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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fallout 4: Tips for Beginners

Rather than write a review on how awesome this game is, I've decided to give a few pointers on those few unfortunate enough not to have gotten the game by now or players who for some reason find themselves locked out and having difficulty at every corner of this game. My first playthrough was... not great. I got up to level 37 in about 3 days. Impressive if you didn't consider my many failures. I was constantly locked out of a few missions via a small miscalculation or simply not having the skill required to enter an area. Learn from my mistakes.

Despite what you've been told, Intelligence is critical. Not just for unlocking terminals or for hacking bots, but for anyone else playing the game. Intelligence actually gives you an increased amount of experience points. Not sure how much, but I've been playing on my new save file for about a full day and I'm halfway back to my previous save's level.
Charisma may seem like a stupid thing to pick up. Really doesn't help you at all much in combat on the surface, but you'd be wrong. Once you max out your Charisma, get ready to take everyone's caps. Not only do you get a base lowering of the amount things need to be purchased and get more caps for selling things, but you can persuade just about anyone to do anything. Don't want to do a quest but still want a few caps? Most people who ask you to do something for them will often have a persuade option. So instead of doing a lengthy, and possibly dangerous quest for a few measly hundred caps, you can get the money straight away and more all while doing everything at your leisure. Charisma also has some nice combat effects. Male characters can gain a damage boost against female characters and bi versa for females. You can  also put points into a perk that lets your companion do more damage, do no damage to you and can eventually carry more stuff.
While you're plugging your points into Intelligence to be able to hack more terminals, do the same for Endurance and get better at picking locks. Unlike The Elder Scrolls, Fallout makes it impossible for you to open doors through picking if you don't have the proper skill. At the very least, get it so that the level for picking and hacking is maxed up to their master level. Further on in the game (about level 40+) you can actually make it so you will never be locked out of terminals for failing or have picks break.
One of the many things Dark Souls has taught me is to pick my build well. Do I want to be heavily armored and a tank or quick and deadly? Similar here as well. Before you start plugging perks into random things, try and check around the tree. You have full access to see who and what you want to be. While my first character had maxed out Strength and could deal more damage with melee weapons and hold more stuff, my current character is far better even with his measly 4 points of Strength. There are always ways to get by having low Strength like chems, stuffing your followers like pack brahmin or even just being cautious with what you carry and only keeping the useful stuff.
Settlements are actually extremely useful for a variety of reasons. When I first saw it at the E3 presentation, I thought it was a neat gimmick to be able to build towns, but it actually is quite handy. Its basically your own base. Early on in the game, you can meet up with a guy who will direct you to places that can be taken over as settlements. Eventually, this can become your own little town. You can fortify its defenses, have your own special vendors, have a convenient place to store all of your things or even just a safe place to hide out if some rogue Deathclaw is on your tail. You can also upgrade your weapons and armor at specific places in your settlement, so it can help you along the way if you're not a hoarder like the rest of us.

These were just a few of my own personal tips for this great game. I've left out a few things but that's more of a personal feeling or it would spoil a few missions for some people.
As always, thanks for reading and hope you have safe travels in the wasteland.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Fans Ruin Games Because They Can't Accept Change

Very literal title, huh? Well I'm going into this with my guns loaded and not holding back. This topic has been gestating with me for some time and no matter how many years pass, it always seems to be relevant. Please, if you feel the need to, leave your hateful (or nice!) comments below. I look forward to tearing them apart.
I'm not a person who likes every single game, but I can always find merit... in most games. I only have one game I consider to be wholly unredeemable that I've reviewed on this site. I'm not going to say what it was, but it has the lowest review I've ever given anything. My previous worst game was a terrible vampire game, but even I could find some merit/effort put into it. Tangent aside, I can always find a positive. Not saying I like most games, but I'm generally a very positive person when it comes to my favorite medium. Which is why it pains me so much when other gamers kill a decent franchise or game. I picked up DMC a while ago because it looked great and I heard a lot of positive things, unfortunately, after the game sold abysmally. I wondered why people hated it so much, but I did see a few things. Not game killing things, just annoying fanchild gripes. Capcom hasn't always had the best track record with games, but when compared to other gaming companies that have more poisonous reputations, at least in the public's eye, like Ubisoft or EA, they're probably one of the least worst and that's really sad to see that they're doing poorly just because they don't have the best selling titles or the franchises that no matter how bad they are still manage to break even.
A game series that was never super popular but I enjoyed thoroughly was Fable. True, there were A LOT of failed promises, but ultimately the games were passable. In some weird turn of events, the games got better over time but the review scores went down with the game. The first Fable is a clunky, dumb, fun mess but people remember it fondly... for some reason. Fable 2 made a lot of things better but wasn't as well received as the first game. Fable 3 was by far my most favorite. It was fun, had a new twist on things, made me feel for not only the protagonist as a character, but the main characters around them. It humanized the villain and gave you world changing choices that ultimately affected EVERYTHING about the entire game world. Evil and good actions actually mattered apart from a simple visual change. Magic felt AMAZING, allowing you to combine two different spells into one powerful and unique attack that never lost its touch. I personally think it was the best Fable game... and people hated it. The series has taken a significant nose dive from Kinect fodder to some weird MOBA game that is supposed to come out (or came out? I don't even care to search). Much to my dismay, I never got to pick up a copy on Steam so I could play it to this day whenever I wanted before the game was fully taken off Steam. I talked about it before but not in such detail.
Change is needed to keep something from stagnation. Change can be good or bad, but its needed every once and a while. Fallout 4 is coming out next week (yes yes yes yes yes) and the game looks almost nothing like it's predecessors. Fallout 3 completely changed the gameplay and entire genre of from the previous titles and is still considered one of the greatest RPGs of all time even to this day. Same thing with all of the Elder Scrolls titles. Stopping my love for Bethesda (if only for just this moment), a new Call of Duty is coming out. It looks, and sounds like, its going to be drastically different. You actually have a character now in the main campaign. A character whom you design and craft. They will level up through the story and become the thing you want them to become. Its different and I hear people ALREADY hating on it. Call of Duty isn't my franchise of choice, but I can get some good clean fun out of it every now and then. Advanced Warfare was a damn good game but didn't do as well as the other, poorer titles. Now, I'm asking you as a gamer and a fellow sensible being. Don't pan something just because its different. This new Call of Duty could be the start of something amazing. Where developers actually put a lot of time and effort into making what is essentially a cookie cutter shooter into something more. At the very least, give your ideas some thought. Play the game for more than an hour before posting your "0/10 OMG THIS GAME SUX SO HAAARRD" review on Metacritic. Because you, as the consumer, dictate what games will be made next year. And the year after that. You decide how amazing these games will or won't be.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth DLC Review - 9/10

The Binding of Isaac was a game developed by Nicalis. The game features the titular character, Isaac, as he tries to escape his mother who is convinced by a voice in her head that she must kill her son. Isaac must descend into his basement, fending off horrific creatures created from his own psyche, collecting powerups and other useful items to kill the bosses and finally his own mother. The game was well received which then spawned a new, updated edition that only further added to the game. This DLC aims to do the same.

The Good:
More everything. Music, levels, rooms, enemies, bosses, powerups. Even a new character. The game is superb as is which is great because this only adds to a spectacular game. There's not much to say other than the fact that there's more of this great game. Extending your play with new modes, new challenges, Daily Challenges and even a new character.

The Bad:
Hey, so this game is tough. I mean like pretty tough. Not impossible. If you're playing the base game or the full package for the first time, you're going to be limited by the characters and powerups you can use straight off the bat. This DLC makes you do some of that all over again. I'm not sure how far this goes, but I've been playing the standard game for a few hours this morning. When I started it up again and got to the new content, all of my characters were locked again. And these characters aren't easy to get. Madeline forces you to collect 7 hearts in one game. Cain needs 55 coins in one game. Azazel requires you to make three deals with the devil in a single game. But worst of all, for me, is Samson, who requires you to take no damage for two full floors. I'm not sure why this is, but if this has changed, I'm not sure what else has.

"Such a high score but only one small paragraph of good v. a large paragraph of bad?" If you need to know anything about me and my reviews is that if there's a significant chunk of one bad thing but a high score, I usually like the game. We often criticize the things we love heavily because we love them. The DLC is great, minus a few tiny bits. If you're a returning player or a newbie, I highly recommend it. More play time, more enemies, bosses and powerups. What else could I ask for?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Star Wars The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire Review - 9/10

Knights of the Fallen Empire is (I believe) the third expansion pack for The Old Republic MMO. Unlike the other expansions, this adds a continuation to the main story line rather than just a side track of missions.

The Good:
Props to whoever came up with the story line for this because it's better than the base game. Without going too far into it, the main story of the Jedi Knight class 'kills' the Emperor and leader of the Empire currently. Each class has their own little introduction mission but basically you are searching the galaxy as a united faction of Empire and Republic forces now at 'peace' for whatever remains of the immortal Emperor who has committed genocide to gain more power. The story is simple but with enough twists and turns to make you feel its more of an experience rather than an add on or an addition. It really feels like it was crafted specifically to add more story rather than simply a new raid/Operation or more gear and enemies.
One of the smaller faults I can find with the base game would be the companions. While decent, you were always stuck with them unless you purchased an optional companion from the start. Each companion was fitted to a specific role, which means even if you were a healer, you could be stuck with a healer as your first companion. The new update has changed it so each companion can have their roles switched at will. If I'm a healer stuck with another healer, I can simply switch them to be a tank or even a DPS character. This isn't intrusive either. I can switch roles as much as I please and as often as I please, and so far I have seen no limitation to this.
The main villain of the story is much more of a presence than a figure or an end goal. In the base game, you never had one true enemy like Handsome Jack in Borderlands. You were always skipping from enemy to enemy as the chapters progressed, which felt odd and never really all that great. In this, the main enemy (or in this case, enemies) is front and center. You have a clear goal with little deviation, allowing you to develop a further bond with said villains.
The writing has also seemed to have taken a great leap forward. While the base game was serviceable, this new expansion is allowed more gravitas or simply depth. These are not fly by night characters but those who really test what it means for your character to exist. The world feels more alive than simply a 'Go do this then that' sort of experience. The villain's motives may not be 100% clear to you but the way they present it gives you a feeling they actually believe in this rather than simply being a raving lunatic or bored person.

The Bad:
With each new update of an MMO comes the clarity of "This could have been better" from the developers. A few changes have been implemented, most notably a switch for your character's HUD which basically alters how you previous slotted your skills in the previous update. Its annoying but it can get used to. However, for players who've been playing long, this will undoubtedly make your gameplay a bit more difficult as (speaking personally) I use muscle memory across all my characters. With a few deviations, all skills I place I then place on my other characters to make it easier to use them. It makes it easier when I switch from my Sith Warrior to my Jedi Knight. Each of the skills are basically the same which makes switching characters as seamless as possible. Apart from that, a few of the skills have changed. For one, the aforementioned Knight and Warrior, both had a skill that reduced an enemy's armor. This has been taken out completely and I have no idea what other skills may have been stripped from other characters without looking through the massive patch notes. Its nothing major its just an annoyance I have to get used to along with any other mechanics that may have changed.

If you've got the chance, I highly recommend getting this. The game itself hasn't released for all players but will on October 27th. You may have missed out on a few rewards leading up to the game, but that's no excuse to miss out on a really good expansion pack.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Are MMO's Dead/Dying?

As I renew my subscription for The Old Republic, I remember all of the people who keep telling me how the game is failing or how it will be shut down within a few months. I look at the new expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire, and wonder if I should continue sinking my time and money into what may or may not be the saving grace for a game that struggled when first released.
I think what needs to be said first is that an MMO takes more time and money than a regular AAA game. Destiny (yes, Destiny is an MMO no matter how much you deny it) has had a very rocky start and continuing rocky path. From the lackluster DLC to a person directly tied to the game insulting the customer/fanbase that purchased the game in the first place, its not hard to see why. I'm not dogging on Destiny, I'm just saying this is basically what happens. World of Warcraft was a massive giant back in the day. Now its dwindling. Its not a bad thing, just happens. Games loose their interest after a time. The oldest game I'm still playing since when it was released would have to be Dragon's Dogma, and even then its more of a every now and again thing.
Unlike most game genres, MMOs have their own time table. I can play Skyrim until the world freezes over but an MMO will stop eventually. No matter how popular, no matter how much money it may make, its going to end. And I mean end as in no one will be able to play it ever again. Of course, you have your exceptions like Runescape which have basically been around since the dawn of time. The horrible fact you have to realize when playing an MMO is eventually the servers will shut down. That's just facts. Companies can't keep up a server going forever. That costs time and money that could be spent on other things. Part of the horrible thing about this is how much time you've invested in the game. I've probably spent about over a thousand dollars with The Old Republic, minus the subscription fee. That's really excessive. Part of the reason I don't quit is because I've put so much time and money into the game it would be a waste to stop now. Its not something I'm proud of but its just a fact.
The Old Republic is set to release a new slew of content with Knights of the Fallen Empire. It promises a whole new addition to the current story, adding in extra items, higher level cap and all the same stuff that usually comes with an expansion. One could see this as the final death throws while others could see it as a revitalization of the game. What was a slow burn release now finally ignites and makes it's mark. The expansion releases about a month from now, so for now all I can do is wait.
To answer the previous question in the title: no, I don't believe so. No genre completely dies. Not as long as there are those who want to see it still go on.

Straddling the Line Between Annoyance and Success (Video Game Bosses)

While I didn't get to post my reviews or even thoughts about either Mad Max or The Phantom Pain because I purchased them so late, I've been playing them a lot. Aside from guns, violence, blood, cars and both based off of insanely popular series, the games themselves don't have much in common. Mad Max is more about the downfall of society when savagery is left in place of basic resources while Metal Gear is more about espionage and ridiculous yet hilarious moments.
Both games have bosses and... if I'm being honest, I have my gripes with them. Metal Gear's bosses are vibrant, really varied and seriously annoying at the worst of times. Mad Max has the same carbon copy boss for each warlord in an area. I'm sure they change it up later in the game but this is all I've seen. In the case of Max, I really have nothing to say about their bosses, which is probably bad. The worst thing you can do is fall into obscurity. You're not the best so you'll never be praised and gain the recognition and possibly money to go along with it. While being the worst, is bad, you still get some notoriety or at the very least infamy and end up as some GameGrumps or other Youtuber's butt of a joke. While Max is a great game, the bosses win no awards. Apart from a different color scheme, the first three bosses I've killed look and fight the same way. The only difference is their 'personality', a term I use loosely since its more or less a few lines of dialogue here and there.
On the other hand you have The Phantom Pain, who's bosses are insane to say the least. The Parasites, Quiet's sniper duel, Metal Gear Sahelanthropus, the Man on Fire. Each boss is difficult in its own right and defeated in it's own way with it's own backstory, fleshed out characterization and difficulty. But the problem with some of these enemies is, while memorable, are kind of annoying. The Parasites follow you relentlessly and soak up bullets like there's no tomorrow, not to mention having the ability to regenerate their health as well as the fact that there's never only one. Quiet's duel is considered boring by most people since you can easily find her and as long as you have a sniper or long ranged weapon, she's easy as sin. The Man on Fire and Sahelanthropus are bullet sponges that have to be killed in their own unique ways. (SPOILERS) When you actually have to straight up and kill the Metal Gear, the fight itself is probably the most annoying thing for me. This relentless twelve story mech just stalks you and does its best to kill you with its limitless arsenal. If you do manage to get it down to less than half it's health, it breaks out it's instant kill move. I died at least five times that fight.
While Max had the easier bosses, Metal Gear had the most satisfying. Being stalked by the Man on Fire was tense and heart pounding. I had to search around my terrain to get him in a place where there was water. Blast him into it or just make water fall onto him rather than firing off every bullet in your arsenal. Each time I defeated a boss it felt complete. Of course, most times the boss got up again in a later chapter and was even more annoying than before. The feeling of tackling something really challenging and over passing it is a feat unto itself.
I think the best example of this would be any game from From Software, from Demon's Souls all the way to Bloodborne. Each of the bosses was well crafted to be as difficult as possible. You had to tackle challenges that didn't equate to any other boss and each one was weak to its own thing. One minute you could be fighting a lumbering, lazy giant who's powerful swings were a death sentence. Next, you could face off against a duo or trio of enemies that challenged where you kept your mind not only on your terrain but on surprise attacks. The enemies would kill you easily but ending them was a triumph in itself. To conquer a great challenge with the feeling in the back of your mind that there is always another, more powerful enemy just over the bridge.
In the end, I think what it really comes down to is a personal standpoint. Every 'Souls' game I play is met with challenging difficulty that needs to be overcome by my skill. While Borderlands is more about timing and having the right weapons. Or maybe an MMO which challenges you and your party to use their skills and items sparingly and work as a team in order to grasp victory with that last sliver of health.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 PC Review - 8.7/10

One Piece is both an anime and manga series consisting of pirates, powers and basically everything else in between. The series itself has been running since the late 90's, with over 700 chapters of manga and anime as of now. While the game isn't a complete story of the entire series, considering it isn't even near over yet, the game consists of the beginning of the show/manga up to what has been currently released in the anime series. The game itself is based off of the Dynasty Warrior's style of gameplay, as seen in the recent Wii U title 'Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Warriors", where you fight mobs of enemies nearly single handedly over a map completing objectives along the way.

The Good:
I've always been a fan of cell shaded graphics. It gives any game it's in a nice look and style while also being easy to run on whatever platform it's on currently. The style fits nicely with the game's combat and story, making for fast gameplay without any hiccups.
This is the first 'Warrior' title I've played and I'm sorry to say that considering I actually kind of like it. 'Warrior' is basically, as I mentioned before, you playing as a sole bad ass running through a map and clearing hundreds of enemies by yourself or with a few allies. Not only does it feel really awesome to crush through enemies with well timed attacks and combos, but the speed is also something really great. I don't play games that go this fast that much but I have to say that its pretty awesome.
I've actually been a fan of the show for a while. I started pretty late, having my own little marathon through about 200-300 episodes. The show is funny, with some really great fight scenes and some pretty cool story telling. The game pulls some of that in as well. Basically, I'm rewatching the entire series again but this time I get to play it. While the game isn't as lengthy as the anime, clocking in at least a few hundred hours if you were to watch all of it, its still a pretty decent chunk of the show.
Combat is super fluid. You can easily run from a tough fight or to one if you wish. Combos are really the bread and butter of this game and they are insanely satisfying. Even though I usually stick to one combo that gets the job done, I never really get sick of it. Even if I do, I can just switch to another one at my whim and it just feels really great. While its good to sit back and have a thought provoking story with deep characters and dark stories, its always nice just to have some mindless fun every once and a while.

The Bad:
I've always been one of those 'easy' players. I always want to choose the easiest difficulty first and then, after beating the game, going up in difficulty to either sweep back around for all the harder difficulty achievements or just to challenge myself. This game makes it abundantly clear, every single time a mission is completed, that you can't get an 'S' rating on a level playing on easy. Okay, I get it. Whatever, but I don't have to be constantly reminded of this. Yes, I'm playing on easy, don't judge me. Its minor but a minor annoyance still.

This game isn't for everyone, I can admit, but its fun all the same. Its fast, fun and offers a pretty decent amount of gameplay time.
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