Valkyria Chronicles is a Japanese RPG. But instead of turn-based, it’s a tactical RPG and heavily based in rudimentary first person shooter setups. And the cel shading looks astonishing. Vega has played tactical RPGs for a long time, but Chet has only played Mario Rabbids Kingdom Battle.
The long awaited fourth installment in a fan favorite series has finally arrived. Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a tactical role-playing game developed and published by Sega. And Sega has been on quite a roll this year releasing the games fans want. Released on September 2018 on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC, Valkyria Chronicles 4 delivers on the promise of continuing a war story. It’s been a long time coming, so the question is does Valkyria Chronicles 4 meet the expectations of the people? Or has the ship of greatness it was long sailed?
Cartoon graphics are no excuse for characters breaking. In fact, cartoon graphics should theoretically bring this issue to a major minimum. Regardless Valkyria Chronicles 4 suffers pretty often from this issue. The vibrancy of the playing field and landscaping quickly become muddied by mixing of terrains. In some areas the distinction between grass and dirt is beautiful in other areas it’s awful. Characters cut into environments so often that it wouldn’t be hard to believe that was an intentional thing. With all that said Valkyria Chronicles cartoon style is absolutely fun to look at. It’s hard not to enjoy the way the development team at Sega brings the 2D manga look to a 3D realm. It’s a constant battle between love and hate which more often falls in the love category. Unless you hate manga/anime.
Although the presentation can be quite annoying, the story is worth the trouble. Valkyria Chronicles 4 continues the story of the Imperials vs the Federation in a war started over the ownership of Ragnite. On the surface it is a very basic premise. The thing that drives the story is the way it is told through the experiences of childhood friends, separated for various reasons, coming together as adults in the military. The intensity grows as the stories of what separated them as children continue to unfold. Each interaction between the four lead protagonist gives another insight into falling outs and reconciliations. These little moments make every painful bit of broken up cinematic worth while. Seriously, most of these cutscenes should have been bundled together way better.
Once again, a rock solid audio performance. Every member of the cast present realistic tones that truly represent the emotions in the words. It is very easy to fall in love with the personalities of each character, to the point where watching them die in battle really hurts. The cell-shaded manga art style is coupled together excellently with the Saturday morning cartoon sound effects. Gunfire, explosions, footsteps, and motion all feel perfectly in place to feel threatening yet humorous. The only time the audio isn’t a good time is when the progression system shows what’s been unlocked or traversing the menus. These are probably the most annoying sounds of this console generation. Small criticism against what the rest of the audio delivers, but a criticism none the less.
Tried and true mechanics of tactical RPG’s are hard to change, but in no way is that bad. Valkyria Chronicles does manage to do a few things differently from it’s predecessors however. The first major change comes in the ‘let’s up the challenge” style. This is the first installment that allows units, on both friendly and enemy, to attack when it’s not their turn. This mean positioning characters after an offensive and navigating the field are even more critical then ever. Simply put, if the unit is within range it will be attacked by other units out of turn. This brings the level of strategy necessary to an even higher level. The second major update is the addition of the new Grenadier class. The Grenadier can launch grenades significantly far and do a significant amount of damage at the same time.
Fans of tactical RPG’s will find these new inclusions incredibly fun, challenging, and strategy altering for sure. However, the lack of an autosave feature is still a major downfall. Very few things exist as infuriating as completing an hour and a half long mission just to have to repeat it. Part user error, part design flaw, but completely annoying.
There is something undeniably satisfying about playing games where the task is to outwit the enemy. This innate desire to be more intelligent than everyone else becomes even more apparent while navigating the battlefield. Valkyria Chronicles 4 does an excellent job of pacing the challenge, so every battle remains fun. Things get progressively harder, but Squad E gets equally better. By never forcing the player to feel unmatched in power, the focus remains on being more strategic. The humorous banter between characters and the graphic novel visuals further the entertainment. Seriously, how could anyone not hate to love Raz’s personality? Even with his frequent bone head decisions.
The game that long time fans of the series patiently waited for has arrived. Valkyria Chronicles 4 delivers exactly what the fans wanted. Could it use a little more to make things a tad bit more exciting? Possibly, regardless the game delivers. It does everything right that Valkyria Revolution did wrong without losing the few things Revolution did well. Fans of strategic RPG’s can comfortably place this amazing game alongside XCOM and Fire Emblem. As well as past games in the series. Valkyria Chronicles 4 tells a great story with fun gameplay nestled beside it.
Sometimes you find love in weird places like the middle of a totalitarian cultist takeover.
Far Cry 5 is yet another example of how all the mainline Ubisoft games are getting rather homogenous. With the ability to hire a somewhat competent squad AI to help you fight the enemies, you’d be forgiven if you just briefly glanced at the game and thought you were playing Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Despite all of this, Ubisoft is making headway in all their sandbox games by giving the NPCs some actual characteristics and traits. Indeed, on top of the 9 companions you can receive in the game, you can also talk to the many many NPCs you find during missions, strongholds, and sometimes random encounters. They have interesting things to tell you, and a lot of them can be hired to fight by your side. These “guns for hire” do more than just that, they have unique skills that come with them, that they unlock when they score a certain number of kills.
While progressing through the game, I cycled around a lot of the specialty companions that had some things to say, especially to each other, but I found that their range of dialog grew short pretty fast. That was not the case for Diana Frye, an NPC I met in Fall’s End (I think) much earlier in the game. Despite going through the motions and finding new people with better special abilities, I was compelled to call on her to come fight with me instead. She had a large array of things to say and even addressed several other companions by name, which was the first thing that surprised me. There I was traveling with a random stranger in the game and just had another character join the squad, and she spoke to that character as if they were best friends. It was outrageous, never before have I seen so much work put into a character whom in any other game would just have been a nameless, faceless, disposable grunt.
She allowed me to keep extra ammo and was capable of reviving fangs for hire, sure, those were her “special abilities” but I was far more interested in taking her around and hearing her take on the local sights. Despite having some randomized catchphrases that plague all NPCs in every video game ever, I was continually taken aback when she mentioned some of the places I‘d walk through. I passed through a summer camp and she mentioned going there when she was a kid. When we ended up on the set for Blood Dragon, she enthusiastically stated how excited she was for the movie. And of course, the one-off “I think I peed myself” never got old. It really didn’t, it was funny EVERY SINGLE TIME. The only time I ever got sick of her was that she has only 1 or 2 lines to say about Peaches the cougar and she was repeating them ad nauseum to the point where I did have to send her away. But I legitimately felt bad about doing it. After I found Cheeseburger the bear, I brought her back into the fold.
I met many more named, fully developed NPCs as I tore my way through Hope County, but Diana was my favorite. She was the most adorable hillbilly in Montana and she was MINE. I don’t know what it was that made her so special. Maybe it was the accent, I do tend to fall for cute accents even when they’re possibly meant to sound “stupid.” You can meet characters who don’t have an accent, and you can meet characters who sound far more serious and grim. But Diana was not a grim character by any stretch. As I blew up the cult’s vehicles and heard her unironically shout “USA! USA! USA!” I grew rather fond of the character. I went through far more ordeals with this character than any other companions in the game and loved every second of it.
I did have another female NPC follow me around for a bit just to make sure the dialog wasn’t the same for everyone. Indeed it wasn’t, although I’m sure if I talked to enough NPCs I would eventually find the same voice actor saying the same lines on a differently skinned character. But that didn’t matter because I met Diana first and she and I racked up the kills together. I really appreciate the trouble Ubisoft went through to make Hope County a sandbox that has felt more full of life than I had in other games in their whole library of open worlds. This actually makes me want to go back and play other newer Ubisoft games like Assassin’s Creed Origins and Ghost Recon Wildlands just so I can see if they’ve done the same to those games.
And that was it, whenever she rode shotgun with me in a vehicle as rolled up to the next target event, I was actually happy to have her around, and she’s really not even my type as far as looks go. She said funny things and was effective in combat, respective of when I’d go in stealth and then switch to going loud. There are NPCs who don’t know how to stealth, but she did. I’m still just so surprised to have an enriched experience with one of the extras. I mean, later on, I did meet a cute and quiet sharpshooter, but I stayed loyal to Diana, just as my Commander Shepard stayed loyal to… oh wait, I left Liara for Jack, nevermind. But, Diana Frye is my bae for Far Cry 5 tho. I strongly suggest experimenting in the game, and if you look hard enough, your new red-blooded rootin’ tootin’ point-and-shootin’ American waifu will find her way to you. Alright, I’m off to purchase more 2B boob mousepads and hug pillows.
December 6th, 2017 by Stefan Adrian "AdminMas7er" Robu
Oh my god, they killed it!
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is an RPG set in the South Park Universe, it was developed by Ubisoft San Francisco with the help of South Park Digital Studios and published by Ubisoft. It was released on October 17th 2017 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, being the sequel to the Stick of Truth. The game has received a lot of help from the creators of the hit TV show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, using source material to keep the game true to the show’s controversial and comical universe.
[Reviewed on PC]
Graphics-wise, it’s actually staying true to the cartoon style of the show, everything looking almost exactly like it does on the show. This makes it seem like it is actually an interactive episode of South Park, which is a good thing in my book. One thing to notice is that the game runs on the Snowdrop engine, the same engine that powered The Division, showing how flexible the engine is, but makes the optimization deceitful. This means that TFBW it is a bit more demanding of lower end systems and most mid-tier laptops with a dedicated GPU. This is surprising given the visual fidelity of the game, it really doesn’t look like it should demand a whole lot from your system, but somehow it does.
The audio is not deeply memorable, but it does not have a great soundtrack, something that I would call significant in other games. But it is inspired off superhero films, and more acts like a filler to make fights a bit more alive. Voice acting gets a good point out of it due to it being genuine and staying true to the show. Whereas many other video game developers either opt-in to get the best in the business or try to find their best sound-alikes, South Park is blessed with it’s recognizable (and affordable) cast that are pertinent to the impact of the show. Eric Cartman wouldn’t be the same without his trademark Cartman voice.
The plot is set exactly one day after the Stick of Truth ends, where we take control of New Kid once again, this time dropping the fantasy theme for a more modern super-hero plot, where Cartman and his friends decide to search for a missing cat so they can get 100$ to kick-start their own franchise. This takes them through different conflict plotlines and sub-plots in between, such as the Civil War -inspired conflict between Coon and Friends (Cartman, Kyle,Clyde, Jimmy and Craig) and the Freedom Pals (Timmy, Kenny, Stan, Tweek, Token) or against Professor Chaos (Butters). Character-Wise, pretty much all the characters are from the show, the kids taking obvious Marvel insipred super-hero personas and, well, other iconic characters such as Randy, Mr Mackney, the PC Principal, Father Maxi, Jesus and the list goes on. I mean, we even have the obvious Morgan Freeman running a taco shop. The plot is pretty interesting, however I wouldn’t really call it ground-breaking. However it has its funny moments, which are a lot, and well, some are sexual, some are offensive and some are just fart jokes. The dialouge is really good, especially since it is amplified by the original voice actors and the small chit-chat and occasional information from the bystanders is pretty interesting. Overall, the story plot does not take itself too serious and it is a welcome comedic break from all the gritty “important” stories from other games released this year.
TFBW takes a 2.5D style in combat, allowing for more freedom in your engagements compared to the previous game. New Kid will progressively have access to all 10 classes as we progress through the game, being able to equip abilities from all these classes, 4 at a time, giving the player more freedom in customizing his skills. The companion system is back, allowing you to pick additional 3 companions to help you during the fight, each having unique abilities according to his archetype. For example, Kyle the Human Kite is a support, being able to heal his allies, while Super Craig is a tank which can taunt enemies. Another element that’s returning is turn-based combat, instead this time it takes place on a grid thanks to the 2.5 D system, the characters being able to move freely around the grid. Attacks also affect different areas of the grid. Because of this, the combat is really well done, being a part that is heavily improved from the first game. One downgrade from the first game is the fact that your gear no longer affects your gear level, instead the system is now based on artifacts, which increases your Might, one part which offers more freedom in how you look, but tones down on the RPG element of the game.
South Park TFBW is a really, really interesting game. t is a welcome comedic break from other games released like Halo, Gears, Assasin’s Creed, adding nuance to Ubisoft’s lineup of games. It is an okay RPG, but what makes this game fun is the South Park aspect, seeing the kids act as superheroes with improvised costumes, made-up lairs, red building bricks as lava and much more. Combined with the crude but a bit toned down humor of south park to make this sequel censor-free, it is a more unique game and a somewhat easy to learn RPG that makes it stand out more than other game released this year
I do recommend it, even though I didn’t have as much fun with it, it should be in your backlog list as one of those games to be played when you are really bored. It is available now for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, but I do not see it as a $60 buy due to some of its flaws and how it is made more for South Park fans rather than the average gamer. I’m not saying you won’t enjoy it if you are not into South Park, but if you love the show, this should be a pick up for you!
Get Even is a unique action adventure game developed by The Farm 51 and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. It is available now on PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4. In the game you play a mercenary named Cole Black who appears to have some sort of involvement with a kidnapping and a bomb. Throughout it, you explore different memories to eventually figure out how everything transpired. However, as you go through the game, you will notice that there are several moments where something seems off about this method. The game combines many different types of gameplay elements and tries to manage them all. Does it succeed?
Way back in the old times (2014), the game was shown off with a very vague tech demo at E3 highlighting the detailed graphics of the game. Though it may not have held up to the original trailer (which seems to be the case with every E3 trailer), it got the job done with a gold star. This is both from a technical standpoint and an artistic standpoint. Environments, both indoor and outdoor are relatively small but they all flourish with minimal repetition. If anything, it could have used some more variety as you go through trash heap after trash heap, but at least said trash heaps are all well crafted. The concrete locations are littered with various tags and street art in every room. That, and the dissolving particle effect you get from unlocking memories, creating objects, and killing NPCs is stunning every time you do it.
I don’t want to talk about it too much here, because this is the sort of game that is better if you know as little as possible before jumping in. The game revolves around exploring memories while finding clues with your phone. You are doing this to piece together all the parts of a vast series of events that led up to the aforementioned bomb and kidnapping. But any game that revolves around memory and the human psyche are bound to be riddled with plot twists. These plot twists really do deliver themselves routinely throughout the experience and add up to a rather surprising turn of events later on. But that’s all I really want to expound on right now.
Now, the original soundtrack to this game isn’t the most astonishing in terms of just music. But what it does with the way the music and sound implementation is ingenious. Tracks play with odd time signatures that sometimes fall out of sync with themselves. Sometimes you hear people humming a song you heard in the soundtrack earlier on. There are other times where the soundtrack is played back at different speeds. Several characters have their own leitmotifs. At one point, two songs were playing at the same time and it was definitely intentional. One of the levels has a song wherein if you enter open combat, a loud bubblegum pop song plays instead of a serious orchestral piece. Additionally, there are moments where your breathing becomes louder than everything else. You also hear echos of non-natural sounds in the distance. Stealth sections have some really heavy distortion synth pad chords that get louder and louder the closer you get to an enemy NPC. What I’m saying is the audio design on this game is a perfect fit for the content within. Clever uses of diegetic & non-diegetic sounds are abound.
This is where the game gets a bit dodgy. Get Even has decided that the only way to be unlike any other game is to simultaneously consist of many different games all in one package. For better and worse, the game tries to do the following: first person shooter action, tactical stealth, horror with defense, and adventure. Yes, all of that. Whenever you’re in a section with many enemy NPCs, you can choose to shoot your way through it or sneak around. However, there are sections where open conflict seems mandatory, especially towards the very end. The game does a good job of letting you know that you are being actively judged for how you handle every situation too. When you’re not around NPCs, you spend some time exploring an asylum trying to find photographs for plot reasons, and this is where both the horror and puzzle elements prevail. Sometimes the asylum is quiet and peaceful while other times it’s like a haunted old mansion. What’s worse is the game is not afraid to implement overused horror tropes. Then there are bits where you have to solve actual puzzles in order to proceed and they aren’t very difficult, but they exist throughout the entire journey. The game is truly trying to be a jack of all trades and is definitely a master at none.
Your mileage may vary greatly on how much you can tolerate the genre shifting. My experience on the whole package is positive. However, there are a handful of sections that can be frustrating, and this again depends on what part you are at. I remember a particular section where stealth was too hard and I ended up either shooting everyone up or sprinted away hoping the NPCs would not give chase. There was another section of the game where after rounding a corner and going outside of the asylum, the game dramatically switches to full on supernatural horror for no particular reason. At the same time, the tactical stealth was very engaging and the implementation of an actual corner gun really sets this title apart from the pack. All in all, the game was vexing enough that I feel at least one additional playthru (in which I murder everyone) will be warranted.
Get Even promised to be a unique game and it delivered. It is quite a psychological experience that you won’t soon forget after the credits roll. The only thing that really keeps the game hampered down is the inconsistency, which can greatly affect your enjoyment of the title. Overall, despite not being one of our top rated games this year, it is still a contender for GOTY 2017.
P.S. There’s a lot of involvement from inclusion of an in-universe VR headset and I personally think this kind of game would be great to have a VR version.
April 15th, 2017 by Stefan Adrian "AdminMas7er" Robu
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is a multiplayer Tactical FPS made by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft, and is a new entry in the series with a focus on competitive multiplayer. You take the role of an operator in one of the many Counter Terrorism Units available in the game, playing either PVP in 5v5 matches, or co-op against enemy AI. While a deeper take on multiplayer is a new way for its series, can it hold up to the name that is the Rainbow Six franchise?
While it is a competitive multiplayer game, Rainbow Six Siege is a beautiful multiplayer shooter, with its maps inspired off common real-life situations, such as houses, cafes, and banks. The levels are really detailed and you can see that Ubisoft worked hard on each map to be unique. Varying in style and immersion, combined with the destruction mechanic, the game can get messy with debris going everywhere, smoke filling the room, and bullet trails nearing your face. It impresses me, all while keeping a stable 60 FPS in PVP, but dropping down to 30 in PVE on consoles.
Because it’s a multiplayer focused game, Rainbow Six Siege lacks a story, which is a bit disappointing, compared to previous installments of the series. The only tidbits of story we get is from each operators’ bios, the initial cinematic, which shows Team Rainbow reinstating due to a terrorist threat, and the final mission in “Situations”, where we are sent to stop a terrorist attack at a university. I believe that this is both a good thing and a bad thing, the bad thing being is that it would have been perfect if it had a story. Maybe if the plot from the now-cancelled Rainbow Six: Patriots was accounted for, we could have had something. But nevertheless, you actually fight this terrorist group in Terrorist Hunt, Siege’s PVE game mode and it’s enough to get you invested at least.
The audio in R6S is just okay, while the soundtrack contains some deep beats with bass drops as massive as the walls breached in this game. Definitely not the best soundtrack, but it does capture the serious attitude the game is trying to impose. The best of the audio stands in the gun sounds, most of the guns having distinguishable and realistic sounds, with very few repeats in some of them. The main issue is that you cannot really make out the directional sound of the footsteps sometimes, so using a headset is highly recommended in order to be truly immersed thanks to its audio.
For a first-person shooter, the gunplay is way more refined than other games in the genre, mostly because it has a competitive focus as well. Each gun and operator has a unique playstyle, requiring a lot of playtime to master them all. The gunplay and destruction are oddly satisfying, mostly because it shows the attention to detail Ubisoft had when it was in development. It can be played either solo through Situations (short missions with unique objectives) or in Lone Wolf Terrorist Hunt if you got the skills to beat it. Multiplayer features 3 modes; Bomb, Secure Area, and Hostage, all which can be played casually or Ranked, or via Co-Op through Terrorist Hunt in 3 difficulties. A solid experience across all modes in the end.
Rainbow Six Siege is a hard, very deep, fast-growing competitive shooter, but it’s the kind of hard that makes you want to become better. If you aim better and play better, you will find yourself rising in skill and rank on the ladder for each season. Ubisoft is constantly updating the game, with a new competitive season every 3 or so months, with each new season being followed by a giant update drop with 2 new operators (free with the season pass) and a new map. At the moment, Siege has some issues with having 2 season passes and a lack of content. But, while the game may have microtransactions, those are only to get new DLC operators faster (instead of grinding) and weapon skins.
In conclusion, while Rainbow Six Siege may be frustrating at times, it is very fun. This is especially true when playing with friends, which I highly recommend since most random players will avoid communication and land your team swift and fun win.
(Disclaimer: Review was written in 2017 and had been backdated to reflect release of current DLC)