Review Monster Hunter World

Monster Hunter World is the latest entry in the Monster Hunter franchise that is design for modern hardware. It’s not cheap since it’s basically matching the price of the console version but at least we are able to get it on the superior platform for once.

I’ve purchased the game on the 10th of August.

What’s good

The graphics are quite stunning and the framerate is smooth. Some quality of life changes have been made compared to the 3DS versions too.

The loading times are actually quite good for spinning rust, A.K.A. mechanical hard drives.

While the zones can be confusing when starting, the map actually does a pretty good job at representing the entities (harvestable points, monsters…) and you will not get lost.

Fighting at 60FPS+ is the best improvement and walking away from a fight while chugging on a potion (spamming X because your life depends on it) is better than in the previous games. You will not pose when you have finished drinking a potion.
Aborting healing is also a tactical advantage and choice you might appreciate.

While sometimes you’ll be slaughtering small monsters, most of the game is a boss fight game and it’s really enjoyable when two bosses collided and start fighting each other.

“I was hungry!” – Grimgar

The pacing of the game is the usual where you usually end up tracking the target and then taking it in (capture) or out (slaying). Sometimes you will have multiple targets.

What’s bad

It’s not possible to have more than one Palico unlike Monster Hunter Generations.

Graphically the game is very blurry with TAA, go with FXAA if you need antialiasing. The textures are really low quality for a game that came out in 2018 and the graphics do not justify the performance for a high end computer.

Can you see the blur?

The tutorial doesn’t seem to be all that useful for the newcomers. It would be great if it was optional since it just feels like playing Final Fantasy XIII when you start the game. Cutescenes need to be skippable if I must absolutely play the tutorial.

The male characters’ faces don’t look very good. The female characters look better but that’s to be expected I guess. This is more the style of the game than trying to pull a Mass Effect Andromeda or pulling some experimental motion capture.
It’s original and the effort is appreciate. We will get used to it.

“Didn’t cart more than once.” – Rookie Hunter

DLCs

The amount of DLC on the page can be quite surprising for a newly released game. None of it seems required at the time of writing but it can be seen as cosmetic microtransactions.

Cosmetic items are part of the Monster Hunter franchise

Running on older hardware

I can sadly not test it on my laptop since it keeps crashing when starting to play. Even though the game was ported from console, decent hardware will be required.

The only drivers compatible with my G750JM will always crash

DRM

As previously stated on the Steam page (with Steam Enhanced) the game uses Denuvo. The impact is currently unknown but we can only hope that they minimized the impact and that the Intel i7 3770 they ask for on the recommend hardware isn’t because of Denuvo.

Launch issues

As with just about any games that come out there are issues. Some issues are quite minor and some are major and gamebreaking.

Gamepad not detected

If you are using an XInput gamepad such as a wired XB360 gamepad you will be surprised that it might not be detected by the game when Fraps is running.

Simply turn off Fraps. Thanks reddit. But be careful, starting Fraps might crash the game.

Lightning drops the framerate

Having a hunter equipped with lightning weapons will make the framerate drop significantly. The Kirin must also affect the framerate.

Cheating

Cheating is already starting to happen with amplified damage and inventory editing. Some would think that there would at least be something to do about cheating such as implementing a known anticheat but they did not.

Cheating is not impossible on console too.

Raw gameplay

Since I like capturing the raw gameplay with no commentary or any editing here is the video showing what the game is from the point of view of someone with a hundred or so hours in Monster Hunter Generations.

The game crashed once so the video will restart and I just stitched the video files together for the full experience (crash included).

Conclusion

This game is a bad port. If your war machine can’t handle it then you should wait for them to optimize it a bit more. It wasn’t worth waiting 6 months for this kind of results.

On the bright side though… The game is enjoyable as expected. It’s still aimed to the Monster Hunter fans since the tutorial will not be the part that will hook you onto the game. But if you like boss fights then this game franchise is made for you.

A bit more than 60 hours were needed to complete the game’s story and all available optionnal quests. Some farming was done because it’s a Monster Hunter game and equipment must be crafted.

Review: Dark Souls III

Dark Souls III is hard and fair. This game will always be fair to you but it won’t give away chances to be easy. There is no difficulty setting.

Rising from your coffin

You start the game after a simple intro video that doesn’t do much of explaining why and what. You rise from the coffin and make your way to Firelink shrine: the main hub of the game.

In the shrine you’ll be able to upgrade your weapons, level up your stats and interact with some NPCs. You’ll learn the story through your interactions with some key NPCs and by reading the item descriptions.

Your next destination will be Lothric’s high wall and your objective is to bring back the lords of cinder.

Prithee be careful

Dark Souls is known for not forgiving. But it’s quite fair to be honest.
Your character has life points, attunement points for casting spells and endurance for performing actions.

Mashing your way through hordes of undead doesn’t work well when you have no endurance and an oversized sword, but that doesn’t mean you cosplay as Guts and wreak havoc wherever you go. Just get good first by learning the game.

Don’t tell, show

Learning the monsters pattern, learning parries, learning from failure. This game shows you everything you need to learn. Dying is part of the experience.

The plot will never get in your way, except maybe once. You might not know where to go at first but you’ll always end up by finding a path that you didn’t explore before.

Backtracking through shortcuts is also a very important part of the game even though you can fast travel between bonfires.
Everything you see in the skybox can be explored too.

Your style

You will be able to choose what kind of “class” you will start as but nothing is set in stone yet and you will be able to change to whatever suits you best. If you’re more of a mage you will be able to learn sorcery throughout the game.
If you live the way of the sword you will have multiple choices ranging from the straight sword, to the great sword or even some katanas.

Do you need a shield or are you confident enough to dodge the attacks? You play the way you want to.

Online mechanics

The first online part of this game is integrated through messages that either warn or troll.

The second part is combat. You will either summon or invade.

Summoning brings help for a boss or an invasion while invading sounds just like it’s spelt. Invading is a big part of the game that is optional.
You might feel like you are bullying other players (or getting bullied) but you will more often than not learn tricks by watching other players attempts them.

The only unfair part of this game is the player interaction, it can be disabled in the options. It can be tiring to invade a group of players or be the only one of your group of invaders actually attacking your foes.

No regrets

It runs well while being locked to 60FPS, the game is gorgeous.

Conclusion

Dark Soul III is a hard game. It’s my first Dark Souls and it will not be the last. The controls are satisfying with a gamepad and the fights are really good.
This game kept me occupied during the start of the year.

Player interaction can be pretty boring though after getting invaded or invading a group.

You first run will probably take some time, I spent nearly 50 hours before behind able to initiate NG+.

Review MGSV: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is, at the time of writing, the last game featuring the characters from the Metal Gear universe from the mainline of games.
This game is an open world game, like many games that came out in 2015. It still contains the main elements from a Metal Gear game like sexy posters, cardboard boxes and fun stuff (the hamburgers of Kazuhira Miller).

How about having a late review?

The hospital

Waking up to some music and a nurse tending to us we get to enjoy the cinematic experience of Metal Gear Solid before being thrown into a tutorial. In this part we won’t learn much of the game and will have to basically follow the corridor.

This will introduce some basic mechanics though like healing certain injuries and cover. Not much else…

Afghanistan

After escaping Snake will travel to Afghanistan in order to rescue Kazuhira Miller. The game starts and throws you into the open world experience where you will learn better how to use the new game mechanics to sneak around.

OctoCamo is not yet a thing in 1984 so you’ll have a hard time hiding in plain sight like in MGS 4 but the enjoyment is still here since you have the whole world to hide in.

As yet another open world game you’ll be able to do some gathering. Gather plants, resources and people. Yes. People are a resource and can be kidnapped fulton extracted to expand the skills of your staff in Mother Base so you can develop new weapons and tools.

Mother Base

This is kind of the main hub of the game where you will return for every major events, take showers, beat up the moral of your staff and upgrade it to generate more resources, send more teams on missions or just relax.

There not much else to do and you will spend most of your time in Afghanistan or in Africa.

Main missions and side ops

The game has few modes you can access through your iDroid:

  • Main missions: story missions;
  • Side operations: side missions.

The way you progress in the story is straightforward until you run out of story missions and you are “forced” to play side ops. This might be a way to make the game somewhat unpredictable. Sadly it feels forced and will end prematurely missions you are playing.

Overall there are enough missions spread out over the world to sometimes encounter an event that will lead to a main mission or a side op like falling face to face with an armored unit or a sniper team of highly skilled soldiers.
But as expected of an open world game several of the side ops are the same that will just take you into another location.

Unlike other games the story doesn’t force you very often to play some events and you will be able to roam freely every time unless your actions have advanced you to a certain point where some missions are unlocked. This is a rare occurrence and will not block progression on previous missions.

Game performance

Playing the game on PC can be a challenge with the badly ported controls. The controls feel much better than those of MGSV: Ground Zeroes. There are still some issues like some keys that can’t be rebound (slowing down on the rocket punch) and the frame rate is locked.

The FOV can feel tight and the draw distance is quite low. Other than that the game looks good and performs well.

I have played the whole game with a mouse and keyboard.

I have run the game on my 2017 desktop.

Regrets

Instead of giving points or stars I’d prefer to give regrets or bullet points that will list and maybe explain why I (might) have felt regret.

  • The story doesn’t feel finished;
  • Walking is slower on a keyboard than with a gamepad;
  • Can’t rebind all the keys that have prompts.

Conclusion

The game still doesn’t feel finished, some plot points have not been ended and there’s still some things in the wild that shouldn’t be there anymore. It feels like there’s still some things left to do to wrap up the story and (try to) explain what happens next.

The text scroll that recaps the whole series is great and helps to situate the events correctly but that is not what we are used to. There’s at least an hours and a half of cutscenes missing.

Since Hideo Kojima is not working at Konami anymore and that Konami will never be able to produce a true successor (instead of remaking MGS3 as a pachislot) we may never see a true conclusion to the series.

Playing a nearly 3 year old game that doesn’t feel too outdated was a good experience and I really felt engaged. This is currently one of the top two games I have played in 2018 that have come out during the last couple of years (the other being Dark Souls 3).
I’m happy I was able to purchase this game, the experience was good and I kinda felt addicted (like for Dark Souls 3).

I have logged 70 hours and just finished “The man who sold the world”.

Remap Ansel hotkey

Ansel is Nvidia’s tool that is used for making high resolution, 360° and stereoscopic screenshots. You can move around freely in a paused scene to capture your character’s best side.

Sadly during action ALT+F2 is quite hard to hit. Let’s remap the key.

Launching the configuration utility

To launch the utility hit Windows+R and paste this path:

%PROGRAMFILES%\NVIDIA Corporation\Ansel\Tools\NvCameraConfiguration.exe

You should be greeted with this window:

The input hotkey is used to remap, hit the key or the combination you wish to use then confirm and save.

I have tested this on Windows 10 with the Witcher 3.

Source: https://forums.geforce.com/default/topic/957949/ansel/any-way-to-rebind-keys-/

Downgrading S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl to 1.0005

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl Splash

Not long ago I decided to go back to the Zone and do some casual stalking. But my game was updated in 2013 to 1.0006 and the complete mod I used just broke.

Disclaimer

This only works for the English version. You are responsible for anything that could happen including, but not limited to, radioactive fallout, mutants appearing and the Monolith trying to recruit your family.

If you’re not playing the English version please move on or buy one on Steam or GOG.

Downgrading to 1.0005

To downgrade the game to 1.0005 we are going to trick the 1.0005 patch into thinking it’s updating from 1.0004 in the registry, then we will install the official 1.0005 patch.

First you will need to navigate into the registry and locate the key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\GSC Game World\STALKER-SHOC

Set the string value InstallLang to en, if it doesn’t exist create it.
Set the string value InstallVers to 1.0004, if it doesn’t exist create it.
Set the string value InstallSource to stk-for-pack-noprot-efis, if it doesn’t exist create it.

Now download the 1.0005 patch:

Install it and disregard the error message about the readme file, we will now how to move the files manually.

Navigate to C:\Program Files (x86)\THQ\S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl with your file explorer and copy the following folders and files to your game installation folder:

  • bin;
  • mods;
  • gamedata.dbb;
  • gamedata.dbc.

My game folder is located at D:\Steam\SteamApps\common\STALKER Shadow of Chernobyl.

The last step is to delete an unwanted file that was installed with 1.0006. Delete gamedata.dbd in the game folder. You can now go back to the Zone!

Source: https://www.gog.com/forum/stalker_series/downgrade_instructions

Use more than 2GB of RAM

You will need to patch the XR_3DA.exe file. Download this and extract it into the game’s bin folder:
http://www.moddb.com/mods/stalker-complete-2009/downloads/stalker-soc-3gb-ram

Before doing anything you must always think about making a backup, in this case you can zip the file we are about to patch so you have a copy just in case.

Copy XR_3DA.exe into the extracted folder, run Start.bat and follow the instructions. Once the game binary patched copy it back to the bin folder.

This will help with mods.

90° FOV

The modification can and will most certainly ban you from multiplayer!

For a wider field of view you will have to go to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl page on the PCGaming Wiki and go down to the Field of View section.

You will be prompted to download an archive, from that archive you will need to extract to the bin folder the file fov90_v10005.exe. Once extract it launch it once so it patched the game.

Enjoy!

Star Wars: Republic Commando

SWRepublicCommando

Star Wars: Republic Commando is my favorite Star Wars game, the main theme is Vode An.

This game came out in 2005, and was by LucasArts (they’ll be missed). In the game you’re a soldier fighting for the republic with a couple teammates !
There are spoilers following.

Geneosis

You start in Geneosis, just like in Clone Wars. You simply have to follow the linear story without really bothering about the several droids or oversized toasters.
It’s like they can really hurt you with your shield on.

You’re the commander of Delta squad and your “name” is RC-1138. You’re team is composed of 3 other members with nicknames: Scorch (RC-1162), Sev (RC-1207), Fixer (RC-1140).

Prosecutor

After Geneosis you will investigate the Prosecutor, a spacecraft than went silent. Nothing really new since the game is still like a corridor.
The difference is about how you command your squad.

Kashyyyk

This is the last chapter, you’ll be visiting Kashyyyk since the wookies need your help. You’ll even catch a glimpse of General Grievous’ face and fight his guard while hunting down some Trandoshans.

Multiplayer

Even if the multiplayer is not as played as Dota 2, Counter-Strike or any other games, it wasn’t half bad. Like for modern military shooters you had a primary weapon and a secondary, you had the three types of grenades from the story mode.
You also had to pick a side Republic or Trandoshan.

The game can still be fun with other people, but you’ll need to connect with an IP.

RollerCoaster Tycoon

RollerCoasterTycoon_GOG

RollerCoaster Tycoon was made by Chris Sawyer at the end of the 90s. This game is about maintaining an amusement park, building rides, building food stores…
It’s about YOUR amusement park !

The game was written in assembly and C (to interface with Windows) and can be played on today’s up to date Windows 8.1 64bit with the GoG’s version.

Can my toaster run this ?

Yes it can !
To run this game you’ll need Windows 95 or newer, a 90MHz CPU.
You’ll also need 1MB of video memory and 16MB of RAM, your toaster should run this game fine.

Play it in windowed mode

Since it’s an old game, I highly suggest you to play it in windowed mode. You might encounter some glitches when ALT-TABing or trying to click out of the window to do something with another app whithout having the click be registered.
The workaround is to right click RollerCoaster Tycoon title bar on the windows and then click out of the window.

Obviously ALT-TABing with your keyboard will work just fine.

The worst anti-cheat: GameGuard

Phantasy Star Online 2: The GameGuarding

Update (04/05/2016): It seems that most of the issues don’t occur anymore. It has been like that for a month or two. While I doubt about how effective it is, I know that there are mods that can hook into the game so maybe GameGuard is just being more tolerant on our systems.

GameGuard is often bundled with Free 2 Play games especially when they’re Asian games. But it’s trash.

I play Phantasy Star Online 2 and it’s bundled with it.

What is GameGuard?

GameGuard is produced by nProtect and is supposed to be one of many anti-cheat software.

Its main job is to hide the game’s process. It seems to make sure that some DLL don’t get loaded by the game or any other app.

The issues I experienced

I have experienced a few issues, some have had me reinstall my system and some have just given me headaches.

The issues I had were generally:

  1. No process can be spawned (start menu, desktop icon, run prompt);
  2. No console, such as cmd.exe or cygwin, can be opened;
  3. No process in cygwin can be spawned (could not fork);
  4. GameGuard does not end when the game is closed and I can’t restart the game because GameGuard doesn’t want me to spawn another GameGuard;
  5. Google Chrome doesn’t work;
  6. Can’t reboot (can’t spawn shutdown.exe ?);
  7. My DNS breaking and not accepting domains I don’t have in cache;
  8. Some software will crash when started:
    • Google Chrome;
    • Media Player Classic (CCCP);
    • hexchat.

The list goes on.

Mailing the support

I once contacted the nProtect’s support because my issue was going nowhere. This was the mail I sent:

To: support@nprotect.com
Subject: Issue with GameGuard not closing after game ends

Hi,

I’m currently having an issue with GameGuard for Phantasy Star Online 2 (PSO2). Everytime I play PSO2 and finish I must reboot my computer (sometimes do a hard reboot) because the “GameMon64.des” process does end when the game is closed.

I know it doesn’t end because when I relaunch the game, the new “GameMon64.des” process that was spawned doesn’t hide the game’s or GameGuard’s process and is the only process to not end once I’m greeted with a “np1002” error.

If I try to kill the process I’m notified that I don’t have the required permissions for that (which I do have since I have admin powers).

I have tried deleting the whole GameGuard folder everytime I launch the game and nothing changed.

I’m running Windows 8.1 64bit and Kaspersky.

What can I do to not have anymore issues ?

Thanks.

I never got a response but after a while the issue was gone.

Conclusion

I hate GameGuard, it doesn’t stop cheating and people can still inject DLLs anyway so what’s the point?

I’ll still use it because I have no choice if I want to play PSO2.