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.
An Old Mech Game Given The Present of New Life By Future Tech
In a landscape nearly devoid of mech-based adventures, Konami (the company best known for being terrible) dug deep into its bag of old games and gave Zone of the Enders a second life. The irony behind Konami remastering another amazing series by the great Hideo Kojima is pretty amazing, but enough politics. Zone of the Enders: 2nd Runner Remastered is a third-person action adventure set in a futuristic world where humans inhabitant both Earth and Mars and war is fought in space. Released for the Playstation 4 and PC on September 6th, 2018, the remaster was developed by Konami and Cygames. Does Zone of the Enders deserve to exist alongside the rest of the recent remasters?
More importantly, how does Zone of the Enders work in VR?
(Note: VR Review does not impact the overall score of the game because it is not the originally designed experience.)
There should absolutely be a standard for allowing companies to use the term “Remastered” for any future game release. Zone of the Enders: 2nd Runner treads the line between just better than the craptastic Shenmue remakes that Sega released and the absolutely stunning Yakuza remakes that Sega released. One major advantage for Zone of the Enders is the great way that the game was originally designed to not look hyperrealistic. The visuals paired with the level of fun the game carries makes it very possible to kick back and look beyond the broken character models. Without ever having been to Mars, its safe to assume that Zone of the Enders did a great job recreating exactly what the surface of the red planet looks like.
“Developers truly benefit from the skill of using cartoonish art styles and Zone of the Enders wins heavily thanks to its anime style.“
VR: The game looks worst. The real question here is: was anyone expecting any other response? When playing in first-person through VR the game doesn’t look bad but it definitely doesn’t feel immersive. Think about this one thing for a second. When playing in third-person all of the lasers and explosions are happening, visually at least, in front of the character. When playing in VR the player can look at all the angles of this lighting special effect that was designed to be viewed head-on. Boom, worst, not entirely immersive but not bad. Shenmue was still worse and it wasn’t even in VR.
For anyone who has not played the first Zone of the Enders, STOP. There will be spoilers ahead because Zone of The Enders: 2nd Runner is a direct sequel. With that said, it’s been damn near 15 years, so get over it. Ready? Let’s go. The game takes place two years after the events of the original game. Playing as Dingo Egret, a miner working on the planet Callisto who comes across the all-powerful orbital frame, Jehuty. That is literally the last part of simplicity this game has until the very end credits. From that point it goes into true Kojima mode with main characters dying and being revived, past significantly important characters appearing then suddenly deciding they want absolutely no part of the new story, and a world-destroying battle between two superweapons on the brink that falls on poor Dingo’s shoulders to be smack dab in the middle of.
Anyone who has ever been a fan of Gundam, Metal Gear or any mech-based anime will absolutely love this. Anyone who read that last sentence and thought what the f*ck is a Gundam, maybe stay away.
VR: Same story. Really not sure what anyone expected to see here.
Sound effects help to drive the validity of any game’s atmosphere and Zone of the Enders sounds like a robot war. Nailed it; not a beat missed. Lasers flying by sound way more dangerous than they look. Explosions are short-lived, but in the moment they sound very great. The voice acting and dialogue is great even though it doesn’t seem like any of it was updated for the remaster. It was just really great from the source. The menu sound effects sound exactly like the sounds from Metal Gear Solid 1-3 so super fans should be prepared for some nostalgia. Some excellent nostalgia. Damn Konami why you do Kojima so bad.
VR: Sound is the most critical aspect of VR. If the game sounds right the player can get fully immersed in the experience. Zone of the Enders takes place in space and space is, by most accounts, pretty quiet. That empty atmosphere is great as long as there are no other sounds in the outside world. Most people can’t afford to play their VR in an isolated perfect environment but everything else sounding great is definitely a VR experience.
Zone of the Enders: 2nd Runner Re-Mastered is a remastered PS2 game, and it definitely shows. The control schemes are extremely dated and very light on motor control demands. There are only a handful of buttons used from the entire DualShock remote. Even with the highly bragged about adjustment of the way the secondary weapons button works it still feels super dated. The biggest issue with the controls for the game is found in the lock-on system. For whatever reason, the lock-on system locks on to whatever target that it wants to and when changing targets, probably due to the fast-paced gameplay, the thing goes bonkers. Rather than simply pushing the analog stick towards the closest target to lock on, the game just cycles randomly through all the targets on screen. That’s a really bad thing to happen when playing what is essentially an on-rails shooter.
VR: Probably the best VR experience available to date. The entire game is playable in VR and it feels amazing. Jumping into the cockpit of the super mech known as Jehuty is everything most people want from a VR experience. This is a VR Experience that should not be missed. With better visuals, it would be the epitome of VR gaming. It still suffers from most of the things that made the non-VR version hard to play but in VR those are well worth the pain.
Wooooooooooohoooooooooo. Playing Mech games is arguably always fun. Anyone who disagrees is entitled to their opinion but is completely wrong. Outside of the frustration of losing a battle due to a faulty lock-on system, it’s very easy to let time fly by as Jehuty flies or slides all around the surface of Mars, the interior of a massive space battleship. It’s an on-the-rails shooter for the most part in the vein of a super modernized Gradius, but who didn’t like throwing quarters in those old arcade machines? The other issue with the game that hinders its fun levels just a tad is that the save system doesn’t play entirely nice with pick up and play gamers. Fortunately, the PS4 rest mode is a nice workaround for this objective-based issue.
VR: How do you make a fun game more fun? Add the latest technology to its tool belt. Playing Zone of the Enders 2nd Runner in VR mode feels like the way it was meant to be played. Zipping around Mars in first person perspective could only be more exciting in a Sword Art Online style full dive mechanism that doesn’t exist yet. Just to reiterate, everyone should play Zone of the Enders: 2nd Runner in VR Mode at least once. It is truly an experience.
Zone of the Enders: 2nd Runner is a remaster like no other. Sure, a ton of remasters exist that look a million times better, but Zone brings a brand new element to the game that hadn’t existed previously. Hideo Kojima must have shattered at least three or four rooms’ worth of valuable merchandise when he saw what Konami was able to accomplish with one of his crazy ideas. Honestly, it’s a bit confusing as to why Konami didn’t make the VR mode a more significant marketing push for the game. Priced at only $29.99 brand new, this is a must-have experience for anyone interested in VR.
Scratch that, anyone with a PSVR or PC-based VR system needs to get their hands on Zone of the Enders: 2nd Runner today. Especially since the evil monsters at Konami published the game, so we never know what to expect. This last good review pushed them to start making pachinko versions of the game.
Its a War against Zombies! (or Zombie Fatigue, who knows.)
Alright, so something weird is shaking up in the gaming industry. It’s weird “in a creepy not sure whats going on here” way. At a time where most people are having discussions surrounding this mythical thing called “Zombie Fatigue“, what’s the least likely thing that should happen? Well the obvious answer is the announcement of a new zombie game. That wouldn’t make any sense right? Well thats just the tip of the confusion spear.
Here’s where it gets real strange. Most movie tie in games, no scratch that, all movie tie in games are usually released around the release of the movie. It kind of works to the marketing and business side of things even if the game is complete garbage. So imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to the the cinematic gameplay trailer for World War Z. Yes, you read that right. The absolutely amazing 2013 film World War Z is getting a tie in video game at some point after or in 2018.
I would love to justify this game existence by saying “Paramount confirmed the sequel, World War Z 2, is in production” but, that really isn’t enough. That movie doesn’t even have a release window yet. So, where did this announcement come from? Honestly, I don’t actually care or care to know. It looks like its going to be amazing, its coming to PS4, and I’m going to play it proudly. No explanation needed guys, take your time cause that seems to be working so far. Check out the trailer below and let me know what you think?
Shadow of Mordor is developed by Monolith Studios and published by Warner Bros Interactive. It is based off J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe. Set between Bilbo’s adventure in The Hobbit and Frodo’s adventure in The Lord of the Rings. Shadow of Mordor follows the adventure of Celebrimbor and Talion, two victims of the Dark Lord Sauron. They both have a grudge against Sauron for losing their families, and they both combine their unique skills to become the ultimate Uruk-dominating machine. There are two large maps in open world styles which separate Urukai. And there are armies that can be killed/control at the players will in story mode. This game gave birth to the infamous “Nemesis” system where all the bad guys will REMEMBER YOU, amongst other things.
The landscapes are wide and varied in this open world game. Wild animals such as ‘caragors’ and ‘graugs’ have immense detail. Uruks in the armies are very unique graphically, and even minute details like flies circling them are identified. When using the bow, where things spacially matters immensely, you will find that Talion/Celebrimbor has a great shot when picking through the scenery of a view.
This is a story of revenge, that much is clear from the very beginning. Both Talion and Celebrimbor lose their families to agents of Sauron, although we only learn of Talion’s family at first. They lose their own loves in a blood magic ritual during their slaying. Different characters are introduced, and one plot from a certain Lord of the Rings movie is also used. As a former Gondorian ranger, you will help human slaves of the Uruk as well as help a warrior princess at various times. The story definitely has it’s leap of faith with logic at times, but slashing orcs never needed a premise; it was definitely more satisfying knowing that we are getting the character revenge and joining the fight against Sauron at the same time.
The voice acting in this game was truly gripping. Different voices for all your different Uruk enemies is also interesting. The whisper sound effects employ when using wraith abilities really blends well. Shadow of Mordor also employs excellent sound effects through the controller. Not a lot of games utilized that controller speaker, but when they do, they do it oh so well. When engaged with a new foe, your ear will definitely pick up their war cries.
This game plays like a perfect blend of the Assassin’s Creed and Batman Arkham series. You can employ both stealth and straight up combat to meet your goals.The game truly has a learning curve, where, in the beginning, stealth is definitely preferred. Trying to take on too many Uruk can not only impede your progress, but depending on how far you’ve gotten in the game, can introduce unknown members of the armies at the most unopportunistic times. The game’s Nemesis system is truly fresh and unique; every Uruk in the army has a list of strengths and weaknesses. These characteristics will determine how you choose to tackle a certain foe. There were some Uruks that were so strong in combat, I had to employ the nature of the surroundings however possible: unlocking caragor cages, shooting morgai flies, and even getting a group of ghuls to chase my foe’s underlings so that I could isolate them.
This game’s story modes and DLC were gratifying. The game presented environmental challenges, had interesting mechanics to take advantage of, and never had a dull moment. The Lord of the Hunt DLC really made the beasts of the game stand out all on their own. Mastering
nature as the ranger. Having control of the Uruk army was great, but besides taking of over other Uruks and the final battle, it felt a little short of the ultimate goal. This game has hours of gameplay and tons of replayability.
It’s near perfect. Maybe Shadow of War will be completely perfect. This reviewer intends to find out soon.