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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ubisoft and Tom Clancy have shared what is quite possibly the longest healthy relationship in all of gaming. Seriously, fact check it. And Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is the latest entry into this abstract marriage. Released on March 15th, 2019 on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC The Division 2 is a third person multiplayer squad based action shooter. Developed by Massive Entertainment, The Division 2 aims to be the improvement of everything that was great about the first installment.
The Snowdrop Engine looked amazing 3 years ago when it was first used on The Division. Division 2 however, is the first true example of what the Snowdrop Engine is really capable of. As soon as the game launches everything looks incredibly amazing, but that’s not the big selling point. The big selling point is the amount of control, even on consoles, the player has over the visuals of the game. Ubisoft’s proprietary engine allows for so much customization to allow anyone to set the games visual to exactly how they’ll enjoy it most.
The freedom and control the Snowdrop Engine offers coupled with the fact that the game looks great is incredible. Every animation, from person to animal to explosion, looks fantastic. Nature blends itself well into the concrete settings of post apocalyptic destruction filled D.C. Character movements look and feel astonishingly natural, especially for a game so tethered to online. Take some time to kickback and just enjoy the scenery. It will not disappoint.
Within the world of the Division exist a major crisis. It’s been a little over half a yeas since the initial infectious outbreak that brought down the U.S. And now things are reaching anarchic levels of bad. Members of the Joint Task Force have defected and left the white house completely vulnerable to the Hyenas and the Outcast. The worst has literally come to fruition and there’s a lot of work ahead to make things better. The story itself is great however the presentation not so much.
Being an online multiplayer game diminishes the value of the story and makes it really hard to feel like a part of it. Lines between campaign missions and side missions are very blurred because the real gameplay goal is to become stronger. Very rarely does the game stop and allow for the narrative to position itself upfront and center. The focus was clearly on gameplay and shoot’em up mechanics over narrative delivery.
The Division 2 has a very unique sound design issue. The world is designed to be chaotic and feel unsafe. However, unless there is a nearby firefight the visual fidelity makes everything feel peaceful, somber, and a bit messy. It has a post car accident feel. Everything looks like something really bad happened, but that bad thing passed. The emptiness of the world makes space a very lonely audio feeling. The good news is this ambience is nearly perfect for an online squad based shooter. Considering most of the sound will be the nonsense chat amongst the squad.
Third person cover based shooters typically suffer from inconsistent character behavior. Everyone whose ever played has fallen victim to being completely exposed to the enemy because the game misunderstood your cover request. Division 2 has not entirely fixed this but it doesn’t suffer as much as other games. Not sure why, but not complaining. Outside of that major genre flaw, everything in the game feels great. The dynamics of weapon modification is pretty cool even if it suffers from the online game issue of racing to higher numbers.
A lot of the tactics of understanding weapon mods is removed because the overall goal is to increase the overall gear number. That number represents the truest strength of the character. The controls in action are super tight and have a vast number of customization options to fit any play style. And the development team is being super supportive of the community, listening to request and complaints.
Despite being a multiplayer game, The Division 2 is still incredibly fun as a single player game. The squad based combat with friends online is hands down the best way to experience this game. However, the experience alone is just as fun, especially if you don’t mind the added challenge of doing it alone. The frequency of ammo and supply restocks make it feel endlessly exciting. The thrill of an even match against enemies keep the action nonstop. Are far as third person shooters go, there really isn’t anything on the market as exciting as The Division 2.
The Division 2 is an incredible sequel and an incredible example of “games as service” done right. The load times could be better, but once the game is loaded hours could fly by without feeling gaming fatigue. Although Division 2 is an online multiplayer game, it is accessible to anyone who enjoys single player third person cover based shooters. Simply put, save for the lack of narrative focus, this is a great game.
With every new generation comes the same question. What titles will be available at launch. Since the console itself has yet to be announced launch titles are still pretty far out. So I think this is the best time to introduce my top 5 request. Regardless of how likely or unlikely.
In my opinion drive club failed for two reasons. The first reason was timing. Driveclub was supposed to be a PS4 launch title, but it missed the mark. It was announced during the PS4 reveal in February 2013. Playstation 4 arrived in September of that same year. But Driveclub didn’t make it to store shelves until October 2014. A barrage of delays pushed this game back an entire year. By that point almost all interest was lost and the game still managed to have issues on day 1. To be completely honest, Driveclub did not meet full expectations till January 2015. Almost two years after the initial announcement. So despite going on to accumulate over two million copies sold, Sony’s recent announcement that servers would be shut down as of august 2019 proves it didn’t meet the goal.
It’s hard to compete against diehard fans.
And in an ultra rare turn of events I put some of the blame on the lack of title recognition. That’s right my second reason is, this game had no fan base to start with. Trying to go up against the behemoth Forza, arguably the greatest racing game of all time, is already a challenge. Then pair that with the challenge of battling Gran Turismo, the second racing mammoth, and you’re asking to die. Don’t get me wrong, I love rooting for the underdog but he has to at least have legs to stand on. Delays and incomplete arrival would not have hurt Forza or Gran Turismo as much as it wrecked Driveclub. Hell, even Need for Speed can get it wrong a few times and fans will still be there.
That’s the key, fans were still there. Gran Turismo had fans. Forza had fans. Need for Speed had fans, Driveclub has ambition. And a lot of the time that just isn’t enough. The good news though is now Driveclub has fans. This is the perfect time to give it a sequel and build on the little successes. The Driveclub community will love it. And if al goes well, Driveclub might actually be able to compete with the other franchises. Especially with the whole super cool VR advantage. Am I right?
Infamous: (Insert Subtitle)
First and foremost I must admit, I was not a fan of infamous until I played (and finished) Infamous: Second Son. And now I need more. Similar to my relationship with Uncharted (jumped in at Uncharted 3), I went back and played all the other infamous games to fulfill my need. But now there’s nothing left. The Infamous series is one of those rare situations where i fall in love with an open world game. Maybe it has to do with the super hero aspect. Or maybe it’s the super polished storyline. Whatever it is I absolutely love it.
Infamous: Second Son was a great example of where the franchise could go without it’s original protagonist, Cole MacGrath. It also showed how well the team at SuckerPunch could handle replicating real locations. So where in the world could the next Infamous story be set. First idea is the gritty streets of Chicago. We already saw what a near futuristic tech controlled windy city would look like, so why not fill it with a superpower crisis. I really can’t imagine a bad cameo from Kanye West. At all.
The second idea is vacation land gone bad. I can’t think of many games set in Florida. In fact the last game that, that I know, was absolutely Florida based was Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. And that also happens to be the only GTA game i’ve ever finished and whole heartedly enjoyed. So imagine an Infamous game set in Miami. Beaches, drug warfare, and superpowers. Maybe cut back on the drug stuff, so Infamous can be a T rated game, just a thought.
What happened to Socom? One of Playstation 2’s greatest titles. The first real attempt at online multiplayer by Sony. 2011’s Socom 4 was an embarrassment to the legacy of Socom and the final nail in the coffin. Prior to this, the series had already been struggling to remain relevant in a world dominated by first person shooters. But I think now is the best time to bring it back.
Thank god for The Division 2, but can I get SOCOM 5 too?
The popularity of Fortnite could serve as a launch pad for Socom. Both game being third person shooters means Sony could push Socom 5 to Fortnite fans who want more military realism. The examples are everywhere. The realism is the reason I prefer PUBG to Fortnite. However, I rather play the latter because I prefer third person shooters. Thank god for The Division 2, but that’s a different story.
With the launch pf the PS5, Sony could bring back this awesome tactical shooter. I wouldn’t even judge if they looked to the more recent Tom Clancy games like Ghost Recon Wildlands for guidance. I’d prefer if Socom stayed linear and mission based, but I would be completely off put by an open world. In fact I think Socom 5 should take a page out of the Hitman book as well. Individual missions taking place in huge maps with various ways to complete the mission. Make it happen.
I think we can all agree; games with samurai, ninja, or any blade based weapons are awesome. No questions asked. Yet, who could ever forget the ultra historical accuracy of the Giant Enemy Crab? That’s right no one. So do I really need to explain why a third entry in the Genji series is necessary? This one isn’t even an ask or want. It is a demand. Sure it was nothing like the historically accurate game they promised, but by god was this game a blast too play.
Of course, Genji: Days of the Blade, the second installment to date, still has some of the most amazing gameplay mechanics. And with multiple character to use based on techniques, skills, and timing every encounter feels fresh. Every character feels meaningful. Supported by the sudden resurgence of ninja and samurai popularity, Sekiro & Ghost of Tsushima being prime examples, it’s the perfect time.
Considering the events at the end of the second entry it wouldn’t be hard to either pickup where was left off or reboot. Personally, I would love to see World Wide Studios take the reboot approach, unless original developers Game Republic still cares. Get in there and bring back all the special magic of the first two entries with a new age polish. I’m incredibly ready to embark on another journey with my samurai pals.
Solid Snake, of Metal Gear Solid fame, is the mascot of adult stealth action. Sly Cooper is that and more for the all ages crowd. Originally developed by the masterminds at Sucker Punch, Sly Cooper is the best robin hood game ever. Why? Because the band of misfits made up of a smooth talking sneaky raccoon, an overly intelligent turtle, and a super strong hippo. Still not interested? Ok, they work together to steal technology from a criminal organization run by a lizard.
Back in 2013 Sanzaru Games took a shot at bringing the Sly Cooper franchise back and it received mixed reception. Personally, I loved it and would love for Sanzaru to take another shot at it. And what better time than alongside the launch of a new console. Sly and the gang always found themselves on wacky adventures in an effort to line their pockets and save the world.
I have little reason to believe Sony has given up on this franchise. Especially when you take into account there are various comics and a few spinoff projects based in the Cooper universe. Something tells me this is the most likely game of my wishlist to come to life. If that is the case, I guess I can’t complain.
KillZone: (Insert Subtitle)
As a super fan of third person games, it was really hard for me to get into first person shooters. I really enjoy seeing the wild action animations of incredible cool character designs that i control. Also, most first person games make me really dizzy. Especially during the early days with Halo being the superstar. But I hated Halo. Not just as a Playstation fan boy, although that was undeniably a strong reason. The real reason was I didn’t feel connected to the story in any way and the gameplay was off putting for me.
Enter KillZone. Sony’s first big attempt at a multiplayer shooter to challenge Halo. I remember reading a story in Game Informer and thinking “this ones for me.” The big draw for me with KillZone was the story it was aiming to tell. One of over coming a war with people who felt nothing other than complete abandonment. The Helghast, KillZone’s antagonist, weren’t necessarily evil. Instead, they were misguided and therefore relatable. This narrative made it possible for me to connect with the game in a way Halo never tried too.
It’s possible Guerrilla Games must have been feeling franchise fatigue because things just got sloppy. Yet, I still hold out hope for a new entry even if the team is now completely tied up with a whole new franchise. I think it’s time for either a KillZone Reboot. Do it comic book movie style. Take the same story, fix the parts that didn’t quite make sense from entry to entry, and reintroduce it to a whole new audience.
After years of speculation and rumors Borderlands 3 will be coming to a console near you. Gearbox and 2K confirmed the long awaited sequel at a keynote during PAX East. Although little information was provided at the initial announcement, Gearbox promised more in the near future.
Check out the trailer!
The next reveals will happen on April 3rd. And, Hopefully we get our bags filled with exciting Borderlands 3 news. In the meantime, true Borderlands fans can rejoice in the second major announcement. Borderlands: Game of the Year edition is will be available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. When? April 3rd. Why? Well because, why not and it’s getting some big quality updates.
For any newcomers to the series, Borderlands is a First Person RPG Shooter. Some fan favorite elements of Borderlands include a ridiculous range of customization and weapons crafting options and 4 player co-op. I mean who am I kidding, everything about Borderlands is a fan favorite. From the unique comic book aesthetic to the different play styles of each character to the amazing narrative. Borderlands is a series that is experienced not just played.
So it looks like it’s going to be a good year for Borderlands fans and the Gearbox crew. Are you excited for Borderlands 3?
Back in the 90’s there were two prominent developers of fighting games coming out of Japan. In one corner we had the almighty Capcom, home of Ken, Ryu, and the rest of the Street Fight gang. And in the other corner was SNK. Although there library is extensive, with titles like Metal Slug and Fatal Fury, King of Fighters is likely the most recognized title. That is if you ignore them also being the masterminds behind the Neo Geo.
In recent years their focus has been on repackaging their glory days in numerous SNK Collections and keeping the King of Fighters series alive. But it seems they are ready for more. And they are coming in blades drawn. After more than a decade, Samurai Shodown is back.
Samuria Shodown is a weapons based 2D fighting game. It’s like the Soul Caliber of 2D fighters. Anyway, the franchise is being rebooted for the modern era. SNK is even choosing to develop the game using Unreal Engine 4. The unexpected reboot is set to take place between the events of the original game and Samurai Shodown V.
Promising 13 of the original playable characters joined by 3 new challengers, SNK is ready to reenter the world of competitive fighting. Samurai Shodown will release sometime in June 2019 on PS4 and Xbox One. And PC and Switch versions will be coming later this year. Does this release window sound a bit scary? Fear not as skeptics are welcome to try out the new entry sooner.
Anyone attending PAX East this upcoming weekend in Boston will be able to get their hands on the game. SNK will also be hosting a panel, “Samurai Shodown: Resurrecting a Legend,” on March 30 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. ET featuring producer Yasuyuki Oda, director Nobuyuki Kuroki, and original Samurai Shodown director Yasushi Adachi.
Are you excited for a brand new Samurai Shodown? I know I am.
Yakuza. The name brings fear into the hearts of many. One of the longest running games in history is the center piece of the game with the same title (feels like this has been done before). Yakuza Kiwami 2 is the latest remade title in the franchise serving as a remake of the sequel originally on PS2. Released worldwide on December 7th, 2017, the remake carries a lot of updated visuals and a few updated gaming mechanics. Published by SEGA and developed on the dragon engine, Yakuza Kiwami 2 continues the adventure of Kazuma Kiryu.
One of the most powerful components of Yakuza when it originally released on PS2 was its graphical fidelity. It looked more stunning than 90% of the games on the market. Yakuza Kiwami 2 keeps the long running series history of incredible graphics very much alive. As an official remake it is exciting that the development team used the same engine as the most recent release. Everything in the background pops with just enough vibrancy to coexist with the forefront objects. Emotions can truly be seen in the faces of every character including the useless NPC’s on the streets. Cutscenes transition to gameplay incredibly smoothly.
The game picks up immediately after the events of first. It continues to build the relationships established in the first game with little room for new comers. Without spoiling the events of either game, Yakuza Kiwami 2’s story really starts to flesh out who Kazuma Kiryu really is. It also gives the player a lot of back story to some of the major antagonist who were involved in the first piece of the story. From start to finish the experience is emotionally captivating.
As an American gamer with interest in Japanese storytelling, the lack of American voice-overs is still a bit of a disappointment. The subtitle translation is still nearly flawless. The sound of the city is slightly lacking and in many points can feel lacking and hollow. When the ambiance gets it right though, it gets it perfect. The chatting of people on the street corners about the fight that just took place really fills in the liveliness of the world. It’s pretty clear the development team has mastered the art of carrying assets.
One thing that has to be addressed is that most Japanese game developers have an obsession with trying to fit in every possible gameplay mechanic in one. Yakuza as a series is no exception. Kiwami took the original and packed it with all the flavor from the newer games. While Kiwami 2 took the first remake and swapped out the story line. The over abundance of mini games still exist. The dynamic fighting styles are even more exciting with new over the top finishers. Kiwami 2 does feel a little bit faster paced in between the action, but that could be very subjective. Either way, It’s a remake that delivers on all its promises.
Yakuza games, by non-fans, have always been treated like the Japanese version of Grand Theft Auto. This comparison is a bit deceiving though. With a slew of different gameplay styles, the complexity of the game may be discouraging to many. Those who find themselves deeply ingrained in the story will enjoy exploring everything it has to offer. The fun factor in this particular series comes from the amount of depth to the Japanese culture that can be explored. As a pick up and play for a few minutes probably not the best option as it is hard to really get anything out of that. However, the game is fun enough to make the 3-4 hours of gameplay per sitting to get anything done is more than worth it.
Yakuza Kiwami set the standard extremely high for the remake world. Updated visuals put a brand new spark into the entry of an amazing series. Well balanced gameplay and outrageous unique elements keep the game exciting and fun during every session. The most powerful element of the game however is absolutely the story it tells. Loyalty, conviction, self development, and growth are all just a few of the topics that the narrative covers. Yakuza Kiwami 2 is proudly more of the same.