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By Jonathan Balofsky On 29 Nov, 2016 At 10:59 PM | Categorized As News, PC Games, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments
Darksiders

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Darksiders originally came out in 2010 from Vigil Studios and THQ. When THQ went under, the rights were acquired by Nordic Games who have since reincorporated as THQ Nordic. Since then THQ Nordic has been re-releasing THQ games as remasters or re-releases to see the market demand. This has resulted in Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition and now Darksiders Warmastered Edition. But is the remaster a good effort, or should Darksiders have stayed in the past?

Darksiders as a series has been a cross between The Legend of Zelda and Hack n Slash games like Devil May Cry, which may sound odd, but it has a formula that works. Darksiders is just fun, there is no other way to describe it. You play as War, a horsemen of the apocalypse, trying to stop the forces of Hell who have attacked the human world. It sounds generic but actually plays out very well and with a good well written story.

Darksiders uses a comic book art style that looks better than ever thanks to the remaster. But more importantly, the game running at 60 fps really shows off just how gorgeous this game really is. The remaster has fixed a lot of the visual issues the game had originally and I think a few minor issues with the gameplay have also been fixed and the game plays a lot smoother. You can also toggle effects like Vignette and Chroma FX , but you might want to leave them off. They add a shaded border over the screen and a rainbow shimmer to objects’ edges in the distance and this can affect the way you look at the game.

It is not all good news though as there is a major issue. The audio is out of sync with the cutscenes and sometimes the gameplay even resumes while the audio from the cutscene still plays. It is not enough to make me say the game is bad, but it is something that needs to be patched as soon as possible in order for the game to be enjoyable.

All in all, aside from the audio issues, the game is still amazing. Darksiders Warmastered Edition is a great game to play and enjoy for a fun time. I recommend it but must warn you about the audio issues.

 

skyrim-remaster

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Few games can truly be considered pop culture phenomenon that become well known among non gamers and non sci-fi/fantasy fans in general. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of those rare games. It has achieved an influence over gaming and fantasy in general that may not be matched for a long time and innovated the open world gameplay genre in ways that had yet to be thought of. Now Bethesda has remastered the game for PS4. Xbox One and PC and it looks better than ever. All the DLC and other add-on content from the original release are included and the game is preserved with a  new coat of paint and some minor changes to make things look better and stand out more.

You might ask, what is the point of getting it on PC? The console versions make more sense with better visuals and mod support ( to an extent), but the PC version of the original release still looks amazing with the right mods. Well my friend, the answer to that is the mods themselves. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First let me say that the remastering fixes a lot of the visual issues in the original release, and makes things stand out a little bit more. Some objects are better defined and are easier to tell apart.  The visual effects of the spell and shouts stand out a lot more than in the original release and actually feel a lot more epic. Plus if you do not want to bother with mods at all, then the game itself looks stunning as is, and much better than the original release. The game also fixes some bugs that caused issues in the original version, such as certain issues with bridges among others issues, some of which could not be fixed with mods. That said, there are some new bugs as well that cause issues, such as getting on top of a table somehow while in a mine, and with vampire attacks, but these are not major issues for the most part. In fact most of the game is still the same but with one major change

Before I go any further, I should point out that using mods disables achievements in this game, so use them at your own discretion. What makes the Skyrim Special Edition so much better on PC is not that you can access mods directly from the game menu, although that is good, but rather what can be done with the mods. This remaster is made on a new engine that is 64 bit, while the original was 32 bit. This means that the limitations on the mods that were there for the original version on PC are not here for the Special Edition. In other words, there is no limit to what can be done with mods in this game and a lot more will be able to done. Think of all the amazing mods that existed for the original PC release of Skyrim and its DLC, and imagine all the potential mods that can be made for this release.

Skyrim Special Edition is in its infancy in terms of mods. It hasn’t yet come into its own but it will soon. When it does, it will far surpass the original version. All the complaints saying that the mods for the original release made it look as good as the special edition are pointless, since the special edition will look far better in a short time.

Bottom line is, if you like Skyrim, open world RPGs, Western RPGs or fantasy games, then there is no reason not to buy this game. It is still amazing and will soon be far superior to the original release. With the big fixes from the original that the mods couldn’t fix, and mods that can fix the new bugs, this game is amazing I highly recpmmend it

By Jonathan Balofsky On 15 Nov, 2016 At 11:56 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
destroy_all_humans

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Destroy All Humans was a quirky game for the PS2 and original Xbox, released back in 2005.  A 3rd person sci-fi shooter starring an alien named Crypto who had to gather brain stems to harvest DNA…wow that sounds weird. The game was really like nothing else at the time and for many, it was a refreshing change of pace. The game uses imagery and humor reminiscent of cheesy sci-fi movies of 1950’s America while also relentlessly parodying that decade, and the then current decade as well. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It is hard to judge a game from 2005 by today’s merits other than seeing how well it holds up today. For the most part Destroy All Humans! does hold up well, but some of it is very much dated. The camera controls in particular feel dated but also the general controls just feel stiff compared to other games from that era. It is still fun to play but has some issues. Moving around can be a little awkward and the game has an odd habit of keeping the goal out of your line of sight at the crucial moment.

Visually, this is a PS2 game up-rendered to 1080p, with widescreen and trophy support, but there are a lot of times when the game shows its age. That said, it is unfair to judge a game that isn’t a remake by today’s standards visually, so let us look at the gameplay. Besides the somewhat stiff controls, the game is completely bonkers. And I mean that in the best way that it is possible to say that. You will use death rays, probe humans, blow stuff up with a spaceship ( at the beginning this is one of the most annoying parts of the game, but it gets better) and generally do stuff straight out of 50’s sci-fi movies and UFO conspiracy culture.  I had a lot of fun playing this, even with the issues mentioned, and it was a great time.

The game is genuinely funny, albeit sometimes in a very uncouth or disturbing manner. It has a humor that I don’t know would work today in gaming. It is hard to explain, but while it sometimes used potty humor, it also used very dark morbid humor and it was very clever about how that was done. They do not make games like this anymore and that is a shame because a modern take on this would be absolutely fantastic.

I would recommend checking this out on PSN, if only so THQ Nordic will see there is potential in the series and make a new entry.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 14 Nov, 2016 At 11:30 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News, Uncategorized | With 0 Comments
blaz-blue

No Gravatarblaz-blue

I have a confession to make. I have not played a lot of BlazBlue. I am familiar with the games, but have never really been into the series. Still with BlazBlue: Central Fiction, I went into the experience with an open mind and decided to just try and have some fun. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it wasn’t what I experienced.

BlazBlue is well known to be a spiritual successor to the Guilty Gear series, but a lot has been done to differentiate the two series. The game seems like it would be too intense for newcomers to fighting games, but it actually is very welcoming. There are multiple game modes that help ease you into the gameplay but there are also two main ways to play. You can play a Technical route which is a traditional fighting game style of gameplay that regular fighting game players will be familiar with. There is also Style, which makes things easier to pull off major attacks. That said Style still requires timing and skill and isn’t a simple button mashing mode. I had a lot of fun with the multiplayer and feel confident in saying that this game is Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator on speed…and I love it for that. It just comes off as an extremely well designed experience that is also insane at the same time.  You always hear the expression, “Capture Lighting In A Bottle” and that is just what Arc System Works has done with this game.

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That said, it is not perfect and there have been a series of issues I have found while playing.  First, I have experienced a few issues with the online and while I hope it has been fixed since I last played ( or will be soon) it did take away from the experience a bit. Second, the story is just extremely confusing and takes up so much of the game. I admit it could be it is because I haven’t played much of the series, but I had a very difficult time following what was going on. Lastly, the game is a little too bright and flashy and I found myself getting some headaches from it. I do not usually have these problems (except with some games) but it really did bother me several times here.

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On the plus side, BlazBlue: Central Fiction is absolutely gorgeous beyond belief, more so than Guilty Gear’s recent games. The art is amazing and the visuals when not straining me, were amazing. The music was also excellent and a great soundtrack to get you pumped for combat. There is a slight issues with no English dubbing. From the experience I have had with Blazblue, the dubbing was excellent, and so this is missed. It isn’t that the Japanese voice acting isn’t good, but the English dub for the series was just very well done.

Overall, I did like BlazBlue: Central Fiction, and I would recommend it to fans of fighting games. That said, for first time players of the genre, this might not be the game you want to start with.

 

Disclaimer: We were provided with a review copy of the game for this review

exist-archive

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Valkyrie Profile is a legendary RPG series that broke new ground and brought genuine innovation to the genre.  The creators of the series, Tri-Ace have since teamed with Spike Chunsoft and the result? A spiritual successor in the form of Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky, a game that truly earns the title of successor. Rarely has there been an attempt to replicate the success of an earlier franchise, that has succeeded so well.

Exist Archive is played in a side scrolling 2D plane, much like the earlier Valkyrie Profile series, along with metroidvania elements as well. The world is one of the most beautifully detailed video game worlds this generation, with artwork and visuals that truly must be seen to be believed. The music is also excellent, especially by JRPG standards, and I recommend listening to it fully as best as you can. In addition, both Japanese and English voice acting is included, which is great for fans of Japanese voice acting.

The combat system in the game is truly awesome, and all battles can be enjoyed. You use four members in combat and each are mapped to one of the face buttons of the Dualshock 4.  The combat itself requires some thought, since you need to vary between attacking and guarding, especially when you need to save points called Action Points. Action Points are needed to attack and therefore the battles end up as a game of chess. You need to know when to attack and when to save your characters based on your enemies. I like this system and it made each battle fun.

All in all, I think that if there is any downside to Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky on PS4, is that it feels like it is missing something. It definitely has what made Valkyrie Profile great, but doesn’t use that to its full potential. My hope is that the game gets a sequel that allows it to truly live up to its heritage.

I would still recommend Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky and suggest checking it out.

 

Disclaimer: We were provided with a review copy of the game.

 

dishonored-2

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Dishonored was one of the most unique games of last gen. A spiritual successor to the Thief series, yet with an identity completely of its own. It is a game that cannot just be described but needs to be experienced. When its sequel was announced, many were excited and I myself was curious where Arkane would take the series. Could they top the original? Or would it fall short?

Well, I am pleased to say that Dishonored 2 manages to surpass the original in every way. The developers looked at each and everyone of the complaints and tried to do something about them. They didn’t always succeed but they did try. For starters, we now have voiced protagonists. This was a great move in my opinion, as it lets the player get more involved with the story. The story itself can be a little disappointing, coming off the first game. No spoilers will be given, but some changes may upset some players.

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Visually the game is just a marvel, with some of the best visual effects in gaming in 2016. I feel that this game is a true standout both in art design and use of shading. I wonder what it would look like on a 4K TV on the PS4 Pro (I played on a standard PS4), because the visuals are just that eye popping. The setting just feels authentic and the dynamic changes just  make everything more immersive. In terms of audio, the game could have had a better soundtracks, I won’t lie, but it does its job well.  The sound effects are great and the voice acting as mentioned above, helps bring the player more into the story. Plus, remember how I called the first game a spiritual successor to the Thief series? Well Corvo is now voiced by Stephen Russell, aka Garret himself.

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In terms of gameplay, Arkane built on the foundation set by the original and made it better where they could. Stealth is handled better, combat is more intuitive and choosing what path to take, in terms of behavior, has a more interesting feel about it. The characters also play differently and this helps set it apart from the first game even more. You can play in a variety of ways that can make the game easier or as hard as you want it to be, and not through difficulty settings but rather through in game choices. I love the way this was handled and I applaud Arkane for it. The upgrading system from the first game has been changed to a skill tree with multiple possible directions to take and thus different possible upgrades. each character has unique abilities to set them apart but with some shared.

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I must recommend that players check out the tutorial, not just in case you have to brush up on controls and how to play, but also because it helps serve as a but of a prelude to the game and shows some interesting bonding between Corvo and Emily. It was a good touch and I like that it was done this way. It helps new players get up to speed, gives some story details and teaches you how to play the game. All done in a simple and refined manner.

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Dishonored II just feels better than the first game. The different protagonists gives them game more replayability than the first game as well as more options for ways to play. The game can be played as a stealth game or as an action game with stealth elements and it is entirely up to you.  The mechanics are more refined, the graphics are better and combat is more natural. I just had a really good time with this game. If I was asked to say where or not I would recommend it, I would say without hesitation to buy this. It is just a great game!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: We were provided with a review copy by Bethesda Softworks

dragon-ball-xenoverse-2

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Dragon Ball has had a long history in video games. From Japan exclusive entries, the GBA RPGs, the great Budokai series and more, Dragon Ball has had great representation in gaming. Dragon Ball Xenoverse was a great entry in the series and was a breath of fresh air after some increasingly stale games. Xenoverse gave players the chance to explore multiple points of the series timeline from another perspective. The online was great and it had an excellent amount of characters. So how does its sequel hold up?

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I am pleased to say that for the most part Xenoverse 2 is a worthy follow-up to the original game. It has its issues but it is still fun and enjoyable. We have a great amount of characters, better character creation ( my Frieza race character can now go golden Frieza which is excellent!) and best of all, refined gameplay.

The story is in parts too much like the original but does manage to have its highpoints and when it does, it hits it out of the park. A major difference is that new villains are being put into the scenarios which manages to give things a fresh look for longtime fans who have gotten to used to how things play out. The game has numerous “What if?” scenarios that help shake things up as well. Things play out differently than you are used to and so this is a great treat for longtime fans.  The lineup of characters, as mentioned above, is great. The game incorporates characters from Dragon Ball Super as well as the usual sources. This is a great way to introduce fans to Super, if they haven’t been following the subbed versions. I do feel that some characters should not have been saved for DLC and should have been in the main game right away but that is a small issue really.

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The online play  have been greatly improved and I had a lot more fun with them this time around, then I did with the first game. That said There was some connectivity issues and lag that did get in the way of my enjoyment. And speaking of missions, the central hub from the previous game is back but greatly expanded on. You can go to more areas, visit more shops and interact with more people. You do need to do the parallel missions to progress, same as last time, so there is some basis to fall back on in the game.

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Xenoverse 2 has a great selection of music but the voice synchronization is terrible. It really feels like an awkward dubbing from the past, and not up to par with some great English voice acting in modern games from Japan. It isn’t a deal breaker but it is noticeable. I would say that Xenoverse 2 is a good sequel to the original Xenoverse. It is not perfect but it is a good game. I would recommend it greatly,

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No GravatarThe God Eater games have always had a cult following, stemming from its PSP origins over 5 years ago. Fans fell in love with its quirky, insane monster design and Monster Hunter-esque gameplay. God Eater 2: Rage Burst is the re-release of last year’s God Eater 2 with added features like survival missions, gear and extended story content.

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You are a member of Blood, an elite unit of God Eaters, whose sole purpose is ridding the world of Aragami. The Aragami are monsters that have completely taken over the planet. Aragami come in all terrifying shapes and sizes from people-sized demon plants to gigantic bug-dinosaur looking monstrosities. The awesome creature design makes every boss encounter more worthwhile, as the big baddies become more and more outrageous.

 

You’re not alone in your God Eating, your teammates all fall into the typical J-RPG spectrum of personalities from the stoic team leader, all the way down to the ditzy scantily-clad bad-ass who really likes to eat. I’ll admit at first I eye-rolled at a lot of the writing but the team aboard our flying fortress, Friar, did grow on me.

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There are really good character moments in between mission that reveal a lot of your crew’s motivations. Early on a teammate concocts a scheme to stage a meeting with a visiting pop-star. The humor in Rage Burst balances the grim reality of monsters displacing people into ghettos worldwide in a way that I really appreciated.

In order to fight the good fight, God Eaters use God Arcs, a Swiss-army type weapon system that houses a ranged weapon, melee weapon and shield. It’s a neat system that lets you change weapon types on the fly. Managing your God Arc becomes a herculean task considering the endless combinations of weapons you can craft and upgrade. I found myself loving the Buster Sword/Sniper/Shield combo.

If you want to really kick ass, you need to be able to effective switch your God Arc weapons suit your needs and being able to identify a specific Aragami’s weakness and when to press for the attack. I found that memorizing the attack pattern of each monster is the best way to get results. Combos and charge attacks on big melee weapons like hammers and scythes do crazy damage and feel good when you catch a monster from behind.http://realotakugamer.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=24449&action=edit#titlediv

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Each mission lets you bring in up to 3 computer controlled teammates that do a surprisingly good job of not being a hindrance and I even opted to recruit actual players for harder missions via online co-op. I suggest bringing in some buddies early on since the beginning missions are so utterly boring.

Rage Burst’s biggest letdown is in its mission design which is basically just from an arena filled with monsters. The first few hours are a bit of a drag since you can essentially sleepwalk through most of these conflicts, considering you don’t really need to use of the advanced combat techniques until you’re 8-10 hours in. I found myself having to replay a bunch of these missions in order to grind out loot and crafting materials.

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The customization options for Rage Burst are dense. The player-created protagonist has access to literally thousands of outfit and weapon combinations. There are plenty of loot and game rewards replaying mission in order to gain higher ranks scoring better loot. Join an online game and you’ll just how ridiculous and/or awesome you could potentially look.

Rage Burst also isn’t a great looking game. Most of the mission reuse the same locations, so just get used to fighting in the same bombed-out city landscapes for a good long while. This is a shame considering the character and monster design are so fun and full of personality.

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There is a rather steep learning curve. Advanced techniques are not explained all that well unless you do some digging in the database and become intimately aware with the all the System Terms. It was only after playing for about 10 hours that I figured out exactly what Bursts actually do. Other skills like parrying and using Zero Stance would have saved me a lot of heartache if I knew where to look earlier.

It’s easy to lose a lot of time playing God Eater 2: Rage Burst. If you can make it through the painfully slow start, you can find a deep and addictive action-RPG that could compete with the likes of Monster Hunter. This is all assuming you’re patient enough to put with a boring start, frustratingly steep learning curve and sub-par visuals.

jotun

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For much of my life I have been fascinated with Norse Mythology. The Germanic pantheons had so many amazing stories and figures, from Jormungundr, the world serpent who is destined to kill Thor at Ragnarok, to the myths of Loki Scar-Lip. There is a sense of danger all throughout the surviving stories of Norse Mythology ( most were lost to time and its suspected that some prominent elements like Surtr may in fact have just been local additions in areas like Iceland) because it is all leading to Ragnarok, the battle at which the world will end and the gods will die. The myths are full of tragedy but also wonder and amazement, after all these myths gave us many prominent fantasy stock tropes such as elves and dwarves. I mention my love of Norse Mythology because it allowed me to truly appreciate Jotun: Valhalla Edition, as the game is steeped in the mythos. Jotun is about Thora, a warrior who died a dishonorable death and is thus barred from Valhalla, but is given a second chance to win her entry to the hall of the honored dead warriors. This begins her journey through the realms to prove her worthiness.

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I need to say this, Jotun is a beautiful game and this cannot be emphasized enough. The hand drawn animation is so breathtaking that when I first saw the opening scene of gameplay, I was utterly shocked at the site. A game should not be able to look like this but it does. The worlds are full of challenges but nothing too hard and you will be able to explore and get new abilities. In fact, exploring is something you will want to do, just to see more of the amazing animation style of the game. But more than that, exploring the worlds within Jotun shows just how much research was put into this game. The reason I called Loki, Loki Scar-Lip? That’s a lesser known myth of his mouth being sewn shut by dwarves, and the game references this and many other such myths. In fact some references can be even more obscure and this is part of the joy for me. To see a game that references the legends and lore of the Norsemen just makes me feel happy, especially when it was done with care and in a loving way. The developers at Thunder Lotus Games did a great job with that.

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The game does get tough at times though, more specifically when you encounter the  titular Jotun, the giants ( for lack of a better translation, since the Jotun were actually divine figures themselves and many of the gods married Jotun or had Jotun parentage. Thor was born to Odin by Jord, a Jotun who was the embodiment of the earth). These battles are tough as Hel (pun intended) and are definitely the high point of the game. The battles are so diverse and varied that to play them is to have a new experience each time. From the battle with Kaunan to the final battle of the game and the last obstacle ( which I wont spoil here), each battle gives you something different. While you play, the music sets the mood from both serene almost 9 during exploration at times) , to epic battle music ( when fighting the Jotun) and it brings you into the experience, I have seen the art be praised ( and rightfully so) but the music is excellent as well and also should be mentioned.

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So do I think you should buy this game? Haven’t you been paying attention to my review? Of course you should! This game is amazing and needs to be in every Wii U owner’s library. it is an epic game with an epic story. Just amazing.

 

axiom

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Indie games often take inspiration from the past and sometimes it is done poorly. Other times however, the experience is nothing short of amazing. Axiom Verge falls into the latter category. Clearly inspired by a classic Nintendo series, the game has now come to the Wii U. Axiom verge wears its inspiration on its sleeve but at the same time puts its own spin on everything. It is a Metroidvania that takes the genre back to its roots to explore why the genre is so beloved while also bringing new ideas.

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You start off alone on a hostile alien world with only vague hints of what to do at first. You gather weapons and find power-ups like in many games, but the weapons serve multiple purposes. While some weapons and items are required for solving puzzles and progressing, you will soon find inventive ways to use the items to progress and attack enemies. Speaking of enemies, Axiom Verge has some of the best enemy design in an indie game in a long time. The common ones are actually are varied and unique, while the bosses stand out above all others and have real character to them. The boss battles are difficult and you will die, but the fun is in finding the best method of attack to defeat your foes. Like I said, you will die several times but its all part of the game.

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The music in this game is nothing short of incredible. From the intro music to the boss battle themes, Axiom Verge is an audio masterpiece. Do not be surprised if you end up going back to certain areas just to listen to the music several times in a row. The audio in general including the sound effects are also well done and this just feels more complete of a game than many AAA games.

A big part of the fun is finding new ways to explore areas and progress and I guarantee you that one item in particular will stand out above all others. It will certainly help you find a new love of glitches. The other weapons and items all have various uses as mentioned above. For example, the drill is used to progress through certain areas but is also a good weapon in skilled players’ hands.

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The Wii U gamepad is great for fast inventory changes and having a clear map handy. Its a small thing but makes all the difference. Plus it is just as fun to play on the gamepad as it is on the TV.

 

Do I think you should buy this game? Oh definitely yes. This is a must play for any Nintendo fan out there!