Scrap Heap

Livelock • Destroy 100 enemies • 10G • 49.48% of gamers unlocked this

There must be a bit of a trend for top-down twin-stick shooters at the moment … well at least that style when I think of Diablo, Victor Vran and now, Livelock. This was a Games with Gold title in September, but you could forgive me for thinking that this was actually a free-to-play game, considering it’s published by Perfect World, but for a fully-featured title, I’m somewhat happy with its quality (and even happier that I got it as part of Xbox Live Gold).

The concepts in these early levels are fairly standard. Point your gun at the bad guys and shoot. Even the ‘evolved’ bosses at this stage are defeatable through regular ol’ gunfire, but I suspect the range of unlockables and character builds available mean that there is going to be a mixture of character build and strategy to contend with in later levels.

Look … I’m enjoying this game, but let’s be honest. We’re a week away from Red Dead Redemption 2, not much further from Fallout 76 I got myself a new contract this week, and I’m probably going to have to move to an office without the luxury of wi-fi and lunchtime gaming. All is not lost … thank goodness I got the Vita fired back up again … but the truth is, I’m not likely to be dedicating a lot of time to Livelock throughout November. This is undoubtedly going to be a title that I have to ‘come back to’ between now and never, as the slow drip-feed of Christmas releases starts to flow, and then it’s the new year.

Pretty soon, it’ll be time for E3 2019.

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Green Wristband

Forza Horizon 2 • Obtain the Green Wristband • 10G • 50.57% of gamers unlocked this

I actually stretched myself tonight to get the ‘Get a clean racing skill 100 times’ achievement tonight, but of course you forget that, in pursuit of the achievement, you are likely to earn others along the way.

Somewhere in the vicinity of Drivatar level 14-15, I levelled up to the next wristband, and the aforementioned titular achievement.

Forza really is about all I can muster tonight. I am utterly, utterly bone-come-dog tired. It’s been a hell of a week, and I’ve been offered a new contract with a different area of my client’s org structure that has meant a lot of angst in my team which I’ve been trying to wrangle.

Needless to say, I have mentally and physically exhausted my ability to do much for the rest of the day. Including write blog entries. Enjoy your weekends, and maybe tomorrow I’m finally work through my not-insignificant like-of-Shane.

Lab Tested

Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two • Finished Yen Sid’s Lab • 20G • 74.26% of gamers unlocked this

Had I have known that I was going to have the day I had today, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to try and squeeze in an achievement this morning before I left for work. But I did, and I got one. Que Sera Sera, Carpe Diem, or whatever your Latin phrase-of-choice is … the net result is that I got an achievement.

Go me.

Following the disappointment (achievement-wise) that was Victor Vran, I really was looking for a ‘quick win’ this morning. I had gotten the kids dressed, and served them breakfast, so with two sets of beady little eyes watching me, I stumbled across Epic Mickey … which I think was one of the Games with Gold titles from last month – but in either event, I didn’t realise that I had downloaded it already, so it seemed like as good a place as any to start.

Despite growing up in an era where it was cool to have understood Fantasia, I’ve never actually been able to watch more than 5-10 minutes of it at a time without being freaked out, so I was a bit unsure what was happening at the start of this game when small brooms started marching up stairs and Mickey was invited to follow. It seemed like that this was going to be, essentially, Fantasia: The Game, but the mechanics involved between painting and ‘thinning’ the environment meant that the background noise that would normally constitute Fantasia blended into the background.

Thank Goodness.

I am sure that the mechanics of the paint will become more-and-more complex as time goes on, but for now, I’m taking it slow. With any luck, this might become our new Max and the Curse of Brotherhood, which was a great family game … though I suspect the graphics in Mickey are going to be a step down from Max.

Time will tell how much of a graphics snob I have turned into!

Welcome to Montellino

Forza Horizon 2 • Arrive at Montellino for the first time • 25G • 44.71% of gamers unlocked this

Just a quick entry tonight, because I’ve spent most of my free time either playing Destiny 2, doing a workout or just generally spending time with my family. I regret none of it, but boy … I feel like a few more hours in the day wouldn’t go amiss!

This achievement for arriving in Montellino, apparently required a bit more effort on my part than simply just ‘driving’ there on the map. No, as it turns out there’s a very specific Forza Horizon 2 task to do in the form of a ‘roadtrip’, and as long as I triggered that, then I was free to pretty much abandon the beaten path and just beeline for the ye olde European town.

I need to sit down and spend some meaningful moments looking at the achievement lists for both Forza Horizon 2 and 3 to see what is low-hanging fruit and what might take a bit of a slower burn. To be honest though, I’ve just started downloading a Diablo III-esque game that’s part of this fortnight’s Games with Gold on Xbox … and while I don’t know that I’ll ever finish it, I’m on a bit of a Diablo kick at the moment (they announced a limited edition Nintendo Switch Diablo III console today), so hopefully this scratches that itch.

Otherwise, it’s time for a shower and bed! I told you this was going to be a short one!

Like a Needle in The Outback

Forza Horizon 3 • Find your first Barn Find • 10G • 49.72% of gamers unlocked this

I finally worked out the whole ‘barn find’ thing in Forza. Rather than it being a case of systematically working your way around the map to find cars, it turns out it is more a case of waiting for them to be unlocked, and then navigating to the site to unlock the car. So much for using an internet guide to knock that particular achievement on the head.

Nonetheless, this isn’t an entirely helpless achievement. For under $5 (microtransaction) I was able to buy a ‘map’ which unlocks all the billboards, the barn finds (once they’re unlocked) and other collectables – and I’m not too proud to be able to give myself a little helping hand from time-to-time, so I lashed out and made my way to what I think is the second barn find that has been unlocked for me – but the first I actually found.

Without really trying, I’ve just been working my way through Horizon with the view to having fun. Achievements seem to be coming pretty thick and fast, so I’m just rolling with the punches.

What I did particularly enjoy this morning was defeating Good Game host, Gus “Goose” Ronald’s Drivatar in a Warthog vs. Warthog battle in the Australian outback. Turns out going off-script and just going as-the-crow-flies across the desert to the finish line is a good strategy.

Maybe not the most honourable, but – hey – it’s 2018 … if we’ve learned anything it’s that, seemingly, the ends justify the means.

First Time Buyer

Forza Horizon 3 • Visit the Autoshow and buy your first car • 10G • 59.94% of gamers unlocked this

I’ve seen a lot of people getting around in this Mercedes in FH4 lately, so it was hard to pass this little beetle up when the opportunity presented itself following a festival expansion. One of the things I’ve been working – badly – on in Forza Horizon 3 is my car collection, going to some lengths to outbid people on auctions, or waiting until the last minute to put a bid in, eBay style.

In terms of story progress, I’ve never ‘finished’ a Horizon, so I don’t even know if there is a finish, but if-and-wherever it is, I’m not there – I can promise you that.

Wherever I am though, I’m having a blast!

The Architect

Forza Horizon 3 • Blueprint and complete an exhibition • 10G • 47.82% of gamers unlocked this

I am utterly committed to platinum’ing Spider-Man, but of course, Sony announced overnight that they’re finally bringing name changes to PlayStation, and now I have a great moral dilemma (again) about which account to use. The thing is that they don’t seem particularly committed to bringing about the change holistically, only on titles that appear to have been launched since mid-2018 … which is pretty useless for my Vita collection, along with a whole bunch of games – not just PS3 games, but a lot of PS4’s early-generation titles – which I consider classics. The solution from Sony’s perspective is not to try and work through any of those issues, but rather to let you change your name ‘back’ for free.

Colour me less-than-impressed.

So, with the snifter of disappointment in mind, along with some fatigue from just swinging around mindlessly in Spider-Man waiting for crimes to happen (which is all I have left to do now before a Platinum), I decided to jump on to Forza Horizon 3 having heard so much about FH4 over the past few weeks, and – well, quite simply, it’s a great game.

A lot of my play-time in Forza over the past 24 hours has actually taken me away from the Byron Bay staging area to set up another festival site in ‘the desert’, so I’ve been doing a lot of driving, not so much in sand, but actually on country roads that remind me a lot of home. I am genuinely impressed at the Playground Games’ team who travelled to Australia to capture the scenery’s ability to translate it into gameplay … everything from the trees on the side of the road, the colour of the grass you pass, through to the way fences and railway crossings overlap the roads – it gives me great hope that FH4 has captured the same sense of UK driving as FH3 did for Australia.

Of course, despite growing up 15 minutes away, I – and nobody that I know of – have never been able to drive along the sand at the foot of the 12 Apostles.

But then again, never say never.

In other Xbox news, I have finally been able to score myself a new Avatar! Sometime over the past few days, the Xbox updated itself to the new system software and invited me to create my new Avatar. While I’m still a bit on-the-fence about body shape options, I do think that they are a step-up from the original Xbox avatar.

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There doesn’t seem to be much option beyond the Xbox Avatar App to interact with your little creation though, so I hope that there’s further dashboard or in-game opportunities to use avatars going forward.