June 5th, 2019 by Zeke Gonzalez

Is it worth more than Mario Kart?

Hi I’m Chet Harrison and this is my pawn shop. Okay just kidding this a review page. Anyway, I like karting games but our pal Dale Desimone (Zeke) is an expert on these things and can tell us what we’re really dealing with here. Team Sonic Racing is a multi-platform kart racing game smart enough to release before Crash Team Racing pops up and takes over. Is this any good? YES*

*mainly for couch multi and it being multi-platform. It’s better than Mario Kart anyway. ^_-



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June 1st, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Kart racing mayhem with slightly less cheating BS.

Mario Kart forever held the crown for mascot kart racing games, with Crash Team Racing and Sonic All-stars Racing trailing behind. Team Sonic Racing doesn’t really do much in the way of innovation. It feels a lot more like they just added a new gameplay mode to a multiplayer game that’s already been out. TSR stays literally grounded without the “transformed” shenanigans, and this time all the SEGA “stars” didn’t get any invites. Sad. But this one is actually worth your time!

Team Sonic Racing Graphics

GRAPHICS: 1/2

  • Rock solid 60FPS in single player mode, but frame drop increases in local multiplayer. Split screen also tends to make the other NPC cars look a bit on the jittery side.
  • Brilliant recreations of classic sonic levels. I think. Sonic has had a lot of games, who knows, maybe some were pulled out of their butts?
  • Everything looks internally consistent, but in terms of overall quality, this game does absolutely nothing special to make it shine.
  • Lighting FX and color palettes are incredibly spastic on the casino circuits, with a couple sections that look half-finished.
  • All that said, the car detail is surprisingly thorough. All cars have mods that change the cosmetic looks of the karts (and performance). But even better, the paint schemes are complex and each individual color comes with 15+ different shaders.
  • TFW I can make Tails drive a faux-Batmobile.
  • Sky Road is an absolutely unapologetic Rainbow Road knockoff.
Team Sonic Racing Story

STORY/IMMERSION: 1/2

  • Once again we have a racing game with a plot that it didn’t need. I can’t tell you what happened, I skipped the cutscenes after watching a few.
  • This game practically encourages skipping the cutscenes, as there’s an option on each race in the campaign to skip all the dialog and go straight to the race. Major props for doing this.
  • What’s really egregious is how the plot is carried out. It’s just a blurred out JPG of the track you’re on with PNGs of Sonic characters saying their lines. It’s like watching a kid wave paper cutouts of the crew while mimicking their voices.
  • The script quality also leads me to believe that this was not only written for children, but was in fact written by a child.
  • The campaign itself has a neat little overworld design with normal races and special challenges to keep things fresh. Albeit the CPU drivers get a bit cheaty towards the middle of things.
  • Also, the challenge races were dumbfoundingly challenging. Me and my friend had to take turns playing the same challenge over and over until we both gave up. The vague instructions and tip section didn’t help.
Team Sonic Racing Audio

AUDIO: 1/2

  • It’s a Sonic OST, of course it’s going to have some absolutely kickass tracks. Music tracks, not race tracks (those are fine too).
  • Try to keep playing this game with “team comms” turned on. Every character has about 8-10 phrases total and will say them early and often. Many times they will actually say the same quip twice in a single race.
  • Oh and every single “quip” is the most cringe thing possible. It’s painful. Just imagine Big the Cat saying literally anything ever.
  • Now, when I went into the Garage in the main menu, I heard a remix of the game’s theme song that I absolutely loved. Little did I know, that it was done by The Qemists, a band I love. And DAMN is it good.
Team Sonic Racing Gameplay

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

  • What’s different about this iteration of SEGA’s mascot kart game? This time around its the team gameplay mechanics, which add a lot of neat twists. Races can consist of up to four 3-person teams. Doing several team actions will lead you to victory.
  • Team actions include driving behind your team’s leader to get a “slingshot” boost, sharing/receiving powerups from your teammates, and skimming real close to a teammate who’s been hit gives them a boost. Basically there are a lot of boosts.
  • This feels less random than some of the other mascot kart games. The powerups aren’t very original but some of the more overpowered ones in other games aren’t present.
  • The only real BS factor is the enemy AI, so far playing against them on normal feels far too challenging, as it seems like the CPU team will just magically get an ultimate boost if you’re ahead for more than 10 seconds. This can be remedied by playing the game with real people.
  • Speaking of real people, that’s the best way to enjoy this game. Local multi supports 4 players. Three of you can be on the same team in a team race or all race with their own teams with CPU support. Or, you can go classic with a good ol’ fashioned singles race.
Team Sonic Racing Fun

FUN: 2/2

  • If you’re interested in popping the game in and playing with your friends, you’re in luck. The multiplayer starts with all 15 characters and 18 of the 21 tracks available right from the get-go. No unnecessary grinding in the campaign.
  • There’s plenty of variety to keep things interesting. I ended up playing this game for somewhere around 6 hours straight. Me and a buddy played a for a while, he left. I played by myself. Then a different buddy arrived and we played again. I did not get bored.
  • This game has the dreaded loot boxes in the form of a gacha machine. Only, you can’t buy them for real money, so no exploitative practices here. SEGA actually has ethical standards apparently.
  • Interestingly enough, it’s very easy to earn enough coins to open tons and tons in one go. I opened 41 consecutive boxes from time all by myself, and another solid 30 when playing with friends.
  • There are SOME upgrades in the loot system, BUT all upgrades come with a downside (sacrificing speeed for handling, etc). The prizes you win in the machine do seem to be based on which character you play with. I got back to back to back to back upgrades for Tails early on.

Team Sonic Racing really surprised me. Given Sonic’s poor track record, the game could have been terrible. Instead, I got a slight nostalgia kick after playing for a couple hours. If you’re a big fan of mascot kart racing games and have some friends around, it’s a solid game for parties and easy to pick up. It’s already well priced at $39.99. With summer on the horizon, it’s possible it will go on sale, many games do after a few weeks. I might say wait for a sale, but if you’re a fan of the series, go for it.

SCORE: 7/10




Wait I just gave Rage 2 a 6/10, does that mean this game is better? Guess Team Sonic Racing is the way to go.

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June 1st, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

It may be called Rage but I’m not even mad.

Allegedly, Rage 2 was an endangered game until Avalanche Studios “rescued” it. I’m not sure that is truly the case. The shooting in the game is still the ultra-satisfying and fast paced action you expect from id software. It’s just too bad there’s this whole map and plot that get in the way of your enjoyment. How so?

GRAPHICS

GRAPHICS: 1/2

  • If you like sand, you’re gonna love 80% of this game. There are spots that aren’t sand, and they actually don’t look as good.
  • There’s no designated aesthetic for Rage. It has been, and always will be, a combination of other similar games smashed together.
  • The draw distance on the map is dismal, and that’s on the Xbox One X version. And don’t get me started on their FOV slider.
  • Some games make you stop and stare in awe at the land before you. In Rage 2, I couldn’t ignore the scenery fast enough.
  • At least there was nothing distinctly terrible about the visuals?
STORY/IMMERSION

STORY/IMMERSION: 0/2

  • I don’t always skip cut scenes on a first playthrough. But when I do, it’s usually another id software game. Like Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, I regularly bypassed the plot out of sheer boredom.
  • The plot is too hard to follow anyway, the game expects you to just know stuff about the lore of Rage, which is something nobody has.
  • Did I even need a reason to shoot baddies? The game could have just said “here’s the bad guys, shoot them” and I would have had a blast.
  • But the game is so serious and the ridiculous action is at odds with the serious plot.
  • The plot also seems considerably unfinished, like it’s one third of a Far Cry game. And just like Ubisoft, they were keen to just litter the map with different stuff to do that earned you points towards being given story missions. One of which was a real slog.
  • This game was finished during a 3-night rental. Well, 4 nights total but I didn’t play it one night. I had to sort of force myself to plow through it.
AUDIO

AUDIO: 1/2

  • Soundtrack sounds like it’s on autopilot. And even worse, there were times where it became grueling. Because occasionally the action music won’t shut off and continues looping.
  • I’m trying REALLY hard to remember any song in this game and I just can’t. I distinctly remember the Mutant Bash TV song being OK. But that’s because it was comical.
  • The guns and explosions are satisfactory. You can certainly feel the impact when you pull the trigger.
  • Voice acting isn’t bad. Not that I know that much since I skipped half the cut scenes. It’s whatever. It did the job bare minimum.
  • When you pick up items of any kind you hear the same exact “pow” noise every time. You also get a chime when you upgrade but there are many upgrades where there’s no sound at all. Really removes the “ooomphf” from leveling up your sh*t.
  • The sound FX are like a poor imitation of Titanfall 2‘s BOMBASTIC level up and weapon sounds.
GAMEPLAY

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

  • Despite the open world feeling like more of a nuisance than a gameplay feature, it does leave a lot of areas to go to. And in all those areas are baddies and you get to shoot them. This game is at its best when you are shooting the baddies.
  • But seriously, id software has first person shooter mechanics down pat. It seems like Avalanche just used the exact same structure they did in their “Mad Max” adaptation, but let id do all the fine tuning.
  • The powers are fun, and while the challenge dramatically change, it’s not bogged down by any RPG elements. Each location just has a challenge rating, from 1-10, and I appreciate that you can just walk on in to a high difficulty area and still win if you’re good enough.
  • There are probably cooler guns, yet I spent the majority of the game with a heavily upgraded version of the starter weapon, the ranger assault rifle. And it never got old. Especially when upgraded to high capacity and faster fire rate. Why aim when you can shoot more bullets?
FUN

FUN: 2/2

  • When this game is a shooter, it’s a great shooter. When this game is an open world sandbox, it’s a boring commute between combat sections. I almost would have preferred to just have a loading screen to teleport me to all the missions.
  • You know what really breaks immersion though? Having a pause menu that stutters and lags when you go from category to category.
  • Also the HUD disappears if you press the “Xbox” button. I had to do this frequently because I was capturing footage.
  • Despite all the complaints above, the actual combat just makes up for it in so many ways. It’s similar to Destiny in a way. They got themselves a great shooter that feels well polished, looks good, but lacks in story and creativity.

As stated earlier, this game was finished during a rental. By the time I finished, I had not done many of the side quests and locations to clear. If I had more time, I might be inclined to do them. But, it’s just not a $60 experience. That campaign is short and there are plenty of elements that keep Rage 2 away from greatness.

SCORE: 6/10




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assassins creed 3 remaster
May 6th, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Why are people trying to make it look worse?

Assassins Creed III is the latest game from Ubisoft to receive the “Remaster” treatment. Pretty much all of their games have now been upgraded or started that way. Even Assassins Creed 1 has Xbox One X enhancements. Yet still, there are a plethora of videos popping up. They show the new remaster looking much worse than the original. This isn’t even the first time this has been done. Assassins Creed, the Ezio Trilogy was also lambasted for looking worse. However, in that case, it didn’t actually look worse. Polygon just chose to only show off stuff that looks worse. It included a bug that has nothing to do with the remaster. And here they are doing it again. The character models may look like clay, but everything else in the game looks far better than it ever did before. Here’s why.

Also, it’s free if you had the season pass for Assassins Creed Odyssey. Considering that the standalone game or the season pass both cost 40, you should definitely buy the latter.




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assassins creed III remastered review
April 22nd, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Despite what some online comparisons indicate, the remaster is the superior version of the game.

Let’s preface this one differently. I was a big Assassin’s Creed fan but AC3 greatly reduced my love for it. And Unity murdered it. When I played that game all those years ago, I was disappointed on all fronts. I was also setting really high expectations that could not be reached. And I wanted to beat the game before the real life “December 21, 2012” end of the word scenario so I rushed through all of it. Hated the difficulty, the setting was underused, Connor wasn’t a good protagonist, and lots of bugs and grievances with the detection settings for NPCs.

Well, I either completely sucked back then, or Assassin’s Creed III Remastered is a much better experience. This re-release comes with a remaster of Liberation HD (a remaster of a remaster?) as well. This remaster came out March 29, 2019 and either is free with your Assassin’s Creed Odyssey season pass or in the store for $40. The season pass for Odyssey costs $40 so you have almost no reason to not have that marvel of a game and its DLC packs. So, is it worth a revisit after so many years? Or perhaps, for those who haven’t played it, a decent entry?

GRAPHICS: 2/2

There will be a video on this in the near future but this title is the subject to a bit of controversy. If you look for graphical comparisons on Youtube, you will see that some of them imply it to be superior, yet others imply that it is worse. Whether it is misrepresenting the game on purpose or not, this review is from the “Xbox One X” version of the game, so the most graphically powerful console release. I can personally confirm that the release is highly superior in the graphical department. With the exception of a handful of faces, you’re getting better looks across the entire board. You have better color with HDR, lively landscapes, and incredible textures.

STORY: 1/2

You can’t really change an entire story in a remaster, can you? What you CAN do is try to engage your player more this time around. AC3 tells the story of… Haytham Kenway? Yes, the game pulls a reverse Metal Gear Solid 2. A sizeable chunk of the game has you playing as a character who is completely absent from all of the marketing materials. After a while, you do finally get to Connor or Kanien’kehá:ka (don’t try to pronounce it, just give up). The problem with this character is the game gives him a very rich setup due to the events of the first hours of gameplay. Yet at every turn, Connor manages to remain as dull as humanly possible. More on that in audio.

The other issue is that the setting doesn’t really do a good job at expressing the ins and outs of the Revolutionary War. Sure, there’s a lot of text you can read, but in terms of the game on its own, you basically just jump in and out of several world-famous events. Funnier is that it implies that Connor was at the front of all of them. Paul Revere? Connor? Boston Massacre? Connor. Boston Tea Party? Connor. The freaking battle at Chesapeake Bay? Connor.

Really stretching the believability, but then again this series more firmly expresses itself as alternate history. This makes the second time around a lot more enjoyable. Not to mention, I personally was able to focus more on a lot of content I had to pass on because I was so eager to finish.

AUDIO: 1/2

It’s not every day you come across a voice actor who is a direct descendant of American indigenous tribes with a fine understanding of their languages, but here we are. Noah Watts, of the Blackfeet nation, voices our protagonist Connor. He speaks English and… not English. #OnlyTheFacts | Now, as said before, Connor is a dry and wooden protagonist. This is really not the fault of the actor. The dialog given for his character contains little in the way of flair or emotion. He speaks very directly at all times. He comes in two flavors, deliberate and agitated. That’s it. The rest of the cast wasn’t too great either. As for SFX? They’re mediocre. Nothing wrong about them but nothing to grab your attention.

I must make it painstakingly clear though, this game has one of the GREATEST original scores in the entire Assassins Creed franchise. That genuinely made the game a good experience overall. Quite emotional too, making up for some of the acting.

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

So, at the time it came out, AC3 had a bit of a difficult learning curve. A lot of the combat mechanics, controls, and gameplay style of the game change in the transition from the Ezio trilogy to III. However, coming directly off of AC: Odyssey, the game is retroactively easier to come to grips with. If anything, the game feels more limited. No dedicated stealth mode button. Combat is the old style of “counter-attack kills” that were prominent in most of the series. The simplicity of the game in comparison to the new game actually made it feel a bit more streamlined. It was almost arcade-like to play this game after every game we’ve had since.

It also seems as thought a lot of changes streamline the overall experience. Some redundancies were eliminated. Enemy detection appeared to be slower. The ship combat was easier to handle. Every step of the way, quality of life improvements are there, on every front. Oh, and the load times, those are some short load times. Especially for fast traveling and desynchronizing.

FUN: 2/2

The fact that I took my time to play through more of the game is a very big deal. This time around, I bothered to unlock all the fast travel locations in the underground. It was a bit grindy, but manageable. The silly “homestead” missions actually felt like they were worth the time. That is despite the fact that the “convoy” system of the game was an absolute waste of time and needlessly complicated. I did all the district liberations and recruited all 6 support assassins. I did several of the optional naval battles. Not everything could be helped. The almanac pages are still dumb, as are all of the other fetch items the game throws at you. But I must stress that above all else, I had a much, MUCH better time playing this game again. I was supposed to be playing other games, yet I kept coming back to this re-release time and time once more.

Assassin’s Creed III Remastered is a huge improvement on the original iteration. Between the streamlining of gameplay elements, the simplicity, and the visual quality? This is a good remaster that has been released at exactly the right moment. If it has been a while since you last played, give it another shot. If you’ve never played it, also give it a shot. And ignore the real world plot, it’s still crap.

SCORE: 8/10

If I find time, I would like to play the Tyranny of King Washington DLC as well as Liberation, but that will have to wait.



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April 18th, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

CALLED IT!

Legacy of the first blood has concluded with the final chapter, Bloodlines. In our last video on this, Chet went through a series of questions as to what was in store for us on this episode. Turns out, some of those guesses were true. Have a look and see what Chet totally called back in January.

Chet supports AC: Odyssey’s Season Pass. 3 episode DLC, a $40 game, and then another 3-episode DLC, it’s absolutely worth it.



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