Review of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

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“Hell is reaching deep inside of her. She has dreamt of this before. They say dreams are visions as thoughts of our hopes and fears as dreamed by our inner eye. But, what if each one of us is dreaming even when we are awake and all we can see is what our inner eye creates for us. Is this what hell is? A world shaped by Senua’s nightmares? Maybe that’s why people feared seeing the world through her eyes. Cause if you can believe that what Senua’s sees is true, maybe yours will be too.”
– Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

 

Release Date: August 8, 2017

Platform: PlayStation 4

Game Designer: Ninja Theory 

 

This game seemed to be extremely difficult to review while in the middle of playing it. There were a few times where I would sit down with every intention of writing my thoughts and impressions, yet felt like I would not be able to do this game justice. It wasn’t until today, when I finally had the chance to beat this game, that I feel as though I have the ability to express what it is that I feel for this game.

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Story

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a psychological action/adventure game developed by Ninja Theory and made for the PlayStation 4. The creators wanted to give the players a type of experience that is considered to be taboo by social standards and has never been displayed so thoughtfully or accurately in any medium.

The story is based on Senua, a Keltic warrior who has become an outcast due to the fact that her tribe believes she is cursed and that she will bring ruin to her people. While in exile, she hears that her village is under attack, and feeling that the love of her life, Dillion, might be in danger, she returns only to find that everyone is dead and her companion has suffered a fate worse than death. She witnesses the aftermath of his brutal death which triggers a metal break within herself. She begins to hear voices in her head that tell her how she can save Dillion’s soul and hopefully break the curse within her. However, this will not be easy as she will have to literally fight her way to hell and back. Throughout the game and as major moments in the game are revealed, the voices in her head become louder and more direct. Senua will actually look back, lock eyes with you, and speak as if she is talking to you directly. This was pretty amazing to witness and really made me feel as though I was the voice in her head. The first time that this happened in the very beginning of the game gave me an understanding of what the adventure might hold, and gave me even more of drive to see what the rest of the game had to offer.

 

It’s hard to talk about the story without giving too much away. What I can say about this game is that the story itself will not hold back any punches and will force you to experience things that not many have had the discomfort of experiencing. Senua will face many different foes that feel as though they were taken directly from a Lovecraft novel while placing the setting of the adventure around beautiful landscapes and foreboding dungeons.

It’s impossible to get lost while making your way through Senua’s story. The game is designed to be very linear and often times will just require you to walk from point A to point B. In a lot of ways, this game is a walking simulator with certain battle sequences. This may sound like a bad thing, but the voice acting and overall story telling make the hours of walking very enjoyable.

Ohellblade 3ne issue that I had with the gameplay was puzzle solving. There are no variations to the puzzles that you solve and will require you to find specific runes in the area in order to unlock a door. The runes will be different shapes that objects in the area will take to the form of and this requires you to walk around aimlessly while focusing on different objects in the hope that it sort of resembles a weird “T” shape. Though I understand the relevance of such a puzzle, I felt as though it killed all the momentum of a previous fight or story sequence and would often take me out of the experience completely.

 

Visuals

Hellblade is absolutely stunning and it really shows off the power of the PlayStation 4 Pro. You control Senua through a third person, over the shoulder, system which will focus on the immediate area right in front of you. This particular playing style gave me the ability to take in everything that was in front of me and allowed me to see the detail in the world.

hellblade 2Your adventure will take you from the rancid and bug infested swamps, to war torn beaches and castles on top of mountains. You will fight your way through burned down villages and run for your life in dank and dark catacombs.
Each area felt alive and offered its own beauty and horror which made the game feel like it was given that extra special detail.

 

Fighting

The fighting in this game was pretty basic and did not require too much effort in order to master it. You could often times fight wave after wave of enemies and never be hit if you simply rolled out of the way and timed your attacks. This was a welcome feature however due to the fact that dying too many times during your play through will result in you having to start all over from the very beginning. When first told this, I did feel a particular panic start to set in, but it made the game that much more engaging and really gave me a sense of dread during each battle. It was only when fighting the first major boss that I actually died, but was able to learn from my mistake and press on.

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The bosses are a welcome addition to the same enemies that you will face over and over. Each boss that I fought was memorable in their own way and exemplified the area in which you encounter them. The main issue that I had with them was the amount of time that it would take to actually defeat them. I would figure out a good pattern and would often be hacking away at them for what felt like hours. Roll three times, hit them a few times, roll some more, use my focus, hit them a few times, roll some more…over and over until a cut scene.

You are given a very simple set of moves that you can use in combat. You have a light attack, heavy, melee, evade, and block. It wasn’t until I had fought a few waves of enemies that I realized that I could actually mix and match my attacks in order to create different combos. If you run at an enemy and press the light attack button, you will jump in the air and thrust your sword right in the chest of your enemy. I enjoyed figuring out the different attacks Senua could do and found better ways to defeat different enemies as the game progressed.

Conclusion
It’s hard to put into words how I feel about this game. It touched on a topic that many are not able to talk about, let alone actually play a game that revolves around it. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice will stand the test of time and will become a bench mark for how narrative driven games should be created. The sense of constant dread over your own slipping sense of reality while learning more about what plagues Senua will stay with me for a long time. I encourage anyone that owns a PlayStation 4, or even if you know someone that has one, to play this game. It is defiantly a game that went under the radar and that has a real chance as Game of the Year.

Splatoon 2 Review

​Developer: Nintendo

Release Date: July 21, 2017

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Splatoon 2 is a third person action shooter with a lot of charm and personality. I never had the opprotunity to play the first Splatoon but was always curious by it. I watched a few Twitch competitions and always liked the idea behind it. At the beginning of the month, I had the opprotunity to play the demo for this game and ended being pretty impressed with the little amount of time that the demo allowed. It drew me in with the colorful world, interesting characters, and pretty simple game mechanics.

Beginning of the game

You start the game with the same tutorial that you would have gotten if you played the demo. I found this to be extremely important, especially since I never played the first one. The consept was simple; move from point to point while shooting different targets while the game teaches you how to effectively move around the area. I hated having to use the motion controls for this tutorial and just wished that they would give you the ability to change your controller layout.

Upon finising the tutorial; you watch a video showing the world around you and the different characters that inhabit it. The world is called “Inkopolis”; basically your hub world where you are granted the ability to shop around and customize your character. Along the left side of the street are the various shops that sell particular goods. You can buy new hats, shoes, shirts, and weapons that each have their own standard enhancemets, as well as some hidden abilities that will reveal themsevels once you have earned some experience in multiplayer. To the right of the street, there is a large arcade which you can walk into allowing you to partner up with your friends and play online using the Nintendo Switch App….

Ok…soap box time

Nintendo…What the heck were you thinking? This is by far the most rediculous work around for a chat system I have ever seen. Aside from the fact that I could only get it to work half of the time, the idea that you have to rely on your cell phone in order to do all the work just makes you seem lazy. It feels like they just simply forgot that gamers have been treated to a much simpler way of grouping up with some friends and chatting across networks. The technology has been around for decades, and yet it seems as though Nintendo has just now started to stubble upon servers and multiplayer gaming. If you get this app to actually work and if you are able to start chatting with you friends, your phone cannot run or be used for anything else other than this app. If you get a phone call from you partents or a loved one, basically kiss all your hard work good bye. If you close the app for any reason, the connection will be lost requiring you to relaunch, join a new group, and hope that missing some calls will not hinder your job or family. If you want to chat with your friends while playing this game, there are easier alternatives than this system. I prefer using skype. Though there is a bit of a delay, its still better than having your phone die after attempting to use this system for a couple of hours.

I know there are probably a number of reasons why they decided to do this. I’m sure that they are not in the market to piss off their fan base. Nintendo…try harder.

I’m cooled off…I’m ready

At the end of the plaza is a large stage with an elevator like door that leads you to the online match making area and in the back corner of the plaza, there is an area where you can play a game called Salmon Run. This is wave based mini game where you fight hordes of fish like creatures and bosses in order to collect eggs for a mysterious benefactor in exchange for rare loot and hidden prizes. More on this later. When you are ready to start moving around, you will notice a woman where jumps down into a drain. By following her down the hole, you will be able to start the six hour story mode. Like most games, the first thing that I try out is the Story mode. I want to become invested in the world around me and get to know the characters that I will be playing with.

Story Mode

The story involves your character becoming a recruit in a shadow organization that maintains peace throughout the world. You find out that giant “Zap Fish” has been stolen and its up to you to get it back. The fact that they would intrust such a difficult task to a fresh recruit speaks volumes to the leadership of this organization…but I digress.

The story is broken up into multiple areas that are inhabited by multiple stages. Each stage can only be opened once you have located it within the area. They will need to be tracked down and then shot with your weapon in order for you to enter.

The stages are not very difficult and are at times will hold your hand through most of it. I saw these stages are more or a less an area in which you can try out new weapons and try out new techniques that could make you that much better when you get into the multiplayer aspect of the game. At the end of each stage, you will need to free a smaller Zap Fish in order to move on. Collecting a certain number of Zap Fishes will open up the boss stage and the real challenge will begin.

The boss stages were by far the best part of the story modes. Each one of the bosses had their own personality and art design that truley made them pop. They ranged from the wacky to down right creepy and each one were not to be taken lightly. Most of the matches involved me running around and trying to figure out exactly what it is that I needed to do. Eventually, through trial and error, I was able to figure it out and take down my opponent.

The overall story mode is not overly long, but it is pretty fun and a good way to hone your skills. The story is said to take a minimum of six hours to complete and is full of hidden secrets and items that can be found by those who have a sharp sense of situational awareness.

Multiplayer

Nintendo once again decided that they would change up everything that we are used to when it comes to online game play. When you first connect to the internet, you will be forced to sit through an opening news cast which introduces you to the available maps and the differnt modes. Yes…thats right…you can’t play all the maps. Nintendo decided that it would be a great idea to only offer certain maps at different points thoughout the day and that the maps would rotait. Because of this, periodically while you are playing, you will recieve a message that the stages have been changed and you will have to go back to the main screen and rejoin your game. Again…I am sure there is a rational reason behind this, though I am not seeing it. Before you start a match, you will have the ability to change out your clothing that you purchased, or try out some new weapons. Since the games launch, finding matches have been pretty smooth and the wait time has been drastically reduced. During the demo, I spent a total of five minutes waiting for just one more person to join the lobby. Because there is no way of backing out of the match maker once it starts, you are left with two choices; you can either set your system down and catch up on some houshold activities, or you can close the game and relaunch. There is a count down timer that will send you back to the start once the time runs out, however, if someone turns off the system or if just one person joins, the timer will reset. I am hoping that Nintendo will see that this is an issue and will try to correct the problem. A simple “back out” option would be great.

As of right now, the only game that is availiable for normal multiplayer is a game called Turf War. This has a very simple premise in which you attmept to paint the most territory with your weapons then the opponent. Its a nice change of pace from the typical “the most kills win” and instead relies on your ability to understand your opponents patters and attempt to out flank them.

You are given three minutes to take over as much territoy as you can get. I found that during the last minute of the game, everyone is just frantically coving as much ground as possible and are not too worried with killing someone that has been targeting them throughout the match.

Different weapons will give you certain advantages and disadvantages that will either help you or hinder dependening on the players you are against. Most of the weapons are typical gun variations like sniper rifles, assualt rifles, and pistols. While others are a little more comical in nature. You can use a giant paint roller that will paint a large surface area and kill enemies with a simple touch, but will use up a lot of your ink and will cause you to move pretty slow. There is also giant paint bushes, buckets of paint, and my favorite, the original VR pistol from Duck Hunt. I was literally beaming from ear to ear when I found out that this was an actual weapon that you can use.

With the lobbies filling pretty quickly and the matches not being to long, it was easy for me to drain a few hours into the multiplayer in an attempt to level up and have the opprotunity to buy new gear for the multiplayer. Its a vicious circle that I am ok with.

Horde Mode

The most addicting part of this game is their wave based mini game “Salmon Run”. You notice a shack in the back corner of the hub world and take a look inside. Once you are at least level 4, you will be able to speak to a faceless benefactor who offers you a proposition. He wants you to collect golden eggs for him and in return, he will give you prizes and treasure. Seems simple.

You will be partnered up with three other random people and will be sent to a platform in the middle of the ocean. You have to survive three waves of rampaging fish while defeating various boss fish in order to obtain thier golden eggs. In order to progress through all of the stages, you will need to collect a certain number of eggs. Playing the first few matches are pretty easy and they are designed to help you get a handle on he situation. After you have earned your first couple of rewards and are have leveled up, the real challenge will begin. Sometimes the water level will rise and you will have less area to run or re-group. Other times, special and more tough enemeies will appear and quick reaction timing with relyable teammates will be the difference between life and death.

Each battle felt like something new and not one match would end the way I thought it would. You deffinatley felt like you earned the win when you won and felt the sting when you lost. Only issue I have with this is that Nintendo once again decieded to change things up.

Nintendo decided that this mode would not be avilable all the time, and instead wanted it only playable on certain days and at certain times. This is extremely frustrating and it makes me want to find the person that is coming up with all of these dumb ideas.

Final Thoughts

I truly love what they did with this game. The environment, characters, and enemies is just the type of wacky that all lovers of Nintendo have come to expect. The story is not overly long, but thats ok. It gives you just enough training for online gameplay and it gives you a sense ounderstanding when it comes to the characters and events around you. The online game play is fresh and new to anyone that has just been playing the typical first person shooters and it lets you just have fun. The Salmon Run is by far my favorite aspect of this game, which all the more sucky that it can only be played during certain days and times.

They have some areas to fix, especially when it comes to the Nintendo Switch app and online availiablity, however, I have enjoyed my time with this game and hope that you will too.

Impressions of Destiny 2 Beta

This past weekend, Bungie released their open beta for Destiny 2 and, after finding an hour duirng my hectic weekend, I was finally able to see what this game has to offer.

I have a lot of good memories when it comes to the first Destiny. I remeber playing the opening beta with my friends and getting really excited for what the actual game will have to offer. We spent hours running around a run down version of Russia while fighting a slew of random enemies and exploring our Guardians abilities. When the final game came out, we still had a lot of fun, but the magic was fading. We spent a few months playing Destiny relgiously every weekend and eventually got bored. There was no story that was compelling enough for me to get invested in and we spent most of our time just replaying the same missions over and over and over and over and over. It got repedative and we, along with many other gamers just stopped trying.

Bungie recieved the critisim and attempted to right some wrongs. They created more and more content in order to draw in the fan base by adding additional missions, raids, weapons, and actual story content that gave this game a little more life. I was impressed with the new and improved content, but found that it just wasnt enough to keep me and my friends going. We blew through the additional story missions and once again stopped playing once it all became repedative.
I am giving you this glimps into my experience with the first game to hopefully give you a better understanding and see where i am coming from when i tell you that i am pretty excited for Destiny 2.

The demo was not long by any means. Me and my friends were able to see all the game has to offer within the span of a couple hours. The demo lets you play the opening mission of the game and it sets up who and what the main focus will be. One of the first things that i noticed when the demo started was the sense of ergency that I felt right at the start. Your home is buring around you and you are just trying to figure out who is to blame. As you make your way to your leadership, you encourter some familiar foes, but they obviously have had an upgrade. Most of the upgrades are cosmetic that give the game a little more polish; but some of the upgrades are also in the enemies best interest. Some of the enemies will have the ability to fly around and shoot at you from behind cover. Others now have more powerfull weapons at their disposal requiring you to make a more tactical approch in order to make it from point A to point B. 

The opening mission was pretty long which game you plenty of opprotunities to try out all the new abilities that your Guardian has to offer. Every Guardian now has new super abilities which allow you to completely desimate the waves of enemies that you will face. My favorite was the Titan’s ability which gives you a “Captain America” like shield that you can use to either shield your teammates, or completely wreck your opponents. You can even throw it and create a ricocheting disk that kills almost all enemies with one hit. I noticed right away that Bungie wasnt going to change much of the core mechanics, rather they would focus on polishing and enhancing the graphical aesthetics in the world around you. 
Once I completed the story mission, I was able to create a Fire Team and start on the cooperative game play. Unfortunatley, the demo only allowed you to play one strike or compeditive multiplayer. I was never a fan of the PVP multiplayer and because I only had a couple of hours to play this game, i decided to try it out when the game was released. 
I was very impressed with how the strike played out. The mission didnt seem like it was over too quickly, rather it actually made the time i spent worth while. We traveled through differnt areas and fought waves of differnt enemies that tested our ability to think on the fly and adapt. It had been so long since either of us had picked up Destiny, so there was some what of a learning curve taking place. After we shook the rust off, we started falling back into our roles which made the game a little more fun. 

Much like the other strikes in the first Destiny, after fighting through the horde of enemies keeping you from your objective, you will come face to face with a much more powerful foe.
It seemed as though the game developers created this boss in order to make you fail. Just when we thought we had a handle on the situation, the boss would use some new abilities that none of us were ready for. The stage would actually change as whenever we brought its health down to a certain point and more enemies would appear. Every time the stage would change, we would have to use a system of trail and error in order to find out what we can and cant do. This led to a few frustrating moments as we collectivly figure something out, only to die and have to start all over. This was frustrating in he beginning, but makes it much more fufilling when you finally beat it. Making you change up tactics and having an enemy that learns throughout the battle makes it more exciting. Its better than finding a glitch or hole in the wall that the boss cant shoot you in. 
This demo left me with a warm and fuzzy and gave me reason to buy this game. I really enjoyed the new abilities that the different Guardians can now use and i look forward to experiencing the rest of the story. 

Impressions on Splatoon 2

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Yesterday Nintendo released the final multiplayer demo for their upcoming third person shooter Splatoon 2. This demo was from 5PM to 9PM on Saturday and if you missed it, then you will just have to wait for the game to be released this Friday. I believe that having a four hour window on one day to try your new game is ridiculous, but that’s a story for a different day.

I have a confession, I never played the first Splatoon. I ended up trading in my Wii U before Splatoon was released and never had a chance to play it. I heard great things about it which led me to start watching some tournaments on twitch. The game always seemed pretty interesting to me and, in a way, seemed to be a much cleaner form of Call of Duty for younger gamers. I generally got somewhat excited when I heard they were making a second one for the Switch after it’s meteoric success.

I launched the game about thirty minutes before the servers became active in the hopes that it offered some type of a tutorial for first time players. When Nintendo had the test punch for Arms, they basically had a message that let you know that they had not started the demo yet and all you could do was stare at a title screen. I wasn’t sure if Splatoon was any different and was presently surprised by what they offered. The beginning of the demo placed you in a quick tutorial that showed you how to shoot, run, and become a squid. It also showed you how to traverse the landscape and use some of the different abilities that your character is able to do. I was a little worried that this game would rely souly on the motion control of the system to aim. I kept pressing the start button in order to change the settings, but found out that nothing can be changed until the tutorial was completed.

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Once you have finished the tutorial, you will be placed in hub world that is inhabited by the lifeless avatars of people that are playing the game. The hub world looks like an outdoor shopping mall with various stores, arcade games, a food truck, and a giant stage at the end of the strip. As you walk up to one of the stores, the automatic door opens and a small cut scene will ensue. You will meet the owner of the store and the owner will tell you about the product he or she is selling and what kind of requirements you will need to meet in order to buy equipment. Although, during the demo, you are unable to level up or earn money, so this was basically a chance for you to see where the different stores are located for the final game.

You will have a chance to walk around and talk with different NPCs that inhabit this world. They give a glimpse into what the main game will offer in terms of side quests by giving you general requirements for just talking to them. One NPC in particular is a giant cat that is laying on step taking a nap. The cat seems irritated when you go to talk to it and it will tell you that you need to at least be level four before it can help you. Others will tell you how to level up and that different rewards will be available to you when you have leveled up.

Exploring this hub world was interesting while I was waiting for the servers to open up, but it only occupied maybe ten minutes of my time.

Once the servers opened however, the area completely changed. Night fall had set in and the hub world turned into a block party with music blaring and flood lights waving. All of the NPCs that were once lifeless or sleeping were now dancing, eating, or partying.

I walked over a terminal that asked me a very important question. It was a question that plagued the world and would cause the four hours of violence that would ensue. Do you prefer Ice Cream or Cake? I chuckled when the question was proposed and I started to see this game as the fun and goofy game that it was meant to be. Of course, the right answer is Ice Cream (for obvious reasons).

Once I made my choice, I was able to start playing online and competing to prove that Ice Cream is far superior.

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You are given four different weapons to choose from as your primary weapon. Each weapon offered different pros and cons while also requiring you to learn new tactics on the fly. The weapons include; dual pistols, a automatic rifle, a giant paint roller, and a sniper rile.

The object of the game is to use your weapons in order to claim more territory then your opponent by shooting the area around you with your paint. By the end of the match, the team with the most area covered in paint will win. During the match, your character will not be able to move very fast. In order to move more quickly, you need to change shape and turn into a squid. Your squid form will soar through your paint and will allow you to make it to the front lines very quickly in order to help your fellow team mates fight back the opposing team, or so that you can start taking over territories without alerting the other team.

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I found going head to head with opposing players to be pretty challenging. Most of the weapons cannot shoot very far and it will require you to get up close and personal with your opponent, leading to a battle that is less about accuracy and more about who shot first. I found that using the giant paint roller was by far the best tactic if you wanted to just decimate the opposing team. This weapons would kill anyone that was touched by it and would also cover much more surface area then the other weapons. The problem with the giant roller, however, was the inability to paint up the side of walls which hinders your ability to take the high ground.

This test demo surprised me and showed me what I was missing by not playing the first Splatoon. I enjoyed exploring the hub world and meeting the different characters that would soon help me when the game is released later this week. The multiplayer was a good balance of enjoyable and difficult gameplay that made me want to get better. Though I wasn’t a fan of the aim mechanics, I still found it easier to master after playing a few games. All in all, I am excited to see what the full version of this game can offer and I am looking forward to finally being able to play a Splatoon game.

Review of Implosion: Never Lose Hope

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Since the launch of the Nintendo Switch back in March, not many games have come out that has made this purchase feel more than just a fantastic system in which to play Legend of Zelda. There have been a few games that has made me want to pick this system back up, but not many that have drawn me in and made me want to invest hours out of my day. Since we have to wait till October to play the next big title, Nintendo has been parterning with third party studios in order to give us something to make the wait a little more barable. In comes a game that was orginally built for IOS and Andriod called Implosion: Never Lose Hope. 

Now I know what you are thinking; lets face it, I was thinking the same thing. Cell phone games are great for when you are just sitting on a bus or if you have a couple of minutes to kill, but a cell phone game that is ported to a consle already looks shady. Because I was looking for something to take up some time while on a three hour car ride, I took a chance on this $12 game and have had a blast ever since.

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Implosion is a hack and slash style RPG that has resently come out for the Nintendo Switch. The story takes place in the future when humanity no longer can call Earth home due to an alien race known as the XADA. The XADA have nearly wipped out the entire human race and those who were lucky to escape now hide in space. you play as a soldier named Jake who pilots unmaned machine known as “Avalon”. This machine was created through a program called “War Mech 3” and is now our last hope for survival. Ok…so the story may sound pretty cheesey and forgetable, but it’s actually enjoyable once you sit down and play the game. The voice acting is much better then expected and you can actually feel different emotions between the different characters as you discover what has happend to your home.

Implosion’s story is a top down hack and slash based around linear missions that require you to travel from the beginning to the end while killing all the bad guys in your way. The levels lack certain flair and imagination however, due to the fact that you are either traveling from room to room in an under ground bunker, protecting an area from a monster invasion, or moving across different landscapes. Though the variation between the areas are lacking, it makes tracking down hidden rooms or finding collectables pretty easy. You will start to notice the hidden corners or random doors pretty easily once you have seen the same area over and over again.

Each mission will have optional requirements for you to complete in order to gain badges. These badges will help you to unlock better upgrades for your Avalon as well as grant you new mechs and additional story missions. I found myself replaying the same mission at least twice in order to make sure that I completed the special task. Some of the tasks would require you to perform feats like:

do not use a single health item

destroy all of the containers

do not get knocked down

do not restart

use only ranged weapons

I really wanted to play with the new Mech called “Crimson”. However, once I earned enough badges to play as it, I had an attachment with Avalon and I wanted to make it even more powerful.

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As you progress through the story, you will pick up augmentations that will allow you to swap out existing upgrades and tailor your playing style. If you want to be almost invincible, but spend all of your time fighting just one person at a time, then you can spec your machine to have higher endurance. If you are quick with your rolls and you feel like you cant be touched, then find and equip augments that maximize your strength. Good luck if that is your choice. These enemies can be freaking jerks.

You will fight everything from mutants to zombies to mutant zombies. The game will start you out with the training wheels as you fight enemies that will rarely fight back and will eventually just let you go and  wish you all the best. Eventually you will have to go toe to toe with giant beasts, up-armored mechs, and some very familiar looking aliens that make you think that Ridley Scott is about to make some phone calls. Most of the enemies will have a pattern that you can exploit, others will just be so fast or have so much health that you will need to come to the realization that you are going to get hurt. This isn’t much of an issue due to the fact that you will basically have six lives for each mission. If you go down, you can revive right where you are and pick right up with full health and shields. This makes the game much more enjoyable to finish, but will be maddening when you have to complete a mission without dying.

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At the end of each area, you will have a boss level in which you will have to fight a pretty challenging and pretty awesome looking monster. They each have some type of move set that will require you to think on your feet and ultimately exploit in order to beat them. The boss battles are really where this game shines. During the battle, you will be able to listen to some great battle songs that make you feel immersed in the battle and that much more enjoyable.

For $12, you really can’t beat it. Its the type of game that you can enjoy when you have a few hours to kill and you want to try something different. Though the level design and enemies are pretty repetitive, you will still have a pretty fun time mixing different augmentations and mastering different combat aspects.

 

 

Getting Ready for State of Decay 2: Review of State of Decay

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Undead Studios is once again partnering with Microsoft in order to make the long awaited sequel to their cult classic, State of Decay. During the Microsoft press conference this year at E3, Microsoft showed off some of the new gameplay footage and received a lot of praise during their live demos on the showroom floor. People that had a chance to try the game said that it felt like a true sequel in the sense that it was much bigger, had more to do, and felt smoother. Which would be some great news since the first one never gave me a warm and fuzzy. I never felt a great desire to finish it and would often stop playing it for months on end. However, because of the good reactions from fans and first time viewers, I decided to download the game one last time to my Xbox and give it another shot before its return.

State of Decay is an adventure/action/horror game set in the zombie filled apocalyptic world. The game starts out with you in the middle of a zombie attack right from the get go. As you run over to your friend that is being attacked, you receive the basic tutorial messages and start your zombie killing assault. Saving your friend is only the beginning however, because now you must run from the approaching zombies that are far too many to fight on your own. As you run to safety, you are shown that you are not a super human being and will often have to stop and rest, which will cause your heart to race as you see the approaching doom and no longer have the strength to run. These tutorial missions foreshadow what you can expect throughout the rest of this game as you are choosing which battles you can win and which ones you will need to run from.

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The game will truly open up once you have made it to your first base of operations and you see what is really in front of you. You choose everything right from the start and will immediately start to feel the changes that your decisions are starting to make in the world around you. You have to choose how you want to strengthen everything around you and what type of activities can be performed. You will have a finite amount of space at your disposal and many different building and upgradable options. Sometimes having to sacrifice a library for a few extra beds might mean that you can have more survivors among your crew, but you will not be able to upgrade certain structures or make some people happy. You will have to balance with this “give and take” system throughout the main campaign and hope that you have made the right decisions.

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Rather than sticking with the traditional “army of one” type of main character, State of Decay changes things up by making the community that you build the main characters. You have the ability to swap out whom you play as throughout the game and will be able to play as anyone that you save. Each person will bring something new to the table and will have their own strengths and weaknesses. During my first play through, I got attached to the main character that you play as in the beginning of the game. The more that you play with someone, they will receive stat boosts and will start to become more powerful among the rest of your group. My down fall was getting so far in the game that I really didn’t have anyone that could be as good as him. When I got into a hairy situation and my main character became sick, I was extremely underpowered and was unable to complete any missions until either he got better or my other characters got stronger. Though this was the cause of me getting frustrated and not wanting to play the game for a while, I can take a step back and see what they are trying to do. I only have myself to blame for not playing the game the way it was intended. During my most recent play through, I can report that things had gotten a lot easier and I found that playing with the different survivors gives you a better understand of their stories and you will start to form a bond with each and every one of them. Knowing the strengths and weakness of those around me made the missions much more enjoyable.

Strengthening your characters will not be very helpful if you cannot keep your main base and outposts afloat. You will have to play resource management and track down food, water, lumber, medical supplies, and everything else that your compounds will need. Over time, your resources will start to dwindle and your people will being too lose hope in your leadership. They will begin to not trust you, which will stop them from going out with you during missions or supply runs. I never had an issue with collecting resources due to the fact that they are pretty easy to get your hands on. The world is littered with abandoned houses and remote farms that can be searched and pillaged for resources. The zombies will not make this an easy task as they will be on you the moment you walk into a structure. You can attempt to sneak around and try to get in and out without them spotting you, however, you will sometimes make noise when you are trying to open something up and this will in turn alert any zombie in the area to your position. You will need to start filling up your backpack and load up your truck before the numbers become too overwhelming. Though this system will get your heart racing the first couple of times, you find out that you can always come back to the house or structure if it becomes too dangerous and pick up what you left.

The story is pretty bland and underwhelming. If you sit there and think about what this games story is about, you will more than likely be right. I wish I had more to say in regards to the story, however this is not where this game shines.

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Where this game shines is the multiplayer. State of Decay was intended to be played with a group of friends (I think, in order to distract you from the lame story). Playing with people makes this game really come alive as you and your friends search houses and fight back the undead.

I finally beat the game just a few days ago and I was honestly ready for it to be over. Though the story was the worst part, I did have fun creating more outposts, trying out new characters, playing around with the different structure options, and doing some old fashion zombie killing. I am sure that you can pick this game up pretty cheap and get your enjoyment out of it before State of Decay 2 is available. I strongly recommend that you find other people to play with you as this will only make it that much more enjoyable.

Getting Ready For A Way Out: A Review of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

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During this year’s E3, a company known as 505 released gameplay footage of a new game that they have in the works for Xbox and PlayStation called A Way Out. This is a game that has put players in a situation that many others have never attempted to do. This game is a Co-op only game and will only work if you have a person, either playing right next to you or playing with you through the internet. This is a very ambitious effort on the part of 505. My first reaction was very dismissive due to the fact that I didn’t know of many people that would be willing to invest the time it would take to beat this game based on our work schedules. I am the type of person that, when involved in a really good game, will sink hours upon hours into a game even at the expense of sleep and I am not sure if I will be able to get the same type of motivation and dedication from my friends and family. However, because my brother made a point to tell me that he was excited about this game and wanted to be able to play it with me when it comes out, I decided to curb my knee jerk reaction and find out if this company is worth sinking the hours into. I found out that this company had already made a game called Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and I decided to take a chance and see what this game can offer.

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Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is what they call a “co-op single player” experience in which you control both brothers with just one controller. The left stick and left trigger will control the actions of the older brother; while the right stick and the right trigger will control the younger brother, as you make your way through different areas that involve an engaging story and various puzzles. One of the first things that you will notice as the game begins is that there is no understandable dialogue between the different characters. You are placed in this world where understanding the facial expressions and noticing the world around you will drive the story forward. Though this seems like a lot of work on the part of the player, the art design makes the journey much more enjoyable.

The game is broken up into linear sections which takes you from your home near the coastal waters, to vast jungles and snowy peaks as you make your way to retrieve much needed medicine for your father after he falls ill.

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Brothers is placed in a fairy tale world and is inhabited by trolls, giants, mystical griffin/owl like creatures, and monsters. You feel as though you are trespassing in another world each time the areas change. One moment you are making your way through a town using back alleys and climbing roof tops because some jerk is not allowing you to pass; and the next you are climbing over mountains and staring at the aftermath of a war that was fought by giants.

Each puzzle is unique for the area in which they are found. They involve climbing scenarios for weather torn towers and thought provoking mechanical manipulation in troll run mines. I never found a task too difficult and often time would understand the task right away or would just need a couple of seconds to step back and figure out what my ultimate goal is.

There are a few boss fights that you will need to conquer in order to advance to the ultimate destination. These can be pretty tricky as neither of you have weapons and therefor will need to use the environment to your advantage. Most failures in defeating these foes came down to poor timing or simply getting too close to the enemy. I never felt like the bosses were far too tough or had gotten frustrated with it, rather they were a nice change of pace from the constant puzzle solving.

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Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons has a very compelling story and makes you feel invested in the overall task. I love to see games that do not dumb down the content, but rather make you more and more engaged over time and allow you to know more about the characters through simple actions between the different characters and cut scenes. Brothers is a fairly short game, but not so much that I felt as though I had been cheated out of $20. You can tell that 505 had a story that they wanted to tell and that they didn’t need any extra junk that would tear the player away. Brothers will tear at your heart strings and make you want more. After seeing what 505 can do, I have become more excited about becoming immersed in their new story.

Arms Review

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Arms is the kind of motion controlled boxing game that I can get behind. The fast pace combat, mixed with a pretty easy learning curve, makes this experience fun for anyone who would like to play a game that is challenging and enjoyable all at the same time.

Growing up, I would have preferred exploring a dungeon or controlling the most stars rather than playing a sports game. That being said, I have always had the random desires to try a new fighting game, or when I am truly desperate, play Madden or NCAA. I found enjoyment out of playing Fight Night with some friends and having a truly mind blowing experience when they decided to put the control in the player’s hands. By allowing you to control the left hand with the left stick, and the right hand with the right stick, I truly felt like this was the type of boxing game that I could sink some hours into trying to master. Needless to say, I ended up putting it down after getting beaten over and over again by people that were much more committed than I was.

Arms take on boxing relies on you using the joy-con controllers and placing them in each of your hands. Flicking your wrist or actually punching out your arm will allow you to punch out your arm in the game in an attempt to lower your opponents HP and ultimately knock out your opponent. The game has a variety of fighters for you to choose from including a Mummy, a Robot Cop and his dog, a Ninja, and a girl that found it was a good idea to place boxing gloves in her hair and destroy your life with it. Arms offers the standard single player mode which is set up in a battle tree system. You will fight ten opponents in a brawling mode, or in various mini games that will test your speed and punching accuracy. You can choose to increase the difficulty in the single player mode which gives you the chance to really hone your skills before making your way to the multiplayer section of the game.

The multiplayer is where Arms truly shines. In the Party mode, you are placed in a virtual environment where you will see multiple players all waiting for their next battle. It’s at this point players can warm up by punching different targets, or they can rest up and get ready. I was surprised how quickly the matches would get set up and was happy to see the different modes that you were randomly placed into. For those that have truly mastered the game and would like to challenge others for a more personal battle; Arms offers Ranked matches that can only be unlocked once you have completed the single player mode on level four difficultly. This isn’t much of a challenge, but it will get you prepared for people that have nothing better to do then play the heck out of this game.

Win or lose, you will be granted points for each match you play, whether it is single player mode or Multiplayer. Earning thirty of these points will give you the chance to gain some new gloves that will have different strengths and weaknesses. This gives the player a chance to make his or her fighter stand out from the rest of the pack and gives you the humbling experience of getting beaten by someone with some pretty powerful equipment.

Like most people who are thinking about buying this game, I am sure that it is for the same reason that I did. There are very few games that are worth playing on the Switch. We have been given this amazing Zelda playing machine, and we are looking for something that we can play until it turns into a Mario playing machine. All in all, I have enjoyed what I have played of Arms and will enjoy attempting to get better and better at it.

Persona 5 Review

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This maybe a little late for most gamers, but because of the 90 plus hour story, and my daily life of working to pay the bills, I was finally able to beat this game and publish my full review. This game is perfect for a long three day weekend where no work on Monday means staying up late and not realizing that it’s already two in the morning.

Persona 5 is the first persona game that I ever played in the series. Unfortunately, I had never had a desire to play Persona 4 when it came out on the PlayStation 3 and never even heard of the Persona series until talk of Persona 5 started coming out. Knowing I was going to try out Persona 5, I went back and attempted to figure out if there are important plot points that I would need to know in order to enjoy this game and not be lost. Though Persona 5 does take place in the same overall universe as the other Persona games, you will be relieved to know that this game is it’s own story with a new cast of characters.

Persona 5 is a turn based RPG sent in modern day Japan. You play as a high school student who gets placed in a new school and a new environment after certain events that transpire. (If that sounds overly broad, that’s because the game is very story heavy and I want you to be able to experience everything without the typical game reviewing spoilers.) Your journey will take you to elaborate dungeons that feel alive and creatively designed; Each one feeling more special and more curious then the last.
The game has a calendar system that will progress as the game goes on. By day, you will live your life as a normal high school student. You will attend class at this new school, you will attempt to make friends, go out to the movies, go shopping, play games, and or meet with different people and learn what makes them special in this world.
By night, you will take on a different role as a Phantom Thief and begin the adventure of pacing through dungeons, fighting a slew of enemies, and collecting various treasures along the way. Fighting never seemed to be as taxing or tedious like most turn based RPGs. Each area offered new enemies that have different weaknesses and will require you to change up your tactics on the fly.

Persona also offers you the ability to capture your enemies in an event called Hold-up. In this, you surround your opponent, guns drawn, and begin negotiating his or her surrender and ultimately gain them as an ally to fight along side you. This process can be difficult due to the often “roll of the dice” tactic when trying to guess which speech option this enemy would prefer you to use. The enemy will ask two different questions, and it will require you to answer correctly both times in order for it to join your team. Answering one question correctly will end the battle and it will either give you an item or money while failing both questions will resume the battle, often times resulting in a new enemy appearing that you must now beat. This system can get very frustrating, especially when you want to take control of a really powerful enemy.

The game will tug at your heart strings and really place a mirror in the face of society as you progress through the 90 plus hour story line. You will be faced with tough choices and even tougher circumstances that often times left me laying in my bed and asking, “WTF.” It took me that long to beat the game, and that was completing the main story and most of the side quests. In order to see everything that this games offers, it gives you a “New Game Plus” mode which maintains all stats and social accomplishments that you have made. This is helpful because some cut scenes and missions will only be available when you have increases your social stats, which can require a lot of precious in game days.

The game is pretty long and will take some commitment on your part, but it’s a great way spend a weekend afternoon. Though it will be some time before I pick it up and play through it again, I do feel like it will become my desert island game