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Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Evil Within Preview

These days, games get turned out quicker than you can read reviews, play a demo or even see a commercial, sure big titles like Call of Duty, Killzone and other gets their spot on TV, but others are forced to rely on ‘Word of mouth’, usually from biased reviewers or gamers. So I thought I’d try my hand at looking forward at upcoming games to inform others who may not have known about them.

The first entry in this series, The Evil Within (TEW)


TEW is a survival-horror game, directed by Shinji Mikami, who is the mind behind the Resident Evil series, and is a single player game for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The game, based on screenshots, appears to play similar to Dead Space, with the psychological horror of Silent Hill.

Not creepy at all....

Of course, there's still plenty of blood for those who like that type of thing.


And you can really see the Resident Evil influence on the game, especially at points like these. 

Beware windows....
While the devs are keeping quite, you bet we'll be bringing you more information as we get it. If you like horror, keep your eyes on The Evil Within.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Can one of the crappiest MMORPG's turn it around and become one of the greatest?


Story

The story of FFXIV is initially told in the opening cutscene and is continued to be told as the player advances in missions, here's a breakdown of the story with the assistance of Wikipedia:

"Seeking control over the peaceful realm of Eorzea and its abundant crystal resources, the more advanced civilization of the Garlean Empire invades the realm from the north. In retaliation, despite their differences and anatgonisms, the city-states of Eorzea reinstate the Grand Companies—comprehensive centers of command which combine the cities' military and economic assets.
8th Imperial Legion Legatus Nael van Darnus, has his own agenda, insanely bent on purging all he sees as impurities, Nael orchestrated Project Meteor to summon the lesser moon Dalamud and wipe out all life.
 This forces the Grand Companies to put aside deep-rooted differences and consolidate their forces under the banner of the Eorzean Alliance. At the behest of this new confederation, adventurers from across the realm take up arms and march to the floating islands of Rivenroad to defeat Nael after he absorbed Dalamud's power.However, despite the mad imperial's death, Dalamud continues its descent to Eorzea.
In a final bid to save Eorzea, the Grand Companies turn to the Archon Louisoix, an enigmatic scholar hailing from the forgotten city-state of Sharlayan. Louisoix devises a plan to summon the power of the Twelve, Eorzea's pantheon of guardian deities, to banish Dalamud back to the heavens. But for this to succeed, the rite needs to be performed directly beneath the point of Dalamud’s impact: A vast swathe of barren lowlands in central Eorzea known as the Carteneau Flats.
The battle ceases when Dalamud enters the atmosphere while revealed to be a prison created to contain the elder primal, Bahamut. Freed after aeons of imprisonment, Bahamut jump starts the Seventh Umbral Era while unleashing his wrath upon the realm.  
Louisoix attempts the ritual to seal Bahamut in vain. Seeing his death certain in the Primal unleashing his ultimate attack, Louisoix summons the last of his strength to call upon the Twelves' power to send the survivors (including the player) into an ethereal rift, where they will be untouched by the passage of time, until it is once again safe for them to emerge and rebuild their ruined land." 


Gameplay

The gameplay is like most, if not all, MMORPG titles, the player can form parties, join guilds, run dungeons and participate in PvP. Of course, there are various trades the player can perform such as weaving, alchemy, blacksmithing and more, these offer items that might be harder to obtain otherwise and can earn you a nice sum of Gil for rarer items (if sold to players, NPCs offer little to nothing).

The player can freely* switch what class they are, you are not tied to one type. The exception being when you first start, you'll have to reach level 10 and complete your class quests in order to switch, from there you can join a new guild and start working on that class (some skills earned from the previous classes carry over to your new class, but more on that later).

Once you've reached level 10, you can join Guildhests, which are essentially mini dungeons. If you are level 10 in a trade, you can take Guildhests to earn exp and Gil that will help you level faster in said class. Upon completing the required quests, dungeons can also be entered (the first is available at level 15).


Graphics

The graphics look pretty good considering how much of a hiccup the first version went trhough. Although since the game is also on the PC, and therefore made FOR the PC, the PS3 version does tend to suffer a few graphical errors, such as the rare bug of enemies not appearing properly on screen, or party members seemingly disappearing despite them being right in-front of you.

When using the chat feature, characters mouths will move with your text, so this is a minute detail, but one that I find pretty cool non-the-less. Facial expressions are well-done as well, so be sure to try them out when you get the chance to do so.

Original graphics (left) and updated graphics (right)
The game has had a nice over-haul since it originally released some years ago, the new graphics engine shows quite well on many characters and skill effects.


Controls, Voice and Audio

The controls on the console are a tad tough to learn at first, so I'll try to run them down as thoroughly as possible.

The Cross button is your selector, although since you likely won't have a cursor to use (although you can opt for that), you'll need to be looking at the person you want to talk with, although the game is pretty good at figuring out what you're trying to do.

The Triangle button is simply used for jumping, so there's no need to go into depth on that, it is what it is.

The Circle button allows you to deselect your current target and cancel out of various menus. Simple.

The Square button allows for quick access of the map, which will be very handy when doing quests as the location of various monsters, items, etc will be shown on there.

The d-pad is used to cycle through enemies and friendlies, it takes some getting used to in order to 'master' using it.

All of these buttons take on a different role when either of the R2 or L2 bumpers are held, this brings up your hotbar for skills, items, etc that you may have registered to those slots (they also your the d-pad, so in total you'll have 16 available slots, but you can also have more than one hotbar, so cycling through them gives even more options). Confusing? Undoubtedly, however the games tutorial runs you through the basics quite well.

A screenshot, notice the hotbar at the bottom of the screen
As any Final Fantasy fan can hope to expect, the music is well performed, during standard battles, you may recognize the music (it's more reminiscent of the older games on the NES, SNES and such). When riding a Chocobo, as well as other mounts I would assume, you are treated the Chocobo music. Music in town and on the field are quite elegant and, to some degree, soothing and rhythmic.

Voice acting is scarce, the intro and small cutscenes are the only place they really occur at, but they are done well when they are done. The only other time you get to hear voices is from the various grunts that characters make, so don't expect much when it comes to voices.


Other

As I mentioned earlier, you are not restricted to one class and can switch once you've completed your current classes level 10 class quest (you usually get a quest at level 1, level 5, level 10 and so on). The classes you can choose from are many, from fighting classes (such as Gladiator, Pugilist, Arcanist and many more) to trades (such as Weaver, Alchemist, Blacksmith, etc). The latter are, as you may have guessed by the term 'trade' non-combat classes and are used to make armor, potions and other nick-naks that can be used by combat classes. When you start a new class, you revert to level 1 within your new class but retain the level in the previous class, so returning to your previous class will allow you to continue where you left off at.

The game has what are called 'Fates', if you've played Rift, they are like rifts, randomly generated missions where you and other players work to meet a goal, generally killing a certain number of enemies. The more you contribute, the larger your exp and Gil reward will be.

There are also unique chats called 'Linkshells', which can consist of up to 128 players that are not necessarily a guild or friends, but can use the chat feature to chat solely with each other and no one outside of the Shell can read your chat, it's basically a giant party chat.

Most of the negativity that has been generated was during the beta, people would complain that servers were constantly down or laggy, this has since been rectified and almost all of the game works as intended. If you see a review that says otherwise, look at the date, anything prior to Sept 13th is unreliable.

And yes, this is a subscription based game, but you get 30 days free.


Overall

This is a great MMORPG that has a lot to offer and much to do. With free expansions coming, this is a must have for fans of Final Fantasy or MMO's. I know I'll be cancelling my WoW sub so I can enjoy this great game.

9.0/10.0

Pros

+ Great music score
+ Interesting class system
+ Linkshells offer a great way to stay in touch with people you like, but not enough so that you want to add them as friends or join their guild


Cons

- Picking an enemy out of the crowd is sometimes unbearable
- Gold spammers are plentiful
- If you don't have a keyboard, typing is a hassle

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Silent Hill Origins

Every story begins somewhere.



Story

The game takes place 'several years' before the first game (on the PlayStation), with Travis trying to make up time during his delivery by cutting through a small town know as Silent Hill. While driving, the road becomes foggy and he barely avoids hitting a girl in the road. When he gets out looking for her, he is follows the young girl until he loses her but comes across a burning building.

Travis runs in to see if anyone’s inside, after traversing the burning house, he finds a girl with 3rd degree burns over most, if not all, of her body, he manages to rescue her before passing out and then waking up in the town of Silent Hill.


Gameplay

The game plays like many of the Silent Hill entries before, focusing on puzzles with elements of survival-horror. You'll spend much of your time searching for the next piece of a puzzle while avoiding or fighting demented and warped creatures of Travis' mind.

The camera switches between static and moving, at some points, generally in small rooms, the camera is fixed into a certain position. When in larger rooms or halls the camera is behind Travis and can be manipulated with the shoulder buttons.

Combat is pretty over-simplified, the left shoulder locks on to enemies while X allows you to attack (or can be held for power attacks). Weapons have slightly different speeds, meaning you'll have to use a bit of strategy for some enemies (obviously, if the enemy is fast, a big sledgehammer is not a wise choice).


Graphics

The graphics are pretty good for a slightly older game. Being Silent Hill, the game adopts the old fashioned screen effects such as static when an enemy is near and grain effects. Environments are decently detailed as are the characters. Lighting is done very well and gives the game a very dark feeling.

The game can be given a much darker appearance via brightness

Controls, Voice, Audio and Music

The controls are quite simplistic, as there aren't many buttons on a PSP and will be learned quite quickly. The voice work ranges from acceptable to cheesy, which seems to be a staple for the earlier installments, so I'm not sure if it was intended or not.

The audio, when it's there, is well done, lending an ominous vibe to the area around Travis. Small movements can cause large amounts of noise when you're walking down a dark and empty hall. The music is very well done, as Akira Yamaoka was the composer, so I would expect nothing less from him. The music picks up heavily when Travis has what he needs to confront the areas boss, and altering when Travis enters the Otherworld.

Travis about to enter the Otherworld

Overall

This is a great addition to the series, and if you're a fan, I highly suggest giving it a try.

8.5/10.0

Pros

+ Great music score
+ Well executed game overall
+ Chilling feeling for much of the game

Cons

- Voice work is laughable in some areas
- Camera is sometimes uncooperative
- The combat seems lacking and not very in-depth outside of minute 'strategy'

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Xbox One: Kinect No Longer Needed

As many of you have probably already heard, the Xbox One will no longer REQUIRE the Kinect to be used for games, which bring good and bad with it. It all depends on who you are and your usage, I suppose. I, for one, will not make use of Skype or any other form of video chat, the most I'll do is give it orders and of course, play Kinect games (and games that use Kinect).

Why should you care though? There's a big divide among fans, some are glad it won't be needed, while some see this as a side step, or even a step backwards for the console (much like the DRM reversal).

I am personally on the fence, if they still INCLUDE it with The One I'm fine with that, because then it's more like a Cellphone camera, there if you need it but you don't HAVE to use it. Devs will be able to do so much more if they know that everyone will have it from the get go, instead of looking at sales and basing what their next game is or has on that.

Let's look at some of the good and bad.

+ If a non-Kinect version is released, it'll likely be around $400
+ If it breaks (the Kinect), you can just go buy a new one
+ People can take the tinfoil off their heads
- Limits what devs will (likely) do if it's not bundled (why focus on something only part of the community has?)
- It's not ADVANCING what games are capable of, this makes it a updated Xbox 360
- People lose out on hilarious YouTube videos

Okay I admit, some of those were half-assed examples, some are more of a summarization, but you get the point. All in all, there's more to lose than there is to gain if they decide NOT to at least include Kinect with the console.... Or at least that's what I believe.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ascend: Hand of Kul

[Update]
 
After spending the 8,000 souls needed for a bonus that negates durability damage for 30 minutes, I was able to find a nice way to grind souls.
 
First you need to be able to fight through the cave in the area called 'Ring of Bones'. Buy the boost called 'Gear Protection'. Now simply run through the 'Tomb of Dakrum' as many times as possible, if you die, warp out and go back in. This should net you at least 10,000 souls, more if you are good at building combos. I was able to earn about 16,000 souls.
 
A note, boosts don't seem to stop counting down of you quit the game, mine froze and when I came back it was gone, luckily I only had a minute left on it.
 
[Original Story]
 
It's a secret to everybody... and it's a long ass one at that.



Story

The story is rather simple, three Gods, The Dark God, Void God and Light God are in a battle to cease dominion over the land. They are not able to claim it themselves, as they would be corrupted by the wickedness of the land below, and use being called Caos (pronounced ‘Chaos’) to convert the people of the land.

Along the way, you encounter a being known simply as ‘The Titan’, a giant creature who feeds off of the people, striking fear and chaos into the land. You are given the task of converting the people to your gods’ faith and fell the Immortal creature.


Gameplay

The gameplay is both refreshing and stale, the basic idea is simply going from point A to point B and killing a wave of monsters, then claiming the territory for your own. However, the online aspect makes the game much less repetitive (if not a little annoying). If you’ve played Fable 2 or 3, you already have a small taste, in Ascend, you’ll see ‘ghosts’ of other players but are unable to interact with them. You can affect their world through use of ‘Curses’ or ‘Blessings’, Curses being used on opposing factions and Blessings on those who are the same faction as you.

Curses can range from sending enemies from YOUR world into theirs, or spawning completely different monsters that will continue to spawn until the ‘Summon post’ is destroyed. This can make fights incredibly tough for other players. If you are able to kill a member of the opposing factions by these means, you are (allegedly) rewarded (I wasn’t….).

Blessings are what you likely expect, buffs for those of your faction, these can range from increased health, attack strength and other boosts. Boosts last for 30 minutes, so using them at the right time is key.

When you obtain dominion over a zone (which I’ll simply reference as zones from now on), you generate Souls, which are the universal currency in Ascend (you get about 10 souls per zone you control every…. I wanna say 30 minutes, this effect continues when you go offline).  The ghost of other players are able to invade your world to try to capture your zone for their faction (invading ghosts are NOT controlled by the player they belong to; they are simply an AI controlled copy of their character), you are alerted and given the option to warp there or go there yourself if you are busy. If you can defeat them, you get some EXP.

Both Curses and Blessings can be bought with souls.

Some zones consist of towns, and once converted, you can ‘Summon’ followers to climb you (I forgot to mention, you’re a huge giant, think Kingdom of Keflings) and they will shoot arrows from your shoulders, or you can drop them and they will climb enemies and attack that way. They can also be thrown and eaten to regain health. Overall, they are very weak and provide very little assistance, unless someone is invading that zone, in which case they can be very helpful.

Going between one area and another often requires the player to traverse a dungeon, these dungeons are similar to the ones in Dragon Age 2 where there is very little variations between one and another and can mostly just be dashed through. Dungeons DO reset everyday at midnight (pst) with new loot, enemies and design.

Once you've leveled up enough (every 5 levels) you can ‘Ascend’, which allows you to create a new character, retaining some items and souls, as well as choose a new faction (at the cost of some of your levels, in exchange, the level cap is raised by 5 and you get a permanent stat boost). Whichever faction needs the most help will offer you greater reward for joining them. Your character is also sent on a Crusade, which allows your ghost to attempt to control other zones from players, therefore allowing you to generate more souls.


Graphics

The overall look of the game is above average, similar to Fable 3…. Exactly like Fable 3. There are very little special effects outside of spell casting. The only notable thing I saw was the conversion of zones, each faction has its own look and feel.

Light is, as you can imagine, very quiet and peaceful, where Dark is very, well…. Dark. The ground is scorched and dead. Void is very odd, the ground and world around you is blue, almost as if you’ve leaped into the world of Tron.


Not the best picture, but it gets the point across
 
Controls, Voice, Audio and Music

Normally I would not lump these all together, but there is absolutely nothing special about any of them, at all. The music is similar to Fable, where it’s quite and dull outside of battle and picks up when you engage the enemy, and there’s no voice acting, outside of Link like grunts and shouts. If you played any number of Action RPGs, the controls are the same, light attack, heavy attack, magic and block (no ranged attacks outside of magic).


Other

The game’s use of souls as currency is a huge NEGATIVE hit on the game. Souls are used for everything, buying weapons and armor, upgrading weapons and armor, upgrading spells, buying spells, repairing weapons and armor. You’d think you’d get a lot of souls then, right? No. Enemies drop very few (the most common dropping between 3 – 6 and higher levels dropping a few hundred).

Guess what though, repairing that good gear you bought can cost upwards of several thousand (my highest being 5,000 souls), this wouldn't be an issue if souls were more plentiful or it didn't cost as much. You can earn more souls by obtaining a multiplier (again, similar to Fable where a high multiplier equals more EXP), but if you get hit, that’s all gone, and enemies are relentless and unflinching.

The games answer to this, like many F2P games, you can buy souls with real cash. 80MSP gives you 5,000 souls and multiples of that up to 1,600MSP. I’ve spent what miscellaneous points I had and am still having issues maintaining enough souls to repair gear (I've even started using weaker gear to offset the repair costs).

Another thing I really disliked is that, once you change factions, you'll have to buy the spells. In your first faction, you earn two of them, but after you swap they must be bought and can cost upwards of 15,000 and go as high as 125,000 souls. Crazy.


Achievements

The achievements in the game seem to be fairly simple, some will require soul grinding (or buying) as you'll need to buy Curses or Blessings, or fully upgrade a spell. Nothing seems to be incredibly difficult.

And in a first that I've seen, beta testers can unlock achievements during beta, and they'll count towards your score. Although this makes it so some will have to buy it, as some features aren't yet available (the endless dungeon and co-op, for example).


Overall

This game has much potential to be a fun single player game that’s interwoven with multiplayer aspects. However, the fact that it relies heavily on the ‘pay to win’ philosophy is very disappointing.

7.0/10.0

Pros

- The zone idea works well
- The blessing and cursing adds interesting possibilities to the game
- Oddly addicting

Cons

- Very focused on the ‘pay to win’ mechanics
- Repair costs will quickly drain what you've earned
- Dungeon variety is lacking

*updates to come.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Resonance of Fate


When humanity has grown too large and life can no longer be properly sustained on Earth, measures must be taken....



Story

In an unknown era, the human population has increased to such a number that the planet has been ravaged by pollution and depleted of resources; people are forced to live on an ancient structure. Peoples’ lives must be controlled, their lives and deaths in the hands of an unknown God, Zenith. In order to control when people die, a system was put into place to easily control the population via a special stone that each person has assigned to them, a Quartz, upon its destruction, that person would die.

A young women, Frieda, believing people should be allowed to live there lives how they want, free of destiny, spoke of her dream often her ideals attracted many followers, the most loyal being made Cardinals, she was seen as both a visionary and a radical. Because of this, she was ultimately killed. Cardinal Rowen continued to carry her ideals more so than the others, he was determined to change the system Zenith had in place and commissioned Cardinal Sullivan to find a way to do so.


Graphics

As is expected from a JRPG, the characters have a bit of an anime look, much like Final Fantasy games, but don’t overdo it and characters are expressive and quirky. A big focus point for many is the environment, many believe it is too grey and dull, but come on, how many machines, gears, buildings and gravel do you see that are something other than black, grey or white? Not many, I’d assume. 

This game is focused on technology, machines and sci-fi, or Steampunk as some call it, and the color fits right in with that classification. The areas will become very repetitive after a bit though, as many areas seem to be a copy and paste of previous sections you’ve already visited, even more true for the battle areas, which vary between 2 and 3 different layouts per type of layout.


Sound/Voice/Music

If you noticed, this game is done by Tri-Ace, the folks that did Star Ocean and some others, and the music reflects that, meaning it is very well done. There are two types of music that play, your standard normal battle music and your hyped up techno-y music that plays when you go into Hero Action, both work well.

Voices are done very well, with the exception of whenever someone cries (I’ve never liked characters crying, as they always sound so forced. Kill their cat, maybe then they’ll get a bit of emotion going….). Zephyr also does very well when he’s angry, which is most of the time, plus he's voiced by Scott Menville, who does Robin on Teen Titans, Lloyd in Tales of Symphonia and many other VO's. I love that guy.


Controls

Controls are fairly simple and require little to no effort to master. In combat, ‘X’ is used to perform a Hero Run or ‘Hero Action’, which allows you to run great distances and build up your attack gauge (more on that soon) faster. ‘A’ either executes an attack when you have at least one gauge filled or begins filling your gauge.

Attacking is done in a seemingly complex way, but after a few battles, you’ll have a basic understanding (if you played Eternal Sonata, you’ll understand it fairly easily). You have a set time to do whatever you want, you can move, attack, use items, whatever, anything you do depletes your ‘Action Gauge’, but stopping will stop the depletion (unless you get attacked, in which case it continues to deplete).

Enemies are the same, they have a Health bar and Action bar above them so you can see if they are about to attack you or not. The ‘Hero Action’ allows for extended time while allowing you to run great distances and avoid damage from enemy attacks (you can essentially double the time you have to act, allowing to build massive gauges). PRO TIP: Jump at the very end of your ‘Hero Action’ to get an extra second in there, this can help get those few extra charges to get the kill.


Other

Gauge strength depends on your weapon level. Unlike most RPGs, your level is the sum of your Handgun, Machine Gun and Explosive skills (all which can max out at 100), so you can easily level up even if you’re level 100 by switching to a different weapon (as each weapon has its own experience requirement and does not rely on the others, i.e. a level 99 Handgun will require 1,000,000 exp to level up, where as a Machine Gun at level 1 will only require 500). So you can easily level the Machine Gun up at high levels and therefore, level your character as well.

As your weapons level up, the amount they can charge also increases  (a level 10 gun can charge 10 times, level 20 can charge 20 times, etc) and also enable the use of skills. Skills are unlocked upon reaching a certain weapon level and can only be used if they charge reaches that level, so if a skill is unlocked at Handgun level 20, your charge must reach 20 to use it. Skills range from an increased chance to launch enemies to higher damage.

Experience is earned based on the damage inflicted on enemies, you don’t get exp just for killing (or at all technically). If a Machine Gun user inflicts a total of 2,000 damage, they get 2,000 exp on the spot (not at the end of the fight), and same goes for the Handgun and Explosives user. There are ways to increase the exp earned through items and things called ‘Terminals’.

‘Terminals’ are simple spots on the map that give you bonus effects in battle, these range from 1.5x EXP, to Double Charge Rate and to Double Rare Item Drop, and can even be linked to allow all of these effects in one battle. Of course, they require a bit of effort to use effectively, and some terminals grant these bonuses to the enemy as well.

The Overworld

One very unique aspect of Resonance of Fate is the ability to customize your guns; this allows you to take a weak and slow gun and affix sights, clips, grips and additional barrels to make them effective weapons of death. The process can be intimidating to those who suck at Tetris, but for those who are good at the game, you’ll be able to affix a half dozen sights, 3 or 4 additional barrels and a couple of extra grips to make you guns stupid fast when charging (this is important later in-game).

An example of a fully customized Machine Gun, allowing
for massive charge in a short amount of time

At some point early on, you’ll unlock the Arena; anyone who’s played an RPG already knows what that entails. For those unaware, the Arena pits you against various combinations of enemies and you fight, simple. Resonance has 50 ranks, getting much tougher the higher you go (duh), after a victory you get a bit of cash and coins that you use in the Arena to purchase rare and helpful items, such as a scope for you gun that increases Charge Speed by 75 and gives you 4 more slots for more power, a must have.

As with most RPGs these days, you can play a New Game+ which you can do on the same difficulty with all your gear (minus key items) or a harder one at the cost of all your items and weapons; there are 16 (yes SIXTEEN) difficulties (only 1 when you first play) and the enemies get stronger as you get weaker, but they do offer more exp to compensate. However since there is no real reason for this extra strain (no extra scenes, no better gear, etc), there’s no reason to play it past the standard difficulty.


Achievements

A good chunk of the achievements will be earned through natural progression, but the rest will require extensive grinding to unlock. The toughest, or most time consuming anyway, being to max every Arena battle. To max a battle, you must beat it 10 times, there are 50 battles so that means you'll be doing at least 500 fights in the Arena alone.


Overall

Resonance of Fate is a great breath of fresh air not only into the RPG genre, but into the stale number of RPGs offered on the Xbox 360, anyone who enjoys RPGs, witty back and forth conversations or anything that borders the insane, should check this game out.

8.5/10.0

Pros

- A great new addition to the RPG line-up
- Great voicing with an excellent script
- Fun and challenging combat
- Possibly one of the best openings ever (don't press 'Start' at the title screen)

Cons

- Combat can feel rather tedious if you're in one area for too long
- Not as many weapons as I'd like
- Story doesn't really take off till the end

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

From Syria to Boston, with Love

Now, anyone who knows me knows I try to find the silver lining of humanity. This has become very hard of late, then life throws a curveball your way and you kind of feel an odd feeling deep down. The recent events in Boston are tragic to say the least, but you'd do well to know that far worse things occur all over the world, many of which are something many would consider crimes against nature.

I saw this on Facebook the other day, it made me feel pretty damn good.


I won't even pretend to know what the people of Syria, or anyone in the Middle East goes through everyday because of us, but this is just proof that no matter what differences we may have, tragedies such as what we went through (again, miniscule in comparison to their own tragedies) are able to unite all of us.

Syria, and all other countries who have sent their thoughts and prayers to Boston (there are many, just Google 'Syria sends prayers to Boston' under images), thank you, your thoughts mean a lot, not only to the people of Boston, but the people of America (we aren't all assholes :D). May your God (and every other God) bless you and yours for eternity.

- Andrew K Mulligan
Writer of LVGRB

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Defiance: Arkfall Codes


If you're playing Defiance, you may know about the Arkfall codes. These codes have been hidden in trailers, Twitter posts, advertisements and many other Defiance related media. When you find one, you input it into a database and unlock rewards. This can take forever, looking carefully at everything but the rewards are usually worth it.

What if you could get them for free, with no research involved? Would you be happy? Elated? Mad? Let's find out, here are 151 Arkfall codes. Only 120 are CURRENTLY needed to unlock the last reward, but who knows.... maybe more rewards will come our way. You can enter these codes on the Defiance site, here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Too Human


Man vs Machine taken to a whole new level.


Story

In a time when Humanity flourished, machines known simply as the ‘Children of Ymir’ emerged from the depths of the Earth, bent on the destruction of all sentient beings and have waged war on the Human race for the past thousand years. This war has left the planet icy, cold and nearly inhospitable resulting in the death of all but a few million humans. These humans prayed to the Aesir and worship the ODIN (Organically Distributed Intelligence Network) and were blessed by the Gods, who sheltered the few remaining humans in an enclave known as Midgard.


Graphics

The graphics in Too Human are what you’d expect from a game that came out half way through the consoles life, they look good but aren’t hyper realistic like Halo, Call of Duty or Elder Scrolls. They relate more to Dead Rising, Crackdown or Saint’s Row. All in all, the graphics are standard, nothing special, nothing good or bad.

Baldur, with Hammer and Shield, fighting one of the Children of Ymir


Controls

Usually controls are tough to talk about due to them usually being so generic, Too Human is different in this way. The left thumbstick moves Baldur around, but to attack, you lean the right stick in the direction you want to attack and tapping to launch enemies with melee weapons. Guns can be tough to control, especially if you’re using two at a time so practice is needed with them. Rifles are capable of launching grenades which is very helpful against groups of enemies. If you can adjust to these controls, you’ll have a lot of fun with the game, just give it some time.


Music/Sound/Voice

Sadly, there is little of all of them in the game, in-between fights you’ll be listening to little or nothing at all. Only when in combat do you hear anything, and honestly, the music is nothing special. Sound effects seem to be repeated after a bit, but switching what you do can alleviate that issue pretty quick (don’t use the same move over and over and over and over).


Other

The game can be very difficult at times, especially on higher difficulties; enemies will have various immunities at all times on tougher levels, making strategy mandatory. So mastering this game can be tough, but is very rewarding as you’ll get some of the best armor and weapons.
The one thing that REALLY stands out is the ability to customize Baldur after a certain point, you can change his armor color, bonus stats and weapon effects, as well as a few other things I won’t mention.

The multiplayer is pretty well done as well, I never had any issues with players joining my game and it is always fun to play hack & slash games with a friend. This can either make the game tougher or easier, depending on the skill of the players.

There are a few classes you can play as, each offering a small bonus. Better regeneration, more defense, different skills and what weapons can be used.

The game is very cybernetic-y, the 'Gods' are less god-like and more highly advanced in technology (you'll know what I mean, the 'leader' of them has some awesome looking glasses (reminds me of Google Glass)). At one point you can even gain Cybernetic hardware, which is awesome.


Achievements

A good chunk of the achievements will come naturally, some of the others will require skill (beat the 4 levels WITHOUT dying), patience (obtain 10,000 drops) and luck (complete a full set of Epic gear). With time, you should be able to get them though.


Overall

Too Human is a fun game if given a chance, best played with a friend and not for the weak of heart.

8.5/10.0

Pros
- Norse Mythology driven story (kinda)
- Ability to customize is great
- Tough game that’s rewarding

Cons
- Steep learning curve
- Will give many players a headache
Bland musical score

Monday, March 11, 2013

New Giveaway Incoming

So the last giveaway was the Gaming and Giving for Good Giveaway, I'd like to do another one in the (very) near future. Probably game art related (things like Forge, Minecraft or similar), the prize? Depends on the price and number of participants, but I'm trying to get a Year of LIVE or 1200MSP as the prize. Although this all depends on if I can get enough people to participate, I don't want it to be just a few people competing.

Requirements

- Sense of creativity
- A Google+ Account


'Rules'

Pretty simple, so if you fail to follow them, you're SoL.

1. Don't steal, if there's any doubt I'll throw it out. For insurance, you should take a screenshot of your character (and Gamertag) in the picture, as well as a picture without your character in it, that way there's little to no question. THIS ISN'T A REQUIREMENT, BUT IS VERY HELPFUL.

2. Keep it tasteful. I like breasts and butt as much as the next guy, but considering that there is no age restriction, I'd like to NOT get yelled at by mommy and daddy. 'w'

3. It should, nay MUST, be game related. Please try to have it be something that is mainstream, no indie games please. Sorry to indie devs or fans, but if I can't verify it simply by looking at it, chances are I won't bother to research it (I've gamed a lot over the 20+ years, so don't worry too much).

4. Feel free to watermark it if you want, but upon submitting your art, you are allowing me to upload it and do what I will with it. I won't be selling or making money off of it though, so don't worry about that. I might upload them to an art blog or something. If you want some special recognition (like, 'This piece was made by XXXXX' I'll gladly include that if I decide to upload it else where).

ALL SUBMISSIONS DUE BY THE END OF APRIL!!!!

To submit your entries, you have a few options as how. you can upload it to any image site or art site and provide the link via Google+ (Google Plus), just make sure to tag me +Andrew Mulligan, like so. Or upload it straight to Google+ and tag me there.

If you're interested in joining, please join the event below, you can also ask any questions there too!!!!


Yes, I'd LOVE to join and win free stuff!!!!


ROCK ON CONTEST WINNERS!!!! (even though they haven't been chosen yet)

Friday, March 1, 2013

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

When Angels fall and claim godhood, the real God tends to be none too pleased.


Story

The story of El Shaddai is (loosely) based off of a religious text 'The Book of Enoch' and follows Enoch, a heavenly scribe chosen by God, to find and return 7 fallen angels to heaven, the game explains this over a series of small cutscenes and novel-esque pieces. These fallen Angels have taken shelter on Earth, creating a veil, or false sky, to hide from God, the humans who once prayed to God saw they Angels as gods as well and began praying to them, eventually forgetting their true God. Since these people are praying to these false gods who have been corrupted by 'The Darkness', they do not ascend to Heaven when they die and instead become creatures of darkness themselves.


Graphics

If you ask anyone what stands out the most in El Shaddai, they'll say one of two things, the anime-like art style, or the remarkably amazing visuals (hopefully the latter). El Shaddai makes up for the lack of story with graphics that will leave you mesmerized, the coloring and lighting are done EXTREMELY well and make everything pop. The changing color scheme, which happens often, makes things come alive to a leel I have never honestly seen in gaming.

A rather dull picture, it doesn't do the game any justice,
but gives you an idea of what the game is like
Normally, graphics are nothing special and remain unchanged from one game to another or differ slightly, in El Shaddai they are breathtaking and stunning, while they aren't realistic, they are some of the best (if not the best) artistic graphics I've ever seen.


Controls

The controls are rather simple to grasp, but can be tough to master. You have your standard jump, attack and guard buttons (A, X/Y and RB respectively), as well as a purification button (LB) which allows you to purify, or clean, your weapons as they get 'dirty' from attacking enemies. While they are rather basic, the timing is critical, a block at the right moment can send the enemy reeling, allowing for Enoch to follow up with a series of blows, attacking at the right moment has the same effect.

I mentioned Purification  you must purify your weapon regularly as it builds up darkness gained from enemies, if you don't purify, your weapon will inflict less damage and have a reduced chance of staggering the enemy, so you should really purify after every battle.


Music/Sound/Voice

There is little music generally, it is rather quite and almost harmonic with everything else that is going on in game, you can hear it but it will not stand out on most occasions. Somehow, this works well with the games settings, so I personally didn't mind the ambiance it brought.

Sound is done much tot he same effect, you'll hear somethings on some levels and nothing on others, these can be as simple wind blowing or fireworks going off, small things that add to the games ambiance.

Voicing is done very well for an anime styled game, which are usually quite over-dramatic, granted there's very little talking outside of confrontation or narration, but what little there is is done quite nicely.


Other

One of the negatives, or positives, depending on how you look at it,  is the fact that there are only 3 weapons in the game, the Arch, the Gale and the Veil (you can also use your fists, so technically 4). Each has their pros and cons, they are sort of like rock-paper-scissors, one beats the other which loses to a different one.

The Arch
The Arch - A bow like weapon that is really a sword, the bow stings are sharp blades. The Arch is an all-around average weapon, average strength, speed and recoil.(strong against the Veil, weak against the Gale)

The Gale
The Gale - A series of shard like crystals that can be hurled at enemies and easily linked together. The Gale is very fast but also very weak and causes little recoil. (strong against the Arch, weak against the Veil)

The Veil
The Veil - A giant shield, broken in half allowing Enoch to easily wield it. The Veil has the best physical and defensive capabilities, causing recoil at a high rate, it is very slow however. (strong against the Gale, weak against the Arch)

Once you've beaten the game, you can play through it again with extras such as outfits, higher difficulties and you are also graded in each level.


Overall

El Shaddai is a rather unique game for both it's reference to real religious texts and for its amazing art, any fan of action/hack and slash titles should check this out.

8.5/10.0

Pros

- STUNNING visuals
- Simple, yet complex combat
- Interesting real life reference

Cons

- Limited weapons
- After you've mastered combat it's very easy
- Story takes awhile to take off

Monday, February 18, 2013

Record of Agarest War Zero

A sequel that's really a prequel to its sequel


This piece has no image! Why not suggest one?


Story

The game starts with you, Sieghart, commanding a small group of soldiers with your lieutenants Eugene and Friedelinde as you fight the forces of darkness, however this battle has been going on for quite some time and has come to a stalemate. However, while resting in a small village, it is attacked my some goblins. After the squad defeats them and Sieghart gives chase, he meets a creature known as a Larva and a young mysterious girl, Mimelia. After being killed by the Larva, something happens to Sieghart that brings him back from death, with tremendous power and is able to ward of the Larva. Now Sieghart must uncover who this girl is and what this new power means.


Graphics 

The game intentionally has a bit of a dated feel (an old school look) while in battle and a anime style outside of battle (such as talking with people), which uses more animation than most games. Characters who are on screen will have small, natural movement to them, such as the diaphragm moving, blinking and hair swaying. In battle, characters will exhibit various types of skills and special effects that accompany them look very well done as do the battle fields.


Controls

The controls are, at first, a bit wonky (if you ever played Q'Bert, you may be able to adjust more quickly), as the battle field is not a straight up, down, left right setup. After a few battles though, you'll adjust and other than that there's no real use for anything else. Each character has a certain number of slots that skills can be allocated to, the number of slots depends on the character and weapon (some weapons have additional slots). Each slot has a type, ie. fire, water, wind, earth, physical, dark and more, only the right skill can be placed in the respective slots.

Music/Sound/Voice

For whatever reason, the voices are always in Japanese, there are no English dubs, only subtitles, which I believe are incorrect every now and then (I know what 'Konnichiwa' means, and it's not that). Music is pretty good, about what you'd expect from a JRPG game, dramatic during boss fights and more relaxed outside of that. Sounds are pretty generic for the most part, you'll hear the same 'sword hitting the bad guy' sound many times, but it's not terrible, and when you get injured, your character will make a grunt reminiscent of Link form The Legend of Zelda series.

Other

If you have a save from Record of Agarest War, you can use that to get some nifty items later in the game (not sure what they are as I don't have one). There's also a unique combat mechanism called 'Linking', which is utilized by having characters stand within another characters 'Extended Area' (these are simply smal squares that are unique to each character) and using the command list to pull of several attacks at once, occasionally resulting in unique skill combinations.

Once you've beaten the game, you'll start the next game, or more correctly, you didn't actually beat the game at all. There are 2 generations, what that means is you'll play as Sieghart, the hero, and then play as his child. Your child will change depending on who you decide to.... mate with and what 'combo cards' you have (combo cards are the unique cards you use near the beginning to create your Sieghart and earned through events in game).

After you've REALLY beaten the game, you'll be able to start a NG+ and/or play in the new unlocked dungeon that has much tougher monsters and carry those items over to your NG+. However, if you bought the DLC, only a small number of things carry over, which really sucks and is, in my opinion, asinine (why allow this MS? It's theft!)

Overall

Record of Agarest War Zero is a rather unique feeling game, even if it is a bit tough.

7.5/10.0

Pros
- If you want an RPG for Xbox, there aren't many to choose from
- Looks nice
- Will take a bit of your time

Cons
- Can be a tough game for those who don't like to grind
- Not a fan of the controls in battle
- Battles get repetetive
- If you buy any DLC, don't be surprised if it doesn't carry over from your New Game to New Game+, only New Game+ to New Game+ carries that stuff over

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dark Souls

PREPARE TO DIE



Story

Dark Souls doesn't really have a story, that is left up to you. The basics are that when the world was formed, dragons ruled. Humans eventually were born, found 'The Flame' and rose up against the dragons. They were successful, but at a price. The flames that supported them soon began to die and humans began becoming creatures that are simply called 'Hollow', mindless husks of their former self. You, like all undead (those who are not Human nor Hollow), are imprisoned as to try and stop the spread of the Darksign and set out on a pilgrimage to relight the flame.


Graphics

The graphics in Dark Souls are dark, depressing and dank. Which is good for this game as it gives you the feeling of dread and despair, which fits perfectly with this world. Textures look well done and special effects are rare, but done well. Foliage is done very well also, and you'll spend a fair amount of time in it.


Controls

Controls are rather basic, you get a few slots for spells, while other buttons will have you attack, roll, defend, etc. If you've played any sort of action adventure RPG game, you'll feel comfortable with the controls.


Voice/Music/Sound

There isn't much with voicing here, a few NPCs will talk when talked to, but they aren't frequent. Music and Sound however, are commonplace and are pleasing. Music can range from a low background sound to dramatic when facing bosses, but most of the time you'll be able to play without suffering from overbearing music. Sounds, such as walking, running, water, etc are also done to the same quality.


Other

There is a small amount of online play in Dark Souls as well. This comes in two forms, the co-op and versus. Co-op is playable after obtaining a certain item and allows other players to summon you into their world (or them into yours if you are human), this allows for more than one person to fight bosses. HOWEVER, if you've already beaten an areas boss, you cannot summon in that area.

Versus varies, normally, anyone who is a human can be invaded by another player, the two fight until one dies. Joining certain alliances will give you the ability to fight others who attempt to harm that alliances key members or protect an alliances territory. This is only possible though if you are in human form.


Overall

Dark Souls is a very tough, yet very rewarding game for those who have the skill to conquer it. Memorable characters and gameplay have earned it many awards and a sequel in the making.

9.0/10.0

Pros

- Tough and rewarding
- Unique gameplay
- Worth the frustration

Cons

- Tough (but rewarding)
- Weak online
- Sometimes feels TOO distant, deserted

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Death of A Series

So it's been forever since I've posted anything (Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year), and after seeing a certain game on sale for $20, I thought I'd make another little opinion post.

As many know, I love the Resident Evil series, or what it used to be. It brings me great joy to say that RE6 was a huge flop, it sold at least 1,000,000 (one million) less than RE5 and has recieved mixed to bad reviews. Capcom took a big hit both financially and creditibilty wise. While I have never been happy to see a game fail, I am oddly satisfied by the failure of Resident Evil 6. Why? Let me list the reasons:

- Obviously, it deviates from what made the series great
- They are trying to appeal to the mindless fans that flock to the CoD series (yep, I'm a CoD hater too)
- They ignore true fans and give us crappy shit like Leon's Story, which is just god awful
- They haven't even bothered to REmake RE2 and RE3, which are the best in the series, but will make this crap without a second thought

Destructoid said it best, 'not just a step back for the series, it's a step back for commonplace, unassuming action-shooters' This is still an understatement, I will set it straight,

'This is a step back for both the [Resident Evil] series and any shooter in general. What's worse is that Capcom doesn't care, fans have made their desires clear, they want a reboot, a return to what made the series famous, yet they do nothing and only appeal to the mindless 12 yr olds that flock to the FPS genre.'

Feel free to use this if you want, I encourage it.

While you're at it, sign the petition to get RE2 remade. The devs have seen it, and have even hinted that if enough support is given, they'd strongly support making it. REmake Resident Evil 2 also, try signing this one, maybe if we get people to sign both we can get their attention REstore Resident Evil