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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Review or is it Shadows May Cry Twice?

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Is Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice that difficult or am I losing my touch?

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an action-adventure video game developed by FromSoftware and published by Activision. The game was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on March 22, 2019.

So, I was with a couple of my gaming boys and they told me hey, have you pre-ordered Sekiro yet? And I was like, man I’m not much of a fan of Dark Souls and Bloodborne type gameplay, it’s probably for the best I don’t lose my patience and smash my controller for this game. One friend was like bro, stfu you need to get this, it will be much easier than those games and you won’t die as much, AND it’s much lighter game-play. And like that, wouldn’t you know it, the easily manipulated guy I am I went and bought it on the day it came out last week.

I haven’t really stopped playing it as a matter of fact, and there’s so much left to do, and well, I still don’t really consider it “light gaming”, but it’s not as unforgiving as Dark Souls thank the lord. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the latest game from Dark Souls developers From Software. It’s set in fictional Sengoku Japan in the middle of a conflict between the Ashina and Hirata clans. In the game you play as a rogue shinobu called Sekiro – the one-armed wolf. As Sekiro, you are charged with the responsibility of protecting a young lord who has the coveted power to defy death. Sounds awesome doesn’t it? Rather than an RPG, I consider it more of an action game per se. Within the game you’ll pick up new prosthetic arms and learn new combat techniques, sounds very familiar with a game that came out this month wouldn’t you agree? Maybe they should have re-named the game Shadows May Cry Twice. Get it? I digress.

Unlike Dark Souls, the combat system is more fluid and absolutely beautiful. Instead of killing your opponent by ripping away at their health bar, you need to overwhelm their posture bar with strikes and parries until you find an opening and finish them off. Pretty much like real life don’t you think? Enemy “health” bars are there to affect the amount of damage an enemy posture takes really.

The Game –

Dang man, Sekiro gives Keanu Reeves in 47 Ronin a run for his money (Keanu Reeves is FIRE, Sekiro is the SUN), attacking a bunch of enemies with combos, special sword attacks, your prosthetic arm and the shinobi arts, always keeping an eye on that posture gauge to get the killing death-blow is gaming at its finest. As I said previously, it’s a pretty hard game but still miles easier than other games From Software have come out with. In Sekiro the deathblow system is a sign of relief, seeing the glowing red things really gives you that feeling of ease when fighting a boss… or at least in some circumstances.

When dealing with bosses, if you’re a person who dislikes the parry button and prefers to be a mindless berserker in game then Sekiro might not be the perfect game for you. Especially with enemies like the Long-Arm Centipede Giraffe, what a name and it really has nothing to do with any of those things frankly! You got to have good timing and great deflection to be good at this game, if not you’ll likely find yourself playing this game for many weeks to come. To be honest, in my perspective, it makes the game kind of fun!

The game is pretty generous with parry timings unlike the dastardly shield-wave you get in Dark Souls. Staying back in the beginning of a boss fight is the best approach though, learning their movement and getting the hang of your surroundings and footing to battle in confidence. Pretty much a mind game really. Within the game you’ll also likely counter with your continuously improved and weaponized prosthetic arm. You’ll find upgrades for it on your journey with the ability to return to the Dilapidated Temple to have your sculptor friend install and upgrade it – these will consist of the likes of an axe, a metal umbrella, a shuriken shooter and many more! These work best for specific opponents, you just got to find your sweet load-out.

Something pretty cool about the game is how stat boosts are part and parcel of boss fights. Memories of great boss fights are processed to increase attack power, and prayer beads are used to increase health and posture. Instead of the usual grind to increase your stats, the game is pretty balanced for the player’s power level. In Sekiro you won’t have to worry about fighting an opponent and being under-leveled. Although, it does help that you can come back from the dead. Another thing that’s awesome about Sekiro is that when you rest at an Idol you restore up to one resurrection, but killing enemies charges up a second. You can’t use lots of resurrections after each other, but is still a good tactical advantage when you’re facing a big bad boss.

The World –

As I said previously this isn’t an average From Software game, or at least not one you’d expect. Nevertheless, you can say that Sekiro does have plenty of stuff in common with the rest of them. Outside of the huge connected worlds we’re used to seeing, this game is made of very large but separate areas. Fans of dark fantasy games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne will still enjoy these structures a lot, with many hidden items off the beaten track often reached with your trusty grappling hook. The hook is used to vault between tree branches and rooftops to get where you want to go in style. You’ll likely find yourself going back to old areas you’ve already explored to meet with the merchants and the lore-rich NPCs. I’m going to be honest, I don’t really know much about them, and probably there’s some guy right now analyzing and getting as much information as possible about the lore to make a good article about it. Sadly, since this is just my first run at the game I will not be the first to understand the back-story fully, or even the deep character profiles for that matter.

Although, what I do know, and which probably is apparent to most people who have played the game is that the plot revolves around Sekiro and the little Lord. At the start of the game you’ll probably think the story is pretty bland and mundane, but you’ll be surprised at how the plot thickens as the game progresses. I’m obviously not going to go into much detail and leave it up to you guys to get a good idea of what it’s all about. The world also opens up with some gorgeous and dramatic scenery further along.

The environments of the game are basically connected via Idols, these are basically like the Dark Souls bonfires we all know and love. Upon your death you respawn at the last Idol you touched but unlike other games of the sort you only lose half the money you’ve accumulated and some skill experiences. A little less than half the time you will get ‘Unseen Aid’ which means you basically lose nothing. Thanks From Software, you rock! Although, if you do die repeatedly within the game you do end up reducing the chance of getting that unseen aid, but hey at least this system gives the player some hope of not rage quitting after you’ve been killed.

Conclusion

I think this game is very mentally challenging, not as much as the producers’ other games… but still not a walk in the park. It never feels unfair to the player and inspires me to be a better gamer really. I thank my friends for telling me to suck it up and buy this game and give it a try as this has been a good adventure overall. The combat system is pretty awesome, and the story is powerfully woven into an absolutely thrilling experience.

If you’re up for a good old challenge and miss those times of swearing at your TV/monitor then this is the game for you. Caution: Your nerve will be tested. Enjoy it buddies.

Oh, and here’s the trailer:

Pros

  • The areas you explore are breathtaking.
  • Combat is Ultra smooth and gratifying.
  • Campaign is lengthy and deep.
  • Gameplay is challenging.

Cons

  • Gameplay is challenging (yes it is a pro and a con).
  • Wish there could be some sort of multiplayer.

Verdict: 

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
PC

From cdkeys.com
Release: 22nd March 2019

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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
PS4

From ebay.com
Release: 22nd March 2019

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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Xbox One

From ebay.com
Release: 22nd March 2019

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Devil May Cry 5 Review: Totally Smokin’ Sexy Style!

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Capcom you are one cool cat, DMC5 is an absolute masterpiece.

Devil May Cry 5 is an action-adventure hack and slash video game developed and published by Capcom. It is the fifth installment of the mainline Devil May Cry series, and was released on 8 March 2019. Devil May Cry 5 received a positive reception from critics. 

So much fun, and so little time to speak about it. There’s a time, rarely seen in the video game sector when everything feels like total bliss. There are those great moments in life, like when you see a girl and you fall in love at first sight, times where you’re trailing across the highway with meadows all around you during sunset with some Bruce Springsteen on the radio. These moments have the ability to remove all stress and thoughts, thinking about nothing else but the present. I experienced this when playing this DMC5 – could be linked to nostalgia but who knows?

As previously mentioned in the preview of the game I wrote; Devil May Cry 5: An Emo, a Metal Head and Justin Bieber walk into the Underworld I’m a pretty avid fan of the series. Just a bit of a recap, I remember playing Devil May Cry 1 back in 2002 on my uncle’s PS2, I was ten at the time, with my aunt telling me this game will fry your mind. I fell in love with that statement, and wanted my brain to turn into that McDonalds nugget if it meant me playing more of this dark and entertaining game. Funnily enough, it wasn’t until Devil May Cry 4 that I actually started understanding the story further-ish. My brain is still fried, in a good way.

A lot has changed since then, especially with DMC5. Smashing the buttons on my controller transforms into a flurry of crazy combos that see demons thrown into the air and fed a smorgasbord of bullets, steel and heavy metal. Yeah, imagine Mick Jagger but cooler, say what?

Don’t get me wrong, the game itself can take a while to understand and get a hold of especially with the new character V. The game requires the player to memorize move-sets and chain together different skills for super combo style. Once you become lighter on your feet and more comfortable with the moves you’ll likely have a lot of fun with the amount of power and carnage you can do at the touch of your fingertips. That is, until you surpass Devil Hunter Difficulty. Good luck with that.

It seems like Dante and his friends never grow up, mentally that is. His escapades are still considered timeless, even if the whole underworld is against him (which happens all the time), he still gets back up and laughs everything off. This is something which makes me fond of the character development across the years.

The Story

Even if you haven’t played previous Devil May Cry games and you’re a newbie, I can still imagine it being ultra-fun for you. Nevertheless, DMC5 does somewhat expect you to be slightly familiar with a bunch of characters and the Devil May Cry lore and history. In a nutshell, it’s good versus bad, naturally at war. What’s good is that in the main menu of the game there’s the ‘History of DMC’ option which helps newbies get up to speed with the game. Before starting out, I recommend taking advantage of that, it’s pretty awesome!

Check out the video below to get a good run-through:

DMC5 comes right after DMC4, where Dante and Nero find themselves with newbie V to battle a new mysterious enemy named Urizen. Red Grave City is filled with the demonic plague and nests of corrupted creatures are running a muck feeding on the local people, specifically on their blood (pretty sure it wasn’t going to be their love).

The Characters –

Naturally there are some familiar character you probably recognize if you’ve played previous games. There are also a couple of new characters, specifically a playable character which is pretty interesting.

Nero AKA Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians

As our lovely Dante does, in the first opening minutes of the game he gets beaten to a pulp and gets left trapped while Nero retreats. Nero doesn’t have the demon arm anymore, instead he now uses a mechanical Devil Breaker appendage designed by his mate Nico. These Devil Breakers basically define Nero’s fighting ability now. One of them transforms into a flaming sword, another freezes time to destroy demons in a flash.

These Devil Breakers can be switched to create a symphony of destruction and mayhem with some surprising and interesting combos to boot. Sadly, or not so sadly given the situation, heavy hits can eventually destroy these Devil Breakers. You can also blow them up yourself to cause some well-timed damage to your enemies. Don’t worry though, new arms are pretty easy to come by. Out of the three playable characters, Nero was my absolute favorite. Sorry Dante.

Dante AKA Hank Anderson

Closely coming in second is the legendary son of a Sparda; Dante – the franchise poster boy you might say. He basically plays the same as seen in the other DMC games. Wielding his sword; Rebellion and his twin guns; Ebony and Ivory Dante is pretty much the same sort of powerhouse he was with some special skills. These are distributed across four unique categories: Swordmaster, Gunslinger, Trickster and Royal Guard. We know Capcom is going to up his skills a little as he’s aged a bit now, the demon slayer now has a few tricks up his sleeves. Later in the game you’ll likely see Dante wielding elemental nunchucks and a crazy spiritual motorcycle that splits in two to wipe out your enemies. He’s a pretty versatile character with plenty of ways to hunt down and kill demons, while also looking frikkin’ cool.

V AKA Kylo Ren

V, my baby V. V is a total newcomer to the series who’s a total Goth and loves Chemical Romance cosplay. Sadly, he’s basically the weak link in the demon hunting three musketeers. Nevertheless, as mentioned above, I did get used to how he fights, and I enjoyed my time playing as him. Unlike the other two, V stands back and commands a trio of shadow beasts to do his fighting for him. These are a Griffin, a Panther and a bulking nightmare (which drops from the sky with an explosion). These are basically V’s weapons to damage his foes, up until their weak enough for V to finish them off himself.

You’ll need to be careful as your weapons (beasts) might die, which will leave you vulnerable so you’ll have to think about the situation and evade attacks until they re-spawn. This means you’ll have to think both offensively and defensively when playing with V, more of a strategic player rather than the other two which are pure powerhouses within themselves. While V is still fun to play, I don’t feel that in control when playing him, it’s not detrimental to the game but it isn’t that smooth. Hammer those buttons, and hope for the best I guess. He’s still fun and very welcome in DMC5, analyzing certain situations while hanging back and commanding your demonic beast pack can be quite exciting in its own right.

The World –

Massive props to Capcom, the world of DMC5 is gorgeous. It is obviously based on London, Red Grave is an industrial city overtaken by the big baddie; Urizen and his bloodthirsty mob of demons. The beginning of the game gets you running and battling across a fictionalized version of Piccadilly Circus and London Bridge before you get down and dirty in the rank subways and underground to kill off some mangy demons in the abandoned metro tunnels.

Since the game isn’t an open world, you don’t really have much time to take in the beauty of Red Grave City. Instead you’ll be trailing from organic demonic tower to tower which Urizen calls home. It can get pretty repetitive throughout the game, and also claustrophobic at times. While the game has always been ‘dark’, I wished there was more time spent on the outside.

The Game –

Even though fighting in the dark can be repetitive, trailing to countless red gates and eliminating all the enemies in that region and moving to the next one can get a little old when thinking about it, DMC5 was still a wonderful gaming experience. Almost every new battle was a great opportunity to experiment with something new, to grow and to learn a new way to kill off foes enemies in style – always looking towards getting that SSS rank.

The game itself isn’t that lengthy, and stages are short enough (almost not letting the player get the most out of the characters). I will probably end up doing another play-through next week. DMC5 is full of ample collectibles within the package, so even once the credits have rolled you’ll still have stuff to do. Within the actual game there will also be a handful of secret missions for you to complete. These will be very rewarding, and might even test your ability within the game.

Nevertheless, while the game is short, it pushes you to play the game again. Although I did feel that the game was a little too brief. I kind of understand what Capcom is trying to do, mostly keeping it open to new expansions and sequels rather than trying to tie up loose ends and have a good conclusion to the game itself.

Conclusion

Capcom still deserves to be ranked a full SSS for its investment within this episode of the DMC series. It gives everything a fan would love and more, and with a newbie to the series also finding enjoyment within the game. The game is far from perfect, with some awkward camera movements and sound being off at times. Capcom knows what to do with the DMC series, rather than just melding in with other hack ‘n’ slash games that have come out in recent times it’s a series which is very unique in its game mechanics and storytelling abilities.

Consider myself thoroughly pleased with this game, and let it be a contender for Game of the Year 2019. Where’s the next RE re-make?

Oh, and here’s the trailer:

Pros

  • The city is gorgeous, overall graphics are terrific!
  • Controls are smooth and slick for the most part.
  • Combat is so gratifying.
  • Super skill ceiling, excellent for fans and newbies.
  • Devil Breakers are sick, also like Dante’s motorcycle weapon.

Cons

  • It was a short game. Ending is a bit rushed.
  • Could have been more missions for each character depending on their traits.

Verdict: 

Devil May Cry 5
PC

From cdkeys.com
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Release: 8th March 2019

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Devil May Cry 5
PS4

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Release: 8th March 2019

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Devil May Cry 5
Xbox One

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Far Cry New Dawn Review: Pink is my Favorite Color

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A New Dawn arises in the Far Cry World, with lots and lots of color to boot! But is it enough to make it work? 

Far Cry New Dawn, the sequel to Far Cry 5, is set 17 years after a nuclear doomsday, in a world reclaimed by nature and covered in a lush “superbloom” of colorful plant life. Fight for survival in a lawless frontier where Highwaymen prey on struggling survivors, and experience it all in highly replayable solo or co-op gameplay.

If you’re reading this, it means you must be interested in the new Far Cry game. Just letting you all know, this is basically a follow-up to what happens at the end of Far Cry 5. For all those who haven’t played Far Cry 5, and have heard of this game well; spoiler alert… The United States has been nuked.

A few seventeen years later, and the area and the residents around Hope County have been through hell but some have recovered from the devastation and have adapted. It seems like nukes leave a very pink effect to nature, where you would think after a nuke blast nothing would survive, it would seem like the flora took advantage of this attack – that and a heck load of duct tape. The world has been reborn, and since everything is more “primitive” so are the people that reign in this forsaken land. They are ruthless and tyrannical for the most part. The game gives you, yes you, the responsibility to stop this, on your “own”.

Sounds a little similar to some other Far Cry games, but alas, it is. Far Cry New Dawn, despite set in a new-ish environment and with a few twists here and there is an exact continuation of where you left off in Far Cry 5. Basically, a very large and fun “DLC” of the Far Cry game that came out last year. The price of the game also reflects this (a bit on the low side). It’s not a bad thing, New Dawn features a cool open-world with lots to explore and progress, same as seen in its predecessor. While the world is concise and the content to discover within the game is less than Far Cry 5 it’s still a pretty cool environment to play in.

The Game –

While Far Cry New Dawn has a lot of cool new ideas, it doesn’t really distance itself very much as a standalone game, but as I said previously – more of a spin off sequel, kind of like a well-priced DLC. The game is basically Far Cry 5 in a post-apocalyptic setting, where Hope County has been nuked, and as it’s been nuked it’s also been covered in vibrant overgrowth and crazy primal goons. If you’ve played Far Cry games before, it’s pretty much what you would expect with regard to game mechanics and what you can and cannot do.

Nevertheless, I tip my hat to Ubisoft, as it has totally nailed the sweet spot of open-world shoot and loot games, and New Dawn is no different. Next to the other post-apocalyptic games you’ll likely play this year, there is still something unique about this game. It totally could be the “in-your-face” colors used in the environment to be frank (kind of like a follow up of that valley you encounter when watching Extinction on Netflix – cool movie, totally should check it out when you got the chance). I digress, let’s delve deeper on what makes this game unique.

Shooting is good, it’s better than good actually. With every shot you’ll likely feel the recoil vibrating across your body, with each weapon having its own separate feel and recoil. As seen in other games, you’ll be given the option to either take on a situation as a stealthy fox or a not-so-discrete rhino charging in. Both are awesome in their own way, especially if you want to be a stealthy assassin having New Dawn’s saw blade launcher in your hands can be pretty cool – a great new way to kill multiple enemies at once. The saw blade launcher bounces projectiles off of any surface that isn’t the floor to take enemies out “silently”.

Other than the wicked saw blade launcher, the guns within the game are the usual FPS arsenal we’re used to. Most of the time you’ll likely end up being stealthy as you take down your enemies, but hey, it’s up to you. Something which also makes this game unique is its enemies, most of which are BMX bandits called the Highwaymen that want to paint everything neon pink or blood red and pump out some rap music. Pretty much the snotty kids you find at the park after school, but instead of water pistols these riders prefer using something a little bit more ballistic. It’s like they created this game to connect more to the millennial target audiences, either that or they want the protagonist to kill the millennials and their rap music and neon lights. It mostly up for interpretation. One thing we know, is that gaming within New Dawn can be considered pretty cool.

The World –

Some might call the world of Far Cry New Dawn to be a post-apocalyptic paradise. When you take into consideration how the flora and fauna within Hope County actually became stronger when everything got wiped it’s pretty surprising. The world is more full of color than ever seen before. As I said in this beginning of this review, the colors are a big aspect of what makes this game unique. Think about it. When playing any other post-apocalyptic game, most of the colors used relate to the dreary and depressing – shades of grey, black, brown and dark green. New Dawn prefers a scenario where if the apocalypse really did have to happen, neon and bright color would be present and pronounced above all others. Some might say the world is prettier than in Far Cry 5.

Thanks to the “super bloom”, after many years of nuclear winter, forests have become lush and vibrant, and most of all – bursting with life. Throughout your journey you’ll find times where life is gorgeous; animals, plants, the whole lot. Alas, the mutated beasts in the game are pretty deadly.

Something you’ll probably figure out throughout the game is that all the buildings in Hope County disappear. If you’ve played the previous game you’d probably be able to make out a few landmarks here and there, but Ubisoft did a pretty good job at mixing the environment up. You’ll likely recognize most of the places via a photograph side quest. Otherwise, most buildings you run into will have gotten a coat of neon point and disjointed hovels. While the world in Far Cry New Dawn is a derivative of its predecessor, at points throughout the game it was like I was experiencing a new environment.

Conclusion

Far Cry New Dawn is worthy, it isn’t anything special but it is a good game. If you’ve played other Far Cry games you probably wouldn’t be that impressed with this game’s “innovations”, especially if you’ve recently been put off by the series. Nevertheless, as a person who isn’t the biggest fan of the series I thoroughly enjoyed the short, yet competent story of the game.

Although there are some pretty cool action sequences, there are some bits of dark humor which can sometimes be cringe-worthy. I mean, I haven’t stopped saying it, the game is not deep, and is basically a spin-off, but until the new full Far Cry game comes out, this will have to do. Nothing to write home about, but entertaining enough to give it a whirl if you’ve got the chance. Nothing like Metro Exodus though, that game shoots this post-apocalyptic game out of the park. Also can’t wait for that Rage game.

Oh, and here’s the trailer:

Favorite Weapon

Easily has to be the Saw Launcher weapon type. I know it’s a bit of an acquired taste, but I personally love it because the blades it fires can bounce around and hit multiple enemies.

Pros

  • Visuals are absolutely gorgeous.
  • Shooting and gun-play is tight.
  • Concludes the Far Cry 5 story.. FINALLY!

Cons

  • It was a short game.
  • Those darn weapon micro-transactions.
  • Didn’t like character development much, and the antagonists weren’t the best.

Verdict: 

Far Cry New Dawn
PC

From CDKEYS.COM
Price: $26.09
Release: 15th Feb 2019

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Far Cry New Dawn
PS4

From GREENMANGAMING.COM
Price: $39.99

Release: 15th Feb 2019

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Far Cry New Dawn
Xbox One

From EBAY.COM
Price: $42.09

Release: 15th Feb 2019

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Metro Exodus Review: Long live Mother Russia Comrades

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With all the post-apocalyptic FPS games coming out this year, Metro Exodus does seem to have something very unique and special about its premise.  

Metro Exodus is a first-person shooter video game developed by 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. It is the third installment in the Metro video game series based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novels. It follows the events of Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light.

I’ve admired the series from afar. From never playing any of the games a couple of months ago, to getting my hands dirty with all the claustrophobic action endured in the previous two games – and you know what? I kind of liked it. From whence I started playing Metro Exodus I found out straight away that this game had nothing to do with 2033 and Last Light. From always playing in the gloomy Moscow Metro, to suddenly staring across a vast, sun-bleached desert was quite the surprise. A good surprise of course, yet pretty ambitious given what the developers are used to.

Metro Exodus is a post-apocalyptic road trip on a train through a nuke-blasted Russia. You’re probably thinking; shouldn’t be that bad – out in the open, checking out the blue skies, in a huge metal train what can possibly hurt you? Lol, wrong… Your every breath within Metro Exodus is a struggle for survival (dramatic, I know). Before Exodus, the Metro Exodus had its own little apocalypse with the Metro series nearly collapsing after the bankruptcy of publisher THQ. Luckily, Artyom had the chance to fight another day when developer 4A Games found a new home to call their own at Deep Silver.

As stated previously, the story of Metro is all about survival. While the game’s focus is on the world above, Exodus does still carry some of the series’ classic delights, and classic problems. Nevertheless, the game came out fine and can be considered pretty competitive, if not has the grit and gameplay to surpass the bigger, more costly post-apocalyptic games coming out this year. Before I continue the rest of the review, here’s a little snippet on what the previous Metro games were about to get you up to speed in case you decided to skip it all and start afresh with Exodus. I don’t really agree with this, but you do you mate. *cough* Lazy *cough*If you want to check out some other great games coming out this year check them out here.

Metro 2033

Metro 2033 takes place in post-apocalyptic Russia. Humanity has gone underground since there was a nuclear war that turned the surface world in a barren and poisonous environment overrun with creatures of all sorts. The world had become so f**ked up that bullets ended up becoming a form of money.

The player takes on the role of the protagonist in the story; Artyom, a young man born from the Russian Metro itself. While there, some mysterious gangs known as; The Dark Ones attack his home; Exhibition. Due to this circumstance, Artyom leaves to enlist help from the other survivors. He is joined by Khan, a talented warrior/soldier who knows a real lot about the strange stuff happening in the Metro. Apart from this mysterious gang, and the mutants that dwell in these lands there are also the communists of the Red Line and the Neo Nazis of the Fourth Reich. These two have been at war for years, and Artyom ends up getting caught in the crossfire.

After some time, Artyom finally finds the Dark Ones, and as people with revenge on their mind do, blows them up into oblivion. Sadly, this was a stupid and reckless move because you then find out the Dark Ones were actually just humans who mutated from the nukes and were acting in self-defense the whole time. Artyom is an a**hole. But, who knows what’s going through people’s minds in that s**it-hole. Anyway, to the next game!

Metro Last Light

In Metro Last Light, Artyom gets a shot at redeeming himself. A year after the sadness and the mistake of Metro 2033, Artyom now ends up being a member of the Rangers. The Rangers are a group of highly skilled and talented soldiers who roam the most dangerous parts of the wasteland on the surface, and the underground for that matter. You eventually meet your friend Khan who tells Artyom that there is another Dark One, a child who is being held captive by the Red Line.

Story goes that Artyom goes to the Red Line, saves the kid from General Korbut (Red Line’s Big Boss-man) and ends up finding a group of Dark Ones hibernating in a secret metro. He then calls this child; “the last light of hope.” Lol. That’s where the title of the game comes from, get it?

And with that you’re pretty much caught up. Onto the review of Metro Exodus.

The Story – 

After finishing off Metro: Last Light with a “good-ish” ending, you’re never really going to go back to the day before the Apocalypse happened or at least not in this chapter of the game, Metro Exodus finds main character Artyom and his wife Anna working to protect what remains of Moscow’s citizens (an endless cycle). In search of “hope” Artyom returns to the surface world and attempts to locate the survivors via radio with zero results. This gives the Order a clear perspective that Moscow is in fact “hopeless”.

With that, Artyom and Anna’s father; Miller led a small group of “soldiers” to locate a safe haven and uncover what happened to the world with regard to the nuclear war that destroyed everything. As seen and experienced in the two previous Metro games, Exodus focuses a lot on story. While this is all great and stuff, having lengthy cut-scenes and non-combat gameplay encounters on the train and in the world does get dreary, or at least until you connect to the characters a bit more. You really connect pretty much mid-way through the game. Once I got a gist of the backstories of the characters, their personality traits and the tense situations you often find yourself in you genuinely start enjoying these “filler” scenes.

The Gameplay – 

The Metro series isn’t really well-known for its gunfights, and/or gunplay in general. Although, the team behind Metro Exodus did do a good job with this and really amped it up next to its predecessors. You’ll now find that shotguns have quite the jolt when firing them, and can get pretty snappy at times. The Tikhar air rifle is also a really good and fun weapon, it relies mostly on those gamers who are patient and stealthy. Hitting a target is still pretty tricky and inaccurate, most of the time I found difficulty in hitting a target which was right in my sights, but once you get used to it you’ll become accustomed to the way combat is built within the game. At least the game’s checkpoint system meant this occurrence only happens a number of times throughout your gameplay.

Something which I enjoyed a lot in this game is the amount of customizations and methods on how to battle enemies. In the game, you’ll be able to transform items based on what you need by using parts you find from weapons you encounter and others found in the world. One time, I got a decent revolver and modified it to become a shotgun which was pretty nifty – or an AK becoming a sniper rifle really left me to do as I want and kill as I want in this game. Armour and gear is also customizable, for example – upgrading your facemask to make it stronger and tougher. It sometimes get annoying though, if for example you crack your visor it will obstruct your view until you repair it. This can get very annoying in the middle of a fight.

The World – 

As you’ve read above, this episode in the Metro series is no longer bound to the dark subways of Moscow but uses a mix of that and the outside world. Before getting into the actual environments, the world of Metro Exodus also no longer relies on the factions seen in the game’s predecessors. The Fourth Reich and the Red Army are barely even mentioned throughout the game, with the player encountering some new, and not so friendly groups of enemies. It’s about time 4A games moved the political story aside and focused on something different. Now, onto the environments.

I think the world of Metro Exodus is absolutely gorgeous, and in my opinion has one of the most diverse environments in the series, and arguably one of the most impressive terrains in any post-apocalyptic game that has come out in the last couple of years. At the start of the game you’re in Winter and at the end of the game in Late Autumn, like this you get a whole grasp of how the environments change through the full 4 seasons of the year – from glistening deserts, overgrown forests and swamps with giant ugly a$$ creatures. As said previously, you’ll still spend quite a bit of time in the bunkers and the Metro itself in case you were worried with the change in location/game-type. In your adventures you’ll likely find spots which are pretty depressing (and cool), places with severed heads in fridges, dead people piled up on each other etc. It’s pretty much a horror game when you look at it from this end, especially at points when you encounter some hideous “creatures” in the subway.

Also, just letting you all know if you haven’t heard yet, Metro Exodus is NOT an open-world game. Nevertheless, the developers of the game do put you in a situation where you can explore large environments scavenging and discovering new things while on your way to the objective set for you, side content is also directly associated to that. Resources in the world are scarce, and a continuous onslaught of enemies doesn’t really ever make you feel safe. For example; gas mask fillers are ultra-important and precious, if you encounter an area with unclean air and you don’t have a mask on you’d die in seconds. Something which was smart is the rarity of med kits, this makes the player avoid direct combat and pushes Artyom to use a stealthier approach when battling enemies. You can also find a way to avoid conflict, but then you’ll be missing out on what resources the enemies might have on them or what they’re “guarding”. Apart from med kits, focusing on direct combat like infiltrating a bandit camp like Sylvester Stallone in Rambo can help lead some worse enemies your way, like a bunch of blood hungry mutants.

Conclusion

When 4A Games decided to the leave the tunnels of Moscow’s Metro and let Artyom explore the outside world that was a great idea. Given what they were able to create, pretty much outside their comfort zone for this game it ended up being incredibly fun. While there are some technical issues, 4A Games managed very well to adapt the stories of Dmitry Glukhovsky into a living, melancholic and action-packed new world which Metro fans haven’t experienced until now. Kudos for the game mates!

Oh, and here’s the story trailer:

Favorite Weapon

Later on in Metro Exodus you’ll be introduced to a silent-but-deadly weapon – the Helsing (Crossbow), this was my favorite weapon.

Pros

  • Character interactions brings the story of Exodus out in a very light and endearing manner.
  • The world, and the seasons are gorgeous.
  • Lots of times where I jumped in my seat, which is a good thing, right?
  • Strong weapon customization and crafting

Cons

  • Shooting targets can sometimes be a little difficult, but gunplay is still pretty solid and better than predecessors.
  • You don’t really hear Artyom talk except during load screens.
  • Combat can be very difficult at times, sometimes also being very unfair to Artyom.
  • Barely any Khan, I hope for a Khan DLC.

Verdict: 

Metro Exodus
PC

From CDKEYS.COM
Price: $56.49

Release: 15th Feb 2019

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Metro Exodus
PS4

From GREENMANGAMING.COM
Price: $55.79

Release: 15th Feb 2019

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Metro Exodus
Xbox One

From CDKEYS.COM
Price: $61.39

Release: 15th Feb 2019

Buy Now

Kingdom Hearts 3 Review: May your Heart be your Guiding Key

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Was Kingdom Hearts 3 a little rushed? Was it too easy? Or was it just right?

Kingdom Hearts III is an action role-playing game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It is the twelfth instalment in the Kingdom Hearts series, a sequel to Kingdom Hearts II, and the final chapter in the Dark Seeker saga.

I have no idea how to start this review. I never even thought of ever even reviewing this game. It’s going to be doozy. As an avid Kingdom Hearts fan/completionist I waited and waited for a full on sequel to Kingdom Hearts 2. Don’t get me wrong, Square Enix has constantly been shooting out Kingdom Hearts games since then but not a genuine sequel to what happened after KH2. Due to this near 13-year wait, and its debut trailer at E3 2013 Kingdom Hearts 3 slowly became one of the most anticipated titles of all-time, check it out below. It was even listed in Monsoon Gaming’s Best Upcoming Games of 2019.

Finally, Kingdom Hearts 3 has arrived for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Since finishing the game yesterday, I am left pondering on what else I am looking forward to now in the gaming world. Since finishing it, I am left with an empty place in my heart, a longing for something more. Not to get into that just yet.

Generally, the game is aesthetically gorgeous in every sense of the word. There’s lot of new, and stunning Disney Worlds to explore and the game does finally end the story that began long ago when I was still a bratty teen. At least Director Tetsuya Nomura did keep his promise that KH3 would end The Dark Seeker Saga.

I can explain everything you need to know about Kingdom Hearts before playing KH3, but that would take me until next year, so just to give you a brief summary check it out here.

Nevertheless, the team behind KH3 did say you don’t really need to be a Kingdom Hearts mega-fan and played all the other previous games, analysed them and understood the timeline perfectly to enjoy the newest game. Although, it does help. Especially since this game lacks an element of character development. But at least video tutorials of previous games and instances are available to the player in the title menu. Nice touch Nomura.

Without further ado, here’s my thoughts on Kingdom Hearts 3.

The Story – 

Fun fact, did you know there’s a total of 238 cut-scenes in Kingdom Hearts 3? Now that sounds like a lot in a 25-30 hour story game, but like other Kingdom Hearts games, it is pretty standard. These 238 cut-scenes are done due to the huge KH lore Kingdom Hearts 3 needed to utilise to make sense for the end of the story. Nevertheless, for all its intricacies and confusing timelines the underlying story is very simple.

Our big-footed, spikey haired friend, Sora, needs ‘the power of waking’ to sort out the new and improved Organization 13. I loved seeing Organization 13 in their weird black hoodies, I remember back when I was 15 I wanted to dress up as one for Halloween. G*ddamn costumes were out of stock, pretty sure supplies have gone up since then. Very sure indeed.

The tone of the game is set before the entering the title screen, with the first scene adopting the timeless tradition of the battle between light and darkness as a game of chess between a man dressed in black and another dressed in white (we then find out these teenagers are Master Xenahort and Master Eraqus in the past). This game of chess is pretty important, and is later included in multiple cut-scenes.

Now, I know that the team behind this game wanted to make it as welcoming to new audiences as possible, especially due to the huge gap between sequels. It goes without saying though that to enjoy this game fully, you MUST play the previous games, or at least watch the cut-scenes as there will be parts in this game which will be confusing. Several specialist sites and YouTubers have felt the need to produce their own ‘story so far’ videos, some of them being very good and even helped me chain my memories together. Get the pun? The summaries only go so far though, so it is best you get your hands dirty and play the games yourself.

Although, those who do know the series pretty well might find moments within scenes boring and plugged in to make the newbies understand the series more. There are times that the voice actors aren’t even sure of themselves when saying their lines. At one point, Woody of Toy Story himself says; “I’m confused.” Even Mike Wazowski says what most players were thinking: “I have no idea who or what you’re talking about!”

Given the world of Kingdom Hearts is confusing, the team at Square Enix did come prepared. As previously mentioned video tutorials are available to all those that needs refreshers, these include refreshers on KH1, Chain of Memories, KH2, DDD, BBS, 358/2 days, and even some from KH Union X.

In the beginning of the game you’re thrown into Thebes/Olympus where you need to speak to Herc to gain his advice on something. While I know Sora, Goofy, Donald, Riku & the King – I would have liked a little more info on them from the get-go, and with Yen Sid saying that Sora needs the ‘power of waking’ before going against Xehanort – I genuinely forgot what the power of waking is. I sometimes felt that since so much time has passed, Square Enix didn’t have a clue on how to bring players up to speed. So like this, they just threw all their lore in there and hoped for the best.

I still think they did a good job, and without spoiling anything I can genuinely say that I am without a shadow of a doubt satisfied with the game. After finishing Kingdom Hearts 3 it also feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Although the ending has left a lot to be promised in the future, and slightly depressing at points (overall happy though) I thank Square Enix for what they’ve given us with regard to story. There still is a couple of questions left unanswered, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see what Square Enix will come up with next.

Regarding the Disney Worlds, I did expect better to be frank. The real fun and laughter that came from the Disney characters were copy and pasted from the film itself, all other ‘original’ KH Disney content was pretty cringe-worthy. Here are my thoughts on each of the Disney worlds, and their respective score in my opinion with regard to world design and storyline.

Olympus (Hercules) – 

As the first world you explore in the game, it was very important that Square Enix get this right. They did that, and more. I loved Olympus, especially since they got rid of the basic coliseum-type gameplay that started becoming overused in my opinion. Thebes was gorgeous and Olympus was everything I remembered from the movie. Here you fight alongside the son of Zeus, Hercules.

Kingdom of Corona (Tangled) – 

The Tangled world is massive, they pretty much brought in all the places you see in the movie from the tower, to the actual kingdom of Corona. Everything is designed with such detail including dance, action and bad guys. Even though the story of this world is pretty much the same as seen on screens it was a pleasant world to explore and experience. Here you fight alongside Flynn & Rapunzel.

Toybox (Toy Story) – 

The Toybox is easily my favourite world, the thought that was put into this world baffled me. From how Sora, Donald and Goofy change their appearance, to how miniature everything is and how reachable most places in this world are. It was nice seeing Woody and Buzz hang out and fight alongside Sora as well.

Monstropolis (Monsters Inc.) – 

Monstropolis is gleaming with doors that lead to kids’ bedrooms (sounds weird) – even though you don’t really go in any bedroom within the game. I liked this world, but thought it was pretty monotone. Character design for the team was very unique, but overall nothing special. Had a lot of fun seeing one of my all-time favourite Disney characters – Boo. Here you fight alongside Sulley and Mike Wazowski.

Arendelle (Frozen) – 

Arandelle’s a pretty big place, pity that within the game the only place you visit is the icy mountains of Arandelle rather than the palace and kingdom beneath it. Probably it would have looked a lot like Corona, so yeah that’s probably why they axed visiting there. The Icy Labyrinth was nifty, and the mountain range was a vast place to explore nevertheless. Here you would think you end up fighting alongside Elsa, or maybe Sven or Anna. Instead in Arendelle you fight alongside Marshmallow (Elsa’s Snow Guardian). Easily my favourite companion to fight with in KH3!

100 Acre Wood (Winnie the Pooh) – 

A lot of Kingdom Hearts fans loved exploring and playing the Winnie the Pooh episodes way back when in KH1 & 2. I always found them pretty childish. Luckily, I think Square Enix caught on and made this world pretty small, with just one place to visit in the 100 Acre Wood I was glad and relieved. Even though, the actual mini-games within the world were pretty fun and resembled Candy Crush.

The Caribbean (Pirates of the Caribbean) – 

When I realised this world was coming to KH3 I was a little bummed out, since I hadn’t enjoyed it in KH2 much. I was very wrong, in KH3 this world is glorious. While the story behind it is pretty much copy and paste from the POTC3 the vast open-world of the Caribbean lets you explore several islands aboard the Leviathan. Traversing on the ship is also cool, and seems like SE took some ideas from AC: Black Flag and implemented it graciously. Here you fight alongside Jack Sparrow.

San Fransokyo (Big Hero 6) – 

Meh, very monotone and boring in my opinion. Story was nothing wow either. It was cool fighting alongside Baymax and the rest of Big Hero 6, and the city of San Fransokyo is pretty big and there’s a lot to explore but I guess I didn’t connect to this world much. I also felt that Square Enix didn’t invest much in this world to start with regarding story and gameplay.

Other worlds like Twilight Town, The Keyblade Graveyard, The Final World & Scala Ad Caelum are also included, but I don’t really want to get into those until you get to play the game properly.

Other original KH characters in the story outside of Disney which are included in Kingdom Hearts 3 consist of: Sora, Riku, Kairi, Xehanort, Young Xehanort, Terra, Aqua, Ventus, Eraqus, Lea, Roxas, Namine, Xion & even little Chirithy.

The Game – 

Yeah, if you played this game you’re probably thinking WOW a 5/5 for the game that’s pretty high. Come on, you know Square Enix have invested a ton of time and money in this game, and it shows, especially with gameplay. There are hiccups, FPS does slow down on my PS4 Pro and the game itself can be considered a little easy, even in Proud Mode. But hey, we’ll wait for Kingdom Hearts 3 Final Mix to come and it will probably be much harder! That’s how Kingdom Hearts works right?

Now before I get into the gameplay and how combat works etc. I would like to say that the soundtrack for this game is splendid. Well done Hikaru Utada and Skrillex for Face my Fears. I also enjoyed Don’t Think Twice but Face My Fears, was epic! Check them both out below:

Since we got that out of the way, let’s continue on. Gameplay within Kingdom Hearts 3 is spectacular. Combat is fluid. Graphics and design by means of the Unreal Engine is seamless, that is when Kingdom Hearts 3 deigns to let you play. I’m not taking about the moments where a cut-scene finishes and you walk forward for 10 seconds only for another to start up, or the long wait times between cut-scene and gameplay. I’m talking about the amount of scripted combat available at your fingertips. With a full magic gauge you can summon the likes of Simba to come and set ablaze your enemies. You can then, as you chain a few combos with your keyblade, call upon the sensational attractions you see in Disney World – each based on a fairground ride and decorated with lights everywhere (wasn’t sure if Disney wanted to do this to subliminally advertise its theme parks). These include attractions like Carousels, Teacups and even the Thunder Mountain Express! These slowly became a nuisance further along in the game since they were totally over-powered – beautiful to look at, but just made the game easier than it already is.

I played the game on Standard Difficulty Mode, and then in Proud Mode (hard difficulty), game was pretty much a breeze. Doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy that it was easy-ish, but I still wanted more, could be just me being needy. I digress. Kingdom Hearts 3 focused on looking great and fighting with style, especially with the integration of Dream Drop Distance’s Flowmotion feature, which lets you swing around poles, trees and chain moves together – due to this, Sora does feel more agile and fluid. Running up, bouncing off walls, diving down to enemies with a ground breaking attack, then launching them in mid-air, changing his keyblade’s form into a giant hammer and ripping the heartless to pieces was glorious to see. You can even take a picture with your new Gummi phone of the carnage you’ve set, or a selfie with your favourite Neo-shadow for jokes.

WARNING: The Final Act

By the final act, Nomura has basically abandoned all pretence of integrating the Disney worlds within his story and basically turns everything off which is Disney related except for Donald, Goofy and the ‘barely even seen’ King Mickey. Sure, he’s got a number of cool keyblades for his troubles, but Sora essentially has gotten absolutely nothing else from visiting these Disney worlds. What follows, is equal parts maddening and exhilarating. You literally have around 4 to 5 hours of boss battles. These mostly end in tears, long goodbyes, happy reunions and revelations. It’s a final, which this time really feels like the final part of this saga. It’s something magical, and yet saddening at the same time. You might even find yourself in a tear or two. What amazed me the most from the Final Act is its superb storytelling and method in how Nomura actually put everything, literally EVERYTHING together for one of the best video game endings ever.

Mini-Games

As most Kingdom Hearts games, KH3 has a few mini-games to help the player cut off from the constant combat and ‘confusing story’ of the core game. Some are fun, some are alright and some are plain annoying.

Gummi Ship – 

Something I didn’t enjoy very much was the Gummi ship section. This was upgraded significantly with the player having the ability to free roam 3 galaxies and choose which world to go to from there – but once you’ve reached these worlds you’re pretty much sorted with fast-travel so you don’t even end up caring about your Gummi ship anyway. It wasn’t until I beat the game I started upgrading my ship, but it was only because I needed it ready to battle a large ship for resources to craft the Ultima Keyblade.

Cooking Mini-game – 

While I loved the movie Ratatouille, the cooking mini-games set for the player were pretty much an after-thought in my mind. It has potential, but it took too long to set up than to play. Whether you’re cracking an egg or pouring wine into a pan, it’s over within seconds. Nevertheless, I did enjoy gathering ingredients for Little Chef. The after-effects of consuming the meals you create do give you temporary enhanced stats, but Sora was already OP anyway.

Classic Kingdom – 

I enjoyed playing these retro games featuring Sora and a couple of Disney characters. Collecting all of these games in KH3 also unlocks the Classic Tone Keyblade, which is the second best keyblade in the game in my opinion. Even better than the Ultima Keyblade if you’re a magic player.

Flantastic Seven – 

If there was something in the game that’s challenging, it is these Heartless Flans that you need to satisfy to get resources to create the Ultima Keyblade. I hated them, while they were pretty good mini-games, I was getting so frustrated at points that I just wanted to make myself some flan, cook it perfectly and put my fist right through it!

Conclusion

I ultimately loved my return to the Kingdom Hearts Universe, and it was undoubtedly very fun and exciting for me. I enjoyed seeing a bunch of new Disney and Pixar characters that were integrated into the story, even though they didn’t really give much to the core story at the end of the day. I have to admit, I’ll be replaying this game over and over again for the next ten years or so. I wish it could have been longer, that’s for sure. This game must be contender for Game of the Year.

Here’s the final battle trailer:

Favorite Pastime:

  • Transforming the keyblade and ripping through heartless at Battle gates with a combo of agile moves.

Favorite Keyblade:

  • Hard to say, because obviously my favourite is the Ultima Weapon due to its amazing transformation, but given that you’d need to get that at the end my favourite up until then is the Wheel of Fate. If you guys are interested in getting the Ultima Weapon, check out the Monsoon Gaming guide here. 

Favorite Companion:

  • Marshmallow from Arandelle!

Pros:

  • Graphics are astounding, with such small detail put in each and every location.
  • The form change ability on the Keyblade is a great new feature.
  • The attraction features are great, gets old though.
  • Having emblems across the worlds was a great collection piece.
  • Battle gates were a fun add-on, wished there were more.
  • The core story was absolutely thrilling.

Cons:

  • Gummi ship exploration was a good idea, but seemed useless until post-game.
  • The abundance of attractions, form changes and team attacks makes combat pretty easy.
  • Not a lot of post-game material – we hope for some good DLCs.
  • Also, I wish Kairi made more of an appearance in the game.

Verdict: 

Resident Evil 2 Remake Review: Happy Surviving!

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“Whatever it takes to save the city.” The city’s dead. Good luck with that!

This was probably the first big game I was looking forward to coming into 2019. Playing the first one when I was younger was terrifying, and for some reason I just couldn’t wait for that ominous feeling of playing Resident Evil 2 again. I don’t know why, but when I’m introduced/put back into the driver’s seat of a survival horror game, the challenge they bring just has me addicted the whole way through. So much so, this game was listed in the Best upcoming games of 2019.

A game like this has you thinking and planning throughout the entire story:

  • “How much ammo should I bring?”
  • “Which weapons should I keep on me?”
  • “Which path should I take or avoid?”

These are questions which were constantly going through my head and it doesn’t bother me. After all, these are the basic steps taken in order to survive Raccoon City’s zombie-infested Police Department.

Gameplay – 

 Now, I played this on PC and I have to say the RE Engine is one of the most optimised game engines I’ve experienced in a while, especially when it was introduced in Resident Evil 7. The game runs like butter, it is that smooth and looks absolutely amazing. The controls are perfect, even though the new 3rd person over-the-shoulder camera loses some of the tension the PS1 version has, I believe this method of gameplay is the way to go.

Puzzles have slightly changed, but are still challenging enough to have you reading through memos and taking a few mins to think things through. Something which I adored in the original and is very much seen in the remake.

Story – 

Story takes place in Raccoon City, the place of origin of the infamous T-Virus and G-virus created by Umbrella Corp. You play as Leon S Kennedy or Claire Redfield (Chris Redfield’s smoking hot sister – yeah I know some of you completely adored her back in the late 90s). These are two survivors looking for a way out of the RCPD while running into other survivors trying to stop the outbreak from spreading.

The story is pretty much the same from what I remember in the original. If you choose Leon’s story it will vary from Claire’s with regard to different cut-scenes and characters. With Leon you join Ada Wong, a mercenary trying to get her hands on the G-Virus. If you Choose Claire’s story you help Sherry Birkin, the daughter of the creators of the G-Virus.

“Hated lickers back then, hate them even more now…”       

Those damn lickers. I hated them then, and I hated them now just as much. Now even though the Tyrant was a pain in the a**, he’s slow, lickers however aren’t! These wall crawling evolved virus ridden zombies start popping up in the game at around the 30% mark and it was horrible. First one you see isn’t that much of a challenge, especially with Claire and her grenade launcher (Only if you got it before the encounter, if not, good luck with that!) but later on in the game you’re fighting these things left, right and center.

Here’s a tip: Flashbangs. You can thank me later.

As for the Tyrant or Mr. X, he brings some great tension not that far into the game. That is, unless you’re playing scenario B. If you’re playing Claire’s story he comes earlier, way earlier, before you can even finish getting items from the police station. The Tyrant is sent to recover the G-Virus and destroy all the evidence, and sadly, all the survivors with it.

Conclusion

Basically, my point is everything in the game is now more deadly and faster than the original. So yeah, I love it! Capcom Really showed off how to make a remake the right way. I’ll just be waiting for Resident Evil 3 remake in the meantime I guess. Capcom do your thing sugar!

Favorite Pastime:

 Organising my inventory to mentally prepare myself.

Proactive Tips:

 Don’t kill every zombie you see. Honestly where you can avoid wasting ammo just run by.

Pros

  • Game runs great
  • Story is still the story I love
  • Zombies
  • Gameplay works perfectly

Cons

  • I just wish it was longer because now I want more Resident Evil!

Verdict:

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Review: More of the same? Or different?

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Of all creatures that breathe and move upon the earth, nothing is bred that is weaker than man.

Assassins Creed Odyssey is a 2018 action (stealth?) role-playing, video game developed by Ubisoft Quebec and published by Ubisoft. It is the eleventh major installment, and twentieth overall, in the Assassin’s Creed series and the successor to 2017’s Assassin’s Creed Origins.

Assassin’s Creed has long been a franchise which divides public opinion. Early releases from Ubisoft had undeniably set a standard for open world stealth games by employing the calculated characters of Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad and the charismatic Ezio Auditore, however, later generations tended to have abused this successful formula. Ubisoft’s yearly release schedule seemed to have tired out producers, creatives and directors working on their projects, leaving their once golden identity in the dirt riddled with micro transactions, poor story-telling, repetitive side missions and recycled mechanics.

Fortunately for the gaming community, Ubisoft decided to take a well-earned break following the release of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, which admittedly achieved decent and relatively positive reviews. The video game company took a step back and took the time to reanalyze the key components of the series, finally releasing a game worthy of the company’s heritage; Assassins Creed Origins.

Yes it had flaws, but much like a cold beer on a hot day, it was refreshing. Assassin’s Creed Origins was quickly hailed for being an incredible action RPG, seen as the perfect way to showcase the international talent and serve as proof that the Ubisoft team had lost nothing in innovation and had more than what it takes to make a fantastic game.

Personally, Origins gave me back the feeling of excitement that Altaïr and Ezio put in my awkward teen years. I found myself unable to put down the remote, playing till the early hours of the day, and calling in sick for work the next morning. Yes, some of the questing was tedious, missions were repeated and minor glitches and bugs still preyed on the game, but it was an enlightening vision of what the franchise could achieve. The customizations, loot and RPG elements Orgins brought with it nurtured my optimism for the franchise, putting it once again on my yearly list of games I’d need to play.

…Which is where Assassins Creed Odyssey comes in.

Assassins Creed Odyssey very much plays on the success achieved by Origins. Admittedly when watching the first 10 seconds of the trailer for the game, the location setting of Ancient Greece hyped me to the extent that I knew I would be buying it – no questions asked. However, once the trailer was over I began to feel it. A dark, foreboding voice very much from the void within the belly of my inner most dimly lit crevice born from my cynical head, telling me one thing; ‘Re-skin release’.  Pleading with myself, I pushed down the negativity…“They took time out and reworked the entire franchise to release Origins, surly Odyssey won’t just be a re-skin, and it will be iconic too…!”

Well, after finally completing the beast Odyssey has proved to be, I can only say that my feelings on it are still mixed…but pushing positive…Let me explain why, nonetheless it still deserved a spot in the Top 10 games to play this Christmas.

The Story – 

Maybe it’s easier to get the bad out of the way.

If I had to be cruelly cut throat, I would admit that one of the things I find lacking within the Assassin’s Creed Universe of games is its story. That’s of course not to say there haven’t been times I’m incredibly compelled with the narrative taken by the games, beating off story missions more methodically than an obsessive library receptionist checking to see her books are all in alphabetical order. Understandably the narrative scope behind most Assassin’s Creed is overwhelming, because of this, and probably the annual unforgiving deadlines the franchise was plagued with, the story section of the AC games was subject to the short end of stick.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is no different.

Whilst Ubisoft have done a lot of work to re-design the title and firmly establish itself as a leading RPG; by giving players tools and choices in dialogue which uniquely affect your gameplay experience, the lack luster story-telling in Odyssey often feels rushed and untidy. Its uninspired story-telling quickly led me to tune out of dialogue, the uncharacteristic changes in tone of voice within the discourse left conversations fragmented, and left me not entirely interested in the main quest-line.

The most unfortunate aspect of this is the fact that the storyline starts out so well. Immediately players are put into King Leonidas’s shoes, revving up the hype counter to the max, only to quickly lose interest moments after leaving the starting island with Alexios or Kassandra. Big reveals felt rushed, discourse between characters, especially in side quests, more often than not, were simply not engaging.

Maybe it’s harsh to criticize the writers specifically at Ubisoft for this, (especially considering their one year time frame), and maybe its harsher yet to compare AC Odyssey to other releases, but after we saw the master class of story-telling and an intricately crafted narrative which came from Sony’s Santa Monica Studio in the form of God of War earlier this year, expectations were raised.

With regards to the present world of Assassins Creed Universe, outside the animus, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find any positive or enjoyable content. Whilst of course I cannot speak for anyone other than myself, Ubisoft seem to share my concerns as the sections of exploration in the present day are becoming more restricted and easier to skip. The company (and from what we’ve seen a good portion of the community) seem to see this feature of the game increasingly an awkward uncle at a family event, rather than a cool charismatic cousin.

The World – 

Assassins Creed Odyssey is Huge!

You’ve got to give it up to Ubisoft, following their early greyish looking games in the AC franchise, they’ve absolutely perfected the art of beautiful landscape, buzzing environments and lively cities. They have once again proven they’ve got what it takes to build a beautiful world. I often found myself admiring the gorgeous Greek scenery and architecture and feeling awestruck by the lively and animated locations within the Odyssey world.

Everywhere you go within the world feels alive, Assassins Creed Odyssey urges players to get off the beaten path and explore for themselves, offering secret loot spots and picturesque views, in a variety of places.

However, as much as the environment mesmerizes you and ensures you’re continually wiping drool off yourself, the long distance travelling within the game – unfortunately – becomes quite the headache. With quests and important locations littered all over the place, and all over minor islands, you may often find yourself praying for patience as you traverse the world by foot, horse or ship. Going out of your way to ensure everywhere new you end up in is accompanied with a synchronized location, for you to fast travel to – this was pretty standard practice. (Also if they could put in a skip scene for the cinematic with every synched location that would be heaven!)

That being said, its plain to see the effort and detail that went into the development of this game. I’m often compelled to purchase and re-play Assassins Creed games simply because of the appreciation and importance they place on historical accuracy. Allowing the team to freely incorporate their own lore within the grander and epic stories of real world histories always leaves me excited to meet the historical celebrities I grew up reading about. Overall, I’ve been highly impressed with the portrayal of historical figures, places and events within the AC series and Odyssey is just another testimonial to the team’s efforts.

The Game –  

I believe it’s safe to say that with the last two installments of the franchise AC has given up pretending it’s a stealth game… and that’s ok!

Whether you pick Kassandra or Alexios, you’ll be killing a hell of a lot of people around ancient Greece, fortunately the combat maintains the satisfying feeling we’re used to after Origins. Each weapon and talent feels useful and unique in its own way, giving the option for players to implement their own style of play and customize accordingly.

While there are still positives to playing in a stealthily assassination approach, it has become increasingly clear that the combat within the franchise has evolved to something beyond. There is a lot of enjoyment to be had by using your abilities, switching from light fast weapons like the daggers and swords, to harder slower powerhouses like two handed axes. The bow makes another appearance, and will arguably become one of your most consistent heavy hitters when dealing with elite mobs and mercenaries.

As a side note the ship battles are ok. The first few you get into may recapture the black flag vibe of combat, however as the game progresses you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone going out of their way to get into sea combat (unless it’s for gathering material), using their ship only as a method of getting to the next island to reach the next fast travel point.

All in all, the combat of AC Odyssey builds on the success of origins and is equally if not more enjoyable.

Side Quests & Additional Content – 

At this point I’d imagine that even the most hard-pressed AC fanatical supporter would find the tedious nature of the side missions and exploration content anything but… well tedious.

If I could whisper one thing into the game developers collective ears it would be that less is sometimes more. Is there really a need to be burning the same supplies, killing the same leaders and pack alpha animals and opening the same loot boxes every 40 steps within a game? Almost every single side quest within the games consists of you going to a cave or camp, killing a few mobs, looting a box and getting back to the quest giver – rinse and repeat.

Even with the introduction of being able to compete in Conquest battles, where you either pick the side of Sparta or Athens, the events quickly lose their spotlight once you realize you have no real effect on what is going on in the actual world, simply changing the regions banners from red to blue or blue to red.

With regards to the Mercenary and Cultist systems, at best the inclusion of the mercenaries into the game, may be exciting at first, but even this quickly turns annoying as the game progresses. Having brutes continually interfering and popping up at the worst of times, will find you quickly paying off bounties simply to avoid dealing with them. Cultists too pose a tedious question to the player, however, it’s clear to see the positive of where Ubisoft wish to go with this system. I believe that with the right story-telling and framing the system could become a better and more interesting part of future AC expansions.

“I once lead two mercenaries up to where the Kalydonian boar was to help me defeat it. They were pretty useful.”

As with traditional RPGs the primary stages of the game may see you struggling to continually upgrade equipment and save up drachma (gold), the grind will be real (Ubisoft kindly added a feature for you to spend real life money to buy supplies in game …how kind of them). We would suggest holding off, once you reach the later stages of the game, you’ll be selling equipment for a lot more money, and you’ll quickly learn to buy out crafting materials everywhere you go.

Finally, there’s the inclusion of the (mini?) boss fights, as well as the majestic beast fights around Greece. Whilst on one hand the Medusa, Cyclops and Minotaur proved to be an excellent and welcome addition to the game, each adding to the lore with their own starter quests. The mechanics, while not groundbreaking may serve as a fundamental layer for Ubisoft to build on in future installments, hopefully incorporating more lore rich and intense fighting content for players to enjoy. On the other hand, the beast fights are a clear indication of what could be wrong with these types of encounters. Serving as nothing but meat shields, learning the basic 2/3 attacks of each beast will have you slowly and dis-interestingly pushing through and ending their sorry lives.

Conclusion

All in all, Ubisoft seemed to be taking their franchise into the right direction following the highly praised Origins, however whilst Odyssey is by no means a step back, it does feel like a step more towards the side than forwards. The video game company received a lot of criticism as they are perceived to develop a standard formula, re-skin it, add an activity or two, and release a new game once a year, which just may be the core of what Odyssey is.

After reading this review you may think that I had not entirely enjoyed Odyssey, which is not exactly the case. Assassin’s Creed will always prove a franchise difficult to judge, as the bar set for them over the years as ‘innovative professionals’ may have been placed too high. Admittedly, the franchise is one I have frustrations with, however more often than not I find myself compelled to switch on my console and complete more and more activities, it’s difficult to say whether the attraction I feel towards AC is due to the characters, plot and game-play or if it has simply become a series in which I feel like I know what I will be getting from it, and I’ve simply become OK with that.

So there you have it, make of it what you will, for me Assassin’s Creed Odyssey will be a game I would have waited for, in a setting I always wanted, placed under my own unfair scrutiny.

Favourite Pastime:

  • Chasing and killing off those pesky Cultists

Favourite Legendary Armour set:

  • Agamemnon Legendary Armor Set (based on looks, attributes can be set now for each armour piece specifically)

Pro-active tips:

Regularly upgrade, dismantle, and engrave your armor.

Regularly going to a blacksmith and upgrading your favorite armor piece of weapon should be done every two missions or so using gems, obsidian and even basic drachmae, leather and iron. When low on certain resources don’t be afraid to dismantle armor and weapons. Yes, you won’t get any drachmae for it, but you will get resources, which alter in rarity depending on how powerful the item you’re dismantling is. Engraving is also very important – these are mods which add perks and status effects to your gear. This is especially good when you can add either one or two legendary engravings based on your play style to become the ultimate mercenary.

Don’t kill every mercenary or leader you find – recruit them instead.

The amount of times I’d want to kill a pesky mercenary by kicking him off a mountain or stabbing him in the face, but sometimes it is best you don’t. Simply knocking them down with Spartan kick or your fists (non-lethal damage) and then recruiting them will mean they will then be able to join your ships as Lieutenants, which gives your ship special perks like health and stamina. These mercenaries or leaders can sometimes be legendary – by using Ikarus you can analyze their perks and corresponding colors to have the best perks possible for your shipmates.

Buy the Second Wind ability as soon as possible.

Even if you’re the stealth type, and very rarely find yourself at the end of a sword, you’re going to want the Second Wind ability. In case you do end up fighting, be it on a side mission or one of the core missions and you suffer a few too many hits you can save yourself some grief, by using the Second Wind ability in the warrior tree, this lets you regenerate 25% of your health (more-so as you level up). It’s worth it for multiple cases, especially in conquest battles.

The Spartan Kick and a high place will kill almost anyone.

One of the main reasons a lot of gamers loved AC Odyssey is the Spartan Kick. As big open world games go, you’ll like find yourself amidst enemies at a higher level than you which can be quite troublesome. While you can slowly chip away at their health, dodge, become incognito, stealth attack, dodge etc. you can also kick them off a cliff or building for a swift insta-kill. Be sure to unlock Sparten Kick from the Warrior branch of your abilities and keep upgrading it – with this you’ll likely send anyone, regardless of how tough they are, flying into the air leaving gravity do the hard work for you.

Pros:

  • Main story can be very good at points
  • Superb graphics
  • Large open world
  • Wide array of weapons and gear
  • Lots of useful abilities
  • The lore is superb

Cons:

  • Lots of microtransactions
  • Story blows over after 20 hours mark
  • Side activities become repetitive
  • Ship become useless, apart from gathering resources, once you’ve unlocked fast-travel points across the islands.

Verdict:


Marvel’s Spider-Man Review: Can web swinging be considered therapeutic?

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“Best Superhero Game of the Decade”

Marvel’s Spider-Man is an action-adventure game developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4, based on the Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man. Released worldwide on September 7, 2018, it was the first licensed game developed by Insomniac. 

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can… maybe an outdated Spider-Man, but not 2018 Spider-Man. 2018 Spider-Man can easily get out of a bath tub/sink, wouldn’t fit under an egg cup and probably won’t get eaten if MJ & him decide to get a little frisky. I digress, let’s get to the review.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, there’s been a myriad of Spider-Man games throughout the past couple of decades. Some being flops, some being pretty amazing – namely Spider-Man (2000) on PS1. Those were the days of simple games. Games with no complex stories that need neural links to film adaptations or pop culture. A time where you play, just for the moment, a break from your busy life (back then I was 8 years old – so my busy life consisted of homework or annoying my younger brother).

The most recent Spider-Man games between then and this latest entry were released when Spider-Man films were on cinema screens. Producers probably thought; hey let’s try make an extra buck from the fame of the movies – like 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I’m going to be frank, I didn’t play this game, probably never will. Same thing happened when I heard Marvel’s Spider-Man game was coming out.

I thought it was going to be some sort of pro-story, Marvel Universe Spider-Man game mimicking what happened in the movie (I liked the movie though). It wasn’t until a few friends of mine showed me the trailer of the game and a video of a bunch of guys, similar to myself from IGN talking about the game that I had some hope for this latest entry to the game series. Something which also moved me from a talk I heard about the game was that Spider-Man won’t be a game which robs me – meaning no micro-transactions etc. (apart from the DLCs of course).

So, for the past couple of months I’ve been asking my friends to lend me this game so I can try it out, most of them telling me they’ll let me borrow it once they finish it. Two months after its release for a 25 hour long story game doesn’t really sound right. So, F them, I went and bought it off Amazon. Took me around 5 days to complete the story, got all the gadgets and the secret picture locations. Absolutely awesome – so much so, I listed it in the Top 10 games to play this Christmas.

The Game –  

How can I put this? Spider-Man is one hell of a game *cough* better than the Batman games *cough*. I’m not just talking about game mechanics, but also storyline. You know that Insomniac Games made this masterpiece to appeal to the bigger single player audience, rather than just those standard Spider-Man fans – from traversing across an uninterrupted Manhattan skyline to bursting some bad guy’s bubble with your multi-functional web shooters.

Many critics felt that the cinematic sequences were a bit jarring, and sometimes that was true, especially when your blood is pumping to continue the game in an urgent time and place and you’re stuck talking to Aunt May about what you’re going to eat. But hey, that’s Spider-Man, and that’s also something that I loved about the game – keeping true to the prose. Although, the critics are correct with regard to quick-time events when achieving the most dramatic and sensational feats. For example – stopping a helicopter from crashing down on Manhattan all happens during the cinematic sequence, while I appreciate the spectacle, it makes the player feel like a witness rather than the hero. What I feel compliments this cinematic experience is when you take on any of Spider-Man’s main villains. Fights with bad guys like Scorpion or Kingpin often rely on one sequence of moves, with Kingpin it was: Web him up, zip in close and repeatedly pummel the square button until he regains his consciousness. This is where you’d have to flip a few metres away and repeat the sequence again. When you’re battling TWO of your core enemies at once it can get a little difficult, but for most of the boss fights I didn’t feel that much of a challenge.

Moving away from boss battles, combat in other sections of the game, when fighting ‘pawns’ or ‘soldiers’ can be pretty rewarding, especially when you’ve unlocked a bunch of wicked new moves and gadgets. Apart from the awesome damage you can do with these moves, it’s pretty cool to watch how Insomniac really made his combat super fluid. Swing-kicking into a group of enemies, disarming them and throwing their weapon back at them, zipping back to the enemy shooting them in the air, ripping them apart with some sick combos and then web throwing them to the ground can make you feel pretty invincible. Suit powers and gadgets can be pretty handy – my favourite ‘load-out’ was the spider-bro as a suit power with the impact web. While this was not the best load-out for all the fights I encountered, this was my most used by far. Nevertheless, finding the right suit power and gadget that suits your play-style is imperative. Every time I unlocked one of these upgrades I always spent around 15 minutes using them or doing a side-mission to understand their strengths.

Apart from the superb, and gripping main story of the game I found side missions very entertaining and challenging. From tracking a fake Spider-Man, solving crimes, doing those pesky Taskmaster challenges, chasing pigeons or completing tasks from the research station I always had stuff to do when I wanted some time away from the core story.

Something I really enjoyed within the game were the gang hideouts – finding yourself surrounded by enemies and using all your moves and skills in tandem to defeat each of them started looking like a combat-based symphony of sorts. These henchmen base missions are critical, especially if you want to unlock the game’s multitude of extra costumes, almost all of which have a unique power affiliated to them. Every side objective rewards the player with tokens that can also be cashed in for suits and gadget upgrades – while these aren’t really needed to progress through the story wearing something different and gaining a new ability to defeat enemies really does spice things up.

The World: Manhattan –  

The big apple, the city that never sleeps and the city of dreams – New York City. This version of Spider-Man is set in present-day New York City, and run by Mayor Norman Osborn. 23 year-old Peter Parker at this point in his life has already put away villains like Electro, Rhino, and Vulture and has a friendly relationship with the police. He works as a research assistant, has his own cardboard-box sized apartment in Manhattan and is on the fritz with the lovely MJ who is working as a reporter with the Daily Bugle. After a brief prologue in the start where you take down one of the Spider-Verse’s most infamous characters you are let loose on the whole city – giving you the chance to view the whole of Manhattan from the start.

Like most open world games nowadays, producers included Fast Travel within the game to save players time when traversing from one point of interest to the other. Strangely, like Red Dead Redemption 2, in Marvel’s Spider-Man I preferred getting to my destination by swinging there. Spider-Man’s Manhattan captures the city’s beauty perfectly. Immediately after ending the prologue, as previous discussed, you are able to swing freely, making astounding web arcs to transport yourself through the city’s avenues. It’s pretty easy to get a hang of the game’s smooth web-based movement. Most times I felt like getting to my location the old fashioned way while listening to good old JJ Jameson complain about Spider-Man while finding helping out that one-off civilian in need made me feel more like a web-slinging crime fighter. From the get-go, to see the whole of Manhattan you’ll need to unscramble a few broken radio towers in each section of town – sounds similar doesn’t it?

Traveling to different zones doesn’t really change the game’s difficulty. From my experience I pretty much got them out of the way in the beginning of the game, since really and truly these felt like a task rather than part of the game itself. Nonetheless, I still urge players to use Fast-Travel, especially when changing suits, during travel time you’ll likely see Spider-Man catching the subway in his suit often confusing other passengers on the tube trying to understand what he’s doing on his phone or being fallen asleep on – great stuff Insomniac!

Something which I really liked about the game was that the game producers really got the picture straight on what modern day Spider-Man would experience if he was fighting crime in 2018 – especially when taking into consideration the in-game social media feed found on the screen.

The City That Never Sleeps DLC:

The Heist – 

The Heist certainly sets up a pretty good story and a couple of characters to start off the ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ DLC. The character development is once again top class, and left me wanting to see more. New gameplay ideas were pretty good, albeit others being pretty frustrating – especially a new baddy with a chain gun which was pretty tough when playing the game in Spectacular Mode. I mean hordes of these guys can make you rage. The emphasis of the roughly three-hour DLC really is on the story, in which Black Cat immediately makes an indelible mark on this world.

Turf Wars – 

The Heist was fun, but Turf Wars feels like Insomniac really put more effort into this one, despite it being a continuation with regard to the story. Turf Wars takes a classic, old school Spidey Nemesis, pushes the boundaries on making him a modern bad guy, but with elements seen in previous Spider-Man villains – using new faces to stir things up.

Silver Lining – 

Silver Lining’s story and gameplay is where the game’s DLC trilogy really comes into play. Insomniac ties everything together beautifully, and in doing so gives some weight to what might have otherwise been optional challenges. With diverse missions, Silver Sable’s return and a clear sense of resolution, Silver Lining is a rewarding end and an exciting tease for what is to come with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.

Conclusion

Some gamers criticize the game’s predictability; regarding its open world and its linear story (their words, not mine). I found the game to be pretty astounding. Action sequences are breathless and remarkable. Each main game encounter feels absolutely cinematic, to the point where you can actually put some pieces together and publish it as another entry in the MCU. If, like me, you spent your childhood watching Spider-Man cartoons – while sometimes watching them again in the morning before school just for kicks then you’ll truly appreciate the Spidey lore this game is packed with.

The biggest moments in Spider-Man are as varied as they are dramatic. From scaling buildings through its elevator shafts, to covertly webbing snipers up from a lamp post and chasing helicopters while dragging a crane through NYC’s skyscrapers while dodging missiles – this game really makes you feel like your friendly neighborhood Spider-man. In my opinion, this has to be the greatest superhero game of this decade.

Favourite Pastime:

  • Web slinging across the NYC skyline.

Favourite Spider-Man suit:

  • Cyborg Spider-Man Suit (Only available with Silver Lining DLC)

Things I Hated:

  • The lack of cinematic when changing from one time of day to the next (literally changing the gradient of the sky with no movement, come on Insomniac, you’re better than that!)

Pro-active tips:

Repair the Security Towers ASAP

I usually do this in all open-world games, the sooner you repair all the Oscorp security towers, the better. Like this, you’ll finish this task earlier on as to not annoy you with a fuzzy map.

Diversify your Activities

As you complete side activities and nab more of the game’s collectibles, you’ll earn special tokens used to upgrade Spider-Man’s gadgets and craft new suit mods and powers. These upgrade require all manner of tokens to unlock, so when you’re out in the world, try do a bunch of side objectives to better Spider-Man’s arsenal and then use them in your main story mission.

Try walking around New York for a while

This is something I found out half way through the game. As much fun as it is to swing through the city, there’s a whole world out there on the sidewalks of New York to explore. Give people high fives, eavesdrop on the chatter, check out and take photos of Manhattan landmarks or even the Daily Bugle!

Pros:

  • Web swinging is awesome
  • Very fluid and smooth combat
  • Storyline is fantastic
  • UI is very easy
  • Voice acting and soundtrack are well done

Cons:

  • Awkward camera movements
  • MJ sequences were boring
  • Boss fights were too easy

Verdict:

Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee Review – Kanto is back!

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“You gotta catch ‘em all!”

When it comes to Pokemon, no matter the age I’m at, I’m most likely going to play the new Pokemon game. And the fact that this one takes it back to its roots with the first gen Pokemon I got even more excited. Starting the game off I was pretty much thrown back into the 90s playing Pokemon Yellow on my purple transparent Gameboy colour which came out on my birthday (the stars were aligned).

Anyway Pokemon: Let’s Go is pretty much the same as the first Pokemon games. Difference being – some characters, the way random Pokemon encounters work and some other small things here and there.

 

The World –  

The world of Pokemon: Let’s Go is great, especially getting to see Kanto remade in 3D. The random Pokemon encounters now don’t trigger a fight but instead gives you a chance to catch them, very similar to Pokemon Go which yes I also played the crap out of… Pokemon battles are against Ordinary trainers, Gym trainers and Leaders but also against strong Pokemon; such as legendaries or that lazy Snorlax trigger a battle. You must defeat them first in order to get the option to catch them after. So don’t worry if you somehow one shot Zapdos. Emphasis on ‘somehow’.

One of my favorite features in the Let’s Go series is being able to have your main Pokemon Pikachu or Eevee chilling on you out of their Pokeball and having one other Pokemon of your choice with them. At first, I had Bulbasaur running behind me everywhere I went but then I noticed something that just blew me away. I got my Arcanine out and holy smokes – You’re on top of him mounted ready to destroy every Pokemon trainer in sight. This instantly blew me away, just because I felt closer to my Pokemon – more of a team. There is also some customization for you and your Pikachu/Eevee like nifty little bowties and hats.

No more HMs! I’m happy to say you don’t have to decide what move you’re going to sacrifice for moves such as fly or surf, because now your partner has you covered. My Pikachu can do anything! There are abilities which your partner now learns passively and doesn’t need to take 1 of your 4 moves for combat.

 

The Characters –  

You’re going to see a lot of familiar faces, including a new rival/friend in Let’s Go. Now I genuinely tried my hardest not to call him something stupid like the previous games, so I gave him a simple name because it was time to grow up a little, don’t you think? You got all your classic Gym Leaders with a new style of clothing. You got Team Rocket blasting off as usual. Then there’s the Elite four at the end just waiting to give you a hard time.

Overall, they are pretty much the same, but seeing them again with their updated looks is just as fun as the first time seeing them as a pile of pixels.

Conclusion

The whole point of the Let’s Go series in my opinion is to catch every single Pokemon in the First Gen Pokeverse, as experienced in other games, but it feels slightly easier because of its online feature. Trading is always important in Pokemon – as a core feature to evolving certain Pokemon like Kadabra to Alakazam. Another feature worth mentioning is the Pokemon Go park in Fuchsia City. This allows the player to transfer his Pokemon from Pokemon Go to Let’s Go. It works by linking your phone to the Switch and then going to the park transferring them, and catching them where they’ll just be waiting inside the park casually.

 

PROS:

  • Riding Arcanine like a boss
  • Reliving Kanto
  • Insane Pokemon battles
  • More relaxed way of catching Pokemon
  • Mewtwo

Cons:

  • Feels slower levelling your Pokemon by fighting other trainers
  • Weird FPS drops in certain areas.

Just Cause 4: Did I buy Just Cause 4, just ‘cause Just Cause 3 was a just cause?

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Should you buy Just Cause 4? 

“I live for levitating animals, tornadoes, big guns and chaos.”

Just Cause 4 is an action-adventure game developed by Avalanche Studios and published by Square Enix. It is the fourth game in the Just Cause series and the sequel to 2015’s Just Cause 3. It was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

I hate it when adults talk about those games that melt their kids’ brains away to their friends – especially those adults with suits, tie clips and side combed hair. They’re always talking about how little Joey doesn’t stop playing that noisy game where he’s constantly blowing stuff up as a bearded flying squirrel with a hook. I then think, what kind of weird game are they talking about? Blowing stuff up? Which is true of most games nowadays, but with a hook? Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle Royale maybe? It isn’t when you hear ‘as a bearded flying squirrel’ you know they’re talking about the Just Cause series. Let me tell you something Joey’s dad/mom/abductor, Rico is not a squirrel and in Just Cause 4, he is closer to a God.

When Just Cause 3 came out I didn’t really bother ordering it since I wasn’t much of a fan of the series. It wasn’t until it was available on PS Plus (yes, I’m a PS4 gamer, get over it) and had no other game to play that I decided to download it and give it a shot, you know, just ‘cause. After playing a couple of hours I noticed, this game literally has no story and focuses on gameplay so I decided to just do my own thing and that’s when the love for the game finally revealed itself. The best part about Just Cause games isn’t the story, but the pure carnage you can cause when playing, plus the power of near invincibility. Let’s face it Rico, you’re indestructible. This is mainly why I wanted to try Just Cause 4, to see if Avalanche decided to pump up the carnage and make me feel more omnipotent. The answer is yes, and more.

After playing around 20 hours of the game’s story I decided to do what I did with the previous game, go ape-sh*t and destroy everything. It was lovely. The people behind the Just Cause series seem to have grasped the element of blowing crap up in the noisiest and most creative fashion as their forte.

Just ‘cause Just Cause 3 was a just cause, I went and bought Just Cause 4, and I barely even paused… I’m not much of a poet, excuse me, and let us continue the review. I also listed this game as one of the best games to play this Christmas here.

The Story – 

The real reason you buy Just Cause 4, at least in my opinion, is not for the story, but for the chaos. Nonetheless, the story behind Just Cause 4, from what I’ve experienced up until now, is pretty ok. In this ‘episode’, our lovely, testosterone filled flying squirrel, Rico Rodriguez along with the Army of Chaos (sounds like the bad guys) try take down Oscar Espinosa and his Black Hand organisation (sounds more like the bad guys). Fighting alongside the Army, you (Rico) will be pushing the front lines with the resistance to push Oscar and his posse out of Solis. You do this by destroying stuff, you know, the more you destroy and kill, the more people will rally to your cause… logic nowadays, fun logic nevertheless. You can then move troops to capture sections of the map, ultimately gaining upgrades and unlocks as you liberate the entire country. It’s represented as you play by actual front line battles in the world, wicked stuff guys. Sadly I’m not really interested in the narrative, especially when competing with the games that have come out this quarter, the story will surely be forgettable.

The missions are predictable and repetitive – mainly unloading havoc (not cyclops’ brother – also, this sounds pretty bad when thinking about it) on everything you see (ok, it’s very bad). Most missions consist of going to a thing, to switch the thing on, so the big door thing opens, and then destroy the thing… sound familiar? Especially since I prefer destroying things as I please with no limitations, thank you very much. It’s pretty tedious if you think about it. On another note, many times during the game, the map marker didn’t really work, leaving me confused and lost on where I was supposed to go. Distances can be tricky. I usually took on side-missions, sadly they were pretty much the same. Well, thank you, next?

The Game – 

Just Cause 4 is set in the gorgeous, and huge island of Solis. The map being so big allows for realistic distribution of targets unlike some other games I played this quarter. There’s great environmental diversity, trailing/flying across cities, jungles, mountains and beach-fronts by using an almost infinite variety of vehicles is at your fingertips.

Apart from the mediocre story, the gameplay and the absolute ridiculous fun you have is second to none. Rico is a titan among men, while leading the revolt as Rico you will likely wade through almost anything Solis can throw at you – from surviving missile fire, taking in and ‘sometimes’ dodging bullets, being blown up and falling from body splattering heights only results in a red tinge in the corners of your screen. This red tinge surprisingly fades away pretty fast and you’re back to being fit as a fiddle. Surprisingly, even if you encounter a tornado in the game (which does not happen as often as you’d think it does, especially with the new weather system being the main USP and hyped up subject about Just Cause 4) you’ll easily find a way to get out of there easily. Grappling hook > Tornado.

There are only a few things more satisfying than Rico traversing across Solis with his grappling hook/wing-suit or parachute, almost as satisfying as web shooting across Manhattan’s skyline as Spider-man… almost. You’re a one-man army, and Just Cause 4 makes sure of that. Merely jumping out of a jet you just airdropped a couple of moments ago which then plummets to an enemy facility’s shiny explosives causing fire and destruction as you land peacefully by hooking one of the remaining henchmen as you land flat on your feet as another walk in the park. Think about it people, what other game can afford being this silly, yet come out this fun? The question is, couldn’t you have done that in Just Cause 3?

Well, yes, but this latest edition of the Just Cause series has some improvements. New grappling hook upgrades gives you twice as many things to play with, easily switchable loadouts based on what you prefer are now accessible. The game gives you the choice to attach balloons you can use to lift things out of – or into – the way. Something which I remember in another game I played around a year ago, was it Metal Gear V? Well, Metal Gear didn’t have thrusters that you can attach to anything with your hook to help shoot them across the map. It’s here where the modern millennial troll will have fun, playing around with so many creative combinations as they look for new ways to obliterate and destroy. I remember lifting a tank I airdropped, and attaching thrusters pointing towards an enemy base so I can rain destruction from the sky – this didn’t really pan out the way you think it did, if I remember correctly the tank just kept spiralling in the air. Physics nowadays.

As stated previously, the new Just Cause also introduced some killer weather effects – if you encounter them that is. Although, when you do encounter a storm it is quite the sight; hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning storms literally flipping sh*t everywhere. Nevertheless, you are Rico Rodriguez, a titan, tornadoes cannot kill you it just splatters rain on your screen.

The Conclusion

As I previously mentioned, in the past 3 months I’ve played seriously detailed and impressive games like RDR2, Spider-man & AC Odyssey. When comparing this game to these three, Just Cause 4 sadly comes last, but this game does have some incredible moments of beauty and destruction. It’s a game which can easily be understood, gratifying and gives you the ability to do whatever you like. Solis is your playground, Avalanche Studios gives you the tools to be a god. From airdropping almost anything to help you destroy more efficiently and effectively to doing as you please to being creative with what the game deals you. I’m not saying this game has the finesse to compete against other rivals in its genre, but at a time where open-world games have become saturated the Just Cause series gives the people what they want, especially since this entry is by far the best we’ve seen from the Just Cause series by a mile.

Favourite Pastime:

  • Playing around with Physics of the game and tethering items together and attaching rocket thrusters to them just for the fun of it.

Things I Hated:

  • I wish the hurricanes had more to them, and I was able to encounter more of them during free-roam.

Pro-active Tips:

  • Don’t forget to use that grapple mid-air! 

If you’re a starter to the series, you should know that when Rico is free-falling to the ground and you’re not interested in parachutes you can use the grappling hook to break your fall. This is especially useful when you’re falling at super speed and are bound to take damage if the fall is not interrupted. I would recommend using your hook for moving around the island as well, using a combo of this and your wing-suit will make you trail through the 1024km2 map at ease.

  • Always keep on the look-out for those weapon boxes.

The shiny crates on the ground you find are weapon boxes, these contain a multitude of weapons that can be used to annihilate your enemies – like rocket and grenade launchers. Open ‘em up and reap the world.

  • Chaos level is back mates!

A feature that was apparent in Just Cause 2 is back, and that is of the Chaos Level. Increase your Chaos Level will get you lots of new perks – like more agents and reserves for your squadron. Play the game as you do, do the activities assigned to you and your Chaos Level will increase.

Pros:

  • Game makes you feel omnipotent.
  • Beautiful and dynamic environment.
  • The game is ridiculously fun, emphasis on ridiculous.
  • Performance is good, with a steady frame rate.

Cons:

  • Narrative is boring
  • Missions can be repetitive

Reviewed on PS4 Pro, you know it!