Posts by GordonFroman117:
Date Released: September 30th, 2014
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox One], PlayStation 4, PC (Nov. 18th on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3)
Rated: M for Mature
J.R.R. Tolkein’s fictional world of Middle-Earth has spawned many retellings of its spectacular conflicts in other forms of medium like the recent Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. There are video game adaptations based off of the movies that were actually good, and others that build upon the lore. What Shadow of Mordor brings to the universe is a gripping tale of loss and vengeance that follows a linear progression, yet is tailored by the player’s own actions.
Shadow of Mordor takes place between the events of Tolkein’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings where a garrison of soldiers from the Kingdom of Gondor, led by the ranger captain Talion, keeps watch on top of the Black Gate that leads into the land of Mordor. It is until one night that uruk-hai invade and overtake the gate in the dead of night. Before they could escape, Talion and his family are captured by the Black Hand and slain as sacrifices to summon forth a powerful wraith spirit. Unbeknownst to the Black Hand, the wraith’s consciousness was infused into Talion’s, and unto him, the curse of never reuniting with his family in death. This unlikely alliance grants Talion the power to avenge the death of his family and remove the curse that binds them.
Here’s how my first five minutes of playing started: I get acquainted with the controls, I take out a couple of uruks, I think I’m cool for doing so, then I ran into two captains and a towering Graug, which led to me being annihilated. This little disaster led to the introduction of the impressively complex star of this entire game: the Nemesis System. Every time you face against an uruk captain you build up a relation of sorts; whether you defeat him, he escapes, or you die by his hands, that particular captain will remember what transpired. Captains that were defeated and survive will seek you out for a rematch, bearing the scars of your last encounter, however, if one were to successfully kill you, they will becoming more powerful and harder to kill.
Shadow of Mordor doesn’t mess around; you will be killed if you act haphazardly and contemplating fights beforehand is instrumental in successfully taking out your target. Each uruk captain has a list of strengths and weaknesses that you can exploit. Learning their weaknesses and identities require you to interrogate fellow captains or “worms” that will spill the beans when pressured. Even with the knowledge of an uruks weakness, they make up for it by having a larger list of strength can lessen or negate an attack’s effectiveness or send them into a frenzied state when a certain requisite is met, like seeing specific monsters or being close to death. Killing is pretty much the central activity here, no matter what mission you do, but the Nemesis system brings unique encounters into the mix that will dramatically change the flow of a fight whenever a captain makes an appearance.
Being highly influenced by the combat of the Batman: Arkham series and the parkour exploration of Assassin’s creed, these two elements lend themselves to provide a basis that functions and controls extremely well. It the extensive upgrade system that will open a plethora of possible abilities and powers used to meet any challenge you may face. On top of that, you can increase your own stats to take more damage or carry more arrows at one time, or place runes on your weapon that provides passive ability that could help turn the tide of battle if you’re in a tight spot. Learning how to time your attacks and counters is easy enough to grasp, but as the enemy numbers increase and use different tactics against Talion, so too will players have to adapt and learn more movesets – in short, Shadow of Mordor is not for casual players that don’t take the time to master what is actually necessary to stay alive.
The Land of Middle-Earth is a stretch of lush plains and tall distant mountain that beautifully captures Tolkein’s fantasy world. More impressive is the uruks themselves; there is such a variety to the character models that I can’t recall if I even came across two that looked the same. Even the weather effects look good, ridiculously more so for the fact that this is the first time that I can say that I’ve ever seen hail in a game! Talented voice actor Troy Baker lends his talents as Talion, bringing in a wide range of emotions that actually comes across as genuine. The opening scenes highlight this and made me honestly upset and saddened at how Talion lost his family with equally great performances by Laura Bailey as Ioreth, Talion’s wife, and Jack Quid as Dirhael, his son.
Shadow of Mordor is a satisfying experience from its kinetic and brutal combat to its challenging gameplay. Monolith even went so far as to work with Middle-earth Enterprises, Peter Jackson, and the artists at Weta Workshop to make sure that every aspect of the game aligned within the canon. Regardless of the considerably darker and singular tone of revenge (not saying that’s a bad thing, it’s quite fitting to the overall lore) the story takes a steep dive and almost ruined the game for me, almost. Shadow of Moror in the end is a triumph as a Lord of the Rings game that must be experienced and I hope to see more installments in the series implement the revolutionary Nemesis system.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Game Reviewed: Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
Date Released: September 30th, 2014
Developer: Arc System Works
Platform: [Reviewed: PlayStation 3], Xbox 360
Rated: M for Mature
Persona, which derives from Megami Tensei, is a very popular RPG series that’s been praised for its story arcs, and battle systems. But when you take Persona and turn it into a fighting game, the result is a surprisingly great fighter that received critical and fan praise. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax isn’t just an expansion to Arena, but a proper sequel which improves upon the original and offers plenty for diehard Persona fans and fighting enthusiasts.
Ultimax is a direct sequel taking place just a week after the events of Persona 4 Arena. Now for those who didn’t play the original, the game recaps the events of the previous game. The story is definitely the most content-rich, featuring two stories from the perspectives of the Persona 3 and 4 cast, a new antagonist, 8 new characters to fight as, and even the good old “true” ending unlock. For fans that love Persona to death, you get to catch up with old favorites and see what they’ve been up to. The flip-side is that there tends to be a lot of dialog (in a game based of an RPG granted), so there will be a lot of reading for a game that is supposed to get you into the action.
Just like any decent fighting game there has to be a balance of everything in addition to having it accessible to newcomers. Ultimax has found that balance. Players who just want to jump into the fray can easily do so; one button combos and a basic understanding of the controls guarantees a grand time, but if you need to get in some practice, a tutorial mode can be accessed at any time.
For you hardcore fighters out there, there are various special moves and combos to master. A couple of new features add a level of risk and reward; the new S-Hold system allows players to power up their attacks at the risk of leaving themselves vulnerable. Perhaps the biggest game-changer is the Shadow Types ability; with a weakened normal attack, lacking defense, and a different moveset, the Shadow ability is not to be used casually. However, implemented correctly and you can end a round in seconds; SP is kept throughout multiple rounds and players are granted the Shadow Rampage ability which gives your character infinite SP for a short duration.
The hand-drawn animations in both the cutscenes and in gameplay keep true to the essence of Persona. Each stage’s backdrop is lively and vibrant, yet plays second fiddle to the clashing of contestants that light up the screen with combos and finishers.
Ultimax does everything a fighter should strive to accomplish: engaging and engrossing gameplay that is fun for first-timers and satisfying for seasoned fighters, great personality that makes each character feel unique, and improves upon what made the original Arena a stellar game. If you’re looking for a good fight, you found one.
Overall Rating: 4.25/5
Date Released: August 9th, 2014
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox One], Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3
Genre: MMOFPRPS (Massively Multiplayer Online First-Person Role-Playing Shooter)
Rated: T for Teen
I know what you guys are thinking, and yes I know that it’s been over two weeks since Destiny has come out. So why am I just getting now putting out this review? Well, I was playing it this whole time, but in large part, I was having difficulties reviewing it. I’m a huge fan of Bungie and I have played every single Halo title, but Destiny is truly something that has yet to be tackled in a FPS. It’s a first-person shooter at its core, yet it’s designed like a MMO and progresses like a RPG, hence the ridiculously convoluted genre description I made up. While Destiny falls victim to some of the tropes of the genres it borrows from, there is also an undeniable addictiveness to it, and the more you play the more hooked you become.
In the far distant future humanity is visited by a large, spherical, and benevolent entity simply known as The Traveler. His arrival brings unparalleled prosperity to humanity, granting us advanced intelligence, elongated life, and the ability to explore beyond earth and colonize planets previously uninhabitable. It was the Golden Age of humanity and with it, our destiny to live amongst the stars. But then, at the peak of the Golden Age, a horrific entity known as The Darkness who has been looking for The Traveler, wages an all-out war on humanity.
The power of The Darkness nearly wipes out every human in the solar system, but with The Traveler’s last ounce of strength, he protects the last remnants of survivors and wards off The Darkness. This war however brings about The Collapse and mankind is forced to live in the protective shadow of an incapacitated Traveler in The Last City on Earth. Many years later, a sentient A.I. discovers and resurrects your long-dead body. This Ghost believes that you can wield The Traveler’s Light against The Darkness’ forces and help stop its impending return as a Guardian of Earth.
As awesome as the backstory is, the main story missions don’t receive the same level of creativity, nor does it really get you invested into the drama behind Earth’s struggle for survival. Destiny may provide you bare-bones basics, but a compelling narrative that does not make. I then look at it as an MMO rather than a shooter, which makes me want to be a little lenient because the stories aren’t all that great in most others, but at least you know backstories, character histories, faction histories, etc. In Destiny you collect Grimoire cards throughout your travels, and once you have obtained a card you can go on Bungie.net to look at them and read up on more of the lore of Destiny. It’s a pretty nifty feature, but I have a small problem with this, which I will get back to later. Destiny has a rich lore full of potential; I know this is the first of a new series, but going with the vaguely ambiguous route is kind of disappointing, especially when know that crazy, complex, and larger-than-life stories is Bungie’s forte. I have no doubt that it will reach those levels in the future, but it does not show here in the main story missions.
However, where the game falls flat on story, it makes up with good old fashioned terrific level design, gameplay, and enemy A.I. These three elements are definitely what I expected from Bungie and more. While you will be visiting the same locations often, the design of each is so well designed that different missions that take place always feels fresh. Don’t even get me started on the enemies of the game! There are 4 alien races that use the power of The Darkness against you: The Fallen, The Hive, The Vex, and The Cabal. Each race has unique tactics that they employ, like the bulky, highly militarized Cabal who rely on heavy armor and weaponry to overpower their opponents. The robotic Vex uses their sheer numbers to overwhelm careless Guardians, stacked with no fear of death, The Vex is the perhaps a Guardians worst nightmare.
As a Guardian you have powers at your disposal to drive back The Darkness. Starting off, you can choose one of three main classes: Titan, Hunter, and a Warlock. You’re equipped with basic gear which you can replace with higher level armors and weapons as your level up. Each level achieved unlocks abilities in your subclass unique to your class like forming a protective shield around you or tossing a ball of void energy for a devastating ranged attack. These abilities are called Supers and using them in tandem with other Guardians abilities or deploying it at the right time is paramount to success, more so when you tackle harder missions. Higher level weapons and armor can also be upgraded to increase damage output and other useful abilities; if you’re particularly fond of a weapon you can stack the effect with an armor piece that makes you nearly unstoppable with it. Increased magazine size with blinding fast reload speed anyone?!
The level cap for Destiny is 20 and I know that seems a bit low as it is as it’s pretty easy to reach in one play through of the main game. But there is a level beyond 20 that isn’t achieved with experience points, but with Light ratings on Legendary or the coveted Exotic gear. Once you reach level 20 new game modes will be unlocked that will put your skills to the test. Another problem arises being part MMO is that grinding is required of you to continue unlocking new gear and subclass abilities. But this is where the addictiveness kicks in; finding new armor with higher and better stats and passive abilities is like early Christmas and once you get loot fever it’s hard to stop. A sense of worth is developed and you find that the time invested in your character as you look upon them donning Legendary and Exotic gear is so satisfying. It’s that need to keep improving that will keep you coming back for more. Come for the gameplay, stay for the cool helmet with flames for horn!
Destiny is and online-only title, which right off the bat presents a problem for some. If that’s not a problem, you are introduced to the very first social first-person shooter. Guardians all gather at The Tower, the main central hub where you can take and complete bounties, encrypt engrams found on the frontier, collect rewards, talk to the multiple vendors to purchase new weapons and armor, and interact with other Guardian. Now being online-only just begs Destiny to be played with friends, and of course there is a feature to have you and your friends form a group, or a clan, to face The Darkness as a (hopefully) well regulated fireteam. Now if you can recall, I have small problem with the aforementioned Grimoire cards, and starting a clan is in the same boat – they both require you to go to Bungie.net. Why must you bury cool features like this within the website and not have it integrated within the game itself?! I rarely see an actual member of a clan playing so it’s a shame to see this feature underused, especially when bonus rewards are granted to those who play with their clanmates.
Regardless, you are not required to be in a clan to play co-op or join a fireteam. Destiny was made for cooperative play and having two other players on your team definitely is a nice balance to the game’s difficulty, especially when tackling its three other modes of play: Strikes, Raids, and the Crucible. Strikes are essentially longer missions that have you squaring off against one or more bosses, who can easily be identified by finding the biggest and most intimidating enemy in the room whose health goes down ridiculously slow. Raids is a testament to one’s own skill as much as it’s about their communication with 5 other players. Only those who can work together efficiently can hope to overcome a single Raid.
The Crucible is Destiny’s competitive multiplayer where Guardians can test their mettle in several game modes, such as classic team and free-for all death matches, and control where you must capture three zones on a map to score points. No matter how powerful you are in the “single-player” portion of the game, in the Crucible everything is balanced out including your weapons and armor, for the most part. This balance makes each bout a contest of skill and every round is high-octane action that will have you going in all-focus mode, though having those armors that grant passive abilities help too. And this means that newcomers that are joining higher level opponents can still have fun. There are instances where some Supers are better than others. The Hunter’s second subclass has them pulling out a knife and with increased speed, armor, and insta-kill attack, he can potentially annihilate the opposing team in an instant. Talk about overpowered.
There has been more than one time when Destiny’s stunning visuals left me utterly speechless. From expansive horizons on Earth to the towering volcanos on Venus, the distant future is beautifully captured. Hell, the moment you reach Venus, a now highly-volatile planet, is when you get that sense of wonder. A future where you get to walk on a vegetative Venus is insane! It is when your reach the final story mission is where the most amazing view can be witnessed, in context with what is it and where it is, it is a grand sight to behold.
Destiny tries to be multiple things at once and it succeeds in most regards. Bungie has two decades under their belt with the first-person genre, and it shines through with tight responsive controls that I believe is still unmatched today. Though the RPG element are pretty light, interacting with Guardians in and outside The Tower gives you a sense of community, rather than just it being every man and woman for themselves. Destiny becomes more fun as you continue to invest into your character and unlock new gear, which in turn, unveils the surprising depth that is only apparent when you play beyond level 20. There’s plenty that Destiny could’ve worked on, but with new events going on like The Queen’s Wrath and others that will come in the future, you’re guaranteed to keep coming back for more well into 2015. And for a first entry in a brand new IP that simultaneously creates a new subgenre, that’s what I call paving the way toward destiny.
Overall Rating: 4.25/5
Two brand new Persona Q trailers are now here for your viewing pleasure. These two trailers focus on Persona 3’s stoic Shinjiro Aragaki and Persona 4’s prim and proper Yukiko Amagi.
Yukiko excels in party support as she uses ranged fan attacks and heals injured teammates with spell from her Persona, Konohana Sakuya. As useful as Yukiko is, her frailty will have players finding the right sub-persona to complement her low HP.
Unlike our ranged spell user, Shinjiro Aragaki is a strong, front-line brawler that punishes his enemies with a giant hammer. Shinjiro’s power is further amplified by his Persona, Castor, who delivers devastating physical attacks.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is coming exclusively to the Nintendo 3DS on November 25th.
The battle for dominance continues in IMC Rising, the latest DLC add-on for Respawn Entertainment’s critically-acclaimed first-person shooter, Titanfall. IMC Rising introduces three new maps, including the hidden colony of Backwater, a covert robotics facility in Zone 18, and the secret fuel extraction site of Sandtrap (below).
Titanfall: IMC Rising can be purchased individually for $9.99 (£7.99), available now on Xbox One and Origin on PC. If you don’t have any of the DLC already, look for the complete Titanfall package with the Titanfall Season Pass, which includes all three DLC: Expedition, Frontier’s Pass, and IMC Rising, all for $24.99 (£19.99). The Xbox 360 version of IMC Rising will come at a later date.
Wizard World Austin attendees, two WWE Legends will be making an appearance next month at the Austin Convention Center! WWE Legend The Undertaker® and WWE Diva Paige™ will pose for photo opportunities and sign autographs, with Paige having and interactive Q&A panel.
These two superstars have stomped the competition and climbed their way to legendary status. It’s exciting to get a chance to meet some of your favorite stars, but don’t be surprised if you’re going to have to show some fool some of your own wrasslin’ moves to see them first. Instead, visit http://www.wizardworld.com/home-tx.html to purchase tickets to see The Undertaker®, Paige™, and other stars like The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus.
Wizard World Austin Comic Con starts on October 2nd through the 4th.
Take a trip through Victorian era London with Detective Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. John Watson in the latest launch trailer, showcasing the theme and mechanics you’ll use to deduce crimes scenes in this new investigation game by Frogwares
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishment looks to me like L.A. Noire on steroids; you not only take subtle hints from your potential suspect, but also take note on their attire or any items of interest they may be carrying on their person. It’s always fun to have a challenging mystery on your hands to solve. Luckily, Sherlock Holmes is on the case, and his skill and your wit, you can get the job done.
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishment releases on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC on September 30th.
The myth-weaving RPG from Kitfox Games titled “Moon Hunters” has been successfully kickstarted, now they plan on bringing the game to both PlayStation 4 and PC. Including the goal of getting the funding they needed, Kitfox have also achieved 5 other stretch goals, including a new faction, a new playable class, and a new cooking module. The most recent goal added is a cooperative multiplayer for PC gamers.
“The past couple of weeks have been really amazing, and all of us at Kitfox would like to thank the community for their support,” said Tanya Short, lead designer on Moon Hunters. “It’s been pretty overwhelming, but we’re super-excited we can afford to work on our dream game!”
The Kitfox team has now added a range of new stretch goals, including pet familiars, another friendly faction, a PlayStation Vita version of the game and localization into French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.
American fans of Persona rejoice, Nintendo of America will release the Persona Q 3DS XL Edition hardware stateside! As you can see in the image below, the design evokes the essence of Persona Q with the iconic Grimoire styling on the front and new character designs on the back
Persona Q is the first Persona game for the Nintendo 3DS and takes the beloved characters from Persona 3 and 4, putting them into an all-new adventure. The game is in the style of Etrian Odyssey, where teams of five will navigate dungeons in a first-person view. New characters, enemies, the presence of Etrian Odyssey’s FOEs will give players all new challenges.
For fans who have pre-ordered Persona Q or the Premium Edition, the Persona Q 3DS XL will be sold as hardware only so there is no need to worry about getting the game twice or missing out on the bonus goods included in both versions. Available in limited quantities, the Persona Q 3DS XL will be sold exclusively at GameStop retailers for the retail price of$199.99 and will release on November 25th, 2014
Date Released: September 2nd, 2014
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Life Simulation
Rated: T for Teen
The Sims isn’t quite my cup of tea, but sure enough, once I get into it I can’t help but get into all sorts of crazy antics with a small, digital version of myself. The appeal of The Sims comes from the possibilities that it provides – create entire lineages that spans generations or re-create famous structures. This installment focuses on the Sims themselves as they can now do more at once and are more expressive, but in turn, this focus took away from the content in the game.
Creating your Sims is tons of fun. Create yourself, create your friends, and create anomalies of impossible physical proportions! The robust tools used to make your Sims can have you spending a good 30 minutes tinkering around to get things just right. Once you’re ready you can start out in whatever neighborhood you wish and begin building your new home. A small nuisance comes in waves of tips and tutorials; they become tedious and intrusive when you want to get things moving, more so for players who already know their way around a Sims game.
Highlighting your new expressive Sims is the emotion system; Sims will have new options available to them depending on what mood they’re in like new dialogue or actions. But at times these options can be downright dumb. Why would I need to take an angry poop?! As cool as it is to see the many diverse emotions your Sims will go through, they can go completely bi-polar in a moment’s notice.
Basic needs make their return, but the bar this time depletes much slower, giving you ample opportunities to build up skills. With repetition you become more adept in whatever activity your Sims enjoys. Learning instruments is perhaps the most hilarious; you start off smacking random keys on a piano to becoming a modern day Mozart. You can hear the difference in how your Sims plays, and I found that really cool.
What I believe really sets The Sims 4 apart from its older siblings is the ability to finally multi-task! Never again must you have to completely stop what you’re doing to perform one redundant task. Now your Sims may engage in conversation while enjoying a meal or even eat cereal while watching T.V. As small of an addition multitasking is, it really adds a lot to make your Sims behave in unbelievably realistic ways.
The Gallery makes creating more enticing as now you can create anything you wish and have other players download your creations. You can also search other’s creations to add into your own world if you don’t really have the time to make the Taj Mahal or other intricate buildings.
Where this game stumbles is when you take the time to realize that the offerings in The Sims 4 are missing a hefty amount of features compared to The Sims 3. We may have more intelligent Sims, but the world feels empty – from The Sims 3’s simulated neighborhoods to not being able to walk around one at all is a bit disheartening. Most of the activities can be done in the confines of your home, making your world so much smaller, and “life simulation” loses some of its meaning.
Obviously many expansion packs will add tons of new content and features to The Sims 4 in the future, but having to rely on future add-ons is worrisome. Don’t get me wrong, The Sims 4 as it stands now is hours of fun waiting to be had and the new implementations that Maxis added to the game really change how The Sims will be played in the future. But while focusing on what’s happening in the inside of the Sims lives, Maxis missed out on the bigger picture of what makes The Sims a great life simulation game. Sims 4 is a decent foundation for the rest of the expansions to build upon, but right now, by itself, the series took one step forward and two steps back.
Overall Rating: 3.75/5