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.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hyrule Warriors (WiiU)

I've always loved Zelda games.  They are some of the few games I remember playing as a kid.  Either watching my two older brothers beat A Link to the Past or finishing Link's Awakening for the first time on the Super Gameboy.  I just have some fond memories of the games.  This game plays on that by bringing all the characters I know and love (and some I forgot about) into one game.

This by no means is a normal Zelda game.  If it sounds familiar, this is musou style game.  Basically, if you have ever played a Dynasty Warriors game, then you will know what that is.  Large areas of tons of enemies to just hack and slash your way through.  This game is just Zelda themed.

To get to it, the combat is solid but does suffer a little when fighting certain enemies.  I can recall lots of times when I was unfairly destroyed by an enemy I had no chance of even seeing.  Still, it is pretty simple.  Pick a map, pick a character, and try your best.  Each character feels unique and even different weapons can change how the game feels.  Some characters are slow but powerful, others are weak but fast.  It really just takes picking the right character at the right time.

There is a lot to this game.  I mainly stuck with the story but there are challenges and an adventure mode.  Lots of content that you typically don't find in a Warriors game.  I think this is partially due to Nintendo really wanting to flesh this game out.  Sure they didn't develop it but they had the final say as to what went in.

If you are a Zelda game fan, this is definitely worth playing.  There is a lot to offer, lots of nostalgia, and just lots of fun.  Sure the game is pretty mindless at times as you move from point to point or enemy to enemy but sometimes a player just needs to vent.  This is a great game to get some frustration out on.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Dragon Quest VI: Realm of Revelations (NDS)

Dragon Quest games are an interesting concept to me.  At the core, each game is essentially the same.  The combat rarely changes in a drastic way, the enemies seem familiar, and even the plot doesn't get too crazy.  Despite all this, this series is a core for any RPGamer.  When people ask what a classic RPG is, Dragon Quest often makes the lists.  This game is no exception.

The plot is pretty straightforward.  Save the world, rescue people, high fantasy adventure, etc.  What sets this one apart is the fact that the world is split between the real world and the dream world.  This mechanic is used numerous times to tie the whole overarching plot together.  There are some pretty predictable plot twists during the game and at times it seems kind of cliche but it never feels stale.

Combat is similar to the other games in the title.  The player has their team of four combatants and controls what they do.  Each character feels unique and has their own strengths and weaknesses.  One of the new things in this game is the vocation system.  Basically, the player picks the vocations for the team at a certain point in the game.  These can be switched as needed but a lot of time it is better to pick one and master it.  Each of these "trades" feel different and a lot of the basic ones are needed to unlock the fancier ones.  Each character can be any of the vocations but some perform better than others in them.  For instance, Carter is naturally strong.  So making him a warrior or attack type vocation suits him better than being a mage.  That doesn't stop the player from making Carter a mage and it is sometimes fun to experiment.  As the "trades" level up, characters learn skills that they keep.  This really lets players customize their team.

The music isn't too memorable.  If you have heard a Dragon Quest game before, this will sound incredibly similar.  The art is also very similar.  This is not a bad thing.  The game definitely benefits from being on the DS.  It is nice to be able to play this game on the go, especially since it is on the longer side.  There are some post game things to do and lots to keep players busy, so it is well worth the money.

For what it is worth, this game is great.  It seems generic at the core but there is a lot there to make the experience unique for each player.  The typical humor for the series is still there and the enemy names still make me chuckle.  If you like RPGs or Dragon Quest, this is an excellent entry to the series.  Having it portable doesn't hurt and it is definitely a great addition to any collection.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Steins;Gate (PSVita)

Visual novels are often viewed as something that is very niche and uninteresting to the masses.  I feel that this game is perfectly acceptable to anybody that enjoys a good story.  Although sometimes it is hard to follow, it has lots of characters and a tale that keeps you interested.

As a game, this is pretty simple.  Follow the story and sometimes answer questions or send emails.  These actions can lead to different endings and it is worth it to try to get all the endings.  It gives you a complete picture of the whole story.

I can't really talk too much more about this without spoiling too much.  If you have the time to play this and like visual novels, this is a must have.  It is really good.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Devil May Cry HD (PS3)

Twitch combat and combo based action games have never been my forte.  I'm terrible at them.  I have a hard time doing combos in things.  So when I decided to get the Devil May Cry trilogy for the PS3, I thought I was going to have a super hard time with it.  I was right.

The first game for me was brutal.  My scores for the various challenges were pretty bad.  I lost to a lot of the bosses numerous times and I had to use cheap tactics and items to win.  The game itself is solid though.  The combat is fluid and when the player whiffs on an attack or dodge, it is their fault not the games.  Albeit, there are some rooms where the camera was in an odd place and an off-screen enemy rushes without little notices.  I don't remember anything feeling cheap or downright frustrating.

The story is kind of unique.  Demon hunter Dante is investigating a castle or whatever.  Things happen, people get killed, and things gets saved.  Some of the scenes get cheesy with how over the top it is and some of the dialogue is questionable but this is what the developers were going for.  Opposed to the darker feel that Devil May Cry 2 had, this one is a little pulpier.

There is a lot of game to play and lots of ways a player can push themselves.  Multiple difficulties, lots of challenging parts, and different ways to play.  In a lot of ways, this game is like God of War but much more refined.  The combat is much tighter.  Sure there are some flaws with the combat and sometimes the platforming was sketchy but the game as a whole is solid.  I enjoyed myself as much as I could for a type of game I am absolutely terrible at.