus Cliffs. Playing this way, the dialogue becomes overwhelming at times and I started skipping some of the less interesting dialogues to progress the story. The world of Torment with the idea of tides (some ethereal emanation), the numenera (remains of ancient civilizations), planes of existence etc. offers so much potential for outlandish occurences that the authors go overboard sometimes.

So far, I'm really enjoying this game. I'm only hoping that my odd party build won't get back at me later in the game.
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9. Video Game: Grand Theft Auto IV [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:256]
Video Game: Grand Theft Auto IV
Kristopher
United States
Allentown
Pennsylvania
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STILL slogging away at GTA4. I killed all the pigeons on the first section, and have recently opened up the second one with missions. It's really kind of frustrating trying to run around and find stuff, while all your friends keep calling and wanting to go do stuff. I finally figured out if i start a mission, and THEN run around to kill the pigeons, THEN they don't call. The only problem is trying to shake the inevitable wanted level, and then getting shot and killed and having to restart the mission. But as I haven't actually done anything with it, it's ok.


Oh, stupid game. I got arrested instead of killed a bit ago. Lost ALL MY WEAPONS. So had to run around and at least find SOMETHING.

IDK, I agree that the game's kind of a slog. Maybe I should mix up what I do in it sometimes.
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10. Video Game: Reigns [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:4272] [Average Rating:6.06 Unranked]
Video Game: Reigns
Andrew Hodkinson
Canada
Owen Sound
Ontario
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Was playing this text game done as card choices but finished it. May try to go through for a few unexplored areas or try the sequel Reigns: Her Majesty. Am hoping to make it back to earlier games that I was playing in January, although there is that unplayed copy of Slay the Spire and The Stick of Truth.
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11. Video Game: Path of Exile [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:595]
Video Game: Path of Exile
Chris
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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You should only hear me blathering on about this for one more week, maybe two.

I'm 100 map bosses from that terrible achievement. I got the pieces I needed for the Uber Elder fight. It's out-frickin-rageous. It's basically a combination of the Elder and the Shaper fight. It's so cool. I had them down to a sliver, but I died, and a couple times in ways that were just poor form. If I can get the pieces I need again I think I can get that but I honestly don't know if I'll get it before getting 100 maps. Maybe I'll just buy themmmmmmm.....
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12. Video Game: Tales of Symphonia [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:495]
Video Game: Tales of Symphonia
♬ Stephanie ♩♪♩♪♩ ♩♪♩♪♫♪
United States
In the middle of nowhere
New York
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Guess who's back?

Fought a duel with Kratos, made a pact with Origin, went back to Dirk's to have him forge the Material Blade (which erm isn't as good as the Paper Fans I got in Luin lol), and went back to the Holy City via Derris-Kharlan.
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13. Video Game: Dominions 5: Warriors of the Faith [Average Rating:9.33 Unranked]
Video Game: Dominions 5: Warriors of the Faith
p55carroll
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Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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Still playing this, now against "Difficult" AI opponents (a notch above the default Normal). It's harder, now that the opponents are getting resource advantages and other perks. But it's all good.

I need to learn to find good locations for forts. In a couple games, including my current one, I've just built a fort in a strategic province without bothering to look at the terrain or income level or population. Usually it ends up bringing in some decent income anyway, but I can only recruit weak units there.

I also need to pay some attention to gems and magic. I research magic almost at random, and I look for spells only when I need one. It'd pay to be more proactive. Also, in this game I've repeatedly forgotten to load my magic users up with gems (which empower spells), so they're running on empty all the time.

And currently I'm stuck in a two-front war. Early on, I overwhelmed and eliminated one of my three opponents just by spreading dominion. But before I could move in and claim the vacated territory, I got embroiled in fighting the two other enemies. Not sure I'll survive.

I've definitely run into some problems in this game. At one point, I captured a throne province and sent my prophet there to claim the throne, but he couldn't. When my pretender god awakened, I sent him there, and he claimed it. My prophet must've been at too low a level.

Anyway--tough game, but I'm learning a lot. And it looks like I've got a lot of fun learning ahead too.
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14. Video Game: Final Fantasy XV [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:1178] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
Video Game: Final Fantasy XV
Alex
Canada
Saskatoon
Saskatchewan
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So many console games are on PC now that I haven't picked up a console from this generation. When FF XV came to Steam, that was one less reason to get a console - why would I bother? I can get all but the system exclusives through Steam, usually with some pretty good sales. And so, having finished FF IX, I decided to fire up FF XV, see how far the series has come. And the game looks amazing! The music is superb! And the camera always points at the sky for some reason. At least, that's what I discovered after some update that took over an hour to download. And none of my controller's buttons do what they're supposed to. They all do something, just not what the game says they do. So after about an hour of searching around online and futzing around in the tutorial to try to get things working, I think I finally got it all sorted out. Unfortunately, by that time I had to pack it up and head off to sleep. ...So that experience kinda reminded me of the merits of playing games on console. Keeps the needless finagling to a minimum. At least PC games seem more reliable than they were twenty years ago, but still.
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15. Video Game: The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:1867]
Video Game: The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited
Joakim Schön
Sweden
Alingsås
Sverige
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Update 25 did launch today. A big update in size. A reason for that is that we had to re-download all the game client. Another reason was I think that the game now is prepared for the skyrim expansion.

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It took quite many hours to download. And all I got was a small firefly pet

But now I'm back in the game and can continue to explore Stormhaven.

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16. Video Game: Tom Clancy's The Division 2 [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked]
Video Game: Tom Clancy's The Division 2
THIS GAME. This one. I played last year for like an hour. I didn't care at all. I played with some people, my irl secret agent buddy keeps telling me to play it and I finally succumbed. Let me kid make my character (looks nothing like me but she swears it does) and off I go! I called for help for a mission and got it. PEOPLE ARE SO NICE. And it is a lot more fun than I originally gave credit. I dunno what has changed. I guess it depends on what you seek from a game.

Anyway, I will be on this one all week.
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17. Video Game: Grandia [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:467]
Video Game: Grandia
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United States
Minneapolis
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Part way through Dom Ruins.

Understanding the magic and weapon system better now. If you have magic when you gain a level you get an additional permanent stat boost. Depending on what weapon you have equipped you get different a different additional permanent stat boost.

If I had it to do over I would probably fill Justin up with magic before moving on to Feena. And would minimize/eliminate encounters until maxing out magic.

Oh well. Min maxing can lead to boredom though. So I'm not overly upset.
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18. Video Game: Katana Kami: A Way of the Samurai Story [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
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Josh Malbon
United States
Santa Cruz
California
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The fighting is fun enough, but sadly besides the dungeons and the pass, there are no other places to explore.

You cannot talk with all the villagers or visit the village or gang headquarters or the magistrate's.

Really hope they make a new REAL Way of the Samurai, because while fun, this one is a bit of a letdown.
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19. Video Game: Tales of Berseria [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:3480]
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Alabama
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In Meirchio, and I'm kind of dragging my feet even though things seem to be ramping up to the final few showdowns. I want those expertise bonuses on gear, even the lower-level stuff, so I'm running through mobs to rank up equipment.
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20. Video Game: Jelly Boy [Average Rating:2.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Jelly Boy
actual game is Jelly Car

For iOS

I accidently opened this on my iPod Touch 5. Browsed through, and noticed I still have a few levels I never finished, so what they heck, may as well try to do that. They are hard levels, so I may just give up. However, I should check out its 2 sequels as well
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21. Video Game: New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked]
Video Game Compilation: New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
For Switch
played 2.5 hours
I died with blue baby Yoshi last time I played, and had to quit soon after, so I never got a chance to use him. Played the first (real) level of Soda Jungle. His "bubble shotgun artillery system" is pretty dope*. However, I was so busy blasting stuff that even though I easily beat the level, I got NO star coins! I'll have to revisit this, as I want to turn my attention back to Frost Glacier...

... For Frost Glacier, played enough that we're missing the last 4 star coins for this "world"

Also maxed out Mario's lives at 99! Any time I do green mushroom houses, I switch to some other character to pump up their stock of lives.

Still playing that "sub game" of using items as soon as our inventory maxes out, and switching to Toadette when we need to offload Crowns.

Given how levels are upping in difficulty level, I do appreciate how when gaining progress with Star Coins, you are NOT required to get all 3 of them in the same play through of a level! However, you are required to play to the end for it to count (so no quitting to the map screen after you get one).


* if they ever make a Super Mario RTS game, arming a bunch of Toads with baby blue Yoshis will probably need to be nerfed!




played 3.5 hours

Finished Frost Glacier. However, still missing a Star Coin from that I'll have to revisit at a later time.

Finished roughly half of Soda Jungle.

Luigi now has 86 lives. Got carried away in seeing how many times I could stomp for unlimited lives (ie, keep stomping until you get 1-ups, then do that for as long as you can). Ended up getting 35-something lives on that alone, over several sessions.

As Mario was maxed out on life, I've been pumping lives into the other characters too.




played 3.5 hours

I thought I could easily finish out Soda Jungle, but a few curveballs came my way:

1) I spent 30 minutes alone trying to "3-star coin" one level
If I just wanted to pass the level, even with minimal star coins, it would've only taken 5 to 10 minutes

2) I spent about 25 minutes trying get 3 Star Coins on Lemmy Koopas castle (final level)
No go. I had to call it a night. I really hope the game's Quick Save function not only retains the checkpoint I last touched (so like a single use, save point like they have in emulators). Ditto with above, I could've easily beat the level in a fraction of the time, but getting the other 2 star coins adds to the complexity of "lining up all your ducks in a row"

3) Multiple tries on other levels

4) "Warp zone" discovered
In the overworld map, I found a shortcut Merengue Cloud. The world that's +2 ahead of the current one I'm on. I've been relatively cooped up in Soda Jungle that I wanted to check out a new world ASAP, even if it's only the first few levels. Yeah, they're about as fun and evil as one could expect

5) Still backtracking for 1-ups and items
As soon as green mushroom houses are available again, I send (yellow) Toad, Toadette, and Peachette to get more 1-ups. On my best runs, I've gotten six 1-ups from that dual cannon mini-game alone, excluding the ones from coins! cool I've also learned that if you get too many bowser ball items, you're so far negative that the game actually throws you a bone and only shoots out 1-up balls as a catch-up mechanism.

Continuing to use items as my inventory is filled up. These days, my "optimum level is around 5 to 8 items full, as there are so many places to get items around the map (e.g. the "capture Nabbit" portions, acorns just on the map, and 5 worlds worth of red mushroom houses). It's a surprisingly interesting mechanic. You'd like it all, or hoard it all, but you're forced to make choices of what to leave behind, and how to optimize things (e.g. In Halo, you can only ever have 2 weapons at once. One trick is if you're low on one weapon, use it up, backtrack a minimal amount, and replace that spent up weapons with something else).

Total time played this week: 9.5 hours
TOTAL RUNNING TIME PLAYED: 16 HOURS
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22. Video Game: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim [Average Rating:8.52 Overall Rank:13]
Video Game: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Simon Woodward
New Zealand
Hamilton
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At the 20 hour mark (PS4). I am not finding the missions very inspiring. I feel like a thug. A lot simply involve murdering a bunch of people or monsters and stealing something at the end. I might purposely seek out more nuanced/good-aligned missions and avoid the dirty ones. I am doing The Companions, who seem like a bunch of thugs to be honest. As am I.

Compares poorly to The Witcher 3, although it's a bit different kind of game.

Edit:

Someone mentioned, and I think this is true, that games like Elder Scrolls Oblivion and The Witcher 3 work so well because the protagonist is not the hero of the story, not some chosen one. Instead they are a side character, someone who helps the chosen one for a time. This seems to work a lot better for these open world games since there is less pressure on the main quest.
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23. Video Game: Euphorian Tide [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Euphorian Tide
Jørgen K
Denmark
Copenhagen S
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I decided to give the lewd RPG a tryout to see how it was - also since it was free and easily available as either an online browser version or as a downloadable version for offline play.

It's pretty hard (or else I am just not experienced enough for RPGs).

For those interested I can tell that the game can be played both censored and uncensored (but the uncensored mode is pretty twisted!)
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24. Video Game: Shenmue III [Average Rating:7.75 Unranked]
Video Game: Shenmue III
Simon Hammar
Sweden
Täby
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Platform: Playstation 4

After all these years, I finally get to play Shenmue III! Slightly holy moment when I finally put the disc into the PS4. I've played Shenmue I and II reportedly three times each by now, and have them fresh in memory.

First comments:
1) It's more Shenmue. Everything is Shenmue. As stupid, as weird and as everything. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. It's laughingly perfect.
2) Shenhua has changed quite much. I understand that stuff like faces and so on change, but she changed clothes, even though Shenmue III starts off about 2 seconds after the events in Shenmue II. She's more energetic, cuter in a strange way, moves more rapidly and… well, shortly put, the slow-moving, graceful, nature-loving, native-American-ish Shenhua from Shenmue II is pretty long gone.
3) Why did they add another room to Shenhua's house? It feels SUPER WEIRD. I was in that house just yesterday, and was looking at the shelf with writing tools and examining the painting there, Shenhua explaining that "that painting is of the Forbidden Mountains, from hence no one returns" and now there's a frigging DOOR there? Not that it's a biggie, but it wasn't even necessary… it didn't add anything to the house, really. I don't see the need for another room, not when it feels so utterly weird.
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25. Video Game: Star Trek Online [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:2317]
Video Game: Star Trek Online
David
Switzerland
Buchs
St. Gallen
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After grinding through Rebel Galaxy and unsucessfully trying to get into The Guild 2 I had more desire for spaceships. I narrowed it down to:

* Resubbing to EVE Online which would mean god knows how many hours to get back up to speed
* Picking up where I left off with No Man's Sky which despite well over 40 hours felt like I barely got anywhere
* Reinstalling Star Trek Online, which in hindsight isn't much easier on my free time either...

To my surprise I found out that despite not even making it through the first story arc, my captain was already more than halfway through the levels. Lots of things have subtly changed since 2013 and dear lord that UI is a mess. But I'm enjoying my return and thanks to the practically nonexistant leveling requirements I'm pretty much at max level already.
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