June 5th, 2019 by Zeke Gonzalez

Is it worth more than Mario Kart?

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

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



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June 1st, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Kart racing mayhem with slightly less cheating BS.

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

Team Sonic Racing Graphics

GRAPHICS: 1/2

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

STORY/IMMERSION: 1/2

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

AUDIO: 1/2

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

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

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

FUN: 2/2

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

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

SCORE: 7/10




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

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June 1st, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

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

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

GRAPHICS

GRAPHICS: 1/2

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

STORY/IMMERSION: 0/2

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

AUDIO: 1/2

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

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

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

FUN: 2/2

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

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

SCORE: 6/10




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April 18th, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

CALLED IT!

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

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



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trials rising garbage
April 18th, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Remember when you just won cool gear for your character when you did well? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

Trials Rising is back. It’s the 5th game in a long-standing series of physics-based, motorcycle riding action. Although the new entry itself is rather decent, Ubisoft decided to be Ubisoft and find a way to ruin the fun. They added the basic bitch of microtransactions, loot crates, to the mix, and they don’t gel well. And they are supposted to give you cosmetic upgrades only, but the upgrades are garbage. Rewards are also few and far between, with the majority of upgrades being stickers, the least interesting cosmetic aspect. And then you can get some new gear for your rider and bike but you can also get friggin DUPLICATES. Got the same tires twice? Too bad, you can re-sell the tires for a currency that is totally worthless towards the cost of another crate. It’s shameful at best. Too bad.

But wait, there’s more!

Now, watch this and look at the stunning lack of actual features after opening so many boxes. The customization system in Trials Rising is absolute garbage.

Sadly, one person on our YouTube tried to defend this. You can help by going to the page and upvoting the video.



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darksiders 3 review
March 2nd, 2019 by Vega Montanez

When you’re last gen but you’re fun.

Game development studios go out of business all the time. It’s the unfortunate part of the industry that keeps every on their toes. What does not happen often, if at all, is a game publisher going out of business. Then there assets and trademarks being purchased at auction. And finally, one of their biggest franchises gets brought back to life by the new owners. However, crazy it sounds, this is the story of Darksiders 3. The release date was on November 27th 2018 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It picks up where the previous games left off and puts you in control of the only horsewoman of the apocalypse. Developed by Gunfire Games and Published by THQ Nordic (remember the story) the third person hack and slash action adventure game hopes to build on the foundation laid before it. Does Fury get an adventure as awesome as War & Death?

GRAPHICS: 1/2

The first thing most gamers will notice is that Darksiders 3 looks a lot like Darksiders 2. For reference, DarkSiders 2 looked a lot like DarkSiders 1. So yeah, the graphics are nothing to really be blown away by. The impressive part of the graphics feeling dated is (with the remasters in existence) the timeline of events feels super coherent and natural. In a weird way, rather than feel like the graphics are outdated it feels like the game is bringing the player to a specific point in time. Whether this was intentional or not it makes it super easy to overlook the minor graphic issues. And the game development team did an excellent job at making sure there were no glaring graphical faults. Not the prettiest tool in the shed but not ugly enough to ruin the experience.

STORY: 1/2

The Darksiders series tells an incredible story when all three games are put together. Individually, each games story is really good but it’s very clear something is missing without the experience with the previous games. Fury is on a mission to take down the seven sins that have taken over earth. That reads interesting but not quite enough. It’s missing the flare of knowing everything that led to this point. Like War being framed for causing the battle that destroyed earth and ruined the balance. Or that Death is on his own unapproved mission to prove his brother War’s innocence. Or perhaps the suspicious story from the Char Council that Strife is off on a mission and he can not be reached. See now the story is much more interesting, however all those pieces come together from playing every game. Great story spread across three good games.

AUDIO: 1/2

Similar to the visuals, the audio in Darksiders 3 sounds very much like it’s predecessors. Again this does an incredible job of creating the feeling that the events of the game are indeed taking place simultaneously with Darksiders 1 and 2. For anyone who’s played the previous games the roars of monster and the destruction of items in sight will sound very familiar. For those new to the series, it’s a hit or miss. Some menu sounds are absolutely annoying with their sharp chimes. However, most of the sounds in game, from sword swinging to landing from a large jump, are pretty action packed. The adrenaline inducing sound effects and music add to the fast paced excitement even if it sounds like a last generation soundtrack.

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

This is where each game in this series really separates. Each development team for the Darksiders series has had the privilege of working with nearly identical environments with a different protagonist. In Darksiders 3 the player takes control of Fury, often recognized as the least predictable of the four horsemen. Fury specializes in using her whip and magic to overcome most battles. This makes her similar to Death in that she more effectively dodges than she does block. Yet, similar to War, she is very up close and personal, using her whip and magic to close the distance more often than end the fight. The introduction of a few new enemy types and the strengthening of others makes the experience unique to Fury. Enemies that could barely hurt the hulking War are a larger threat to Fury. Learning to play to each Horseman’s strength and weaknesses is what has every fan of this series asking, when do we get the 4 player co-op DarkSiders game?

FUN: 2/2

Fast paced hack and slash third person action. That sentence is the literal definition of a fun game. The Darksiders series does a great job of combining puzzle, platform, and adventure game mechanics. Darksiders 3 is no different. It embodies basic RPG elements like growth and skill charts but it’s mostly about reflex reactions. Battles involve accurate timing for both attacks and dodging. Puzzles scale in size from small levers and dials to entire environments that need to traversed with precision. All these great pieces of other fun games make Darksiders 3 the type of game that requires effort to stop playing.

Darksiders 3 does a great job of being exactly what fans of the series want at the small risk of being too much for newcomers to handle. The team at Gunfire Games have done an excellent job of providing a solid hack and slash adventure during the genre’s major drought. Any fans of fast paced action, unique gameplay mechanics, and challenging puzzles needs to get their hands on this. Or any of the games in the series, honestly.

SCORE: 7/10




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