Posts by GordonFroman117:
I’ve made a statement about developers remastering games before – about the more recent games to be exact. Games like Tomb Raider or The Last of Us really didn’t need remastered editions; as good as the games are there isn’t any significant difference between the two besides a small boost in fidelity. But where I think other remastered titles are lazy and mostly unwarranted, Halo: The Master Chief Collection destroys what is to be expected and is a prime example of remastered games done right.
500 years from now, humanity will make contact with a hostile alliance of alien species known as The Covenant. In their eyes humanity is an abhorrent, blasphemous presence that mocks their holy “Great Journey”, and so they wage an all-out war to annihilate all of human-kind. Luckily for us, a group of super soldier known as Spartans, fight alongside our marines to hold back the Covenant onslaught. But one after another, setback after setback, our worlds fall. As the Master Chief, the last surviving Spartan-II, you will fight back against the Covenant and stumble across an ancient ring-like world that houses a terrible threat.
Halo always had great gameplay with smart enemy A.I., but let’s go over all the new stuff that The Master Chief Collection adds. First is the user interface when you fire up the game; Ever Halo game, every level, and every multiplayer map can be accessed at any moment you want. Want to jump straight to Halo 3? Done. Want to play a specific level on Halo: CE Anniversary? Go ahead. Want to play all of the levels that contain warthogs in them? Santa read your wishlist! You can relive all of the Master Chief’s adventures, or experience it for the first time, in any which way you want and for folks like me, playing every Halo back-to-back is absolute joy.
Multiplayer is absolutely bananas. The Master Chief Collection has over 100 multiplayer maps; every multiplayer map from every numerical Halo title is here, including all the downloadable maps. For long-time fans, we can experience Halo: CE and Halo 2 multiplayer exactly as we remember them; all but six of the maps included are running their original engines and the other six have are select Halo 2 maps that have been remastered for Halo 2’s 10th year anniversary.
Instead of doing a ranking system where you gain rank by experience points, The Master Chief Collection uses the skill-based Halo 2 ranking system where the better you do the higher your rank is. But as of this review some game modes have been removed to help some players experiencing matchmaking problems. I’ve run across some issues, but the update did help improve matchmaking and I have been able to play several matches. Getting back into the arena-style multiplayer of Halo: CE and Halo 2 is a blast to play again. Maps like Battle Creek and Ascension is the standard at which I hold other multiplayer maps to – they are just that good. Plus, co-op can be local or online, so you can your friends can tackle Legendary difficulty while going through every mission if you’re crazy enough and have the time.
The biggest and most impressive change in this package is Halo 2’s completely revamped campaign. Where Halo: CE Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4’s campaign have been touched up to boast higher resolution, small tweaks, 60 frames per second, and new lighting effects, Halo 2 in its entirety has been reworked with a powerful new engine that makes the game seem like a whole new experience. Following Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori’s beautiful score, the re-vamped composition adds to the power that the score wields, making it more predominant than the remastered visuals at times. And instead of just settling on remaking the cinematics using the already great looking in-game engine, 343 brought onboard Blur Studio to recreate every cinematic, and they are simply the best looking cinematics I’ve ever seen in a game – it’s like watching a live action short, but all of it is animated in 3D.
Never before have we seen a collection like this. Four complete titles, dozens of playlists, over 100 multiplayer maps, smart and intuitive U.I. that links everything together, Forge mode for Halo 2, 3, and 4, the Halo: Nightfall live-action digital series, and access to the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta in December – all of this in one disk. As monumental as the changes are, the core gameplay goes untouched, and that’s for the better; Halo’s gameplay is phenomenal as it stands and still hosts some of the most epic moments and threatening enemies in gaming.
With that being said, it suffers from some of the series’ past problems like inept companion AIs, and the current problems involving connectivity issues with online matchmaking. Ultimately, this is a must have title for any Xbox One owner. You will not find a better collection that is as filled to the brim with literally years worth of content than The Master Chief Collection and you can experience it however you want. Halo: The Master Chief Collection puts all other “remastered” or “definitive” editions to shame.
Overall Score: 4.75/5
Insomniac Games is the team responsible for some of Sony’s most iconic flagship series like Spyro the Dragon (may he rest in peace), Ratchet & Clank, and Resistance. In an unexpected turn of events however, Insomniac has set its sights on Microsoft’s next-gen console to release their new IP, Sunset Overdrive. True to form, it contains all of Insomniac’s wacky humor and fun factor while letting players jump, grind, and swing across a city overrun with bright orange mutants who drank too energy drinks.
Sunset City is the launch site for Fizzco’s newest overhyped energy drink, OverCharge Delirium XT, and to celebrate they host a huge party for all to try their not-at-all flawed drink. But unfortunately for our partygoers the drink is contaminated and sends them into convulsing fits and mutates them in to grotesque mutants called ODs (OverCharge Drinkers). But an unlikely hero with an uncanny ability to parkour like nobody’s business makes it out and bands together with groups of survivors to stand against the OD and uncover if Fizzco plans to order a massive recall of OverCharge.
Now that normal life is for the birds in Sunset City, players can choose who they want to be in the awesomepocalypse. Mix, match, and customize your own personal hero who will save the day and dress them in whatever attire suits you. Once that’s done, get ready to jump right into the action. The tutorial will lay down the rudimentary skills necessary to survive, which is to keep grinding and jumping; not only are you faster off the ground, you are more agile and harder to hit. ,You’ll be doing this a lot in the game, and Insomniac made sure that this will be the most fun you will ever have.
Everything around you is traversable and going from a grind to bouncing off cars into a wall run is the kind crazy action that puts quick time events to shame since it is you that’s doing all of this instead of just button prompts. Pulling off these feats is actually easy to learn; once you get enough practice in, you’ll go place to place without touching the ground once. And even when I unlocked the fast travel option, I still wanted to grind my way to my next mission, and that is a true testament of gameplay done right.
But using the city as your own personal playground isn’t the only fun thing to do; blasting baddies is just as amusing, and it’s simply not an Insomniac Games without using some imaginative weaponry. Choose up to eight weapons to maximize destruction as each one have varying stats and is more or less effective depending on which enemies you use them on. The more you use a weapon the stronger it becomes, so choose your favorites and max out your arsenal to dominate the killing field.
If that’s not enough customization for you, then wait until you’re awarded some medals. Medals are awarded once you have reached a certain milestone with a particular skill, whether it’d be killing with a class of weapon, grinding, bouncing, or putting down some enemies. Once you have enough medals for any category, you can use them as a kind of currency to unlock passive abilities called Overdrives that can increase damage on a certain class of weapons or decreased the damage you take. Speaking of currency, there are three types to look out for in your journey to save the city: normal cash, OverCharge cans, and the collectibles around the city. Cash can buy you new clothes to wear, OverCharge can be exchanged for weapons and ammo, and the stinky shoes and toilet paper you pick up are used to create something called Amps.
The absent-minded scientist named Floyd may not be entirely there most of the time, but he’s a genius when it comes to making Amps. Amps are offensive passive abilities that are activated when players have enough Style. I’ll get to that in a bit, but to get amps, one must collect enough supplies to create them. Once you do, you will need to protect a couple of vats in a nighttime defense mode. Lay some traps strategically and stop the OD from getting to your precious vats to be rewarded with new Amps when time runs out.
You can get Amps for your weapons that grant greater offensive capabilities like summoning Death that kills more enemies for you, and then you can get Amps to equip to your character. The difference with these is that you can only use them when you have enough Style. Chain together kills and skills to build up Style (indicated by a lightning bolt on the top right of the screen) to unleash your Amps and the more style you have the more Amp abilities you can use at once.
It took me a good 15 hours to finish this chaotic romp, and that doesn’t include all of the collectibles and side-missions that are also available. There are tons of missions to take, challenges to test your skill, a colorful cast of characters to meet, and gaming clichés to make fun of, despite our hero being aware of indulging in a few his/herself. And while most mission are nothing more than either killing, collecting, or night-time tower defense segments, they toss in a bit of variety into each mission, stacked with the stellar gameplay mechanics, every single moment from beginning to end is pure unadulterated fun.
Wish you had friends to play with, yet you don’t have any? Chaos Squad is Sunset Overdrive’s version of cooperative multiplayer that sets you up with up to 7 people to take on various tasks across the city. Every session ends with the nighttime defense segment where even more OD than usual will overwhelm you and you posse. You must rack up the kills and points to unlock 1 to 5 rewards; the better you do, the more rewards you unlock at the end of your session, and any rewards you earn in Chaos Squad can be used in the single player portion of the game!
Sunset Overdrive is punk-centric in both its presentation and in its tunes of choice. The city is large and feels alive with bright, electrifying colors that really pop out. The punk soundtrack has you banging your head to catchy tunes that complements the fast pace of the game perfectly. There are instances of the music cutting off for no reason and some sounds were not audible when they should’ve been. It wasn’t too prevalent, but I noticed that the music sometimes remains quiet when mayhem is flooding the screen.
I don’t think people were expecting such an excellent Xbox One exclusive from a developer who has worked with Sony for a large portion of its existence. But now Xbox One owners get to play one of the finest games that they have made to date. Sunset Overdrive is full of high-flying action, crazy weapons, and self-aware jokes that takes the idea that next-gen is all about power and Old Yellers it. Even if there isn’t that much in terms of mission variety, the gameplay, fun, and stylized visuals make Sunset Overdrive one of the better, if not the best overall exclusive of 2014.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Date Released: October 14th, 2014
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox One], PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Genre: Survival Horror
Rated: M for Mature
Survival horror games have been making a comeback, and in its ranks is The Evil Within. For those of you who don’t know, Shinji Mikami is a very prominent figure in the industry; known for creating Resident Evil, Mikami spearheaded horror into the mainstream and now returns with his recently formed development team, Tango Gameworks to make his mark once again. With Mikami in his element, The Evil Within is a nice twist to the zombie-filled horror scene and does much to stand out amongst the crowd while paying homage to the game that started it all.
Detective Sebastian Castellanos and his colleagues are just returning from a case when they receive a call; multiple homicides at Beacon Mental Hospital. As they arrive at the scene, the entryway is littered with unmanned squad cars and ambulances. When they open the doors to the hospital, they are met with a terrible sight, but find a lone survivor uttering the name “Ruvic”. As Sebastian checks the nearby security monitors he witnesses the murders of three cops by a hooded figure with supernatural powers, and without warning, comes up behind our unsuspecting hero and knocks him out. From then on Sebastian must fight for his life as he braves a world suddenly turned mad and fights men and women turned into grotesque monstrosities.
Veterans of the recent Resident Evil games will feel right at home in The Evil Within: third-person, over-the-shoulder camera, an array of weapons to choose from, multiple foes to deal with at any given time, and plenty of bosses. But what Tango Gameworks did away with is the item management, and depending on whom you were to ask, that decision was either a good or bad one. I believe how they handled it to compensate was smart. Instead of having to stop what you’re doing to decide on whether you want that extra bit of ammo or not, everything is as simple as having a maximum amount for each weapon class. Of course I love item management in classic Resi games, but it does have a few flaws when in a tight squeeze. Now instead of dealing with management, your main concern is conservation of items.
The Haunted, which are the altered and mutilated “human” mobs that you will be mainly contending with, are numerous and a single Haunted can ruin your day, so just shooting your way out isn’t always the best idea. Ammunition is in limited supply, and when managed poorly, you will be left defenseless. This choke-hold on provisions will force you to alternate between weapons so no weapon goes left unused.
If you do play it smart, you will always have just enough when you find yourself surrounded. To help save up each precious bullet there are plenty of means to dispatch foes. Sneaking up on most enemies will prompt to silently take them out with a knife kill and most areas are rigged with booby-traps just waiting to be used in your favor. Take care not to fall in these traps yourself, as a subtle visual cue of red spots will indicate that one is near. Once you take the time to think things through, you will use everything at your disposal to its fullest potential; using your rifle to snipe a sniper, a shotgun for crowd control, a pistol to take out stragglers, and the Agony Crossbow to set up traps of your own. The developer made sure to give you just enough of what you need to make it out of any situation without being a bullet charity, and encourages strategy instead of running and gunning.
Another added feature is an upgrade system where you can increase any of Sebastian’s attributes: Abilities, Weapons, Stock, and Agony Bolts. Throughout the game you can find a substance known as green gel by killing enemies or finding them along the way; this is the main currency in which you can buy your upgrades. Anything from health, to weapon damage, to how much ammunition you can carry is upgradeable. At first I thought that a fully maxed out character would make the game too easy, but to my delight I found the game just as challenging and no weapons were absurdly overpowered. You’re never powerful enough to breeze through the game nor do you ever have more than one fully stocked weapon, and the hordes of creatures are strong enough to take a few bullets to the head without being too frustrating to handle. It’s a great balance of game difficulty and avatar strength that somehow works really well.
Plenty of extra collectables are scattered in each chapter of the game and can shed some light on Sebastian’s past, and of the strange events surrounding some particular characters. What players will want to keep an eye out for are small Goddess statues and Map Fragments. The statues, when destroyed, will reveal a key that can be used on safes that grant ammo, a large jar of green gel, or a pair of keys if lucky. The Map Fragments may not give you an immediate reward, but if you collect all 26 of them you will be greatly rewarded.
There are only two difficulty settings to choose from when playing for the first time: Casual and Survival. As daunting as “Survival” may sound, that’s only the medium difficulty setting. When you beat the game, you unlock a bunch of stuff like a figure gallery, a New Game+ mode, new weapons, and two more difficulty modes. Nightmare is your hard mode, but then there is the dreaded 悪夢(AKUMU) mode; a mode so insane that a single hit from anything will kill you. There are plenty of things to do and collect, so The Evil Within is has plenty of things to do that will have players looking forward to a next playthrough, or wanting to put themselves through hell.
This psychological thriller gone horror will whisk players all over the place, leaving some to wonder what is real and what is just a delusion of a mentally unstable mind. Even our main character will occasionally ask this very question. The one thing that is pretty silly about the whole thing is how our protagonists react to these ever-changing events and occurrences. Not the slightest bit of panic or amazement can be heard in their tone and it leaves the people we are supposed to care about as nothing more than emotionless robots that we can’t empathize with. The voice actors do a great job and everything, but if they were instructed to be as uninterested as humanly possible in what they are doing, then they hit the nail on the head. Or perhaps it’s just a homage to the campy voice acting of the first Resident Evil – the world may never know.
While not the scariest game out there, that doesn’t take away all the great things The Evil Within does. It takes classic staples that horror games have been clinging onto and does away with them in risky move that works out in their favor. And what they did keep is as refined as you would expect from a development studio headed by the grandfather of the survival horror genre. The atmosphere is haunting and suspenseful, the gameplay is refined to a t, and the locales, at times, are as twisted and gnarly as the bosses and enemies you fight. The Evil Within puts “survival” back into survival horror.
Overall Rating: 4.25/5
Date Released: October 7th, 2014
Developer: Creative Assembly
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox One], Xbox 360, PlayStation 4 PlayStation 3, PC
Genre: Survival Horror
Rated: M for Mature
Decent Alien games are too few and far between, and most games that do take a crack at the series usually take inspiration from the action-oriented sequel, Aliens. After the abysmal sales and reviews of Alien: Colonial Marines, Sega needed to take the Alien franchise in a whole other direction if they were to do the sci-fi classic any justice. With Creative Assembly taking every necessary step to ensure an authentic Alien experience, players will finally delve deep into nightmarish situation that pits you against the perfect organism in a desperate attempt to survive.
15 years after Ellen Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo go missing, Amanda Ripley has been working for the Weyland-Yutani Corporation in hopes of one day some bit of information as to the whereabouts of her missing mother will turn up. It is until she is informed that a flight recorder from the Nostromo has been picked up and is being held aboard Sevastapol Station that her and a small crew journey across the stars to retrieve the recorder. In attempt to board Sevastapol, Amanda and two other crewmates are cut off from one another. Once inside, Amanda walks alone through the aftermath of panic and discord as the station is in complete disarray. It’s not long after that she comes face-to-face with the cause of everything – a Xenomorph. With nothing but her wit and a will to live, Amanda will uncover the truth behind the events leading up to the chaos and of the fate of her long-lost mother.
Unlike previous titles, Alien: Isolation’s focus is horror through a first-person perspective much like Amnesia and Outlast. Amanda is not a fighter, nor is she a soldier; she is an engineer who’s been swept up in a series of highly unfavorable situations, leaving her very vulnerable. Her first and last line of defense is remaining hidden and hiding in the overabundance of vents and lockers is crucial to survival. This reliance on stealth does not mean that she is completely defenseless; with a station ransacked of essentials, Amanda uses the overlooked electronics, components, and blueprints left behind to craft life-saving gadgets to help avoid unwanted confrontation or heal herself when in need.
What I love about Isolation is how true it is to the source material. Creative Assembly has meticulously captured the very essence of Alien and imprinted its 70’s future look onto the game. Everything screams Alien – from the design of Sevastapol, to the sound effects, it’s like you’re stepping in the set of the movie. Even familiar tunes from the film and some of the original cast members of the original film reprise their roles, mostly for the bonus “Crew Expendable” content, but fans will get a good chill up their spine when they hear the cast take up their roles again.
What impresses me the most is the game’s ability to capture the pacing and build-up of the film. The suspense leading up to the reveal of the Xenomorph is expertly executed and excellently sets up the fact that the Xenomorph isn’t the only threat you’ll be facing. First comes the terrified survivors of who have gone through hell, and will be damned if they’ll let anyone catch them off guard. Usually in groups, these anxious fellows are, ironically, more of a monster than what they’re running from, killing others for security’s sake. Androids that roam the halls of Sevastapol are the creepiest of the three main enemies. Speaking in low monotone voices, Working-Joe androids will disturbingly talk about safety protocols while strangling you to death. Androids are not susceptible to normal attacks like humans are and call for special means to dispatch them.
If you know anything about the Xenomorph, you know that it’s nigh impossible to kill this perfect organism, and when confronted by one, your only hope is to run and hide when you so much as sense one nearby. Players will not need to rely on their sense, thanks to the motion tracker, you can keep a close eye on your immediate surrounding for any hostiles. You can easily keep tabs on humans and androids, however, the Xenomorph will use air ducts to move around and get the drop on you if you’re being careless. Even when you think you’re well hidden, using tools that give your position away like the flashlight, or the motion tracker when too close to an enemy, will alert them to your presence, and if it so happens to be a Xenomorph hunting you down, instant death. But incase it’s too risky to use the motion tracker, audio cues will alert you to any danger. The alien itself has a range of growls and scream to tell players whether their being hunted or if they should make like Usain Bolt and run for safety.
How the Xenomorph hunts you down is downright methodical, it learns from each encounter with you and uses your own patterns against you. The alien will check inside lockers and other hideaways if he suspects you to be close by; if you don’t want your cover blown, you must lean as far back as you can and hold your breath, lest you want your face eaten off. The downside of this is that holding your breath will deplete you heath and potentially kill you. As necessary as hiding is, it is only meant as a temporary solution. A neat feature with the Kinect sensor allows players to use their bodies to lean in and out of cover and inside lockers, plus, if you turn on the noise detection, any loud noise made in the real world will be picked up in-game, alerting all nearby enemies to check out where it came from. This makes the game much more intense as I found myself holding my own breath, hearing my heart beat against my ears as the Xenomorph peeks inside my locker.
While not a flawless title, this is hands down the best Alien title to date. An intense opening, solid middle, and an explosive, heart-stopping ending are reminiscent of the film it’s based on while feeling fresh and new. Alien: Isolation is a hefty title that took me a good 15 hours to complete, and during that time there were segments where it seemed drawn-out and repetitive. I was worried that by the time it got to the final stretch of the game that I would be too powerful, but the last third of the game threw me a curve ball that I was not expecting and made my fight for survival that much more than horrifying, it was terrifying. As for Amanda Ripley, her journey for the truth will turn her into a battle hardened survivor – like mother, like daughter.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
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.