Tag Archives: Just Cause 2

Gaming With A Disability: Too Fast, Too Furious

The games industry contains a broad spectrum of games that will appeal to a wide range of people, if you like puzzles that’s fine, shooters? More choice than you’ll ever need, narrative games? Taken some major steps forward and there are some gems out there. But for some people the games they can play are limited by factors outside their control.

I, like many gamers out there have a disability, whilst it predominately effects my mobility it has knock on effects with regards to my dexterity and coordination. Thus I’ve faced some games that have pushed me very close to the limits of what I can physically do (more on that later) but I’ve always overcome it, so what’s making me write this now?

Staring Into The Horizon

I have recently been playing the eagerly awaited, open world RPG set in a futuristic setting, Horizon Zero Dawn. At the time of writing I’ve spent about 10 hours in the game, and to be honest I can’t decide how I feel about it. The setting visuals and main story are all pretty interesting, however it falls down in other areas. It suffers terribly from the problem RPGs have in the early hours of your character being too weak, I have other problems with it too, which I may write about at a future date. So what does this all have to do with disability? Well the thing I dislike most about Horizon Zero Dawn is its combat, to explain why I need to tell a bit of a story.

To me, perhaps my greatest gaming achievement is completing the story mode of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. This is because it is a game that tested my gaming ability to its maximum. The Witcher is probably the closest I’ll come to playing a Dark Souls game. Before fans of both series point on the differences between the two games, let me explain. Both games have a combat system where the point is that you can’t just charge in and defeat bosses and tough enemies, you have to manage stamina, dodges and numerous other systems. Thus it requires a great deal of coordination, timing and spatial awareness. I feel the reason I was eventually able to overcome the later stages of The Witcher is that the majority of enemies are quite slow, with predictable attack patterns that you defeat by learning these patterns, long story short, speed is key. However my feeling with Horizon is that enemies are just a little bit too fast for me, I don’t have the reactions to defeat major enemies. This is further exacerbated by the fact that in the combat you’re having to use normally 3 buttons to fire a weapon. This can often require complex positioning of your fingers that I struggle with not so much because of a lack of skill, but because my fingers physically struggle to do that. I am hopeful that my skills will adapt as was the case with The Witcher, but I have a slight worry that my enjoyment of what could be a great game could be hampered by my condition.

The State of the Industry

This raises other questions about what can the games industry to do to better improve experiences for disabled games. Thus it becomes useful to look at some of the things games have done to aid or in some cases to the detriment of disabled gamers

Just Cause 2

Without spoiling the story (though there frankly isn’t much of one) the final fight of that game at one point requires you to input a sequence of 6-7 of the face buttons on your controller in order to progress and defeat the boss. This is perhaps one of the toughest things I’ve had to do. Simply because the stress of a boss fight is likely to make anyone slightly panicked and more prone to mistakes. However that is somewhat amplified in my case, furthermore my limited dexterity would often lead to my fingers slipping onto the wrong button causing me to fail. If this was slightly slowed down this wouldn’t be a major issue. Basically due consideration should be made to as broad a range of gamers as possible.

Peggle

Peggle contains a very minor tool to aid players that might require it in a game of this type, at the very least it shows that some developers do consider a broad spectrum of gamers. Peggle requires you to hit blue and orange pegs with a ball to score points. Interestingly if you look in the game’s settings you’ll find a setting dubbed ‘colourblind mode’. This will change the games colours to more high contrast version allowing those who struggle to differentiate colours to better tell the different colours apart. I am actually partially colourblind, I was able to play Peggle in its normal mode with no real issue. Yet upon discovering this setting, I’ve kept it activated ever since as I found a very useful addition to my experience. Tools such as this mirror the ‘accessibility’ tools that have been built into computers for a number of years to aid people with disabilities, tools for high contrast colours or reading out text as well as the PC gamer’s bane Sticky keys.

So could games developers mirror this? I think in theory yes, tools could be created that would limit certain features that some gamers may struggle with i.e. remove some QTEs that require rapid button mashing that some people can struggle with. The key thing with this however would be how it’s presented, the worst option would be dubbing such tool ‘easy mode’ or similar. Doing this would likely make gamers such as myself feel rather inferior being forced to play the game on ‘easy’ because they physically cannot do it normally. The way around this would likely be to add such tools into the settings pages that in the majority of games contain options such as inversion of the y axis. So as to not draw unnecessary presence to their inclusion that could dishearten some gamers.

Switching It Up

Looking forward, I find the idea of the Nintendo Switch and disabled gamers an interesting prospect. I owned a Nintendo Wii, but immensely struggled with games that required the Wii Remote and Nunchuk such as Super Mario Galaxy. When a game requires me to use both hands in such a regard I often want to move my hands independently to find a comfortable position. However the fact the two Wii controllers were still tethered by a cable, meant that the amount of independent movement possible is limited. However the two Joy Con controllers of the Nintendo Switch are completely wireless and can be used one in each hand, allowing for a greater freedom of movement. Furthermore whilst their small size has concerned many, as I have quite small hands the Joy Cons would likely fit comfortably in my hand. Hopefully this would allow me to play games in a style that works for me, not hampered by my condition in any way. This is a possible application of the Nintendo Switch that very few people have commented on, quite simply because few people consider it as it doesn’t affect them directly. I have yet to play on a Switch but I have hopeful that its inherent flexibility in play styles will have a tangible benefit for gamers like myself.           

If you enjoyed this you can follow me on Twitter @AnotherGmgBlog I’m also the host of the Gamers Without Borders podcast (@GWBPod) which is available on iTunes

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Red Dead Redemption and Just Cause 2 Review

I bought myself a few new games recently and as some people have said they find my reviews a touch on the long side, this time I’m trying something a little different. So please enjoy some slighter shorter reviews of not just one but two games.

Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption is a game published by makers of the GTA series Rockstar Studios, with Red Dead being the game the team worked on between GTV IV and V. The story is set in the American Old West as you play as John Marston a man betrayed and forced to work for the US government. It is an open world game unsurprisingly reminiscent of the GTA franchise, you’ll even come across a couple of mechanics that would go onto appear in GTV V.

Speaking of mechanics, being set in the Wild West means there’s a few things to get used to, mainly riding a horse. You soon pick it up and but it takes some practice, you can’t just hold down or hammer a button, over work your horse and it’ll throw you off. I approve of Rockstar’s choice to implement a fast travel feature as unlike driving in GTA riding a horse a long distance in Red Dead can become a touch boring.

However one mechanic I’m less happy with is that of the cattle herding, now this is something you have to do about 4-5 times in the entire story, but the problem is the AI for the cows is almost too good, despite you’re best efforts they always wander off. While this was now doubt put it to improve the Wild West feel of the game it never sat well with me as it took longer than it should to complete and somewhat broke the flow of the game. This is certainly an action game, if you go straight to one mission to the next you’ll discover Red Dead to be a fast paced and thrilling adventure.

One of the stand-out features of this game however links back to something I mentioned in my Assassins Creed: Black Flag review: it’s incredibly immersive, when you’re riding around on a horse and stumble across an abandoned town you genuinely start to feel like a bit of a cowboy. Frankly that’s one of the best things a game can do, instead of feeling like you’re disconnected from the world and pressing buttons you actually feel like you’re part of that world.

Now I know some of you might be thinking, this sounds a lot like a GTA game with a Wild West skin placed on top. That’s not the case, the two series are very distinct from one another, Red Dead leans more toward exploration than the ability to cause chaos. Secondly you should remember that both games are made by the same company using the same engine so of course they’ll be a little bit of crossover between the two. If you still think it is the case then I ask you this, is that so bad? Red Dead Redemption is of the same level of quality and polish as a GTA game and yet is just a little bit of something different and I think that’s some good praise for a game to receive.

They may have only strayed a little from their comfort zone but Rockstar have proved they aren’t just a one trick pony, if you’re done with GTA but want a game of a similar standard and gameplay you can jump right into, look no further than Red Dead Redemption.

Score: 70/100

Just Cause 2

In the last few years gaming has been doing it hardest to improve its image in the eyes of the world, giving us games with deep and meaningful stories such as the The Last of Us. Now this is something I completely approve of, however most if not all gamers deep down also have a desire to just have fun and mess around and this is where Just Cause 2 comes in.

The game’ story (if you can call it one) revolves around Rico Rodriguez an agent working for ‘The Agency’ he must travel to the fictional South Eastern Asian island of Panau to overthrow its dictator. That it really about it, but this is not a game you go into for its story, even the developers seem to be aware of this as in the game only the first two missions are compulsory, everything else is entirely optional. Speaking of missions there’s a fair few of them but they aren’t mind-blowing and become repetitive very fast, usually centred around destroy this area or assassinate this person.

Perhaps one of the most interesting mechanics this game has to offer is the combination of the parachute and grappling hook you are equipped with. Not only can the grappling hook be used as both a short and long range weapon, allowing you to yank snipers out of their nests from a distance, a surprisingly satisfying thing. You can also use it to climb buildings and using the parachute as well the hook becomes a slingshot of shorts allowing you a whole new way to travel long distances. Inside these features lies the true heart of this game, something which some games have forgotten: have fun doing crazy things. The ability to tether two objects together allows you to do whatever you want. Can I attach a 4X4 to a 747 yes you can, can I then jump out of the plane and attach myself to the 4X4 in mid-air, YES you actually can.

As someone who’s played and enjoyed GTA V I’d begun to wonder if I’d got everything out of the whole, ‘here’s an open world do what you like’ experience. But I was wrong, fundamentally GTA’s world revolves around the story and its characters whereas Just Cause 2 revolves around causing chaos, that’s even the aim, you need to cause chaos by destroying stuff to unlock later missions. That’s what makes it so enjoyable, like I said I enjoy getting lost in a game’s story but every so often is nice not to be tied down to a story and have freedom to do as you like.

I feel I must mention this game has a few rough edges, it’s one of the most glitchy games I’ve played in a while with a few leading me to have to restart the system and lose progress. The second big rough edge, the driving. With games like these driving is very much not the main point of the game so you’re never going to get Gran Turismo levels of quality. But this is somewhat below my expectations, the steering is almost completely unresponsive at speed and due to some slightly wonky physics hard braking can launch the car into a roll. Admittedly most of the time this makes the game more entertaining, however the few missions where driving is key it does begin to become a greater issue.

Let my end by saying, despite what sounds like an overly negative review, I don’t think this is a bad game it just perhaps lacks the polish of big games like Red Dead Redemption and Tomb Raider. Thankfully as this game is a few years old it can now be picked up used for around a 1/3 its original price, and I think that makes it good value.

It may not be up there with the AAA games in terms of quality, but if you go into Just Cause 2 expecting a fun and crazy world with limitless options, it’ll pay you back a hundred times over.

Score: 53/100

 

Well that’s that, hopefully my next review will be Batman: Arkham City not sure when that’ll be up so just follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with all my articles. (@AnotherGmgBlog)

Feedback is welcomed concerning the new review format, would you like me to go back to long reviews or do you prefer shorter ones?