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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.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Why Video Game Movies Usually Fail

So, hey, new Hitman movie. Is it going to be good? I'm not going to hold my breath. That's not to say it won't be good, rather that its not the best idea for a game to movie adaptation. I have a few thoughts on why most, if not all, video game movies fail.

1. Don't work with fighting games.
While the first Mortal Kombat movie was an exercise in cheesy goodness, the sequel was not. Of course there are other issues why the sequel failed: switching actors, purposefully cheesy script and dialogue, horrible CGI over extremely good practical effects. But the main reason is the cast. Fighting games have the most characters possible. Hell. Now if you don't have at least 10 characters to choose from in fighting games, people will tear you apart from the lack of a sufficient roster. The original Mortal Kombat had still far too many characters for it to work in a movie. Fans of Reptile, Scorpion and Sub Zero were probably not too happy to see their favorite characters under used. The reason it wasn't too much of a blow is because those three characters are basically the same visually. They don't have much personality either and in Reptile's case, most of them don't even really talk. Point is, you have to put all the roster of characters in and NOT choose someone to be better than another. Fanboys/girls will rage all day about how their favorite character was misrepresented or, "Come on? Defeated by THAT character? You must be tripping!"

2. The premise must be simple.
As much as I hate to admit it, The Elder Scrolls can never have a movie. Think about all the awesome things about Elder Scrolls apart from combat and magic. The biggest thing to come up is the lore. From countless books, tomes and just simple throw away dialogue from random NPCs, Elder Scrolls thrives on you wanting to know more. You hear someone talk about the Fall of Kavatch (probably spelled that wrong) or the Eruption of Red mountain. Either you already know, want to know or don't care. You have agency to dive deeper into the lore of the games to find out more about the Dwemer or not. With movies, you can't know what will and won't be important. You have so much to work on and so limited time to explore what really is necessary. Its similar to the point about fighting games. You either focus on a character or event no one wants to know about or an event/character everyone wanted but is never mentioned.

3. You can only use action for a genre.
While you may disagree, action is really the bread and butter of simple stories. Die Hard doesn't have too much depth other than its action yet its still a good movie. Comedies are a possibility but you could always run into the problem of a joke just not being funny. In action, as long as you keep it awesome it can really do no wrong. Physics be damned, this thing will happen and most people will like it. If you choose drama, you might as well not even make a direct video game movie but a spin off like so many fan made films online. Fantasy has the same problem like mentioned in the second point. Too much in too little time. Action really cuts away the fat of all of the complexities. If Hitman was a thriller, it probably wouldn't do well. Slasher, definitely not. Thriller implies Agent 47 is in some sort of actual danger and is frightened by it. But, if you've ever played a Hitman game, you'll know 47 has the emotional range of a door. Slasher is immediately taken out for similar reasons. Of course they can't kill the main character and of course 47 would have to be the slasher. Otherwise there's no one to project onto. As awesome as a fight between 47 and Jason Vorhees would be, it would have to be action at best. Jason hunting a character who doesn't even flinch in the face of gore or death or 47 hunting someone who... well I take back my 'expressions like a door' for 47 and put it on Jason. He literally never shows his face.

Celestian Tales: Old North PC Review - 8.5/10

Celestian Tales is a turn based RPG available on Steam. It focuses in on a story with six main characters in a fantasy setting.

The Good:
There are a total of six main characters you can choose to play as, all with their own skills, backstory, beginning prologue and such. You choose one of the characters and follow their story that intersects with the other six. I haven't gotten around to playing all of them, but they all seem the same save for the prologue. Each character begins in their own small backstory which then leads into the main game. Its not often you see this level of detail from a kickstarted game or even from most triple A titles and publishers.
The sprites and other visuals all look exceptional. I'm not sure, but I think most, if not all, the artwork was done specifically for this game. While most characters fall back on a similar expression, its a very nice touch.
Combat is fairly decent. Which is to say it isn't broken. There's a fair bit of strategy but nothing insane. You attack, buff, healing item. All the standard stuff. That's not to say the system isn't lacking, it's just choosing to go by a familiar system we've seen and probably played. Point is, its not difficult to get into combat.

The Bad:
As far as I've played, you don't really get to make a whole lot of choices in this game. Sure, you can walk (relatively) where you want and use the skills you want but you can't make any dialogue choices. Apart from small things, the story will do as it pleases. Is your character kind of an elitist dick? Well too bad! You can't change it. I know this is par for the course when it comes to original RPGs like Final Fantasy, but this is 2015. We've made some serious graphical, not to mention mechanical, leaps when its come to games. Even hollow choices, while terrible, would have given me the illusion of choice. Its more like an animated movie I can control sometimes but ultimately I have little agency over. This isn't a terrible thing. Ni No Kuni had pretty much the same thing story wise. You were following Oliver's story and every so often you could just say yes or no, but I, at best, tolerated that.
You choose from six different characters who are all designed a certain way. You can't change this (as far as I've seen), so you're basically stuck as whatever the developer wants you to be. For you guys, you get all of two white characters to choose from. For the ladies, they get four white girls. While (most) of the characters don't look terrible, a token character maker would have been great. Instead, I have to play as a blond haired, slightly tanned guy. It doesn't detract from the game, it just makes me feel like I have less input in the overall game.

I'm not at all disappointed in my purchase. This is a pretty decent game that I might continue playing. I believe its still at a reduced price at the time this will be posted, so if you like the game you should pick it up soon for a fairly cheap price.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Choice of Robots PC Review - 8/10

Choice of Robots is an interactive novel available on Steam. It was marked down by 40% so I thought why not pick it up. The main basis of the game is that you have created robots. Not all robots but something significant to you personally.

The Good:
This is a very minimalist game. Its basically a novel but online but one you make up as you go. Through specific set choices, the story unfolds for you in different ways. You start off choosing where the story begins. One choice is you being judged by a robotic Anubis, weighing your life on scales, testing you on your life and the sins you've committed. Another has you sitting with a robot in a somewhat romantic setting and you reminisce on your life. Each of these stories plays back into a main story. Though your first choice will (presumably) affect the multiple endings, the main story is a almost completely a blank slate for you to mold. You can even name some important characters, such as yourself and the robot you build.

The Bad:
This is definitely a niche game. Shooter and RPG fans are not going to able to immediately pick this up. Rather this is more meant for people who enjoy books or someone who is getting into writing for themselves. I find it enjoyable though not many other people will.

The Meh:
Personally, I would have made some drawings or even music for this. At times, the experience feels kind of muted. You really need to engross yourself in what you're doing otherwise you're not likely to enjoy the experience. Basically, if you don't like reading books, this probably isn't for you.

I understand this was a pretty short review but there isn't much to talk about. This game is more of an experience. You really need to play it for yourself. The game is really cheap at the moment. Slightly more expensive than a soda but less expensive than a sandwich at the store. If you have a few bucks, I suggest you give it a try.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Windows 10 from a Gamer's Perspective

The ultimate problem when faced with a new operating system is, "What are the downsides?" Apart from the visual aspects, what you really want to work is the system itself. After a few years of straight console gaming, I've gradually evolved into a greater amount of PC gaming. Its quicker, easier, more convenient but also a whole lot less reliable. When your console works, you can just go on your PC to dick around or find out what's wrong. When a PC gamer's PC stops working, that's pretty much the worse possible outcome.
For starters, most people will have gotten this for free, so cost is not really an issue. Of course, you would have had to reserve a free copy of it, so if you're reading this now its more than likely you will have to purchase it. It looks... different. Not a bad different, its just that I've been used to Windows 7 for so long its a bit jarring.
The problem I DO have with this is the drivers. Ah, sweet sweet annoying drivers. If you don't know what drivers are, basically they're the systems on your computer in laymen's terms. Sound, video, battery. Stuff like that. Drivers connect that stuff to your PC so they actually work. Apart from that, even I'm not entirely sure what they are. About two years ago, I got the worst virus ever. And I mean the worst. Corrupted my hard drive. Had to get a completely new hard drive and add a new operating system to it. With the help of my tech savvy brother, we got it working again. Although, I wasn't able to play any games. The driver that would basically read my video card was non existent. I had to go search and download an entirely new driver just so I could play video games again. It was not a pleasant experience. Now? Windows 10 has a problem for some people where the sound driver doesn't work. Basically I don't have any sound. "Why is that such a problem?" you may ask. "Can't you still play games?" Apparently not as I've found out. I've tried three of my games of which two flat out don't work (Dark Souls 2, Dragonball Xenoverse and Fallout: New Vegas). Dark Souls 2 'works'. I mean that in a sense that I could start it up and the game actually goes to the title screen. Apart from that, I know nothing else. Xenoverse on the other hand, does not. It says I need a 'Shader model 3.0 or better'. I would like to point out not only did I do a PC review of this game so you know it works, but I have no idea what a shader model 3.0 is so I have to add that to my list of things to manually fix. New Vegas on the other hand just flat out does not work. Apparently lacking a sound device makes it unable to work as well.
So, to recap, this does not work as well as my previous OS. All of these things can be patched in at a later date and I can manually fix them (maybe) but I shouldn't HAVE to. That being said, all of my PC related reviews will have to be put on hold for the foreseeable future. Thanks for all of your support. I hope to have this working soon.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Why Can't We Have Good Vampire Games?

This is somewhat of a personal topic for me. Generally speaking, I love vampires. The whole mythology, the violence, the whole allegory of how man becomes or births it's own monsters. All of it is awesome. But what makes that such a difficult topic to transfer to video games? I know what you're saying: "But what about Vampire the Masquerade?" Yes. It is a good game. In fact, its the best vampire game we have. But that's inadmissible here. Just about everyone knows about that game, and even if you don't its sure to be brought up if talking about vampire games. Its basically the one exception to the rule so we're going to look at my personal points on why we haven't had a good game and possibly how to make a good vampire game.

1. Understanding what a vampire is.
"What is a man but a miserable pile of secrets?" Generally when adapting a famous character or a certain famous monster, the problem becomes in representing said monster well. Most people end up fantasizing the hell out of vampires. In terms of movies, Twilight being, "I know he's a horrible monster, but he's MY horrible monster!" or to Dracula Untold trying to make one of the most heinous and the first well known serial killer in all of history, Vlad the 3rd or Vlad the Impaler who is the real world inspiration for Dracula, and trying to make him a sympathetic character are both wrong. That's not to say a good film, game or any piece of media can't be made out of this but the ultimate problem comes from the crutch you've already made for yourself in which this thing has become more than its supposed to be. Vampires are at the same time blood sucking monsters who prey on the living while also being everything about men amplified. Greed, lust, hatred. All of these things make for a great vampire. From a gameplay standpoint, understanding that a vampire is basically a human but who has ultra awesome powers gives you a clear enough template for a good narrative and understanding how said character you're playing may act or what kind of abilities the player will have access to.

2. Picking the right genre.
Essentially, any game can be made into a vampire game. Slap a coat of paint on XCOM, change a few game mechanics and you've got a vampire strategy game... which sounds awesome. I would love to play that. Generally the best way to go is Action/Adventure and if you really want to make the player feel awesome and have as much control as they should, add a dash of RPG leveling/progression. Last vampire game I played was DARK (no, that's not a typo. The game is called Dark, but for some ungodly reason the developers felt like they needed to have the game's title in full caps) which was a very very bad game. It took my worst game of all time before I fell into a worse game. The game was a stealth action game. Loose on the action point. As annoying as some of the mechanics were, the fatal flaw became making you as a vampire a joke. You couldn't use guns at all and if you strayed from using stealth, you either had to use any one of the powers you got to kill them because the game was predicated on one hit stealth kills and if you tried attacking head on, all the enemies blocked your attacks. Not to mention that the game had blood points for each attack that made no sense. So the skill that makes the enemy look one way takes the same blood point for the skill that reaches across the room and kills an enemy instantly. While vampires are far from being invincible, they are extremely powerful. Anything that takes power away from you is going to be a negative in the sense that not only are you being unfair to the gamer but you're also not being sensible when it comes to being true to vampire mythology. Your character needs to be like Adam Jensen in Deus Ex. They're powerful and have a lot of skills focused on whatever they need to do. In stealth, they're a silent predator. In combat, they're their enemies worst nightmare.

3. The 'Superman' principle.
If you're unfamiliar with this its basically Superman can never have his own game that is good. Depowering Superman is a bad idea if you want to fit it into the plot to make everything seem less like a cake walk. If you give too much power, you'll be boring your audience. Force the audience into a structured narrative and you'll make it boring. RPGs have their own sense of progression. In Skyrim, I don't start out with all the best spells, armor that can't be penetrated by anything and a weapon that can kill anything with one shot and unlimited ammo/durability. I have to work my way to that point. Kill all the dragons, gain all of the shouts, craft and enchant the gear that suits me perfectly. Superman is very cut and dry. He can do basically anything and when he's faced with something that can kill him, he evolves in a contrived way or he absolutely crushes it. I shouldn't feel my vampire isn't 'vampire' enough. I should be able to explore different abilities that vampires may have, use strengths that seem plausible and be able to be my own character. Basically if I can't place myself in a character and get invested in them, why try at all?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

"I will not be preordering the new Batman and here's why"

Its not often that I talk about outright not playing/black balling a game. I'm generally a positive person. One of my worst reviews on this site was a 5/10. Long story short, I like to have fun rather than be a snarky internet critic or jaded for the sake of being jaded. We have enough of those people and some are really good at it. But this... THIS is something I need to say.
I will not preorder Batman Arkham Knight. I may not even buy it at all. And the simple reason is because of our old enemy, 'Preorder exclusives'. Today I went to Best Buy and GameStop. I was just browsing the shelves for some missed gems so I could quickly drain my bank account as usual. At GameStop I saw it: the Batman PS4 bundle. Basically you can buy the game (when it comes out of course) bundled with a PS4. Nothing wrong with that, in fact its great. Might get some more PS4 units sold which I have no qualms about. But GameStop has their own deal. A deal designed to screw you over.
Preorder this bundle and not only will you get your PS4 and a copy of the game, you will also get an EXCLUSIVE TO GAMESTOP ONLY access to play as The Red Hood. Oh, and also the ability to play as Harley Quinn with 4 EXCLUSIVE challenge maps. Oh, but here's the best part. EXCLUSIVE TO PS4... ONLY, Preorder and you'll receive two Batman skins as well as one for your Batmobile. Also access to PlayStation EXCLUSIVE Scarecrow Nightmare Missions.
NO. NO NO NO NO. STOP IT. This is awful. So, if I don't have a PS4 I can't get this extra content? Oh, I'm sorry. If I don't have a PS4 AND preorder the game, I can't get this EXCLUSIVE content? NO. That is terrible to everyone. Let me further clarify that Xbox One owners get none of their own exclusive content. And looking on Steam right now, the only thing you get for your preorder is free access to the Season Pass. Don't preorder it but still want the Season Pass? Prepare to shell out FORTY DOLLARS. THAT IS ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS SEPARATELY FOR THE GAME AND SEASON PASS.
I've personally always been on the fence about preorders. They're not bad. They offer up an incentive to get a few bits of extra content while you reserve a copy of the game. Understandable. But, when you can't get that content later, you've just been fucked by the company. When other platforms don't even get access to that content, you've just been fucked by the company again. Now I can understand that maybe Sony shelled out some money to get some extra exclusive content. Fine, they deserve that. Special content only available at a certain store? I don't even have a problem with that. But THIS. This is something I have a problem with. If you preorder it on any other system, you miss out on the skins and a few missions. If you preorder it for PC, you get absolutely nothing other than saving a few bucks. This. Is. Not. Good. I don't think I have to tell you why this isn't. No, I SHOULDN'T have to tell you why this is bad.
Am I demanding that Rocksteady give exclusive content to the other systems? No. Am I calling for a boycott on the game? No. The purpose of this is to inform you. Inform you about these poor business practices. Inform you that you are being screwed over, Xbox One players. Inform you that you weren't even a second thought, PC players. Buy the game if you will. I will not. I hope the game is fun for your sake. I also hope that this will stop. That this annoying trend of exclusivity will come to a halt immediately. That we as the consumer are treated as business partners rather than walking wallets.
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