Tag Archives: Playstation 4

Monster Hunter World: There is no enough

I’m struggling hard to be the jungle-swinging-dino-killer and attentive boyfriend with a game that demands chunks of my life with no brakes. You cannot pause the game and go see what it she needs. I’m stressing as I rush to try and finish what I’m doing or find a bush to hide in for a while before she walks back in the living room wanting to throw what she needed at me. First world problems.

As worthless as it is to say, I’ve felt guilty I’ve been absolutely drawn into Monster Hunter: World. Most especially for my girlfriend who has futilely attempted to grasp my attention over the sounds of pissed off dinosaurs being slashed at with an axe that morphs into a giant sword. Without saying more, there were conversations and alterations made.

The core of World, like nearly every other entry in the franchise, is a slow and steady grind towards apathy. It’s a grind Destiny 2 or MMO players are well acquainted with, for example. The siren call for better, prettier gear channeled through the challenge of addictive battle keeps the wheel moving.

 

Unlike Destiny 2, World offers continued challenge through free downloadable content in the form of new monsters and new, flashy things to wear. Yes there is stupid DLC like $3 gesture packs (to make your avatar do a specific emote like Ryu from Street Fighter’s hadoken), but there isn’t any paid DLC that directly involves itself into the ever spinning wheel.

If you’re new to Monster Hunter as a franchise, this is the definitive starting place. While its past handheld entries will always be held close to my heart (bye 3Ultimate, 4Ultimate, Generations), so many concessions have finally been made in world that to go back would be a very noticeably different experience.

It’s also a game obsessed with numbers. Lots of numbers and bits of miscellaneous information that may or not be important to you at any given time but it’s still important to know regardless. World does its absolute best to ease you into the game’s very intimidating amount of information (most of which won’t really be relevant until you reach the High Rank stage anyway).

There is a routine, a flow to things you’ll be expected to do automatically before the start of every quest: Visit your box, dump the crap you don’t need and organize your field inventory; Visit the canteen and eat food (always!); visit the forge and see what you need built to tackle your next challenge; go craft new consumable items and make sure you’re well equipped in potions, food and buffs; check on your farmers who cultivate combine-able items for you each time you leave the village. Suffice to say, there is a lot of shit to keep track of. It just goes on and on.

 

Your first 10 hours hunting will probably be intimidating then a sudden jump to bad-ass. This is all before you realize that really hard T-Rex you’ve been fighting 10 times was a weaker version of one you’ll be seeing more often with flying dragons. But by that point, any hunter worth their salt loves those kinds of parties.

I definitely could waste a lot of your time rambling about the similarities and minute differences World improves upon its predecessors, but the simple thing to say is the game wants to constantly keep you busy and out in the field as much as possible. Like nearly 24/7 – 365 busy. Yeah, like I said there are a lot of things to keep track of when at home but things like the wishlist system automatically tell you mid-game when you’ve collected all the components needed for something; which beats in the past having to endlessly visit the blacksmith to double check info.

There is a gradual rise and sense of progression to things also. While the physical gear is the literal representation of leveling up here learning how monsters operate and their place within the food chain is also invaluable knowledge. Fights easily break down to demonstrations of skill over gear. You can wear the best equipment the game can provide and still get your head smashed in if you’re careless.

 

When playing online the group is afforded a limited number of re-spawns per mission. Each KO is a significant blow to not just the team but even your purse at the end. There is a definitely thrill when running with the top dogs hunting the baddest of the bad, because you’ll need to rely on your partners and watch their backs more than you may want to. However it also drags having to keep the weakest link alive when their doing their damnedest to die.

On that note, I would highly recommend new hunters hold off on multiplayer for a while. Not out of some plea to keep scrubs off our sessions but because you genuinely learn a great deal more facing monsters on your own than relying on high power strangers to save your ass. Studying monster movement, behavior, and their place within the food chain is crucial wisdom.

 

With all that said: I’m not convinced World will change the minds of people adverse to the grind. Because let me reiterate: there is a grind. The game is the grindGRINDING. Because just beating a monster isn’t enough, you must also cover yourself head to toe in it. However, World easily comes off as one of those quality-of-life games where it just becomes a routine. You hop on for an hour, either do a few hunts or wander around picking shit up. You learn a little something new one day, and eventually the game just opens itself up to you.

This all comes at a heavy time investment. There is no dipping your toe in the game. You must go balls deep. When firing this up, it’s demanding every bit of your attention until you’re sleepy little eyes safely save the game back in town. It’s creed may as well be come correct or not at all. For those up for the challenge, welcome to your new addiction.

 

Advertisements

Fortnite: It’s a Safe Space

Here’s the thing: I want to like PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS. I want to understand my friends’s obsession with this game, but for the life of me I can’t. Running around an empty world for 10 minutes to be sniped by hackers or just in general isn’t too much fun in my book. It was suggested that maybe I just wasn’t attune to the game enough, that more time practicing would help me see how fun this is. Or better yet, squad-ing with them would make the game more fun. And in this somewhat true, rolling with three others friends will always be more fun than the lone pubby whose lunch for someone’s chicken dinner.

At first I dismissed Fortnite, like I’m sure a lot of PUBG players probably still do, as a poor man’s imitator. You fly into an island map, you parachute to a location of your choice and you stay alive as long as possible. All similar and core functions of PUBG. However Fortnite adds complication where PUBG is pure simplicity and I’m sure that’s where many fans stop.

To be fair I’m not one for competitive shooters. Perhaps now as an adult the last thing I  need is additional stress on top of managing life, and PUBG can be quite fucking stressful. PUBG’s lessons are slow and hard, and vary depending on which map the game tries to push (Miramar sucks, obvs). This is all to say, I felt like I was chasing a high that yet to come. It wasn’t even about the winning moreso it was just feeling like I was just doing something other than running and hiding.

It’s counter-intuitive to a PUBG player to consider creating a wooden wall as cover versus finding the nearest thing for cover. Or even more so counter intuitive to build towers to post up in. Fortnite encourages general creation over circle management: matches are meant to be quick and very messy.

There’s a very different feeling when shit goes down in PUBG:

As opposed to how it goes down in Fortnite:

It’s like talking apples and oranges. Yeah their both fruits but obviously the flavor here is a bit different. Also I have to acknowledge the Fortnite clip was solo while I had a partner in PUBG, but trust me the footage would’ve been more boring without.

To be clear I hate battle royales in general. Even if I find myself craving an occasional match it’s in the same sense that I’m disgusted with myself that I still eat McDonald’s; but drunk at 2a and yeah I’ll get 40 chicken nuggets and large fries, sure. Truth be told, any game can be a lot of fun with the right friends, but PUBG in particular is a tough one to enjoy when cheaters are plenty.

All I’m saying right now is give Fortnite a chance. Yes it’s free, yes it has microtransactions (perhaps less onerous than PUBG’s bullshit crates), and yes it’s visuals are very Team Fortress 2-esqe. It’s also stupid fun and a safe space for PUBG refugees.

Injustice 2 keeps it moving with Fighter Pack 2: Black Manta, Raiden & Hellboy

While we’re still busying enjoying the new ranged fighter Starfire, Netherrealm dropped details on the upcoming fighter pack 2 which will include Black Manta, Raiden, and Hellboy. Netherrealm put together a sexy video of the new combatants for your pleasure.

Hellboy is probably the greatest surprise of the bunch, while Raiden and Black Manta long having been guessed to be part of the roster. Black Manta will be the first of the new pack to be released. The release date has yet to be dropped but you can see Black Manta’s promo video below. If you’ve been lagging, I’ve also included a vid of Starfire’s abilities below that.

Preview – Agony (PC, PS4, XOne)

The product of Kickstarter, developed by MadMind Studio and to be published by PlayWay, it’s clear from the onset this is an indie project. Once you fire up the trailer, though, that thought immediately goes out the window.

Like, what the fuck was that? Look, if that didn’t rustle your jimmies then I don’t know what the hell your problem is. Get it? Hell? Oh shit, I can do this all day.

What stands out most about Agony is how horribly good it looks. It’s showing off the beautiful (maybe grotesque in this case?) shine the new-ish Unreal 4 engine possesses.

Played in first-person, so far the concept is navigating puzzles while occasionally possessing demons to keep eventually find a way free from this. The trailers have painted Agony in similar ranks to Outlast, which is fine company to be in.

Currently there is no release date for the game outside of a vague Q4 2017 listing. Regardless, this one is worth keeping on your radar. Or if nothing else, now is a good time to get those much needed upgrades to make games like this really pop. This is probably also not a good game for people who do psychedelics. Just saying.

Like seriously, what the fuck?

Starfire revealed for Injustice 2

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’re fans of Netherrealm Studio’s Injustice 2 (yes, I speak for the ladies too with this one). While we’re still messing around with Sub-Zero, Netherrealm’s head, Ed Boon, dropped some delicious reveals on Twitter for the next DLC character: Starfire. And she’s hot (get it! GET WHAT I DID)!

 

Starfire wasn’t exactly a question of if so much as when. We’ve long known she would be part of the roster at some point. Welp, there she is and she’s ready to smack your bitch ass up. Her release date isn’t known yet, but so far each release has been a month apart so it’s not out the realm of possibility she’ll drop the second week of August.

Return to the Limelight: Guitar Hero Live

Guitar Hero Live is a tale of two games. There is the offline, single player mode and a persistent online mode. The single player features 42 songs of questionable taste and five difficulty settings: Basic, Easy, Normal, Advanced, and Expert. I say questionable taste because a solid majority of the songs you slog through in single-player don’t feel like guitar hero-type songs. Imagine Dragons’ “Demons”, or Mumford and Sons, or OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars” don’t ring as guitar anthems. Instead they feel like songs I’d have seen in the Band Hero, the children’s Guitar Hero spin-off. But pop music dominates the majority of single-player set list with a very, very light sprinkle of classic rock held out until the very end. What’s most disappointing is there is no further depth to single-player. Once you’ve gone through the initial set-list, that’s it. There are no more hidden or likely downloadable songs in the future. At least none which have been announced anyway.

Guitar Hero TV is the true reason you’d be playing this game at all. TV is a persistent online competition against anyone connected online to TV mode playing the same songs as you. A premium membership, like Live Gold or PS Plus, aren’t needed since there isn’t direct against a specific person. Instead you will be matched against ten players at a time and each player dukes it out for a gold medal. TV also has a much bigger and diverse catalog of songs, currently sitting at 152 songs. It plays like some bizarre form of interactive MTV or The Box, for those of you old enough to remember request lines during the cable black box generation. You immediately join songs in progress between one of two channels that swap playlists every half hour. It’ll be weird at first to join songs in progress, but it serves as practice while you wait for the next song to start. I love TV’s immediate access to songs but the mode is marred by a system I can only call mobile-itus. Yup, here’s where the micro-transactions factor in.

Instead of downloading new tracks individually or in packs like days of old, GHTV is constantly updating with new songs. If you want to play a specific song without having to wait for it to pop in a playlist, you can use Play Tokens. Play Tokens are unlocked when your profile levels up through play only on GHTV, so you’ll acquire a decent amount of them in your first few hours. What if you burned through your play tokens while making your own playlists, since the game charges you points per song? You can pay for more through Hero Cash or Coins. Hero Cash is literal cash converted into one fake currency to pay for more tokens, like Activision is laundering your money for some reason. Coins are provided at the completion of any songs played. You use coins to also buy play tokens, but naturally Hero Cash will gives you more tokens overall much more quickly. I feel like I’m playing a mobile game on a console trying to keep up with getting tokens and just hammering through general playlists.

ghl_1

On the flip side of TV is the weak Live mode. FreeStyleGames swapped fantasy avatars in imaginary sets to filmed live humans acting as if you are literally their guitarist while a band lip-syncs the real tracks. The audience is filmed in two segments: one with them really into your band and the other booing the shit out of you. The footage will blur repeatedly between the two depending on your level or success. I felt my grip on reality slip as the world blurred and the excited blond in front of me was now yelling for my blood in a possessed fervor, not unlike a dizzying schizophrenic episode. Honestly it felt creepy and frustrating being unable to skip over the fake high-fives and thumbs up from my douchebag band mates.

ghl_2

The new 3×3 design is a little confusing at first, but the design isn’t so different that you won’t pick up on it quickly. Instead of colors, like in previous games, the new guitar uses only three vertical frets numbed 1, 2, and 3 with an additional three beside them. After trudging through a tremendously lame single-player for practice, I started to pick up on things real fast online. Then again it also did feel a little odd starting off from the beginning all over again after becoming so familiar with the old way for so long. The guitar looks nice but I’m bummed the guitar still feels small. Then again I have big hands and long arms, so I don’t think Activision was thinking about 28-year-old men when it came to design. The buttons stick like the Rock Band guitar did, and it does get annoying when playing songs with complicated notes, but it wasn’t so persistent that it really hindered me.

I’m reluctant to pitch this game to my friends. Live is too weak in depth and set list to make it a staple at any house party outside of a teenage slumber party. Not to mention Guitar Hero Live’s online mode doesn’t permit unlimited play between songs. With each track having a real cost to them it’s tough for me to let my friends waste my hard earned credits on dumb songs. There is a local two player, one style between two guitars and one with a mic and guitar (a guitar is stilled required for mic use), but it’s limited to the Live segment anyway. I can’t call this a comeback, but it’s definitely been a while. Things have changed, and it’s been a nice slice of revamped nostalgia but the music revolution has already come and went.

Mandatory Score 6/10

A lot of a potential is seen in TV mode but I’m not sure there’s going to be a lot of eager fans adding yet another plastic instrument to their collection. Again.

Review – Fire! Explosions! Knocking Bitches Out! Mad Max

MadMax1

Mad Max is a game that should’ve been made long ago. The films are cult legends, even the shitty one with Tina Turner. Fury Road reinvigorated the franchise and brought it back into public consciousness despite the game missing the film’s release by months (though landed alongside the DVD release). Open world games have grown in sophistication, opening up possibilities. Mad Max is about driving hard, being mad and fighting crazy people. As open world titles go this game a no brainer. So why hasn’t it gotten the love it deserves? As fun as Mad Max can be, it doesn’t feel like it’s gotten much TLC.

Let’s be straight about this though: the Mad Max franchise isn’t about intellectual discovery or a deep narrative. It’s about watching angry, psychotic people committing mass vehicular manslaughter as an unhinged Mel Gibson stomps the desert. The game pretty much reflects this down to the letter, minus Mel Gibson. Instead Max is voiced by a man I swore was Kano from the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie (it’s not unfortunately, for the record). Avalanche Studios did a great job making the world look very gritty and real. This is where the Photo Editor is a blast to mess with, as you creator your own Road Warrior-styled shots that look great.

MadMax2

Much of Mad Max’s gameplay has been cribbed from other games, sort of like how Darksiders played out. Combat is taken directly from the Batman Arkham series; it’s free-roaming, systematic base-blowing up/wire-shooting antics was provided by Just Cause (which was also developed by Max’s creators), and a fun photo editor as last seen in Shadow of Mordor. The whole package comes together alright but doesn’t feel wholly fleshed out. Combat feels sluggish and without fluidity. I get Max isn’t Batman. You’re a banged up wastelander, but combat still doesn’t feel responsive. It’s also easy to simply blast on the offensive and roll away, versus trying to take on crowds of people with a stunted counter system.

The game forces you into on-foot confrontations more than it should. Car combat is the star of the game, hands down. Fighting off four cars while blaring down the wastes is a blast, ramming into each other at high speed is exciting. Especially when you start tooling around with your grappling hooks and pulling drivers right out of their cars, or ripping their wheels off. Fighting fisticuffs? Not as great as you’d think.

MadMax3

On-foot controls feel sluggish and awkward, but have a satisfying sound to knocking someone out. While Max is always equipped with a shotgun (and a sniper rifle in the Magnum Opus), gunplay is super weak and awkward to control. Not to metion ammo is in short supply (both on the field and how much you can carry), so for the most part you’ll need to rely on Max’s fists to solve most of your out-of-the-car problems.

Outside of base-busting, committing public service by picking up scraps and playing through the story there aren’t much else in the way of distractions. There are desert legend quests given by specific NPCs that challenge you to hit certain jumps and kill small groups of enemies, but the biggest side missions are death runs. It’s what it sounds like: races designed with car combat in mind. To get to the point, they’ll likely be the last things you choose to do since they are largely frustrating races.

Mad Max is a lot of fun buried under a lot of repetition. Base busting, or just rolling in with your car and picking fights to clear outposts, is a lot of fun. Max is a bad ass and isn’t intimidated by jackasses painted white. After some upgrades Max is a force to be reckoned with both in and out of his car. Enhanced shotgun kills that freak your opponents out, prolonged rage mode to crush opponents quicker, crushing knockout blows are waiting. Granted you have the patience to keep engaging in the same fetch activities over and over and over.

Mandatory Score: 6/10

Fans of the films will get a kick out of taking to the wastelands Road Warrior style. It’s also a fun, post-apocalyptic distraction until Fallout 4 ships out in November. However there are plenty of other action games out there, so it’s hard for me to recommend Mad Max at full price. Much like the films this isn’t one of those games you need to look deep into. Instead it asks you to accept it at superficial value and just roll with it. If you can get past its short comings, there’s a lot of fun to be had. Especially since this is the first time proper fans have gotten the chance to be in the (very unlucky) shoes of Max.

Personal Score: 7/10

For the all the negativity I’ve had throughout this review, I really like this game because I like the source material. The game does a good job of putting me into the mindset that makes the movies so much fun. It’s not about a strong narrative, because there isn’t one. It isn’t about anything else exception knocking people out, starting fires, blowing things up and running goons over. It’s a game I can come home from work to play that doesn’t require me to focus hard. Just sit back, crack open a beer, and enjoy.