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By Zoe Howard On 16 Jul, 2017 At 06:20 PM | Categorized As Featured, PlayStation, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarIt can be challenging reviewing a game in a series you have not yet had the pleasure of playing. You may ask yourself, “will this game make any sense without playing any of the previous titles?” Knowing that this game was made in a different style compared to the previous ones, I figured it would be okay to miss the first games in the series. Ultra Despair Girls may deviate from its predecessors, but I think it offers a new audience a chance to enjoy a well-told story.

The story follows Komaru Naegi, a young girl who was kidnapped a year and a half before the beginning of the game. She is finally being released thanks to a battle between crazed robots called Monokuma and a team of fighters called the Future Foundation. One of the members gives her a hacking gun to protect herself from the crazed robot bears and tells her to escape. Upon her escape, she meets up with different people on her quest to flee Towa City and find her family.

To say that this is a very slim summary of the story is an understatement. There are twists and turns everywhere and there are more exposition and back story around every corner. If I was to try and write down the full plot, it would take up the entire review. Therefore, I am sticking to the main plot that serves as not only the central focus but where the main characters draw the most character development from. A good portion of this development happens between Komaru and a member of Future Foundation she meets by the name of Toko. Komaru and Toko travel through the city trying to escape while trying to understand what’s happening around them.

Through Komaru and Toko’s plotline, the player has an opportunity to learn what happens in previous games. It is really a great plot device that catches up those of us who missed the earlier entries. I never felt I was lost when a character showed up or back story was discussed. You are always given enough information to understand what is going on, at least as much as is needed for that point in the story. I can only recall one time that something happened that left me going “what?” and that was with a character that shows up in the last few shots of the game. It won’t take you long to realize that they had more to do with the old games, but it is clear the developers will be giving us more story in the games to come.

The controls for the game are surprisingly well thought out. Considering this game started out on PS Vita, I can see how they probably worked well there, too. This is probably one of the easiest to control games I have played in a while. If you are at all familiar with cover based third-person shooters then this game will probably be an easy pickup. The only difference is you don’t have to take cover during a fight. Sadly, there is one glaring issue with the controls and that is the right sticks camera controls. They are incredibly slow. To make matters worse, there is no option to tweak the settings and increase the speed. What you see is what you get. This is made infinitely worse when you must use the laser sight to target enemies. You can pick up power-ups that will increase your laser sight speed, but I never saw any improvement in performance.

There is a way around this with a quick lock power-up you can pick up, but it’s completely random as to which enemy it targets. This can be somewhat useful on some of the bosses, but there are some enemies with many points you must hit. I left the auto lock off during my play through and focused on giving myself time to aim properly. Persistence pays off on this one. I completed the game using the camera the way it is.

It’s hard to really comment on graphics that were designed for the PS Vita, so I will make this section quick. Ultra Despair Girls is a port, so it will not be as good of quality as a game made for the PlayStation 4. But the aesthetic of the game itself more than makes up for the low resolution. The switching between CG cut scenes to a graphic novel, still, image-cut scenes are used beautifully to express different things within the game. There are so many interesting and fun style choices that really make the game pleasant to see.

The sound design is good for this game and matches the style very well. It is somewhat your typical anime style fanfare but when something isn’t broke, you don’t need to fix it. The music is probably the weakest part of the game. You will hear the same songs so many times during the game you will be sick of them by the end. Some of the voices can be quite repetitive as well. If this game was shorter, then I could see it is serviceable, but the game was quite long and I admit I was begging for it to be over so I didn’t have to hear them say, “Oh look another arcade machine.”

Overall, this game is glitch free. The frame rate was fantastic and never slowed down for a second. Which was even more puzzling to know how well it ran (considering that it had issues that have been pretty much erased from modern games). This issue was at its worst on the PlayStation 2 and has since then been pretty much resolved during the last two generations. There are a lot of wall corners you can get caught on without being close to them. As annoying as this can be, you will learn how to maneuver around them and progress with very little hang up. It just takes some time to get used to it.

One of the more nagging issues in this game is probably also the smallest. One simple option would fix this; there is A LOT of dialogue which is written out on the screen. The in-game cut scenes do not progress unless you press a button to continue after a character finishes talking. You will be pressing this button a lot. This game really needs an option to allow the scenes to continuously play with an option of stopping it as you wish.

I’ve been saving a certain topic related to this game for the very end, and that is the rather adult nature of much of its story. This game is in no way marketed to children, but I feel it is worth saying that this game has a lot of dark topics. What’s darker than the villains being murderous children seeking to spill the blood of the adults? There are jokes about the main character’s infatuation with her older brother. One of the villains in the game experiences traumatic memories and has flashbacks about what can only be interpreted as a form of sexual assault. Toko has odd fetish dreams about her “master” between the levels as well. None of this affects my choice in the score for the game. I just feel this is worth mentioning for anyone who might have younger kids interested in anime based games.

If I was to name one thing about this game that really got to me, it would have to be the sheer amount of information thrown at the player throughout the game. The game oozes plot and back-story. By about halfway through the game, I gave up on reading or listening to what the characters had to say about the bonus pick up items. I would just get the items and move on. As it is, the end of the game reminds me of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. They could have ended it at any of about six different moments and it would have worked just fine. I cheered when the credits began rolling; there is a lot to take in about this game. This is one instance where I will say that maybe there was too much.

Ultra Despair Girls is pretty much a visual novel with levels you play to reach the next chapter. I really liked this idea. Even if it goes on far longer than it should. I can also see this concept being cleaned up and made better with later iterations. I do need to say: that you as the potential gamer will be watching and reading a lot more than playing. It’s especially story -heavy in the first and third acts of the game. The second act houses a good portion of the action; there is a decent amount of gameplay here but it could be much more.

I played this game on the default medium difficulty. Sadly, there wasn’t a lot of challenge till about the fourth chapter of the game. Even then it died down in chapter 6 (the last chapter). If you are looking for a challenge I suggest a harder difficulty level. Easy difficulty isn’t really needed considering how basic medium played out.  Most of the difficulty was in controlling the camera anyway.

Ultra Despair Girls was a fun game, all-in-all. It was also a fun introduction to a series I had not yet played before. It has me interested in what the rest of the games say about the events that happen.  I wish I could say whether previous fans of the series would like it or not; I know this one is drastically different in its game mechanics compared to 1 and 2. What I will say is this: the game has a few pitfalls, but it is also fun and will keep you interested in the characters and story. This third-person adventure game will give you your money’s worth with its creativity and well-told story.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 8 Jul, 2017 At 10:39 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Reviews, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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Fighting games are in a bit of a renaissance right now. We have A new (somewhat controversial) Marvel vs Capcom coming, a new Injustice game, A DBZ fighter from Arc System Works is coming and Nintendo is bringing multiple fighters to the Switch. One of the titles that stand out the most though is Bandai Namco’s Tekken 7.

Tekken 7 is a mechanically beautiful and visually stunning game, and a well-designed fighter great for a variety of players.  I have been a Tekken fan for years and was extremely excited for the game, as I couldn’t wait to play my favorite characters again in new ways. What I found in this experience was fun but at times frustrating, though not to the extent of a certain other fighting game that may or may not now is in continuity with the Tekken series. 

As I stated, Tekken 7 is gorgeous visually. The art style was a perfect choice and I didn’t have any framerate issues, so playing it just felt awesome. Visuals are not the most important thing in a fighting game, true, but I can appreciate good visual design in them. The game also made great use of the soundtrack, especially on PS4. Accessing the classic music was a real treat and made the game feel like a great throwback to the old days. The new music composed for the game is excellent as well, and all of it fits the characters.

Speaking of the characters, the new additions are a mix of hit and miss with me. I loved characters like Katarina and Claudio as they felt fun to use, while a character like Josie and Master Raven were okay but I did have some issues with. With Master Raven it is more due to the teleporting nature of the character, which is just not something I like, and I admit it is a personal thing, although the character could be fun. With Josie, the character just didn’t click with me, but I can see why she is popular ( plus her fighting style is great).

There are certain characters that I just did not like, however, like Eliza and surprisingly enough Akuma. The reason for this is that, while Akuma is cool to have in Tekken, the more I played him, the more he felt so out of place and awkward. it just broke up the flow of gameplay to me and that obviously is not what was supposed to happen. Eliza also felt like a character that should be in a different game and not  Tekken. She feels more like a Street Fighter character than a Tekken character and again breaks the immersion of the gameplay for me.

Speaking of gameplay, the fighting is the best its ever been for the most part and the story mode is excellent, although the changes to arcade mode are not for the better in my opinion. I get what they did, but I like traditional arcade modes with proper endings. I am glad there is still an arcade mode but the way endings were done, is something that will make some people upset. In terms of online, I had many issues for a long time and couldn’t even connect at first. When this was finally resolved, however, I had a blast playing online and the connection ran well.There are other single player modes that offer variety as well, and that is something I can appreciate a great deal. There is enough here for players who want to play casually and not be concerned with online.

Tekken 7 overall, is one of the better fighters. It lacks some features but makes up for it with what it has.  With good music and visuals, fun online and offline content, and mostly good characters, I feel that Tekken 7 is a real standout game this year. If you like fighting games at all, then you owe it to yourself to check out Tekken 7!

 

By Cataclysmic Knight On 7 Jul, 2017 At 03:57 PM | Categorized As Featured, PlayStation, Playstation Vita, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarUtawarerumono: Mask of Deception was my introduction to visual novels, and I have a minimal amount of experience with anime, but I dove in to the game with some excitement due to the SRPG battle elements. However, as the hours ticked by I learned that I had been deceived myself.


Title:
Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception
Developed/Published By: ATLUS, AQUAPLUS
Available For: PS4 (reviewed), PS Vita

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception is a stylish 2D game that had a lot of promise and fell terribly short. As a huge fan of Telltale Games and other titles like Life is Strange I really had high hopes for an epic story and an intriguing strategy-RPG battle system. The game began with a protagonist who doesn’t remember who he is or how he ended up where he is. Kuon, a young girl, had helped him out and he soon finds himself in grave danger and saved by her once again. From there the two of them end up working to find out what Haku (the name Kuon has given him since he can’t remember it himself) can do to earn a living, fight wild battles and get wrapped up in all sorts of intrigue.

The first major challenge I came across with Utawarerumono was the fact that the game isn’t dubbed. Every word of dialogue required reading subtitles, which wouldn’t be such a big deal if it wasn’t a 40-50 hour game. The game is also primarily an illustrated book, with static or minimally-animated scenes that change every so often as different characters come in and out of conversations or as scenes change. I was also surprised that, in my time with the game, I only made a handful of decisions. Unfortunately, every single one of those decisions was presented in a hub (within a hotel or camp) and merely let me choose which scene I wanted to see next. These decisions made no difference whatsoever and sometimes even made things worse. At one point Haku told a man named Ukon that he was too tired to do any work and Ukon told him that was fine, they were just going to relax; when I chose the next scene Ukon came to ask Haku to do work! This all occurred in the same night and the flow of these scenes knocked me entirely out of the moment.

The story is also horribly drawn out. I’m okay with a story that doesn’t move at a quick pace, and as someone who has binge watched dozens of entire shows on Netflix it’s something I’m used to. However, Utawarerumono frequently had scenes that should’ve lasted 2-3 minutes and ended up being 20-30 instead. That’s the equivalence of an entire television episode given to Kuon and Haku eating breakfast, with Haku wondering how Kuon can eat so much food and Kuon explaining what the food was and how to eat it! This is done with only a few different static screens showing Kuon sitting there, so it’s not like I was even presented with what the food looked like or shown what Kuon was showing Haku. It also isn’t an occasional thing, it’s the norm; when I stopped playing the game 25 hours in (theoretically half way or more through the 40-50 hour game) I could have summed up the main plot in a few paragraphs, and it certainly hadn’t gotten interesting enough yet to hook my interest. There were teases at a really interesting story, but it was akin to sifting for flakes of gold in mountains of dirt.

Perhaps worst of all, some of the men in the story (Haku especially) are quick to comment on things sexually. While some humorous innuendo or funny situations can really liven moments up, even if they’re sexual in nature, I sometimes felt dirty playing Utawarerumono. This includes commenting sexually to girls who appear very underage, rape comments and blatant crudeness. It went there so often that it became a game for my gal and I to guess when it would happen next, and it almost always went even further than I’d have expected.

The game does have some strategy-RPG battles, but in the 25 hours I played I came across less than a dozen of them. The first didn’t occur until an hour and fifteen minutes passed, and by five and a half hours in I’d only fought three battles. To make matters worse, the tutorial was nearly nonexistent and despite some game history with SRPGs I still didn’t really grasp the deeper elements of the system. Luckily this really didn’t matter as the battles were all so easy that it would’ve been a challenge to lose, and I only had one character knocked out over the course of my time with the game. The game does offer two difficulties, and I went with the standard (easier) one, so it’s worth noting that if you want any kind of challenge and you’re at all familiar with SRPGs you should absolutely go with the harder difficulty mode.

On the upside, I was incredibly surprised by just how polished the game was. The dialogue system is brilliant and allows for automatic or manual progression, rewinding and pausing (including optionally replaying audio). The voice acting sounded excellent although, as I don’t speak the language, it’s hard to be certain. The art, while typically static, is very stylish and detailed. The music is rather fantastic, even to someone who isn’t typically a fan of anime music, and you can listen to music as you unlock it in the game from the title screen. As you progress you can also customize the title screen’s art and look at different art from the game. In the battle system, you can easily go back and replay old battles as well. For a game that’s mostly a book, it’s clear a lot of work went into polishing and perfecting the systems.

I have no doubt Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception will have plenty of fans. The series already has a solid fan base and I’ve heard from numerous people how excited they are to play both games. However, it absolutely wasn’t for me – it dragged on, it required reading subtitles and it barely had any actual gameplay to it. My primary job for years now has been as a book reviewer, so I have absolutely nothing against reading for hours at a time, but a story has to be interesting to be worth experiencing.

Finally, as I previously mentioned I didn’t complete the game. After putting in approximately 25 hours and learning that the game is basically just one-half of the overall story (with the upcoming Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth finishing it) I decided I didn’t need or want to complete it. Some of the information presented in this review – the lack of any genuine choices throughout the rest of the game and the fact that the game is 40-50 hours long, for example – was gathered from other reviews from reputable sources or from information from ATLUS/AQUAPLUS.

Note: I was given a free code for the game (and DLC) in exchange for my honest opinion.

No GravatarFlinthook by Tribute Games is a ridiculously addictive, even more ridiculously difficult action/platformer/roguelike in space pirate ships! Armed with your plasma pistol, hookshot and chronobelt you’ll be blasting away enemies and platforming through insane trap-filled rooms, battling waves of crazy enemies and taking out countless randomly-generated ships in search of four particularly notorious foes.

Title: Flinthook
Developed By: Tribute Games
Available For: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Win/Mac/Linux (Steam)

My first taste of Flinthook was seeing @flinthook tweet a few gifs and screenshots on Twitter. When I saw the one above I was hooked and immediately added it to the list of games I had to try. Just look at that incredible animation, the crazy bullet-hell-ish dodging, smooth hook shot work and use of slowing down time! I’m so glad my gut was right – Flinthook is a BLAST!

After a brief training level, you’re given your first bounty and thrown into the meat of Flinthook – working to find and defeat your first boss. To find Bad Billy Bullseye you must first feed your compass three ghost gems, with one being found aboard each of Bad Billy Bullseye’s ships. Each “level” presents you with three ship options, each with random modifiers that can be good or bad. Higher difficulty ships have lots of modifiers (one may have fog on the ship, lots of shops, lots of treasure rooms and tougher enemy rooms) and lower difficulty ones may have as low as one. Right off the bat you’re introduced to the risk/reward balance that a good roguelike has – treasure rooms are often extra dangerous but can give you boosts for your current run or loads of gold to buy boosts or health, or one ship may be a higher difficulty overall but have better modifiers than the rest. If you can survive long enough to find the boss you’ll head to their ship and take them on in an epic battle! The game has four main bosses, each with a wild fight and the later bosses require more gems to find. Should you die, you’ll lose your progress toward your current boss and have to find all of their gems once again.

Like any good roguelike, you’re going to die a lot, and that’s not a bad thing. Each time you die you’ll gain experience and work toward purchasing permanent upgrades. You can upgrade and unlock all sorts of things, such as increasing the amount of experience you get each run, adding to your max HP, unlocking additional sub weapons or adding to your total number of perk points. Each time you level up you’ll earn a booster pack that has a random card (or cards) that can be equipped, and these can modify your game in all sorts of ways. You can make your pistol more powerful, shoot further and/or change the way it fires, add additional HP, make it so you find extra gold and pretty much anything else you can think of. As you unlock more of them you can really line up some cool combos – you can make it so you get lots of extra gold from everything and then set it so your pistol does extra damage depending on how much gold you have, you can equip loads of experience boosters for grinding, or you can equip loads of perks for your chronobelt to make it last longer and slow time even more if you love the slo-mo. The tricky bit is that there are dozens and dozens of potential upgrades to equip and you’ll never be able to equip more than 13 at a time (and most take more than one perk point!), so you must choose wisely.

When I was developing games I heard a quote about the importance of fun and movement in games. I can’t remember who said it or even what game it was but the gist of it was this – the developer(s) had made a movement system that was so fun that it was a blast just jumping and running around. With such a fun movement system, it was clear the game itself would be fun when placed on top of it. I feel like that sums up the main feeling I have about Flinthook: the movement in the game is just so fun and solid that it eradicates any flaws the game may have had otherwise.

In addition to the fantastic movement system, one of the things that stuck out to me the moment I started Flinthook was the terrific music. I’ve played video games for over 30 years and can count the number of game soundtracks I would buy on both hands, but Flinthook’s music is so terrific it competes with games like Final Fantasy! It’s full of adventure, it’s inspiring and it’s action-packed! From the second I hit the title screen I was amped up and ready to go. The sound effects are great too, and the art is gorgeous.


Flinthook
is a very difficult game, so difficult in fact that I was only able to defeat one of the game’s four bosses so far, not including all of the secrets and additional things the game includes! To get a solid feel for what the game had in store, later on, I watched some YouTube videos, and it’s incredible just how much more there is to the game! Not only do the levels and bosses get ridiculously harder (the final boss requires 12 ghost gems!), there are all sorts of secrets you can uncover by pulling off crazy things like not getting hurt on an entire ship.

Despite the difficulty the game’s brilliant grappling system, addictive leveling, a slew of secrets, amazing music and incredibly deep customization system kept me coming back, and I’ll definitely be playing much, much more of Flinthook in the future as well!

Note: I received a copy of the game from the developer in exchange for an honest review.

By Angela Heidenreich On 28 Jun, 2017 At 01:38 AM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Shock Tactics is a turn-based sci-fi strategy game with tactical combat, exploration, squad management and base building. Many have compared it to XCOM. But maybe you don’t know what XCOM ever was. The master of turn-based games, squad management, and guiding yourself/team through a level.

As with turn-based games, they tend to work around a hitting percentage when it comes to making moves. Which means that if there is a 1% chance of hitting a target, ODDS ARE, you won’t hit it, but there is always that 1% chance that you will, in which case you just might! Then there’s the other end of the spectrum if the target says 99% hit percentage, then the odds of you missing are s minimal, but you just might miss still! That’s the fun with these changes, Lady Luck may or may not smile upon you.
The joy and horror of a turn based game are being able to control multiple people and really get tactical with the game. Of course, this is a joy and horror.  I say that because controlling multiple people can be good and bad. If someone dies, you have the opportunity to revive them in Shock Tactics, but with this opportunity comes the risk of losing more of your men if you aren’t careful. But of course this opportunity only lasts so long, so it really is a moment to think if you need that extra person, or if you can finish the mission without them.
Getting the opportunity to play a turn-based game was a nice refresher, while also super frustrating. Turn-based games are all about teaching you not to make the wrong kind of moves. Doing one little mistake can really cost you a lot of damage, people, or sometimes even losing the level. I’d be lying if I said I was able to just bash through the game and beat every level super easily. I definitely got rolled over a few times. It took me a few times to realize that the game merely “suggesting” that the Overwatch ability was a good thing to use sometimes, actually meant that it was almost a necessity.
The nice thing about the Overwatch ability is it causes you to immediately shoot any enemy target that comes out of cover and in the line of sight of a soldier. Even if that means they come into the view of multiple soldiers. They will then immediately fire upon the enemy and the enemy generally will run back to their cover to attempt to avoid any more damage. That is if the previous damage didn’t already kill them.
Since we are talking about damage, I must mention the hit percentages. Of course, they seem to like it all makes sense. The lower the percentage, then the lower the odds of the hit actually hitting and causing damage. Then the higher the percentage, the higher the chance of hitting and causing damage. Of course, makes sense. Until you get a 100% hit percentage and completely miss the target. Unfortunately, this happened to me a few times during my gameplay. There would be nothing in my way, no reason to hit my target, and actually, in one instance I was practically face-to-face with the target, with a 100% hit percentage, and I missed. Crazy!
There are missions that you go on when it comes down to Shock Tactics, you are learning information on missions that seem to have happened in the past to tell you what is going on now, and why. During these missions, you have to do certain objectives in order to move on. Of course, there are always the main objectives that you cannot avoid. But then there are the SIDE objectives, which normally means you have the OPTION to do these. They are not necessary. But when it comes to Shock Tactics and what I personally experienced, those side missions ARE necessary. I would fail a side mission during the beginning of my learning experience and have to completely re-do the mission because I would immediately get failed. But they were side missions, which in most games means optional. I didn’t know, nor understand. But, they are necessary.
There definitely were some cool pluses when finishing each mission would be building up a base to assist you with certain things in the game. Sometimes this would be to gain abilities that can only be used once per mission, but these powers could easily change the way the mission was going if you happen to be losing at the time.
Ultimately, the game wasn’t bad. The storyline was completely forgettable. I really don’t remember much of it at all, the gameplay was normal for a turn-based game, which was nostalgic. Although there were the errors of percentages, and the annoyance of failing side missions, which should be optional, and if they are not optional, then they need to be made main missions, not a side. The maps weren’t awe-inspiring, and actually, the fog could be annoying sometimes, although made sense when hiding enemies from your sight immediately. They did well with creating the maps to be made up of areas where you would climb, hide under things, and be on the regular ground level. It really added to the ability to plan the perfect strategy, or failing in terrible moves.
I definitely can find myself playing Shock Tactics more to get better with turn-based games, although if I keep experiencing misses on 100% hits I might find it too annoying to continue. But for the most part, the game was nostalgic, and a good experience. Just a few things could have been done to create a friendlier game experience or even memorable experience. Having soldiers look significantly different would have been a nice addition too (not just color differences). But ultimately, that is just being nit-picky at this point.
Time to get your strategy on!

By Jonathan Balofsky On 30 May, 2017 At 06:53 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, News, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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Fighting Games are one of my favourite genres, and my favourites are the ones made by NetherRealm Studios. I was beyond excited for Injustice 2when it was announced, and now after playing the game, I realized this is the perfect fighting game for comic book fans.

I do not mean to throw shade at Marvel vs Capcom, but I simply feel that given the direction that series is heading in, Injustice is more of a fighting series for longtime comic fans who want to see their favourites duke it out. We have a wide variety of characters, and some great alternate skins to give us more variety. Not only that, but the character choices are so diverse and taken from  all over the DC franchises, that there is something for everybody. Characters like Swamp Thing, and Scarecrow offer variety, while favourites like Batman and Flash are holding things down. Personally, I found Blue Beetle to be the character I was drawn to the most, as he had great characterization and was simply so much fun to play.

The combat in this game is extremely well done. It is great for fighting game fans of all kinds, from beginners to experts and offers a lot of variety. In addition, there is a lot of content for the players who do not plan on going online all that much, and there is plenty for those who do. it is hard to strike a proper balance with content but NetherRealm did it. Once again, they knocked it out of the park with an amazing story mode that serves as one of the best DC Comics movies, and this time adding in some changes that actually do make a difference in what happens. I like that NetherRealm is innovating on what they built and are not just relying on the same things. Injustice 2 tries things differently from its predecessor and succeeds at doing the,. I do have some complaints though, when it comes to the animations, especially in story mode. They seem a little off, and the faces just look strange to me. That said, this is a minor complaint, and I can easily live with it.

The game’s multiverse mode offers countless hours of replayability and gear collecting really does add more depth to the game. If you are a purist however, the game has modes that don’t use gear, once again making this a game that offers something for everyone.  I honestly feel as if this tops Mortal Kombat X in terms of game design, and that this is the superior fighting game. It has better music as well, and I must say that the soundtrack to the game is superb. the announcers are better, and the sound effects are improved. Combat offers more variety and just feels more polished. This is a masterpiece of the genre and is meant for players like me, and it is meant for hardcore fighting game fans and for casual fans and for comic fans.  NetherRealm Studios and WB Games have made a fighter that reaches a wide audience, and that merits praise. I highly recommend this.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 26 May, 2017 At 02:46 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Guilty Gear has undergone a major resurgence of late. It began with Guilty Gear Xrd Sign and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. The latest release in the series is Guilty Gear Xrd Rev2, but does it really offer much in comparison to Gulty Gear Xrd Revelator? Or should you avoid it?

I will begin by stating what I felt to be a key point. The combat has been refined yet again by Arc System Works and is smoother than ever. The game continues experimenting with different playstyles for players who do not want the standard inputs and that is highly commendable. Along with the amazing tutorial, Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 has the unique nature of appealing to two different groups of players at the same time. I must say again about the tutorial, in that it is one of the best tutorials ever made for a fighting game. It teaches you exactly how to play a fighting game if you were unfamiliar and will help you not only in this game but others as well.

The revised combat has more than a few balance adjustments. I would say that most fans will notice them depending on the time they put in to the previous game, the more time the more you will notice and vice versa. More notably in my opinion, is that there are animation additions almost everywhere. This is just a gorgeous 2.5D fighting game and I do not think I have ever seen a better one. Everything just feels smooth and fluid. My complaints about the little moments of stiffness in Revelator are gone, and even the online works so much better. It seems Arc System Works took each and every criticism to heart and set out to make the ultimate Guilty Gear game. I have to say that in my opinion, they succeeded. The music is top notch as always in the series, but it just feels even more epic here. It feels that the music has been kicked up a notch or three and that gives the game a more exciting feeling.

In terms of the roster, there are two additions, Baiken and Answer. Answer is a difficult character to learn, but very rewarding, while Baiken is true to past iterations. I like that not much was changed in terms of the roster, but what was added, were well done and excellent additions.

There are of course multiple online modes and story modes, as to be expected in a Guilty Gear game, and to be honest, I feel this is one of the most complete fighting games around. With its cheaper price ( and even cheaper digital price if bought as a DLC  upgrade), I cannot recommend this enough. Guilty Gear Xrd Rev2 is just an awesome game all around, and one of the best fighting games for both fans and newcomers to the genre. I urge you to check this out as soon as you can. You will not regret buying this game anytime.

By Kira Nance On 17 May, 2017 At 05:47 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarFirst and foremost, I would like you to take into consideration the fact that getting myself to write this review is comparable to pulling teeth. The moment I began my complicated relationship with Rise and Shine I was immediately taken back by the beauty of the beast. Oh man, is this a beautiful game, but beauty is only skin deep after all. While platformers at not my specialty they are also not my Achilles heel, yet I consistently found myself in the position where I was too frustrated to continue. Rise & Shine is a little bit like being in an unhealthy relationship and being too stubborn to leave. Perhaps like dating a supermodel whom, while she is beautiful, is so very used to going on looks alone that they fail to nurture other aspects of their being. I wanted to love this game, perhaps I still do but that’s not necessarily a good thing. 

It’s no surprise that Adult Swim Games has, as of late been dipping their toe into the proverbial pool that is console gaming. After the success of titles such as Katana Zero, Headlander and Rick and Morty Simulator: Virtual Rick-ality it makes perfect sense. The folks over at Adult Swim bring a refreshing attitude to the entertainment table, expressing a strong desire to provide quality entertainment over profit “We don’t have an agenda to sell something. For us, we want to create a really amazing experience.”  said Adult Swim’s Ashley Jex-Wagner, director of events “That’s the most important thing for us is for everyone to have a good time“. 

It seems the developers at Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team are on the same page. In an interview with Invision Community, Enrique Corts (Art Director, Creative Director) stated “Our focus has always been making really polished hardcore games that add something fresh to the table. We believe in making things properly since day one, so we only launch our games when they are completely ready and as much bug-free as possible, even if that means we risk our financial health. Sometimes is really tough having our own quality bar so high, but this is the only way to success we understand.

The four-person team based out of Spain has already seen success in the mobile market with Editor’s Choice titles, Pro Zombie Soccer, Pro Zombie Soccer Apocalypse Edition, and Supermagical, all of which have received Game of the Year in the App Store. Rise & Shine is Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team’s first PC/console title release and consequently my latest headache. So, the big question here is did Adult Swim and Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team accomplishes their goal to provide us with enjoyable quality content? Well, I’d have to say yes and no.

With the combined powers of Adult Swim Games and Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team, comes Rise & Shine a true “think and gun” gem that while frustrating is definitely worth your time. Rise & Shine is basically a playable homage to classic video games. Warped versions of beloved characters such as Link, Marcus Fenix, Q*bert and the Duck Hunt dog make hilarious appearances. The gameplay itself is a bit of a throwback, think Metal Slug meets Contra. This 2-D side-scrolling shooter is anything but basic, sometimes it’s even overly complicated. There’s a cover system to employ similar to the one used in Gears of War but this doesn’t ensure safety from all enemies especially the more volatile ones. Combining aspects of arcade shooters, bullet hells, and puzzle platformers staying focused in Rise & Shine is a major challenge in itself.

You play as Rise, a young boy of Gamearth, who upon receiving a legendary smack talking gun by the name of Shine suddenly becomes his planets greatest hope for survival against the invading Nexgen. You gun your way through 14 levels of unique puzzles, endless robot armadas, hungry zombies and intimidating bosses. Shine also conveniently bestows his wielder with unlimited respawns, unless you share the likeness of Link apparently. Unlimited lives, thank you, Shine, I thoroughly tested those boundaries. You have the choice to load Shine with his standard ammo or electric bullets, electric doing more damage to some enemies and next to nothing against others. Rise & Shine also grants you fun explosive bullets to detonate at will and the ability to guide your bullets remotely (RC), though only through a limited radius. Utilizing each bullet type is essential for navigating the puzzle solving, projectile dodging, enemy slaying chaos that is Rise & Shine. Bosses are no joke, only adding to the retro gaming atmosphere here, for example, the final boss takes upwards of 90 minutes to beat. 90 painfully tedious minutes. Considering the game consist of a mere two hours of actual gameplay with almost no storyline to spice things up, I found this to be severely annoying. I’m sure eighty percent of my time was spent severely immersed in boss fights. Taking damage is never an option as two hits from a base level enemy or projectile is enough to kill you at any point. Mastering the fine art of bullet spray is probably the best defense in Rise & Shine and quite possibly the best way to stay sane. 

The controls are slightly over complicated, requiring you to aim with the left trigger, shoot with the right trigger and guidance is provided by the right stick. When your screen is full of enemies, storms of bullets, lasers, and explosions this less that kind control system gets in the way. add in the bumpers to cycle through ammunition all while dodging, jumping and dashing to avoid getting hit. Oh, and don’t forget to reload. Seriously I’m exhausted just explaining all that.

Visually, the folks at Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team nailed it. This is where the quality of the game shines through. The story while lacking in detail, plays out in charming comic panels that showcase the developers love for comic books. Each level’s background is made up of hand-drawn illustrations with multiple parallax scroll layers, giving new depth to each scene as you progress. I seriously lost myself in the artwork of Rise & Shine, it was easy to imagine myself gallivanting around the streets of Gamearth blasting away space grunts. The in-game audio and soundtrack are top notch thanks to the talent of Jerry Goldsmith Award nominee Damián Sánchez (Reservoir Dogs, Blues and Bullets). However, aesthetics alone cannot carry a game and Rise & Shine left me raging in the end. It’s a title deserving of your time and respect but I can’t in good conscience recommend it for anyone with anger issues.

Review code was provided by the publisher.

 

By John Kinsella On 10 May, 2017 At 02:25 PM | Categorized As Featured, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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If you have played Persona 5, you know how great a game it really is. Though I’ve only had it a short amount of time, it seems like ages, and it has really become something I treasure. Having only played Persona 4, I was ready to try out the series next iteration. Jumping into this beautifully designed alternate world Tokyo, I was spellbound, and from the moment the game started up I had no doubt in my mind I would do anything to finish this game.

The game follows the story of a protagonist, fresh out of getting kicked out of his old school due to a scuffle and thrust into a whole new world.  The young man may look mild mannered, but he is a devious and cunning mastermind. Of course, that really is only when he needs to be, as usually he is able to keep peace. He meets a wonderful cast of characters, some who help him and some who harm him. As a Persona game it is up to you who you forge relationships with.

Persona 5’s story is certainly one worth playing to the end, as it really makes you think about the world. There may need to be some upheaval, and it is a shame the Phantom Thieves don’t exist. For the uniformed, The Phantom Thieves are the protagonist’s group. Honestly, I felt like I grew playing this game, and that I honestly do want to figure out something I can do to change our planet for the better.

Besides a wonderful story, the game itself is one of the best I’ve seen. Its battles flow brilliantly as do its cut scenes and tranisitions. Depending on where you are, the transitions change and that is something cool. As you travel all around Tokyo, you will see so many different things that it almost feels like you have been to Japan after playing it.

Back to the characters of Persona 5. They are all so unique it is hard to choose who you want to spend time with. Now, there are people who make guides where they max out everything in one run, but I personally just go with the flow. Though it does pain me that this first playthrough is clocking at 100 hours, and my main character didn’t end up with any of the amazing women. This just gives me an incentive to play the game again for a fuller experience. Seriously, it is difficult when you have a punk doctor, a teacher, a shut in hacker, and a student council president among others to choose from.

The characters themselves also have touching stories that make you feel like even though you may be putting in work, it isn’t for nothing. These people feel and live their lives, slowly becoming more and more attached to the protagonist. When you max any of the social links,  you feel this connection to the character, as you have experienced something with them that has changed them. It’s just like any real friendship, you go through something together and part of you is bonded to them forever.

Besides the wonderful story and characters, there are also have amazing dungeons, which the game calls palaces to explore. These Palaces are inside of the characters minds, and just like their outside self these worlds are distorted. You never know what kind of dungeon theme you are going to be plunged into next. They vary so differently that it is honestly shocking. One of the best parts of the game is simply to see how people see the world. I have to wonder what kind of Palace I’d have.

So, in conclusion, Persona 5 is hands-down one of my favorite games. It honestly is a contender for Game of The Year right now and will at least finish in the top 3 I’m sure. Persona 5 truly is its own game, so don’t feel like you need to play other Persona games to play it. If it sounds at all interesting, it is definitely worth picking up. When playing it, just play like you are the character it honestly makes everything all the more relatable, at least that is what I thought.

 

By Cataclysmic Knight On 9 May, 2017 At 03:48 PM | Categorized As Indie Spotlight, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Developed By: Fire Face Corporation
Published By: Adult Swim Games
Available For: PS4 (reviewed), Windows

One side of the second building.

I had never heard of Small Radios Big Televisions before I received a review code for it, but a quick glance online made it look like Fez if it was a point-and-click puzzler. Diving in, I was presented with a building against a rather plain red background and absolutely no tutorial or clue as to what to do. Moving the left joystick moved the cursor, and when it moved over the only door present it became clear this was what I was meant to do – open the door and begin. Exploration is unique: instead of being given a character to move around, you merely move the cursor and whatever room you’re currently in tilts to allow the cursor to reach everything. To enter a room or interact with things, just press X with the cursor over it. Some things, like cogs, require dragging to complete puzzles. This may sound pretty standard, but the fact that I never saw myself and the view was pulled so far out gave the game an entirely different feel.

It was when I found my first cassette that the game really became special. These cassettes are better than music (yes, even Star-Lord’s Awesome Mixes), they’re virtual reality! Each one has a very specific experience and is clearly labeled with things like Road, Forest or Stream. Like any VR experience these are all first-person, and while some of them offer automatic movement along a pre-programmed track you can’t actually control yourself at all. You can, however, look around with the cursor, and the goal here is to find green gems. To make matters even more wild you’ll come across magnets as you explore the main game which warp any cassettes you currently have. Idyllic, lovely settings become ruined and corrupted when entering them again which is necessary to find additional gems.

Your TD-525 provides some simple diversions, but at what cost?

After each area is completed there’s a mysterious conversation between two people. As a huge fan of story in games this was an excellent addition. They’re all very short, so folks who couldn’t care less don’t have to wait long, and they’re just long enough to tease at what’s going on. Between the lack of any kind of setup, the mysterious setting, the VR tapes and these dialogues the game’s world is constantly unraveling into something interesting. There’s also writing and graffiti on the walls of several of the rooms that elude to a much darker tone. It’s almost painful how much I want to talk about the story of this game! Unfortunately, this is one of those games where giving any details would hurt the experience.

Things get a little dark at times.

I am NOT good at puzzle games. A quarter or a half of the way in I typically start needing a walkthrough here and there, and by the last quarter or so I usually end up spending more time watching videos on how to solve the game’s puzzles than actually playing it. That wasn’t the case here, and while I ended up feeling rather smart a few times I worry that hardcore puzzle fans will be rather bored here. The difficulty in the game comes mostly from navigating through the areas and locating the green gems in the cassettes: as the game progresses rooms end up having quite a few diverging paths that make it easy to forget where to go or where you just came from. There is a map in the game, but I didn’t get any use out of it personally. The fact that doors are always closed until you first enter them and stay open once they’re opened helps, but the later areas require a fair bit of backtracking.

The audio and art fit the retro theme incredibly well. The 3D styles of the last century are evident here and the music is subdued and enjoyable, although one or two of the pieces may have been a little repetitive in the background as I hunted down gems. I also liked that the game took advantage of the DualShock speaker for inserting cassettes; as someone somewhat new to PS4 I’m always excited when a game takes advantage of it. It all came together to draw me far more into the world of Small Radios Big Television than I could have expected.

Small radios provide big insight into the plot.

I really loved that the game doesn’t hold your hand yet still ended up making perfect sense. It was awesome that even a mediocre puzzle gamer like myself could figure things out! Although the gameplay is rather simple and half the puzzles are just hunting for green gems in cassettes or navigating small labyrinths of doors the setting and story more than made up for it to me. I even felt compelled to go back through and find the two lenses I missed the first time around; completing the game unlocks the ability to go back and the doors are thankfully all closed once again. The mystery was a bit simple but deep enough to keep me excited about every scene, and the ending had a really unexpected, Twilight Zone-ish twist. If you’re a big fan of story games like me and have a few hours to spend on a unique little puzzle adventure title I’d highly recommend Small Radios Big Televisions.

Disclaimer: A code was provided for the purposes of this review