Tag Archives: PS4

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

Case For/Against – The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited

The concept was pretty cool: take the massive role-playing experience provided by the likes of Skyrim and convert it to a MMO in hopes of creating a more narrative-flexible MMO in a genre that’s typically inflexible. Much like Star Wars: The Old Republic tried this last, and Elder Scrolls Online tried to cash in on a single-player franchise and apply it to it’s total opposite. It’s was a gambit that fell relatively flat quickly, despite early praise, and (also like Old Republic) quickly went free-to-play surviving off initial purchases and its atypical in-game store.

Tamriel Unlimited is among the first (Neverwinter having the distinction of being the first MMO on next-gen consoles) in likely many more console-headed MMOs. It controls and plays admirably on a controller, especially in a genre that features many nuances requiring key-logged macros, but things work pretty well. I can’t speak for the experience as a whole. Full disclosure I’ve never been a huge fan of MMOs. The last two I voraciously consumed were City of Villains and the first Guild Wars. I found myself chronically wanting to assault people in real life during my very, very brief stint with World of Warcraft, and after that effectively gave up on the genre until my next very, very brief stint with Star Wars: The Old Republic.

I wasn’t entirely sure how to approach talking about this game, so I’m just going to do this in the most simplistic way I can:

Pros

On the plus side, if you’re a big time Elder Scrolls fan whose been playing since the days of Dagerfall, it’s a treat to finally explore the whole world of Tamriel. Finally getting to see the likes of Elsweyr or Black Marsh was pretty cool. Especially after just having only read about them in in-game lore for several years. Maybe these will also be locations I’ll one day fully explore in a single-player setting since playing online felt like a non-stop chore.

I digress, to Elder Scrolls Online’s credit the world looks really good and true to Elder Scrolls’ fantasy design (though generic it might be anyway). Also the character creation system is pretty damn flexible. From the character creator itself, which allows very detailed avatars, to the build of the characters themselves. Instead of investing points into a general pool, Elder Scrolls Online tasks players with developing the character through repeated use, much like in the singe-player franchise. Want to wield a greatsword? In true form you must use one over and over in order to specialize with that weapon. Unfortunately, I also have beef with this system which leads me to the…

Cons

… of the specialization system. I get what the game wants the player to accomplish. Become good through use. Instead of waiting to level up to use something, you just use that weapon type from the start and keep with it. Instead of investing general points into pools, like being good at all swords or staves or bows, you have to invest in specific weapon types of those weapons. Meaning there are multiple types of the same magic staves to invest points in. So say when you invest in restoration staves, those point buffs don’t match to the other staff types like the destruction magic staves. It’s way specific as even the mainline games don’t do this. This means you must at times knowingly stick with weaker weapon options because that’s what you invested points in. Did that all read a little confusing? Good now we’re both on the same page about it.

As for the rest of the game very little of it feels like anything but the same MMO archetype I’ve experienced for decades. Sure, there are some occasional lines in a side-quest that check to see if I’ve been paying attention to the story but generally I’m not. I’m trapped in an eternal loop of fetch quests running around like a dumb bitch. Might as well make it mandatory to name your character Gopher, because I’m constantly going for other people’s shit. There’s nothing particularly engaging about the plot. A Deadric lord stole my soul, that alone should lead to a badass revenge story, but instead it’s, “Our nation is at war! Oh by the way, you have no soul, did you know that?” And I suppose that’s the fundamental problem when it comes to these story-focused MMOs.

The story wants you to suspend your disbelief and ask you to believe your unique (you’re not, ever) despite seeing an endless supply of new characters join you in your seemingly pivotal moment. It’s like being nominated for an award, onto find that every single person who was nominated won anyway. What the fuck is the point of this. As for it’s basic MMO elements, it’s grouping system also sucks to boot. It’s faster and more efficient to just spam, “LFG, LFG” over and over than trying to use the built-in system. So there’s that too.

MMOs are a dime a dozen now. There are some games that are worth your time and others that simply aren’t. Elder Scrolls Online, in my humble opinion, isn’t. Exploring Tamriel with friends might be cool, and the experience system makes it flexible enough to make whatever build your mind comes up, but that’s where the fun ends. There will be two minds on this game as long as it exists: the fans of the singe-player games disappointed with how unrecognizable the MMO is, and MMO fans who have been so inundated by other MMOs that they don’t give a shit anymore, it’s another fix.

Mandatory Score: 6/10

The nicest thing I can say about Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited is that it’s decent. But decent isn’t enough. Not when there are plenty of better, and subscription free, MMOs out there if you’re desperate to fulfill your OCD needs of eternal character grinding. Granted, it’s not all bad but it’s hard to want to invest in something that invested little in itself.

Summer Fun 2015 Pt.2

The dog days of summer have lingered for a while now leaving the city feeling muggy as shit. This is the type of humidity that feels as if you’re swimming through air, your underwear drowning. Then again it’s also nice to see the sun since I’ll miss it come late September. (American) Football season is upon us meaning another year of intense TV watching, panic filled smartphone glancing, and the unyielding and personally crushing disappointment that is fantasy football. However there are still a few weeks till regular season begins and I’ve got time on my hands with some days off from work. In that time the new Dragon Ball Z movie came and went recently, feel free to peruse my not-quite a review here. And since the film put me in a Dragon Ball mood, I figured it was a good time to dig back into a game I’ve saved since February.

Game 2: Dragon Ball Xenoverse (PC, PS3/4, X360/ONE)

Lots of Kamehameha Waves

Released: February 24, 2015

So what is it? The most recent installment in a long line of hyper-mediocre Dragon Ball Z games. Like Dynasty Warriors, it’s fan base will believe anything to keep their addiction going. How does one even reach hyper-mediocrity? It’s an interesting phenomenon but one that happens to franchises that drown in its own sea of shameless cash-ins. Many of the DBZ games have either been bizarre amalgamations of lesser fighters (the Budokai series stands as brighter gems of the bunch) or weird RPG projects. This game falls into the later category.  Dimps went in a different direction with Battle of Z which mixed simple beat-em up combat with a hefty coat of flashy graphics. While Metacritic doesn’t have many kind things to say about it, it still filled a void in mimicking the frenetic action of the anime. Xenoverse carries Battle of Z’s simplicity and puts expands it to an online world. Better yet, one experienced through the eyes of your own custom character.

What if I don’t watch Dragonball Z? Then you will most definitely not give a flying fuck about this.

Even Batman plays

So why the hell should I play this? Truthfully this is a package intended only for the DBZ faithful. The type who have subjected themselves to too much psychological abuse by knowingly paying for shitty games. In a way it’s akin to developing stockholm syndrome. “If I buy enough of these, at least one of them has to be amazing, right? Maybe then they’ll finally let me go?” Some sad shit, truly. I’m here to argue Dragon Ball Xenoverse is the best to date in a franchise which seldom does anything different. It’s also like proudly proclaiming your the tallest midget, if that makes sense.

So let’s pretend your an ardent DBZ fan. You may be asking why you should even bother with this? I’m with you on that you shouldn’t pay full price ($59.99) for this one. However Xenoverse has managed to find a compromise between providing the non-stop flashy beams with signature attacks of the show while keeping combat simple and quick. The roster is fairly big with 50 characters, some alternate versions of the same character, so you can set up your own dream mash-ups very easily.

Moreover the biggest appeal to Xenoverse is the idea you can create your own fighter for the first time in franchise history. Xenoverse’s story weaves in and out Z’s story lines and tasks your custom fighter with protecting the official timeline at the behest of Trunks and the Supreme Kai of Time. In ture DBZ movie history, the story is lame but there’s entertainment in finally seeing something different in a DBZ game for once. Besides, the true point of Xenoverse is to provide a platform for everyone to show off their own Gokus. In a game where five unique races are now available (Saiyans, Earthlings, Buus, Frieza Race and Namekian) each with their own unique buffs and hundreds of fancy, colorful moves to perform every soul is inevitably drawn to making some kind of bootleg Goku. Yes, you can go Super Saiyan. No, you can’t go Super Saiyan 3 or 4.

Playing  the game’s various quests online is where this all works and survives by. Offline missions are extremely tedious and some are downright annoying without at least another person’s help. Especially early in the game when you are still developing your new fighter and want to level up on the quick. Each time you level up you allocate points to either boosting the energy bar, health, stamina bar and general speed. These points are also buffed by certain race bonuses, like the Saiyan’s general boosts to everything but mostly physical attack, or the Namekians’ ability to regenerate health independently.

Mandatory Goku Look-Alike

At higher levels the game because a series of bit-sized fights rarely going on longer than seven minutes with either crushing victory or hilariously embarrassing failures. Every mission is limited to 15 minutes and early experiences will likely see time-outs. High level missions become massive seizures in the making. The lock-on targeting is mandatory at all times since it’s very easy to lose track of the action without it. Online fights between players are also somewhat broken thanks to the abuse of Female Earthling types: characters too small and hard to hit with most normal attacks, but also benefit from a constant supply of refilling energy which fuels the fuck you beams. However when playing with more open minded players, it’s fun to settle fantasy fights with strangers in a really dumb flying brawler. Who would win in a fight: Broly or Yamcha? The possibilities are truly endless!

Sadly the world isn’t influenced at all by these crazy energy beams being thrown around. When firing off a 100X Kamehameha Wave at a building, you’d expect it to stop existing instead of leaving a quarter sized dent in the building which vanishes after three seconds. This is something no Dragon Ball Z game has managed to capture yet: a sense of scale and destruction all these heavyweights cause when they fight. I hope maybe Dimps (or anyone else) is given time, money, sleep, food or whatever is required to make this happen should Xenoverse get a sequel. We want to see the world shake when Beerus is throwing giant spheres of energy into the ground.

With all that said, it’s not a great game. It’s a decent game for the single-minded. It’s not even one I can recommend to people who don’t own Dragon Ball figures somewhere in their house. If, though, you’ve already sullied yourself playing past games, Xenoverse is the closest the franchise has come to replicating the frenetic fights of the anime. Fans looking for deeper experiences might as well keep playing Budokai 3 or drawing shitty fan-fiction. As much negativity I’ve pumped into this article, Xenoverse still puts a dumb-ass grin on my face to spam Kamehameha beams at people after coming back home drunk.

Concentrated ANgeR

Mandatory Score: 6/10