BlackRedGaming

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Retro Paradiso 01: Balloon Fight

I played the game on: NES Classic
I played the game on: NES Classic

Hello and welcome to my new series, Retro Paradiso. This blog is pretty experimental for me and may or may not work, but I wanted to still post it for feedback. So any and all feedback is appreciated. So, how this blog works is I play a retro game in three thirty minute interval (doesn’t have to be consecutive), and for each interval I write down anything I notice or discover as well as my progression through the game. Part two and three will be the same but may include some changes of opinion on certain aspects I noticed earlier. This blog type feels a bit out of my comfort zone, but I want to see how well this format will work and whether or not I need to tweak anything.

This blog type is inspired by the film Cinema Paradiso (highly recommended and on Netflix), and the film follows a person in three stages of their life, which is why I have three different stages of my experience with the game. I will say that I started playing the game before I had the idea down, so part one for this will be different if this series follows through. Well, let’s see if this will work.

PART 1

Balloon Fight is an arcade game that has you floating around the map popping the balloons of your enemies who are also floating around the map trying to pop yours. To reach the next level, you must defeat all of your opponents in the level and the game goes on infinitely (as far as I can tell). One of the first things I noticed in the game is how much fun the game would be as a competitive multiplayer game. Sure, the game offers a cooperative mode, but going head-to-head would probably be a lot of fun in this game. But even if that were the case, I would still play this game alone anyways. The premise of the game is simple yet fun. Go around, pop the balloons then hit the enemies while they’re down, and move on. The game offers a good level of challenge, but I was not fond of the controls. Since the game involves floating around the level, I found the controls to be a bit stiff. Also, the game doesn’t give you extra lives, which I didn’t like all that much. Sure, you technically have six lives (each life has two balloons and each attack takes a balloon), but some things instantly kill you, so earning some extra lives here-and-there would have been nice. Also, at times this noise would come up that I could only describe as digital nails on chalkboard and it gets very annoying.

After playing through the main mode a bit, I noticed another mode called Balloon Trip. Where the main mode is like an arcade endless (going from level to level), this game is more like a modern endless (scrolling from right to left). In this mode you dodge balls of lightning and pick up balloons to get a high score. It was quite interesting to see both a classic endless game and a ‘modern’ endless game in this one package. But let me tell you, Balloon Trip is hard. The default high score to beat is 25,000, and I don’t think I reached even half of that. The difficulty doesn’t discourage me, so I’ll keep trying. Overall, I would say that my hopes on this game is high so far.

Part one high scores: Balloon Fight: ? Balloon Trip: ?

PART TWO

Another thirty minutes, and some more things to write about. I discovered that there is a button (I believe it is the b button on the NES controller) that has you float when holding it. That plus just getting used to the control has changed my thoughts on the controls. Now, they are much more bearable and I feel that I am doing much better because of it. And speaking of things I am getting used to; I’m now fine with not getting free lives. I feel that it’s different because I am used to retro games giving me lives over time, but the lack of doing so made the game feel more like a gauntlet and I liked that. And also speaking of discoveries; I found a strategy. I found that the best time to kill enemies (though not best way points-wise) is to take them out right when the level starts because at that time they are blowing up their balloons which means instant kills for those few precious seconds. Sure it doesn’t get me as many points as properly taking them down, but it’ll do.

I’m beginning to like the music a bit more. It’s a nice chip tune that plays well with the game. One thing I like less sound wise though is that annoying high pitch noise that constantly keeps coming up. It seems like something I trigger in the game, but I just don’t know what. Also, the game didn’t save my high score so I couldn’t say what they were for the first part (but don’t worry, I have my high scores now). And finally to come back to the Trip mode, I find that it is simply too hard to get a good high score. Even after learning about the better flying button, I find it too difficult. Still, I’m gonna bang my head against it until I get something.

Part two high scores: Balloon Fight: 113,000. Balloon Trip: 11,750.

PART THREE

This final part doesn’t have a lot from me. Because of that, I want this last part to be things I just thought about (kind of like how the character at this stage of his life…well, I don’t want to spoil). For the most part, I just got a lot better at the game and by that time I felt done with the game. I don’t mean in a bad way where I never want to play it again, but in a way where I have seen and experienced everything to see and experience and all that was left was to get high scores. The only thing I noticed was that after a certain point the game started re-using stages, which felt pretty cheap. It didn’t even take that long either to start seeing the same stages you played earlier. Also, one thing I forgot to mention was that at every fourth level (I think) is a bonus stage where balloons float up and you try to pop them. I thought the mode was fine, but I wanted to bring it up to talk about another level/ The first level after the second bonus stage is a pain in my ass. Doable, but a pain in my ass worth mentioning.

Another thing I just remembered are the other elements of the level. Some storm clouds hang in the sky and after spending too much time in the level will shoot a ball of lightning that bounces around and instantly kills you if touched. A fish is at the bottom center of the map ready to eat you or other enemies, bubbles occasionally come up and give you some extra points, and some strange spinning thing inhabits the later levels that… knock you back a little? Also, only the fish and bubbles inhabit the endless mode and the bubble stops you from moving (which has screwed me up more times than help me). I found the different elements of the levels (except for the spinny thing), to be scarce but useful. The clouds made me hurry up, the bubbles gave me points, and the fish helped gobble up some enemies if they fell into the water. It’s nothing crazy but it is something worth pointing out. I don’t have anything else that just popped into my head with this game, so I think that is going to end part three.

Part three high scores: Balloon Fight: 320,750. Balloon Trip: 20,970 (so close yet so far).

FINE

That is going to wrap up the blog. In the end, I would say that Balloon Fight is a pretty fun game. It doesn’t take long to get into its groove and go for high scores, but after a certain point in the game the game’s difficulty plateaus because of re-used levels. Both of its modes are fun and worth playing. If I ever get a hankering to play an endless arcade game, then this game will be on the list of possible games to play.

I feel pretty positively about this new series, but feedback on it would be very appreciated. I was originally going to do two games per blog (the other one would’ve been F-Zero), but I felt that one was enough (though if you want two let me know). Thank you all for reading and thank you especially for any feedback given.

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BlackRedGaming's Thoughts on Battlefield 5 Open Beta

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Battlefield 5 had an open beta, so I decided to dip my toes into the game and see what it is like. This one is a bit harder to write for me because I feel that Battlefield is tailored to a specific audience while Call of Duty is a game built for everyone. Because of that, I feel that whatever I say about the game can be undermined by Battlefield fans as 'it's just another casual player.' So, here is what I am going to say before I get in: I am a casual player of the game (the only other one I have really played is Battlefield 1). This blog is my point of view as a casual player trying to play the game. So, let's get right into it.

I did play Battlefield 1 back when the game came out, but I have little memory of it now. Still, I can say that in large part, this is still a Battlefield game. Not really much of a shocker, but as someone who doesn't really play a lot of the series that is the first thing I noticed. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, I'm just setting expectations. The modes offered are the same, the general map structure is the same, and the classes are the same (at least as far as I can tell). But this game does have some changes, for better or for worse, that I think or know are unique to Battlefield 5, so I want to get into those. And if they aren't changes from previous games, then they are just things I noticed throughout my time with the game worth talking about.

The biggest thing that popped out to me were what I think are the changes stated to make more squad-like play. I could be wrong if they are changes from the previous game, but these aspects I noticed were things I don't remember noticing when playing BF1. These changes I am talking about are how much ammo you can carry, a different revive system,and the squad size being cut down to four. I didn't really care about the squad size, but the ammo amount and revive system really bothered me. Most of the time I got killed, the game would put me into a revive state. There I had three options: speed up the meter ticking down to my death, slow it down in hopes of someone reviving me, or press neither button. In this game, anyone can revive you but medics do it faster. But I found that not a lot of people try to revive me because even the medics and their revive speed couldn't be fast enough to heal then hide from enemy fire (probably some sniper off in the distance picking people off). Because of that, I wasn't revived all that much and I chose to speed up the death meter instead. So, where is the issue in this? The issue is that it takes way too long to get back into the game. After leaving the revive screen, you have to wait another eight seconds to respawn. I counted how long it takes from you dying and holding the quick death option to respawn and it is around fifteen seconds. I'm not asking for immediate respawns, but fifteen seconds is pretty ridiculous. The only bright side to this is that I started striking up conversations with others in that time. At one point, I was talking to another person and they said they take snack breaks every time they die. If you can take a snack break every time you die (unless you are talking about a no respawn game of course), then I think it takes too long to respawn. But it was a bigger issue for me than others because I am a casual player who quite frankly sucks at the game. I have good moments here and there and I can accept losing in a firefight, but I feel that most of my deaths are from snipers off in the distance who are super good at the game. And I know that this is a Battlefield thing, but having that plus a super long respawn time made the game a bit hard to play for me.

Expect to see this a lot.
Expect to see this a lot.

The other change I noticed is the ammo count. Unless you play as the support class (who technically has unlimited ammo), the classes have very little ammo. And I mean VERY little. Most guns (other than the support ones of course) will only start you with one extra magazine. That means if a gun has a thirty bullet magazine, you will only get thirty bullets extra. And the max amount of ammo that can be carried for these guns are only one clip extra. That means if you are relatively decent at the game and you are not a support class, you will have to constantly depend on either finding an ammo crate or another player who is running a support class. This to me felt pretty ridiculous, especially considering you are carrying nine magazines of pistol ammo. I felt constantly tethered to an ammo source when playing with these classes, which meant I didn't really want to rush anything which sucks because both the assault and medic classes have good rushing guns. Because of this limitation, I mostly ran with the support class because I didn't want to constantly have to ask for ammo. And because of that, I felt that the assault class, other than having the most fun weaponry, felt useless (I know it's a good anti-vehicle class, but the support class also has some good anti-vehicle items too). Another issue similar to this is health regen. Unless you are a medic, you only regenerate your health to around half health. The health limitation feels like a similar problem as the ammo problem, but it felt more manageable because picking up health from a health crate gives you an extra health pack, which made me feel slightly less tethered to a medic or health crate. Still, I found this to be annoying as well.

I know why these annoyances are in place though (or at least I think I do). I get that these changes are to promote more team-oriented play. They want you to stick with your squad and play more tactically than go Rambo. But these changes didn't feel like a push towards teamplay, it felt like a forceful shove. I remember playing solo in Battlefield 1 to be harder but doable, but this game is much more difficult solo (unless you play the support class). And I get this game isn't for everyone like Call of Duty is trying to be, but it made the game harder to jump into for people like me, and I feel like even if I was really into the game it would still be hard to jump in by myself. I did play with friends and we did try to play a bit more tactically (choosing specific classes, sticking together, etc.), but I think ultimately we were trying to have fun more than play tactically and I think we didn't do as well because of it (unless we were in a tank, because there we did great!). I am not calling for this game to be open for anyone to play like Call of Duty, but I believe these changes push towards a more hardcore audience while making casual play not as fun.

While I feel strongly about the small changes above, I did find another small change to be surprisingly fun and useful. You can build in this game. No, this game isn't the next Fortnite or anything, but the maps offer various places to build sand mounds, walls, and sometimes even turrets. Anyone can build them, but some classes can build them faster. I really like this option to build because in a game filled with talented snipers, building cover felt really useful. Also, I think only having specific places to build instead of anywhere is the right choice. You can't just build a sandbag barrier anywhere; you have to find the selected place to build it. The building mechanic offers a good way to defend a place while not being some free-for-all for building whatever wherever.

As always, the game is a looker. This was taken in-game with the screenshot ability.
As always, the game is a looker. This was taken in-game with the screenshot ability.

I went over the bigger aspects of the game that I noticed, so let's go over the smaller ones. I won't go over the modes offered (because they are pretty much the same as last game), but I really liked the maps I played on. One map is a snowy mining area while the other is a beautiful city, and both are quite the spectacle. Weapons feel like they have more depth because now you can level them up and upgrade them. The one thing I have always enjoyed in Call of Duty is weapon progression and working towards attachments and skins, and this game sort of offers that. For me, having weapon progression keeps me in a multiplayer game longer because I love having physical progression and it is something worth working for. That was something not present in BF1, but having it here is pretty big for me. One issue I have with the upgrades are that the upgrades branch into two paths, and if you want to remap them then you have to repay for those upgrades. Weapon skins are now segmented to different parts of the gun instead of the gun as a whole. I am still not quite sure how these skins are obtained (other than the fact that they are not random), but instead of a skin for the gun you get a skin for the barrel or the magazine or whatever part you get it for. One thing I surprisingly enjoyed is the music. Whether it be in the game or in the menu, the music did a good job at setting the tone while still being something worth listening to on my free time. And last but not least, I'll talk about the state of the beta. It was fine for the most part. The biggest issues I noticed are bad spawns (I had multiple times where I spawn right next to an enemy), slower frame rate at spots, and bodies sometimes dangling in midair. I generally don't judge a beta for how well it performs because, well, it's a beta; but I never encountered any major issues which is nice.

In conclusion, I feel that Battlefield 5, at least from what I experienced, is more Battlefield. It's changes, though small, feel tailored towards more hardcore players but in annoying ways instead of good ones. I feel that to really enjoy the game I have to play with friends instead of just being able to manage by myself. After this beta, I feel less inclined to pick the game, but my interest in the game doesn't lie in multiplayer. For me, I want to see what their co-op mode and battle royale look like, so I still have interest in what the game will turn out to be. While some positives like building and weapon progression feel good in the game, I can't help but think about my experience and think of the negative aspects.

Those are my thoughts on the game, but what about yours? From what I have seen, different people are liking or disliking the game for different reasons, so I want to see what your thoughts are down below. Also, if you want to know my thoughts on anything else BF5 then you can also ask down below. And as always, thank you for reading.

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Ranking of Red Faction Part 4: Red Faction Armageddon

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Well would you look at that? We have now reached the end of the line for Red Faction. Hello and welcome to the fourth and last part ranking the Red Faction series. As always, you can find the list here. So, let's get into it.

Red Faction Armageddon takes place fifty years after the events of Guerrilla. You play as the grandson of Alec Mason named Darius, who just like his grandfather fights for the Red Faction. At this point in the future, the Red Faction are a larger force (still a good one though), but even that larger force couldn't stop Adam Hale (the main antagonist) and his cult from destroying the Terraformer and sending the Martians underground the hide away from the extreme weather the Terraformer held back. Fast forward a few years, and Darius now works as an freelance miner along side a girl named Kara. He takes up a job which turns out to be trap, and ends up accidentally opening a door for aliens known as the Plague. Now it is up to him to stop the Plague and Adam Hale once and for all.

The most obvious thing that stands out with the story is how different it is from previous games. The other games involve fighting either fighting an evil corporation or fighting a tyrannical government, whereas this game has you fighting aliens and sometimes cultists. Because of that, the game really veers from its rebellion-against-corporation vibe I've come to like over the games. It's not to say I don't like change, I just wish it was a better one. Also, I found the plot to be extremely basic and the characters dull at best. These are complaints I have had for all of the games, but this time I actually dislike the main character whereas the other ones I didn't mind. Darius likes to talk a lot and man is he annoying and cheesy. Mix that with a literalist AI system and you got yourself some dumb and pointless conversations. But the game does a good job at one thing that I have always liked: it provides a good setting. The new underground setting is fun to be in and this game has done the best job at showing the world this series has built, even with some talks about Kapek from the first game. Also, I like some of the changes to the story like the Red Faction being an actual fighting force and the backstory of the Cultists and Adam Hale. Overall, I would say that the story elements of this game excel in some manners and lag behind in others. It's not great, but it's not bad either.

But as a person who has played all four Red Faction games, I know where the real changes lie: in the gameplay. So, let's start with the biggest one: changing from open world to linear. This is a very strange choice to see. I wouldn't be surprised to hear a game go from linear to open world, but the other way around feels weird. While I do think having the game be linear has its own benefits and drawbacks compared to open world, I see this as a step backwards. This game sets up an even more interesting world, and I would've loved to explore it, but I can't. Still, many elements of the previous games like destruction, fun weaponry, and plenty of vehicle sections can be found here as well.

I enjoyed the reconstructor tool more than the destruction in this game.
I enjoyed the reconstructor tool more than the destruction in this game.

One of the things I complained about with the previous game was the lack of fun weaponry. There were fun weapons to be found in Guerrilla, but it never felt like enough. That's not the case with this game. This game is filled to the brim with fun guns to use. My personal favorite is a magnet gun that acts like the tether tool from Just Cause where you can shoot something and have that thing go to wherever you want it to go. While throwing parts of the building at an enemy was fun, the best use of the weapon for me was to shoot an enemy and have it fly towards a wall killing it instantly. The weapons were a lot of fun to use and provided a lot of destruction to both enemies and buildings. But it gets better. The new upgrade system feels better and more useful than the last game. The jetpack (and other packs) have been removed (which sucks but is understandable because you are in a cave) and replaced with abilities I find more fun. These abilities include a powerful melee, damage boost, a protective shield, and an ability that suspends enemies in midair. These abilities are a lot of fun to use as well as being incredibly useful. Also, you don't have to have the sledgehammer equipped, which was a minor problem I had with the previous game. But by far the best item in the game wasn't anything that can destroy, but something that can reconstruct. Armageddon gives you a tool that can reconstruct buildings, which I loved. The last game introduced a weapon that did the same thing (even though they introduced it after completing the game), but this one is far more useful and fun. You want to climb the stairs but got destroyed after combat? Fix them. You want to hide behind cover but can't find any because they all got destroyed? Shoot a little ball of reconstruction energy (or whatever it was called) and build new cover. Overall, I would say that the weapons and items are a big improvement over the previous game. Another thing this game fixed from the previous one are the controls. Everything feels much smoother now. Darius feels smooth and has some new moves like rolling, while unfortunately getting rid of taking cover (which is something I didn't really use a lot in the previous game anyways). The vehicles feel a lot better, whether that be in a walker, airplane, or spider-like vehicle, with the one exception being the spider-like vehicle feeling stiff when aiming up and down. The game has fixed some of the issues I had with the previous game, and I appreciated that a lot.

The biggest complaint I have for the game (besides the downgrade to linear levels) is how generic the game feels. This game feels like a basic alien shooter. And while that is a bad thing, I can't help but think about the rest of the games and see how basic they feel. Even going back to the first game, I wrote that the game feels like a Half-Life ripoff, and the other games feel rather basic as well. So while the game being basic is an issue, I can't help but think that this is a series issue and not a game issue. But this game also has issues as well that can't be excused. The game has crashed a few times and I had multiple moments where I questioned how dumb the narrative was (like wondering why no one fixed the Terraformer for years then all of a sudden Darius just fixed it). But by far the worst one was the boss fight between you and Adam Hale. The boss fight starts with you being chased by him while he is in a giant mech spider on rails (no literally, you are in a mine cart). That part is fine, but what follows was the most frustrating part. He chases you down a dead-end corridor, and along the way you are shooting these balls hanging from the ceiling and chipping away at his health until by the time you hit the dead end he is at 10% health. Where is the issue? The dead end is too tight to move around him and you instantly die when he touches you. He doesn't even swing at you, he just moves at you and if you get near you die. Even with his health that low, I kept dying over and over because of how powerful he was. It has got to be one of the worst boss fights I have ever faced, and it was worth writing about how bad it was. In the end, I would say that its downgrades and generic nature diminishes from the game, but it never kept me from at least having some fun.

Adam Hale, the main baddie. Don't ask me why he paints his face like that.
Adam Hale, the main baddie. Don't ask me why he paints his face like that.

As always, I talk about the other modes available towards the end, and this blog is no different. Unlike all of the other games, this one doesn't have competitive multiplayer. Instead, the game offers a horde-based mode called Infestation as well as a mode similar to Wrecking Crew called Ruin. Ruin throws you into pieces of various levels found throughout the main game and asks for as much destruction as possible. Their are two modes: one where you have a minute to destroy as much as possible and earn a score, and one where you have no time limit but no score. I wasn't a fan of Wrecking Crew, but I did enjoy my time with Ruin. It was nice to be able to just go into a level and destroy to your heart's content without any time limit, and I felt that the rules put on the Wrecking Crew modes limited the gameplay too much while this one felt liberating. Ruin was fun, but the main mode I want to talk about is Infestation. Infestation is a co-op horde game (I tried but didn't get into a match with anyone) that has two modes: survive and defend. Survive throws you into a piece of a level and asks you to kill an x amount of enemies, and defend is survive but you have to defend a building. Each wave acts as its own level, and each map has its own set of waves. Some maps are designated to survive, and some are designated to defend. After a certain wave point in each map, you unlock more weapons and free up more of your upgrade tree (from the main game) to be used. The most amount of fun I had with this game was here in Infestation. Sure the mode is basic, but its tight action was a blast. Also, the structure of Infestation was fantastic. I don't have to complete a map in one sitting, I can come back to it whenever I want. My upgrades from the main game roll over into this game, and new weapons slowly unlock. I even enjoyed playing the defend mode because I had the reconstructor and can repair the building and the building being defended changes each wave. The mode did have a few flaws like difficulties not being their own set of levels and having too many lives (do I really need twelve lives?), but overall I think the mode is a blast.

In conclusion, I think Red Faction Armageddon is a hard game to rank. On one hand it is a downgrade to the previous game because of its linear and basic nature while on the other hand it improves upon the things I love about this series like fun weaponry and world building. My ultimate choice came down either ranking it above or below the first game, but in the end I chose for it to be below because looking back at it I feel that I had a better time with the first game. Usually I would predict where this game would be by the end, but this is the end, so now I wave Red Faction goodbye. Goodbye Red Faction, and may someone make another one in the near future (though I am not counting on it).

That is going to wrap up my list. What is your ranking of the series? Put it down below in the comments. And as always, thank you for reading.

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Ranking of Red Faction Part 3: Red Faction Guerrilla (Remastered)

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Welcome to part 3 of 4 ranking the Red Faction games. For those who don't know, the rank is here while this blog functions as the thought process to my rank. Also, I played the remastered version of the game and not the Steam version, so if there are any issues with the Steam version and not the remastered then you won't hear them here. Now onto part 3.

Taking place sometime after the first game, the Martian people have been betrayed by the EDF when their former ally turns against them for resources. You play as Alec Mason who has decided to move to Mars to see his brother and live a new life. It doesn't take long for the stuff to hit the fan because next thing you know, your brother (who you find out is part of the Red Faction) is dead and an incident later you fall into the shoes of your brother fighting for the Red Faction. The rest is, well, the rest of the game.

Characters had more, well, character.
Characters had more, well, character.

The one thing I have always been critical of with the previous games is the story. A lot of times they follow a basic plot, and this game is no different. I do think this story is the best of the three so far by diving a little deeper into the characters and adding a new faction (a Mad Max style faction known as the Marauders), but the story is still basic, predictable, and uninteresting. But I actually found the highlights of the story through other means like the setting and vibe of the game. The one thing I really liked about the first game was the setting and rebellious vibe, and this game returns to that in full force. I love the new Martian setting where remnants of the Ultor company can be found scattered around while still sticking with the corporation-against-the-rebellion vibe of the game. Also, other aspects of the game like the characters and this third new faction with their own background and motives prove to be better than the previous two games. I wish the Marauders had more time because I found them to be interesting and refreshing from the Red Faction-EDF struggle, but overall I think the story and all of its elements, while still basic, are better than the previous two games.

Story didn't change a whole lot, but the gameplay sure did. The biggest, most obvious change to the gameplay is the change to open world. As such, let's get into the open world and its aspects. Overall, I would say that the change to open world is a positive one, but with flaws. Red Faction: Guerrilla finally allows me to explore the Martian terrain while offering a nice spread of missions and other activities to do. All of the side mission-types were fun to play, and the different biomes of Mars were interesting to see. But I also think that the open world is flawed as well. Ultimately, I found the world to be barren and the structures felt cut-and-paste. These issues affect other aspects of the game, but I will get to those later. Still, I think the shift to open world is a good one.

The second and third biggest change to this game is the change to third person and the destruction. While destrction can be found in the previous games, it was never as big as this. In this game, you are toppling structures like a kid with a bat hitting legos where in previous games the destruction stayed small. The destruction in this game is magnificent to see and proved to be a lot of fun wreaking havoc on buildings. And with this dramatic increase of destruction as well as your break-neck speed comes the change to third person. I feel it was necessary for the game to go third person because I think it would have been too hectic for first person, but I felt that the change had one big flaw: the controls felt stiff. The aiming was something I eventually got used to, but driving was difficult. Despite that, I don't think the game should have stayed in first person because of how hectic the game can be.

It won't take long for things to get hectic.
It won't take long for things to get hectic.

I am all out of big differences, so let's get into the smaller gameplay details. The absolute best aspect of the game to me is how guerrilla the games feels. I think the game nails its guerrilla feel really well. As long as you are in an alert status, the enemy will constantly spawn and overwhelm you. While I thought this was a bad aspect at first, I found the spawning to force me to constantly retreat back to home base after doing various actions, which if that isn't guerrilla I don't know what is. No matter how much you upgrade, it won't take long for the EDF to overwhelm you and force you back into hiding, and I loved that. Also, the missions you partake on feel guerrilla as well. I remember doing this one side mission that involved me and a group of fighters taking control of a building, then fending it off from reinforcements, then finishing it off with exploding the building. I have played other games that involve you playing as a guerrilla force (Homefront: Revolution, The Saboteur, etc.), but this game sells that guerrilla aspect far better than any I have ever played.

The world is divided into six districts, and each one has two meters: control and morale. Control is, well, the control EDF has over the district. This meter depletes as you complete main missions, side missions, and other things like destroying key buildings. Morale, on the other hand, is a meter you want to keep full. It's the morale of the troops and can be filled through kill combos, destroying propaganda, and missions while it can be depleted from Red Faction deaths. Having a high morale meter means more enemies will spawn on you in action and more salvage (the main form of currency) from missions. I really liked these two meters as for it was a good representation of progress for both your cause and the weakening strength of the EDF. Finally, the vehicles, despite the stiff controls, are fun to use (especially the walker), the game offers a jetpack halfway through that makes traversal better. The game offers a lot of great things, but there are some not-so-great things lurking below.

The biggest issue I had with the game is how basic it is. Everything I did in the game pretty much boiled down to one thing: destroy. That's all I really felt like I was doing throughout the game: go in, destroy, retreat back to base. I get that this line of thinking is a very simplistic form of thinking on the game and that form of simplistic thinking can be applied on any game, but it never felt more apparent than here. The destruction in this game is great and all, but it felt like that was the only thing they did in this game and because of that they only want you focusing on that. I think because of this, the game feels basic and dated compared to other open world games. I also didn't find the guns as fun as the previous two games. Some weapons like the nano rifle were a blast to use no doubt, but I found the basic weaponry to be just that: basic. The one thing I liked about the previous two game's weapons were how they made all of the weapons fun to use, and I think this game lost some of that. There are fun weapons in here no doubt, but just not as much. Finally, can't change weapon aim between toggle and hold. In the end, I find myself conflicted on the negative aspects of the game. While I find this to be a better experience in terms of Red Faction games, I also find this game only okay in terms of open world games. Still, I think there is fun to be had in this game no matter what angle you take on it.

Because of how old games can be and how active or inactive their multiplayer is, I don't factor multiplayer into my ranking. It's there, and I got to play a match and it was fun, then I tried again later and the multiplayer is dead. In the end, I usually just mention it and move on. But this is the first time where other single player modes have come into play, and because it is single player it plays a bigger factor into my ranking. The single player mode in question is called Wrecking Crew, and I don't like it all that much. The mode involves throwing you into a multiplayer map and trying to destroy as much as you can. Every mode within Wrecking Crew are really just modifiers (unlimited ammo with only one minute, three minutes but every action reduces time, etc.). I found the experience to be dull. There is an activity similar to that in the game that involves trying to destroy the building within a time and inventory limit, and I found that to be a lot of fun because it almost felt like a puzzle to me. This just felt like more of that, but instead of that being a good thing I found the experience to be boring because the goals were different. With the campaign mode, you had to be strategic because you win by destroying the whole building, where as this game you were just trying to rack up points which meant I was just hitting whatever looked worth hitting. Also, the modes left very little to the imagination as for just reading the description paints an exact picture of what you are doing. Even with stuff like a horde-based mode you can still guess some of the smaller aspects like whether or not there are upgrades, money to be earned and spent, traps, and more. With this, you can know EXACTLY what you are about to get into and because of that the experience felt dull. I can't really complain a whole lot about its existence because it is a side mode and not part of the main game, but I still wish a different experience would inhabit that mode.

Just a small-scale example of the destruction that can be done.
Just a small-scale example of the destruction that can be done.

Finally, the game offers a bonus area diving into the backstory of one of the characters in the game named Samanya. The game throws you into a small new area with some new weapons and dives deeper into the Marauders; something I wish the main game did. Overall, I liked it. I enjoy that Marauder faction and the mini world I possessed. The weirdest part about the experience is that there are only three main missions and half of the map (which contains a plethora of buildings to destroy to lower control) remained in a walled off area until you made the EDF lose control over the entire area, but I don't have a lot of complaints outside of the ones said for the main game.

In conclusion, I find Red Faction Guerrilla to be a solid Red Faction. Its change to the open world is inviting, its deeper dive into the story elements is welcoming, and its destruction feels fantastic. The game does feel dated with its barren open world and single-minded focus on destruction, but I think the game shines as a Red Faction game. Unsurprisingly, this game will be ranked number one for now and my guess is it will stay there (considering there is only one game left).

What are your thoughts on the game? Tell me down below in the comments. I know I am (or at least I feel) like a minority in not liking the game as much as others, but that's okay (it's not the first time and it definitely won't be the last). Thank you all for reading, and tune in soon for the conclusion to this ranking with Red Faction: Armageddon.

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My Top Five Anticipated Releases of September 2018

Do you remember the 21st night of September? I don't, but I do know of the games releasing in September of 2018, so let's go with that. Hello and welcome (or welcome back) to my monthly series diving into the upcoming games of the month. I don't really have much else to say, so let's get right into the rules.

The game has to be released on at least one of the major systems (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch). The game has to be new, so no remasters or re-releases onto new systems. One thing I do count is a game either entering or exiting early access, but that game can only be counted once. If a game does have multiple release dates like Destiny 2 or GTA 5, then I will only count the earliest release date. Finally, it has to be a game, not a DLC. With the rules out of the way, let's look at my top picks for September.

5. The Gardens Between

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The Gardens Between, by the Voxel Agents, has two friends stuck in a strange land littered with items of their past where time can be manipulated to help them find the exit. From the sounds of it, it is essentially 3D Braid with more of a narrative focus. I won't lie in saying that this game wasn't originally going to be top five (not one, but two games had false release dates on Metacritic), but I am still interested in the game nonetheless. Its beautiful art style, the concept of the plot, and small island gameplay look to make a solid game. The Gardens Between is coming out on the 20th for PC, PS4, and Switch.

4. Immortal: Unchained

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Immortal: Unchained is an upcoming RPG by Toadman Interactive that has you playing as a person locked up for a long time only to be released to stop the World from ending. I won't lie in saying that this game is primarily here out of curiosity and interest in how it will turn out, but the game still looks fun nonetheless. What am I talking about? The game is a Souls-like, but with guns. And I mean guns are the primary weapon, not some side weapon. I'm interested in seeing how it will turn out, which is why it is on this list. And if it doesn't turn out well, then at least it's an easy shooter in the interesting intricacies of a Souls-like game. Immortal: Unchained will be out on on the 7th for PC.

3. Creed: Rise to Glory

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Creed: Rise to Glory is an upcoming VR boxing game by Survios that, well, has you playing as Creed as he boxes his way to the top. When looking through the games on this list, I never thought about VR boxing until seeing this game. Now thinking about, I actually really want to try it out. I remember having fun with Wii Sports boxing, so taking that to VR could be a lot of fun. Am I saying this is the first VR boxing game on the market? No. But it is the first one I am excited about. Creed: Rise to Glory is coming out on PC and PS4 VR systems on the 25th.

2. Shadow of the Tomb Raider

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Lara is back at it again and this time she is...trying to stop a Mayan apocalypse. Shadow of the Tomb Raider, by Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics, has Lara pillaging tombs, shooting dudes, and parkouring her way through distant lands as she continues her quest to try not to die and stop evil from taking over. There really isn't much to say here other than 'yep, it's more Tomb Raider,' but as it turns out that isn't a bad thing. I love the previous Tomb Raider games, and knowing they are still sticking with the formula means I know the game will at least be decent. Is it as exciting as something new? No. But Shadow of the Tomb Raider is still a game I am very much excited for nonetheless. The game is coming out on the 14th for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

1. Spider-Man

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Insomniac's Spider-Man has you playing as, you guessed it, Spider-Man as he swings his way through Manhattan kicking ass and saving the day. I've never played a Spider-Man game before, but I believe this game is a great jumping-in point. The new story sounds intriguing, the open world sounds amazing, and much, much more. Sony has so far knocked it out-of-the-park with exclusives, so let's hope this game is no different. Spider-Man is coming out on the 7th for the PS4.

Bonus: some extra games

Why only share five interesting games releasing this month when there are more? Here are some more games I am interested in but didn't quite make the cut.

Bill Murray's birthday (Sept. 21), my birthday (little late, it was Aug. 30), Insurgency Sandstorm, Labo Vehicle Kit, Life is Strange, Light Fingers, Old School Musical, Planet Alpha, Shadows Awakening, Transference, and Valkyria Chronicles 4.

That about sums up my list. Some solid games releasing, but of course it's the next two months that really have my attention. Any games you are interested in this month? Put them in the comments below. Thank you all for reading and tune in next month for the behemoth that is October.

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The Good, The Bad, and the Free 02: Switch Galaxy Ultra

Welcome to part two of my relatively new series, 'The Good, the Bad, and the Free.' Everything about this new series will be explained in the FAQ section. So, let's get right into part two.

Obtained from: PS Plus. Asking price: PS4=$12, Steam=$10
Obtained from: PS Plus. Asking price: PS4=$12, Steam=$10

Switch Galaxy Ultra is an arcade space game that has you in a ship going from city-to-city dodging various obstacles on rails as you try to deliver as much of this material called Tantalum as you can. The story involves you playing as a rough yet charming pilot named Vince as he goes across the galaxy picking up Tantalum for the queen of Dakur Technologies named Bessie. The gameplay has you on one of multiple rails lined up next to each other dodging various obstacles and picking up Tantalum while trying to reach the next city with the fastest time possible and the most amount of Tantalum possible. The game also offers an endless mode and a multiplayer mode, though I cannot speak about the multiplayer aspects because there weren't any descriptions of the modes or anyone playing them.

THE GOOD

I actually don't really have anything. Well, that's not entirely true. I wanted to talk about the story and the way it is presented under the Free part of this, but other than the story I don't really have anything positive to say. I like that you can upgrade your ship, that you can buy barrier passes at the beginning of the game to bypass certain obstacles you accidentally hit, and that the developers sold a DLC pack where the profits went to charity. That's about it. So, to fill this part up a bit more, I'll say positive things about the game that are (or at least should be) things that are in every game. The game wasn't glitchy, had decent controls, ran smoothly, and a decent amount of gameplay (which ultimately hurt me because that meant spending more time with this game). I guess one thing I can say that is pretty cool is when you are riding on the track and its twisting as you get towards the end, watching the city twist and turn is neat.

If you read my description above and thought the game sounds boring, then you would be correct. The game is about as repetitive and dull as its description entails.

THE BAD

The game doesn't pack a lot of good aspects to the game, but man does it have a fair deal of bad. The biggest issue I had with the game was the gameplay. Ultimately, its gameplay seems like it should be a rhythm game or an endless mobile runner, but its neither of those things. The only new things the game throws at you over the course of the game are different types of obstacles, and every single level plays out the same. The only new gameplay mechanic I can think of that they throw at you that isn't an obstacle is a ramp, which then throws you into a dumb balancing mini game. I didn't want to do that, so it wasn't long until the ramp became yet another obstacle. There are no unique levels they throw at you occasionally or anything like that; you are doing the same exact thing every single time. The best part (or rather the worst part) is how each level is structured and how some of it doesn't even matter.

Is this gameplay ten minutes in or five hours in? In this game, it doesn't really matter because the gameplay never evolves past this.
Is this gameplay ten minutes in or five hours in? In this game, it doesn't really matter because the gameplay never evolves past this.

Every level is structured like this: You start on the rails dodging various obstacles (this is about 50% of the level), followed by a small part where you are off the rails in a small circular area picking up the Tantalum (about 15% of the level), then finishing off back on the rails until you finish (35%). Every, single, level is that. But it gets better. To progress to the next level, you need a certain amount of Tantalum. In the game, you can't die, but if you hit obstacles then you will lose Tantalum. But you only get Tantalum halfway through the level. So that means if you're goal is to just progress through the game, then you don't even need to worry about the first part of the level. You can't die, and you can't lose Tantalum because you haven't picked any up yet. So at times I would literally put down the controller and look at my Twitter feed while 'playing' through the first part. The only two reasons why to even try on the first part are to get through the level faster to get through the game faster (which I did) and to try to get under the time barrier which gets you some chump change and a gold completion strip instead of a green one.

Some of the other issues include bad voice acting (something I felt they could've completely avoided by not doing voice acting in the first place), bad music that sounds like rejected space music for children's movies, super easy gameplay (remember when I said you can't fail?), gameplay so dull it made even the fastest and craziest moments feel boring, and the game not charging me for buying new ships. One last thing I want to talk about is this certain obstacle that involves a ship shooting you and reversing your controls while slowing you down. While I don't have an issue with the obstacle itself, I had too many experiences where those ships would line up on all of the rails and shoot at the same time, making the obstacle impossible to dodge. No matter how fast you are going, that ship will slow you down to a crawl, and the fact that sometimes they are impossible to dodge was infuriating. Overall, I would say that the game is weak and offers gameplay that needs something extra and is incredibly repetitive and dull.

THE FREE

For this segment I decided to focus on the story, which is hard because that is the best part of the game which left me very little to talk about in the Good segment. The best part of the story (and the whole game) is that the story is presented in a cool comic style. Also, I thought there was a bit of a chemistry between the Queen and Vince as for every comic you get involves them talking while Vince is somewhere new. The comics are dished out to you throughout the game. But kind of like Tuco in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, the story elements also has bad elements to it. Every comic besides the first one and the last one are useless to the story. These middle comics boil down to Vince stopping on a planet and having an experience that doesn't play to the overall story. Also, I feel that a lot of the story elements felt copied from other stories. The character you play feels like a Han Solo type, there is a planet that you visit where you are large and they are small and you accidentally squish a dude but the dude was a tyrannical dictator so now you are a God to those people (Gulliver's Travel, Men in Black 2), and more. They just feel like recycled elements from other stories. Finally, I thought the story didn't end well. Upcoming spoilers (though does it really matter when the story is this basic?): you reach the planet with the queen, and you find that the two are good friends. You find out that someone much more sinister is really calling the shots and wanted the Tantalum for a nefarious reason. But without addressing that or anything really, the story ends with you taking the Queen to another planet. In the end, even the best part of the game is full of flaws.

What the hell kind of casino game is this?!
What the hell kind of casino game is this?!

Switch Galaxy Ultra is a game you should avoid. all the game offers is dull, repetitive gameplay and a basic story of recycled elements. It's not that I hate its style of gameplay, it's that it doesn't offer anything else to that gameplay. With all things considered, I believe that this game isn't even worth playing for free.

That about wraps it up. Thank you for reading and tune in for part three whenever that happens.

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New Blog Series and More

So I have decided to start another new blog series. To keep with the theme of film theming, I have decided to combine the film Cinema Paradiso with retro games to make 'Retro Paradiso.' More as to what it exactly is will be discussed when the first one happens. But I also wanted to do something special for this. So, I am going to stream the movie at rabb.it at https://www.rabb.it/BlackRedGaming at 12 PM est on August 30th as celebration of the new series (and my b-day). Come if you want to see a great film, or don't. Either way, I just wanted to announce the new series and watch a film with the community (or by myself).

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My Quick Thoughts on the Cyberpunk 2077 Gameplay Demo

I was about to start part two of 'The Good, the Bad, and the Free' when I noticed that something Cyberpunk came up. Since a lot of the talk out of E3 was positive on the game, I just had to take a gander. Next thing you know, CD Projekt Red just dropped the E3 demo right into our laps for our viewing pleasure. After watching the whole thing, I decided to pour out some small quick thoughts I had while watching. Each thought is in bold with my thoughts below. And it should go without saying that the thoughts I have on the game could be changed because of changes made to the game.

1. It's beautiful

The absolute thing this game nails is the dystopian hyper capitalist punk world. The scale of the city, the vibrant colors mixed with the dirty undertones of the streets, the people that inhabit this world, and so much more plays to this world so well.

2. It's immersive and deep

The game also does a great job at really putting you into this world and showing just how much detail has gone into the game. Whether it be special hospital treatment based on how rich you are, getting a look at the different groups of people inhabiting this world, or skills that actually matter in the world like street cred. The game doesn't just allow you to play as a character in this world; it makes you that character in this world.

3. Missions and how you tackle them have weight to them

Every action you took actually felt important. While driving towards the next mission, some of the enemies from the previous one tried to do a drive-by. When teaming up with the mili-tech company, they offered you money so you can take the upcoming mission in a peaceful manner, only to have that end in a betrayal by mili-tech when the money was rigged. Cyberpunk missions feel like something that can have very different outcomes depending on how you tackle them, and I see that as a big potential for high replayability.

4. Gun gameplay didn't look great

I get that there are aspects of this game that are new for CD Projekt Red, but the guns didn't wow me. I saw some cool features to the guns like a ricochet ability, but the shooting itself seems weightless. This one is a little hard to explain, so the best I can say is look at the gameplay yourself. Besides that, I think combat overall looks solid. It seems to offer a wealth of options as to how you want to dispatch enemies and offers some extra movesets like wall running and double jumps.

5. The game seems to have a lot going on, but it never felt overwhelming

The game seems like it would be overwhelming because of all of its systems, but it never felt overwhelming. All of its systems and mechanics felt streamlined in a way that made sense to me and was relatively easy to follow. I don't think this game will be as easy to jump into as Peggle, but I also don't think it will be insanely difficult either.

6. Something didn't feel quite right

The game looks impressive. Almost too impressive. This last part is more of a concern than a complaint, but I think this demo got the Ubisoft treatment. Of course they did say multiple times that the gameplay isn't a representation of the final product, but I feel that this gameplay is flying a little too close to the sun. I really hope I am proven wrong here, but only the final product will tell.

I have more thoughts on the game, but I felt that I should just keep this short and stick to the main points. I have little complaints to what I have seen, and it overall looks very impressive. I'm not really any more or less excited for the game mainly because I know it still is going to be a good amount of time before this game releases, but I think that people coming out of E3 saying this is THE game of the show this year are not wrong. Cyberpunk 2077 has a lot of promise, let's just hope the game lives up to it.

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The Good, The Bad, and the Free 01: Peggle

Welcome to my new series, 'The Good, the Bad, and the Free.' Everything about this new series will be explained in the FAQ section. So, let's get right into part one: Peggle.

Obtained from: Origin. Asking price: $5
Obtained from: Origin. Asking price: $5

Peggle is a pachinko style puzzle game that has you shooting a marble from the top of the screen and trying to hit as many pegs as you can as the ball works it way down down the screen. You only start with ten balls (but have multiple ways of getting them back), and after each turn any peg you hit disappears. The goal of the game is to hit all of the orange pegs before you run out of balls. Peggle offers fifty-five levels, seventy-five challenge levels, and multiplayer against others locally or against a bot.

THE GOOD

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The highlights of Peggle to me are its gameplay and accessibility. From the game's concept to its powerups, the game offers a simple twist on pachinko that is a lot of fun while also being a game that is easy to pick up yet hard to master. The game offers a perfect blend of skill and luck, where you try to aim your shots and maximize your points while hoping you hit the most amount of pegs and hitting the bucket at the bottom. All of this to the tune of a simple mouse click and aiming with your cursor. The game offers a simple concept that anyone can wrap their minds around, but then the game starts throwing in moving pegs, powerups, challenge levels that give you the normal levels but with modifiers like a low ball count or a score minimum, and even multiplayer against bots that isn't for the feint of heart. Peggle offers an experience anyone can get into and have a lot of fun with while also offering a challenge to those who stick with it, and because of that I believe that is the highlight of the game.

But that isn't the only thing good about the game. The powerups given to you are all fun to use and offer different strategies as to how you want to tackle the orange pegs, for a casual puzzle game the music is funny but in an awesome way (which I will talk about later), the game offers a good amount of gameplay and has a good skill curve to it, and the other modes available are good additions to the game. Also, some smaller details like being able to fast forward before a shot so you don't have to wait for the right time to shoot and being able to save and watch replays are welcoming, and it's a lot of fun to look back at some of the last ball skill shots I made. Overall, I would say that the highs are high, but the question now is how low are the lows?

THE BAD

I actually don't have a lot of bad things to say about Peggle. I thought this game was only going to be okay, but it turned out to be a pretty fun time. I guess you can look at its simple nature and see a shallow experience, but it's still a great experience nontheless. The biggest issues I can come up with are that the game doesn't offer any graphical settings and is stuck in a bad resolution (which really doesn't matter) and that the powerup ability doesn't change color from powerup to powerup (which is something I got used to). But just because I didn't find many flaws doesn't mean this is the best game ever. I had a solid time with the game, but I don't believe it is the best puzzle game I have ever played. But at the end of the day, it's hard for me to really crap on the game (and how can I ever be mad at a smiling sun coming over a green pasture while Peter Gynt's Morning Mood is playing?)

THE FREE

The aspect I decided to focus on with the free is fever cam. Fever cam is something that pops up directly after hitting the last orange peg in which the game slows down a bit and five giant holes appear at the bottom giving you more points, all while to the tune of Ode to Joy. Earlier, I talked about the music being funny in an awesome way, and this is the perfect embodiment of that. It's a song so epic as Ode to Joy to something so menial as watching a ball bounce around at 50% or 75% speed, but it makes the moment so amazing. It makes hitting that last peg no matter how easy feel so great and giving tension as to where you want the ball to land at the bottom. I have a total of six replays, and all of them are moments where I was down to the last ball yet I win, and having that accentuated by something so hilarious yet awesome made that crazy shot that much crazier.

Hitting that sweet middle 100,000 point bonus felt so, so good.
Hitting that sweet middle 100,000 point bonus felt so, so good.

Peggle is a solid puzzle game. Is it a little dated now? Maybe. But my experience with it hasn't really left any complaints. My time with the game is like the mood of the game: simple yet beautiful and happy. Its gameplay, acceccibility, happier mood, and more gave me a lot to love. Looking at its current price, gameplay, and content amount, I can easily say that this game is worth picking up.

That about wraps it up. Thank you all for reading and tune in soon for the next part.

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Ranking of Assassin's Creed Part 6: Assassin's Creed Liberation HD

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Wait, I'm including this game too? Why yes, yes I am. Welcome back to my ranking of the AC games. For those who don't know, I am ranking the games as I go along. These blogs are the explanation to why I ranked them where they are and how I feel on the game, while the rank itself can be found here. With that out of the way, let's jump right into the list.

AC Liberation is a small spinoff game released along side AC3 that originally launched for the Playstation Vita, then found its way to consoles. In this game, you play as an assassin named Aveline as she follows the trail Templars have left behind to uncover what exactly the nefarious group is up to. The game doesn't have a modern plot; instead, it has more of a backdrop. Instead of throwing you into a machine and reliving your memories, Abstergo has decided to make a video game about the life of Aveline called Liberation (so essentially it's Liberation inception). The only issue with the game is that Abstergo has decided to cut some key details out and put in their own telling of the story, which is when a mysterious hacker groups hacks your game and gives you the true moments of Aveline's story.

My experience with AC3 was not great, so to hear that the next game is based off of 3 but as a spinoff game ported from Vita didn't exactly leave me jumping for joy. But what really surprised me about the game was that it was actually kind of good. Let's start with the story.

kickin' chickens, it's what I do.
kickin' chickens, it's what I do.

Since this is a smaller spinoff game, the scope of the story and characters are limited. This can be said for all aspects of the game, despite that, Liberation still told an interesting story with characters I kind of liked. Where all of the other previous games have given you the end goal straight from the get-go, this game has the story evolve as it goes along. Having the story evolve as it goes along was a nice change of pace and it allowed for a more interesting and intriguing story. While I don't think the characters are as good as the Ezio timeline, I still found them to be better than AC3. The biggest issue I had story-wise was the shift away from the Assassins and Templars. They aren't outright gone, but the secret orders felt limited even for this game to the point where any part of the story involving the orders felt forced. The story really felt like a telling of Aveline and her journey to fight bad guys while questioning her own loyalty to the good guys. Still, I think the story is one of the better ones in the AC games because of its evolving nature and how it really leans into the 'who really is the bad guy' aspect the franchise has sometimes leaned into before. Overall, I think the story aspect of the game was refreshing and didn't feel hindered by the game's smaller scope (for the most part).

The biggest thing that scared me about the game going in was the fact that this game came from the Vita. So it was to my surprise to find that the game plays well for a handheld port. The gameplay for the most part played similar to AC3. Some issues still persisted into this game like the combo kill move I don't like and bad stealth are in this game as well, but this game also has some upsides and downsides to the gameplay that changes up the gameplay. Let's start with the positives. Parkour feels much better, the tutorials are faster, menus are easier to use, you can finally skip the credits, and beggars are finally gone (huzzah!). The AC games have been ramping up in terms of how glitchy they are, but this is the first game that is sloping down in glitchyness. The music is a definite upgrade and fits the theme well. Two new items, the blow dart and the whip, make an appearance, with the blow dart either dispatching quietly or making guards fighting each other and whip (my personal favorite) allowing you to pull enemies towards to you punch them in the face or to swing around at certain points like Indiana Jones. The New Orleans/bayou locations are more interesting and more fun to be in than Boston and the frontier, and a funny little Mexico maps is also in this game as well. AC Liberation offers more interesting side quests than AC3, and I found its trading aspect to be better as well. While the combo kill move is still there, AC Liberation also has a chain kill move, which has you choosing people to attack while paused and killing them with the whole thing on a recharge system (something I wish would take the place of the combo kill move). But the most interesting addition of them all is a persona mechanic, which has you either disguised as an assassin, a lady, or a slave. Each persona has their own set of abilities, benefits, and drawbacks, and I found that to be a really cool twist on the game and how to tackle certain missions. I didn't believe I would say this, but a good amount of the bigger issues I had with the previous game were fixed in this game. But not everything I experienced was good either.

New Orleans can prove to be beautiful at times.
New Orleans can prove to be beautiful at times.

The biggest, most obvious downside to this game are the various missing features. Less items overall, no hunting (even though I never really hunted in the first place), no inner-map fast travel, and more. But I actually forgave a lot of this because I have always known this is a smaller game. I don't expect everything from the other games to be in this one, and I found the maps to be small enough to not miss inner-map fast travel. Still, some things can't be waived off as the victim of its scale. The game doesn't give you a lot of freedom in between missions and it didn't display freedom between missions that well. Enemies are comically stupid to the point where I can walk right up to an enemy with notoriety on my head and still have enough time to choose how to kill him. While there were some really cool boss fights, I found them to be rather uneventful. One particular one to note is me fighting the boss who has a big health bar, only to end the fight victorious despite the guy still having 2/3rds of his health left. Whistling can now only be done when leaning against walls, making stealth even worse. Finally, the optional objectives didn't display well, making me give up all together on them. Overall, I would say that the game's issues can be explained by its smaller scale, but I found my positive experiences to outweigh the negative ones.

In conclusion, I found this game to be a welcoming surprise. While I don't think this game stands up to the earlier games, I don't think this game is a disaster either. This game stands as a basic experience, which is better than a bad one. It was a smaller experience, but I am fine with that because I wouldn't want it to be stretched out and thin. As of now, I am going to wedge this game between AC3 and AC: Revelations, and I predict this game will be relatively low on the list. Still, not a bad game and I would say it's worth checking out if you are a fan of the series.

But what about you? How do you feel about this game or the series as a whole? Put those thoughts in the comments below. I feel like I am in the minority in liking this game, but that's fine (this isn't the first time I have been in the minority for liking/disliking something). I am going to take another small break on the franchise because I want to catch up on my ever-growing backlog of games I have started and not finished as well as finish the Red Faction series. And as always, thank you for reading.

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