Saturday, August 4, 2018

Injustice: Gods Among Us (PS3)

Growing up as a kid, I never really got into comic books and didn't really know much about the DC characters.  Sure I watched the Batman and Superman cartoons from the '90s but that was about it.  I stopped really caring about the DC heroes around the time the Justice League cartoon was towards the end of its run.  I bought this game on a whim and it was fun.

The story behind this game is similar to the Injustice comics from what I've been told.  Having never read them, I didn't know what to expect.  All in all, it was a pretty typical comic fair with certain characters acting like they should and some characters that I don't like just being there.  I'll say this now, I have never been a fan of The Flash.  Learning that he is now one of the most important heroes in the DC pantheon kind of makes me sad but whatever.  I'll live.

The gameplay is the best thing about this game for me.  It is a solid fighting game similar to the recent outings of the Mortal Kombat series.  It is a 1-on-1 fight to the end with some stage hazards.  The difference is how the life meters work.  Essentially each player has two life bars.  If one player does well, they could win without losing a bar.  Bars really are just a way to split the bouts into different rounds with a round ending when a player loses a life bar. 

This was a pretty fun game and I definitely felt a little nostalgia playing as some of my old favorites like Batman.  If you are a comic fan, this is definitely worth picking up.  Sure it isn't as fluid as some of the anime fighters I have played but it is a solid experience.  I do want to play the second one but I have been waiting for a version with all the DLC.  Maybe someday I will pick it up.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

A new Nintendo console and a new Legend of Zelda.  I'm not saying I specifically purchased a Switch for this game but it was the first game I had purchased for said console.  I've always been a huge fan of the series and I do enjoy running around the world of Hyrule.  This game was different in a lot of good ways and there were some things in it that I definitely did not like.

To start off, this is the first truly open world Zelda game.  From the time you leave the first little area that serves as a basic training ground, you can pretty much go anywhere and do anything you want.  See an interesting tree up on a mountain?  Go up there and see what is up there.  Find a shrine hidden in a canyon?  There is nothing stopping the player from getting to it.

There is a lot of freedom in this game and at times it is great.  But sometimes it can be really daunting.  There is a basic guidance through the story but sometimes the game can feel unstructured.  This isn't a terrible thing, too many games hold the player's hand and this game does not. 

With all that said, I did have some minor complaints.  Climbing and stamina were often times a hindrance.  I do understand that having stamina is a necessary thing but when they add in things like rain, it is more frustrating than fun.  Often times I would be trekking somewhere and simply have to stop because the random weather effect had changed to rain making it impossible to climb what I needed to.  Just simply stop and wait out the rain. 

Also, this brings up the other weather effects.  I know they were used to make each area feel unique and having to switch armor was a nice idea but often times the armor you needed to wear just to survive was terrible and would leave the player incredibly weak in areas with some very dangerous foes.  This often lead me to just run away from things instead of killing them.  I will simply just keep a Lionel at the spawn distance away from me because these foes were often just too hardy and not worth the effort to kill.

I also did not really like the weapon degradation mechanic.  I understand it is necessary because having a weapon that is too good would have broken the game but it also makes any rewards you get feel really worthless.  Make it through a difficult shrine and get a neat weapon, ultimately to never use it because it will break sooner than expected.  Weapons just break way too easily.

Even with these minor things, the game is fantastic.  It is a wonderful adventure and just so beautiful that wandering around was a favorite past-time of mine.  Sure, I didn't do everything and I was definitely missing quite a few shrines but I enjoyed what I played.  It was my journey and that is why I liked it.  Nobody else played the game like I did.  Nobody made the same choices and did things the same way I did.  Even some of the puzzles have multiple solutions, which definitely is one the best things they have done in a long time.  Sure the story was really fragmented and kind of weak compared to past titles.  The fun is there and this is definitely an entry into this series that just can't be missed.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Doom 3 BFG Edition (PS3)

Doom is one of those games that I always forget that I played.  Doom 3 is probably the most forgettable of the games I have played.  I haven't played the most recent release in the series.  I'm not a huge fan of them because I'm not the best at shooters.

As far as story goes, the game follows the same concept of the previous games.  Demons have invaded a space station because humans are stupid and they unleashed them.  It is the players job to put an end to it before all of humanity is threatened.  This sounds familiar and honestly, it is if you played the first two.  There is nothing wrong with this though because each game builds on the previous game.

The combat here is very similar.  With health packs, armor, and varying levels of increased weaponry.  Some weapons are obviously better than others and will be mainstays.  Mainly the shotgun and rocket launcher.  Everything else felt weak.  Even the BFG didn't feel satisfying to fire in this game but that was just me. 

I will say they did try out some interesting concepts.  The lighting was huge in this game, a little annoying at times but it does help the game feel.  They did a good job of setting up the story but it kind of gets jumbled and I honestly can't even remember how this game ends.  A fun distraction if you ever want to run around and kill demons.  Not the best game in the series though.  There are problems with it but not enough to warrant avoiding the game.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Puchi Puchi Virus (NDS)

I've never been big on puzzle games.  I mean yeah, I have played the classics like Tetris.  But that is about it.  I gave this a try since it was brought to the US by one of my favorite publishers, Nippon Ichi Software.

The game is pretty simple.  Each puzzle is about destroying viruses in a patient.  The patience are all anthropomorphized animals or something else silly.  They usually have a funny name or something about them.  The game is quite simple at the beginning but quickly ramps up.

To this day, I still don't know how to beat the later levels.  There are levels of chaining and the speed you have to move at, I just don't have the skill.  It is a very basic game but if you really like puzzle games, give it a go.  I certainly got into it until I hit the challenging final levels.  Seriously, I don't know how anybody can move their hand fast enough to beat them.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bioshock 2 (PS3)

Returning to a place that was long forgotten.  It was pretty obvious after the first game that developers weren't done with Rapture.  Although some of the charm had definitely left the series at this time, it was still a worthy entry.

First off, if the player has played the first game, this isn't going to be a huge change.  There are some obvious changes to some of the mechanics and there is a bigger emphasis on combat this time around.  Which makes sense, since the player is a Big Daddy.

The story takes the player through some familiar scenery but also through some new areas.  I honestly don't remember too much about the various set pieces or scenes in this game.  It wasn't as memorable as the first game.  Things kind of blend together at times.

Combat felt very similar to the first game as well.  There are some familiar plasmids to use and some new weapons.  Taking on the various enemies was often times very annoying if I wasn't paying close attention to what was going on but I didn't have a hard time beating the game.  In fact, one of the most tense moments at the end was completely disarmed for me because of my plasmid setup.  I won't spoil too much but near the end of the game there is a timed section where the player has to fend off multiple Big Daddy class enemies and survive till the timer ends.  My setup included a stealth module, such that I was rendered completely invisible to the enemy as long as I didn't move.  So I simply setup on the point that the game told me to be at and waited out the timer, watching the enemies just lumber by without being a threat.

The first game was a great start to the whole series.  It set things off on a good note, built up a fantastic world, and built suspense.  This game, while not incredibly memorable, did similar things.  It was fun playing as a Big Daddy and there are some twists in the story.  None as big as the first game but there was an attempt.  If you enjoyed Bioshock, this is a must play.  It adds to the story and was a decent ride.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition (3DS)

I have a love affair with fighting games.  On the one hand, I sometimes really enjoy them.  Blazblue as a whole is one of my favorites.  Street Fighter was a series I just never really got into.  Sure I played Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo as a kid but I only ever button mashed.  I didn't know what combos or even moves were.

So when this game came out, I decided to give the series a serious go.  Sure, this game is the weakest version of the game but I wanted to start here. I found it an enjoyable excursion and just a tiny bit frustrating at times.  I will state this game's stated feature, 3D fighting mode, works for the most part but doesn't add too much.

Street Fighter is a fighting game series that pits two combatants against each other in a duel to see who is the best.  Each character has a unique moveset or at least a unique feel.  Some characters are very similar and share some moves but these moves will often do different things or react differently.

Playing this game and being good at this game are hugely different.  It is pretty simple to beat the computer at lower level fights.  Button mashing with the occasional move will often net a win.  Try and do that against a human opponent and it is met with bitter defeat.  A lot of the playerbase has been playing these games for years.  Studying frame data, learning combos, memorizing what to do when with their character of choice, etc.  For a newbie, it is really a daunting task.

Street Fighter is a genre staple.  Sure lately the series has seem some hard times, I haven't played Street Fighter V yet, but it is still fun at the core.  Watching characters pull off spectacular moves, trying to best an opponent, or just messing around.  You can't go wrong with this title.  Sure the online mode is pretty much dead but there is still some fun to be had.  Being able to play Street Fighter on a portable gaming console is also really fun.  It definitely lends itself to a short burst kind of playstyle.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3)

How do you follow up one of the most polarizing and drastic changes in a long standing franchise like Final Fantasy?  You make a sequel with a better combat system but a more confusing story.  Final Fantasy XIII-2 is probably not what most Final Fantasy fans were expecting. The only other game in the series to get a sequel was Final Fantasy X, so this was a surprise to those that are avid fans.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 follows almost immediately after the first game.  Whereas the ending cutscene of the first game is the beginning cutscene of this game.  If a player hasn't finished XIII, things might get a little confusing.  Don't worry though, even if they have played the first game, the story still gets confusing.  See, this story centers around time travel.  Not to go into too much details for fear of spoilers but time got all messed up due to reasons that aren't really explained well.  You play as the heroine's sister from the first game, Serah.  What seemed like a minor character in the first game, turns into the main character in this game.  Throughout the story, there are callbacks to events from the first game and each of the main characters makes an appearance of some kind.

Time travel makes everything really complicated.  There are very few games that seem to get the concept right and this is definitely not one of them.  All the plot holes aside, there is a story of redemption and sadness.  If you pay close enough attention, the main villain's story is quite tragic and worthy.  It saves the game from just being a slog.  The ending, while cliched, does end on a cliffhanger.  Which makes it seem weird knowing that there wasn't a third game in the works at the time.

The combat is the draw here.  The team at Square Enix took the core system from XIII and revamped it to be a little more user friendly.  The crystarium tree is changed and getting new skills different.  The third party member is now a monster, which you collect throughout the game and fuse.  Once you find a monster you really like though, they can be powered up and used for most of the game.  While some are obviously better than others, each plays a role.  It adds a little fun to the game, collecting and training monsters.  It gets a little addictive.

The visuals are quite stunning at times.  Especially in the open areas.  As opposed to most of XIII, this game is mostly open world from the get go.  There are towns to visit but this is drastically different from the first game.  There are a multitude of side quests to keep a player busy and often having good rewards.  Revisiting already cleared areas will sometimes net a new item or monster.  It is often really easy to get lost.  I do have to note, out of the three games in the XIII saga, this one has the best soundtrack, hands down.  Every song in this game evokes an emotion and plays nicely with the theme of the game.  The only one that sticks out is the random rap song for chocobo music.  It is really out of place and a very sharp thorn in the great soundtrack.  Although, I grew to tolerate the song, it really did seem out of place.

This game is for those that enjoyed Final Fantasy XIII.  It really seems like an evolution of the first game and the player can see what Square Enix had in mind for the first game.  It seems like this was what they originally wanted the first game to be.  The combat system is solid, the controls much tighter, and visuals are much more polished.  The game is much more open and there is always something to do.  It is a shame the story gets as confusing as it does at times but if you can find the actual story arc the developers had in mind (i.e. anything involving Caius), there is a decent tale to be told here.  If you haven't played this game and enjoy Final Fantasy games, pick this up.  If not for the soundtrack alone.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Dead Space (PS3)

I was never huge on survival horror games growing up.  Sure I had tried Resident Evil and did enjoy Resident Evil 4 when I finally got around to playing it in high school but I was never a huge fan of it.  This game kind of changed that.  This is easily one of the most accessible survival horror style games out there.

The story isn't hugely deep.  You are a space engineer set out on a job to fix a spaceship.  Things start out bad with a lot of strange happenings and only get worse.  Delving into concepts of religion and sacrifice, this game starts the series off on a good note.  It doesn't feel like the normal space-marine shooter and at times you remember that the character you control is not a hardened soldier but just a guy trying to do his job and survive.

Combat is a huge draw in this game.  There are a good variety of weapons but the initial weapon you get, the Plasma Cutter, is all I needed.  I played the whole game only using this weapon.  It is very versatile and covers all your needs for the entire game.  Just like a typical survival game, ammo and resources are limited.  There is a good customization option for all the weapons and armor to cover all the needs a player may have.  One thing that is really different from other zombie games is that headshots are near worthless.  The game really wants players to use the dismemberment mechanics to good use, encouraging arm/leg shots.

This is one of the few horror games that I legitimately was scared at times.  Most of the scares are jump scares but sometimes there are some pretty weird psychological things going on.  The combat is nice and the game has features that make it so the player never really gets lost.  At times this is really nice and is a totally optional part of the game for those players that want to discover where to go on their own.  It is a shame that this series kind of goes downhill and is pretty much dead at this point.  If you like survival horror games or just space games with zombies, try this game.  It is well worth the effort.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (PS3)

I've never really been a big fighting game fan.  Sure I've played some of the bigger titles like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat.  Even some niche titles like Nitroplus Blasterz or Blazblue.  This game was one of the first games that kind of got me interested in the genre as a whole.  For some reason, it really clicked with me.

This is a game starring characters from the Marvel universe pitted against characters from popular series made by Capcom.  I had never played the first two games because frankly, I never knew they existed.  I never really followed fighting games after I got hooked on RPGs in my teen years.  When I found the genre again in college, this was refreshing.

The game is very complicated in terms of coming up with combos and learning match-ups. See, each character is unique.  They all have strengths and weaknesses.  Sure some are obviously higher tier characters but when you aren't playing in tournaments or in ranked matches, it is fun to experiment with different setups.

There are lots of other modes in this game than just the typical VS and online matches.  The arcade/story mode is actually well done, with each character having a unique ending.  I enjoyed working my way through the roster and learning about characters from both sides of the house that I had never heard of before.

Fighting games are an interesting genre to me.  They are fun to pop in for a short while, get some stress out, and move on.  This game lends itself to this type of gameplay.  Although, if you want to be any good at the game, you have to practice, learn moves, memorize frames, etc.  There is a huge amount of depth to this game and anybody who learns the ins and outs of this will be rewarded.  For me, the reward was seeing some of my favorite characters and some new faces battle it out in combat.  I mean fans of both Capcom and Marvel have always wondered who would win in various battles and now they can.  Definitely worth picking up if you like Marvel, Capcom, or fighting games in general.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed (PSVita)

Growing up, I was never really a Sonic fan.  One of my siblings had a Sega Genesis but we never used it much.  The games were expensive and Super Mario World on the SNES was still so much fun.  As I got older, I didn't play Sonic games much either.  This is probably one of the first that I played and it isn't really a Sonic game.

This is Sega's answer to Mario Kart and honestly, Mario Kart is much better.  The racing is solid but floaty at times.  Switching between the different forms of vehicles is an interesting concept at first but can be jarring when moving from land or water to flight.

The cast of characters run the gambit of successful Sega franchises.  Most of them I didn't know, seeing as how I never had Sega consoles growing up. Sure Sonic and his ever growing crew of friends are easily recognizable but some of them, I still don't know.  I also don't understand why Wreck-it Ralph was in this.  I guess they needed a tie-in somewhere but it just seems kind of odd.

This game isn't terrible.  It has some interesting concepts and the racing is solid.  But I still enjoy Mario Kart more.  There is just something about it that makes it seem much better.  It is so much simpler and yet there is still a lot there.  The items are recognizable and the characters were ones I grew up with.  Plus, this is the only game I have ever played on my Vita that has caused it to hard crash.  A hard enough crash that the Vita asked me to send an error report to Sony.  I have never had a Vita game do this and this is the only time I have ever seen it since.