Last night, I played AC: Unity on PS4 for about 2 hours or so. To sum it up quickly, I'll just say that Ubisoft consistently screws up Assassin's Creed year after year. I don't know why; I just know that that seems to be the case. Since Assassin's Creed III, there seems to be at least one aspect of the game that gets pooped on with every subsequent release. This time, a couple of things got pooped on.
Man, the graphics are gorgeous... when you're standing still. The frame rate is atrocious 85% of the time. I had heard that the game would run at 30fps, but consider yourself lucky if you get that. In other words, it's not "locked" at 30 fps, and often dips below that target number, meaning the game chugs a lot . I even encountered a bug that dipped the frame rate to what seemed like 2fps as I was climbing a steeple and trying to jump off to the side! This literally happened every time I held the R2 and X buttons while trying to move off the steeple. If I climbed either up or down, everything was fine.
About a month ago, Ubisoft released the system requirements for the PC version of the game. I rolled my eyes when I saw that the minimum requirements involved having an Nvidia GTX680 graphics card. That's the same one I have, and it's still considered high-end/top-of-the-line! That particular card is also 4-5x more powerful than the two consoles the game was designed for. There is no reason whatsoever that Ubisoft couldn't have optimized the game to have minimum requirements of low-end GPUs. Given these horrible frame rate issues,it seems that they didn't optimize the game for consoles, either.
Even more so than ACIII and ACIV: Black Flag, the parkour controls are terrible. Let me clarify by saying that it's not necessarily the controls, but the detection on climbable surfaces. The game tries to make the decision of what you want to climb on, pulling you like a magnet towards a surface if you're just a little too close to it. The first two games, as well as Brotherhood and Revelations, didn't have these problems. I don't understand why this aspect of the game gets progressively worse.
Another issue in gameplay is the combat. While I felt the timing for countering enemy attacks was buggy in ACIII, IV, and Liberation, that has been fixed in Unity. Timing works fine, but combat is extremely slow and sluggish. Rather than feeling like I'm controlling a nimble, well-trained assassin, I feel like I'm controlling a mentally-challenged tank.
A lot of the reviews out there have knocked pretty hard on the story. I think it's ok, even though it shares a lot of similarities with ACII's story. Even the main character, Arno, seems like a carbon copy of Ezio. However, the story is - so far - shaping up to be better than ACIV's, which I didn't care for much at all.
And again, the graphics are pretty when you're standing still.
I don't want to throw out an all-encompassing opinion until after I finish the game, so I don't want to say something like, "This is the worst Assassin's Creed game ever!" I don't think that would be fair, since I've only played roughly two hours of the game. Maybe I just have to get used to the gameplay issues. Maybe Ubisoft will release a patch that will clear up the frame rate problems before I write my review. These are possibilities I'm going to keep open, and I'll provide you with a more in-depth (or at least, as "in-depth" as I usually am) look at the game in the coming weeks.
(To see the Penny Arcade comic, click here!)
In my opinion, a better approach would have been to design the game in such a way that the Alien doesn’t always show up and hamper your objectives. Instead, have him show up when you least expect it. The way it is, you can always tell he’s going to pop out when your objective is to get somewhere in a hurry, or when the objective is seemingly simple.
The Silent Hills (P.T.) demo on PS4 was frightening – this is not.
That being said, the game makes me extremely nervous, but only because I don’t want the Alien to kill me in one shot and make me start waaaaaaaaay back at the last save point I found.
And it’s for that reason that I probably won’t finish the game – I’m “on the edge of my seat,” but not for the reasons I’m probably supposed to be.
Through I don’t like reviewing games until after I’ve finished them, I’d probably give it a 7.5/10. The graphics are great (even though the PS4 version suffers from frame-rate problems during cutscenes), the controls work well for the type of game it is, and the game makes you feel as though you actually are living a part of the Alien universe. So in the sense of being a game which accurately represents the feeling of Ridley Scott’s original film, Alien: Isolation delivers. Unfortunately, it’s like watching Alien on DVD or BluRay 10 times in a row; it’s a great movie, but after the second or third time watching it, you’d probably want to watch something else.
It’s been a while, but I’m back with a new game review! This time, I’ll be giving my thoughts on one of Nintendo’s latest big releases, Hyrule Warriors.
|The game's antagonist, Cia|
As I said in my A Link Between Worlds review, trying to explain a Zelda game’s story is extremely hard to do and, on paper, doesn’t really sound all that engaging. Most of the time, you’re dealing with two objectives: Save the princess and recover the Triforce. Occasionally (most often in recent years), it gets a little more nuanced than that, but that’s the basic gist. Combine those objectives with the fact that you have to figure out where whatever game you’re playing fits in the series’ timeline, and you’ve got yourself a right mess at times!
Hyrule Warriors expands on the traditional Zelda story (though the Triforce is still the main focus), in favor of one that incorporates some of our familiar games’ timelines and, like the titles’ very nature, mashes them up to tell what is (to me, at least) one of the most “interesting” Zelda stories to date.
My only complaint with the story is that, given the frantic nature of the Warriors series, a lot of it is told during gameplay.
“What? Isn’t that when you want the story to play out?”
True, most games’ stories are told during gameplay, but the Warriors series (this entry included) is all about constant combat and completing objectives on the battlefield while doing so. With that in mind, some of the story can occasionally get lost as dialogue pops up on the screen while you’re trying to take out hordes of enemies. This becomes very frustrating when you miss a key bit of dialogue that might help you with an objective, all because you’re trying to keep your troops safe or fighting some of the tougher enemies.
|The game's pretty, and you'll be doing stuff like this... a lot!|
As you all know, I’m a stickler for resolution. I have no idea what resolution Hyrule Warriors is running at, but it’s gorgeous! I have to attribute some of that (if not all of it) to the game’s art style. The only thing I could possibly say on the negative side of things is that the framerate chugs occasionally as the Wii U’s hardware struggles to keep up when there are a lot of enemies on screen at once. This isn’t something that happens all the time and is, in fact, pretty rare. But when it does, it’s fairly noticeable.
The music in this game, quite literally, rocks! Quite a few familiar Zelda tunes are present and reworked with a metal flavor. Since the game is pretty fast-paced and all about action, a metal-influenced score is perfect. The only piece of music that I really wish was included is the Dark World theme from A Link to the Past. Sadly, I never heard it if it’s in there, and it would have been a great one for a game like this.
While the music may be great, I’ve got to dock it several points for one reason: the lack of voice acting. It’s been a staple of Zelda games since Ocarina of Time to not have spoken dialogue. Instead, all games have featured a “Sims-like” approach by having the characters start their dialogue with some kind of unintelligible gibberish. This was fine for the 64-bit era, but it really is time to start having voice acting in Zelda titles. Want to have Link remain the “silent protagonist?” That’s fine. In fact, I prefer it that way. But when it comes to the other characters, Nintendo should really start making an effort to give them a voice.
I mentioned earlier how you might miss some of the dialogue in the game, or miss an important cue related to an objective. This could have been easily remedied by including voice acting.
The other thing I docked points for: “Hey! LISTEN!” Ugh. That should have never been included, and should never be again, as it was one of the most annoying things about Ocarina of Time. It seems like you’re interrupted by it nearly every five minutes towards the beginning of the game.
|All the characters play and handle differently. Lana is a prime example.|
Being outnumbered, swiping your sword through 100 enemies in one blow, and mild RPG and RTS elements have all been staples of the Warriors series. This entry is no different. It can be a little repetitive, but I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who didn’t get a thrill from wiping out an entire regiment of enemy troops by charging up Link’s sword and unleashing his spin attack!
To increase the replay value, as has been done in previous Warriors games, Hyrule Warriors allows you to select several characters throughout the game besides just Link. These characters all play differently and have different abilities and move sets that will keep you playing. Also, a friend can join in for some good, ol’ fashioned local co-op throughout all of the game’s various modes. Nic and I played co-op for several hours, and it was a blast!
Opting to dock the controls a few points was kind of difficult. It’s not really the controls of the game itself that I had problems with, but the design of the Wii U gamepad and pro controller. Basically, it all boils down to the fact that I don’t like the right analog stick being placed above the face buttons. Not only does it take getting used to, since it’s been below the face buttons on every controller since there were dual analog sticks on controllers, but I think it would serve this style of game more if it were placed where I’m used to (for camera controls sake). Just my personal take on it.
All in all, I loved Hyrule Warriors. Again, I never knew that I wanted a Zelda/Warriors hybrid, but I’m glad it happened. Sure, it’s going to be one of those games that people either love or get bored with quickly, but it’s definitely worth trying out. It’s action-packed, has great visuals and music, and it will definitely feed your need for a Zelda fix until the next full-fledged game in the series is released.
Just wanted to apologize for the lack of posts lately. School has been killing my free time lately (only 2 more classes to go until I graduate, though! Whoo hoo!)
There are several reviews that I've written, but haven't gotten around to posting yet. They'll be up soon.
In the meantime, here's what you can look forward to:
Bravely Default (3DS) - Review
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS4) - Review
Skyborn (PC) - Review
Titanfall (Xbox One) - Review
So much game music is released these days that, to me, sound like afterthoughts which ride the wave of a large scale production. Winifred’s work, however, shows a love for keeping the player engaged in gameplay, as well as for keeping those aforementioned melodies stuck in your head.
It may be a clichéd question, but what are some of your major influences when composing music for games?
My musical influences shift from one game project to another, depending on the style of music required for the project. The biggest influences on me during music composition are those composers who have innovated in the musical genre I’ll be exploring in my upcoming work. I like to research music history and genres. I like to learn something new with each game I score.
Early in your book, you cite a quote from Entertainment Weekly which speaks of games overtaking Hollywood and how they are often more interesting than recent films. Do you think that the same can be said of videogame music being more interesting than that of recent film scores?
I wouldn’t say that videogame music is inherently more interesting, but I do think that videogame composers have more opportunities to experiment and innovate, because games tend to be longer and more varied experiences than films. The amount of music in a game usually exceeds the amount of music in any typical film, and there are also more circumstances in which the audience can appreciate and enjoy the music, because the music has longer opportunities to be expressive without also competing with dialogue and/or noisy on-screen action. Most games have periods in which the player explores the game world in a sonic landscape that’s relatively uncluttered. That’s a great opportunity for a composer to create interesting music.
You’ve already tackled several franchises such as Assassin’s Creed, God of War, and LittleBigPlanet. Was video game music in general something that you were a fan of, or paid much attention to before deciding to compose for games yourself?
I’ve been a gamer for a very long time, but that didn’t directly lead me to the decision to compose music for games myself. It was actually after a protracted gameplay session with the original Tomb Raider that the idea finally struck me. My attention was caught by some music playing in the tutorial area – in Lara Croft’s mansion. That was the first time I thought about the idea of writing game music myself. Once the idea entered my brain, it never left.
It seems to us that, due to hardware limitations, older videogame music tended to be melody-driven, with 'songs' that would last anywhere from 15 seconds to a minute or two, whereas today videogame music often is just as atmospheric as film scores. What do you think of this trajectory in the industry?
The predominance of melody made sense in older videogame music – there were limitations in the number of simultaneous note events that could be playing, and the available sound palette was pretty narrow, so composers couldn’t create lots of lush textures or complex multitimbral arrangements. A melody can create musical interest, and it doesn’t need a lot of adornment to be successful. As the capabilities of game systems expanded, it just made sense for the aural sophistication of game music to advance at the same rate. I think that there is room for both melody-driven music and atmospheric compositions, and I think that the best game scores incorporate both techniques.
Lucky for us, one of the greatest games of all time - The Legend of Zelda: A Link to The Past - has just gotten a sequel in A Link Between Worlds for the Nintendo 3DS. I’ve got to say, I didn’t see this one coming. The question is, “does it live up to the original?”
Find out in my review… which just happens to be after the jump!
The basic story in The Legend of Zelda has always been pretty simplistic, but never “great.” Go ahead and flame me. I’ll wait.
While it’s never been an involving story, it HAS been an extremely interesting concept with multiple games helping to produce a VERY involved mythology. With the recent publishing of the Hyrule Historia hardcover book from Dark Horse Publishing, LOZ fans have finally gotten a handle on how all the games connect and feed off one another (though it’s still somewhat convoluted in a few areas).
The basic concept is a princess named Zelda (always a descendant of the original Zelda) is captured by the evil Ganon and a young kid named Link (always a descendant of the original Link) has to save her by traversing the land of Hyrule and gathering pieces of a thing called “the Triforce.” There have been a few games in the series which mixed this formula up (The Adventure of Link and Wind Waker being notable entries), but this is usually the standard. In all fairness, A Link to The Past was no different, only it was, in my opinion, the best executed Zelda title even today.
While I won’t go into details out of fear of spoiling the game, the story takes the same exact steps to get to its conclusion as the game it’s based off of. From a nostalgic point-of-view, this is great, but from a person wanting a true sequel to the original story it may not be entirely satisfying. At times, the game feels more like a modernized remake than the next chapter in a larger tale. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it is noticeable and, in my opinion, worth mentioning.
|That's what I'm talkin' about! Classic Zelda action!|
So far, this is the best looking game I’ve seen on the 3DS. More than that, my biggest praise comes from the fact that Nintendo perfectly captured the atmosphere of ALTTP in a 3D environment. The designers even mostly kept the layout of the original overworld map from ALTTP, but changed some things around here and there to make it feel fresh.
(Speaking of 3D, turning the 3D slider all the way up doesn’t really add, nor take away from the overall effect. For most of my time playing, I left the 3D turned completely off.)
A Link to The Past had some of the best videogame music from the 16-bit era. ALBW remixes all those familiar tunes, some with new arrangements, in beautiful sounding, orchestral quality. Some of the themes even got me a little misty-eyed from pure nostalgia. I was taken right back to those times when I would spend hours and hours trudging through Hyrule and its Dark World. The new music introduced like the new villain’s theme is extremely well done, as well.
|Pop yo' self into the wall and you have the game's|
very well-designed "gimmick!"
|See that crack in the wall?|
If you’ve ever played a game in the Legend of Zelda series, you pretty much know what to expect in the next entry. The only thing that has really changed is how you receive items and weapons. Instead of getting a new item upon completion of a dungeon, ALBW introduces Ravio, a merchant who rents items for Link to use throughout his adventure. Ravio informs Link that there is a catch for renting his items, however: if Link falls in battle, Ravio will take all of his rented items back, forcing Link to re-rent, or buy them for a pretty expensive price. While this may sound like a troublesome gameplay element, it actually works quite well and introduces a fun sort of survival element to the game - you won’t want to die because you won’t want to lose your items. For 800 rupees each, you can purchase the items permanently, but you’ll find yourself scavenging for money in order to do so. It’s a neat addition to the series which I hope we see more of in future entries of the series.
The gameplay “hook” for this game is the whole “being able to merge into walls” thing. Link can now transform himself (because of a bracelet he receives from Ravio) into a 2D painting which he can use to both navigate dungeons and phase in and out between Hyrule and Lorule (though let’s be serious here – it’s the Dark World). I found this to be an extremely interesting gameplay mechanic because it forces you to think 2, 3, and 4th dimensionally in order to get around the world.
Also, there’s no ridiculous, hand-holding helper creature this time around. You play as Link with a sword, shield and items. Nothing else. That’s the way I like it.
Is it worth $40? Look at the final score and you’ll see what I think!
Screenshots taken from Google Images.
2. Start writing the graphics, sound, and gameplay/control sections, as the game doesn’t have to be completely finished in order to get a handle on these.
3. Finish the game.
4. Write the story section and final thoughts.
5. Publish the review.
In order to review Assassin’s Creed IV fairly, I have to come at it from two different angles. On the one hand, I have to review it as someone who reviews videogames on this website. On the other hand, I have to review it as someone who is a massive fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. For the most part, I’m pretty torn about what I think of the series’ latest entry. From a game standpoint, well… it’s got a lot of problems. From a fan’s perspective… I’ll just save it for the breakdown.
|Like every AC game, historical figures make appearances.|
Anne Bonny is pictured here with main character, Edward Kenway.
Like most games, the story and mythology behind Assassin’s Creed have always been the main things I enjoyed the most about the series. I love how Ubisoft has been able to dig themselves out of seemingly impossible situations when they run into the brick walls that they create during nearly every game. I’m not being sarcastic here. I honestly think they’ve handled the series well in terms of story.
At first, I thought that the pirate themed story was going to be hugely epic, and for a while it was. After the first 10 hours or so, however, things started to become extremely boring and just plain ol’ uninteresting. I enjoyed the character of Edward Kenway (a lot more so than Connor of AC3) and hope a few more games are released to flesh his character out, but the other characters (mainly the villains) were sort of flat. None of them really grabbed my attention.
Questions that were raised in AC3 were very quietly answered, but never really talked about all that much – particularly the cliffhanger we were all left on for a year. Do we find out what happened to Desmond Miles? Yes, but it’s a pretty brief explanation. Do we find out what’s going on with Juno? Kind of, but it’s more like we find out what’s NOT going on with Juno, due to a very not-so-cleverly-devised way of continuing the series and setting up future sequels.
My biggest complaint with AC4’s story was the fact that it’s only “kind of” an Assassin’s Creed story. The main character isn’t even an assassin for about 95% of the game. Maybe I missed something while playing, but I don’t think that Edward Kenway actually EVER became an assassin during the story. One could tell that he was on his way to doing so. For about half of the game, I thought this was an interesting angle, but (again, unless I missed something) his joining of the order is never actually shown. And from the epilogue in the middle of the game’s ending credits, we’re still given no clear indication that he “took the oath.” We know from Oliver Bowden’s novel, “Assassin’s Creed: Forsaken,” that Edward was an assassin and adhered to the creed, but are the novels considered canon? In this case, and for the sake of AC4’s story, I certainly hope so.
In summation, I felt that the story of Assassin’s Creed IV was just really lazy and was only somewhat of an afterthought when Ubisoft decided to make a game with a primary focus of ship-based combat (more on that in a bit). It really didn’t have the “umph” that previous games have had, and seemed more like a side game that was only somewhat related to the series.
I have to pretty much score this one in the same way I did for Assassin’s Creed III, since it looks as though it uses the same engine. The thing that perhaps stands out a bit more for ACIV as opposed to III (and what gives it an extra ‘.5’ edge) is the beautifully rendered Caribbean setting. It’s much better looking and immersive than the colonial setting of the previous game. Though the scenery is prettier to look at, the character models in-game are a bit stiff looking – at least for the NPCs. At times, the NPCs look as though they were pulled straight from a PS2 or original Xbox game. I’m really interested to see what an Assassin’s Creed title will look like next year, when Ubisoft develops one (hopefully) specifically for next-gen hardware.
The sound design is great, effects-wise. Gulls and other birds, ocean waves, and cannon fire all sound extremely authentic. The voice acting is pretty good, too. Unfortunately, the area in which ACIV’s sound lacks is the music. Personally, I thought that Lorne Balfe’s score for ACIII was excellent, as was Winifred Phillips’ score for AC: Liberation. It’s a shame that Brian Tyler couldn’t capture the same magic. The score is not bad by any stretch; I just thought the themes in ACIII and Liberation were much better and more memorable. I’m really surprised that, with as much critical acclaim as she received for her soundtrack to Liberation, Ubisoft didn’t give the scoring duties to Phillips. I’d really like to see what she would do with a main, numbered title.
|Way too much of this....|
Black Flag goes back to the exploratory greatness of ACII-Revelations and brings back an almost overwhelming sense of things to do in the Caribbean world they created. From assassination contracts to finding buried treasure, almost everything you could think of to do in a pirate game is here.
That being said, I don’t like ship combat. To me, it feels extremely clunky and I found myself absolutely hating anytime a ship-related sequence would start. The ship combat was something that was praised (for some reason) in ACIII, so naturally, Ubisoft had to implement it into the newest iteration (plus, the fact that this is a pirate game, ship combat and travel makes since). I didn’t like it
|...not nearly enough of this for my tastes.|
I already mentioned the ship combat, but what about control of Edward himself? Remember in my ACIII review when I talked about Connor running up walls or jumping off things I didn’t want him to? Yeah, that hasn’t been changed. In fact, it seems like it’s worse. There is a chase scene about midway through the game that frustrated me to no end with how many times I had to do it just to get it right. The scene wouldn’t have been all that difficult if the controls were better, but the game forces you to do everything perfectly in order to succeed. I really hope the developers go back to the original “puppet-style” controls from pre-ACIII for the next game, or that they at least try and tighten up some of the controls.
Screenshots taken from Google Images.
It might be a bit off-putting to include a game from the next-gen consoles on a list of greatest games from last year, but I think this one is well deserved. In my opinion, this is the best fighting game released since 2011’s Mortal Kombat. True, KI released with several missing features, but the game is tight and does its job extremely well with its fighting mechanics. It’s still the only Xbox One game that I own, and for the time being, I’m ok with that.
Square-Enix must be crazy. They didn’t consider the Tomb Raider reboot a financial success when it sold something like 2 or 3 million copies. I guess they were expecting Final Fantasy numbers, which even they have dwindled a bit in the past few years. Personally, I loved the reboot. I thought that adding a survivalist element, along with a much more personal and epic story, really lent itself well to a series in desperate need of revitalization.
I have yet to post my review for this 3DS game, but I’ll go ahead and tell you: it got a perfect 10. I absolutely loved this throwback to my all-time favorite Zelda title (of which I consider one of the best games of all time). It just goes to show that the 3DS is the place to go if you really want to get a bang for your buck when it comes to gaming. I hope Nintendo continues to release this kind of quality throughout the 3DS’ life, but come on – can’t we get titles of this magnitude on the Wii U?
This is the game that most websites cited as their top game of 2013. It’s definitely deserving of that spot, as it did new things with storytelling in a videogame and, in my opinion, solidified the fact that videogames are true literature. As I noted in my review, the game mechanics are all things that everyone has played before, but the execution was excellent, weaving in with the great story like no other game has before.
Should this even really be here? I mean, it’s not really a game is it? No, it’s not. It’s an interactive movie that you play on a game console. That being said, I can’t get past the phenomenal story that just happens to be the most original thing I’ve heard, seen, or read since… Well… It’s been so long, I can’t remember.
I know I’ve said it before, but Hollywood should really start employing writers and directors from the videogame industry. Titles like The Last of Us, Bioshock: Infinite, Mass Effect, and of course, Beyond: Two Souls, show a quality and originality that the film industry seems almost incapable of producing these days. It’s because of this originality in story that I have no choice but to give it the “Josh’s Personal Inner Dorkdom Game of The Year Award.” I’m just holding out that Quantic Dream will create a sequel at some point in the future, no matter how unlikely that is.
Originally published by Nintendo (developed by Rare, makers of the Donkey Kong Country franchise) in 1994, the rights to the Killer Instinct brand were acquired by Microsoft Studios when the company bought Rare back in 2002. For years, many KI fans hoped for a new sequel in the franchise and were hyped beyond belief when one was finally announced in 2013 as an Xbox One exclusive developed by Double Helix Games.
How have the 17 years between KI2 and the new game treated the franchise? Find out after the jump!
This is a fighting game, so story has only rarely ever been the most important aspect of the genre. However, with recent blockbuster-quality story modes in games like Mortal Kombat (2011) and Injustice: Gods Among Us, a great story to back up the brutality is starting to become the norm. KI, however, has no story at the time of this writing because... well… it hasn’t been released yet. Instead of including a story mode, Double Helix instead chose to focus on the core fighting mechanics of the game. I think they made the right call, but I also think that this could be related to the rushed development of a game for a rushed console, which I alluded to in my Xbox One review. Just like many of the Xbox One’s features, KI is missing a lot of features at launch. Story mode and an arcade ladder are two of them… not to mention only 6 playable characters.
Killer Instinct is the first fighter developed on next-gen hardware and it shows. The characters, while looking as though they take a bit of influence from Street Fighter IV’s designs, are beautifully rendered, particle effects from a well-placed fireball are amazing, and the game outputs at 1080p (one of the only Xbox One titles to do so). Characters move smoothly and backgrounds are simple, but look great. There’s no shortage of great visuals here. Everything looks stunning.
Everybody who plays fighting games (and some who haven’t) has heard someone yell, “C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!!!!!” at some point in his or her lifetime. This classic phrase, and every other notable shout of the KI announcer, has been expertly recreated in the new Killer Instinct. The sounds of combat punch you in the gut like no other fighting game to date. And getting punched in the gut by sound is always fun, right?
Speaking of getting punched in the gut by sound, the original KI was always known for its exceptional music. The new game doesn’t disappoint. The classic Killer Instinct theme is perfectly remixed and modernized for 2013. In fact, music plays a significant part in the game. When you go for that devastating Ultra combo to finish off your opponent, the music goes along with, and is perfectly scored to every single hit. In the pause menus, some ominous, swelling chords are accompanied by a note from the KI theme’s melody for each option you highlight. This is almost like a mini-game in and of itself, as you try and match the melody to the chords.
As I pointed out to my friend, it’s like the developers knew how much the original music meant to the franchise and tried to make it an integral part of the new KI experience.
From what I’ve played so far, KI’s gameplay is pretty top-notch. The combo system is fluid, the moves are easy to pull off (well… they’re supposed to be. I’ll get to that), and you can pretty much mash buttons to make your character do some really flashy stuff. But that’s not a good idea to do against someone who knows what they’re doing.
Double Helix made KI a game for everyone. For casual players who just want to sit around and beat up their buddies, KI is a decent game and there is a lot of fun to be had in doing so. For people who really want to get into the game and learn its intricacies, it’s almost overwhelmingly deep. Learning how to break combos alone takes a good amount of practice and patience. Luckily, the game includes a “Dojo” mode which teaches you every single aspect of the game and it’s one of the most intensive and thorough tutorials I’ve ever seen in a fighting game. In dojo mode, you’ll learn everything from how your regular attacks work, to countering combo breakers, and even how frame data works. It’s a lot to take in, but with some practice, you’ll be on your way to fighting like a KI pro.
Since the controller isn’t that good, your best option is going to be to pick up the MadCatz TE2 fightstick, which is currently and unfortunately the only next-gen fighting game controller. All your old arcade sticks won’t work on the new hardware (which is stupid and makes no sense whatsoever, in my opinion). I wasn’t too crazy about dropping $200 on ANOTHER fightstick, but I’m glad I have it preordered. I think my overall experience will improve once I’m able to play the game on something it was designed for.
Images taken from Google Images.
(I say “nearly” because, hey, I was a kid. I didn’t have my own money back then. I didn’t start buying my own consoles until the PS1)
I’m not intending to fuel the console wars, or anything of the sort. I just want to give you guys an unbiased look at these consoles from a technical standpoint.
Like the Playstation 4, I wasn’t impressed with the Xbox One’s launch lineup either. In fact, the only two reasons I bought the system were 1) multiplayer games (since I already pay for an Xbox Live subscription) and 2) Killer Instinct. So does that mean that Killer Instinct makes this the better of the two latest consoles’ libraries because of one game? Unfortunately, yes. That doesn’t mean Killer Instinct is a bad game, in fact it’s great, but only one exclusive available at launch that I’m interested in is still disappointing. But in all fairness, that’s one more than the PS4 had.
In my PS4 review, I mentioned that Sony’s console looked like “a crooked 1980s VCR.” I also mentioned that the Xbox One was better looking. After actually seeing the console in person, however, that opinion changed slightly. It does, indeed, look better than the PS4, but man that thing is huge and looks even MORE like a 1980s VCR (only not “crooked”)! The console is even about the size of one of the first VCRs I remember having as a kid (a top loader).
That being said, it’s still pretty slick. The quality is rather pristine and the build is sturdy, making you feel as though you just purchased something worth every penny of your $500. The Kinect (which I WILL NOT use. More on that in a bit) looks ridiculous sitting on top of the system, though. It looks like someone ripped off Rob the Robot’s head, stretched it, and stuck it on top of a huge VCR. For those of you who don’t know who Rob the Robot is, go look him up.
The Xbox One controller had the potential to be perfect. I really loved the Xbox 360 controller, but to myself and most fans, there was one glaring flaw: the d-pad. With its small, circular design, games such as those in the fighting genre were virtually unplayable on the 360 controller. With the Xbox One, Microsoft redesigned the d-pad with a more traditional take. However, it still doesn’t operate as well as I would like it to. Each direction “clicks,” rather than feeling smooth like most d-pads, including the PS4’s. Other than that, Microsoft kept the design pretty much the same from their previous console. Oddly enough, a 3rd party controller for Xbox 360, the Razer Sabertooth, is a much better design than either the Xbox 360 or Xbox One. If the controller would have been an identical copy of Razer’s, I would have given it a perfect 10.
Here is where things start to go a bit south. First, I’ll say that I absolutely hate Windows 8. It’s designed for the “tablet generation” and complicates things greatly in its attempts to simplify them. This is also true of the Xbox One’s Windows 8-based operating system. Like the Wii U, everything you try to do loads an app (which takes too long to load. More on that in a bit), which is pretty unnecessary.
My friend and I were attempting to play a few matches online in Killer Instinct when I found out just how overcomplicated things had actually gotten. On the Xbox 360 when you wanted to invite someone to whatever game you were playing, all you had to do was click the Xbox home button on the controller, go to your friend’s list, and push X on the friend you wanted to invite. In a matter of seconds, your friend was connected to your lobby and you were ready to play some multiplayer. Simple, huh? With the Xbox One, I’m not really sure how it works! My friend and I were looking for some way to invite someone specifically to a game, but all we found was that the Xbox will automatically connect you after you’ve chosen to host a game. It works, but it really makes no sense to me. Like, what if I have multiple friends who are playing Killer Instinct and I just want to invite one of them? Does it show me a list and I pick who I want to play with? Is this just a bug with Killer Instinct? I’m sure there’s somebody reading this that thinks, “Man, he’s an idiot. The process is [insert ridiculously stupid Windows 8 process here].” But to me, this is an example of Microsoft changing something that was ridiculously simple and effective to begin with, yet overcomplicating it with their next product/update.
It’s not the first time the company has done this kind of thing. I’ve been using Microsoft products since the late 80s and this has pretty much always been their philosophy.
The operating system doesn’t cater to those who would rather navigate the OS with a controller, either. Instead, the entire thing was designed to use Kinect motion tracking and voice commands. Also, some of the apps which don’t require Kinect to use certain features, do require you to at least have it plugged in. What’s the point of that? All this would probably be fine if my Kinect actually worked in the first place (more on that in a bit, as well)!
I can’t really speak from first-hand experience, as I only have one game and it’s a fighter, but the insides are supposed to be almost exactly the same as the PS4’s. This means that yes, games will look better than they did on the previous console. But there’s one glaring flaw in the Xbox One’s architecture: most games don’t display in native 1080p and are instead upscaled from 720p. To some, resolution may not be that important, but come on; it’s 2013. High-def televisions are pretty much the standard and tech should support their highest resolutions. Also, if you’re going to make me lay out $500 for a console, shouldn’t the thing be capable of more than, or at least be on par with, its lower priced competition?
The PS4 had its share of launch-day woes, but in my opinion, they don’t compare to the amount and severity of problems reported (and experienced firsthand) of the Xbox One. Bad disc drives, “green screens of death,” inoperable and barely functioning Kinect sensor (supposedly you have to yell at it to make it work most of the time), etc.
I wasn’t as fortunate this time around, as I was with the PS4. My Xbox, as well as two of my friends’, experienced a few problems, some to greater degrees than others (mine seemed to be hit the worst). Here are the problems I personally encountered over the weekend:
1. My Kinect doesn’t work.
I don’t want to use the thing anyway, but in order to use the Upload Studio app to edit a Killer Instinct video clip (a feature which, as my friend informed me, DOESN’T require Kinect while editing), I have to have the Kinect sensor plugged into the console. Why is that? All I want to do is edit the length of a freaking game clip with the DVR feature! Why does the Kinect have to be plugged in to do that?
When I plugged the Kinect into the system just to unlock the editing feature, the Xbox One wouldn’t recognize it, saying that it was unplugged. Apparently this is a known problem, and could possibly be fixed in a firmware patch in the future. Right now, Microsoft is having people send back their consoles for replacements, claiming “hardware failure,” but I think I’ll wait for an update to see if that does the trick.
[UPDATE: Since the Xbox One's first firmware update after release, my Kinect works as it should. Not that I have any reason at all to use it, but at least it works.]
I’ve had a few apps close on me for no apparent reason, including Killer Instinct. (One of my friends has also experienced this a few times.) Not only that, but I had the system completely power itself down randomly while I was downloading the game. Luckily, when I turned it back on, the download resumed where it left off.
I’ve had this happen a few times. So far, Killer Instinct has locked up on me twice, and my friends list and other apps have taken too long to load. This is a problem (load times) that my friends who have an Xbox One have all experienced. What’s really strange, however, is the fact that for us, apps all take a different amount of time to load. This is the first time that I’ve ever heard of a console taking different amounts of time to load the same thing on different consoles. Is it a deal breaker? No, but it’s really weird. I hope that this is something that can be corrected in a firmware update.
Again, this is a known problem, but I have no real way to test it, as of yet. Hopefully it does, but I’ll have to borrow a game or something from one of my friends to find out. With Kinect already not functioning, I’m a little worried that I might have the disc drive errors as well. I’m not sure if this only affects Xbox One games, or any type of disc you try and feed it. I’ll try it out soon and update the review accordingly.
*UPDATE 12/8/13* My disc drive DOES work. :)
All in all, it’s a decent console, but I was hoping it would be better. Like the PS4, I’m sure it will have a great library of games and cool features in the future, but neither console is absolutely stellar at the moment.
Before I continue, I just want to note that there will probably be a few comparisons to the PC and the existing consoles – not from a fan-boy perspective, but from a technology perspective. Since the Xbox One will be released this Friday, I’ll be doing a sort of “head-to-head” article on what I think is the best deal in terms of quality – PS4, Xbox One, or Wii U.
Also, keep in mind: As with all of my reviews, these are just MY OPINIONS and the scores are assigned accordingly, given MY tastes. Ultimately, what box you choose to play your games on is your decision. And as long as you’re having fun playing the games, that’s all that matters, right?
Earlier during the launch week, the winner(s) of the Taco Bell “Play The Future” promotional event were sent their PS4s, but complained of various problems with the unit - the story being picked up by a multitude of gaming websites and media. Problems reported by the media ranged from a lack of video from the system’s HDMI output port, to the system “bricking” during the installation of certain apps and firmware, and even to the rubber feet on the bottom of the console being misplaced, therefore making the system wobble when placed on the floor or a desk and pushed down.
Let’s face it, console launch libraries aren’t really a good indicator of what a system will be capable of in the future. Like with the Wii U, most of the games on PS4 are ports of previous-gen games, with only a few brand new, built-for-the-new-console titles. With that said, for a gamer with options (like myself), I found it hard to justify buying certain games knowing that I could get the “better looking” version on PC if I just waited a few weeks. I ended up buying the games I did just so I would have something to actually play on the PS4 and the system wouldn’t sit around collecting dust until something truly interesting was released.
I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of the design. It’s sleek, small, and will easily blend in with all your Blu-Ray players and cable boxes, but I just think it looks too much like a crooked, 1980s VCR. In all fairness, and like people, it’s what’s inside that really counts. But with such a unique design (for a console), I think it’s worth giving the box a score. I mean, you do have to look at the thing. In comparison to the other consoles, I think the 2nd PS3 design, both versions of the Xbox 360, the Xbox One and the Wii U all look better on the outside than the PS4.
Here’s the physical design aspect that really shines. For the first time since they introduced the Dual Analog controller with the PS1, Sony has completely redesigned the thing you use to play its consoles. We’re not talking simple additions like analog sticks or the Six-Axis feature; they physically redesigned the entire thing.
The button layout is mostly the same, but the pad’s handles, directional buttons, triggers and analog sticks have all been configured in a way to make the controller more comfortable and easy to use. New features such as the “share,” “options,” and “touch pad” have replaced the normal “start” and “select” buttons, however.
Those three new buttons are also why the controller didn’t get a perfect 10 for me. Since the days of playing the original NES, gamers have been used to having “start” and “select” (or “back” in the Xbox’s case) buttons in the middle of their gamepads. With the Dual Shock 4, Sony placed the “options” and “share” buttons on the top/middle, with the large, pushable touchpad dead center. While playing, I found myself going for the options button to pause the game, only accidentally pressing the touchpad instead. It’s not a terrible design decision by any means; it’s just something that will take a lot of getting used to. Also, I can’t help but wonder how much that will hinder fighting games (and tournaments) in the future since the face buttons and directional pad are so close to the button that pauses the game.
The interface is good and works well, but there’s nothing really that special about it. There are some conveniences such as being able to switch seamlessly between the operating interface and whatever game you’re playing, but it’s not the best (first updated Xbox 360 XMB), nor the worst (Wii U) GUI I’ve encountered on a console. Really, it just feels like a slightly updated version of the PS3’s GUI.
[Unfortunately, I can’t really comment on some of the sharing features, as I haven’t been able to try those out yet.]
The thing that I did like the most about the interface, however, was the connectivity with the Vita. Much like the Wii U’s gamepad, the PS4 can connect wirelessly with the Sony handheld, allowing you to play almost any PS4 game without the need of a television. Unlike the Wii U though, every PS4 doesn’t come with a PS Vita and you have to lay out a couple hundred bucks to get that experience.
I have touted the power of the PC ever since I started reviewing games on this site. That being said, for a console with a GPU that costs around $150, this thing packs a significant punch. I bought 3 games at launch: Assassin’s Creed IV, Battlefield 4 and Madden 25. All three games look and run great with a slight exception for ACIV. While it looks gorgeous in 1080p (after an update which 'unlocks' the resolution from 900p), the PS4 version is locked at 30fps. To some, this won’t be a big deal, but to me, having played every Assassin’s Creed game on PC at 60fps and above, there’s a noticeable difference in smooth animations. Battlefield 4, however, looks fantastic and in my opinion, looks nearly as good as Battlefield 3 did on PC.
Is the jump in graphics power that large from the previous generation or on par with the PC? Not exactly, but the fact that the games are outputting at a sharp 1080p, makes things look much more crisp and vibrant. Though, just like with the Xbox 360 and PS3, developers will learn certain tricks to make graphics look even better as they get more comfortable developing for more powerful hardware.
It’s not trying to sell itself as a do-all this time around (like the PS3), it’s not trying to innovate the way you control games (Wii & Wii U) and it’s not trying to be the centerpiece of your living room (Xbox One). It’s just a gaming box with better technology for folks to enjoy. The last time I remember a company doing that with a console was Nintendo with the SNES… And we all know how awesome that system was!
I'll be getting the PS4 this Friday, along with Assassin's Creed IV, Battlefield 4, and Madden 25 (BF4 and Madden, thanks to a great promo deal through Amazon). So along with these 3 games (though there probably won't be a full-blown Madden review), there will be a review of the console itself, just like there was for the Wii U.
Next Friday, I'll be getting my Xbox One with Killer Instinct and the MadCatz KI Fightstick. I'll be doing a review of all three.
Get ready. There's gonna be a lotta readin' soon!
|"...you're a member of the coast guard youth auxiliary?!"|
Yeah, that was a very subtle Back to The Future reference...
There’s really no other word to describe Beyond’s story than phenomenal. Jodie Holmes, played excellently by actress Ellen Page, is attached to a ghostly entity she calls “Aiden” that has “haunted” her for her entire life. Aiden allows Jodie to see things and interact with people in a way that no normal human can. This has forced her into certain situations which find her in the care of Dr. Nathan Dawkins (Willem Dafoe), a paranormal researcher and the story brokenly chronicles Jodie’s life from a child to adulthood, and her struggle to find her place in the world with such a strange gift.
While the narrative has been criticized for “needlessly” jumping around several points within Jodie’s life, there is a reason for this, and I didn’t find it frustrating, distracting, or anything of the sort. Beyond: Two Souls has one of the most original stories I’ve experienced in a long time.
|Ellen Page after being mo-capped.|
|Ellen Page as she's getting her face mo-capped.|
I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but current-gen consoles are showing their age compared to the capabilities of the PC. However, Beyond features some of the best graphics I’ve ever seen on them. As I’ve said before, I’m really impressed with how good developers are getting at facial motion capture technology. Games like The Last of Us, Assassin’s Creed III and Tomb Raider have all had great facial capturing, but they pale in comparison to Beyond. Ellen Page LOOKS like Ellen Page. Willem Dafoe LOOKS like Willem Dafoe.
In addition, this game has some of the best lighting effects I’ve seen in ANY game – console or otherwise. Great lighting can mean the world to games nowadays and Beyond has it in spades. There’s a section of the game that takes place out in a desert area, and in my opinion, it looks 100% real. There’s really no time while looking at this game that it doesn’t look as though you’re watching a movie. It looks that good.
The voice acting is spectacular. Again, as I’ve said many times in my reviews, voice acting in games just continues to get better and better. Here, you’re dealing with two Academy Award nominees and at no point can you imagine them recording dialogue in a sound booth. Like with the visuals, you feel as though you’re watching a fully acted performance rather than a videogame.
Speaking of which, Ellen Page delivers what is, in my opinion, the performance of her career. I’ve seen her in things before, and while she is a good actress, she’s always been a foul-mouthed cute girl, taking on roles that showcase just that (Inception and X-Men III being notable exceptions). I find it funny (in an awesome way) that a videogame is what she should win an Academy Award for, and I remember thinking, “If this was a film, she’d be smothered with critical acclaim. Since it’s a game, though, her performance will probably go mostly and unfortunately unnoticed.” It’s a shame, too. I’d like to see her take on more roles like this.
The overall sound design is pretty good too, but I honestly can’t remember any musical cues. The score was composed by Norman Corbeil, who composed Quantic Dream’s previous two titles, but due to his death in January 2013, was completed by Assassin’s Creed III composer, Lorne Balfe. I can’t necessarily knock this score for not being memorable, as the story was so engaging that I just honestly didn’t pay attention to the score. Maybe on a second playthrough, I’ll give it a more intent listen.
|In this game, the Green Goblin plays a ghost-doctor!|
In my recent Resident Evil article, I mentioned my hate for quick time events. True, I hate them in Resident Evil games and the way Capcom implements them, but here, where the game is built around the QTE, I’m fine with them. Do they add anything to the experience of Beyond? Not really, but they make you feel like you’re interacting with the story, so I guess they’re ok. Personally, I’d rather just have a playthrough of Beyond on Blu-Ray so I could watch the story at my leisure.
My only real problem with the game play is that Jodie and Aiden can be difficult to actually move at times. This isn’t terrible, and I’ve seen much worse in other games, but I have to dock it a point because it became slightly frustrating during some of the more intense, action-oriented sections.
And one more thing: Don’t believe the other reviews out there. Most of them are just mad because they didn’t get sent review copies of a triple-A title. This game is definitely worth your time and I highly recommend it to those looking for an awesome story.
Screenshots taken from Google Images.
For most fans, the series has been on a sharp decline since RE4. Personally, RE4 is one of my favorites, just behind 2 and 3. I liked the change in gameplay (the over-the-shoulder style), even if it did seem more like a side-game or “gaiden,” but I had a gut-wrenching feeling that the franchise would be forever changed after that game.
And changed, it was.
I’ll straight-up say that I HATED RE5. Like the RE movie franchise, 5 was waaaaaay too overblown, overcomplicated and action-heavy, leaving the sub-genre which Resident Evil had been known for, survival-horror, lying dead in the dust like a freshly head-shotted zombie.
Last weekend on Steam, I downloaded Resident Evil 6 and Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, of which I played RE: ORC to completion and the Ada campaign in RE6. My thoughts? Capcom just really doesn’t know how to make a 3D action game. Forget about the series not being “survival-horror enough”; the games just aren’t good anymore. Frustrating controls, poorly implemented quick time events and a story so convoluted that it makes the Highlander film franchise blush, have effectively killed Resident Evil.
A game should be fun to control, right? You should be able to “feel” as though you’re playing through the game, not “making the game work properly.” While Resident Evil has never been critically acclaimed because of its control scheme, the series post-Code Veronica has been an utter mess. Originally, the series had what has been referred to as “tank controls.” Basically, the directional pad on the controller always corresponded to the direction your character was facing on the screen. In other words, “up” was ALWAYS forward, no matter where your character was. Combined with the games’ pre-rendered backgrounds (polygonal character models on a drawn background), this took players some time to get used to, though once they did, it started to feel like second nature.
Starting with RE4, Capcom felt that they could improve on the series’ most loathed feature, and switched to an over-the-shoulder perspective. Some fans who liked the original scheme complained, but the general consensus was that the new style was a welcomed change. I liked it. The franchise was trying something different and they succeeded. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the control scheme that Capcom thought everybody liked – it was the “action.”
After RE4, the fifth entry amped up the action elements considerably and put more enemies on the screen, making the new control scheme virtually useless. Suddenly, controlling your character felt like a chore and making them try to get away from a large horde of enemies (which had shifted back in RE4 from shambling zombies and manageable monsters to running, half-humans) just didn’t work very well.
For RE6, the action has been pumped even more, making the game even more frustrating to play. Several, respawning enemies get cramped up into tiny rooms with you and knock you down, only to have you get up and knocked down immediately thereafter with no chance of escape. In my opinion, the game is just an absolute nightmare to control... and not in a good, survival horror-y way.
Ah, the quick time event. I hate QTEs. I don’t mind them in a game that’s designed around them (as you’ll see from my upcoming Beyond: Two Souls review), but during an action game, they make me mad… real quick-like.
QTEs are essentially button presses during a cutscene which are intended to make you feel a part of the game at all times. When they were introduced in RE4, I’ll readily admit that I liked them. They didn’t seem forced, they were easy to perform and they gave you a bit of an adrenaline rush at times. In RE5 and 6, however, they’re cumbersome, forced and add absolutely nothing to the gameplay experience except frustration.
My main gripe with RE5 and especially 6’s QTEs, is their poor implementation. I cannot stand how the game designers give you literally 3 seconds to figure out what you’re supposed to do during a QTE. This usually results in cheap death, after death, after death, until you finally figure out that you’re supposed to press a certain combination of buttons or move the analog sticks in such a way as to not be immediately killed.
The Resident Evil story started so simple: A demented pharmaceutical company, Umbrella, who secretly creates biological weapons has had an accident in their facility under a mansion out in the woods. A military specialist team, S.T.A.R.S., comes in to check the place out, only to find that it’s overrun with zombies, monsters, and at one point, undead sharks. That was it. It was just a simple, easy to understand concept that has been expounded upon for nearly twenty titles to date.
With every game, Capcom leads its players to believe that the one they’re playing will be the last one. They don’t do it in the same way the Eagles do when they go on a farewell tour every two years, but every game wraps itself up nicely… or at least, it used to. After RE3: Nemesis, though, it was apparent that Capcom had another franchise, the likes of which had not been seen since Megaman, which could carry on for years. I commend Capcom for at least trying to keep the series moving forward canonically, but it’s just getting stale, needlessly complicated and soap opera-ish. I mean seriously, how many more times can Umbrella cause some country-wide disaster and get away with it? How many more times can Albert Wesker come back? What’s this crap about Wesker’s son? Oh, so there are about 9 million viruses that Umbrella created?
It’s just getting ridiculous.
Fortunately, Capcom has seen the error of their ways, due mainly to the poor sales of RE6. After playing 5, I was pretty much done with the series, but I eventually did it to myself once again and bought RE6 on sale for $10. In my opinion, the game is worth about that much… maybe less. Don’t get me wrong, I hate to hate on something, but this series really has declined, is in need of going back to its roots in survival horror, and nothing shows it more than RE6. If you like Resident Evil or videogames in general, don't play it.
It’s cases like these that I become a proponent for rebooting a franchise. When it starts getting way out of hand or stale, you need to hit the reset button and it seems that’s at least one of the options Capcom is considering when going forward with Resident Evil.
I’m not going to go into the details of FFXIV’s story, as it’s not the greatest in the world. Basically, a cataclysmic event hits the land of Eorzea, causing things to change throughout the world. This is pretty much SquareEnix using an in-game excuse to change problems that players initially had with the game. It’s pretty clever, but it’s also kind of funny when you read into it. I’m sure that to players who played the original version, it’s even funnier. There are some pretty standard RPG tropes like an evil empire and such, but I think that sometimes the story seems to get in the way of the player just going out and building their character up, as I find even myself skipping through lines of dialogue while trying to get the next quest going. This is something that I never had to do with all the previous FFs.
For an online game, FFXIV is pretty to look at. In fact, it’s the best looking one I’ve seen yet. The fact that the game was designed to be played from multiple platforms (PS3 & PC) on the same servers means that some of the graphics have been toned down to accommodate the aging PS3 hardware. That being said, it’s still an online game, so the graphics for FFXIV aren’t going to look as good as XIII or the upcoming XV, anyway. A good deal of graphics processing goes into putting tons of fully animated avatars on the screen at once, thus contributing to the lower quality of the graphics.
Uematsu is back! A lot of old Final Fantasy musical flourishes are back that have been missing post-XII, so from an auditory standpoint, fans should be rather pleased. At one point, even the battle music from the first FF game makes an appearance! Pretty much all the music and themes you would expect from a Final Fantasy game are all here, which is something I can’t say about FFXIII (which had a good score, regardless) and probably won’t be able to say about XV once it's released.
|My main character, based off the protagonist in a story I'm writing.|
FFXIV is your standard MMORPG. You basically run around doing “fetch quests” for NPCs and grind for experience points while moving through the lackluster story. Even the main HUD for FFXIV is nearly identical to other MMORPGs. To some, this may seem as though FFXIV is a retread of something they’ve already played. Indeed, the concepts and design aspects of FFXIV are exactly the same as something like Star Trek Online, as I had absolutely no problems while figuring out the various controls. Honestly though, I don’t know how developers would go about designing MMORPGs any differently at this point; this seems to be the standard simply because it works, though it does add a lot of monotony to the genre as a whole.
Naughty Dog, developers of the Uncharted franchise, have created a game which is an odd mix of horror, humanity, post-apocalyptic fiction, and thought provoking themes, all while relying heavily on several tropes that permeate a lot of current, popular fiction. This is both a good and bad thing. From a story standpoint, you can see most things coming from a mile away. From a gameplay standpoint, you’ve probably played this game a million times before. The difference here is that Naughty Dog executes these fiction and gaming tropes in a way that’s never really been done in a videogame before. Probably the only thing that comes close is Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead.
The Last of Us, at first glance, falls into the zombie-fiction genre. The thing is, it’s not really a zombie game. Like the premise for most stories in this genre, an unknown virus is unleashed on the world’s population, turning people into flesh-hungry monsters that feed on other humans. The bitten are then transformed into zombie-like creatures which continue the cycle for every person that they bite. This eventually spreads to the point that the entire world turns into a creature-filled wasteland with a few people left doing whatever is necessary to survive. Yes, that sounds like a zombie game, but it’s really more about a man and a girl who form an extremely strong father/daughter bond and the choices they make to survive.
The story centers on Joel, a man who loses his daughter (Sarah) during the initial outbreak. In the beginning, Joel is presented as a good man and father to Sarah, but by the time the actual story begins (20 years after Sarah’s death), he has become like the rest of the world: A man who will do what he must to stay alive.
Now a somewhat cold mercenary, Joel is tasked with escorting a 14 year-old girl named Ellie across the country since it is said that she may contain within her a cure for the infected.
What may seem like a simple premise actually turns into a harrowing adventure much like Stephen King’s The Stand. That story also dealt with people trying to make their way through the country and the new dangers a post-virus world might present. Joel and Ellie must traverse abandoned cities and towns to make it to their various destinations, all the while battling other survivors, cannibals, and the infected.
The things I like most about any story, whether it is a novel, comic, movie, TV show, or game, are well-developed characters that you can identify with and care about. Joel, Ellie, and the relationship they develop, are extremely well thought out here, surpassing the clichés that rear their ugly heads at every turn. But even then, the trope of the “father / daughter” relationship is thrown at them and it still works. This is due in part to the game’s fantastic writing. The story flows naturally (though it’s a bit slow in the beginning) and by the time it’s over, you feel as though you’ve been on just as much of an adventure as Ellie and Joel.
For a console game, The Last of Us is gorgeous, though I’ll admit that I’ve been quite spoiled with the capabilities of the PC. Some “jaggies” are present due to the limits of 720p and occasionally the framerate stutters, though that’s virtually non-existent.
The character models in-game can be a little hit-or-miss at times, but the environments are what makes the visuals shine. Even dilapidated, moss-covered buildings look beautiful in combination with excellent lighting effects. Everything looks as though it actually exists in the real world, giving an authentic look to a game which is trying to look as realistic as possible.
Since this is an action/survival-horror title, music is not really that prominent. During character moments and cutscenes, the music fits quite well, but is nothing to write home about. One thing that I found interesting is that the closer Joel and Ellie get to an enemy, the music ramps up and intensifies. For gameplay purposes, this adds a lot of tension as you sneak around while being down to your last few bullets.
The voice acting is perfection. There have been a lot of games recently that have had superb voice acting, but The Last of Us hits it out of the park. Honestly, the voice work in this game (coupled with the writing) puts most Hollywood actors and writers to shame.
As far as the environmental and overall sound design, it’s ok. I’ve heard better from games like Tomb Raider and Assassin’s Creed III. I just felt as though the sound could have been a lot better for the sake of immersion, especially since the game does this so well in other areas, but it’s just really generic.
The gameplay is nothing necessarily innovative, but at the same time, it’s solid. If you’ve ever played Rockstar Games’ Manhunt (PS2/Xbox/PC), you’ve played this game. The stealth aspects and gunplay are nearly identical to that title. The only difference here is that you’re up against zombie-like creatures and other survivors, rather than demented gang members. Limited ammo and resources always leave you feeling like you may not make it through the next section of the game, making you resort to other paths (like stealth) to get through. You’ll have to be smart if you run out of ammo, and because of that, the game really does have a feeling of true survival-horror. It’s actually possible to avoid combat altogether 90% of the time if you want, but doing so is much harder and more time consuming.
Speaking of time consuming, this game is loooooooooooong. Or at least, it feels that way. I kind of took my time with it, searching everything and taking part in any nuances I found, but my final play time was around 16 hours. That’s pretty long for a 3rd person action/survival-horror game and it makes you feel as though you’ve been across the entire country on foot, just as a game of this magnitude should.
One minor complaint I had was, by the time I finished the game, I felt as though using “zombies” as enemies was not really needed since you spend most of your time fighting survivors. I guess the developers felt like they needed something a little creepier to fill up the empty space between obstacles that a virus-ridden world would present.
But that’s what makes this game extremely hard to review: For every one bad or questionable aspect I found in the game, I found 2 awesome aspects. The story, writing, acting, solid gameplay, and realistic environments, more than make up for any shortcoming that The Last of Us might have.
The big question: Is it worth $60? Yes. If you’re a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, this is definitely one of the best games out there.
Image taken from Google Images.
Go on and do yourself a favor and download a Playstation 2 emulator. I've recently been replaying Final Fantasy XII and I can honestly say that one of the low points of the series (in my opinion) is now a more pleasurable experience because of PCXE2. The once (again, in my opinion) horrid graphics of one of the last major PS2 titles are much more palatable at a higher resolution, due mainly to the various plugins available for the emulator.
I'm not condoning the use of a pirated copy of FFXII, as PCXE2 will play titles directly off of the original game DVD. So if you have some old PS2 games (and a powerful enough PC rig) and you want to see what those games look like in HD quality, download the emulator and give it a look. You won't be disappointed.
2. Selling your soul to the devil... all for a videogame.
In my last post, I talked about the fact that I would probably be reviewing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. To someone like Nic, this may come as something of a shock since I've been staunchly against paying a monthly fee for a game.
My opinions on charging players to play a game is a whole other story for a whole other article.
But I figured... what the heck? (censored Back To The Future quote)
The pricing schemes for FFXIV are kind of ridiculous, but I won't be playing the game forever. I'm planning on paying the minimal fee so I can see if I like it or not. Plus, you get a month free when you start the game, so that should be plenty of time to check the game out and give it a trial run.
When The Elder Scrolls Online releases, however, I may just have to suck it up and pay for it full-tilt. Those are games I can get into for a long period of time, so I'll probably be just a tiny bit more justified in the month-to-month fee... right?
3. People need to leave Ben Affleck alone.
Seriously, what did this guy do to garner all this hate over him playing Batman? I think it's a great choice and he's a great actor. I've never seen a movie with him in it that I didn't like. Or at least, I've never seen a movie of his that I thought was terrible.
Yes, I saw Gigli, Phantoms and Daredevil. I personally like Daredevil, and Phantoms (in which he was da bomb, yo) and Gigli certainly weren't the best movies I've ever seen, but they weren't nearly as bad as jerks on the internet make them out to be. And even if one thinks that those movies are bad, exactly how much do they really believe that Affleck was the cause? He didn't write those films, or direct them, he just starred.
So I guess because Ben Affleck, a good actor, decides to take a few acting gigs in movies that people deem terrible means that we should crucify him for playing Batman? Really? The internet really needs to take a minute and think about the logic they use to come to a conclusion sometimes.
Just as a side note: I also think Ben Affleck should play Eddie Dean in The Dark Tower films if they ever get made.That's the guy I've always pictured since I read the character in The Drawing of the Three. Hate me, internet.
I didn’t watch the E3 conference this year, but I read most of the articles ‘round the internet about it. From what I’m reading, Sony clearly “won” this time.
Just how did they win? By completely standing up for the consumer, as opposed to Microsoft which seems to be very “anti” that mentality.
(Note: After writing this article, I went back and watched the archived conferences. Unfortunately, my following opinions and concerns have not changed.)
Let’s give a little backstory:
Back in May, Microsoft revealed the Xbox One, their newest console. This comes as a little delayed from Sony’s earlier reveal of the Playstation 4. As I said in an earlier article, I wasn’t particularly impressed with Sony’s initial conference that showed the world their new console, but I thought it was just “ok.” That being said, myself and many other videogame fans were completely floored (and not in a good way) by the ridiculous restrictions which were being proposed by Microsoft.
Honestly, I don’t know what they were thinking. A console that has to be connected to the internet to function?
Get out of here.
To be fair, Microsoft later stated that the Xbox One would not have to be constantly connected to the internet, but WOULD have to be connected at least once every 24 hours. This, in my opinion, is still quite unacceptable. I live in a quasi-rural area, so my internet connection is neither fast, nor the most stable. Because of that, an Xbox One would be extremely problematic for me. For example: Nearly every time it rains, I lose my internet connection. So if the weather happens to be bad for a couple of days, I just wouldn’t be able to play… At all. Not even single-player games that shouldn’t have to connect to the internet in the first place would be playable for me if the weather was bad.
“Metal Gear Solid V? If it’s raining for a few days, forget about it.” That’s basically what Microsoft is telling me.
That’s just terrible design. There’s no reason that a game console should ever have to be connected to the internet, at any time, to function.
Back to this year’s E3:
None of gamers’ concerns were alleviated at Microsoft’s second showing. All the restrictions and requirements were still in place: Required internet connection, no used games (unless the developer permits it by offering codes for a flat-rate), a really big push (though subliminal) for Windows 8, and an “always on” version of their Kinect technology. All these things were still around and I (and every other gamer) was being told that they were all “good things” and that I just “didn’t know I wanted them yet.”
Not to get too political here, but that sounds a lot like our government and the ridiculous policies they’ve tried to push in recent years.
The Playstation 4, however, has absolutely none of these unwanted features. Even in their E3 presentation, they made it a point to directly fire shots at Microsoft by pointing this out to gamers. Every shot was met with thundering applause, or so I read.
If I were there, I would have been in the crowd applauding right along with everyone else.
It would seem that this “console war” might be won by the following 2 things: Features and exclusives. Unlike previous console generations, hardware capability has been taken completely out of the equation. This time around, both the Xbox One and Playstation 4 have nearly identical specs under their respective hoods, so most games will be the same aesthetically. Since that’s the case, one has to look at the two console’s features first.
In both systems, the features are, just like the hardware, nearly identical. You have uploadable content like the new video sharing and social media integration. You also have real-time video streaming on both, with Sony using Ustream and Microsoft using Twitch. Then there are the normal features like Netflix, Hulu, HBO-Go, Amazon, web browsing, etc. With all these features in mind, exclusives have to be more of a factor.
I’ll readily admit, the Xbox One has more, interesting looking, exclusive titles so far than the Playstation 4. D4, Dead Rising 3, Forza 5, Halo 5, Killer Instinct, Quantum Break, and Sunset Drive are all exclusive to Microsoft.
Killer Instinct is kind of an interesting one.
A sequel to a series that’s been dead since the late 90’s, KI has been something that fighting game enthusiasts have waited for a long time. When the new game was announced as an Xbox One exclusive, the fighting game community went absolutely nuts. I saw several forum and Twitter posts saying that they were now sold on the new Microsoft console. Clearly this is an overreaction, since they seemed to forget about the crazy restrictions they had been complaining about only a few hours before the game’s announcement. Finally, the realizations of complicated tournament play (needing to have the console bought and downloaded for every console at every station at the tournament venue and a constant internet connection) began to rear their ugly heads and doubt began to set in. This doubt became even more substantiated when it was announced that Killer Instinct would be a “day-one download” title which would be “free-to-play.” Only one character (Jago) would be available until the player bought the rest of the characters. When gamers went into an uproar, Microsoft and the game’s developers quickly changed their rather poor wording, saying that KI would basically be a “demo” on day-one and the player would buy the full version of the game if they wanted to at a later time.
Why not just call it a “demo” in the first place? Come on, Microsoft. Get yourselves together.
The Playstation 4 doesn’t boast the larger number of exclusives that the Xbox One does. Drive Club, The Order: 1886, Gran Turismo 6, Infamous: Second Son, and Killzone 4, were the only ones that I could find. So does this mean that Sony’s in trouble? I say no. As I told a friend of mine, there’s only ONE company that can sustain a console on its exclusives, and that’s Nintendo, but that’s because their exclusives are mostly first-party titles that have been around since 1984. On the Xbox One, the only two exclusives that are “blockbuster” titles are Forza and Halo. Dead Rising 3 will be a good seller, as will the 2 new IP’s, Quantum Break and Sunset Drive, but these exclusives won’t be the “system sellers” that a game like Final Fantasy VII was for the original Playstation back in 1997.
Is Halo a system seller? In a sense, yes, but the people who are fans of that game were fans back on the original Xbox with Halo and Halo 2. These fans carried over into the 360 era, but very few jumped on board with Halo 3 or 4. I’m not trying to discount the power of the Halo franchise, I’m just trying to point out that like many exclusives, save for Nintendo’s, Halo is a niche title. The same can be said about Uncharted or God of War for the Playstation. It would be much different if something with the general power of a franchise like Final Fantasy, a third-party franchise, were going exclusive to either Playstation 4 or Xbox One, since that series carries much more clout than games that have ALWAYS been exclusive to one platform or the other.
So maybe exclusives WON’T win the war. Then what will?
If it weren’t for Microsoft’s crazy new policies, I would say that the race would be pretty neck-and-neck. Before hearing about the Xbox’s new, weird way of doing things, that’s exactly how I figured it would be. The simple fact is, gamers and everyday people generally don’t like to be told what to do when attempting to enjoy themselves while playing a videogame. This much is abundantly clear given the recent backlash to the Xbox One.
Perhaps the largest critical backlash from both the gaming press and gamers themselves came shortly after the Xbox presentation at E3. Don Mattrick, President of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, was interviewed by GameTrailers.com and asked about some of the backlash towards the new console, particularly the constant internet connectivity issue. He was quoted as saying, “Fortunately, we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity; it’s called Xbox 360.”
This quote and arrogant, yet not surprising, attitude from a big-wig at Microsoft sent gamers into a frenzy. People that had recently supported the Xbox One 100% decided to drop their preorders and go the way of the Playstation. They were basically being told that if you couldn’t connect to the internet, you would be stuck with an outdated console which would probably lose support within the next 3 years and that Microsoft wasn’t going to back down from their outrageous requirements for the Xbox One. I, like all those angered gamers, thought that this was terrible marketing and customer relations. Again, it’s not surprising coming from Microsoft, as they’ve had this kind of mentality since they entered the world in 1975. World domination has always been their top priority, but it’s finally catching up to them.
With all that being said, I don’t mean to skip over Nintendo, but the simple fact is that they didn’t really have that much to show. What they did show was awesome, but nothing uber-exciting, or anything we didn’t already know was coming. I honestly think that it’s become the case that Nintendo is just… well…A NINTENDO company. I really don’t think they’re that interested in grabbing gamers of all types, and more focused on making consoles that play Nintendo-franchise games. Really, I’m fine with this. It’s not the greatest marketing attitude to have, but let’s be serious here: Nintendo franchises are powerful. The people who want those games are going to buy whatever console Nintendo builds in order to play them. If that’s what Nintendo is content in doing, then more power to them. Personally, I would rather see Nintendo embrace all of gaming and build a console which would compete with the likes of Sony and Microsoft, but (to use a cliché that I hardly ever use) it is what it is. I own a Wii U and I’m excited for Super Mario 3D World and the new Legend of Zelda game that’s in the works. Plus, the 3DS is the greatest handheld every created (and currently has some of the best games on any device), so I can’t really complain. I’ve got my Wii U to play Nintendo stuff and I’ll have a PS4 and PC to play everything else.
*Post-E3 and Aftermath Edit*
As mentioned in the note above, I’ve since watched both Sony and Microsoft’s respective E3 presentations. Pretty much everything I read was accurate and was portrayed just as well in a written form as it was while watching the events unfold visually. In other words, my opinions remain the same. Microsoft chose to stay away from such topics as being connected online and outrageous DRM policies. Instead, they decided to infer to gamers that their system was “so good” that these things wouldn’t / shouldn’t matter. However, according to gamers, these things DO matter.
Since the presentations ended, fans and the independent gaming press have shown their absolute disdain for Microsoft’s poor choices. I point specifically to internet gaming personality, Angry Joe and his recent interview with “Major Nelson” (Larry Hyrb), Microsoft’s Director of Programming for Xbox Live, as a prime example.
In the interview, Joe asks Hyrb some very difficult questions from his fans which put the Microsoft rep into a clearly uncomfortable and quite defensive position. The questions are simple and to-the-point and deal with gamers’ various concerns, such as the required online and DRM.
Joe tries extremely hard (until he’s discouraged by the Microsoft PR lady standing off-camera to move along) to not let Hyrb slide with his dodgy answers, but ultimately has to cut the interview short. This is due in part to the fact that Hyrb is about to partake in a “live event” on the showroom floor and, from what the rest of Joe’s video suggests, the angry PR lady who dislikes his questions.
Joe never comes off as antagonistic or that he’s looking for a debate, but instead as a concerned gamer. The fact that “Major Nelson” didn’t really want to answer his questions and the PR lady didn’t want them asked in the first place, seems like a confirmation of the attitude Microsoft seems to have at this point: “This is the future. Either get with it, or keep playing your Xbox 360 which will probably lose support roughly 3 years into the new generation of consoles. Even though all you gamers out there say you don’t want this stuff, we know what’s best for you.”
Sorry, Microsoft, I’LL decide what’s best for me. I don’t need you to tell me what I want. Also, stop dodging questions. You know everyone is angry with you over the decisions you’ve made, make moves to correct it instead of trying to shove it down people’s throats.
While playing Injustice online recently (on Xbox 360, mind you), I was talking with a friend of mine, an avid Xbox supporter, about these concerns. As we were talking, I noticed that every time I talk about these things, I may come off as though I’m a “Microsoft hater.” Nothing could be further from the truth. I happen to not like a lot of their business decisions (something which I’ve felt for almost 20 years), but I don’t like to see anyone “fail.” Truthfully, all of my concerns about the Xbox One boil down to one HUGE concern that I think is shared by 90% of gamers, but they don’t know how to voice it without sounding like raging “fanboys:” We don’t want these things to become console standards.
If Microsoft continues to be the same dominant force in the console market as they were with the Xbox 360, then it’s a given that the generation of consoles post-Xbox One and PS4 will be forced to adopt the same policies. The reason there is a severe outcry right now is because we’re all trying to voice the same thing: We don’t want this. From anyone. Ever.
That about wraps it up for this episode of Josh’s Inner Dorkdom Journal. Sorry that it was such a long read, but hopefully you’ll get something useful out of it and take these things into consideration before you purchase your next gaming console later this year. Hopefully, I’ll be back soon with a review of the game I’m currently playing: Naughty Dog’s, The Last of Us!
Trying to be an optimist in an overcrowded and slowly dying videogame world, I am,
Nearly a year and a half ago, Netherealm Studios revealed that their next game wouldn’t be Mortal Kombat 10. Instead, they chose to pursue a project which would completely abandon their beloved franchise. Most fans (including myself) were disappointed with NRS’ decision… until we saw actual gameplay of Injustice: Gods Among Us, a brand new fighter that featured famous DC superheroes as selectable characters. The footage looked pretty similar to Mortal Kombat, but the fighting game community all wondered if it actually played as such.
Being a fighting game fan and having put a considerable amount of time into fully learning MK9, Injustice has some similarities, so I’ll be comparing it mostly to that game. However, it’s a completely new game with mostly new mechanics, so there are a lot of things which work differently.
Console Differences: I purchased the PS3 Battle Edition and later got the Xbox 360 standard version, so that’s all I really have to go on. The Xbox version is superior, which doesn’t really surprise me, as MK9 was the same way - both Injustice and MK9 being developed for the 360. The graphics on the 360 are slightly better and the PS3 version has a sometimes quite noticeable lag on some stages. This usually happens on stages which have a lot going on in the background. The Xbox version also has significantly better load times. The PS3’s, however, are atrocious. Unfortunately I can’t comment on the Wii U version, though I assume it’s probably closer to the PS3 since it’s also a port.
With all that out of the way, let’s break everything down:
In MK9, you controlled the character with 2 buttons mapped to punches and 2 buttons mapped to kicks (similar to Tekken). There was a dedicated block button (which was also used to enhance special moves), a throw button, and supers/X-Rays were done by pressing block and the 2 kick buttons (or just both triggers on a gamepad). Injustice uses a very different setup which is more akin to Street Fighter’s, but slightly simpler. There are 3 attack buttons: Light, Medium, and Hard. A fourth attack button, called “Trait,” (or “character power”) is used as a character-specific move which can do things such as change fighting styles, or in a specific case such as Batman, summon floating mechanical bats which can extend combos.
Blocking is now done by holding back (or down, while crouching) and is one of the hardest things to get used to when coming from MK9. The button that used to block still enhances special moves, but is now pressed during the special’s animation, as opposed to simultaneously. Another button (R1 on PS3, RB on 360) is dedicated to interactable objects in the various stages which can be used to inflict damage on the opponent. One example is a garbage dumpster that can be picked up and thrown. These interactables deal high amounts of damage, can be used during combos, and are unblockable, so the only way to get around them is to move out of their path. Each character interacts with these objects differently, so character-specific strategies on different stages will probably come into play heavily in a tournament setting.
This is perhaps the most initially noticeable difference when compared to MK9. Injustice feels a little bit stiffer. Personally, I don’t really have a problem with it, but it will affect spacing and zoning options over the life of the game. Previously, to get through an opponent’s zoning attempt (i.e. spamming projectiles to force you to move forward), the player could dash-block in order to close space, but now, since dashing forward is highly unsafe, severely punishable, un-cancelable, and you have to hold back to block, new methods will have to be figured out. One method is simply to walk. Walking in MK9 was viable for some characters, but dash-blocking was the quickest way to close distance between you and the opponent. Jumping is also a way to get in, but is also very risky. In this game, if the opponent anti-airs you, you could be looking at a severe amount of damage. Some characters can do anti-air combos in the 40% range. Once people get used to the new mechanics, however, this will become much easier to deal with.
Combos work pretty much the same as in MK9: Each character has a set of chain combos (usually 3 button presses that lead into popups) which are “buffered” before the attacks actually land and can be chained together to extend damage. Something new to Injustice is the concept of “wall bouncing.” By holding back and ‘X,’ (PS3) or ‘A,’ (360), the character will charge the attack and when released, hit the opponent, bounce them off the corner of the screen, and leave them airborne for more combo potential. These moves can be extremely hard to time during combos (the timing is different on nearly every character), but highly effective once you get the hang of it and very necessary to get a higher damage percentage. These wall bounces, when in a corner, can also send the opponent through the wall, which transitions into a different part of the stage, all the while causing damage.
Along with stage transitioning and interactable stage objects, come a couple of new features. One particularly interesting change from traditional fighting games is the lack of “rounds.” Much like the classic Killer Instinct, there are now 2 life-bars present which, after the first one is depleted, pauses the match briefly and puts the characters back to neutral ground. One thing that makes this a little odd is the fact that there is an extremely low “comeback factor.” If your opponent still has 1.5 life-bars and you only have .5, your chances of winning have gone down to about 15%. Especially if the player in the lead has more meter. This is manageable, sure, but it’s going to take a huge amount of skill to do so. The clash system, which takes the place of MK9’s combo breaker system, allows the player to spend 2 bars of their super meter to stop the opponent’s combo. This can only be done when you are down to your 2 nd life bar. Once executed, the match goes into a fancy animation, the characters say something witty to one another, and the players’ respective super meters are displayed. From here, the players “bet” their meter in an attempt to win the clash. This can range from gaining back health to dealing damage, depending on how much meter the players bet. For 1 bar of meter, you can push away an opponent if you’re blocking their attacks. This can kind of relieve some block pressure and stop your opponent from constantly being all over you. Needless to say, meter is highly important in this game and, just like MK9, should be used wisely.
Several modes and content exist for both the serious and casual player. For the tournament-goer, there is a robust practice mode which puts MK9’s to shame. Here, you can record your flashy combos, set and record the computer A.I. to different actions in order to practice setups and punishes, and check out frame-data (which you can also do in the pause menu during a match), etc. And for the casual player, there exists tons of unlockables such as concept art, challenge battles, and several other nifty elements to entertain. For anyone looking for a challenge, you can try out the S.T.A.R. Labs which offers mini-games that play out under a series of unfortunate conditions (such as, “fight Cyborg while dodging falling meteors). These become more challenging as you go along.
The online, while a bit better than MK9, still leaves a lot to be desired. The netcode is still not as good as games like SoulCalibur V and Tekken Tag Tournament 2, therefore there’s some noticeable input lag. It’s a shame, since there are some really interesting features such as an online practice mode that can’t really be realized because of lag. Hopefully, there will be some way that NRS can patch this to make it better.
For the fighting game enthusiast, this game was developed with the entire fighting game community in mind, as opposed to just MK players. The more you play, the more this becomes apparent, but there is definitely enough familiarity that MK players shouldn’t have a whole lot of problems getting used to it. It’s going to be interesting to see how the top players in the MK tournament scene measure up to the ones who will be crossing over from the various Capcom fighters such as Street Fighter IV and Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. For the casual player, Injustice offers a ridiculous amount of fun. With the stage interactions, single player features, a decent story mode, and tons of unlockable content, players will find themselves busy for quite some time.
Final Score: 9/10
Screenshots will be added at a later time.