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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z - PS Vita Review 8/10

There's always been a soft spot in my heart for DBZ. It was the first anime I ever saw that was really violent. Being a guy, that of course spoke to me. There's something just inherently bad ass about the entire series and the game is no exception. With a few bumps in the road of course.

The Good:
I really like the cell shaded style. Not only is it good for the system's performance, but it also gives a nice look to it. Sure, all the games have their own cartoonish look but its a look that both fits visually and graphically.
This is probably the biggest roster of fighters I've seen in a Dragon Ball game to date. I can't count all of them, but I'm not extremely far in the game and the numbers of characters I keep getting keeps rising. You unlock characters by completing certain missions with a certain grade. While this is frustrating at times, it adds to the replayability. The mission I thought was impossible is now easier with the more powerful characters I've obtained.
The game also adds its own customization elements. A few times I was really getting my ass kicked on a fight and I found out that you can actually equip certain things to characters. It makes the game a bit more manageable when I can amp up my character to be more powerful in a fight rather than having to go in pure skill along. You get these cards for completing missions and can purchase more using in game money. This makes replaying previous missions far beyond the SS and Z rankings actually useful. Its a smart idea and I'm glad its there.
Just about every mission correlates to either the main DBZ tv show or the movies in some way. If you've watched the anime, you may notice certain things that were in the tv show itself or even a fight reacts differently if you take out an enemy sooner. For instance, I was fighting a few people which included Android 16 and Gohan. If you kill 16 before Gohan, Gohan will get a power boost. This is a really cool idea and a nice nod to the show itself. Of course... there is a downside to this which I'll talk about below.

The Bad:
Sometimes the difficulty ramps up to insane degrees. Mostly mid fight as a lot of bosses do the cheap tactic of healing themselves completely via contrived cutscene and gains a power boost after my team has been thoroughly wrecked prior to boss' boost. These boosts are unable to be subverted. I'm currently fighting Cell which is a three part fight. You fight his annoying little clones, then him and then once he's down to half health, he'll heal himself and be at least three times more powerful. Sometimes in order to unlock a new character, you need to get the boss into their super powered state and kill them. This is only made more frustrating by the lack of clear direction with objectives prior to the fight. A few fights need to be waited out until the clock runs out, while others force you to battle the super powered up boss. If memory serves me correct, Gohan defeats Cell when he goes Super Sayain 2. Yet, no matter how hard I try I can't unlock the character for that special boost up. In short, this is annoying.
Usually in a fighting game, the clock is both your friend and your enemy. Here, its a fickle lover who is more likely to slap you than reward you. A few fights (like the Super Sayain 3 Goku v. Buu fight) only end when the timer runs out. However, there's always going to be a timer so if you thought about taking your time and whittling down the enemy's health, you're straight out of luck. Recklessness is sometimes your only option, which will get you killed.
Death isn't the end... mostly. You can revive a few times during a fight. The problem is that this amount of times is limited. Alright, understandable. You and those you bring in the fight also share this revive. The most I've seen is 4 revives. Apart from that, you can revive your fallen allies or be revived by your fallen allies... which is the bad part. Most allies are dumb. Not sure if its the AI or a special character, but most times my allies will leave me and our other allies to force a respawn, lowering our spawn count which could have been avoided. Most fights is me just flying around, hoping the enemy doesn't spam its attacks so I can revive my fallen allies. Another problem is the tactics. You can chose from four different tactics: Go all out, Focus on Defense, Link moves and Let Me Handle It. The first three work fine, but the last doesn't. I just wanted my allies to sit back during a difficult fight but they just went for broke. Rushing a boss' attack that kills them easily.

Honestly, not a bad game. In fact, I enjoy it. Though the difficulty ramps up far too often for my taste, and this is coming from someone who has beaten Dark Souls 2. There are ways to subvert the difficulty which makes sense and is nice, but ultimately some fights go from being awesome to being that annoying blockage keeping you from the rest of the game.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Vita and 3DS. Which one do I prefer?

Hm... Its been a while since I've written anything... I recently bought some games but those were old hat and already reviewed by people. Generally speaking, I will only do reviews for games that came out at most a week ago or if they're indie at most a month.
Recently I got my hands on a Vita. I was one of those, "Get it when I have enough money," but since I'm being paid minimum wage, have bills to pay, have other consoles I want to buy and every single game I review on this site comes from my own pocket I don't really have any incentive to buy something super costly.
I know this is somewhat of an old topic but I think it needs revisiting or at the very least I haven't written anything in a while and... ya, that's it.

I've had my 3DS for quite some time and I can honestly say I'm kind of satisfied with it. Ultimately what it comes down to for me is the games and... yep, they got em. I think I remember writing an article about this a year or so ago, criticizing Vita's lack of titles while the 3DS had a multitude of them as well as a back log of every single DS game. Shovelware is called that for a reason (you bury it with a shovel cause it aint that good or you just uncovered some cracked gem with your shovel). Its sometimes awful but you still have to admit there are games out there. I've been a Nintendo boy for my entire life. My very first console was the SNES and my very first handheld was the GameBoy Pocket, which I still have to this day and works. However, the varnish has faded revealing some... less than decent qualities about my handy game system. For one thing, the shoulder buttons no longer function. Yes, after a few years of having something, things start to fall off, wiggle out of place or just don't seem to function as they used to. This became horribly apparent when I played Rune Factory 4 in which the shoulder buttons are a necessity in the first few seconds of the game despite me not needing them later. I found out this was a common problem which is not a good sign. My choices were to send it in and pay 80 bucks (and since the new 3DS is coming soon.... eehhhhhh, nah) or clean out the inside as best I could. Side note, it seems Nintendo wants me to blow on their products. Cartridges and now I have to blow out any dust and lint from the DS. Of course, this didn't last long. The problem fix has now become obsolete. No matter how hard I try to brush inside or blow out whatever's blocking the button pads it just doesn't work. And now it just sits there.

I got the most use of my 3DS when my computer was broken. I used it mostly for Netflix and Hulu. It was serviceable, though it was never really a computer. Vita is the closest I've seen to a computer, or at the very least a smartphone. Actually, its better than my smartphone. Though... my phone is a piece of unreliable crap so its not much of a contest. I've never seen a gaming console (handheld or otherwise) that could multitask. Basically just me being able to play a game then a thought comes into my head about a game I want to buy so I put the game on hold and go to the marketplace to buy it and then go right back to where I was. I think the best thing about the Vita for me is the back log. I never owned a PlayStation console until I got a PSP, so I missed out on the games everyone said were the hallmarks of their childhood. If only for the value of seeing how right or wrong they are, I do like the ability to go and purchase almost every single older game out there. Still looking for I-Ninja... The 3DS has this as well, but its backlog is... lacking. Its so sparse and baffles me how few games are on there. First game I ever played was Super Metroid which is still a classic, yet I can't play it on my 3DS for some reason, only on the Wii U... which doesn't make sense really. With the Vita, I can play PSOne, PS2, PS3 and even cross play PS4 games. In fact, I've been so happy with the system so far I bought a bunch of games this weekend just to have fun.

Ultimately what it comes down to is neither is superior or inferior. That's kind of a cop out but I think if you grew up with Nintendo and wanted to see the other side of gaming, the Vita is for you. If you grew up with Sony, you should check out the 3DS. Granted both systems aren't terrible. I have my reserves for both of them, but ultimately it comes down to me not being able to say which is better. Had the 3DS for longer so obviously there will be problems. I keep cleaning lint away from the Vita's shoulder buttons so it seems to be something that may occur in the future to this very soon. I would say however the Vita is giving me more fun, if only for the massive amount of AAA titles and especially the decade of gaming I missed from not having a PlayStation. Right now my 3DS is the dependable old dog. Some things are showing and its not getting any better but it seems like its always been there. The Vita is like the new puppy I have just showing me everything it can do with a lot of enthusiasm before its age begins to show.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Received an E-mail about a Plane Ticket You Never Purchased? Or a Package from FedEx You Never Ordered?

Lots of friends and family of mine have recently come to me about e-mails they receive regarding plane tickets or FedEx orders they've supposedly placed. I too receive them, mostly from "Delta" in large quantities. I have honestly never read them because I always know when they are fake. How would I know this?

Simple, I don't buy plane tickets often. I also receive so many of them that I've grown accustomed to just knowing when one is fake. When I purchase a plane ticket, I am expecting it to come to me and I will know if it's a fake or not because I check immediately after making the purchase.

What do you do if you receive one of these fake e-mails? Nothing except delete them. Don't even open them if you know they are a fake. Nothing will probably happen if you do open it, but there's no sense in wasting your time if you know beyond a doubt that it is a fake.

How can you escape these scams? Well, you can't really escape them. You can click the spam button all day on them but they come from so many sources that they always find a way back into your box.

There is a way for people who do make plane purchases often so they can know which are fakes and which aren't. It's not pretty, but it works much better than whatever method you currently have.

If you make lots of plane ticket purchases, create more than one e-mail and be strict about it. If your name is Joey and your primary e-mail address is, get a secondary e-mail address to be used for plane purchases and only plane purchases. Do not ever use it for anything else. You can name it something like or something similar to that. I recommend also using different e-mails for different airlines so you can be extra cautious if you do travel using multiple airlines.

Why is this? Well here's what usually happens.

Your number one most used e-mail address is sent all over the place to different people and companies. You e-mail your friend Bob, you use it to log into Facebook, you've created a PornHub account with it, etc. and somewhere along the line, one of these people or companies have intentionally or unintentionally "sold" your e-mail to one of these spammers who sends these scams to your e-mail. Some of these companies actually intentionally sell your e-mail to make a profit on the side while others, like your friend Bob, may have just had his e-mail hacked and the hacker is now using your e-mail to contact you after seeing that you're a contact of Bob.

If you designate one e-mail source for each company, it's less likely that you'll receive spam. In this process, you may also begin to see who is selling your e-mail. If you have one e-mail set only for Facebook and never ever contact anyone, including sending e-mails from one of your e-mails to another, you may begin to see spam e-mails sent to you which would indicate that Facebook may very well be unintentionally or intentionally selling your e-mail name.

This method isn't foolproof though. Your e-mail can still be picked up because something on your computer is reading which e-mail addresses you log into with and some spammers simply guess and send e-mails to random e-mail addresses like common ones such as So don't be fooled into thinking that this will prevent any and all scams, but it will limit them and it will help you in figuring out which ones are fake and which ones are not.

This method also works for those fake scams you receive about some "FedEx order" or other various scams that appear to come from legitimate companies and organizations.

Again, this method is tedious, but it's a better way to combat these fake e-mails so you don't become a victim of their scams.

If the e-mail says something about you being charged for a plane ticket, check your bank account statement. If a purchase has been made that corresponds with the e-mail, it may very well not be fake and you should contact the company directly (not using any contact information given in the e-mail) as well as your bank and report this unusual activity. Do not ever respond to the e-mails and do not ever use any of the contact information provided in the e-mail to contact the company. Instead, Google the company's name and when you get the real company's website, use that real website's "Contact Us" link (usually at the bottom of the page) to contact the company about this activity.

I hope this information was helpful for you. These e-mails are a hassle and cause many people stress. Let me know if I can improve on these in any way or if you have any other ideas whether it be how to combat these attacks or maybe you have a similar approach. Let me also know if this has worked well for you or hasn't worked out so well. I appreciate the genuine constructive criticism from my readers like you. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor PC Review - 9.5/10

This is one of those games where I play it at the launch date for so long I forget to sleep and curse the fact that I have to go to work in a few hours. Its one of the few games that engage me for much longer than after the initial first five hours I've played it and still continues to chuck something in my direction just as soon as my interest begins to wane or even before it.

The Good:
The environments are actually pretty good. Granted, you won't see too much variety in landscape till around about the second act, but what you get off the bat is very nice. Makeshift campsites, ruined and crumbling buildings, all for you to scale on at your leisure. The story reflects in the scenery and does a decent enough of a job to speak for itself.
The enemies and combat are definitely where this game shines brightest. The game devs kept talking about the game's central mechanic which was the Nemesis system. Basically, every single enemy you meet will differ from everyone else's experience. What really brings this home is the fact that if you get killed by an orc, they will rise in the ranks, become more powerful and will have their own unique way of speaking to you as well as how they deal with you in combat and how you need to deal with them based upon their unique strengths and weaknesses. This is the core mechanic of the game and it is amazing. In my playthrough, an orc with a horribly messed up face (like he'd been stung by bees) killed me as some random minon. This guy was my bane. Either he killed me or I killed him and about two times he came back because I didn't chop off his head and presumed he was dead. He was annoying and my fights with him were always great. This is something I hope more games get to use because it makes a pretty good game like this turn fantastic. One enemy in particular I remember too well is this random captain I was going to recruit. When I faced him, instead of him saying anything, he just was almost completely silent... save for slightly laughing and breathing like he was going to enjoy what he did next. So I killed him... cause I aint gonna have a guy like THAT in my ranks. Very rarely you'll meet an almost unkillable enemy due to this system. I had trouble with a war chief because he was using a shield I couldn't break and it was insanely difficult to get behind him to get a killing blow and he couldn't be hit by arrows. Normally I would have quit the game and looked at a walkthrough, but instead I just used my brain to think of a cheap, but effective strategy. This is an excellent idea because I never felt like I had to take myself out of the game to fully enjoy it. I used my own wit and intelligence to defeat an almost unkillable enemy... and it was awesome.
The other mechanic introduced is a sort of mind control. Second act rolls around and you get the ability to bend orcs to your will. This ties further into the game's story as you're trying to create and entire army to battle Sauron's forces. Your job is to either kill or mind control all five war chiefs. I decided to build my own army in their ranks. I picked orcs that either looked  really cool or had some cool abilities and sicked them on the lesser enemies and finally helping me kill the war chiefs. The quests to make your allies stronger are pretty cool. Sometimes they'll be recruiting soldiers into their ranks, other times they'll be going on beast hunts and sometimes, if I tell them, they'll go out and kill other captains. Captain kills are probably the coolest thing ever. If your captain is stronger than your target, you'll find yourself in a scenario where your captain has already captured them and is going to execute them. Sometimes its a duel if they're close in strength. If they're not close in strength, your captain will send an ambush to whittle down the enemy before showing themselves. Do you know how awesome that is?

The Bad:
This is not a traditional RPG. You won't be collecting loot from enemies (kind of), you won't be able to sell said loot to buy better loot, you don't have any other armors to choose from save a cosmetic one for preordering the game. It doesn't break the game, just makes me question what an RPG is. My brother actually asked this very question and when I explained it to him, he immediately lost interest. Not saying this game needs it, just saying I would have liked it.

The Meh:
I really don't like the way Talion looks. Its just... weird. Long hair, thick triangular jaw paired with a certain lack of a neck and one sleeve is missing from the beginning of the game. Its not a big thing, just don't like the look. The Dark Ranger costume isn't much better looking either. Still gotta have that triangle jaw with tiny eyes. Again, this is a very minor nitpick.
I can understand why most people would say the story is boring or bad. I get it. Its not bad so much as just treading ground in between the bits where we get to behead orcs. It serves its purpose, gives proper motivation to characters and is kind of interesting...? I mean, I've never been a huge Lord of the Rings fan so most of the references and tie backs are back to the original trilogy. Speaking of 'original trilogy', I'm more of a Star Wars guy, so if this game was set in the Star Wars universe (oh god that sounds like the greatest game ever; EA get working on that!) I would have 'got' more of the stuff. So, Lotr fans will probably have a field day with this game.

I reaaaally like this game and I reaaaally want to see this system implemented again. Perhaps not as another Lotr game (because I really don't see how that could work again) but maybe in another franchise. Without the Nemesis system? I'd give this game about an 8.5, making it not amazing but decent enough to where I feel like my time wasn't wasted playing it and my money went somewhere decent. I would really like to see Monolith (the game's developers) get their hands into more games and maybe even more existing series. They talked a lot about being truthful and fair to the stuff that came before they made the game, which is admirable and a good way to tackle nerd culture... stuff. Buy it cause its awesome. Keep it cause its awesome. Play it again... cause its awesome.