Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Injustice: Gods Among Us Impressions

Amazingly I bought a game for $60, in appreciation of Netherealm's previous efforts in MK vs DC (okay) and MK9 (awesome); and the community is fairly enjoyable for the time being. I imagine it'll grow tiresome within a month or two, but until then I shall enjoy myself immensely. To quote myself (from a forum post):

Speaking of Se... err Lex, I went like 26-12 in ranked matches including a 10 streak, sadly after the 9th win I had a player disconnect upon joining a match (not midmatch just in the joining phase, even prior to reaching the character select) and that somehow broke the streak. Lex's charge/air charge is a noob killer and that seems to be a majority of players, there's noobs, crappy deathstroke users (3-3 sadly, Lex isn't great against the stroke), people that have clearly been playing the game for 50+ hours, and a few average guys like me. It's also not too hard to combo into Lex's super with some triangle juggling.

I did run up against a 100-40 guy that I destroyed though so who knows. As far as fighting games go I play extremely smart but I have little or no interest in memorizing extended button sequences so I'll be good for a while here until people start dishing out longass combos one after the other (Superman seems to have a ridiculous one for starters). I also went up against a dude who was 160 and 40 with 100 disconnects, kicked his ass twice and he d/c'd both times, I guess it's nice that it shows the number but his rating was still like 1650 (no clue what mine is thanks to the presently broken player card system, at least for checking your own), one of those times was mid streak but it didn't break the streak nicely enough.

After that I went and got the King of the Hill trophy, and wonder of wonders this game actually has intelligently designed trophies so more than 0.5% of the playerbase will be able to 100% it! No ridiculous combo challenges as far as I know (though difficult challenge tower stuff instead, way more interesting) and no ranked streak trophies (but you do get ingame rewards for doing so). I went 10-0 without a sliver of challenge in the room I was in but people started asking me to switch characters so swapped to Wonder Woman and promptly lost to a horrible player; couldn't remember her moves only the square square triangle lasso whip combo of doom for beating the demo on hard.

Turns out there's a 25 streak reward which I could've gotten I imagine but will be tough to get a few weeks in the future; damnable niceness (albeit this saved me having to sit in that room for another 30 minutes). There's separate ones for ranked/KoH/player match streaks, but KoH and player match overlap. Ranked 25 I've got some mild chance of getting for about a week and then that's all over.
Good lex maneuvers: Jump in heavy, back forward heavy still in midair, or jump in heavy, ground heavy, back forward heavy (or down back heavy). Lex's air charge will hit ground targets unless its at the peak of the jump, though this does make it easy to get hit with fast projectiles as well.

For deathstroke it depends how good the guy is really, have to get in close where you can mostly dominate but have to be wary of the spinny sword retarded shit, if he spams nonstop then duck low until he starts doing low shots; then jump and do an air charge and repeat as necessary until you're on top of him, trying not to get blocked. If the guy's great (unlikely) then you'll probably lose but the same could be said for every other character.

What makes this game great relative to MK9 is there are very few "stun" moves; which really hamstrung non Scorpion/Sub-Zero et al users and made it very unappealing to play with them, near as I can tell the only stuns are environmental or things that burn super meter. Personally I find R2 + button to be terrible to reach for doing EX moves so I rarely do them; but doing the super itself isn't too bad and is generally worth saving for at least for Lex. Out of 50ish matches I saw a grand total of zero stage transitions, if that gives you an idea of how obfuscated and difficult to pull off those moves are; plenty of R1 chucking stuff though. Beating the demo (4 fights) on Very Hard took 2 hours, beating a whole bunch of random people 35 times took less, and I was able to bring even the pre-release combo champions down a round for the most part.

If anyone wants to spar on PS3 let me know, PSN is Valgresas; would be interested in getting good at someone other than Luthor after 100 wins; won't take too long at this rate.

(Another forum post)

Ended the day at 50-18, guess mid game DC's do count. Only had one mirror match, Lex seems like a top 5 character though so wonder when that'll change. Lex vs Green Arrow is an incredible amount of fun since Green Arrow's projectiles aren't instantaneous but still generally powerful and Lex is excellent at closing the distance. I've seen a fair number of Aquaman projectile spammers even though his strength seems to be up close, they're mostly terrible but I thought it odd. Rating is at 1502, the disconnect champion I was talking about earlier is number 5 on the leaderboard, 240-40 but it doesn't list his D/Cs, not entirely clear how D/Cs affect anything considering, but I guess technically I can say I beat a top 5 player twice, even though he sucked.

A really good Green Arrow that was 200-40 was the best match all day. I've played 4 or 5 of the top 20 players, only about half of them seem to know bullshit combos due to pre-release nonsense, the rest are pretty legit. After a bunch of relatively easy matches earlier I had a lot of close calls that were tons of fun to end the day.

(Yet another forum post)

Almost up to 100 wins with Lex now, one of the first in the world based on how few Lex players there are, still just the one mirror match. Only Killer Frost seems more unpopular somehow. Ordinarily a character having tits is enough to make them at least vaguely popular in any multiplayer game but huge props to the Injustice community for shunning Catwoman and Killer Frost, and even though Raven is a bit overpowered she's pretty rare too. Probably switching to Frost for player matches after Luthor, she has the best on demand projectile in terms of damage though there's no EX version, somewhat limited moveset but certainly seems to be a decent character, granted Lex is way better but evidently no one likes his sexiness yet.

Got another 10 ranked streak, this time appropriately rewarded and I think the little icon you get for it is one of the best I've seen so get it while you can gents, will be a tough one in a month or two. Projectile spammers appear to be about 20% of the playerbase, if all of those were Deathstrokes that'd be an issue but it's varied; the only character that seems thoughtfully designed from a pure projectile perspective is Green Arrow, rest just spam the same couple of moves over and over; granted I'd almost prefer it if there were no projectiles but this is a fighting game after all.

Superman and Aquaman appear to be the best two characters, and Superman spammers are probably the most annoying, Lex is probably 4th or 5th due to how incredible his air-charge is. If you want to expedite matches using the environment Watchtower's main area seems to be the most reliable source of things to chuck on a regular basis, particularly if you start on the left and gradually move to the right as the match goes on. I had a 4 streak and a 7 streak in survivor mode but for some reason the leaderboard recorded it as an 11 streak with 1 loss, hurray. That's probably the most fun if you're playing against average players and you're competent, not quite as stifling to them, they can't bitch at you for not switching characters (you can't), and there's always a chance they take you out over the course of a few rounds or you die to too many environment hits or something.

In other news I completed the tutorial and did a few stage transitions! Batman is the most popular character by far though not really annoying in any way so I don't have a problem with that, Green Lantern is second and he has that lame instagrab at range, but aside from that not a particularly annoying character. Joker, Superman, and Deathstroke round out the top 5, but fighting 8 or 9 Deathstrokes out of 120ish matches isn't that bad, he's no Ken/Wesker/Scorpion. Superman is not as overpowered as he was in MK vs DC but probably still slightly better than Aquaman.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Innocence and Innocents

Amid working at an extraordinarily efficient pace in my new job I've had the opportunity to return to that old mainstay, Three Kingdoms, perhaps the finest novel ever written (and one of the first). In view of this and a question asked of me recently I paraphrase a tale from the novel. Cao Cao on the run from the tyrant Dong Zhuo is forced to seek aid from a family friend. He is accompanied by Lu Bu's eventual strategist Chen Gong, an extremely honorable man.

Suspicious of their host Cao Cao investigates a nearby barn where 8 innocent civilians are preparing a feast for him and his companion; but thinking them a murderous party they act impulsively and slay the 8 civilians. On the way out from this calamitous event they meet their host on the road; Cao Cao insists he must leave at once, but then retreads upon the host and slays him as well; so that the word might not get out of the previous atrocity committed. Cao Cao is certainly at a vulnerable state in this point and the move is tactically sound in the vein of self preservation; he even states "Better to wrong the world then have it wrong me." The duality of these 2 events; one an accident and the other wholly intentional is incredible. While the first act was terrible it wasn't premeditated, but the later act of killing his host is a deliberate action to murder an innocent in order to save one's self. These are but 5 pages from a 2400 page book, filled with riveting tales of the same ilk; but yet they resonate even today.

My question is: Is there a point at which killing an innocent civilian in secret to save yourself is good enough for society to be justified? By John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism any action must be considered based on the amount of happiness that it will produce; can the disruption of your personal character, cognitive dissonance, and guilt alongside the death of the innocent be countered by the later societal impact of your demise. If you're say Alexander at his peak, or Bonaparte, or Hannibal and your death would throw your nation into chaos; can you justify this act? In the future you save millions of civilians; is the loss of one innocent and your personal innocence enough to negate that action?

Personally I value the lives of innocents above all else so it would take quite the thing; the first impulsive act I would likely have never performed; preferring to outwit the ambush at the point of attack rather than act uncertainly upon potential benefactors. But the second act is what gives me pause. 1 life or millions; what is the choice, how much happiness is lost, how much is your salvation worth, how much is the world's salvation worth? Indeed the Messiah himself may have thought of such things, both literally and figuratively. An inversion of his ultimate sacrifice. Can another's unwitting forced sacrifice save the world, as it were? Is it ever worth considering such an action?

The eventual end here is probabilistic. What is the expected value of your death upon society, what is the expected value of your loss of afterlife and the loss of the civilian; assuming that is the highest cost to be paid here? Naturally for everyone alive in almost the past 2 centuries it would not ever reach that level; but in the past there have been such men who were in pre-eminent positions. Cao Cao himself would eventually be in such a position; but at that point in his life it was not clear and the act is extremely selfish. Can one selflessly preserve one's self for the betterment of society through a single horrific action? Certainly a lofty thought experiment this; and something to consider. Justice is not so convenient as to align perfectly with morality; even in the absence of a flawed judicial system; it is naive to think you can prevent your own corruption, your own moral depreciation; speaking as a person of the highest moral standard. Deterioration is inevitable; though never unforgivable as Barabas and Christ's companion on the cross would point out; but could you forgive yourself for such a cold, calculated act? Questions without answers these; eternally pondered yet not solved. Yet.