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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.

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.

By Jessica Brister On 14 Aug, 2016 At 03:38 PM | Categorized As Featured, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Reviews, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 11 Mar, 2016 At 05:37 AM | Categorized As News, PC Games, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarDiablo 3 may have been out for some years now but it seems Blizzard has not abandoned Diablo 2. The company has released a new patch (patch 1.14a). Read below to see what changes are now in

 

It’s been a long time coming, but today we’re releasing 1.14a for Diablo II.

This update focuses on system glitches introduced by modern operating systems. In related news, you can finally retire those old Mac PowerPCs. Included with the update is a shiny new installer for OSX.

We’ve also begun working to improve our cheat-detection and hack-prevention capabilities. There’s still work to be done, but we’re making improvements every day.

There is still a large Diablo II community around the world, and we thank you for continuing to play and slay with us. This journey starts by making Diablo II run on modern platforms, but it does not end there. See you in Sanctuary, adventurers.

 

The wording of the announcement definitely is saying more is coming. Would this be just big fixes, or perhaps the rumored graphical overhaul that has been talked about for some time?

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Here are the patch notes

 

Diablo II v1.14a Patch Notes

Specific Changes & Improvements
– No need to run in XP mode anymore, Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 compatibility complete
– Mac installer and compatibility for 10.10 and 10.11 has arrived
– First client run will migrate saved characters to avoid issues from Windows system
admin changes

Known Issues
– Mac 10.9 and earlier are not supported

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When Fallout 4 was announced, there were a lot of very excited fans. I was definitely one of them. In the excitement of the announcement, many decided to go back and replay older Fallout games. I was also one of those people. I’ve played Fallout 3 before, but never got a chance to finish it. Going back through and actually beating Fallout 3 sounded like a really good idea. For those who haven’t played it or for those who wanted to hear my take on the game, I’ve decided to do a full review, though it’s a bit belated.

 

Fallout 3 is a single player, action role playing game that utilizes a huge open world post-apocalyptic setting. It was developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. Bethesda had bought the rights to the Fallout series from Black Isle Studios/Interplay Entertainment, so this was Bethesda’s first attempt with the franchise. The game came out in late October of 2008 for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The game got rave reviews across the board and was given Game of the Year in several instances.

 

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The game is set in the same universe as the rest of the earlier Fallout games. It takes place in the year 2277, which is approximately 200 years before the nuclear apocalypse that ravaged the United States. Many citizens ended up in “Vaults” underground that keep them alive during the bombings. The story’s protagonist is a character of the player’s choosing (male/female, looks, etc.) that resides in Vault 101. Things in the vault seem great at first, but after many years go by, events happen that force the protagonist to leave the vault. The wasteland that lies outside of the vault is deadly and full of secrets. As the main character explores the open-world area of what used to be Washington D.C., these secrets start to come to light.

 

The main story line is quite good. It has everyone that a person could want: family issues, secrets, exploration, evil groups vying for power, monsters, and an altruistic mission. There are many side quests as well that can push a player into playing for long, long time. The map is expansive and the tone really just make you feel like you are in the Capital Wasteland. The urban exploration alone in the game is well worth the price of the game. It was one of the first games that I actually felt overwhelmed over when I looked at the sheer size and scale of it. Once you go out of the vault, it really feels like you can go anywhere and do anything.

 

The game play is like a first person shooter to a degree. You can play that way if you want. However, the feel is more RPG with XP for kills, completing tasks, and quests. There is also a special combat system called V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) that allows a player to pause time and pick special areas to attack on an enemy based on a probability percentage. It’s an interesting system that has a love or hate relationship with many Fallout 3 players. Luckily, you can choose whether you want to use it or not based off of how you want to play the game. This includes how a person levels up their character by choosing points in the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system, which stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck. Players can also choose their way of playing by adding points to “Perks” that at given after leveling up. Want to sneak around and get stuff done that way? There are Perks for that. Want to go in guns-blazing? There are Perks for that. It creates the type of game play that is re-playable many, many times.

 

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The graphics looked pretty slick at the time that the game came out. The opening sequence for the game is probably one of the best in gaming history, as it sets the tone of the game quite nicely and has a really creepy feel to it. The 1950s retro feel with the nuclear apocalypse grays and browns gives the game a unique feeling. It’s one of those games that a player could fall in love with, one of those rare gems that only come around every once in awhile.

 

I completely understand why it was hailed as Game of the Year from many places. It’s a great game, hands down. However, because of its age, the game play feels a bit stiff, and the Gamebryo game engine just wasn’t quite up to par with what it needed to do. The gray and brown color scheme makes hours and hours of play a little bland after awhile (it looks like this fixed for Fallout 4; there are a lot of more colorful game footage out). Regardless, though, it’s an amazing game. It’s definitely worth a play or replay before Fallout 4 comes out.

No GravatarEvery once in awhile, a very special game comes along and confirms that there are still indeed wonderful games out there.  The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of those gems.  It is a definite “must have” for any RPG fan.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a third-person, action RPG with an expansive open world environment.  It was developed and published by Polish studio CD Projekt RED.  The game is based on the a set of fantasy novels by Polish author,  Andrzej Sapkowski (these books are available in an English translation).  The game came out in May of this year for PC, PlayStation 4, and XBox One.

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The story follows Geralt of Rivia, a witcher who takes care of people’s monster problems for coin.  Those who become witchers have been mutated and have special powers such as a special sensing ability and limited magic powers.  He is searching for his adopted daughter, Ciri, who is in danger from being captured by the Wild Hunt.  The main quest line is compelling and interesting.  It also has a bit of a Mass Effect quality to it, since Geralt’s choices do affect the outcome of the story.  The side quests are fun to play and range from playing gwent with certain people (more on this later), getting rid of monsters, and helping people out.  The sheer amount of side quests can be a bit daunting.  It feels like every time a quest is finished, five more are available.  This is not a bad thing, though.  A player could spend full price on the game, and it is definitely worth its price.

The game play is quite a lot of fun.  It’s a well-done third person perspective game.  The combat system is excellent.  Geralt uses swords and a bit of magic to keep the monsters at bay.  He has two swords: one for human foes and a silver one for monsters and such.  Witchers can cast magic by making signs, which vary from blasting things for flames to influencing people’s minds.  There is also an amazing crafting system for both weapons and potions.  Weapons and clothes can be upgraded by finding materials and schematics around the world.  Potions can be created in the same way.  Players may upgrade abilities by either leveling up Geralt’s character or finding places of power, which give extra allotment points.

The open world is expansive.  A player can spend hours and hours just exploring.  Geralt moves around throughout the land on his horse, Roach and by boat.  The world has its own weather system and goes through a day/night cycle.  Depending on the time of day can actually affect the powers of particular monsters (think: werewolves and such).  The world can range from quaint orchards, to buggy swamps, to massive cities.  It’s amazing to explore.

The mini game in The Witcher 3 is probably one of the best-done ones yet.  Gwent is a strategy card game that Geralt plays with the merchants and inn-keepers, and there’s a lot of strategy to it.  The game involves three rounds.  The person who wins two obviously wins the game.  Everyone brings their own deck, so finding and winning more cards is also a strategy.  This encourages the player to hunt for more cards either by buying or winning them in high-stakes games.

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An open world would not be decent unless it had amazing graphics, and the Witcher 3 delivers.  There are surprisingly great.  The best graphics in the games are the cut-scenes; they are absolutely gorgeous.  The in-game graphics are amazing as well, and actually focus on colors.  There are little bits and pieces of detail everywhere from the weather to Geralt’s growing beard.  A player actually needs to see a barber because the beard will start to grow after a certain amount of time.

The Witcher 3 is an absolutely must-have.  Hands-down.  Get it now if you don’t have it.  Obviously, it is an adult game (there are some really raunchy parts).  But overall, the game is just amazing.  It really should get game of the year for 2015.  However, with Fallout 4 coming out in the fall, The Witcher 3 may be dethroned as game of the year.

No GravatarI always have to shake my head a bit when someone compares another game to Skyrim and says something like, “It’s just like Skyrim.”  Really?  It is “just like” Skyrim?  I’ll then start to question them to see what they really mean.  This is the line of questioning that I go through with them:

Is it open world? (Note that this is one of the only questions that they say yes to.)

Will it take you an hour or more to walk from one side of the map to the other?

Is it an action RPG?

Is it first-person point of view with the option of going to third person?

Do you level up an ability by using that ability?

Do you have to pick a certain character type (i.e. mage or warrior)?  Or can you have multiple talents?

Is the game set in a high-fantasy realm?

Can you choose between being a male of female character?

Do you have the choice of multiple races to play?

Does it have hundreds and hundreds of hours of quests?

Does it have a weapons and amour crafting system?

Is the open world interactive with both NPCs and items?

Do you get to have followers who help you?

Can you pick and choose who you’d like to be your follower?

Is the game background and setting intricate and in-depth?

Are there hundreds of areas to explore?

Is there a huge modding community for PC that puts out amazing mods all of the time?

Is the game so beloved that there are tons of memes and jokes of it all around the Internet?

Is the game the yard stick that other games are measured by?  (Because Skyrim is.)

There, of course, are games similar to Skyrim, but there is nothing “just like” it.  The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt gets some things close.  Far Cry 4 also does the same.  It was described as “Skyrim with guns.”  But is there really a true comparison?  Not really.  Not even the Fallout series is actually the same because of the way the leveling system works.   I don’t necessarily mind comparisons, but when people make statements that include “just like,” it gets me a little riled up because in the end, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of the most defining games of this decade.  And that is why it is so beloved.

 

 

By Jessica Brister On 28 May, 2015 At 05:37 PM | Categorized As Best Game Ever, Featured, PC Games, PlayStation, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarI have a problem.  Well, let me rephrase that: I have a gaming problem.  In a way, it’s a good problem, but it still follows me whenever I try to play an RPG.  You see, ever since I played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim a few years ago, I can’t play any other High-Fantasy RPG.  I’ve tried.  I really have, but I honestly think that Skyrim has ruined me for any other RPG.

And I am totally okay with that.

Because it’s the best modern RPG ever.

Now, when I say “modern RPG,” I am referring to games done for the PS3/XBox360 generation and newer.  I don’t think that you can compare games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VII with more modern games.

However, I do feel that the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the best we have right now in terms of the combination of setting, game play, and story.  Let me explain:

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Most people who adore Skyrim will comment on its expansive open world.  I will admit, that it is probably the best open world map to date.  The scenery is gorgeous.  Most of the items in the world are very interactive.  The people in the world 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.

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 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?

For me, since I have a bit of gaming OCD, I love being able to play all three play-styles.  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, and I love that!  For console, I was a bit limited because there are only so many perks a player can add in Skyrim.  However, on PC…oh dear, on PC…it is GLORIOUS for OCD gamers like myself.  Okay, there is a bit of cheaty, cheat, cheating going on, but only to add the perks when I run out of levels.

Interestingly enough, there is more to love about Skyrim than the setting and the game play.  The story is also pretty darned good.  It’s not spectacular, but it’s not bad either.  I wouldn’t say that it’s BioShock or The Last of Us quality, but it will hold your attention for many, many hours.  The story of a person who discovers that they are Dragonborn and sets out to save the world from ending isn’t too shabby.  The fact that there are hundreds of hours of relevant side-quests make things pretty interesting as well.  I’ve heard of people complaining about the side-quests for Skyrim.  Sure, some of them are menial, but the big ones have their own story-lines.  It’s the reason why some people have literally spent more than a thousand hours in the game.

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Lastly, 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.

By Jessica Brister On 23 May, 2015 At 11:17 AM | Categorized As PC Games, PlayStation, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarThere are some games that are so spectacular that they continue to have a large following, even though they have been released years beforehand.  Despite being in late 2011, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim continues to have life, especially on the PC where the modding community has completely revitalized the game.

Real Otaku Gamer is introducing a new, weekly column about one of the most beloved RPGs of the last decade.  In this column, I will discuss how this amazing game has been kept alive for such a long time, including discussions on modding, PC gaming, and the “it” quality to Skyrim that makes it such a beloved game.  I hope that you all will join me in the coming weeks as my “companions” in this new series for those who adore everything Skyrim, Elder Scrolls, and Bethesda.

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No GravatarFor those gamers looking for a lot of action similar to the Batman: Arkham series mixed with some high fantasy, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor could be a good choice.  Set in the Lord of the Rings universe between the events of The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, Shadow of Mordor is a great game for LOTR fans.  But, is it enjoyable for people who haven’t read the books or seen the films or for those who are not into the series?  Yes, one can play this game without any knowledge of the series.  However, it will be more enjoyable for LOTR fans.

The game was a sleeper hit when it came out in September of 2014, a hidden gem in a sea of mediocre games that had come out that year.  Developed by Monolith Productions and published by Warner Bro. Interactive Entertainment, it came out for PC, PlayStation 3 and 4, and XBox 360 and One.  For the purpose of this review, I will be exploring how the game felt for PlayStation 4.  The game is considered an action RPG and utilizes a more open world map.

The short version of the story is basically The Crow meets Lord of the Rings.  If you haven’t seen or read either, first of all I would suggest that you remedy that right away.  However, that might take some time so here is the synopsis: it’s a revenge tale about a Ranger named Talion (voiced by Troy Baker) who is killed, along with his family, and brought back to find those that killed them (the Uruks).  It’s an interesting revenge tale, and it’s fun to see familiar LOTR characters in the story as well.  Since the game takes place between The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, one can see Sauron’s minions getting stronger throughout the game.  Along with Talion, there is another undead wraith, Celebrimbor, who is helping out and giving him cool powers.  The relationship was a very similar feel to when Aragorn recruited the undead in Return of the King.   

 The biggest problem with the story is that, as a whole, it’s not strong enough to hold what I would say is the “average” person’s attention.  Sure, it’s fun, but it’s not super compelling.  Big-time LOTR fans would probably love it.  However, when I played it, I was playing more for the game play and not for the story.  As good as the beginning of the game started, it very much fizzled out over the end.

The story is in interesting idea but was executed poorly.

The story is an interesting idea but was executed poorly.

The game play, though, is very good, except for a few issues.  If you are familiar with the Batman Arkham games, Shadow of Mordor will be very easy to get into.  The game play is almost exact, and you level up in a similar way.  You fight in a similar way.  You can even change (most) attack commands mid-stride, making it easier to stop and counter and enemy.

The “RPG-aspect” (or leveling up system) of the game is very similar to the Batman: Arkham games as well.  Shadow of Mordor is not really the traditional RPG that I thought it was going to be.  When I heard it was open world, I was thinking more “Elder Scrolls.”  The game is very open world, and it’s very action oriented.  The leveling system is very interesting.  There are two skill trees to level up: Ranger and Wraith.  Each are interesting and fun to play.  There are ability points for getting enough XP, and the player can use those points to add certain powers and moves from the skill trees.  There are also options to upgrade the sword, bow, and dagger with runes that the player obtains from killing Uruk Captains (more on this later).

Overall, the basic game play mechanics of the game are very fun, but that’s not the crowning jewel of the game.  Technically, most of the game play is nothing new, since it borrows heavily from the Batman games’ mechanics.  However, the Nemesis System totally and utterly blew my mind.  It is new, original, and highly creative.  All year, I was looking for something new in gaming.  I was getting really tired of game play that is borrowed from ten or fifteen years ago.  Instead of relying on arena-style boss battles and push-the-button-oh-look-more-enemies, Shadow of Mordor gives us the Nemesis System, which I would describe as a roaming boss battle that remembers.

As you play the game, you meet Uruk Captains that can be pretty tough bosses.  If you kill one, you upset the balance of Sauron’s army.  If you or the boss run away during battle, the guy will remember you.  If one kills you, he will get more powerful when you come back (you’re already dead, so you can die as many times as you’d like–see the next segment for more details).  Not only that, but he may challenge a higher ranking Captain and change ranks.  If a normal Uruk kills you, he will get promoted up the ranks and so on.  If you die from something random, a lot of Uruks among the ranks get more powerful.  These bosses will remember that they killed you previously and comment on it.  You also can interrogate Uruks to gain information about bosses in the higher level ranks.  Each boss has strengths and weaknesses, and you have plan your attacks accordingly.

I have honestly not seen anything quite like this system.  I thought it was revolutionary when BioShock had the roaming boss battles, but Shadow of Mordor has improved upon that even more.  Sure, it can be a pain when you have a boss that has killed you several times and has gotten really powerful because of it.  But let me tell you, when you finally kill the guy, you will be cheering.  I also really enjoyed the strategy element that comes in when attacking these bosses.  You can’t go about doing things in just one way because what works for one boss might not for another.  Plus, you can make decisions such as allowing one boss to live so it will take out another (Uruks like to fight each other for power).

The Nemesis System really is the best part of the game.

The Nemesis System really is the best part of the game.

Here’s the only problem with the game play: besides a lackluster story line, the game can be very monotonous.  The side-quests are extremely repetitive and the nemesis system, which should be awesome, is very overbearing.  It’s hard to do ANYTHING without a boss targeting you out, which ends up being extremely annoying after about ten plus hours into the game.  The game play doesn’t translate well overall, unfortunately.  With a poor story line, the repetitive game play ends up being boring and hard to get through.  Sure, you can blast through the man quest with no problem, but for those who like to really get into the game, it ends up being very disappointing.

The graphics are fairly good, though there are much prettier-looking games out there for this current generation.  The overall look and feel of the game was a little dark and somewhat dull, which added to the monotony of the story after awhile.  However, I can understand the developer’s choice in this color palate, since it fits well with the dire tone of the story line.

The overall tone of the game is bleak and so is the color palate for the graphics.

The overall tone of the game is bleak and so is the color palate for the graphics.

Overall, the game is pretty decent: it makes great strides with the Nemesis System, but unfortunately does not do the same with the story.  However, it is refreshing to see a developer in the gaming industry try to do something different for a change, and I have to give Monolith productions a lot of credit for that.  Although I do not feel the game is a full price buy, now that it’s been out for several months, it would be a good addition to anyone’s gaming library at bit of a discount.