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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 PC Review - 8.5/10

If you couldn't guess by the title this is a sequel to the first Xenoverse game. Think Dragon Ball RPG if you're not familiar with the first game. You get to create your own character to fight along side with and against characters from the Dragon Ball franchise. Along the way you'll gain more skills, experience to level up, money to buy more gear and fight harder enemies.

The Good:
So from a very basic standpoint the game hits every single note when it comes to a good sequel. Think Terminator to Terminator 2 or Spiderman to Spiderman 2. Everything is amped up to make it feel bigger than the original, the addition of a bigger universe as well as making the story piggy back from the original. The lackluster hub world of the first game has been revamped into a much larger area with more things to do, more NPCs to interact with who have varying quests and the loading times of the game have been significantly cut. I would say that anyone playing on an outdated PC would probably have some performance issues considering that the world is much larger. I recently updated my PC so that isn't a problem for me. I debated downloading the game on my outdated laptop to see the difference, if any, but decided not to for time constraints.
One of the things I love is that there is an abundance of things to do in the game just starting off around the first few minutes of the game. You can completely ignore the main mission for a time in favor of varying side quests, gaining moves from trainers around the hub world or just simply exploring. I remember having to endlessly trek and search around for anything useful in the first game but this really isn't the case here.
The fighting mechanics have really been amped up here by adding in new moves and maneuvers making the game feel different but also very similar. You could easily jump from the first game to this and have a decent grasp on what to do and how to fight without looking at a manual.
A nice little touch I noticed was how the game actually has unique openings for each race you pick. It really didn't add much but was a nice touch I noticed. Playing as different races also gives you bonuses to other missions in the game but you only get one. This really amounts to just getting more money or items but its a nice little addition considering the first game never really had that.

The Bad:
Every single PC player got the shaft on this game. Not only did the game release a whole two days after the consoles but, living on the West Coast, I had to wait until 2 pm to finally download the game. So after a significant download time of which there was, strangely, no preload option until the day of I was finally able to play the game as quickly as possible so I could get the review out. After the download finally finished I experienced connectivity issues and even now still. Unfortunately I didn't see any option to stay out of online completely and every time I went back to the main menu I had to wait through about a solid minute of multiple times where the game connected to the online aspect. I personally didn't want to turn off my internet in case a new patch came in. Though this could be a fault on my part seeing as how my internet had to take several hours to download a 10 gig game there was also some problems with people who got the day one edition of the game and the developers said they were trying to fix the problem so that the content we paid extra for would become available. It seems like the game needs some more upkeep.
There's a significant amount of hand holding when the game first starts. First off they cripple you by not allowing you to fly around the massive map until about an hour into the main game. Tutorial prompts flash on the screen incessantly every so often and doesn't really ever go away. After I got the ability to fly in the hub world I was forced into doing these EXTREMELY lengthy tutorials on a new type of mission where you fight harder bosses. Elder Kai has these optional missions to teach you the various mechanics of the game and how to fight which I thought was cool until I played them. There you're forced into painfully long explanations on how to do a thing, repeating the information and then doing it all while you are unable to move or do anything other than pressing A to continue the conversation. This is really a problem when you want to play as other characters. The first game crippled you in forcing you to play one character and then after playing a significant amount of the game only then were you able to make new characters. Even then they shared the same save file so you could take a level 1 character into the final boss fight of the game. This game separates the saves for different characters which seems good until the tutorials rear their ugly heads again, however this time you should be well versed in how to use the mechanics and controls yet they still will go through the same song and dance limiting your mobility, your freedom and ultimately making it a "Spam the button so I can get to the fun" type deal. This could have easily been subverted with the option to skip tutorials when possible however I see no option. So starting a new character will end up being a great annoyance.
The game takes a MASSIVE difficulty spike really early on. As long as you're not terrible every fight will vary from cake walk to somewhat challenging. However, once you start fighting Freiza it skyrockets in difficulty, most notably once Goku becomes a Super Saiyan. You will have to fight not only Freiza in his most powerful form but Cooler makes an appearance. They power up and proceed to rip any delusions of grandeur from your hands. They are relentless with their basic attacks and can easily juggle you while using the janky camera to their advantage as it will stick on any nooks and crannies. So when you get knocked down you might as well throw in the towel because you've just lost. It becomes less a challenge of skill and more "Did you bring enough powerful healing items and also spam this one attack with the right build that you have been forced into". If you've been plugging any points into basic attack, powering up any of your supers/ultimates or Ki then you might as well make a new character because you aren't going anywhere. I think its a problem with the AI being to aggressive. The main problem is that its so early on and it forces you into a corner of "Git gud or go home" that is completely removed from the rest of the game. Even the final boss isn't as hard as these two. God forbid if you let Goku die because you will experience a boss fight even more frustrating than anything in the Dark Souls' franchise.

The game is good but it has some problems but problems that can be fixed eventually. I would say it is better than the original game despite my score. Xenoverse gave me a baseline for Dragon Ball content I didn't have before and now Xenoverse 2 has cemented what I should expect from these games. If you're a fan of the series you'll definitely enjoy it though you might be annoyed if you can't get the Day 1 Edition of the game. Get it if you can because of the extras though its not going to ruin the overall experience.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dark Souls 3 Ashes of Ariandel DLC Xbox One Review - 7/10

The Good:
As always the game looks very nice. There's a variety when it comes to the various areas given in the new DLC. First a frosty forest then a Lovecraftian village. Basically you're getting some fair variety, as far as a piece of content is concerned.
The enemies are unique and interesting save for the wolves which are actually just reskins of the regular undead dogs and the larger dogs are copy pasted versions of the Royal Rat Authority fight from Dark Souls 2. Though that's not the absolute worst thing and I don't think it detracts from the game in really anyway.
There's some unique weapons that have been added, which I will explain a bit more on later. For now they're varied and different from the vanilla game and I can definitely see them being useful for other gameplays as well as PvP. There's also been some new armor added, however, I see that as purely cosmetic. While some of them may have differing effects and uses they all seem to just be window dressing as far as I'm concerned.

The Bad:
While I do like the weapons there are far too little clocking in around just 12 conventional, one pyromancy flame, one torch and two shields (technically three but I tied it in with the conventional). While that may seem like a decent number the problem is that magic users have been given the shaft again. Miracles and pyromancers get at least one thing while there seems to be no staves. This problem seems to have been pulled over from the main game seeing as how at launch, and still currently, conventional magic is still terrible without severely crippling yourself. The best I can say is they've added in a new spear that can be thrown and its damage is best when having Focus Points and dips down significantly without them but that isn't really much of anything. They have added a few new spells but I doubt two spells will make up for its uselessness in PvP as well as the PvE game.
There are only two bosses in this DLC. Compared to other DLC under From Software's games this is paltry at best. The first is a generic gank fight that pits you against an NPC and wolves. Its definitely interesting but the problem comes when the real challenge is simply just avoiding the hordes of wolves nipping at your heels rather than an actual fight. The final boss is a decent fight, forcing you to use your healing items sensibly while also going through different phases. Though if I had to say I'd rather have a fight like Sif's where the boss gets weaker through the match. It doesn't really make sense for you to kill a boss and have them revive only to be even stronger. If anything they should be strong at first, forcing you to waste your healing, only to mirror the player's strength as the fight drags on. Though that's more of a personal feeling than anything. The fight is interesting but really ends up being a let down as From Soft ruined the surprise by showing her in the trailer. So when you first meet her as a friendly there's no surprise later. I personally don't care about having the game spoiled but others do and putting the twist reveal in the trailer just takes away from the experience.
If I had to lay my biggest criticism its with the enemies though this is more of a general From Soft thing that has been going on. Whenever they try to amp up the difficulty it comes off shallow almost every time. Giving the enemy more health, limitless stamina, an aggressive behavior combined with the fact they can chip off your health by half with a single hit does make the game harder but this is how it keeps going. There's these new knights that fit this criteria to a T. They hit harder, don't seem to falter and use really annoying tracking attacks far too often. The first encounter I had with one of them they used the same running jump attack buff three times in a row, each hitting significantly hard with my level 80 quality build. If you don't know what a quality build is its basically very balanced stats so I can take a decent amount of punishment while dishing it out as well without sacrificing maneuverability and staying away from magic completely. I like to call this artificial difficulty kind of like a kid saying "No! You can't do that because of this thing I just invented!" Having a few of these enemies every once and a while isn't bad but populating almost an entire area of them is not. Which really doesn't make sense because not more than an hour later into the next area and you face these powerful crow enemies who are fast, hit hard and their attacks are hard to telegraph but they're less of a test of endurance and more of an event. They have unique weapons and moves and are a genuine challenge. I wish there were more like them than the forest knights.
From a technical stand point this DLC does have a far ways to go to make it better. If you're walking from a foggy area to a non foggy one you'll notice that the FPS dips SIGNIFICANTLY. It seems to go from 60 down to 20. I would also like to reiterate that I am playing on my Xbox One and not my PC so this shouldn't be a technical problem on my end. If you really want to see how bad it is, in the crow village you're supposed to run and jump onto this roof after coming to a locked gate to progress further. I've tried to jump and every single time the frames dip without fail. Just saying the game needs a patch just to fix the bugs of this DLC.

I personally think the price is too much for this DLC, though if you're reading this you're probably a fan of the games and have already purchased it. Buy it if you want more out of the game. If you haven't bought the initial game this won't pull you in to the rest of it.
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