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No GravatarBioShock is a first-person shooter released in 2007 for XBox 360 and PC. It was later ported for PS3 in 2008.  It was developed by Irrational Games (they were calling themselves 2K Boston back in the day) and published by 2K.  The game uses a modified version of the Unreal engine with Havok for the physics side.  It was highly praised for its story, setting, and thematic elements.  It later spawned two sequels: BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite.

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As the player, you take on the character of Jack, a man who survives a plane crash into the middle of the ocean.  Upon swimming to safety, you find a lighthouse.  However, this is more than meets the eye.  After getting into a device called a bathysphere, a type of submersible, you are transported underneath the ocean and are introduced to Rapture, a huge underwater city.

However, there is something completely wrong with Rapture.  Upon arrival, you discover that the once utopian city is now in a state of disarray with roaming “splicers,” creepy little girls called “Little Sisters,” and huge robotic bosses called “Big Daddies.”  I don’t want to get into the story too much because I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I will tell you that the story is top-notch.  To me, the best part of BioShock is the setting.  I could just walk around in Rapture all day and be as happy as can be.  I know it’s a really creepy place, but it’s also a really interesting place, especially since you have to dig around a bit to figure out what went wrong.  I loved that the game was kind of scary, but not so scary that I wanted to stop playing it.

One of the other great things about the story of BioShock was a lot of really good and really interesting thematic elements of the game.  Rapture’s creator, Andrew Ryan, designed the city to be free of government and free of religion (a nod to Ayn Rand’s Objectivism).  However, without some constraint of morality, the city quickly crumbles into chaos after some bio-engineering and experimentation gone really wrong.  It’s a really interesting and engrossing game.  It’s one of my favorite video game stories of all time.

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BioShock is first and foremost a first-person shooter.  It’s a rather good one at that, especially for the time that it came out.  As an FPS, it plays smoothly and adds some interesting game play elements.  It has a typical style of ever-increasingly fun weapons to play with, but it also adds the “bio” element to it by creating the use of plasmids (a type of genetic alteration involving needles–I told you the game is a bit creepy).  With your left hand, you control your plasmids, which can vary from shooting fire, ice, and even bees out of your fingertips.  With your right hand, you control your primary weapon.  This is a really, really fun combination, and it makes for  some interesting game play.  However, it gets annoying switching back and forth between shooting plasmids and shooting your weapon, since you can only have one or the other at a time.  This glaring issue was later fixed in BioShock 2.

Besides the use of plasmids, the game play also adds some role-playing and stealth elements as well.  The player has options for stealth around security, including cameras and auto-turrets.  Collecting money in the game gives the player options for upgrading weapons, buying new plasmids, or gaining additional ammo or health.  You may also collect gene tonics that give you special abilities.  One of the more annoying parts of the game was the ability to hack certain things like cameras and vending machines.  Although this sounds like a great idea, to hack something, you get pushed into this mini-game, similar to Pipe Dream.  The first ten or so times you do it isn’t bad, but it gets annoying after twenty, thirty, or forty times.

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One of the unique game play aspects of BioShock is fairly original concept of “roaming boss battles.”  In order to gain more power, the player must take on Big Daddies in order to get to the Little Sisters.  There are a set amount of Big Daddies in each level that will appear in various places (but sometimes can feel like at random).

The graphics were very good for the time that it came out.  It has still held up well for an older game.  In fact, it has held up much better than games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and even the original Infamous.  Even going back and playing it now, I don’t get headaches from playing a game with crazy old graphics.

One really enjoyable thing about the graphics (and the setting) is how it highlights the amazing Art Deco designs of Rapture.  This is one of the reasons why I will actually play the game just to wander around and explore (I can’t say that for many other games).

I don’t care if the game play is perfect.  I don’t care if the graphics are perfect.  BioShock will always be one of my most favorite games of all time.  It is probably my favorite first-person shooter.  This game is just plain fun.  It has been the most fun that I have had in a game in a long, long time.  It is the reason why I have been so backlogged on so many games: I keep wanting to play this game over and over again.  BioShock made me expect more out of my first-person shooters.  It is a complete must-play, trust me.

By Ramon Rivera On 2 May, 2016 At 11:00 PM | Categorized As Featured, Nintendo 3DS, Portable/Mobile Gaming, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments
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Justice Chronicles is Kemco’s latest release on the Nintendo 3DS eshop, and it puts us in the role of Kline, a novice High Beast Knight who is sent on reconnaissance into Laft,the Earth-Depths. There he comes across Alia, a Battle Maiden who has suffered terrible injuries and is close to death.  In order to help her, he forms a partnership with the God of Death, Rooselevy.  Alia lives, but in return, the young knight must give up his life. In a world on the brink of war, the newly acquainted duo must fight destiny itself in order to save the world from the ever creeping darkness that is threatening to consume everything.  I absolutely love JRPGs.  If they give me a world in the brink of destruction and a team of unlikely heroes, I am a happy man.  Justice Chronicles is a good example of a good JRPG that can keep you playing for a long time (well all JRPGs are HUGE ordeals but you get the idea).

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You first start the game you play as Kline, and you are a novice High Beast Knight.  However, since you are not a rival yet, the reconnaissance mission into Laft serves as a test of your abilities.  When you get to Laft, you encounter Josh, a strange creature who is your guide to the mine where you must gather information about your enemies.  Needless to say, something goes wrong, and your team prioritizes the mission and left Kline alone while he is fighting a monster called “Vasist” trying to save the life of a girl.  After that he forms a partnership with the God of Death, Rooselevy, and becomes a “Rivel”(Rivels are warriors that fight with the help of a high Beast).  Since Rooselevy is sneaky, Kline must give his life for his aid.  As you progress through the story, (which is really good by the way) you find the reasons why you can wield Guardian Beasts and Kline’s true power.

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Justice Chronicles uses your standard turn based battle system.  You have your Attack, Guard, Items and Skills menus.  However, what sets Justice Chronicles apart is the Beast Partner system.  Each time you attack, your Beast partner does an action based in the parameters set by the player.  Pursuit type the Beast partner acts based on the characters AGL value.  Guidance type is based on the shell’s AGL value, so that gives you a room for strategy and find which is the best for you.

Another cool feature is the dual skills.  Each time you attack or are attacked, a “Heat” gauge starts to fill.  When you get it to one hundred percent, you can do a double or triple attack.  Depending on your party, you can use a powerful physical attack, or a ultimate magic attack that are really useful in boss battles.  The Crafting system is great also.  In each dungeon, there are gathering points (you get the items just passing over the blinking light), and you can use the materials obtained to strengthen your weapons and armor.  However, that is not the only way to do it.  You can also find recipes to get better equipment.

The game’s art is really good, reminiscent of the SNES era.  I totally loved the first person view when battling enemies.  Speaking of enemies, I really like the animations on each one, how they move, and the attack effects.  Also, I really like the animations when you use a dual attack and special skills.  The music is really good, and I like how it gets me pumped up when there is a boss battle.  The over world music is enjoyable and the intro movie is really cool.

Bottom Line: Justice Chronicles is a great addition to the ever growing eshop library.  It has a good story, tons of side quests, and a great crafting and battle system.  For me, it is a great retro-styled JRPG. I can’t recommend it enough.  It is one of my favorite games released by Kemco.  I can see that the quality is getting better, and that is a good sign.

 

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No GravatarThe Final Fantasy franchise is beloved by many gamers.  They have fallen in love with the characters, the music, and the worlds of this popular series.  When Final Fantasy XIII came out, many were expecting something wonderful.  Instead, fans got the worst game of the series and possibly one of the worst AAA titles of the generation.  Here is what went wrong with FF XII:

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Final Fantasy XIII was released on December 17, 2009 in Japan and in 2010 worldwide as a straight-forward RPG.  It was developed and published by Square Enix for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (the game was eventually released for PC as well).  It was widely criticized because of the game’s linear game play and storyline, while most western RPGs had gone toward open world.  However, there were other issues with the game as well.

The story itself was extremely hard to follow.  I actually still don’t quite understand it.  From what I gathered, a world called Cocoon and it’s government, Sanctum, is basically committing genocide of people who have come in contact with the world below Cocoon called Pulse.  The main character, Lightning, has a moral epiphany and decides to fight back with a bunch of others.  There really wasn’t anything to love about the story or even really like.  It was completely bland, and many times confusing.

Unfortunately, the characters were even worse than the story.  They were extremely cheesy, and the dialogue was cringe-worthy.  Here are some actual quotes from the game:

“Heroes don’t run from fights.”

“Mom’s are tough.”

“Hang on, baby.  Your hero’s on the way.”

Even the talents of Troy Baker were wasted on the character of Snow because everything that the character said was dumb (you know I think it’s a bad game when I tell you that Troy Baker couldn’t even salvage anything good in the game).

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The battle system is outdated in style and resembled more of a ’90s RPG where characters take turns fighting each other.  It was a system that actually made my jaw drop when I got into the first battle.  Though the game is a bit older, that sort of style has died off for AAA titles.  For a “modern” RPG, it felt like a blast from the past, and not in a good way.  When a player meets an enemy, he or she is entered into a “battle system” with change in music and everything.  Each character takes turns attacking the baddie, and if they aren’t attacking, then they sit and dance around in place.  It was very similar to many ’90s retro RPGS.  Though those old games were so much fun, it is quite bizarre for a game in the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 generation.

Also, the battle system is way too simplistic.  You don’t even have to pay attention while playing the game.  Just hit “X” (playing on PS3).  You’ll kill almost anything that way.  I could train my cats to play this game.  In fact, for the most part, I really wasn’t even playing it.  I was on Twitter, milling around.  The only part of me that was playing the game was my hand, which kept hitting X, X, X, X.  What’s the point of even playing if the game is that easy?  I didn’t really even seem like a true leveling system.

Unlike most modern RPGs, I was limited basically going in a straight line throughout the maps.  The whole thing felt claustrophobic.  And it never got any better!  I kept on thinking: Well maybe if I go along a little farther, the map will open up a bit, and I can actually do some exploring.  Nope!  It never happened.  For a game that came out to PS3 in late 2009, this is actually embarrassing.  I’ve played Call of Duty campaign modes that were more open than this game.  I can’t believe that Square Enix thought that this would be okay, considering FFXII (for the freaking PS2) gave you more freedom.  In fact, every Final Fantasy game I have every played gave you more freedom.  Heck, freaking Pac Man gives you more freedom (at least you don’t have to continuously go straight).

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Another annoying aspect of the game was the sheer amount of cutscenes in the game.  You could barely go five minutes without a cut-scene interrupting.  It was quite obnoxious.  Sure, the cut scenes were pretty, but most of them didn’t feel like they moved the plot.  I’m still scratching my head at what was going on in the game.  In fact, most of them felt like they were just thrown in there to show off the graphics.  Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy a good cut-scene, but I expect the cut-scenes that I watch to have a point and move the plot.  It shouldn’t just be a graphics show-off.

Sadly, I think that Square Enix is losing touch with what many gamers are demanding from their games now.  At this point, I think that they are focusing on an audience that wants a true JRPG experience.  If that’s the case, go for it.  However, don’t expect any glowing reviews from me.  That’s just not my cup of tea anymore.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 28 Apr, 2016 At 10:09 PM | Categorized As PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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I love fighting games and they are among my favourite genre, so it is always great when I find one I had not heard of before but has been around for a bit.

Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code is part of the Melty Blood series and I was not sure what to expect with this game. What I got was an amazing fighter with both a great arcade mode and amazing netcode. Playing online was such a smooth experience, comparable to Killer Instinct on PC ( another fighting game I am fond of) and I didn’t have any connection problems while I played.

The game has story mode, arcade mode and more options and there is more than enough to keep both those wanting single player and those who want multiplayer happy. There are good modes in the game to help you learn its unique mechanics and I found that very helpful.

The game’s mechanics really do make it interesting, while some of them have been cribbed by other fighting games since then, Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code does them better. Everything blends well and within an hour of playing, I was doing great at the game. I love games that are extremely accessible like that and don’t try and only appeal to fanatics of the genre.

 

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Not all is good though, as the game does have a bit too much flashing at times which gave me a headache. I am not epileptic and I cannot imagine what it would be like for someone with epilepsy to play it, but I myself had some issues after a while because of the flashing. Another problem was the controls sometimes going wonky in the middle of a combo, and never in a consistent way. That threw off my play time a bit, but I suspect that might have actually been an issue with the fightpad I was using to play.

The characters in this game are unique and interesting and fun to play as. I do not have a favourite but rather like to switch between them. I still have not played all the characters so I cannot single out just 1 who is the best for me, but I have had a good time while playing, aforementioned issues aside. This game felt refreshing and I look forward to continuing to play it going forward.

I highly recommend checking this out on Steam!

 

 

By Ramon Rivera On 25 Apr, 2016 At 08:57 PM | Categorized As Featured, PlayStation 3/PlayStation 4, Playstation Vita, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments
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No GravatarSo after a long wait, one of the most unique Fighting games ever created has landed on the PS Vita system.  I have to say that this is my first interaction with Skullgirls, and I regret not getting into the Skullgirls hype train sooner.  From the opening movie, to the characters and the deep combo system, I can see the love and dedication that the guys at Lab Zero Games have put in Skullgirls.

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The Story in Skullgirls is really good. “The legends tell of an artifact that can grant any woman’s wish….However, if the woman’s heart is not pure her wish will corrupt her and she will become the Skullgirl.”  To sum it up: Now the current Skullgirl is wreaking havoc.  However, each character reason to fight her and obtain the Skull Heart.  This is what sets them up in their own adventure  In my first play-through, I decided to go straight to the Story Mode and chose Filia.  For whatever reason, Filia felt right to get a taste of the action.  After finishing the Story mode, I felt that something was missing.  It wasn’t something missing from the game, so I decided to go to the Tutorial mode to learn the basics.

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I have to praise Skullgirls for its complete Tutorial mode.  It teaches not only the basics of combat, but it does so with different characters, showing the player the different play styles and combo opportunities.  Another great element found in the Tutorial mode, is the different systems in the game.  One of my favorite inclusions is the Infinite Prevention System (kudos Lab Zero; you did well).  It is a mechanic in which you can escape from an infinite combo, and let me tell you it is a godsend.  One of the reasons I stopped  laying UMVC3 was for the infinite combos.  While they are cool combos, it is frustrating to do nothing to escape from them.  Many times, I just left the controller and waited for the carnage to finish.  With Skullgirls, I don’t have that issue since the combo system operates in a way that when you are in the middle of getting beat down by a large combo, you can use the IPS system to escape from it and do some damage.  However, there are some rules for the IPS to work, but you learn that in the Tutorial.  Another way to escape from devastating combos is the Drama system.  It uses the same principle of the IPS.  However, this is to prevent high damaging infinite combos.  The Drama is represented by a green gauge under your life gauge.  Each time you are getting hurt by a long combo, the Drama gauge starts to fill.  When it is full, you can stop the combo and get a chance to counter attack, making each an enjoyable match that gives the player a chance to win.  Also, the Tutorial mode covers each character specifics and some combos to get you started. Now if you want to master each character, the Trials are for you.  There are four for each character ranging from easy combos to advance combos.  However, the chain combo system allows for interesting combos, so your creativity know no boundaries.

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The Challenge mode is really good as well.  It is a good way to put your skills to the test.  There are twenty-five challenges with different conditions to end them.  Know some combos?  Well, try to beat a character with unlimited Suspense, and you can’t jump.  There are only combos over three hits can damage it.  Add a timer of 60 seconds, and you are set.  Some challenges are brutal but they are manageable at least with some effort.

The online mode is well done.  I was able to find matches really quickly and with no lag whatsoever.  However, I couldn’t know if I was fighting a fellow Vita user or a PS4 user.  Maybe when the lobbies patch releases, this can be fixed.  However, there is nothing game breaking.

The game itself looks amazing.  The art style is so good, and it is a joy to look at.  Each character is so highly detailed and on the PS Vita screen, they look beautiful.  Though everything looks good, there are unfortunately some issues such as some of the text looking blurry and the letters are hard to read sometimes.  The background on each stage is highly detailed, but all of the backgrouns are static (the PS4 version has dynamic backgrounds, so the stages look full of life).  The Vita’s limitation doesn’t allow for them as the developer explained, so while it sucks that they aren’t dynamic, they are good enough.  In all honestly, I almost never look at the stages when I am playing.  One of the things I like the most is how Skullgirls was inspired by many games such as MVC and Street Fighter (love that you can see a “Ryu” in some stages but with Lab Zero unique style).  However, just because they were inspired by them it doesn’t mean that Skullgirls is a clone.  It is a whole different experience, and in my honest opinion, they have won my support for years to come.

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Now the voice acting and the music is top notch. Each character feels alive, and each of the songs get that cool vibe.  For me, playing with headphones is a must.  I also love the subtle references to some fighting games, such as “This is True Love We’re Making”( reference to London Stage in CvS 2), or “Try again Kid”(Sagat all the way). To someone who grew up playing these kinds of games, it is nostalgic to hear and see this references.

Overall, I am pleased the game. The inclusion of all DLC characters is something that makes this the definitive Skullgirls version.  Bottom Line: Skullgirls 2nd Encore is a terrific fighting game.  It is the definitive version, and the Vita port looks and plays beautiful.  With the great voice acting, great music, and a cast of different but peculiar characters (Peacock is something else), I can definitely recommend it to any Vita owner.  As a plus is cross buy with the PS4 version, so you will get the other free.

See the trailer for Skullgirls 2nd Encore for PS Vita below:

 

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Resistance 2 may now seem like a small blip in the world of gaming after so many years, especially since Insomniac pretty much killed the Resistance franchise with the third installment.  However, for those who played Resistance 2, it was a game to be remembered.  It was a follow-up for Resistance: Fall of Man, and everything about it was just right.  Published in late 2008 by Sony, it became one of my favorite first person shooters ever.  Here is why Resistance 2 was one of the best games ever:

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Story Mode

The Resistance franchise is based off of the premise that before Hitler could begin taking over Europe in the 1930s and ’40s, a group of aliens known as the Chimera did instead.  So instead of sending American troops to fight Hitler, the United States sent troops to help the Europeans battled the Chimera.  An American soldier, Nathan Hale, accidentally is infected by the Chimera virus and becomes a complete bad ass.  That’s basically the plot of the original.  In R2, the Chimera have pretty much taken Europe, and it is a last-ditch effort to try to keep them from completely stomping all over the United States.  Nathan Hale is recruited again to help fight the Chimera in a squad called the The Sentinels, a group of other soldiers infected with the same virus.  The story follows Nathan as he tries to push back the Chimera in America.

Now doesn’t that sound like fun?

It really was, too.  Despite being a bit linear in game play, the game was enjoyable as a stand-alone.  I will admit that, like many first person shooter games, the story mode is not that long.  I would complain about that, except for the fact that it has BOTH cooperative and competitive (just read on to see what I’m talking about).

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Cooperative

A good cooperative mode on a first person shooter is like the holy grail of game elements to me.  Cooperative forces people to have FUN and work as a TEAM instead of being jerks.  R2 created a class-based system for the cooperative that had amazing balance.  Classes included: Solider, Spec-Op, and Medic.  Each one had its own purpose.  The tank had the heavy weaponry.  The Spec-Op did the long distance and sniping dirty work.  The Medic supported and healed the team.  That’s perfection right there.  The cooperative mode could range from two to eight people and allowed people to work as the Spectre Team, a group trying to flush out the Chimera.  There were multiple, large maps that rotated the starting point, which made the maps feel more new and interesting, even if you played them a ton (like I did).  Sadly, Insomniac never offered map upgrades (shame on them), but I still enjoyed the cooperative so much that I didn’t care.

To me, cooperative is the best way to do online.  Aren’t games supposed to be FUN?  Why do I need to get worked up over playing a game?   Yes, in R2 you did get a score with how many points you got during the match, and it WAS fun to see if you could beat out your teammates, but at the end of the day, everyone has to work together for a goal.  There were parts that even when you were high-level, if the team wasn’t gelling, it was over.  Plus, when you aren’t worried about shooting other players (as opposed to killing NPCs), you learn to relax and enjoy the game.  The amount of inside jokes and craziness that ensued makes me always think fondly of R2.

Sigh.  Those were the days!

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Competitive

Just when you think the awesomeness of R2 could go no further–just wait–there is more!  R2 also has a competitive mode for people who are, well, competitive.  This type of game play has never been my cup of tea, but I did enjoy it on R2.  It was basically Chimera versus humans, but the cool thing was that you could select the size of the match.  You could have a small deathmatch, or you could have up to sixty players in a match.  Let me tell you, that could get crazy quickly.  Crazy fun, I mean. Apparently, for the time that it came out, it was the most that the PS3 had every hosted.  The whole feel of it was much different from a Call of Duty game.  It was much faster paced with the extra people, and although it was my least favorite part of the game, I still played because it was kind of fun.

So that’s Resistance 2.  A perfect mix of story mode, cooperative, and competitive.  I’m not saying that was a perfect game.  It has its flaws, but I just can’t seem to understand why no one else has decided to use this type of gaming structure for their first person shooter.  Maybe one day it will happen…

***Caution: Just because I love RI and R2 does NOT mean I recommend Resistance 3.  That game was a complete mess, and I like to pretend it never happened.***

By Ramon Rivera On 23 Apr, 2016 At 08:37 PM | Categorized As Featured, Playstation Vita, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments
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Picture this: You are travelling in a plane without a care in the world.  Suddenly, the plane crashes, and you wake up as the only survivor.  You search for an exit, but instead of finding the world you know, you find yourself in a strange land.  Why are you here?  What happened?  A torrent of questions goes trough your mind.  Alone and scared you search for answers….This is the premise of DRPG Stranger of Sword City.

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When you start the game, you follow a little prologue.  You wake up and are naked and afraid.  Upon searching you find some clothes, and after moving forward, you find an old man.  “He means no harm” or so he says.  He kindly offers to guide you out of the maze in which you are….only to be greeted by a giant monster!!!  Suddenly the kind old man is not a friend but a fearsome foe that wants to take your life (for fun and giggles when he asks to stay still I answered “sure”).  It appears is game over for you, but in the blink of an eye, one of the wyvern’s necks is slashed clean by a girl called Rui who chases off the old man. She briefly explains that like you, she got stranded on this land called Escario, the city of swords.  Here you are called “Strangers.”  She then guides you to the Stranger Base for further explanations. There you learn that humans for a odd reason can wield more power and become a mighty city-defending hero.  You are a rare case (yep), and you are “The Chosen One.”  The only one that obtain crystals from powerful monsters called “Lineages.”  That is the story in a nutshell.

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Now one of the strongest traits in Stranger of Sword City is customization.  Right from the start, you get to customize your character’s avatar, race, class and even voice from the vast choices made available.  However, these are just related to aesthetic since these choices won’t affect the game play.  Another nice customization that the game offers is the choice of changing the NPC art, which basically modifies the look of the whole game since you’re interacting with NPCs the whole time (and the title screen art changes accordingly too!). One cool feature is when customizing your avatar is the Age, if you create for example a 15 year old it will have the bonus trait that it heals quickly,(ah the perks of youth) but since its young it won’t be to strong.  However, if you create a 30 year old, he will be stronger and will have more experience (the perks of a responsible adult).  It is a nice change of pace from typical DRPGS.

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Graphically, the art of the NPCS the Avatar and monster are awesome.  However, they feel kind of static since the characters don’t show much motion, but the narration is done in an engaging way.  It is partly narrative and partly descriptive, setting the mood and leaving room for your imagination to picture the scenes. The soundtrack also perfectly help to set the mood in the various situations you find yourself in.  I personally like games with good story and the narrative aspect of Stranger of Sword City kept me interested in the story. I liked the pace in which the game moves.

Concerning the game play, other than interacting with the other characters during the narrative parts, it revolves around exploring unmapped labyrinths in a dungeon crawler mechanic to face off boss creatures (Lineages), collect blood crystals, and unlock abilities. As you advance in a labyrinth, it gets mapped automatically, and you encounter creatures which you can evade but some are mandatory to face with your guild. The latter has to be strategically built.  The members are positioned depending on their abilities and class for the turn-based combats.  Another cool feature is the “Ambush.”  Here you can choose a ambush point and wait for monster carriers to appear (special type of monsters that carry valuable items).  After defeating them, you claim their loot.  However, if you take to much time to do so, they can flee and take their goods with them.  Watching your comrades grow and gaining new skills and spells as they level up is a rewarding process, especially since dungeon delving can be risky business.  As you unlock more abilities and gain access to better equipment, the release really opens up as an increasingly tactical affair. Depending on enemy formations and the type of foe that you’re up against, you’ll quickly start to form strategies for each battle.  The turn based combat system as a whole ends up having a satisfying amount of depth to it, so for grinders like myself, it is a field day.

Bottom line: Stranger of Sword City is a solid DRPG.  It has a great customize system, an engaging narrative that keeps you enthralled in the game, beautiful art, and a great soundtrack to boot.  If you love challenges and dungeon crawlers, Stranger of Sword City is a recommend game that must be in your library of games.  I give Stranger of Sword City a solid recommendation.

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Paranautical Activity is a rather infamous game for reasons known to many in the PC Gaming community. But beyond the infamy, I needed to ask, is it actually a good game?

PA is a first person shooter that uses randomly generated levels similar to rougelike games. Its a neat take and the gameplay itself is rather interesting. The FPS elements take inspiration from games like Quake but can be done fast paced or slow paced and the controls are very intuitive, at least as far as I played. The graphics feel like an HD version of a mid 90’s PC first person shooter, if that makes sense, and actually look really good on a big screen TV.  The enemies, while not the most diverse, are serviceable but the bosses leave a lot to be desired. I don’t know what it was, but it just felt like the bosses were lacking for some reason. It felt like they could have been done a lot better.

The game did not have any frame drops that I noticed, or any screen tearing, but the audio was no the best. I felt the soundtrack just didn’t fit the game properly and that was a bit distracting.

But now the question is, is the game fun? Yes and no is the answer. The game fills a niche, of both classic FPS games and games that are similar to rougelikes, while many will be turned off by it. The truth is, it took me several days to get any idea of what I felt about the game and I’m still unsure really. I do like what I played and did enjoy it at times, but other times it just felt flat. However,  the times I did enjoy it, I enjoyed it a great deal and thus I’m unsure what to say now. I think this game is worth checking out and give it a slight recommendation, but be warned that it might not be for you. This game definitely is not lacking for content though and there won’t be boredom here,

asdivine

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I love RPGs and especially JRPGS and there has been a lack of them on the Wii U ( even with the virtual console), so I was very happy to hear about this game from Kemco. Kemco previously developed Alphadia Genesis for Wii U which was localized by Natsume and was a decent , if generic JRPG that was good for those seeking any JRPG not on the virtual console.  But how does Asdivine Hearts hold up as a JRPG on Wii U? In a word: excellent.

Asdivine Hearts ( which is apparently part of a larger series) is a fantastic RPG that is a must have for any JRPG fan. Unlike Kemco’s other Wii U RPG Alphadia Genesis, battle transitions are handled much better with less flashing lights. Indeed, there are less flashing lights in general which made it much easier on my eyes. The combat system is also excellent in general, but before I talk about that I must mention the Jewel System.  In the game, you are given an item called a Rubix which can hold Jewels which can affect status, HP, MP and so on.  As you progress in the game, you can get bigger Rubixes and store more Jewels which can have more effects. The combat system uses the Jewels both in the form of void magic, light magic and shadow magic, and well as status jewels to create new effects in battle. There are limit breaks and team ups and it was much more fun than I anticipated.

The story is still rather generic but welcome at the same time. The characters are not well developed though and their development throughout the game is uneven.  My biggest complaint though is that there is some screen tearing on occasion and the audio skips quite a bit, especially if you had briefly suspended the game.

That said I still had a lot of fun playing this. I think I have put more hours into this game than any other in the last month. I really like this game and truly need to recommend this to all.

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No GravatarUncharted: Drake’s Fortune is the start to an amazing series.  I unfortunately played the games out of order (started with Uncharted 3).  I ended up buying the Uncharted/Uncharted 2 dual pack and really thought I got my money’s worth from both games.  Despite having some age, Uncharted is a blast to play.

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Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is a third-person shooter, action-adventure game that came out on the PlayStation 3 in 2007.  It was developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony.  Overall, it sold very well, and got critical acclaim, spawning two sequels.  Although when I originally heard about it, I thought it was going to be a Tomb Raider rip-off, so I ignored it completely until now.  This is not the case at all, and I wish I would have known that back in 2007.  This game is a ton of fun and does not play like a Tomb Raider game at all in game play, story, and tone.  If anything, it’s more Indiana Jones-like than Lara Croft.  The game was re-released as part of the Uncharted Collection in 2015 with slicker-looking graphics and more power.

In this game, we are introduced to Nathan Drake, treasure-hunter, Victor Sullivan, his mentor, and Elena Fisher, a journalist hired to record his adventures.  Nate is searching for Sir Francis Drake’s secret, which leads him on a quest for El Dorado.  Adventuring ensues with Elena provided as a love-interest for Drake.  Overall, it’s a fun story, but I felt the pacing was a little slower than Drake’s Deception.  I also was a little annoyed at the fact that the scenery was very similar: jungle/ruins.  That made the game feel a little dull, especially compared to Drake’s Deception, where you get to go to so many cool places.

The game is a typical third person shooter, duck and cover with the added elements of jumping and climbing.  Being the first of the series, it is definitely not as polished as the later games.  One thing that bugged me was the constant gun battles that lasted way too long and came up too often.  I felt like there wasn’t a very good balance between the adventuring portion and the action portion.  There were also some spots that drove me absolutely crazy and actually made me want to stop playing (I’ll get to that in a bit).  This is how I would classify each part of the game play:

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1.) Adventuring/Puzzles

To me, the fun part of the game is the adventuring, and even though I don’t particularly like puzzle games, I actually kind of enjoyed the ones in this game.  I could figure out most of the puzzles by myself, and the rest I easily found how to do on YouTube (what did we do before YouTube, right?).  The jumping, leaping, and climbing is pretty easy to get the hang of, although it was a lot more polished in the later games.  I actually wish there was more exploring and jumping puzzles.  I felt that it was a little lacking, especially for a Tomb Raider fan like myself.

2.) Fighting

This was the part that really annoyed me.  I thought there was way too many gun fights for an adventure game.  It felt like every time you turned the corner there was another gun fight.  It actually became very predictable after awhile and took away from the game a bit.  This aspect was much improved in later Uncharted games, but it still unfortunately took a little away from the game.

3.) Vehicles

Throughout the game, you will ride on different vehicles, including Jeeps and jet-skis.  To me, this was one of the more fun points of the game.  In the Jeep, Elena is driving and Nate is shooting.  With the jet ski, you are driving as Nate but also must shoot with Elena.  It was a fun change from the massive amounts of gun fights that consumed the game play.

For the time that the game came out, the graphics were pretty good.  Obviously now, they are a little dated.  However, I could stand the graphics, and they didn’t give me a headache from Final Fantasy VII syndrome.  By the way, Final Fantasy VII syndrome is a term my husband and I have coined to describe how older games with funky graphics give us headaches when we play because of the eye strain.

Here’s the problem with this game: It reminds me of how I felt about the original Mass Effect.  Now don’t get me wrong, except for the cover-shoot and third person game play, they are worlds different.  But because I had to wait to play the original Mass Effect since I typically play on PC or PlayStation, I had already played the second and third game.  Playing the original became tedious and unpleasant because I knew how much better the later games were.  I don’t see this as a complete knock to Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.  With all gaming franchises, there are improvements that come along the way.  Luckily, this is a franchise that keeps on improving.

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