assassins creed feudal japan
May 17th, 2020 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

My Interest in Ghosts of Tsushima Just Shifted Laterally

In case you missed it, Sony’s most recent State of Play delivered an 18 gameplay demo. Except this time, there was actual gameplay, unlike Xbox’s most recent shindig. It delivered on a lot of things. It showcased how exploration worked and how organic and fluid it was. Then we got some combat gameplay where we saw protagonist Jin play two different styles. One as a samurai, and one as a “ghost”. But he’s not a ghost, he’s an assassin.

Yes yes, I was expecting a unique samurai dueling game but I got Assassins Creed: Odyssey. Or Origins. Moreso the new ones than the old ones. After playing Odyssey for 160 hours I kind of have that gameplay loop burned into my head.

Then I watched this 18 minute demo for Ghosts where the character marked a spot on his map then got on his horse to go to the spot. On the way there he, he picks up a branch without getting off. Clearly its for the crafting elements that are now mandatory for all games. The character also made a stop at an upgrade shrine, then another location where he unlocked fast travel. No climbing or synchronizing at least.

The combat comes next.

At first I was amazed at how the game appeared to be based entirely on reflex moves. Lost of samurai trope insta-slashes and bloody cool counter attacks. I thought that was unique until I also saw you can just whack dudes with your sword as well. But then they went back again and had Jin sneaking around the walls and gates, sneaking and assassinating enemies. Literally assassinating them, it says so on the button prompt.

Well then, not as unique as I thought the game was going to be. Watch the video for yourself. The majority of the gameplay experience looked exactly like the experience I’ve had in AC: Odyssey. It all looked far too familiar for me. That’s no a bad thing, as I’ve said, I sunk 160 hours into Odyssey. Why not sink some time into Assassins Creed Feudal Japan edition. Ubisoft never got around to making that Japanese setting that fans occasionally called for. Looks like Sucker Punch Studios is doing it for them. I can’t wait to get roped into the Ubi-loop once again.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the game in all honesty. It looks completely fine to me and I would definitely play it. But what started off as a very unique looking game has wound up into being a complete, by-the-books experience. All that’s left now is for it to have a great score, great story, and great fun. If it’s got all that, it’ll still be a solid experience.

Hate reading? The audio version can be found HERE.

BTW, the Black & White mode and the ability to turn off subtitles for the Japanese voice track was the most pretentious bullcrap I’ve ever seen.

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last of us part 2 attention
May 10th, 2020 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

The Last of Us Part 2 now has my attention, here’s why. (No Spoilers)

In case you’ve been living under a rock, there’s been a lot of noise surrounding Naughty Dog, LLC ‘s much anticipated game, “The Last of Us Part II”. Huge swaths of the game were leaked. Not just text, entire cutscenes including major turning points were all left out to bare. If you look hard enough you can probably still find them but the developer has been working extensively to shut the leaks down anywhere they pop up.

People are not happy with this, to say the least. I can’t take sides on the various different expressions on how people are displeased, but there’s a lot to unpack. And I hate saying “there’s a lot to unpack”. People are displeased with the new characterizations of certain… characters. New characters introduced are considerably controversial to say the least. Plot directions can be dumbfounding in some cases. And then there’s the very weird decision to point out “killing dogs” being a game feature.

Either way, everyone is angry. Almost everyone. Preorders cancelled, gamer “boycotts”, and the like. Fans are mad. I’m not though. See, I wasn’t that big of a fan of the series to begin with. Sure, the graphics, cinematics, and script of the game were stellar, but as an overall package with the gameplay it had, it didn’t linger in my head too loo long after finishing it. 7/10. Come @ me.

But now that everyone HATES the turning point that has occurred.

I now am actually more curious about the game. I’ve seen most of the spoilers to be seen, and it’s left me stroking my neckbeard. It’s very clear that the developer wants this game to be very edgy and make you feel bad about yourself. Spec Ops: The Line did this but executed in in a spectacular manner.

This leak also seems to have prompted a release date sooner than anticipated, in June. Now let’s see.

  • –Are they dedicated in ruining their fans appreciation of the series?
  • –Will they be deadset on being edgy and “mature”?
  • –They are 100% on board with going with some of the decisions they’ve made?

I wanna see it thru. Do it. Release the game. I wanna see just how “bad” it is, just how “edgy” it is, just how “screw you” it is. The leaks only released nuggets of the game but are still not the whole package. But spoilers can excite me sometimes, because I want to see the execution. This is the case for the upcoming game.I now have to see what it is they’ve done.

Not for full price though, forget that. Come @ me in the comments if you think I shouldn’t play it at all. Please try not to put the exact spoilers in your comments, thank you.

Hate reading? The audio version can be found HERE.

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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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division 2 review
April 10th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

A Nation Divided.

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. 

GRAPHICS: 2/2

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.

division 2 review one

STORY/IMMERSION: 1/2

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.

AUDIO: 1/2

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. 

division 2 review two

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

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. 

division 2 review three

FUN: 2/2

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. 

SCORE: 8/10

division 2 review four



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April 8th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

Are you ready for Next-Gen?

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.

DriveClub 2

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. 

DriveClub |
Evolution Studios

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 |
SuckerPunch Studios

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. 

SOCOM 5

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.

SOCOM 4 |
Zipper Interactive

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.

Rise & Fall of SOCOM |
GVMERS

Genji

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. 

Genji: Days of the Blade |
Game Republic

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. 

Sly Cooper

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. 

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time |
Sanzaru Games

Honorable Mention

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. 

KillZone |
Guerilla Games

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.

KillZone new dawn may have ended at Horizon.

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. 

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April 1st, 2019 by Vega Montanez

Claptrap and The Vault Hunters!

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?

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March 26th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

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. 

Samurai Shodown (2019)
SNK

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. 

Ready? Fight!

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. 

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yakuza kiwami 2 review
March 6th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

The saga continues…

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.

GRAPHICS: 2/2

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.

STORY: 2/2

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.

AUDIO: 1/2

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.

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

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.

FUN: 1/2

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.

SCORE: 8/10

That’s a wrap for reviewing remasters.



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free 4 me december 2018
December 5th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Deck the halls, with free game glory.

Christmas time is approaching us yet again. Many have commented that the season seems to be approaching faster than usual. But there are two good reasons for that. One, my colleagues work in reatail so of course we get beat in the ass on it. But more importantly, with so many black friday, pre-black friday, cyber monday, and holiday sales, the time just seems shorter than ever, with good deals still abound. On top of all the sales that are inevitable, the big consoles are more than happy to give you some freebies.

Xbox Live Gold

Q.U.B.E. 2 – It’s portal but you move cubes around.
Never Alone – A kid and a wolf go on a great adventure.
Dragon Age 2 – It’s Dragon Age, but you’re just some rich kid who wants his house back.
Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction – Off, this game is an old actioner.

PlayStation Plus

Soma – A horror game where the scariest part is the looming existentialism.
Onrush – A high-style, balls to the wall arcade racer.
Steredenn – A considerably chaotic space shooter with an 8-bit color scheme.
Steinsgate – Wait, this was a game BEFORE it became an anime?
Iconoclasts – Oh look, another 8-bit game, but it’s an action scroller this time.
Papers, Please – A game where you serve as border control but don’t have any tear gas.

Nintedno Switch

Wario’s Woods
Ninja Gaiden
Adventures of Lolo

Summary

You got a lot of good ones here. QUBE is a great puzzler if you’re a fan. You have two fantastic 8bit games on PS4, and and anime game to boot. Dragon Age 2 wasn’t received well critically, mainly because it’s a very focused game that takes place in one city instead of a sprawling adventure. Papers Please is a big indie favorite with tough moral dilemmas. The real show stopper here is SOMA, the horror game. It was originally released on steam, and a mod was made to remove the “combat” sections where you have to hide from monsters. It was called “wuss mode”. This was officially added into the Xbox One and PS4 releases as “peaceful mode”. Trust me when I say, this game isn’t less scary just because you aren’t being chased by monsters. The dark depths of the mind that this game takes you to can be challenging. It often deals with themes that are very hard to think about, circled around existence, death, and what comes after. Do not miss it. I hate most horror games, but it’s an absolute winner.

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November 29th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

A Battle of Mediocrities

The past week or so, we were faced with some really good games. Like Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee. And probably Warriors Orochi 4, I guess. But you know what wasn’t great? Fallout 76 and Battlefield V, two big ticket games. Both were set to make a splash in the crazy release season that is November. But neither could achieve what the wanted. Fallout 76 was vastly undercut by it’s monotony and lack of direction. Battlefield V was just the same Battlefield as always with a new coat of paint. BFV also had it’s critics for its inaccurate portrayal of WW2 by people on the internet, but that’s the internet. Everybody hates everything on the internet. Besides that, both games got major BETA playtests from regular users. This is honestly a good step, allowing the actual PLAYERS some advanced look at the game instead of some journalist who intends to write a giant think piece. Both of these games have a huge focus on multiplayer. Fallout 76 is the first major multiplayer game for Bethesda and Battlefield V is a multiplayer game with a campaign tacked on. Only their campaign was even shorter AND less interesting.

Either way, we haven’t finished enough of either to give you a consensus. But… if you are absolutely dying to play an online shooter game, we have something interesting for you. We are going to compare the games using our review system. But instead of the score, we are going to say which game did it better! Let’s start, shall we?

Graphics

Battlefield V is flat out gorgeous, with heavily detailed maps and great lighting that really set the mood for a lot of maps. There are some glitches but it works for the most part. The smoke grenades set up some serious smoke particle FX. And the detail of the character faces is surprisingly detailed for a game that doesn’t have too much focus on what the player looks like. Fallout 76 looks… exactly like it did several years ago. Fallout 3 and New Vegas never looked that great. Fallout 4 didn’t look that great. Fallout 76? It’s markedly improved, sure. But does it look great? No way, it looks as trashy as its level design and full of all sorts of ugly textures. Several of the ugly textures have taken more than 20 seconds to pop in. Yikes.

Victor: Battlefield V

Story

Battlefield V is one of the many, many, many, many iterations of World War II presented in game form. Somehow, it managed to make history even more boring, despite trying to spice things up with some creative historical fiction. What you get here is a mere 3 stories, as opposed to 5 in the previous entry. It’s really hard to feel anything for these characters because you spend such a small amount of time with them. It ends up being boring. Fallout 76 is boredom incarnate. Using the gaming worlds least interesting way of telling stories, any thing plot related in the game is played out in VERY LENGTHY audio logs. They can’t be paused or fast forwarded. If you interact with your pip-boy and click the wrong thing, the tape will stop and you have to start it over. Other than that, you only other window into the events of the game are logs written on terminal screens. In old Fallout games, this was done for lore. In 76, they are main story points. Super lame. All the same, when it comes down to brass tacks, it would seems that Fallout 76 still has a better overall story. Having a ton of lore is better than a bog-standard WW2 plot.

Victor: Fallout 76

Audio

Battlefield V has all the standard sounds you’re used to hearing. The audio was on autopilot in this regard. Every single gun sounds like it did in every other game. You will not in any way be inspired by the sound design of the weapons, nor will you be interested in the orchestral OST. It’s there because it’s supposed to be there, not because it wants to do something engaging. Fallout 76 surprisingly has a decent OST going for it. The ambient music that plays while you’re wandering the world is noticeably better then previous versions. It’s actually notable and really adds to the mood of the game being very lonely and desolate. And if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, there’s always the old sock-hop records to keep things going. The fantasy weapons also have wonderful unique sounds.

Victor: Fallout 76

Gameplay

In Fallout 76, you are bombarded with nonstop activity. The game is always online, so that means no pause menu. If you want to look at the map, it’s realtime. If you need to sort your junk on your Pip-Boy, that is also real time. There is nowhere safe to be when you play this game. You absolutely will be bombarded by enemies at any and all opportunities, with very little time to rest and get a bearing on things. In Battlefield V, the campaign is atrocious. But the multi-player is on point. It weird, the game is so much better in multi than single. It makes you wish the they skipped the campaign, instead of Black Ops. Anyway, the game is direct and lets you “play it your way”, which is very important. Divided into four classes, you can spawn is as a specialist in Assault, Medic, Recon, and Support. Don’t let the names fool you, all of them are combat roles. It’s what you do with them that matters. Either way, BFV manages to be a great shooter while Fallout 76 stays wonky as ever.

Victor: Battlefield V

Fun

To put it simply, there’s an easy dichotomy here. Fallout 76 has a “make your own fun” approach to game design. If you want to have any fun, you want to team up and do fun stuff together with your friends. Otherwise it’s a drag. Battlefield is good at grouping you with interesting colleagues that you help out during the many combat modes. Even if you aren’t on voice chat, the game finds a way to make you feel connected with your squad. It’s admirable that it manages to gel so well with random strangers. Meeting random strangers in Fallout 76 are few and far between. They are also as underwhelming as ever.

Victor: Battlefield V

It is clear that the winner is Battlefield V with a victory spread of 3-2. We haven’t heard too much of the game in the blogosphere of gaming. But this may be because the game just… is fine. It’s not spectacular. It’s just fine. Despite early complaints, the bottom line is that BFV is a better experience than Fallout 76. If you need a brand new game to satisfy your itch for fast paced, online, multiplayer shooter action, you could do worse than picking up the latest Battlefield. Me? I got so bored during the campaign that I jumped into multi. I never do that. Not until this iteration. How surprising!




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why we didnt review RDR2
November 17th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Red Dead Instead

Picture this. It’s the middle of August. Chet finishes his 3rd round of selecting new released to pre-order for Q4. The decisions were tough, and several interesting games had to be nixed. That’s when the big question hits. Red Dead Redemption 2 is coming out this year. For realsies. Chet and Vega stare at this and ponder who should cover the game.

Vega doesn’t like open world games for the most part. He also doesn’t like westerns very much. He has plenty of other Japanese games to play because he is an unabashed Sony fanboy. Chet has played so many open world games by then, he doesn’t want to play it either. He also doesn’t like westerns. So they asked some of their regular contributors to look at the game. One contributor hates all modern games so he was out. The other was stuck playing another game and didn’t want to stop, so he was out. Who will play this game?

Then we thought… do we actually have to review Red Dead Redemption 2? Do we REALLY have to? What crazy thing could we possibly say about this game? This game obliterated sales figures as expected. It sold 15 million units so far, and that’s just physical copies. We knew in our head that not even Call of Duty could touch the heaps of money that RDR2 would make (however, that said, Black Ops 4 did pretty good compared to the last few titles).

It was no surprise that the game sold what it did. It had to. It’s a Rockstar game. They are responsible for the most profitable piece of media ever made with their figures for Grand Theft Auto V. They know how to sell. But we just weren’t having it. But we did hit a bump on our way through the winter release madness.

Vega got a game he didn’t want to play since it required too much knowledge of the anime that it was based on. That got returned. But what did he get instead? RDR2? No, he got Warriors Orochi 4. A game he deserves because it follows the traditional roots of warriors game, and not the abomination of Dynasty Warriors 9. Good on him. Then Chet received Let’s Go Pikachu and he hasn’t played a pokemon game in decades. But, despite thinking that the game requires pokemon go, it’s actually a full experience on its own, so he was down to give it a shot too.

We don’t need RDR2. If you are reading this right now, its 95% likely that you already bought the damn game and came here wondering what was wrong with us. Nothing is wrong with us, we don’t like westerns and we all have shit we’d rather play. Vega has a ton of multi and figting games, Chet has Assassins Creed and Forza Horizon, both of which he cannot stop playing.

And that’s just it. Despite having several titles we have to miss and several titles that are must-plays, this game isn’t on the list. We don’t need it to be on the list. You’ve played it, you’ve seen the metacritic scores, that’s all there is to it.




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November 13th, 2018 by Vega Montanez

Yakuza Fanboy Returns

In this video, presented in DANKVISION, Chet and Vega talk about Yakuza Kiwami 2, and whether or not they should make a Kiwami version of all of the Yakuza games before the next generation of consoles. Just imagine having all 6.5 games on one console! Rampant speculation time agogo! Double KIWAMIIIII!




Meanwhile, Chet the Xbox Fanboy needs to play Kiwami 1. How soon should he play it to further is submission to being a Playstation fan?

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