Happy Monday Duders - Welcome to Miami Edition 03/16/15

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I played some really cool stuff last week and want to get into it quick, but first, I watched my first F1 race ever on Sunday after I had to DVR it at 3 AM and immediately then purchased F1 2014 from Steam. It was great and something that I had never given a shot before Alt F1 started here on Giant Bomb, so I have to say thanks to Danny and @drewbert for turning me on to something new.

1. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

THOUGHTS: It’s more of the same and I love it. I was ready to jump back into this crazy, drug infused romp through insanity after playing the original solely on my Vita a few years back. This time around I picked it up on Steam and started playing last Wednesday. I bashed and sliced my way through the first number of chapters and fell in love with the gameplay and lucid nature of the characters almost immediately.

VERDICT: It is amazing. I don’t really have a ton to say about it because I am more interested in playing it. So, if you haven’t played the sequel or the original then I recommend fixing that as soon as possible, they’re wonderful.

2. F1 2014

It's a car!!!!!!!

THOUGHTS: This is my second ever F1 game after playing a little Nigel Mansell's World Championship on the SNES back in the day and I bought it after I saw that it went on sale Sunday after the first race of the new season. I read some fairly negative reviews saying that it was essentially just Codemasters copy and pasting F1 2013; that didn’t affect me in the slightest because I didn’t play F1 2013 so it was a total win for me. I’m not a huge fan of racing games but I have dabbled with them in the past, mostly playing the Need for Speed and Burnout franchises with a little Gran Turismo thrown in, but I have to say that F1 2014 is pretty good.

I started a career and went through a ton of practices and maybe 2 races and I thoroughly enjoy the feel of the driving. It seems to be precise without leaning too heavily on the simulation aspect unless you jack up the difficulty which as a casual racer is something that I will never do.

VERDICT: It’s accessible for casual racing fans and if you like F1 racing then you should enjoy seeing all of your favorite drivers included.

3. Helldivers

THOUGHTS: I really wanted to like this game. I completed a number of missions and enjoyed the feel of the gameplay even though it did get extremely tough for someone who was playing solo.

Then… I lost a ton of progress. I was upset. Very upset. 3 hours were lost because of a bug that erases your progress if your controller dies while you’re playing. Mine did because I paused the game while I grabbed a snack and when I returned the controller was off. I placed the PS4 into rest mode and when I came back, I was back at square one. I played a little after that I just lost a lot of the motivation to keep going after losing my character. I'm not saying that I will never return to it at some point but it may be awhile.

VERDICT: It’s fun but not fun to lose a bunch of progress.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Well, I had some good times last week and I had a not very good time so this week let us hope that all of my (and your) gaming experiences are excellent. I’ve been eyeballing a couple of games in my backlog for a bit now and while there is nothing that I plan to spend too much time on this week, except for more Hotline Miami 2, I’m going to try to knock a couple of them off.

OPINION TIME

I’m really excited for E3 this year because every year when we start to get close to the show I run through all of the games and reveals in my mind that I would love to see and this year there are a lot of things that I’m thinking may be great. I believe that Microsoft will show off some footage from a new Gears of War, a series that I never fell in love with completely but always enjoyed, I think it could be a graphical showpiece for an XBOX One system that hasn’t truly came into its own yet and needs something to set it apart from the super successful PS4.

Welcome to IwataMania

Nintendo seems primed to unveil a new console this year and while I am hoping that it is some hybrid handheld and home console I am not sure that is what we will get. The recent release of the “New” 3DS XL and hype for the upcoming Zelda may be enough, in Nintendo’s mind, to hold fans over for another year and they just may be right. Everything that I have heard has said that they have a TON of money in reserve and can afford the commercial failure of the WiiU so we may have another year with that gamepad. I’m fine with that because I still play a ton of stuff on it but it would be cool for the big “N” to shock the world with some new and hopefully innovative hardware.

Waiting for his phone to ring.

All I want from Sony right now is more of Uncharted 4. I know it has been pushed back into 2016 but I can't wait for what is sure to be an awesome adventure. Two and three were a couple of my favorite games from the last generation and I am super excited to see what Nathan Drake gets into when the next entry finally releases. I am a tad bit hopeful that they show up with something really surprising though like a new Crash Bandicoot, a rebooted Syphon Filter, or an inventive take on the PaRappa series.

COMMENT REQUEST OF THE WEEK

What are you hoping is unveiled at E3 this year?

GO PLAY SOME GAMES

Thanks for the views and support that all of you have given me since starting this series. I really appreciate the great discussions that I have had with everyone and look forward to having even more. Have an extremely Happy Monday Duders!!!!

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Happy Monday Duders - Remakes, Retries, and a Freakin' Master Chief Collection XBOX One Bundle, Really?!?! 03/09/15

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Collusion!

Here we are again it’s another Monday and another rambling session for this old gamer/cool dad. I hope all of you had an incredible week doing whatever makes you happy because we all need to be happy. I spent time last night watching the Giant Bomb PAX panel and the Paxamania event and I am still occasionally laughing at some of the shenanigans that took place. RUN GFB took over and The UnderDraker is probably the greatest name for anything, ever. I would love to attend one of those someday just to be in the crowd to see it all live.

I shared a really personal story last week and the response that I received in comments and messages were overwhelmingly positive. Thanks to all of you who shared some stories with me or gave me some great vibes over the past week, it really means a lot to know that though most of the internet can still be an awful place, there is a community that can be so helpful to others. Keep being awesome Duders.

I vowed a week ago to shelve any talk of that company that starts with an “N” and I will stick to that because this week was all about me spending time with a couple of games (one of which was remade on a Nintendo console 13 years ago and then remade again on… forget it, I will mention the GameCube a couple of times). So, without any more yammering let us see what I’ve been playing.

1. Resident Evil HD Remaster

THOUGHTS: A few weeks ago I talked about my love of horror games and how I became a huge fan of the Resident Evil franchise during the PS1 era and haven’t really liked any RE games as much as the first two since. That is still true but I did thoroughly enjoy the GameCube remake of the original RE, so when I heard that it was being remade (a remake of a remake) I actually got excited that Capcom may finally be listening to the fans that made the series so dang popular in the first place. It has sat in my Steam library since release but last Tuesday I decided to fire it up and try it out.

The visuals have gotten a decent upgrade but the GCN version looked so good that it may not be as noticeable at first glance but I decided to go a step further and boot up my copy from 2002 and after a bit more inspection I can say that it is a major improvement in a lot of minor ways. The lighting, character models, and environments have all been made to look much better than they did 13 years ago which makes total sense. The ability to now play the game in full analog mode is something that I enjoyed possibly more than any other change made. The level of control you feel like you have over your character is increased significantly and makes the game fun to actually travel through and explore. Oh, and there is plenty of exploration to be done in this and every other Resident Evil game that I have played. The mansion has always been a cool setting.

VERDICT: I put close to 10 hours into it over the course of the week and it brought back the feelings that I had for it when I played the original. This is a great game and one that you should definitely give a shot. It’s one of the best survival horror games ever made and one that you will remember for years to come; especially the cheesy voice acting. It’s amazing.

2. Lords of the Fallen

THOUGHTS: I wanted to like this game, I really did. I played it for almost 12 hours and kept trying to convince myself that if I just gave it another hour or so that it would click with me the same way that Dark Souls did. That never happened. The art style, gameplay, designs, and feel of the game is extremely similar to a Souls game but it’s missing something. It feels so lifeless compared to the masterpieces that From Software created. Maybe it isn’t fair to judge it next to those games but once you play Lords of the Fallen for a little bit it will become impossible not to. I wanted it to be a game that would hold me over until Bloodborne came out but all it really made me do is turn my PS3 back on and play more Dark Souls 2. It is missing the heart that a Souls game has and most importantly the depth.

You are hamstrung in Lords of the Fallen in how you can build your character in ways that you aren’t in Souls. Sure you can build a character in Dark Souls 2 that is completely useless but at least you still have that freedom. Lords of the Fallen is a great idea but one that isn’t fully realized.

VERDICT: Play Dark Souls.

THE WEEK AHEAD

I bought Helldivers on Saturday but haven’t had a chance to check it out yet. I really liked Destiny and it has been described to me as a Destiny-esque game so I’m going to spend some time on my PS4 with that this week and while I’m at it I’ll probably also spend some more time with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare too. I have a few friends who have been bugging me to jump back in and try out the new maps and Zombie mode so that will most likely get some blog time next week.

OPINION TIME

Maybe just don't bother with this.

I have been nice for a couple of weeks in a row in this section but over the weekend I tried to play something that I actually pre-ordered and in an earlier entry in this series became the reason that I have sworn off said practice for the year; Halo: The Master Chief Collection. It is still barely playable. We had a party of 3 trying to find a match which took 5 minutes (which is an improvement from the 45 it could take in December) but once we got in there we all experienced high amounts of lag and every second match or so one of us would get kicked from the game and we would all have to party up again only to go through the same crap. It is so frustrating that this is still happening nearly 4 months after release. I know the team says they have been working on it constantly but for the consumers who spent 60 dollars at launch only to get a game that still doesn’t work properly that’s hardly enough to ease the growing disdain for 343 as a company.

I really liked Halo 4. It worked as well as I could have asked on launch day and I felt that the single-player was actually really good. This made me look forward to the MCC when it was revealed because I wanted to go back through the campaign modes and get into some multiplayer matches with friends but, sadly, we still can’t suitably do what we wanted.

Hey Phil! You may want to rethink this one.

Fast forward to today when I see a report that there is actually an XBOX One bundle coming soon that has the Master Chief Collection as a pack-in. Are you serious? You are putting a game that is being killed on social media on a daily basis and is patched every couple of weeks because it doesn’t work into the box with a system. This is insane. How would you like to open up your shiny new console and pop in the game that comes with it only to sit for upwards of 15 minutes or more waiting to get into a multiplayer match? You would immediately regret your purchase because you would assume that there is something wrong with my new machine when in fact it’s just the game that came with it.

As those of you who read this blog on a regular basis can attest to I am an extremely positive person most of the time. I don’t usually go on negative rants about games or people or anything for that matter but this has blown my mind. I’m still hoping that I will magically boot up the game one day and it will work perfectly but based on the progress in the four months since it released, I won't hold my breath.

COMMENT REQUEST OF THE WEEK

We've gotten a lot of them in recent years so I must ask:

What is the best Remake/Remaster that you have ever played?

GO PLAY SOME GAMES

Thanks for the kind words over the last week, they all mean a ton to me, you guys and gals here in the Giant Bomb community are incredible. Please leave a comment below to get the discussion rolling if you want and now I’m going to go check out Helldivers, but first, I want to wish all of you a very Happy Monday Duders!!!!

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Happy Monday Duders - Kevin Spacey is Pretty Cool Edition 03/02/15

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Is that a PS VITA in your pocket?

I spent most the past week entranced by a 4.88 inch screen staring down a game that I had never really given a chance before and documenting my ineptitude and eventual understanding of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate in two separate blog entries you can find here; part 1 is about character creation and part 2 covers the failings and successes of my first battle against an actual monster. The rest of the time that I had from last Monday to this one was spent with my family and the indomitable Frank Underwood and House of Cards, if you haven’t watched that show yet then you should now (after you read the rest of this blog of course), it is absolutely amazing.

I was able to pick up a New Nintendo 3DS XL on Saturday and must say that I am more impressed than I initially thought I would be. The C-Stick control helps so much with Monster Hunter and Majora’s Mask and the boot up time for the system and the games is much faster than the older model. I said the other day in a comment that MHU4 is playable on an original 3DS, and it is, but if you really want to play the game with the correct amount of precision then do yourself a favor and get a “New” 3DS.

I also want to thank everyone who has given me some fantastic advice about how to play Monster Hunter. The community has done a great job in offering me advice about the weapon that I have been using and the best ways to hunt and survive. It really is great to see such positivity from everyone and while there are people on the internet, who as someone once said, just like to watch the world burn. I know that I can turn to a group of awesome people here on Giant Bomb to heighten my enjoyment of the games I play. Keep being amazing Duders because you are all the absolute best.

1. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

Cool Hunters Don't Look at Giant Dragons

THOUGHTS: There isn’t much that I can say about this game that I haven’t already said in the 2000 words that I posted last week but I can still muster a few. Do not make the same mistake that I did and overlook this series. I realize that it isn’t for everyone but for those that are willing to give it a chance you will find that it offers a deep and engaging experience that will keep you entertained with a variety of interesting mechanics and an impressive combat system. I have watched myself go from struggling to make contact with a Great Jaggi to now tackling expeditions with, somewhat, limited fear. I plan to keep the series chronicling my playing time with Ultimate going and should have another entry later this week for those that have enjoyed it so far.

VERDICT: Monster Hunter is pretty cool!!!! Play it.

2. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M (Demo)

You're no Abe Lincoln lightning master!

THOUGHTS: This is a weird Fire Emblem and X-Com mash up with a little more action thrown into the mix. You move around on a fixed battlefield and pull the left trigger when you want to attack with your rifle. You can move freely but are will be restricted in attacks and movement tiles by a steam meter, once the meter runs out, you end your turn and the enemy takes theirs. You also can go into overwatch mode by conserving enough steam power after your turn to allow an attack. The in-game and cutscene are is really cool and the designs of the player characters and enemies that I saw in the demo were on the right track. I am a fan of both games that this one reminded me of and hope that the full game adds a bit more depth to what you're actually doing.

The voice acting is pretty bad but I do like seeing some historical characters in these insane fantasy scenarios fighting aliens using steam power in old London and none of this sentence would make any sense taken out of context.

VERDICT: It seems kind of cool. It wasn't enough to pull me in immediately and make me run out to make my pre-order but if it can be half as good as the games that it is imitating then I can see myself devoting some time to it later in the year. I'm going to wait on a few reviews but hopefully it turns out good.

THE WEEK AHEAD

I plan to continue to play more Monster Hunter but I am going to give everyone a Nintendo break in the blog as I move into playing some of the stuff that I have put on the backburner while I fueled my Mario addiction. I have had the Resident Evil HD Remaster in my Steam library since it released and will finally get to that while also giving Lords of the Fallen one more chance. I tried to play it a couple of months ago but just could not get into it but I want to like it. We’ll see what happens. Oh, and Screamride looks really stupid and I may see just how stupid.

OPINION TIME

I really enjoy playing video games. I don’t talk much about things on this blog other than that and the occasional mention of my family but we all need distractions in our lives and gaming is the perfect way to escape from reality for a few minutes. Our personal lives are just that, personal, and we tend to keep them that way but sometimes there are topics that we feel compelled to share with not just those close to us but to everyone in case it catches the eye of the right person and helps someone.

I suffer from severe depression. I have for a while now and it all stemmed from a medical diagnosis that I received a few years ago that changed every aspect of my daily life. I lost the use of my left arm because of a rare nerve disease that also tends to shut down the use of my left leg from time to time. I can use my left hand just a fraction of what I could before but the one thing that I can still do with some accuracy is use a controller.

Depression is a terrible affliction but being able to distract from that is invaluable. My family has been incredible since 2012 when our lives changed and I appreciate them for that but sometimes when dealing with my physical and mental ailments I need to be alone and do something that I could do before all of this happened. I can’t play pickup basketball anymore (which was my favorite hobby and source of exercise) but I can still put on a headset and play something with my friends. It gives me the social interaction that I need occasionally. Gaming can bring us comfort and it has me. I also watch tv shows, movies, read, etc. but being able to somewhat physically do something is different. Watching videos and listening to podcasts here on Giant Bomb is another great way to forget about things because they center on my favorite hobby and they make me laugh.

Therapy has helped me and while I am no doctor; if anyone relates to this then I can offer an ear if you need to talk. All you ever have to do is send me a PM and I’ll listen. Sometimes that’s the best thing you can do for someone.

This is a little bit deeper than the things that I usually discuss in this blog but I know how much of an a-hole depression can be and I want to let everyone know that you're not alone.

Also, we would all be happy if we played for the Harlequins. Just look at that logo!

COMMENT REQUEST OF THE WEEK

Let me lighten this back up just a little (or not):

Has there ever been a video game series that you were intimidated to try to play?

Go Play Some Games

Thanks for being such a cool community.

Please leave a comment if you feel so compelled and more importantly have a very Happy Monday Duders!!!!

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THE JOURNEY: Gettin' Jaggi With It

I’m back. I have slept only 4-5 hours each of the last couple of nights and it isn't because I have had a sudden onset of insomnia but rather I have been afflicted with Monster Hunter. I don’t have a ton of time to play during the day so I reserve a bit before I go to sleep at night to feed my new addiction. The first blog in this series earlier this week was all about my first hour or so with MH4U but now as a grizzled veteran of close to 7 hours I can definitively say that I have been missing out.

Do not let the fact that I have nearly 7 hours of playing time fool you; I am still only doing 2 star quests and find myself taking 35-45 minutes on every one of them just running around and mining ore, catching bugs, or picking up a ton of berries. I should have probably made more progress by now but I just cannot force myself to pass up items that I have no clue will be useful later or not. I haven’t dove into many of the armor forging aspect except to make an invincible hammer for my Palico that seemed pretty cheap and I have fed my Insect Glaive enough nectar to nearly hit lvl 2 but not quite. Everything that I just mentioned was completely foreign to me when this week started but now I feel like I have put a small crack into the impenetrable armor that is the Monster Hunter series.

You bring your crew and I'll bring mine.

Yesterday if you would have looked through my Quest List you would have seen a bunch of check-marks all the way down with the exception of 2 missions, Jaggi Alliance and The Stinking Seltas, I was scared to accept either of those because they were hunting quests and up to that point I have been perfectly content to just collect unique mushrooms or go fishing for some sushifish. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the hunting in the actual game even though I had played a small bit of the demo that was out that actually had you hunting a Great Jaggi. Was this going to be harder? Am I equipped enough to actually take down a monster in this game? I kept avoiding the inevitable and trying to find other things to do besides what the entire point of the game is.

Finally, this morning, I did it. I clicked on Jaggi Alliance and ventured forth, scared and unsure if I would survive what was ahead of me. The Guildmarm told me good luck and gave me some pointers as I transitioned into the wild to actually hunt a monster for the first time. Then I got embarrassingly lost. I had traversed this damn map twenty times already but as soon as the mission was to actually find a monster I froze and ran around the same 3-4 sections for almost 15 minutes. I’m an idiot.

I'll get you Jaggi!!!!

Surely stumbling around like a drunken moron I wandered into a cut scene and there it was. A tutorial popped up that walked me through how to mount an enemy and stab it repeatedly by jamming on the X button to do extra damage and after that was over it was just me and the Jaggi (and my little cat dude, plus a bunch of small Jaggi’s, and some fly creatures). The real showdown though was between the monster and I; the fight was on. We both charged at each other. He bit in my direction and I mistakenly fired my bug into the side of a mountain, I focused the camera on him and took my first swing which missed horrifically, and then I ran to a ledge above him and tried a jumping attack but again missed by a pretty considerable distance. The Benny Hill music should have been playing the entire first 2 minutes of this fight because I’m not sure I would have even hit him if he would have been standing still.

Wait, it happened. After a couple of minutes of some of the worst gaming ineptitude since the late 80’s for me I made contact. After that it felt like something clicked. I strung together a really nice combo and eventually weakened the Jaggi who took off to another section but not before I missed twice with a paintball before hitting it as it ran away. I’m coming after you Jaggi. The fight lasted only eleven minutes and I never let my health drop below half because I was terrified that 8 dragons were going to crash down from the sky and obliterate me. That’s how Monster Hunter works, right?

This is what I was expecting from the Great Jaggi.

After the killing blow had been struck and I had completed the sub-quest by total accident I had done it. I had killed my very first monster and it felt amazing. I know that the Great Jaggi is nothing and basically a tutorial monster but the sense of accomplishment that I got from dropping that fool like a bad habit made me realize what this game is all about. I loved the deep mechanics and the myriad of systems that I may or may not ever understand are there if I want to dive deeper but what will make me keep playing now is that desire to feel that same thing again. If taking down the first monster in the game makes me feel like the badass hunter that I am nowhere near yet then how will I feel when I actually defeat a huge hulking dragon after a dangerous battle.

I can safely say that I am now hooked on Monster Hunter. I am in no way an expert and there are so many things that I have no idea about just yet but I want to learn. I am also looking forward to any additions made to the game. This blog series will continue because I am loving every second of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. Thanks for the advice and help that I have received here on the forums so far and after joining the group to play together I am looking forward to meeting up with a few Duders and stabbing some huge beasts until they fall over or just standing in front of “The Man” and dancing.

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THE JOURNEY: My First Monster Hunter Experience

How To Murder Your Dragon

I’ve tried since the latest Monster Hunter released to convince myself that I don’t need the game. I bought Majora’s Mask 3D a few days ago and have already played it to completion but something kept pulling me to Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. I downloaded the demo yesterday and 4 hours later decided that it was worth 40 bucks and my time so earlier today I went into the 3DS e-Shop and took the plunge. I now own the game and have been reading guides and watching YouTube videos for the past 2 hours to prepare. I’m scared.

I love the Souls series and the level of information that it withholds from you never bothered me so I think I'll be fine with that aspect of MH but there has just been something about the series that is extraordinarily intriguing to me but also daunting.

This initial blog entry will only serve the purpose of letting you all know that I will be documenting my time with the game to see if I become addicted like so many others or give it a good shot only to learn that it is simply not for me. I’m hoping for the former but over the course of my playtime with the game I will give updates in the form of new entries to this series every few days. I have only checked out beginner tips in videos and text to help me get acquainted with some of the more obscure elements to the start of the game and I’ve forced myself to not read or watch anything that will tell me the best starter class or weapon; I want to learn for myself how I want to play the game. So, here we go.

I create a character and get through the battle in the desert where you run around like an idiot and recklessly jump onto the back of a gigantic sand demon to save some guys’ hat; it was hilarious and actually super cool. After all of that ends you are in the hub area where the hat guy tells you he wants a steak, before I head out though I check around the area to acquaint myself with the various NPC’s and vendors to see what they have to offer, I then head over to the guildmarm who gives me the quest for the steak and I head out into the wild for the first time.

I have a basic understanding of how combat works because of the guides that I checked out on YouTube so this first section isn't too hard after I get as much stuff out of the blue chest that I can. The first monsters that you are tasked with killing are extremely easy, most of the ones that I attacked didn’t fight back at all, and I was able to complete this quest with ease in just 4 minutes. Even though it was very basic I still felt a huge sense of accomplishment as I placed the well-done steak into the red chest and am transported back to town. I pick up another quest to make a mega-potion for red hat guy and after another 10 minutes I finish it but not before fighting my first set of Jaggi’s. They actually attack me but still don’t pose any serious threat but I was able to get a feel for the animation priority in the attacks you perform. This is something that I have seen as a complaint from some other new players but being a huge fan of the Souls series as I mentioned above I have absolutely zero issue with and actually found myself really enjoying having to take a more methodical approach to landing successful attacks.

What a great day to sunbathe

After the mission I am transported back to town where I am told that I can now take my Palicoe with me on missions. The Palicoe is a small cat that will accompany you on quests and can fight, as well as aid you in combat by healing you, I think this will be a really neat addition and should prove to be somewhat helpful to someone like me who may ignore my health bar sometimes in the early going. I finally found the Item Box in my house that I had completely ignored before now and looked through the weapons that are in there and decided to go with an Insect Glaive at the advice of @jjweatherman. I then just wander around for a couple of more minutes without picking up a new quest to see what the Gathering Hall is; it’s where you meet up with players to play online which was my understanding of it anyway. At this point I then head back to my house to save and conclude my time with the beginning of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.

I can say that just after the short bit of the game that I have played so far I can already say that I have been missing out on this series and wish I would have started playing sooner because it seems insanely fun. I’m hoping to update with a new blog entry into this new series when I come across something new and cool so you can probably expect to see another one in a few days. Thanks for reading and wish me luck… I'll probably need it for what is to come.

19 Comments

Happy Monday Duders - Final Fantasy, Zelda, and The (short) Order 02/23/15

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I wasn’t incredibly informed as it related to video games when I was younger. In the late 80’s and early 90’s the only information that I had access to when it came to what new games were coming out were Sears catalogs and ads from Walmart or other chain stores until I stumbled across a Nintendo Power. I talked my mom into buying me one and I took it home and read it from cover to cover a couple of times over. As the years went on I started finding more and more magazines like Nintendo Power that were maybe a little more informative and helpful in my search for new gaming experiences. I started asking for games that were a little more complex than the ones that I had played when I was younger and eventually read about something that I hadn’t paid much attention to or even knew existed in the past; RPG’s.

The first that I played was Final Fantasy II, which was in reality, Final Fantasy IV but since the previous two entries in the series hadn’t been released in the US at that time it was considered the follow-up to the original. At first I had absolutely no clue what I was doing because I had never played anything like this but after seeing a short guide on how to play in an issue of Nintendo Power it all started to come together. After that, I fell in love with a whole new category of games that I still play to this very day and that’s what this blog is dedicated to, the genre that changed how I play games.

A lot of guys with spiky hair and kids in green tunics have graced my gaming library over the years and I’m going to talk about a few things that I played this past week while also giving a little insight into what I plan to play in the future. Thanks for reading this entire (hopefully you did) month where I talked about a few things that I love in gaming. Well, let us begin…

1. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

THOUGHTS: I found this game to be extremely weird when I played it just after release and going back nearly fifteen years later that aspect of the game hasn’t changed at all. It is definitely the strangest entry in the console lifetime of Zelda but that doesn’t change the fact that it is still, in my opinion, one of the best. It took me nearly a week to learn the proper way to play the game in 2000, I didn’t realize that I needed to slow down time by playing the “Song of Time” backwards, or that you can skip ahead by playing it double, so I had a hard time adjusting at first. After I learned the right way to play the game to complete the dungeons and allow yourself the right amount of time to explore I was hooked.

The new 3DS version of the game goes a long way to improving your playing experience by explaining a couple of things a little better and giving you a much better way to track your quests and interactions with the people around Termina. I’m playing this with an original 3DS XL and not the new version with the C-Stick and I haven’t had any trouble in combat; Majora’s Mask plays exactly like the Ocarina remake on the 3DS from a few years ago which is definitely a good thing. The visuals are improved, obviously, from the N64 version and the 3D effect is excellent when you want to use it, which I rarely do with any 3DS game that I play.

VERDICT: This is one of my absolute favorite games in what is quite possibly my favorite video game franchise of all-time. I cannot recommend enough that it is a game that, even if you had trouble with it 15 years ago, you should go back and give another try or maybe a first try. Majora’s Mask was a risk, and a big one, by Nintendo who took one of their premiere series’ and did something experimental and cool with. A risk that I feel paid off big time.

2. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Lightsaber Party!!!!

THOUGHTS: I played this game when it released back in the early 2000’s on the original XBOX and really enjoyed it. I remember that my playthrough took me around 30 hours and I did a ton of the side-quests and thought that this was the Star Wars game that I had always wanted. The story was interesting and the ability to play the game evil or good was a cool mechanic that fits so well into that universe. Darth Malak was a great villain and the storyline with him and Revan is extremely interesting and complex.

VERDICT: I booted it back up last Friday after getting it in a recent Humble Bundle and played a couple of hours just to see if it holds up and while the graphics may not look as cool as I thought they were all those years ago the narrative and certain gameplay elements will immediately make you think about Mass Effect. It may be a little late to jump into this one because of the drawbacks of age but there’s an entire Mass Effect trilogy that is a great extension of what Bioware was able to create with KOTOR.

3. Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions

THOUGHTS: Final Fantasy: Tactics is one of my absolute favorite games in the entire Final Fantasy franchise and I always wanted to play this remake on the PSP but I never owned one.

Luckily (maybe) I bought a VITA!!!! I actually love handhelds and have turned my VITA into my JRPG device. I own a number of classic PS1 era RPG’s and have replayed many of them because of Sony’s embattled machine like Final Fantasy 7-10, Wild Arms, Suikoden 1-2, and Vagrant Story just to name a few.

Crayon Magic

Anyway, back on topic I've owned War of the Lions for a couple of years but never gave myself a chance to sit down and spend a little time with it to see how it holds up to the original and for the most part I really enjoyed the 3 hours I played last week. Even though it’s just a PSP game it looks great on the VITA and the combat still feels as good as I remember. The only issue that I could find is that the dialogue is a bit different; it isn’t bad just not what I remembered so I looked it up on GiantBomb.com and saw that it was rewritten in a more medieval style that is fine and some even say the translation is superior so while it threw me off a bit at first it isn’t necessarily a what I would call a drawback as I was able to adjust after a bit.

VERDICT: It’s a classic and the PSP version is totally playable, heck the PS1 iteration is still great, so I would recommend checking it out if you haven’t before.

THE WEEK AHEAD

As February draws to a close so does my theme of "things I fell in love with in gaming" so next week will be a return to me playing a bunch of random things and trying to knock off as much as possible from my backlog. Mediocre scores aside I would like to give The Order a shot but I don't have a copy and just can't bring myself to pay full price for it knowing what I get, (length has nothing to do with it) so I will hold off for a bit and will try to get to it by the end of the year, so for now I’m going to open Steam and see if there’s anything that I really need to play.

Also, I’m going to keep working on my Top 10 Favorite Games List and hopefully get it close to completion… I’m going to try to release it within the next couple of weeks and, for those of you that care, will give a firm date in the blog next week. Hopefully.

Here’s what I will try to play this week:

OPINION TIME

In lieu of the fervor that the length of The Order: 1886 caused I thought that I should throw my opinion on the topic of “how long a game should be” into the ring. I do not care how long a game is. I would rather play a game that I think is good with what it has than a game (like Alien: Isolation) that drags on too long and eventually just wears me down so much that I don’t want to complete it. There are a number of short games that I have played over the years that I think are fantastic; Braid is a great example of this, it is rather short, but it’s also a beautiful game that tells a simple story and entertained me thoroughly in the time that I spent with it.

I spoke above about how I can’t bring myself to spend 60 dollars on The Order because of what I’ll get for that amount of money but that has nothing to do with how long the game is. Everything I’ve read from reviews to Twitter interactions have discussed how boring and drab the game is. I do not care at all to pay full-price for any game as long as it is a good one. Enslaved was a game that I bought on release for a premium because I heard that it was a fantastic experience and I have no issues with that purchase but it seems that a number of others did because, well, nobody bought it.

I loved my time with Infinite.

While the length of a game doesn’t matter to me it obviously does to a number of consumers out there and while I don’t subscribe to that notion I do totally understand it. Sixty bucks is a lot of money when you have to worry about food, water, and bills in this day and age so plopping down a weeks’ worth of groceries for something that you will only get a few hours of enjoyment from is a tough proposition for many. If you decide that you only want to pay full-price for huge, 30-60 hour experiences then that is your prerogative. Do what makes you happy. However, just because a game is short does not mean it isn't worth the money that it asks for because I can still remember nearly everything I did in Bioshock Infinite but can barely remember anything about Dying Light, a game that’s twice as long, that I recently played that tried to pad its’ length. I do remember some dumb things that some zombie did though... they're really dumb.

Stay Positive

Make decisions for yourself though because you are your own person and you are awesome no matter what!!!!

COMMENT REQUEST OF THE WEEK

Do you prefer Western RPG’s or JRPG’s today and how does that differ from your opinion on that 10 years or 15 years ago?

GO PLAY SOME GAMES

I kept trying to come up with a title for the conclusion and that was the best I could do.

Thanks so much for the continued support. I love seeing the views and comments on this blog every week and hope that I can keep entertaining those of you who check it out every Monday.

So let’s keep this thing alive.

Please comment and add to the discussion. I love interacting with all of you and I really appreciate the positivity that I’ve seen in the comments. Thank you all so much and have an incredibly Happy Monday Duders!!!!

8 Comments

Discussion Time: The Most Broken Game You've Ever Played.

Mistakes Were Made Today

Tourists

I kicked back today and decided to play a little Assassins Creed: Unity for the first time. Well, an hour later I found myself stuck under the ocean while townspeople walked in the sky above me... I could run forever by never made it back to land. I received a free code for the game so while it didn't hurt me financially I cannot yet say the emotional damage it caused. I'll probably return to the game at some point because I could have reloaded a save to restart the checkpoint to solve the problem but I was extremely bored by what I had played up to that point and running around underwater was rather amusing.

I wanted to make something out of my horrific experience AC: Unity so I decided to try to drag a number of you through some of your muddiest, darkest gaming memories. So...

What is the MOST broken (non-Early Access) game you have ever played?

Wrong Way, Sonic

I can't say that Unity is the most broken game that I have ever played because that distinction, for me personally, would go to Sonic: The Hedgehog on XBOX 360 from 2006. I grew up during the SNES and Genesis era and was a fan of the first couple of games in the series and I even, somewhat, liked Adventure despite how bad it was but at least it was finishable. I can't even begin to guess how many times I got stuck on geometry, fell through the world, or ran into some crazy, progress killing bug in Sonic '06. One of the stranger instances that I can remember involved me running through a level (since it is a Sonic game you ran a lot) and just before I jumped through a ring the entire screen went black; the system and tv were fine because I could hear everything that was going on but I couldn't see a thing. I didn't die during this entire ordeal and have no idea what was going on in the game but when the video returned Sonic was standing in a tree. I honestly have no idea...

The game was a nightmare and now I want to hear about your gaming nightmares.

Anyway, thanks Duders and have a great weekend.

59 Comments

WWE RAW - Don't Shove the Nature Boy 02/16/15

We got a really effective opening segment because we saw a serious John Cena who wasn't in the mood to take any crap run up the ramp and deliver a solid beat down to Rusev who has dominated nearly everyone he has opposed since debuting full-time on RAW last year. If you use the rule of “opposing momentum” then it seems like Rusev is going over on Sunday which would be the correct move if this program is to run through WrestleMania 31. As I stated in my WWE RAW Review from last Monday I am a big fan of the Rusev character and think he can be a main event level heel in the company.

Seeing Cena take a beating last week and then come back to get revenge tonight made sense and he didn’t have to joke and laugh or call Lana a “street walker” or some other derogatory term to make his point; instead, he let his fists to the talking and created an awesome segment that kicked off the show with a lot of energy and invested the crowd who were super loud while counting the ten punches.

I have never been a fan of jokey Dean Ambrose and it seems like it amuses someone in power so it will never go away. He had an opportunity in the fall to really become something special after some incredible main event caliber matches with Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt but was used more to get those guys over than anything. I love that he’s making the Intercontinental Championship the focus of this feud with Bad News Barrett and if the company gets behind him then he could be the guy who restores the prestige to the title.

Dean Ambrose vs Luke Harper

These two have a great chemistry together and while both have a similar brawling style they actually were able to go out and have a really good match in every regard. Luke Harper may deliver the best super kick on the entire main roster; it looks vicious and he hits it with such force that you think he’s going to take someone’s head off. Ambrose picking up wins over former IC Champs makes a ton of sense and tonight he did so in a really impressive match with Harper.

I’m a really positive guy but I can find no positives, or get excited in the least, for anything that the Big Show or Kane does these days. I hope that the WWE will do something different or move them a bit farther down the card after Fast Lane or Mania.

Bray Wyatt is getting much less cryptic in his promos that many are speculating are directed straight at the Undertaker. Spinning the coffin nail in his hand was a nice tough tonight.

The New Day vs Gold and Stardust

I grew up in the south and Dusty Rhodes is wrestling royalty here. I am entertained and in awe every single time he is on my television screen. Every guy in this match can have a great match in a team or otherwise but I think they all need a change to matter more. The rift between Gold and Stardust is really interesting because I have always been a big fan of Cody Rhodes and had hope since he became the “Stardust” character last year that it was just a temporary thing.

The New Day picked up the win but the story was Cody nailing Goldust with the Cross Rhodes instead of helping his brother up. I hope this leads to the long rumored WrestleMania match between the two brothers because I think they could put on a great one if given enough time. Cody is still extremely young and works best as a heel.

Roman Reigns is looking more and more comfortable on the mic; I know this was a backstage promo but he looked and sounded great. The edge that Reigns has exhibited since the Royal Rumble is the best thing that could have possibly happened to him.

Roman Reigns vs Kane

Daniel Bryan on commentary for this match was a nice touch and he did an awesome job as usual because that guy has transformed his mic skills over the last few years from being a weakness to one of his strong suits. The mind games he played with Reigns by getting a Yes! Chant started in the middle of the match was great.

I thought that Kane and Reigns were having a really solid match but I am immensely perplexed as to why the company thinks they have to protect Kane and Show so much or at least in the strangest situations. Why in the world did Reigns win by count-out tonight? He should have speared Kane through the ropes, out of the arena, and onto the Fast Lane PPV to look strong. It was an alright match with an ending that makes zero sense to me.

I really hope these Wyatt promos are directed at Taker and the WWE isn’t pulling some kind of a bait and switch because if he’s talking about Zack Ryder or someone then the WWE Universe may explode.

Paige vs Summer Rae

Why are the Diva’s on the main roster so disrespected? It doesn’t make any sense to come from an incredible four-way for the NXT Women’s Title last week where everyone looked great to this. Paige is talented but even as positive as I am I couldn’t stand this segment. I think the Bella’s are bad for the division and the writers and creative do a terrible job to make any of the young women in the WWE, outside of NXT, look like legitimate stars. Please, keep Charlotte, Sasha, Bayley, Becky, etc. in NXT because I would rather see them in quality matches than stupid programs with the Bella Twins and the rest of the Total Divas crew. Pathetic.

I am extremely excited for Sheamus to return. He is awesome. That’s all.

Dolph Ziggler vs Seth Rollins

I am totally in favor of a Dolph Ziggler/Seth Rollins program. Seth Rollins is always really good on the mic and Dolph came out with a ton of confidence this week and really had the crowd behind him. It got “real” really fast when Seth called Dolph a joke but then we got some of the best work on the mic that Ziggler has ever done in response.

I don’t have much of a description of the match because I completely stopped taking notes so I could just sit back and watch it because it was amazing for as long as it lasted. After Seth was DQ’d the Random Former Fired Dudes Brigade ran out to save Dolph from a beat down. I hope we get a longer match from Seth and Dolph at Fast Lane because both of those guys are great.

Ryback is cool.

As cool as I always thought it would be for Sting to face the Undertaker because of the similarities in their career paths and characters I believe that in the WWE right now there is no better person for Sting to face than HHH. He has done an incredible job setting up this program and you can hear that when he steps into the ring and the “We Want Sting” chants begin.

I am always anticipating a surprise appearance by Ric Flair and it makes perfect sense for him to be the guy who can educate Hunter on how great Sting is. This segment could not have been any better. You have limited appearances for Sting but having someone who paralleled his career the way that the Nature Boy did be able to come out and have such an amazing in-ring section to sell the showdown and the heat that Hunter got when he shoved Naitch down was crazy. This was, by far, the best promo segment of the entire night. I loved it.

I have to give some props to how great Booker T was after the HHH and Flair situation. He sold that he didn’t like the way that Hunter lost his cool and pushed Ric down.

I was always really entertained by the Prime Time Players and it is really cool to see them back together again.

Bad News Barrett vs Damien Mizdow

Giving the Miz a mic at ringside during Mizdow’s matches is one of my favorite new things in the WWE. “Bell Means Stop!!!!!” I heaped an insane amount of praise on Miz last week and he killed it again this week. Respect Miz!

Tying Barrett to the ring post was a weird but interesting way for Ambrose to force him to sign the contract even though I’m pretty sure that signature wouldn’t hold up it doesn’t really matter… it’s wrestling so who gives an F. Ambrose will see you at Fast Lane Barrett.

Mixed Tag Match – Jimmy Uso and Naomi vs Tyson Kidd and Natalya

I love Kidd and Cesaro and I hope that this program leads to them winning the Tag Titles and having a long run. They work so well together and I’m really tired of the Uso’s.

Daniel Bryan vs Big Show

Reigns comes out for commentary which makes total sense after Bryan did the same during his match earlier in the night so I expected some distracting hijinks from the one remaining Hound of Justice and his ever-soaked hair. Bryan always works well with Show and big guys in general and it was a great idea to have Reigns sign autographs and just do generally annoying things instead of talking. The match was good but the fight between Bryan and Reigns was well done.

The crowd seems to be reacting differently to Bryan than before with what seems to be a much more split fan base than when this thing started a couple of weeks ago and I’ll attribute that to the confidence that Reigns has shown recently and the overconfidence that DB has exhibited. We got a really cool, hard-hitting brawl to close out RAW which served to make me even more excited for Fast Lane than I already was because these two guys appear to be going to the PPV to tear each other apart for the chance to headline Mania against Brock.

Fast Lane is Sunday night and thanks to the awesome performances all-around tonight I think we are in for a great stop on the Road to WrestleMania 31. Reigns and Bryan should be an awesome match.

Match of the Night: Dean Ambrose vs Luke Harper

2 Comments

Happy Monday Duders - Dennis Quaid, Dark Souls, and even Darker Dungeons 02/16/15

[Insert Cool Intro Title Here]

WE NEED YOU!

I sit here right now with an oil lamp, a stiff drink (actually it’s just an Arizona Arnold Palmer, who may or may not be sponsoring this blog now – they’re not), and my thoughts. The snow has been falling for a day now and at last check we had a foot outside and I’m trapped; so what better way to spend what are, more than likely, my final hours before I’m overtaken by a wintry demon than writing this weekly blog. I’m expecting Dennis Quaid to show up at the door at any second to save me… a man can hope.

It is also fitting that my topic for this week is the Souls series. You are alone; trapped in a place where the only people who can help you will most likely just dance around like idiots while a giant boss strikes you down with his own arm. I’m not sure how long I have before the snow consumes me so I may as well hurry and get to the games.

1. Dark Souls II: Crown of the Sunken King

THOUGHTS: There was always a criticism of Dark Souls 2 that it was too easy when compared to the previous entries in the series. My play time of the base game was 164 hours which involved me beating the game twice and running through a few other bosses on the third before putting it down for a bit. I loved the game but just as I did with the original Dark Souls I really had no intention of going back and playing any of the DLC but then I started doing this blog series and used the theme of “Things I Love in Gaming” for February and I had to talk about the Souls series. I didn’t want to just talk about what I have already played of DS2 because I was going to be doing that with Demon’s and Dark Souls so I went ahead and picked up the first piece of DLC, Crown of the Sunken King.

Kith?

It took around 6 hours for my initial run through and I can say that while some of the enemies were tough I didn’t feel like it was any more difficult that I found some sections in the main game. One of the few things that I had read about Crown of the Sunken King before playing it was that it was supposed to be harder than Dark Souls 2 to appease the players who found it easier but I never got that feeling. I love the opening area with a cavernous area that looks like it could have been pulled out of an Uncharted game or an Indiana Jones movie. The toughest enemies to deal with were ones that were already in Dark Souls 2, those damn poison statues, and the bosses were a bit disappointing with the exception of the final boss which I thought was pretty cool.

VERDICT: The reason that I don’t play much DLC, especially in a game that I enjoyed, is because I don’t want to be disappointed. Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Sunken King is fair and seems like an extension of the main game but doesn’t do anything to stand out.

2. Dark Souls

THOUGHTS: The only thing I can think about when when the original Dark Souls comes to mind is how much I love it. I picked it up after not enjoying Demon’s Souls when it initially released which I will talk about in a minute but I was standing in a GameStop needing something to play because I had exhausted all of my currently owned games and there was a force that pulled me in the direction of Dark Souls; actually, that’s a lie, it was the Quick Look with Rorie, Brad, and Vinny that convinced me to give the series another chance. I’m a huge RPG fan and thought that it looked like a lot of fun so I plopped down 60 bucks and took it home.

I didn’t have the same issues with Dark Souls that I did with the previous entry for some reason. It came to me. I realized the way that I need to play it to have some fun and almost immediately I was hooked. I spent almost 200 hours without playing any of the DLC doing every possible thing that I could do and loved every single second of it. I had 3 characters with my highest level being a 365… I absorbed every bit of content that Giant Bomb put out about it and was happy to see them giving so much time to a game that so many people didn’t understand. This is one of my favorite games of all-time.

VERDICT: Play this game. It’s incredible.

3. Demon’s Souls

THOUGHTS: Extremely frustrating. That’s how I can describe my first few hours with Demon’s Souls. I had no idea what I was doing and was too stubborn to check online to find a guide to help me out. I had been playing video games for nearly 20 years so I didn’t need someone else to tell me how to play a game; I could figure it out on my own. Then I didn’t. I turned the game off and didn’t play it for nearly three years after I finished Dark Souls. I decided to go back and give it another shot after I had traveled so far down the rabbit hole and came out on the other side with the knowledge needed to play the Series effectively.

The second time around was a whole different experience. I played for 60 hours and completed 1.5 playthroughs before putting it away and feeling a sense of pride that I hadn’t given up completely and found out that sometimes you just need a little guidance even if it from your future self (everything is like the Terminator) to overcome what can seem to be an insurmountable challenge.

VERDICT: It is a bit more archaic now than the games that followed it but you will still feel a great amount of accomplishment when you see the credits roll.

THE WEEK AHEAD

As we move into the final week of February and I prepare to end my theme I saved my biggest gaming love for last. RPG’s. Whether it Zelda, Final Fantasy, or Fallout… I have always loved them. There are a couple of games that I will mention here that I will give a more in-depth analysis of when I release my Top 10 Favorite Games list in a few weeks but there are a couple that I plan to spend a little time with in the coming week.

OPINION TIME

I love the look of this game.

Two weeks in a row I had a negative topic to discuss for this section and I wanted to find something to talk about this time that was a bit more positive and I found it when I turned on some YouTube videos that were heaping praise onto Darkest Dungeon. I haven’t had a chance to purchase it yet but I plan to and I wanted to get a few opinions, including the GB Unfinished, that would hopefully tell me if the game was good or not and I could only really find a ton of people who had nothing but great things to say about it. Seeing this much positivity coming from the gaming community is a awesome and it is really cool to see a game make people feel good. I know the subject matter of Darkest Dungeon is, well, dark but still I would much rather see people come together and share an opinion about something so positive than all the hate and vitriol that we have come to expect.

COMMENT REQUEST OF THE WEEK

Have you played any game in the Souls series and given up? If so, why?

STEAM KEY GIVEAWAY!!!!

I appreciate every single person who has viewed and/or commented on this series since I started it and to show that, I have a bunch of duplicate Steam keys that I have no use for; therefore, the reader chosen by me who gives the best response to the comment request of the week will receive a Steam key for Papers, Please.

Thank you all so much for the support; it makes me want to keep it up. So, have an incredible week everyone and have a Happy Monday Duders!!!!

13 Comments

WWE RAW - When My Hand Goes Up Your Mouth Goes Shut 02/09/15

Here we go again. I wrote a blog last week where I talk about how positive I am about the WWE product and I got some really great responses to it so I decided to do it again. I'm not going to have a ton of set-up this week because there were a bunch of things that I really enjoyed so I want to stop rambling and get to the action.

Everyone in the opening segment came off really well; we know to expect a nice long promo segment at the top of every RAW that will, more often than not, lead into a match and this was no exception. I’m really impressed with how comfortable and confident Roman Reigns has looked over the past couple of weeks and especially tonight. He delivered his lines well, laughed at Daniel Bryan’s joke about being of equal attractiveness, and didn’t struggle with his retort to comments made by Stephanie McMahon. I’m enjoying seeing his growing process play out the way it is now because it seems like Vince realizes that he should have been doing this all along and I think it is showing that Roman is trying his hardest to improve on his weaknesses.

Daniel Bryan is really good at being a professional wrestler. In the ring he has few, if any, weaknesses and his progression on the mic over the last 5 years has been astonishing. He played his role in the opener perfectly in being jokey and pandering to the crowd a bit but when it came time to let Reigns know that he wasn’t going to Fast Lane to joke but to win because he’s the best wrestler in the world he really shined. The fans reaction was a bit surprising after that line though because I honestly was expecting some thunderous YES! chants and instead we get a smattering of boos. I think that probably changed after what happened in the Main Event but before we get there we have The Authority make a match with Bryan teaming with Reigns to take on Big Show and "Dockers" Kane. (The most evil of all of the Kane’s)

There wasn’t a ton happening in the match. It was a bit slow and was really only there to lead to the real main event of the night after Show was DQ’d for pulling Bryan out and throwing him into the timekeepers tiny house. Hunter, Steph, and the rest of the gang back up the ramp smiling while they announce that later in the show Roman and Bryan would team up yet again to take on the entire group, even J&J Security.

Seth Rollins took on Ryback in the next match which came out of nowhere and it too had a bit of a screwy finish. Nothing of note happened here other than Seth standing tall and Ryback looking somewhat protected because he had Rollins on his shoulders when J&J Security jump on The Big Guy and caused another DQ.

Rusev came out to talk about how Cena is old and broken down man and that he will destroy him at Fast Lane because he is neither of those things which brings Cena out to agree that he is old and broken down but will still beat the younger, stronger Bulgarian Brute. This causes the two to brawl where Rusev gets the upper hand on Cena and leaves him lying face down on the ramp. Something really cool happened a bit later though; Michael Cole gives us a rundown of the myriad of injuries that Cena suffered as a result of the Rusev attack. They are giving Cena an out if he loses at Fast Lane and which will lead to us seeing Cena realize he has to be better than ever in preparing for the rematch at Mania and that would make for a good story. Plus, we could get some sweet Rocky IV training montages leading up to it. (Fingers Crossed)

Dolph Ziggler went one on one with Bray Wyatt in a return match from last week and just as they did a week ago they had another fantastic match. It wasn’t as good as their previous encounter which I named my Match of the Night but it was still very good. It seems they’re using DZ to make Wyatt look strong in preparation for his rumored WrestleMania match against the Undertaker. We also got another cryptic promo from Wyatt that had a better structure than the one last week and gave off a stronger hint that it was directed straight at the Phenom.

Paul Heyman is incredible on the mic and Brock Lesnar does a great job standing next to him looking like the scariest man alive.

Gold and Stardust appear to be heading for a break-up. I don’t really know what else to say about this.

Triple H came out next to demand an answer from Sting as to whether or not he will be at Fast Lane to confront the COO. I thought this was a really cool segment that while it may have been a bit corny to have the fake Sting’s everywhere it was still awesome to see the fear that HHH sold when the graphic changed on the tron to read I ACCEPT. I’m really looking forward to how this plays out at the show and to me Fast Lane is turning into a super interesting PPV.

Tyson Kidd and Cesaro faced The Uso’s next and were actually given enough time to have a great match. I’m hoping the title match is added to the PPV based on the win that Kidd and Cesaro picked up here because on a smaller show like Fast Lane I feel like they could get even twice as long as this match on RAW and could potentially steal the show. They work well together and the distraction tactic used by Cesaro when he threw an Uso into the ring so he could help Tyson get the pinfall was neat.

When Mizdow blows up on the Miz the crowd will explode because, some may disagree with this; Miz is easily a Top 5 heel in the WWE. The guy is so good at getting heat and making people hate him that I am constantly entertained when he is on the screen. During the match between Mizdow and Sin Cara he sat in a director’s chair at ringside and forced Mizdow to get him a water, then open said water, then instructed Mizdow to not use the Miz’s moves, while telling the fans “when my hand goes up your mouth goes shut” which drew a ton of boos, and finally the fans started chanting “You’re from Cleveland” to which the Miz responded with “Better than Columbus” the host city for RAW tonight. He’s quick witted and has helped get Mizdow over even more in the last couple of weeks. I love their dynamic and this story.

We got a cool video package for the return of Sheamus tonight. He’s a really talented performer on the mic and especially in the ring and will be a real asset when he makes his return soon. Full disclosure, I am a Sheamus fan... especially when he's a heel.

Curtis Axel is topical with his Kanye West jokes and him standing in the ring pointing at the WrestleMania sign saying he was never eliminated and wants his shot makes me laugh but I also laugh when Dean Ambrose comes down and demolishes him. After that match which Ambrose won we get a good Ambrose promo talking about how he really wants the IC Title and then Bad News Barrett pops up on the tron to add a bit more to this program. I am so happy we are getting an actual feud for a secondary title because only good things will come from making the Intercontinental Championship mean something again. It helped to make guys like Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, The Rock, Triple H, and the list goes on.

Last but certainly not least we get the main event - Bryan and Reigns vs The Authority. This classic wrestling story was told throughout the night with two partners being unable to co-exist due to an upcoming showdown between them and a group of dastardly heels trying to take advantage of the situation in this 5 on 2 match. Well that plan was working until it all broke down and just as Show and Kane were getting ready to put Bryan through the announcers table out comes Ryback, Ziggler, and Rowan to make the save and even up the odds. This didn’t lead to a DQ so just as Bryan is prepared to hit the running knee on Joey Mercury we see Reigns jump to the apron, tag himself in, and spear Mercury for the win. This angered DB who gets in Roman’s face and eats a Spear for it. This was a great way to cap off the night because it built a ton of tension between the two and served to set-up a bit of intrigue leading into a face-off on Smackdown that was advertised throughout this show.

Overall another good RAW. There were some very noteworthy moments on the show that play into what the plans are for Fast Lane and WrestleMania. NXT Take Over Rival is this Wednesday which I plan to watch and may even do a small blog for… I’m really looking forward to the big Zayn vs Owens NXT Championship Match.

See you next time…

Match of the Night: Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns vs The Authority

16 Comments