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By Jonathan Balofsky On 22 Aug, 2016 At 07:20 AM | Categorized As Featured, News, PlayStation 3/PlayStation 4, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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The King of Fighters XIV has arrived at last. After I wrote my impressions of the demo, I was excited to see how the full retail game would hold up and I was not disappointed. Fighting games are a genre I love and this game might just be one of the best I have played in a very long time.

First let me just say that the music in this game is nothing short of incredible. The themes are varied, but almost all are amazing and songs that you can just listen to repeatedly. My personal favorites are Antonov’s theme and Team Art of Fighting but again, almost all ( with one or two exceptions) are great. SNK did such a great job with the audio in this game and I must commend them on making some of the best music I have ever heard in a fighting game.

Now onto a low point. The visuals really are not the best for a PlayStation 4 game. They do not look up to snuff, this is undeniable. That said, when seen in motion live on a TV screen as you play, they look much better than when seen on YouTube videos or Twitch streams. They are not perfect but are very serviceable and the cinematics are actually very well done I must say.

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Now let us discuss the gameplay. The 50 characters you can play as ( 48 at first, but you can unlock the sub boss and final boss) are extremely diverse characters. While you can play as the given teams, you will likely pick characters to make the team that fits you best. The characters almost all have distinct abilities and attack patterns and experimenting with the different characters is a fun experience. Personally my favorite team is Team Art of Fighting, as I just enjoyed their fighting style and playing as them.  Other standouts to me were Alice, Kukri, Nelson and Meitenkun from the new characters, and Geese and Billy Kane and Ralf Jones from returning characters. These were the characters that were the most fun to play as and the ones I found the most interesting. There are definitely some balance issues, with certain characters being much better than others  (I am not talking in terms of tiers here) but there is a day one patch that will change some things when the game launches so maybe the characters will end up more balanced after launch.

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The game brings in mechanics like Just Defend and a new version of Max Mode. This new version of Max Mode also brings a new combo system that can only be done while in Max Mode, Climax Super Special Moves. The game also introduces the Rush system, where hitting light punch repeatedly can trigger automatic combos. If you have meter, you will perform more powerful combos and if you are in max mode, you will unleash an extremely powerful attack. This is a great way to open the game to newcomers and casual fans, and in fact the game seems to actively try to be welcoming to more players. It has an excellent tutorial, good single player content with missions and an arcade mode, with online training offering more ways for a new player to learn how to do well at this game.

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Speaking of online, the netcode in this game is improved from previous King of Fighters games. It isn’t as perfect as some other fighting games out there, but is a vast improvement over what existed in the series beforehand. The day one patch for the game might cause some changes to the online, but as of now I think it is okay. It could stand to be improved and maybe that day one patch will fix some of the issues people have been having and SNK has shown they are listening, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the online.

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Story mode is essentially the arcade mode, since the story is told via interactions between characters before fights. The fights are arranged in an arcade ladder and not all characters have interactions. You will need to play a few times to get all the interactions, and some characters you might think would interact with each other, do not interact at all and vice versa. There are some cinematics that take place at certain intervals between fights. Normally they all play the same way but a few will play differently depending on the team you are using. The game’s endings really help to establish what is going on in this new saga of The King of Fighters and some will truly surprise you in many ways. The interactions can affect the way you play and also encourages replayability so I commend SNK again on this,

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The game is not absolutely perfect, given that there are a few hiccups with the online (which I believe are being worked on) and the visuals are somewhat lacking, but the game has a true charm that others do not. This is a game I can see myself coming back to play over and over, especially if I just want to play a fighting game for a little while, or if I want to play a fighting game competitively. Would I recommend this? Oh I most certainly would. This is a fighting game that stands proud and is worthy of your time. I give this a high recommendations to play!

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No GravatarI had been dreading playing Mass Effect 3 for years because I knew how bad the ending was.  In fact, I procrastinated for a couple of years by continuously playing Mass Effect 2 over and over again.  Well, after I finished ME2 four times through, I decided it was finally time to move onto Mass Effect 3.  I began the game with a bit of trepidation, but it didn’t take me too long to figure out that ninety-nine percent of ME3 is actually an amazing game.  It’s that pesky one percent that wrecks the whole thing.  But I’ll get to that later.  First, let’s concentrate on the good:

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Mass Effect 3 is a third person, action RPG developed by BioWare and published by EA in March of 2012 for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and eventually Wii U.  The game uses the Unreal 3 Enginge and improved upon the graphics and game play of its predecessors.

For a moment, let’s pretend that the last five to ten minutes of the game does not exist and only concentrate on the good parts of the story.  And there are many.  Mass Effect 3 leaves off where ME2 left us: after years of warning, the Reapers finally come and invade Earth.  Commander Shepard is recruited to rally a force that will be able to stop them.  After finding a an ancient Prothean artifact on Mars that may be the key to the Reapers’ undoing, Shepard and his team must gather materials and help in order to build the device that will hopefully save Earth and the rest of the galaxy.

It’s a really fun story line, though it’s a bit desperate at times.  There is still a bit of humor thrown  in every once in awhile to keep it from being too dark (i.e. Joker’s The Hunt for Red October joke, which was quite a cute little Easter Egg).  Since the player accumulates resources throughout the game, every missions feels like it matters, even the side missions.

Again, just like the first two Mass Effect games, the space setting is done right.  ME3 has more of the amazingly rich settings that I have loved about the franchise, complete with a detailed set of back-story or “Codex.”  Although the game is Science fiction, the pseudo-science jargon feels like it could actually be real.  From the relays to the use of biotics to the Crucible, everything seems to be plausible and like it could actually happen.

For those players who had played through the first two games, there is an overlying tone of sadness as many of your previous team’s homes get wiped away by the Reapers.  There are also some set characters that will die on you, and depending on how you played the previous two games, others team members may go as well.  I actually cried several times during the game because I had gotten so attached to a few of the ones that died.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Mass Effect 3 moved me so much that I cried.  I cried more in ME3 than ME2, which I enjoyed much more.  The game would have been amazing without those last ten minutes, but I will leave aspect last.

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The game play was actually much improved from Mass Effect 2…once a player gets used to the controls.  I had some issues with the roll from cover to cover for a bit because I was so used to the mechanics of ME2.  After awhile, I got much better at it.  Though it still has standard duck and cover, third person shooting elements, I found that the game enemy AI was much sneakier than in the first two Mass Effect games.  Multiple bad guys would actually try to outflank me on many occasions, something that happened very rarely in the ME2.  The RPG elements felt pretty similar to Mass Effect 2.  In ME3, the missions take on a sense of desperation.  Even better, the planet mining that was the worst part of ME2 has been replaced with a scanning for resources in ME3.  I can be a pain because the more the player scans, the more the Reapers are attracted.  This could be an annoying feature.  However,  at this point, anyone can Google any sector and get the precise places of the resources.  Problem solved.

Just like Mass Effect 2, ME3 is not a typical open-world RPG because of the whole space thing.  However, just like with the previous games, the player does get free roam of the galaxy, as long as there are no Reapers actively looking for you.

Mass Effect 3 continues with the great choice-driven tradition of the series.  Unfortunately, that goes down the drain in the final few minutes, but the rest of the game gives you some amazing choices.  The ability to make decision that will affect how the game goes is one of the best parts of the game.  Also, players still have the option to player Shepard however they’d like.  Dialogue options are more paragon/renegade focused without as many neutral options.  One thing that I did not like about the dialogue options was that a player has to hit all of the right paragon options earlier on in the game to get the “good” Illusive Man response at the end.  I totally missed it, but I really didn’t want to mess with a walk-through on a game that really shouldn’t need one.

Mass Effect 3 is one of the few last-gen games that I can still play and not cringe a bit.  It still looks great.  The upgrades from ME2 were amazing.  The characters looks great and the environment looks even better.  The regular game play is great, but the cut-scenes are what really look amazing.  It is still a game that I would recommend to play graphics-wise even after a year and a half of the current gen of consoles.

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I cannot say enough of the amazing voice actors that have contributed to Mass Effect 3.  BioWare pulled an amazing team together, as always.  Honestly, nothing really disappoints in this game.  Well, except…

Everything goes downhill in the last ten minutes of the game.
I honestly felt like I wanted to hit my head through a wall when I finished the game, and I am not exaggerating.  How can you go from such a great story to such a disappointment?  The last ten minutes of the game are just absolutely awful.  I don’t even really care that Shepard dies no matter what.  He did go up against the Reapers, but the explanation about why the Reapers were destroying everything made no sense.  There was also no real ending choices.  The player basically gets to choose what filter color he or she wants over the end sequence.  I am not exactly sure what BioWare was trying to do there, but I’m assuming that it was a rush to get the game out for whatever reason.  Unfortunately, that rush led to one of the worst game endings in the history of video games.  It’s unfortunate too because the rest of the game is so good.

I still love Mass Effect 3, despite the ending.  To get around the ending, I recommend stopping after saying goodbye to all of your teammates and friends.  Then you can just make up a better ending in your head because what BioWare gave us is just awful.

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No GravatarEvery once in a while, there is an awesome game that comes out, and it revolutionizes the way that a person views gaming.  For me, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of those games.  It has everything that I demand in a game: a cool story, fun game play, an expansive world, and the ability to customize my game experience as I see fit.  I love the game so much that it’s one of the top games that I’ve put the most hours into, and that’s saying something because I’ve spent a lot of time on many different games.  It’s one of my all-time favorites.  Here’s why:

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an open world action role-playing game that was developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks.  It is the fifth game in the Elder Scrolls franchise, following 2006’s Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.  Skyrim was released November 2011 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.  A remastered version is coming out for the game for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in October of this year.  The game uses the Creation Engine, which was specifically rebuilt for the game after some of the issues with Fallout 3.  Skyrim got critical acclaim and is consistently rates as one of the best video games of all time.

Set 200 years after its predecessor, Skyrim focuses on Tamriel’s Nordic area (Skyrim, hence the game’s name).  There are two warring factions at odds against each other.  The Stormcloaks consist of Skyrim’s native Nordic folk who wish to rule their own land (and are extremely racist).  The Imperial Legion represents the Empire and wishes to keep the region safe and at peace (but then the native people don’t have control of their own area).  After being almost killed by the Imperials and surviving a dragon attack, the player realizes that Skyrim is in deep trouble if dragons have come back.  Eventually, the player finds out that he or she is Dragonborn, a person born with the soul and power of a dragon.  In the main quest line, the player must find out what is going on with the reemerging dragons; however, there are tons of other side quests that jump into the rich history and politics of the region.  It’s absolutely amazing.

The main story is pretty involved, but it’s the expansive world that really shines with Skyrim.  It’s definitely got one of the best maps that I have seen (I still prefer it over The Witcher 3’s map, which is also quite expansive).  The scenery is gorgeous, especially since I play on PC with the graphics on the highest levels with a few texture mods as well.  Most of the items in the world are extremely interactive.  The people in Skyrim are interesting.  The places are fun to explore.  I’ve gone walking around the map just for fun.  I’ve even read about people who create characters and don’t even play the game; they just make up their own story and go hunting animals, collect things, and just have fun.  It’s so in-depth with lore and back-story that it’s hard not to fall in love with Skyrim.

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However, even though the open world is amazing, my favorite part of the game is actually the game play itself.  I have never quite come across anything quite like it.  For me, even another Bethesda heavy-hitter like Fallout 3 or even Fallout 4 doesn’t compare.  Sure, Skyrim is a first-person, action RPG.  A lot of games are.  The thing that really makes Skyrim stand out is the leveling and experience system.  It’s very simple: you level up what you use.  Whatever angle you want to play with Skyrim, you just have to use it to level it.  In this way, players are not pigeon-holed into a certain class.  Do you want to be a mage who has thief tendencies?  Go for it.  Do you want you want to be a warrior who also can use magic when needed?  Yep!  You can do that.  Do you like being a thief who enjoys two-handed combat?  Why not?

I love the ability to be able to do what I want, when I want.  I love that I can mix and match with the different combat styles and character niches because…why not?  I hate having to decide what class to play because two hours later, I want to change it.  Skyrim lets me do whatever I want.  When I initially played it on Xbox 360, I was a bit limited with the amount of perks that I could get, so some specialization was required.  However, on PC I can do a bit of cheaty, cheat, cheating and add perks when I run out of levels.  It’s perfect for the OCD gamer.  In Skyrim, it’s totally okay to be a warrior/mage/thief all at the same time.

The graphics hold up very well, especially if you are playing on PC and can put on some texture mods.  On the consoles, it is starting to look dated.  Hopefully, it will look great again with the remaster.  However, when the game originally came out, the graphics were hand’s down awesome.  I love the textures of the scenery.  Even though some of the color palate can be very heavy on grays and browns, the game is still beautiful.

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There is something special about Skyrim, and it may have to do with the fact that gamers can easily make fun of it without damaging the integrity of the game.  How many “arrow to the knee” memes have you seen?  How many times have people made fun of the fact that one can eat 99 raw potatoes in the middle of the battle to gain health?  What about trying to kill a chicken?  Or, my personal favorite happens to be: why are all of the lights on in a dungeon that hasn’t been visited by anyone in hundreds if not thousands of years?  It’s fun to make fun of Skyrim because it’s a game that no one has to defend as being good.  Some people might not like it, and that’s fine.  But it’s hard to argue that it’s a bad game.  Therefore, when there are some “silly” elements of the game, it’s enjoyable to point out the shortcomings because even though there definitely are some, no other game even comes close.

There are a lot of games that I have enjoyed over the years, but there are few that I truly love.  The Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim is one that I absolutely will love forever, even when newer and better games come out.  I have about an estimated 415 hours on the game right now between console and PC, and I have thoroughly loved every minute of it.  I actually cannot think of another game that I have spent so much time on.  That’s the power of Skyrim.

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No GravatarWhen I was handed a copy of Dead Island: Definitive Edition for the PlayStation 4, I had no idea what to expect.  To be quite frank, I had no clue what the game was about, it’s history, and what I would get on this remastered version.  I guess that it was just one of those games that slipped by me at the time it came out.  However, I am glad that I got a chance to play it because I had a great deal of fun.  It wasn’t what I expected.  I was thinking it would be the typical zombie-slasher game.  Instead, I got a surprisingly fun, open-world Far Cry-like game.  There were some gameplay issues, but overall, I would recommend Dead Island: Definitive Edition as a great edition to anyone’s the FPS/open-world/zombie collection.

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Dead Island is an open-world survival horror RPG that was originally released in 2011.  It was developed by Techland (Polish developer who also did Dying Light), published by Deep Silver, and distributed by Square Enix for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.  It got fairly positive reviews when it came out, though there were some negative marks against it, including game glitches.  The game was remastered for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One May of this year.  There is a sequel “Dead Island 2” that is coming out soon, but there is no release date as of yet.  I did not ever get a chance to play the original release of the game, so keep that in mind as I discuss the Definitive Edition.

The premise of the game is that you are one of four protagonist characters (each with their own special abilities and personalities) on the resort island of Banoi (modeled after an island near Papua New Guinea).  I happened to play as Xian Mei.  After a night of partying, your character wakes up to find that much of the resort has been turned into zombie-like creatures.  Your character, though, is immune.  You are guided by a mysterious voice over intercoms and whatnot (think BioShock).  After meeting up with groups of survivors, you realize that you can’t stay on the island forever and a plan is hatched to leave.

It’s a pretty straight-forward story plot.  It’s nothing super special, but I did like the fact that you didn’t have to worry about zombie bites turning you like you would in say, The Last of Us (more on this later).  The crown jewel of the game is the setting and the contrast between the gorgeous island scenery and the undead and gore all over the place.  I wasn’t expecting such a large map to play around in when I initially started the game.  I also enjoyed the pacing and progression of the story as well as some of the side missions, which some of them are actually pretty darned funny.

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The gameplay itself is a little disappointing for a standard first-person shooter.  You are definitely playing it for the open-world and not a seamless gameplay experience.  Jumping, exploring, and combat are all a little stiff with the controllers.  I got used to it after a while, but it definitely is not one of my favorite gameplay experiences.  Overall, it felt like a Far Cry game with lots of missions, weapons, and vehicles.  It’s an action RPG with three skill trees to add points to: Fury, Combat, and Survival.  XP is earned through completing missions and killing zombies, and you get points toward the skill try for each level earned.  It’s very standard fair for an action RPG.

Dead Island really shines with its reliance on heavy melee combat and its weapon systems.  The melee-focused fighting is actually pretty fun.  I liked that fact that I didn’t have to worry about being bitten (unlike other zombie games) because my character is immune.  I was able to just focus on kicking-butt and killing zombies.  The particular style of zombies that Dead Island have are more of the running kind than the slow creepers, so one of my favorite things to do in the game was throw knives at zombies running toward me and watch them splatter.

Weapons degrade after use, so it is vitally important to keep an eye on them and repair or replace as needed, although the higher level of the weapon, the slower it is to degrade.  If a weapon degrades too much, it becomes ineffective and will eventually completely fall apart if you try to keep using it.  The crafting system was pretty cool, as you can collect items and schematics and use them to build weapons.  Weapons can also be modded as well.  Though melee weapons are highlighted, there are guns as well.

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The graphics are improved from the original release, and they look fairly decent on this current generation of consoles.  The tropical scenery is beautiful and a delight to romp around in for a while.  Obviously, it is a remastered game from 2011, so there is only so much that can be done.  However, I found that it was quite enjoyable on the PlayStation 4.

Overall, I really enjoyed playing Dead Island: Definitive Edition.  There are, of course, some things that I have dinged it on, but the pros really outweigh the cons with this one.  I would have never picked up this game (mostly due to the title; it sounds a bit silly), but I’m glad that I did.  It’s a solid game that I would recommend to anyone looking for a fun, open world FPS.

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No GravatarEvery once in awhile, I get to play a game that is just plain fun.  Not that most video games aren’t fun, but some of them focus too much on grinding or the competitive aspect of gaming.  Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is one of those games that is just plain fun.  The length is about right, and it’s a lot of non-stop action and adventure.  Plus, it’s got a humorous side to it as well.  Uncharted 2 is just a blast to play with the right formula to be downright awesome.

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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is an action-adventure third-person shooter that was developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony.  It was released for PlayStation 3 on October 13, 2009 with critical acclaim.  It was later released for PlayStation 4 as a part of the Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection October 2015.  For the purposes of this review, I will only be concentrating on the PlayStation 3 version.

Uncharted 2 picks up with the fun and adventure that the original game started.  Nathan Drake is a world-traveled treasure hunter who is approached by some old associates, Harry Flynn and Chloe Frazer, to steal an oil lamp that belonged to Marco Polo from a Turkish museum.  This oil lamp holds the key to Marco Polo’s hidden treasure.  There’s a lot of fun and adventure, including some familiar faces like Victor Sullivan (“Sully”) and Elena Fisher.

I don’t want to spoil any of the awesomeness that is this game, but I will say that it is thoroughly enjoyable.  You get to go to cool places and do some downright cool things.  I love the fact that even though there are some dark tones to the game, the story overall has humorous overtones due to Drake’s snarky comments.  He’s just one of those cool characters in gaming that you just have to love.  It took me a long time to try this series because I thought that Uncharted was just a Tomb Raider rip-off.  That is far from the truth.  Uncharted stands on its own as one of my favorite genres: cheesy, action/adventure in the lines of Indiana Jones or The Librarian.  It’s just something that you just plan enjoy.

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The gameplay of Uncharted 2 has been much improved over the original game.  I had issues with Drake’s Fortune because of the odd save times, weird camera angles, and funky controls at some spots.  All of these issues were corrected in the second installment, making for an extremely fun game that I can just sit and enjoy.  The game is a third-person adventure game with jumps, climbing, and shooting.  Unlike the older Tomb Raider games, the jumping is significantly easier and the puzzles are more thinking puzzles than gaming skill puzzles (anyone who has played any of the retro TR games knows what I’m talking about).  The player must use Drake’s journal in order to solve these puzzles.  

There is also a significant amount of shooting, using a lot of duck and cover third-person shooting.  Drake switches between a two-handed weapon and a one-handed weapon in combat, and he also had limited access to grenades.  Drake is able to pick up different weapons depending on the situation and personal preference of the player.  There are also a few stealth enemy take-downs as well.  There are also secret treasures that are hidden along the way that allows the player to unlock certain rewards.

Besides the main portion of the game, there is also a multiplayer angle that involves both competitive and cooperative gameplay.  The cooperative is fairly straight-forward, team-based, objective-driven missions.  Teams can be up to three people (Nathan Drake and two other characters).  The competitive allows for ten people on a map (two teams of five) and has fairly standard Deathmatch, as well Plunder, Elimination, Turf War, King of the Hill, and Chain Reaction modes.  Players gain points, level up, and can purchase character skins and whatnot.  There are some hardcore players in the midst, though I’m not sure how active the servers are for PS3.

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he graphics looked pretty slick for the time frame that the game came out.  When it came out, it pushed the boundaries for realistic environment.  The amount of cut-scenes in the game were multiplied by seven as compared with the original game.  I am curious to see how it looked on PlayStation 4 whenever I finally get a chance to crack open the Nathan Drake Collection that I got for last Christmas (life got busy).  Naughty Dog also utilized motion capture with the voice actors for more realistic scenes and dialogue.  Obviously, we saw how this progressed with Naughty Dog in the masterpiece that is The Last of Us.

Overall, Uncharted 2 is just plain fun.  It’s one of those games that you can just jump into and not have to worry about.  There’s no grinding nor is there any stale points.  It’s jam-packed action and adventure with Nathan Drake’s wry, humor interjected throughout.  For me, that is one heck of a good time.

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No GravatarWhen I first began playing BioShock Infinite, I had a tough time getting into it.  Not because the game isn’t interesting.  It pulls you in pretty quickly with its beautiful graphics and fascinating storyline.  I was just mad that the game was vastly different in setting and tone then the original BioShock, which is one of my favorite games of all time.  I wanted BioShock Infinite to be in Rapture or somewhere like Rapture.  I actually stopped playing the game and went back to play the original several times before I finally forced myself to play Infinite.  It was a good thing that I did too.  Infinite is an absolutely amazing game, and I shouldn’t have compared it to the original.  Trying to make a game too much like the original BioShock only ends in mediocre sequels (BioShock 2).  I think that Irrational HAD to pick a different setting in order to have an effective story.  So, after getting over that self-imposed hurdle, I found that Infinite is actually one of my favorite games ever.

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Overview

BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter game developed by Irrational Games and published by 2K in 2013 for PS3, XBox360, and PC.  Is it is the second sequel of the much loved original BioShock.  It uses a modified version of Unreal Engine 3 and has also been praised for its graphics, setting, and story.  Despite being a BioShock game, it departs from the Rapture-setting and instead focuses on its own dystopia of Columbia. BioShock: The Collection comes out in September, which is a remastered version for the current generation of all three BioShock games.  For the purpose of this review, I will be concentrating on the PS3 version only.

Story

The original BioShock had an amazingly intricate story that made several play-throughs enjoyable because of all of the little details.  BioShock Infinite steps it up to a completely different level.  The story is absolutely amazing.  It follows Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton and Battle of Wounded Knee vet, who has acquired a massive amount of debt.  To repay this debt, he is hired to rescue, Elizabeth, a woman who has been imprisoned since childhood in a city called Columbia.

Columbia is not a normal city, though.  The place floats in the sky (don’t worry if it sounds ridiculous; it’s very well explained) and is run by the prophet Zachary Comstock, a religious fantastic.  Like the original BioShock, Columbia is a city that has gone wrong, but it also highlights issues such as: racism, religious extremism, socio-economic struggles, American exceptionalism, the corruption of power, and dealing with past mistakes.  As you can see, Infinite is not a one-trick pony when it comes to thematic elements.  I am not even sure what part is better: the story or the setting.  The story is amazing, don’t get me wrong.  Elizabeth is probably one of the best, well-thought out, well-developed female characters ever done in a video game.  However, I also find myself playing Infinite just to explore Columbia (it is really that cool).  I love the early 1900s/steampunk style to it as well.  It’s just overall very well done.  There aren’t many games like it, especially in the first-person shooter style.

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Game Play

If you have been following me for awhile, you know that I’m pretty picky about my first-person shooters.  I’m not really that into most multi-player games, and I hate fps campaign modes that are too short and without substance.  BioShock Infinite, first of all, is worth the price  (I think it may be on PlayStation Plus now, though) because of its length, which is perfect for a fps game.

The game play, however, is also amazingly well-done.  With Infinite, you get a fun, smooth-flowing fps game with a few added elements that push this game up to a 10.  First, there is the use of plasmas…um, I mean vigors, which gives the “BioShock” power.  Then there is also the use of infusions and gear, which give some added elements of game play, such as more health, shields, and salts as well as some special “perks” from the gear.  Second, there is the use of the sky-line hooks and open-environment that make this game incredibly fun to play.  The first time I got on a sky-line, it felt like I was on a freaking roller-coaster.  You can zip around and melee enemies from above, jump on floating air ships, and fire your weapon while swinging around.  Third, you get Elizabeth as a sidekick, who helps out Booker during battles.  The AI for her is absolutely brilliant.  It really is a new way to play an fps.

These added elements make the game so much fun.  The game never felt repetitive.  I never got bored with the game either, especially with all of the fun vigors I got to use.  Overall, I have not seen many single-player fps games out on the market quite like this.

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Graphics

This game highlights the pinnacle of what the PS3 can handle graphics-wise and was pretty much one of the best-looking games for the PS3 (if not the best).  When I got my first glimpse of Columbia, all I could do was go, “WOW!”  After I picked my jaw up off of the floor, I began really enjoy how amazing the setting really is.  Even if you don’t like first-person shooters, the game is worth seeing just for how truly beautiful it looks.

Voice Acting

As you might have known, Troy Baker is my favorite voice actor.  What you might not have known, is that I had no freaking clue who the man was before I played this game (*gasps can be heard from across the Internet*).  Yep, that’s right.  No clue.  But I enjoyed listening to Booker DeWitt so much that decided to look Troy up and the rest is pretty much history.  In seriousness, though, the voice acting is top notch.  From Troy who plays the quiet, soft-spoken but flawed Booker to the very-talented Courtnee Draper, who does Elizabeth’s voice, the actors make the game that much more enjoyable.  Even the Lutece twins are pretty awesome and give some added humor to the game.  By the way, this game is still my favorite Troy Baker game.

Music

I usually do not include a game’s musical score in my reviews, but I decided to add it to this one because the music in Infinite is so great.  Besides having a great score for battles and exploring, you have the added bonus of all sorts of popular songs being done in an early 20th-century style.  There are a lot of Easter-egg tunes to hear, but I don’t want to go into it because I don’t want to give anything away if you haven’t played the game yet (you should).

Overall

There really isn’t anything that I can knock this game on, and trust me, if I see something wrong, I will say something.  BioShock Infinite is just an amazing game.  I know this review is very glowing, and I can’t find anything to complain about.  For the most part, the complaints that I have seen about this game are a little unfounded.  Here are some and my response to them:

Complaint: The story is too complicated, especially the ending.

Response: Sorry, it’s not the game’s fault that you can’t figure it out.

Complaint: The game should have been third-person not first-person, since it has a lot of narration from Booker.  You are the character when you inhabit a first-person perspective, hence there should be no narration.

Response: That’s like saying if you read a book that is in first-person narration that YOU are the character.  Not so.  You are just getting it from the first-person perspective.  Even though you control Booker from the first person, you are not Booker. Sorry.

Complaint: It’s not enough like the original BioShock. (This was my original complaint.)

Response: If you want to play the original BioShock, play the original.  If the game was too much like the original, we’d get a mediocre re-hash like BioShock 2.  The game plays tribute enough to the original but is still it’s own game.

Complaint: I didn’t like the hordes of people coming at you in battle.  It felt like filler.

Response: Um, if you don’t like fighting in a first-person shooter game, then you probably shouldn’t be playing these types of games.  Just saying.

Complaint: It’s too gory.

Response: Uh, last time I checked, it was a BioShock game AND a first-person shooter.  Considering that the original had tinge of the horror-genre to it, Infinite holds up to the franchise.  If it’s too gory, may I suggest a game like Little Big Planet, instead?

Complaint: Elizabeth is too much like a damsel in distress.

Response: I think that she takes care of herself just fine, but apparently you must have missed those parts of the game.  Sure she’s trapped at the beginning, but there is a reason she can’t get out herself, and she also takes charge for a lot of the game.  May I suggest that you replay it and pay attention?

I think the biggest issue is that some of these critics want this game to not be a first-person shooter, BioShock game.  I think they are looking for something that they were never going to find and never should find in this game.  I don’t even know what to tell them there.  I enjoyed the heck out of it.  Infinite will be one of those games I will replay many, many times.  In my humble opinion, it is just that good.

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Puzzle Games are one of the oldest gaming genres around and have always been there in some form or another. And now the genre has become dominated by match 3 games which are becoming increasingly stale. So how do you do something new with something that has worn out its stay? By playing Tumblestone, that’s how.

Tumblestone does the unthinkable and actually makes the format fun again. . You must match 3 Tumblestones of the same colour without being blocked by a Tumblestone of a different colour. This may seem simple, by as this is a puzzle game from the developers that brought us, The Bridge, this won’t be as easy as you might think. To help you get started, the game starts out with easy levels then gradually ramps up the difficulty. Don’t worry about high scores or running out of moves here. The goal isn’t to play this like you would Candy Crush, but rather think the solutions through. This is a thinking person’s match 3 game and wants you not to rush through it. There is a solution to each puzzle and finding it is extremely satisfying. The game slowly introduces new elements that force you to change your strategy and learn and adapt. That may seem annoying and difficult, but is actually one of the more appealing aspects of the games. The changes Tumblestone throws at you, do not cause annoyance but rather are more thought provoking. The game has taken what is thought of as a throwaway genre and made it a fun game that requires effort and gives satisfaction.

Tumblestone has an excellent story mode as well. You play as Queens and Kings based on historical figures and literary figures, and other assorted unique characters, and the story mode is excellent. The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild did a great job and made me laugh several times. It’s cute and charming and not at all what you would expect from a match 3 game.

The last two things to discuss are the multiplayer mode and the music. The music is catchy and stands out and I know I keep saying that, but it’s so true in this case. The music is nothing like the disposable tunes you often here in simple puzzle games but rather full on music that you can truly enjoy listening to. It really helps bring the fun of the game back to forefront and just make you smile while playing.

The multiplayer is one of the best I’ve seen in a puzzle game in years. This is a truly competitive multiplayer and I had some great games playing with others. There are different modes like Tug-of-war, Battle Mode and Race Mode, all of which give a lot of diversity to the gameplay. Playing with others really opened my eyes to what can be done with this genre of games.

All in all, this is a great puzzle game and I highly recommend it!

Disclaimer: I was provided a code for this game

 

 

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No GravatarThere are not many games like The Last of Us.  It’s one of the few gems that really shine in a sea of mediocrity.  In a way, it is pretty much perfect when it comes to games.  When I first played it, I actively looked for things to ding this game on, knowing all of the glowing reviews it got.  However, I couldn’t find anything wrong with it.  Nothing.  The game is about as close to perfect as you are going to get.  Here are my reasons:

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Overview

The Last of Us is a third-person action/horror/survival game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony in 2013 for PS3 only.  The game engine is an in-house blend and uses the Havoc engine for the physics side.  It was one of the last games for the PS3 that demonstrated just about all the console could handle (BioShock Infinite was the other), and it was hailed for its graphics, game play, and story.  It came out again in 2014 as a remastered version for PlayStation 4, but for the purposes of this review, I am only looking at the original.

Story

The setting takes place twenty years after a fungal infection spreads across the United States, turning the infected into zombies.  The protagonist, Joel, is tasked with transporting a young girl across America to a resistance group who believes that she may be the cure to the infection.  To avoid any spoilers, there is not much else that will be discussed here.  However, one point should be mentioned:

The story is a bit depressing, being a survival horror story and all.  There are some lighter elements to it, but the overall tone is pretty dark and gritty.  This made–for me at least–it a bit hard to push through at some points.  This is probably why it took me so long to finish it.  However, this is not something that I can knock the game on.  That is just the genre, and for the genre, it is excellent.  The story feels gritty and realistic.  The characters feel real and believable.  Overall, there is nothing that could actually be better, and there are not many video games–if any–that I can say have a better quality story.

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Game play

If you’ve played any of the Uncharted games, then you will know pretty much how The Last of Us will play.   If you have not played the Uncharted games, it is a third-person action game that focuses on the elements of sneak, duck and cover shooting, and climbing and exploring.  Unlike many traditional sneak games, you can go about most areas without having to sneak perfectly.  You can go in guns-blazing if you would like, though this is not recommended on the more difficult settings (you will never find enough supplies for that).

Overall, the game play is sharp and responsive.  There is a good mix of sneaking, shooting, and climbing.  This is a characteristic that Naughty Dog has been perfecting since Uncharted 2.  Nothing felt too repetitive.  They even threw in some surprises that I wasn’t expecting, though I probably should have since it borrowed from Uncharted 3.  The game play length was perfect for the type of game as well and was overall pretty darned fun to play.

Graphics

The graphics for The Last of Us were pretty much the best that one could get for the PS3’s limitations (only BioShock Infinite revivals it).  The characters are amazingly realistic and the setting is richly detailed.  This is one of the reasons why I am still scratching my head at the fact that Naughty Dog remastered it for PS4.  What is there exactly to remaster?  I can understand older games like Final Fantasy X/X-2 being done in HD, but I am still trying to figure out why I need to re-buy this game on PS4 when it looks so beautiful for PS3.

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Acting

Probably one of the coolest elements of this game doesn’t even have to do with the game play.  It’s the fact that Naughty Dog went with voice and motion capture to do the cut scenes and picked some exceptional acting talent.  Now, if you have never read any of my articles before or do not follow me on Twitter, you may not know that Troy Baker IS my favorite voice actor.  So, you can imagine that it was an absolute treat getting to listen to him for the entire game.  It was even MORE amazing to get to see the cut-scenes where they did the motion capture.  This was what probably made all of the cut-scenes so memorable, and it also helped with the realism of the story.  Besides Troy, we also have the talents of Ashley Johnson (amazing as Ellie), Annie Wersching (from 24), and freaking Nolan North (Mr. Nathan Drake himself).  Overall, it was an amazing cast.  They could not have picked better people.

Overall

Again, I tried to knock this game on something, but I really couldn’t  One thing that I wanted to complain about was the fact that I will probably never play this game again.  For me, the story is a little bit too depressing for me to do a couple of repeat play-throughs.  Also, now that I know the ending, there’s not the same drive to try and play it again.  However, I don’t think the multiple-playability of a game should be considered in a rating.  The game was long enough that I definitely got my money’s worth out of it.

The Last of Us covers all of the areas that I demand out of a great game:  amazing story, fun game play, beautiful graphics, and the voice talent of Troy Baker.  During this game, I cried both tears of joy and despair.  I was yelling at the screen many times.  I covered my eyes at certain parts.  Some places even left my jaw on the floor.  In the end, this game did what I do require out of any good story, which is this: When it was all over, all I could do is sit there for an hour and ponder the whole thing over.  If that isn’t perfection, then I don’t know what is.

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No GravatarKerbal Space Program , which was first published and developed for PC by Squad in 2011, has had a massive following in the PC gaming community ever since. This week, Squad released the game for consoles; Playstation 4 on July 12, Xbox One on July 15, witha version on Wii U set to release this winter. The game lets you build spaceships ranging from scientifically accurate ones to the down right ridiculous and lets you launch them into space. Your astronauts are called Kerbals – who resemble tiny green space men. The far reaching goal for the game is to land on the moon, or “mun,” in Kerbal speak, but most players are doing well to get off of the ground.

When you launch the game for the first time, it can be very intimidating. The tutorials are a rather long read and show you what an extreme amount of customizing goes in to a successful launch of your vessel into space. It can be a lot to take in and it may seem like the game wouldn’t be fun unless you have a degree in aerodynamics, but that’s where you would be wrong. There are gamers out there who play this game for hours on end and make correct rockets that accomplish the missions they set out to do. Then there are gamers who spend the same amount of time building basic spaceships that crash and burn on every mission. Both types of gamers enjoy this game just as much. Never has there been a game where most of the fun comes from failing miserably.

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The console version of this game is pretty much an exact port from the PC version which is only played with mouse and keyboard. On the console version, the left stick controls the mouse pointer. This makes lining up the parts of your spaceships difficult and setting numerical parameters difficult as well. With a mouse and keyboard, you get much more control over lining up the parts exactly where they need to go. Another downside to the console version is the amount of reading for the tutorial section. The font size is very small and I had to sit right up against the TV in order to see it. I would have recommended to split up the instructions into more steps to click through so the font size could be larger on the screen and the game can be played from further away. Kerbal Space Program is not really the type of game where you want to skip the tutorial, so I think the tutorial section could have been configured better for consoles.

Even though the console version of the game does have some control scheme issues, Kerbal Space Program is not a game to miss out on. I put off playing it for a long time because I thought it looked too difficult for someone like myself who has no background in space travel outside of Star Wars. However, when I saw how happy my Kerbal astronaut looked as I was launching him to his death, I knew this game would break me of my perfectionist thinking that I had to understand all the ins and outs of space travel in order to enjoy this game.

Kerbal Space Program is $40 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

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Fantasy games and point and click games are a match made in heaven. I do not mean stuff like Telltale’s Game of Thrones, but rather high fantasy. That said, a humorous take on the genre is also good.  The book of Unwritten tales was a great game that took the fantasy genre on its head and made it a fun experience.  It had well developed characters and plots and great interactivity that allowed for a unique gaming experience.

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Now years later, Nordic Games has brought The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 to Wii U and the result is amazing. The game improves on the original in almost every way. The graphics are better, the controls are more intuitive and the story is just bonkers. Imagine the most epic story, worthy of Lord of the Rings, then imagine it turned on its head and mocked to hell and back. That comes somewhat close. The protagonists have new goals to achieve and while this is a parody of fantasy games, their journeys are worth following. The game is extremely well written and plotted and the characters are believable despite the setting. The game is hilarious and I have to admit that I laughed out loud so many times that I lost count.

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The game controls well and is much more intuitive than the first game was. The visuals shine far better as well and the result is amazing. We have a game that is a big improvement on an already great original. The music is also great and really helps get you into the game. I would say that this game has some of the best video game music that I have heard all year.

Nordic Games has done a great job with bringing this game to Wii U and they deserve a lot of praise for that. This is a great port and plays to the Wii U’s strengths. All in all, I have to recommend this game for anyone with a Wii U, who enjoys point and click games. You will not regret getting it.

REAL OTAKU GAMER is using WP-Gravatar