2017 completed games

It's a new year - you know how this works:

Consoles this year are: Xbone, Vita, 3ds, Ps3 (kinda broken), Dreamcast, OG Xbox, Wii U, Saturn, Megadrive, PSP, DS, PS2 aaaand that's about it.

Edit: Scrub the PS3 - Sony bricked it by tying updates to whether the wifi/bluetooth still worked. As mine didn't a perfectly playable and useable ps3 was turned into a door stop. Nice bit of software engineering there Sony. GG.

Double edit: Unscrub the PS3. I got my old 40gb console working and frankenstiened a shelf for the 320gb hard drive from my busted ps3. So yaaaaay working ps3 again.

PC is a 750ti card so it's facing the end of it's AAA gaming life..which is fine by me to be honest.

Edit: I've busted my wrist in such a way that I can't really use a mouse for more than 10 mins before it aches too much. So there goes all my strategy games.

NB: It's first credit roll, so doesn't include non mainstory DLC or post game...or G rank I guess.

List items

  • Vita

    First Credit roll - 5 minutes

    Final credit roll with plat trophy - 18hours 30mins

    And that, as they say, is that.

    I first played 999 back in..ooo..2010 when it was first released on the DS so this has been 7 years in the making - and according to my Vita I finished VLR (the immediate predecessor to Zero Time Dilemma) in 2013. Note that 999 is high up on my GOAT list...VLR is not far off it either.

    So what do I think of ZTD? Well - let's talk about what I didn't like first: I didn't like the new engine..or more precisely I didn't like how I had to sit through all the dialogue being spoken rather than mashing the X button as I read the text. It may seem odd but that actually gives me the impression of engaging with the game far more than just watching badly animated cutscenes. I understand that they may have wanted it to be a more 'immersive' (spit) experience but just sitting these watching these cutscenes inbetween the escape sequences was a step back in my eyes...also, as I've mentioned, those cutscenes were not animated well. They sit halfway between static 3d images and stilted puppetry.

    Then we come to the story. ZLR kinda wrote the series into a corner with some of its plot threads and ZTD attempts to deal with them - unfortunately by making things make even less sense- which is a shame because 999 was relatively grounded in comparison and that helped the story feel more...substantial. VLR throws that right out the door and ZTD tries to find common ground between the two but fails.

    Last complaint - Mira's character design. There's always one but..urgh..come on. Mira and Eric were actually super annoying throughout. Eric especially. It might have to do with his VO as much as his behaviour but..urgh..I cried no tears upon his death(s). I should also note they recycle a trick from the last game which didn't really have the same impact as it did previously and just had me roll my eyes.

    What the game did well: The escapes, most of them at least. They weren't too obtuse or mathematically daft. I lost patience a couple of times with some of them but generally they were fun little puzzles.

    Characters - well only 4 of them really. Carlos was a great new addition - he may just be Chris Evans pre Captain America but he came across well. Diana and Sigma are also great characters. Phi is one of my favourite characters in games, as in all games. Some of the situations were really tough, emotionally, for me due to my attachment to these characters.

    In all I'm rather conflicted - Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the game and I found the ending satisfying. If choice is everything then..well it makes sense. That said I don't think it lives up to the quality of story telling set by 999 nor the characters of VLR despite featuring elements of both.

    4 radicals out of 5:still not enough to kill the world.

  • Ps3

    Official modes done in about 7 hours.

    Ended due to Sony Software engineers being idiotic and bricking my ps3.

    My lists will show that I'm always happy to play Musou games - especially one tied to anime that I enjoy. Of all those Gundam is the main one - I've completed all of the previous DWG games and though it has issues (namely the friendship system) DWG2 is probably my favourite and the one I spent the most time playing.

    It's been about 4? years since the release of Shin Gundam Musou (or DWG Reborn if you prefer) but I've only just got around to playing it. Considering it's still £19.99 new (or used) says a lot about the staying power of the game...or just the scalping.

    So Shin Gundam Musou (SGM) takes aspects of 2 (in it's offical mode..that interestingly follows the new Zeta translation and cuts ZZ) as well as mechanics from the rather crappy 3 - partner attacks and hyper modes.

    Is it the same hack and slash as always? Yup. Is Kira still Jesus? Yup. Do you constantly want to kill Shinn? Yup. Is the 'Gallant Char' still one of the best BGMs in gaming? Yup.

    So what's newish? The mobile suit plan system...I think. I'm hazy on how it worked in the old games but I don't think you needed item drops in order to upgrade your suits - just money. I think you can also choose what skill to use rather than have them unlock dependent on the pilot - but that may be in the earlier ones. It's been a long time since I played them. There's also some interaction with captial ships and the ability to take them down in certain sectors. It's not a great addition but it's something.

    Thankfully they dropped the awful cell shading graphical style that they used in 3 for a more grounded style in this release...

    Will this appeal to people who don't like Musous? No. Will it appeal to the MSG crowd? Possibly. Did it appeal to me - someone who just wanted to punch Shinn and Jerid in the face repeatedly and yell something about my hand burning red. Hell yes.

    4.5 'why the hell would you tie updates to non essential hardware components you buffoons?'/5

  • Vita

    First credit roll (end of Nero arc) - 4.5 hours-ish.

    This is the moment that Waifu simulators became self aware...be very afraid.

    It's a musou game set in the Fate Stay Night universe - with everything that entails. Sq Sq Tri Circle for explosions. There is a story there..a follow up to Fate/Extra (CCC) on PSP but it's not great. Actually it's pretty terrible. Digimon has a better story on a similar subject. That said if you love Nero (yes..Emperor Nero..yes he's a she..yes she has a see through skirt..yes it's ridiculous and she knows it..yes you will be ashamed of your thoughts and deeds) then..oh boy will get your fan service here.

    Don't get me wrong - I'm a massive fan of FSN and I love the idea of using historical characters..just..err..tone down the waifu a bit. There's even a character who calls herself your wife..u. Yeah, they know their demographic. It would be nice to have another Fate/Unlimited Codes or Battle Moon Wars game instead but we get what we get. Also no Arcueid, and as we all know she is the ultimate Waifu. The holy empress of all Waifu. She is Waifu.

    Cough

    Anyway - As a musou game it's competent. I haven't seen the PS4 version but I should think that it has more enemies on screen and better resolution but that's probably about it. There's little slowdown that I saw and the game does some...interesting things. Like most musou games the arenas are split into zones of control that you have to take before winning - once you have enough the boss spawns. This game splits the zones up with a weird corridor travel system to get to each. It's annoying especially when a spawner (PLANT..yes, Athrun is coming to get you..deep gundam cut there) suddenly decides to spawn miles away from you and attack a different zone than the one it is in. The whole thing is annoying really. Other complaints are that the attacks seem to have little weight to them - to be honest I've only played a with Nero (Red Sabre..wait no, Saber because..err..?) and she didn't have any issues with being flashy as hell. Grunts you face are kinda boring and have little variation. The upgrade system is okay - you can slot skills that you get through gameplay into a board that boosts those with the same colour if they're connected. There are a bunch of unlockable characters including Artoria, Rider (Medusa), Jeanne, the usual.

    Did I enjoy the game? Sure - I like Musous, I like FSN, I have a preference for female versions of tyrannical emperors. That's really the draw here - the continuing adventures of Nero and co. If you have no connection to these characters, don't like musous..a lot..and roll your eyes at even the slightest wiff of Waifu then stay away from this. It's not as shameless as Senran Kagura, by any stretch of the imagination..it's also a better game, but has a far weaker story.

    3 'I don't even want to think about what a female Caligula would look like.'/5

  • 3DS

    Village credits at the end of 5* - 22 hours.

    By no means the end of the game.

    Wow...that was an easy LR Monster Hunter game. Dual Blades + Aerial style is broken.

    So..err..what's there to talk about? This was a 'greatest hits' of the previous 4 main line series games maps and monsters..which was great but I kinda missed the town from 3U. Still my favourite there..on the dock.

    Styles and hunter arts add a lot of customisation and flexibility I guess - but given that aerial DB is all I've played so far (never mained them before so I thought I'd try something different - MHFU was Bow/Gunlance, 3U was Swaxe, 4U was Insect Glaive) I can't really give much detail on the systems as I just didn't need to use anything but aerial and the hunter art..err..Wolf's maw? I think? It makes your attacks hit twice instead of once per attack. Also until the end I just used the petrified daggers (starting weapons) that I levelled up occasionally. I think this new upgrade system is a double edged blade - less need to experiment is both a good thing and a bad thing. I eventually moved on to Astolos blades but those daggers took out everything up until the last 3 monsters of 5*.

    Speaking of Monsters - Malfestio is by far the best design in the game..and probably in MH in general. I love the Raths and the bears but that Owl looks so damn cool. It's a shame you have to kill him.

    3 Carts during the whole LR..all from when I got trapped by Rathian and Ratholos in a corner during their stroppy phases.

    Is it worth getting if you already have 4U? Errr...not sure about that. Probably better to wait to see if XX comes out in the west. Is it an improvement? More like a sidestep - I still wouldn't suggest it to a new player - 4U is far better for that. Still for what it is - a new MonHun game, it's not bad.

    4.5 GODDAMN YIAN GARUGA GET OUT OF MY FACE/5

  • 3ds

    Time to credits - 5:21hrs

    I've already used my 3DS more this year than the whole of last year - which is interesting to note. Also I have yet to get the true end - I'm not sure if I will but I may come back to it.

    So Gunvolt. Made by those behind Megaman Zero and..sigh..Mighty Number Nine. This is far more MMZ than MMN. Gunvolt is your typical light novel protagonist (think Sword Art Online) in that he's a kid of 14 with immense power and is happy to kill people because of a secret organisation yadda yadda. Do they never think that 14 year olds should be doing this kind of thing? Jubilee was bad enough at the time. Aiyaa. Anyway the story is kinda just there as an excuse to do the patented Megaman style of game. You've got 6 robo..I mean Septima masters to take out before a boss rush to the final stage. Each stage has its own mechanic and each boss plays on that mechanic. Here, like in MM, the bosses are the draw. There are some great fights with good designs using fire, teleporting beams, insects - and the bosses each have their own personalities. There are three bosses (Carrera, Insect guy and the final normal boss) that have instakill attacks which isn't cool. Insect guy can be stopped easily but Carrera is the annoying one. That and some of the boss battles have pits in them for instant death - the last boss is especially bad for this and I find crap like that cheap.

    Mechanics wise - Gunvolt tags enemies and the environment with an assortment of pistol (which allow for differing amounts of tags) and then you hold a button to electrocute them with your 'flashfield'. This flashfield also acts as a way of slowing your descent and damage prevention - as long as you keep your ability bar filled up. This drops upon use and damage. Luckily it can be charged at any time by double tapping down. This plays into what Gunvolt essentially is - a speedrunning game. Each mission is timed and you get a score at the end depending on your performance - you can rack up a combo which you can cash at checkpoints for..err..points but if you get hit by anything you'll lose the all your points yet to be cashed in. There are also challenges that give materials for the crafting system - yes there is a crafting system - that adds to your abilities or gives you more power/defence etc. Finally there's a leveling system for health. I finished the standard end boss at level 32 with a pixel of health.

    Final thing is the Anthem - tied to the storyline and characters, Joule (see what they did there) may decide to save you if you take fatal damage during a level - triggering unlimited power, triple jumps and air dashes, full health and a whole lot of JPop. The Jpop is also triggered on getting 1000x combo. It kinda makes an easy game even easier but there's some really cheap crap in the game (rising water level, pits in bosses, instakill moves) that is offset by it.

    I enjoyed the game - it's not a full price release and I got it on sale ages ago. It's rather rough round the edges and the ending will confuse people if they don't know about the true ending unlock details. It's a solid base and potentially a worthy successor to Zero.

    3.5 awkward LN dialogue between young teenagers/5

  • Ps2 - Zodiac International with Eng Patch.

    34 hours

    I never thought this day would happen, but here we are. Easily my favourite FF game that doesn't have the word Tactics in it...which are of course set in the same universe, as is Vagrant Story.

    On launch I hated this game - I had no idea what it was trying to do with its MMO type combat, its gambits and its pretty terrible opening hours. I loathed Vaan and wondered (like everyone else including the character) why Balthier wasn't the main character as he was originally intended to be. I made it to the Tomb of Raithwall and then...well my ps2 and all the games were stolen and I never bothered to pick the game up again.

    Flash forward to a month ago - I was ill (not an odd state of affairs for me) and wanted something to take my mind off it. I had a copy of the Zodiac edition from ages ago off eBay so I decided to rip it and play the Eng version. Oh boy..what a difference an update and 10 years make.

    First off - my time would probably be closer to 50 hours if not for the speed up option (tap L1) that acts like the fast forward option in Bravely Default's battles - everything (bar menus and dialogue/videos) runs in double time or there about. Instead of slowly pondering through Dalmasca Estersand I was tearing through it like my name was Wally West. Grinding became childsplay (given you get a license point for whatever you kill, even if it's low level) Setting up the correct gambits (think automated AI behaviour - healing first, death after) almost automated the game - but not entirely. I still needed to intervene occasionally, especially during earlier bosses. It was the hands off experience that I needed at the time and I loved every second of it..well..until the last dungeon. Urgh. Constantly spawning enemies is not fun - just run through it.

    Despite all this, though, I think my favourite part of FFXII is the world and characters in it. I didn't hate any of them..I even came to, well like is a strong word, but not hate Vaan. I don't know why Vaan and Penelo are American while everyone else is everything but American but...well..whatever. Actually I think that's the best thing about the game. Fantasy Star Wars as if it were written by Ben Johnson (or Shakespeare if you prefer). Before Xenoblade assaulted our ears with terrible English VO (I still shudder thinking about it) FFXII gave us English, Icelandic, Indian, Jamaican, African..it gave us VO from all over the place and that created, for me at least, a more cohesive world. Also, the design for nearly everything bar Vaan and, arguably, Fran's ridiculous outfit (she still the best) is fantastic.

    Let me put it this way for the TLDR: As soon as I finished I went straight back into it on strong mode just to try out some of the jobs that I didn't use the first time. Pro tip - don't use the obvious choices of jobs. Vaan should probably be a Monk but beyond that...Balthier is better with melee than guns. Ashe makes a great red mage...look into what would work with the stats rather than going with what you would assume would be the right choice ( Penelo samurai of doooooooom)

    5 'Aren't you a little short for a Judge?/5 - entrant into top 10 favourite games of all time.

  • 3DS

    25 hours (exactly actually)

    Chaos ending though was shooting for neutral as that seems to be canon?

    Oy Vay. I'm a massive fan of the series but urgh, they dropped the ball hard on this game. To be fair they've never really had a proper idea of how to deal with the law/chaos thing but..oh boy. Just because you don't want to be a slave doesn't mean you want to kill everything - come on...seriously. Nuance? Anyone?

    Strange Journey is my favourite non-SRPG SMT game - and given the links between the two I kinda see this as a sequel but it does so many things poorly in comparison.

    Navigation is a major one - I spent ages lost in Tokyo, which has a really poor map to read in the first place. I understand not labelling everything from the get go - but after you've found the area why wouldn't you label it clearly on the map? There's a reason people stopped doing that crap in the 90s guys.

    Dungeon navigation is fine I guess, apart from certain areas and dungeons that become overly confusing due to their design - I'm looking at the last dungeon in particular here. I much prefer First Person Dungeon crawling to this system but I can understand that others like to see their avatar. Also..ffs..if I'm not moving monsters shouldn't be spawning. Reading the map takes time when it's so crap and you can't read it in the menu. Urgh.

    I'm probably one of the few people who prefer the alignment combat system in Strange Journey (You get back up attacks if your alignment matches that of your summons..along with other stuff) as, while it may confine your selections, it ties you more to your actions and character. Here the press turn system and smirking..oh god the smirking..just..no. It's not fun, especially when you don't know the enemy weaknesses and you're weak to nearly everything early on in the game. It just makes it a slog.

    Case in point - the first real boss battle against some Naga can rip you apart if you a) don't know it's coming and haven't got exactly the right demons and b) Just want to get out of the boring intro areas of the game which are far too standard RPG for my liking. Its a slog, and with very little charm to keep it going.

    My major other complaint is what happens to one of your party on the Chaos ending (I don't know if it's true for Law) but..come on...it's bullshit. Just..don't do that. It made little to no sense and was against character.

    I have a ton of other complaints (Demon range completely dried up in the lvl 75 area, a lot of standard low level demons were moved to much higher ranks and replaced with those great demons 'tattoo man' 'stalker' 'gas mask guy' and other such crap) but I still finished the game and despite my litany of misgivings I didn't hate it. It was just a disappointment. I hear Apocalypse fixes a lot of things wrong with the first game...but you play as a 15 year old boy. Sigh.

    3/ 'Yeah, I'm in Roppongi..wait, you're where? How the hell am I supposed to get there? 5.

  • Ultimate edition Xbone

    Xbone

    according to Xbone 1d 21hr 31mins

    This is the 4th? time playing through the game on a different system. I finished off the main storyline and Gauntlet mode. I'll only really be talking about Gauntlet mode here.

    Gauntlet mode is a quasi horde or survival mission system that was added into the game with the Ultimate edition. You bring over all your levels from the main game but you have to unlock each character (beyond the starting 5) by defeating them in the missions. Missions play out with your 5 chosen characters on screen at the same time (you can choose who you want as you unlock them and you can switch between them at will..kinda) and you have formations that you unlock with characters as you go. These formations keep your group together or send them off individually depending on the formation type. They can also give you stat boosts and useful abilities like warping to the end point.

    The levels play out like a survival mission - as the enemies get more powerful as time passes, this is linked to the 'miasma'level that goes up or down depending on a variety of actions. Treasure chests that hold items for crafting can also raise or lower the index. Rare spawns of enemies or Dark Souls style invasions (though only AI teams from other players..not the players themselves) can also raise the index. The higher the index the more powerful the enemies but also the better the loot.

    Even with fully upgraded (and I mean 999 in everything but speed which seems to be capped at 180) you can die pretty damn quickly even at lower levels (20s) due to the way the game systems work. You can also get stunlocked (which doesn't allow you to switch to another character) and lose your whole team instantly if you keep the together. The worst situation is when you are looking for the exit point (the exit point is one of a random number of Dragon Portals in a stage..and you can only find out which one by triggering it..which takes time and you have to stay in one area to do so) and you get guardbroken constantly so you can't unlock it, die, and then instantly lose your last character as there's no invincibility when you switch over and when you can actually take control of the character. It's cheap...a lot of this game is cheap, mostly on your end but stuff like that can get annoying. IF you die you lose everything apart from your XP..and when everyone is at lvl 100 prestiged 3 times over..well it's kinda pointless. Also character hunting can be a bitch. Took me until my last hour playing to get Zhou Tai - obviously because he almost breaks the game without needing to use exploits.

    Since Samurai Warriors 4 release (and Arslan for that matter) this game is really beginning to show its age, that said, if you enjoy Diablo just with a lot more slashing and a little less isometric, or even Phantasy Star Online. You can't really go much wrong here.

    3.5 Who knew a flute could be so deadly/5

  • PC

    8 hours 49 mins (includes a trip into endless eclipse mode)

    First off, it's not a terrible PC port like KT games used to be. My rig runs it with custom settings at 1080p at..well I guess 30fps? I was too busy slashing to take much notice but it ran, and ran well, on older hardware..not that it's a taxing game but it's nice in this day and age.

    As to the game itself..hmm..i'll say it's a good introduction to Berserk for people who can't be arsed to read the manga (read the manga) or those who might be conflicted about certain aspects of the story (everything to do with Casca from Eclipse onwards)..and I more than sympathise with them in that regard. The game liberally uses scenes from the Golden Age movies in the first half of the game..replacing them with in-engine cutscenes once we get past the Eclipse. Personally, I think the details on the main characters is great - not One Piece level of great but I don't think the art style works as well as OP's does. The environments are typically bland and a reused..a lot. You go through some of the same levels 3 times during the storyline. Considering you'll be too busy chopping things up to notice, and that all the effort is put into having as many enemies on screen as possible (thus, I guess necessitating lower rez backgrounds) it's not that much of an issue..at least for me. At least it has AA, which is more than Aslan did on the Xbone (wtf happened there?)

    So, to the meat of the game..the slicing, dicing and characters. Mr Berserk himself, Guts, plays great - in fact I think there's a lot of similarity between the last ps2 game range of moves and the ones you unlock in this game. The weight of Guts despite his increasing speed is fantastic...it's just a shame that most enemies don't seem to really be effected by it outside the cannon fodder (yeah yeah they're all cannon fodder..I mean the grunts that you one hit) You'd expect everyone and everything smaller than Zodd to go flying and..well..not so much. You can pierce people and throw them about but it's like Guts is swinging about a really heavy and sharp feather at times. His moveset increases as you go but you can spam through at lower difficulties like most Musou games, up it for more of a challenge. Oh and while boss fights are a nice diversion they're kinda trash. One earlier on is the only one that any sort of challenge followed by a rematch later..the rest are just, blergh.

    Anyway, I hope you like Guts cause..well...outside of a handful of missions he's all you're going to be allowed to play as, which makes sense given the storyline but is a little tough due to the lack of...panache? Kenshiro managed not to become boring in Fist of the North Star (we don't talk about the sequel) Ken's Rage due to his unlocking of moves and variety of attacks. Sadly, this isn't really the case with Gatsu. Both games also suffer from the lack of characters, with one particular character hidden away in a different mode. That said I found Judeau, Casca and Serpico to be good fun to play. Casca pre...yeah..is awesome apart from her crappy musou, and Serpico is godlike once he gets going. Griffith plays how you would expect, like a complete and utter scumbag.

    Endless Eclipse, the mode I was most looking forward to sucks. No really, it does. It's a roguelike floor based survival mode that has specific missions (desires) that you have to fulfill to get to the next floor..and after a certain amount you unlock!!!...a costume. YAAAAAAY. Okay in the case of two things, they're worth unlocking but the rest..naaaah mate. After loving Gauntlet mode in Warrior Orochi 3 Ultimate (the remake of a rerelease of a what 6 year old game?) this was a massive disappointment.

    What else? No dub, though that doesn't affect me I can see some people complaining about it (the often heard 'it's too confusing without one/I can't keep up with things unless it's in English' mystifies me but for some it's a problem and more options can't hurt people - rejecting it because it doesn't have a dub is just short sighted, however, be glad a translation exists *points at the masoukishin games*) then there's the severe drop in storytelling post Golden Age due to lacking the animation but that can't be helped and trust me, you don't want the new anime stuff in there..gah. Oh, and there's no playable boat nor any never ending loading screens with Idolmaster music in the background, so it's not actually accurate to the manga (though there is a playable loading screen in the game).

    2.8 'I'm on a boat and it's going fast and I've got a nautical-themed pashmina afghan'/5 but that's purely due to my love of franchise and musous.

  • 3ds

    25 hours exactly..again

    First 7 days with K/N ending or Chaos I guess, will return for 8th eventually..probably.

    Ooooooh boy.

    How do you lower an original review score for an anime game? Add an English dub! Urgh, those voices..I swear..urgh. Most were okay but Yuzu and Midori can fuck right off. You can thankfully turn them off but still....urgh.

    So, Devil Survivor. SMT's SRPG series...about kids caught in the centre of a blockade in Tokyo with demons/angels and 7 days to get out or solve the problem.

    There's some really cool stuff in this game - it's time based and most actions take half an hour (free battles thankfully don't take any time so you can grind..and you need to grind) and you can miss characters and interactions depending on your choices. Having played this on the original DS years go I had a rough idea what I was doing but some may find it disorientating.

    It's also a really hard game if you're not used to the systems. Most people hit the first boss (who is invulnerable to everything but one attack that only your main character can use, and can drain everyone on the maps health at once) and give up. Let me put it this way, by the end of the game I fought all the bosses at once without any issues (tip upgrade magic, use drain, win)

    The storyline has some very high highs (Gin, Kaido, Haru) and very low lows (Midori, Yuzu..yuzu yuzu yuzu yuzu) and a whole lot of filler (guy whose name es..ah Honda) but for the most part it does a good job of keeping you going. The meat, however, is in the fusion and skill system and the battles.

    Fusion works just as every other SMT game - fuse two demons together, with your level high enough and you get a new demon. Here you can choose which skills transfer over if there are spaces, which believe me is a god send in this game (shield all, anti-most,reflection, bufudyne HOOO!). Add that to innate resistances and weaknesses (which can be modified by skills) and you've got a game infinitely deeper than Fire Emblem.

    Then cream of the systems though is the Skill Crack system - later in the game you're given the choice of learning one skill per person that an enemy has on the map. As long as you have the stats to use the skill, and beat the demon with that skill selected on it with the person you set to crack that skill - you can use and set it to your character at will. This leads to not just massive amounts of customisation but also tactical awareness. You have to think through which character can crack which skill, the weaknesses of the demons on both sides (handily shown at all times on the top screen) and where you initially deploy on the map. It's a single system but can make a massive difference in how you choose to play the game.

    I'm not entirely sure the game has stood the test of time - it's on my favourite games of all time list, in the top ten, but the storyline doesn't really cut it anymore for me...or my hatred of Yuzu and Midori's voice really did affect my opinion of the game. Still, it has my favourite SRPG mechanics ever, and that's saying a lot.

    4.5 'Can't I just mute these two? Bring back Haru, she's got a great voice..wait..is that Phi's voice? I love Phi'/Phive

  • 3ds

    15:21 hours

    Right then. I'll presage this by saying that I have never really enjoyed a Pokemon game. I was too old when they first turned up, thought the anime (apart from that intro song..that's dope) was terrible in comparison to digimon and the games were just boring for someone who loved plot and character above everything else. I've tried every single iteration and apart for my love of Bulbasaur..ehh nothing. I like the Ranger series though...it helps when the Pokemon can talk and have personalities.

    So with that said...I really like Yokai Watch.

    Just to give a breakdown of what Yokai Watch is..for those without kids or over the age of 12 - It's a Pokemon (or I should really say SMT) style game where your character (Nate or Katie..I went with Katie) travels around their local town/city finding Yokai (Japanese spirits/ghosts) fighting and befriending them. Add to that a RPG system, leveling, evolving and fusion and it's less Pokemon and more Shin Megami Tensei DeviKids 2.0 (look it up). The story is based upon the anime's first series and is divided into episodes, which allows for short gaming sessions nicely.

    Graphically the game is gorgeous - though it was only released last year in the UK this game has been around since 2013. Obviously something like Pokemon Sun blows it out of the water (and budget) but compared to X/Y it's far nicer in my opinion and I'll take the Yokai designs over the Pokemon designs every day of the week (though there are some interesting...similarities) The world is depicted in a isometric format with partial control of the camera, allowing you to move around corners to see boxes and stuff like that. The town (oddly renamed to..hm Springvale?) is alive with people and sidequests that you can use to level up your Yokai rather than constantly grinding which is a nice touch. The world feels lived in..and very Japanese despite the typical American gloss used by the localizers. I will say this though, I thought the script was very well written. At turns amusing and others sad. The personality of Katie shone through brilliantly and tied the whole thing together. She may have acted a little old for her age occasionally, but she definitely asked the right questions and the right time ('What were those backup dancers doing there?').

    Fair play to the game as well, it wasn't afraid to get dark at times, whether it be in episode 10 in the hospital, with Jibanyan's backstory or with the ending...that last boss is straight up Pirate Kid Cthulhu.

    I think the biggest sticking point for most people will be the battle system. It's very different to..well, everything. The closest comparison I can think of is FFXII's gambit system. In battle you have six Yokai - the combat screen is similar to modern Dragon Quest games in that it's first person combat with your characters visible on the bottom of the screen and you can see their attacks. Three Yokai are 'in battle' or in the attacking row as it were. There's a dial on the bottom screen that allows you to shift either left or right, bringing the other Yokai into battle as you desire. This allows for changing the tempo of battles and bringing in healers or status Yokai when needed. You'll also need to do this when one of your Yokai has been inspiritied (status down effect) and you'll need to remove the status effect by playing a mini game on the bottom of the screen when they're not in the attacking row. There are tons of other systems (buffs, combinations of Yokai that synergise together, which food Yokai like...) but it'll just confuse you if I type them all out. The main thing is that you don't have direct control of your Yokai. The only things your control, directly, are which yokai are in the attacking row and when they use their Soultimate..or Limit Break if you prefer. These fill up upon attacking and can be activated at any time - then you play a mini game on the bottom screen and they're activated. Each Yokai has their own, be it damage, buff or debuff. They can be stopped by enemies though, and they can also drain your..hmm..limit gauge so there's some strategy there.

    You can see why I'd think some people would not like not having complete control over their Yokai a la Pokemon. However, you can change their AI by using books - much like how gambits in FFXII work. Each Yokai has a personality type which describes what their AI does. Grouchy means they'll attack more, Caring means they'll support others and heal, Twisted means debuff. It's not really explained clearly in the game unless you happen to bump into Babbalong (Mr Drippy's taller cousin) who..well..tells you stuff, but you've gotta find him first. Anyway, books change the AI's behaviour and thus keeping track of who does what (You don't want your ReuKnight debuffing..trust me) is necessary. For me, as I love FFXII, it's not a problem..for others..ehh..probably.

    The issues I have with the game..well, there's basically two. The first one is well known: It's too difficult to befriend Yokai..or perhaps I should say too random. The system works like SMT in that you have to coerce them, but not with dialogue but with food. You have to know which food type (and there's about 8?) that Yokai likes - some are obvious (Cats love fish) others are..not. Even after feeding them the highest tier of that type of food and beating them it's more often than not that you'll have wasted that really expensive Tuna for nothing. It can be frustrating. That also goes for the bug collection - that uses a mini game that can be overly sensitive and which later stops you from advancing the story if you don't get this one hard to find bug. I think it took me over 30 mins to find and catch it - I may have been unlucky as it rarely rarely rarely spawned but it's dumb to hide story progress behind that. Also the map needs more information on it but that's a nitpick.

    The second one is more personal and not that big a deal...kinda. One of the issues I have with Pokemon is the idea of taking substitutes for pets and making them fight. It rubs me the wrong way..yeah they aren't real but..nah. Yokai aren't pets and can talk about stuff without saying the same word twice (unless you're tattletale) so they seem to have more of a say in matters. That said Jibanyan's backstory and constant reference to it...yeah not cool. Jibanyan was a cat who was run over by a truck, from the way it was represented in the game his owner didn't care and walked off. Thus the spirit of the cat attempts to beat trucks up so that he can return to his mistress...who didn't care. I have two cats (and two dogs) myself and..yeah..not cool. Not cool at all...but that's a personal issue and shouldn't be held against the game and probably won't affect many others.

    In all it's a great game, witty, fun and in places kinda deep with what it wants to say about friendship and life. I highly recommend it, though with the above caveats.

    4.5 'When does the Yokai/SMT crossover happen?'/5

  • 3ds (DS cart)

    13:10 hours

    I hate football. Well, actually I hate everything that has grown up around the sport - the sport itself (when being played) is fine. It's occasionally fun but i'm more of a hockey guy really. The stuff that's grown up around football (fine, soccer for the US) is just fucked up. It's like a cult or a religion - and that puts me off more than anything else.

    Which is why I found it odd that I loved this game.

    Inazuma Eleven is a football rpg with a full on shounen (think more Naruto than DBZ) storyline, and it's glorious. You play Mark Evans (in the dub) a lad from this weird part of Japan where everyone is from south London and speaks some badly dubbed Estury English while going to maid cafes and eating rice balls. It's so tonally divergent it's charming...oh and the dub...if you thought Xenoblade was bad (and I really really did) this...well..its so bad its good in an MST3k kinda way.

    The storyline is also just...I don't even know...really. You start off wanting to save your football team from being disbanded but then..well I counted 2 kidnappings, 4 or 5 murder attempts, one murder(?), drugs and doping, brain washing and...it's almost like a Persona game, it's crazy. It's a game about football for 13? year olds and it goes full bore.

    So, how does the game play? Remarkably well given the handhold design. There's your typical overworld (school and town areas) and random battle sequences which take two forms. The first is a 15 second (yup, 15 second) 4 player match where you usually have to score the first goal to win, though occasionally they'll throw other things at you like keep the ball for 15 seconds. The second is the story based matches which is the full team. These last for 2 30-33 second chunks and play like a standard football match. You have options before hand for setting up your roster and formations and there's a half time section so you can sub players. Normal football rules apply (yes, there's offside).

    Inazuma Eleven diverges from most..well..all football games in two areas, how its played and the skill system. The matches are played entirely with the bottom touch screen. You control players by drawing where you want them to dribble and tapping another player to pass the ball. RPG stat mechanics decide on the success of these manoeuvres. When you are tackled/shoot/tackle the game stops and you're given three choices - the one on the left is generally the safest but least likely to work, the one on the right is the riskiest (more likely to foul) but will generally work out (chipshot or slide tackle are the examples here) - make your decision and you'll get a short cutscene showing whether it worked or not. The centre option though is where this game shines. By clicking the central button on the screen you're given the skill options available to your player (specific to that player, you can add them through books your find or buy around the place or they unlock them through levelling). Like each player they have an elemental attribute which makes them more powerful against some, less powerful against others. They also split into dribble, shot, guard and steal abilities. These all have a certain TP or technique point cost associated with them so you can't just spam abilities to get what you want - strategy is the name of the game. Upon activation you get a full on anime cutscene showing what happens. Balls of fire fly around, shadow clones appear, rock walls block goals, ninjas flip and fly..its daft and yet awesome.

    Just to give an example. Nathan (a super fast winger) uses his dribble ability zigzag to get past a defender by electrocuting him and passes to Axel who jumps, spins and slams a flaming ball into the net....then there's the multiple character moves that send flaming phoenixs into the net. It's crazy.

    When everything comes together, there is not else like this game. However, there are some issues. First is rather double edged - it uses a pokemon type system where you can enlist 100s of different players to make your own team - thing is that generally the team you start with and gain through the storyline are more than capable. I switched out 2 of them with my man Franky (Occult defender who looks like Frankenstein's monster) and a guy from the Brainwashing team. This is kinda understandable due to the story but still, annoying. The flipside of this is that you get to know the characters in your team and..well they're all kinda great. Apart from Todd. Todd needs to shut up. Stop replying to every post Todd, no one cares. The standouts are obviously the strikers - Nathan, Axel and a late arrival. Though Axel is meant to be the Sasuke to Mark's Naruto that never really comes through in the game..there's no real competition because they play in different positions and teamwork is everything in football.

    The other problems come down to the short amount of time you have in random battles, the fact that ties are losses, and that it takes a while to wrap your head around the game. In fact the game is far harder at the beginning and some of the storyline matches are just unfair if you're not ready for them. In some cases you have to follow very specific instructions or you fail...which can be frustrating.

    In all Inazuma Eleven is a bizarre game, with an odd story for its market, strange gameplay and even weirder dubbing - but that's what makes it shine.

    4.8 'CORRR COME ON LADS, BACK OF THE NET'/5

  • Xbone

    4:40 hours

    It's odd that we don't have many games set in ye olde SPQR - or Roman Republic if you prefer. We have the Total War series, Shadows of Rome (which is on my to play list) and...er...Gladius? (Also on my to play list). It's a shame that we don't have more of them - as the genre is ripe for it (and no, God of War doesn't count. It's Greek and..well..there's a lot of problems with that series which I won't go into at this point).

    Anyway, Ryse - GwG recently so I thought i'd take a look. I seem to remember this being a) originally a Kinect game? and b) being almost a launch title for the Xbone. I'll say this - it's a gorgeous game, even all these years later. Crytek sure know how to make pretty games. The environments and characters are..impressive. It's a shame that the gameplay doesn't follow along.

    Essentially a hack n slash brawler with QTE elements in the fatalities, Ryse reminded me of a simpler Warhammer 40k: Space Marine. It has a similar mechanic in that finishers regain health, there's a slowmo mechanic, hordes of similar enemies etc. The enemies make sense due to the combat mechanics - you need to know what the enemy is going to do so you can counter and kill. It's simple but effective and was only just about becoming boring by the end of the game.

    I think one thing of note is the story - I might be mad, but I found it (apart from being the standard revenge story) to be a bit..on the nose as it were. It felt like a commentary on modern society with the corrupt officials destroying the republic from within - Imperialism leading to the destruction of the conqueror. The (not so) common soldier saving the people from the oligarchs..etc. It was a good story, well told but it could have been something more.

    My main complaints are the voice commands slapped in there (which, not having a kinect or mic left me holding a button to get them to do something while trying to fight at the same time), the load times..which were looooooooooooooooooooooong, the repetitive nature of the combat (arena, move, arena, move, push something, arena), and the short story. Multiplayer was microtransaction city but looked kinda cool.

    3 'ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?'/5 If it had been a full price product..ehh probably 2.5

  • Xbone

    according to the system - 12 minutes. In reality 5 hours?

    So, the update for this game is larger than the game (disc) itself - and with a 500gb hard drive and a bandwidth cap, i ended up playing this offline. Thus no accurate time stamp and apparently my final achievements didn't pop. Eh, such is life. I did finish the game though.

    It wasn't bad. Confusing as hell to begin with - ADS in Halo when not using a sniper or magnum? What heresy is this? After acclimatising I'm not sure if it's an improvement but it is what it is. I'll say that the added verticality, boosts and slams made me realise very early on that Destiny does this so much better. The lack of a double jump was mystifying for most of the game.

    Having not played 4 the whole way through I have no idea what's going on. Cortana is insane..or probably not insane and everyone is fighting against her because humans only know how to rebel and there wouldn't be a game if they didn't? I dunno - it's like a Mass Effect prequel, including sexy blue skin AIs instead of Aliens. It's dumb and has lost the footing that it did back in the days of Reach getting glassed. Also, why is blue team in with MC if he has a yellow visor, while Osiris/Locke has a blue visor? It's thematically confusing.

    My main problems with the game were, unsurprisingly, the friendly AI which was dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb (cue Red Velvet track) and the need for one hit kills by the warden/swords. If the AI just stands around trying to heal you and the enemy AI just camps your body killing them all..yeah, boring.

    2.5 'A patch is bigger than the game? yeah..no'/5

  • Xbone

    6:38 hours - All episodes.

    Beware: Spoilers

    oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh boy.

    Let me start off by saying I probably know more than I should about Batman and his variety of Robins, Larks and Bluebirds.

    I've played most Telltale games since Walking Dead season 1. I'm a fan of WDs1, Fables and the GoT game, which I found far better than the TV series. I have yet to play through Borderlands or any of the further Walking Dead games. Thus it will come as no surprise that I am sick to death of this terrible terrible engine they use. Second episode had texture issues on the Xbone to such a degree that the first 10 mins were nearly impossible to finish. I couldn't see anything half the time expect blackness. Beyond that annoyance we still have the odd camera angles and wooden character movements, the faces especially are just terrible. They emote a second behind the speech which gives the impression that you're watching an old dubbed cartoon. Lip sync was all over the place as well - the engine just does not work any more. It was bad enough in GoT, now it's a joke. I guess it's due to them putting out so much in such a short time and not having the resources but, come on.

    As with any TT game we still suffer from the odd plot blip - reactions that make no sense given the choices taken, railroading etc. It's more explicit here due to the nature of the source material - there's no way that Harvey is not going to become Two-Face so when presented with the choice of saving him or Selina, that's not a choice.

    As to the game itself - I'll give them this, the combat was okay. They also do a nice job of integrating Bruce Wayne into the storyline - I tended to go with Bruce most of the time due to the nature of the storyline, as having Batman turn up to some of this stuff would have been..odd.

    As to the plot and writing itself. This is touted as being a trip into Batman's psyche, an understanding of what makes Bruce Wayne tick. Well, first up this isn't Bruce Wayne as we know him, it's an Elseworlds Bruce Wayne, a non canon Bruce Wayne so who gives a shit? Second spoiler warning but, urgh, seriously - His dad's a mobster and kills people? He's a fucking doctor for christsake, I can get that he did some dodgy deals but they pushed it too far. As it's an Elseworld it makes little sense to complain about Characterisation but Bruce was whiney, Alfred was set up as being to blame because who else is there without Dick, Tim, Jason or Damian (Leslie, Lucius) Vicki Vale and her backstory MADE NO SENSE whatsoever. Cobblepot and his miraculous taking over of Wayne Enterprises made no sense (that's not how Companies work) the Arkham plot with Thomas Wayne made no sense (that's not how Asylums work) and..right.

    Look, things were bareable until episode 3. At the end of episode 3 an event happens, which has happened before, and you get locked in Arkham. Nobody bothers to do a tox screen, nobody bothers to question why you'd suddenly turn violent after being completely polite - nope, into Arkham with you and no phone calls because...errr..plot! That's inconsistent and ridiculous given the previous way a similar situation was dealt with. Then there's Arkham. Let's be utterly clear here - at no point in time would anyone allow these characters to be out in a rec room together. That's not how these things work. Of course they stick a very certain someone in there because OF COURSE they do, even if the performance was terrible. The whole storyline and plot is inconsistent and nigh on incoherent. FFS where did Lady Arkham get her training and tech from? Anyone? Nope? You don't suddenly got to go toe to toe with one of the greatest martial artists in DC lore by going to the gym. Urgh.

    I'll give credit where credit is due - The VO by everyone but that guy in the Asylum was pretty great. Bruce's VO is really well done, as is Alfred's. Selina was handled relatively well until episode 3 but kinda came back well at the end, her VO was spot on. Being able to choose your own bat tech colour was a nice touch.

    1.5 'Miller writing All Star Goddamn Batman'/5 I'd rate it lower but most of the time the game is technically solid and the VO is pretty good.

  • PC

    5ish hours - didn't complete the game (got to the cargo bay area after the space walk outside)

    I'm adding this to give relevance to the next game. I like System Shock and System Shock 2 (yes I've played both, only completed the second) and this was to be a return to that type of game, apparently. For the most part it is - despite a terrible demo I thought I might enjoy this..but I didn't. I couldn't work out why not (apart from the mistake I made of not picking up a certain weapon that's part of a side quest..thus making the game way more difficult than it need be) until I realised that there was a complete lack of narrative for me, along with being punished for using the abilities unlocked later in the game. It's hard to explain but I felt the same way that I did about the first Dead Space - it's a great idea with some nice flourishes but my god does it feel empty and soulless. Perhaps that's what they were going for, but for me...no thanks.

    Unfinished/5

    Which leads me to...

  • Xbone

    9 hours 9 mins.

    Everything that Prey is not, Bioshock is. Which is surprising given that I don't actually like Bioshock 1 that much - at least not originally. Back in 2007? when this originally came out I remember journalists going on and on about whether this was 'art'. No, it's not. It's artistic, it has some wonderful art within it but as a package it is not art. The 'plot' is a poor mans MGS2 with as much depth as a puddle. You can scream 'A man chooses but a slave obeys' as many times as you like but what does that actually mean? You don't find the answer here, nor does the question make much sense given the framing narrative. What I will say is that the narrative (bolstered by the surprisingly good novel that charts the development of Rapture to it's eventual dissolution) is among the best in gaming. When I say narrative I mean the moment to moment experience of the player - whether it be environmental or with the cackling of the splicers. Geeze, the splicers alone make this game far superior to the black wannabe Thing rejects of Prey. The splicers are a living community within Rapture; arguing with each other, calling for their loved ones, generally being insane due to plasmids. They are what breathe life into Rapture - just as it is Rapture that gives them reason to live. There's a reason people love the underwater city - from the leaks and the cracked windows. It's pratically Gotham city underwater given how omnipresent it is in the story and setting.

    Given that I was playing the Collection rerelease I should note that I didn't have any issues, though there are some interesting redesigns of the architecture. I'd heard that it didn't look as wet and damp as it should but I didn't see that myself. Plasmids don't really have the umph they should - I defaulted to telekenesis most of the time just for usefulness. Also the photography element is dumb. At least you get something for it but..ehh.

    Though not 'the greatest game ever made' Bioshock does some really impressive things with it's characters and narrative, even 10 years later I don't think they've really been matched in a similar game.

    4.5 'Atlas Shrugged'/5

  • Vita

    25 hours

    It's just like Samurai Warriors 4, just with an added character and a refocus on different character stories. That's what these games do so well, character stories. Yoshitsugu and Takadora both have fantastic character arcs. I can't really add much more to my review from 4 from last year - it's more of the same. This time there's a survival mode but I have yet to touch that - the 25 hours was the story alone.

    4.5 'Mitsunari is always right, fuck Ieyasu'/5

  • Xbone

    *shrug* 4 hours? I dunno.

    So this was their attempt to bring back tacky plastic guitars?

    Since the advent of Rocksmith, from a guitarists point of view, GH and Rockband have really been relegated to the party game bin they were always there for. I used to enjoying playing the games with my family as well learning about some of the newer bands that may have escaped my notice (or come to appreciate some of the older ones more.) That's..err..that's not going to happen with this game.

    The track list is terrible.

    You've got classics like 'Paint it Black', 'Won't get Fooled Again', 'Tie your mother down' alongside newer songs like Halestorms 'Love Bites' or Gaslight Anthem's '45' but then you get Katy Perry? Eminem? Avril Lavigne? The only two new songs that I enjoyed were from bands I already know (Elbow's Grounds for Divorce) and like (Black Keys 'Gold on the Ceiling'). It was a really odd selection of songs that appeared to be trying to be everything to everyone and failing.

    So what about DLC? Eh you get none of that. Instead of DLC you have 'Live' which is kinda like a rotating MTV channel that you can play along with the bands as they appear on the setlist. Sounds great! Well, hold on there. Apart from having to stream everything (Download caps anyone?) the only way you can choose the song is by using tokens which you can grind or, of course, buy as microtransactions. Sure, they give you a few to start off with and it's probably in the short term cheaper than buying DLC but in the long term...not so much. Not that anyone will play this long term anyway.

    Next is the gameplay itself. Unlike previous years where it was all in engine graphics and hyper stylised (I assume it's what SFV was channelling with Ken's hair) this time around it's all glorius FMV. That's right - we're back to the mid 90s with full motion video. Basically someone strapped a gopro to the guitarist's head and the rest of the band and crowd mug at you while you play the game. If you screw up theres a bunch of lens flare and it loads in a video of the band getting pissed at you. That's it. It's fun and dumb but not much else. I should note that it can be kinda distracting ,especially if you have a thing for female drummers or bassists. There are some very pretty girls walking around there.

    Finally we have the guitar itself - oh boy. So instead of 5? coloured notes of the past you now have 6 buttons in sets of three. Three on top (black notes) three on the bottom (white notes). You can hold a set down as a 'barre' chord but given the design (and the fact that the buttons, or at least my ones, stick at times..which I believe is more of a design flaw and less to do with sweat getting in there) I wouldn't count on it. I don't know why the limited the guitar to only using the first 3 frets when you have a full fretboard but..whatever. It just about works. The problem comes when sightreading the notes - especially in the star power mode. There's not that much difference between white notes and light blue, which is the colour all notes turn under star power. Now black notes and white notes can be told apart by both colour, the direction (up,down) they're pointing and whether they're filled in or hollow icons. Which is fine in general gameplay - but once everything is bright blue and flashing, it becomes more difficult to tell the difference at high speed. It may just be me that has that problem, but I'm pretty good at sight reading (and Rocksmith gameplay as well) and it occasionally caused me problems.

    In all, I can see what they were trying to do and I can't deny it was fun in places but, in the end, these games live and die by their setlists and their gameplay and I don't think this one really did a good job with either.

    2.5 'Can I get your numb..oh wait we're in the middle of a gig' /5

  • Wii U

    12:36

    Haven't touched the extra episodes yet.

    Hmmmmm.

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    Yeah, I like this game.

    So - like other Fatal Frame (Project Zero) games this is a horror game where you (generally) play as a young woman who is looking for someone and is drawn into a world of terror and ghosts who will kill you..because...erm...they get no respect? Anyway yeah..ghosts. You get rid of them by taking shots with a camera - just think of the camera as an upgradable gun with different ammo and a headshot type mechanic and you've got the idea. What's different with Maiden Of Black Water (MOBW) is that it uses the gamepad as the camera. You press X and lift the pad up to your face to engage the camera - it uses the internal gyroscopes to work out where you are pointing and you press ZR to take a picture...oooor you set it to use the right stick like classic Fatal Frame games and don't do that, it's up to you.

    I feel the series has been streamlined down - you can hold ZR to show you the 'echo' of your target so you can follow them through the twisting corridors..and boy are there twisting corridors. A lot of the game reminded me of the old Resi games in set design and locations. Broken down shrines? Check. Large old style mansions with weird boxes? Check. Sloshing through narrow corridors and water? Check. Jump scares? Check. Keys with odd motifs and backtracking? Check. It's like 2005 all over again...and that's not a bad thing. Some might find the controls fiddly..because they are, and tank controls are tough to return to but I didn't have too many issues. I only died once, and that was due to a one hit kill teleporting boss..which was dumb.

    The storyline has had a ton of criticism..at least I seem to remember people complaining about how the girls are treated and the usage of Tecmo Koei's sweat and water system for hightened 'lewdity'..and I saw none of that. Yes, Yuri gets soaked often..it's raining constantly, but it's also a game mechanic (take more damage, ghost hands..yeah lets not talk about those) and ties directly into the lore of the game. Does it make the girls more sexual? Err, not really..they just look wet. Granted I didn't touch the added costumes but..yeah no, don't see it. Also I found the story more sad than anything else - I've watched a lot of Chinese/Japanese tv recently and, especially in the Chinese shows, you always get the feeling that women rarely mean that much to the other characters beyond a love interest. Empresses' in the Palace does a great job of showing how horrible life was in Qing dynasty harems and how nihilisitic some of the women became (or psychopathic) because of the way they were treated. MOBW retains some of that sadness. All 4 of the women featured (and one guy) have the ability to see dead people, and it drives them mad...they just want the pain to end and to be left in piece - they always feel apart and unwanted/misunderstood. I felt there were a lot of parallels between the women in the game and the potential mindset of abused women. That might just be me reading too far into the narrative but, given the ending I received, I don't think it's that much of a stretch.

    I should note that one thing this game did superbly was audio. Its a very important aspect of the horror experience and MOBW nails it. I happened to be playing with the gamepads volume up, and having sounds of doors creaking, crying children, screams coming from my lap rather than my TV really added to the experience. It was fantastic in that regard.

    Overall it's probably one of my favourite games I've played all year, it does have some issues - the graphics look very early 360, and the controls aren't great - but it nailed the story and aesthetic for a horror game for me.

    4.8 'Susan Sontag's happy snaps'/5

  • 3ds - Blizzard edition

    16:30

    Aaaand we're back after a long break of mostly fighting games.

    I started Blizzard the day after I finished the first game - waaay back up there (points up the list) and I hadn't really thought I'd pick this up again till later but, as they say, once you start...

    Inazuma Eleven 2 pulls ye olde Pokemon trick of having two variations, Blizzard and Firestorm, which have slight differences between players available and whether you prefer Nelly or Sylvia. Given I played Blizzard I didn't see much of any sort of romance subplot (thank god) nor did I really notice that I missed much apart from some post game available players. The story is the same which ever version you get, so I'm told.

    So what's new?

    Mechanically, not much. They added in a shot button that allows you to shoot from wherever you like on the pitch, but only certain characters have moves that take advantage of that. I think block moves are less OP but I find that fouls are called more often as a result. You also have female team mates and rivals who have no negative stat penalties for being female nor are they sexualised. Given that these are 13 year old kids..that can only be a good thing.

    So it's still the great gameplay systems that were present in the first one with some minor tweaks - oh, and there are new moves and they can get upgraded with use. Guess that's new.

    Now, onto the most surprising element of the Inazuma games. The freaking awesome storylines. I know, it always surprises me too. Credit has to go to both the VO director and the translators. I don't know if their intention was to take the batshit insane nature of IE series and just roll with it to the utmost, but god, I'm glad they did.

    Inazuma Eleven is set in Japan - but you would never have known that from the first game. Everyone in Tokyo speaks like they're from south London (apart from Eric..bloody Yanks coming over here and taking our kid's mid fielding positions and our weird looking girls..I tells ya) and the original game didn't really go outside of Tokyo except by train. This game has you travel all over Japan and each area has its own dialect. People from Osaka sound like they're from Leeds or something. One kid spends his life saying Geddon so much you wanna punch him. It's a bizarre parallel world were the Opium Wars spread throughout Asia leading Britain to assume control of both China and Japan..at least that's my headcanon for this series and the only one that makes sense of all this linguistics nonsense.

    And then there's the story. Once again I note this is a shonen story for 13 year olds that contains:

    a) The power of friendship (because of course)

    b) Kidnapping

    c) Attempted Murder

    d) Doping and performance enhancers

    e) The Military Industrial Complex

    f) PTSD and Split personalities

    g) Revenge plots

    h) Broken families and child abuse

    i) Brainwashing, cults, and slavery

    J) Ancient Aliens.

    K) Football

    L) Property destruction comparable to Man of Steel.

    M) Terrorism

    N) Self doubt and hatred

    and yet there are no football hooligans..I guess. A lot of this stuff isn't out right said, and the terrible/great dub and RPG gameplay will confuse the hell out of you, but seriously - this game and its prequel are as dark as fuck. They gloss over it with 'yay football' but...I can only imagine what it's like when Jude or Axel get home and stare in the mirror. These kids are war veterans. It's crazy.

    This is a sequel in the traditional sense of 'lets put another one out this year to keep the money coming in' but it's still a great game. The story alone is worth it - you won't be surprised by any of the beats, but the depth is there if you want it to be.

    4.6 /'NellyFurtado4lifeinnitblud' 5

  • Wii U

    7:30 - normal ending

    I've been meaning to play this game for ages, given that it has the reputation of being the best PZ game as well as one of the best horror games of that generation.

    Yeah, not so much.

    It was more frustrating than anything else. Frustrating that Mio didn't knock some sense into her whiny sister, frustrating camera controls that were shoehorned into a game without offering the standard control scheme, frustrating one hit kill sections and a frustrating one hit kill regenerating final boss.

    Most annoying was the grabbing hands - every time you pick up an item there's a chance that a hand will come out and damage you. You can dodge these by letting go of the button before you get grabbed but this is just tedious - and they do more damage than actual attacking ghosts (who haven't gone all evil DBZ hyper mode)

    It was just frustrating in general.

    Of the things I did like - I think the town itself was well designed and put together. The movement between houses and the pacing of encounters was well designed. I could have done without some ghosts (and all bosses) having a second hyper mode form that kicks in when you think you've defeated them..but it was hardly a difficult game - just the controls added difficulty when it wasn't necessary.

    The camera is tied to the Wii remote, but only on the vertical axis. Anyone who has used a non-Wii motion plus Wii remote knows how temperamental they can be over a long period of time and for small movements. Considering this game is akin to a very very slow FPS you can probably imagine how annoying that can be. Yes, there's a lock on system but that has its own problems when ghosts fly about all over the place.

    As to the story and the 'horror', neither worked for me. A set of twins ends up in a 'forgotten' town where a ritual to appease something or other goes pear shaped because an earlier set of twins didn't perform the ritual and now ghosts roam everywhere and Miyu has been possessed by one of the ghost twins. In order to save the twins, you have to doom the village and vice versa. Only probably here is that there is zero, absolutely no, reason to save a village of people who think it's cool to sacrifice a child to some sort of elder thing by having the younger child strangle their sibling to death. Nope, nada. Let them all burn in limbo where they belong. Secondly - ffs just knock Mayu out and sort everything out yourself, just to stop her whining.

    In short, not as good as MOBW and hopefully 3 which I'll get a round to soon hopefully. The only thing scary about the game is the whining and camera controls.

    3 'Why didn't I leave the whining brat there in the first place'/5

  • PS3

    I'm guessing about 10 hours - I miss the tracking stuff on 3ds and Xbone.

    The finale to the much derided Lords of Shadow series. I never finished LOS1 because it was so, damn, long but I did complete Mirror of Fate (and enjoyed it - hey, it got the team Samus Returns didn't it?) and I do share some of the complaints that people threw at the series. It leans far too hard on God of War style combat - which has, and will always, suck. LOS2 actually improves upon the original (and GoW) by having far better combat. It feels smoother and has more weight - though to be honest you'll be using the blood whip (guillotine) 90% of the time and all of the time during boss fights. It's like they took 2 steps forward and one step back with the combat. I still don't like that the dash/block button is on a trigger. It seems to be selective about when you actually block in time for a parry...coming from Platinum games where there's little to no lag in the parry frames LOS2 seemed to me to be...wooly? It just didn't feel exact. Also putting in unblockable attacks that some standard enemies like to spam is just..blergh. If you have parries then let the player parry everything, it's skill based so let the higher skilled players benefit beyond just getting more magic orb things a la Onimusha.

    Another problem I had with the game was environmental signposting. Generally, it worked but there we times (especially during platforming sections) where I could not work out where I was supposed to go - a little bat swarm tells you where you can jump to, but more than a few times the minimap said one thing and the environmental art said another. This happened maybe 3-4 times during the game but it was annoying each time.

    Despite these issues, as with the other games, the artwork and level design are generally incredible. Castlevania itself is a sight to behold and can probably be held on a par with some of the stuff from God of War 3. Drawing from both Spanish architecture, London's streets and Vampire Hunter D's more crazy anime inspired gothic castles LOS2 has lots of fantastic vistas. Shame you spend most of it in cramped hallways or relatively boring rooms. I think my favourite parts were fighting Carmilla in the Castle and the Toy Maker scene.

    Which brings me to the aspect of the game that I far enjoyed more than any other - the story. The LOS series gets a lot of flack because a) it's not Igavania, as if there was a dearth of those games, b) it's too like GOW with its combat and QTEs - which is a fair complaint c) It tried to tell a coherent narrative: The rise, fall and redemption of Gabriel Belmont (or as I like to call him - Hamish Mcfangy) and it almost manages it. In fact, I would argue that in many ways LOS would have worked far better as a series of novels rather than games. LOS suffers from the problem that, due to the nature of videogames, we never really experience the outside world or the connection that Gabriel has to his family. We just have to accept it. Then there were the DLC ending issues where the sequel for LOS is set up not only in DLC but then in a handheld spin off. Seeing Trevor and his son fight Dracula and what eventually happens to Trevor all makes coherent sense given the narrative but that really should have been part of this first or second game.

    Then there are the issues with the second game's narrative. I love that the Castle is a living, breathing thing that wants Gabriel to stay and is, in its own way, a secondary antagonist in the game. It's kinda crap that to 'gamify' this they use possession of loyal servants to Gabriel to create the earlier bosses. It would have been nice to have more discussion - but that kinda brings me to the biggest unexplained plot point. Who are Trevor and his mother really? Cause..that's not Trevor nor Gabriel wife. One's dead and the other..well...he's kinda dead too? Either way, they aren't who they say they are - I also have a feeling that the Castle doesn't actually exist anymore but you're being dragged into Gabriel's ASTRAL PLANE (DUN DUN DURRR) and the Castle is acting as his own personal SHADOW KING (DUN DUN DURRRR twice). Granted this was written long before Legion (not that Farouk hasn't been known for that crap for 30 years or so) but I think it's a far more interesting take then 'eh - he travels in time with a white wolf cause..' Sure he drags one of Satan's kids there to kill but the ASTRAL PLANE idea still works that way too. Also, Satan needs a holiday - Lucifer would not be impressed with all his pouting nonsense.

    In all, despite some annoyances with pathfinding and combat I enjoyed the game and felt that it ended the series well. Even if that was just literally walking off screen, stage left.

    4 'Why is he Scottish? I..still don't get it.'/5

  • GBA/DS

    3:34 hrs

    51% items

    See you next mission

    With the upcoming Samus Returns, I thought it would be a good time to play through Zero Mission - which itself is a remake of the original Metroid game. Released after Fusion it takes the graphical upgrade as well as some gameplay elements and abilities from Fusion and retroactively places them within Samus' origin story.

    I've bounced off Metroid many times. I finished Fusion and got to the last boss of Prime before my disc got nicked. I've also finished Other M and enjoyed it for what it was...though the story made me roll my eyes like nobody's business. I've never been one of exploring stuff or bombing every, single, block to work out where I'm supposed to go next but I enjoyed Zero Mission quite a bit.

    The game is small enough that you can't really get too lost. The map screen helps you work out where you're probably going to have to bomb stuff and the slow drip of abilities is great. Freezing stuff never gets old. I'm also a massive fan of 16bit graphics and I love how the game looks - especially the bosses.

    I even really enjoyed the stealth section later in the game.

    My issues with the game are the two timed sections - that's just a personal hatred of timed sequences after boss battles. I also don't understand why Dark Armour Space Pirates take no damage from missiles..that's just dumb. Oh, and playing on a DS is rather tough due to cramped controls and the multi-jump stuff not quite working every time for me..I managed fine but the buttons didn't really seem to need to be hammered quite like that.

    There's not much to really say about the game - mechanically it's great, graphically it's fantastic and it's just plain fun. A nice short blast of a game.

    4.5 'Birdmen are cool aren't they?'/5

  • Xbone

    11:53

    Emily - Low Chaos (only 9.5% of players apparently managed that)

    This game..I want to like, hell, I want to love it, but I can't.

    Let's get the good stuff out of the way first - I like the idea of having two playable protagonists with different powers - emphasis 'idea'. I like the early levels and the amount of ways they give you to complete your objective. I like the lore and the world building. I like that they play with the morally grey area - sometimes there aren't any good choices. 'A crack in the slab' is a very clever level - much better than it's compatriot in Titanfall 2 with some far reaching consequences if you play around a bit. I like Meagen and who she is. I like the domino power and it's vast amount of applications.

    and that's it.

    I mean..that's quite a lot actually, but still...

    For the negative - the story is nonsense. Emily (who most will play first and is voiced by Jennifer..oh wait no it's Erica Luttrell who sounds to me just like Jennifer Hale.) is boring and doesn't really have any sort of 'journey'. One minute she's a bored empress and the next she's babbling about having seen the world and knowing who really has the right to rule etc etc - none of this comes about organically. It just get's shoved into the plot to make you feel that she's learning what it means to be Empress. I didn't buy it. It may have been the nature of my play through - (low chaos) but..ehh.

    Speaking of which - the AI's need to kill everyone around them when going for a low chaos run is just..over the top. Want to knock out all those guards that suddenly rush in without killing them? Hope you planned ahead otherwise while you're trying to choke them out they'll kill their comrades - or even better chuck grenades onto their unconscious bodies killing everyone. I didn't kill a single person in the 9th level - but removing the head of the clockwork drone lead to a death count of 33 people in that level somehow. I get they go for sound near them but 33?

    I also felt the 'openness' of the world/levels started to shrink down considerably once it neared the end game. The final level seemed to be pretty much rail road'd to a perverse degree. Oh and no - I didn't enjoy Jindosh's palace or whatever it was called. I found it tiresome.

    Then there were the bugs - 3 crashes on my xbox, constant traversal issues with far reach, drop attacks that didn't register as attacks, getting stuck in wall alcoves, the final boss dying during the transition from one place to another..the list goes on.

    Finally the bone charms - I never really felt any were particularly interesting. Yes, you have the boost health and mana, and the one that turns bullets into bloodflies is daft fun (and deadly in some cases) but the rest..blergh.

    There's a lot to like in Dishonored 2 - and playing as Corvo may alleviate some of the issues I had (powers and the bland character of Emily) but I don't think the game is a patch on the original - and certainly not a patch on Daud's adventures. You want to talk about a cool character with an interesting story? Daud and Billy are your people. Play the expansions over the main games.

    3.5 'Was I supposed to be surprised by learning who Meagan was?'/5

    I will say this - restarting as Corvo then going full 'I give no shits' Rambo on the first group of enemies in the prologue escape sequence was pretty great. I'll certainly pick up Death of the Outsider as it seems to have improved a lot.

  • PC

    1hr 39mins

    Do you know how difficult it is to tell a story without words? It's tough - and often it fails horribly. Occasionally, however, due to the nature of the medium and the subject it sometimes works perfectly. There was an early GI Joe comic (issue 21, 'Silent Interlude') that showcased this rare effect. The Joes leading ninja commando 'Snake Eyes' - who of course rarely speaks - rescues Scarlett from the evil clutches of Cobraaaaaaaalalalalalaalalala without any dialogue boxes throughout the comic. It was revolutionary for its time.

    Why do I bring this up? Well, I believe (at least for me) that Virginia is another one of that rare dialogue-free beast that works. Following an Internal Affairs investigation at the FBI during the early 90s (which flows into a missing child case in Virginia) this 'walking simulator' is short, devoid of any speech or dialogue, there is no exposition, no hand holding and certainly no explanation at the end. In fact, I was half expecting it to finish with a woman screaming and then hard cut to black...it's how all the cool kids end their TV shows now these days, you know? (what year is this anyway?)

    You can't really talk about the plot without spoiling things, but I will note a couple of things that stood out to me.

    The developers attempted to, in some way, impart what it felt like to be a coloured female living in America at the time. I caught men looking the character over a couple of times, there were times when things happened which could be seen as racism (though that could be reading into the actions too far) and there was just a whiff of the desperation that infests so much of Lynch's (well, it's the obvious comparison) work.

    The soundtrack is phenomenal - it has to be given that it carries the game. There were times when it became overpowering and others where I wasn't sure what it was trying to convey, but it is generally fantastic work.

    Stylistically, though using Unity I find the game beautiful. The aesthetic is spot on, and the nods towards 90s pop culture throughout the game are nice.

    My only real complaints are that a)the music can overdo it sometimes, and b)I'd rather watch the TV show - it's too short and I became attached to the characters. Perhaps you can have too much of a good thing, but I would have at least liked a series.

    This is not a game for everyone, in fact, I should think that many wouldn't even call it a game. Others will find it pretentious or annoying because it doesn't answer all the questions that it raises. Others will be put off by the lack of speech or explicit narrative tags. However, if you happen to be one of those rare people that will accept the game for what it is, and not what it is not..well, then you may have found something special.

    4.8 'You can't wash your hands on a Buffalo'/5

  • PC

    2 hours I think.

    GOG's great? Isn't GOG great? It's great. (I suddenly have the desire to build a wall and become thoroughly distasteful)

    Ehm anyway.

    First released 11! years ago - Blackwell Legacy is the first in the episodic point and click adventures of Rosa and Joey. Back before Telltale decided it was cool to do episodic adventures Wadjet Eye Games..with far far fewer people and a smaller budget was doing a better job of it.

    It's a short game - I think it was under 2 hours but..well, my game bugged out (not an uncommon occurrence apparently) and I had to start again halfway through. I couldn't trigger a dialogue tree due to not examining a sign that I couldn't return to..*shurg* I think this was the second game released by Wadjet after The Shivah and as such there's a lot of 'learning how to make adventure games work' going on. Some of the clues and interactions are a bit fuzzy (putting two names together to create a female version of a name? Errr..okay?) but logical. No catsticks or things of that nature.

    The cast and story are fantastic. I like the VO and how the main characters interact - I'm surprised we don't get more eye-rolling from Rosa on Joey's 'dame, sweetcakes etc' but given his nature and character, it makes sense. Graphics take a moment to get used to, but I find them charming and evocative.

    It's just the bugs man...I had to fiddle with options to make the game run beyond a black screen. Then, as mentioned, due to a flag not popping I had to start the game again after getting about halfway (at least an hours worth of gameplay). It says a lot about how much I liked the game that I would bother in the first place to replay from the start.

    I picked up the whole series from GoG and I look forward to continuing it soon. If not for the bugs I would be hard pressed to think of a complaint.

    4 'oh the shark, babe, has such, teeth, dear'/5

  • PC

    1hr

    Why do I keep playing such short games? Is it because I like the fact that they act like short stories and that I can move on without too much of an issue?

    So what is the Shivah about? Is it a Rabbinical mystery point and click that shoots by at a fair clip without giving you much room to breathe? Is this one of the few games that features Judaism as a central theme without actually being about Judaism?

    Would it be remiss of me to mention that, though I believe this is Wadjet Eye's first major release back in 2006 (with a staff of about 4 people) that the only major problem I had with the game..or problem at all for that matter..was that some of the VO sounded like it was recorded over Skype? Or that, however ridiculous the premise and the villain are the ending 'battle' was hilarious but rather hard to follow if you didn't catch the trick?

    What would I rate this? Perhaps 4 nudnicks/5?

  • Xbone

    15 hours

    I loved the Evil Within. Sure, it had it's faults - bugs, some really awkward levels, cheap bosses..but there was something about the game that shone through. I especially loved the fractured nature of the story. So it's unsurprising that upon announcement I would pre-order the sequel, I mean..why wouldn't you? I even liked the DLC from the first game. I never pre-order stuff generally but, I thought I would make an exception..also it was my birthday and I was feeling generous to myself.

    Fast forward to Thursday 12th. Reviews drop...and I didn't really like what I was seeing. I mean, the reviews were good but the game had moved away from what I wanted from the series - far enough that £37 seemed a bit much for me at this time. So I tried to cancel the game on Amazon - literally as the embargo lifted. No dice says Amazon. So, I guess i was stuck with the game short of sending it back and..well, maybe I'd like it more than I thought.

    Sometimes it's better to send stuff back.

    There are many good things about the game - chapters 3-9 are actually pretty great. Moving from the typical closed nature of horror games, as in the first game, certain chapters in EW2 are quasi-open world, set in the town of Union. Many see these chapters as adding to the tension and claustrophobia..I just saw them as a poor imitation of Silent Hill's towns. Granted, on higher levels the tension may increase but I just found any and all combat in the game frustrating with the gamepad. Aiming is wrong...it's not precise enough for the headshots you need to make to conserve ammo and I always found the enemies would move just as you lined up the shot, or turned around just as you were going to stealth kill them, or knew exactly where you were despite being hidden (in the case of certain bosses). Add that to the bugs where point blank shotgun blasts didn't seem to register, one hard crash, one restart due to an enemy bugging out effecting the whole map, and general bullshit. Well...yeah.

    And then episode 11-17 happened. Bar one boss fight, which was a nice call back and was..you know, fun..everything else was pure slog. The storyline was terrible, the acting was passable, the environments were boring and layer the terrible combat on top of that..well..it wasn't fun. Did i mention that the high level stealth mechanics that you need to buy with green goop don't seem to work as intended? Or how about how unintentionally creepy Seb's daughter looks? Like..what were they thinking? The emotional beats don't land either...

    I reiterate, I liked 3-9...even the stuff in the marrow (sigh) wasn't bad. It's just everything else...gawd. You want a good game with similar stylings? Play the first game. You want a similar narrative that's well done? Play Silent Hill: Shattered Memories - to say it makes this game look pathetic would be an understatement.

    tldr: A game of two halves, one is fun - the other is pure boredom.

    2.5 'I melt with you'/ 5. God that ending was terrible. Who writes this crap?

  • Xbone

    About an hour or so for the storyline.

    I'd already seen the...ermm..'plot' of the game, so I skipped most of the scenes. Why? Because the story is trash. Terrible trash. Not even good trash. The first game had a halfway decent storyline that made sense. This game though - look, when you have a scene where Ivy pretty much kills Harley..no. I don't care which universe that happens in, just..no. That added to the later part of the plot, brainiac, and everything to do with Supergirl. Urgh, just..urgh.

    So let's just ignore the story part of the game - many will find no flaw with it..some will even enjoy it. More power to them.

    Beyond that, I've played a fair bit of multiverse - a series of ever-changing challenges that add in modifiers like 'you can't use special moves' or health rains from the sky. This alone is kinda cool. What makes it better is the gear system - a type of loot box (which you earn through getting through these challenges) based RPG system. Better loot means better stats and sometimes different abilities. I love my Diablo games, so adding this onto Injustice is great for me. Granted I will probably never play this online (due to connection etc) so I'm not sure how this effects ranked games. I know this game is all about zoning online and can be very boring due to it - the single player aspect is enough for me though.

    Speaking of the gameplay..I swear there's frame delay. I'm having to use my ps2 controller attached via a mayflash adaptor so that may be causing it, but it just seems to not be as snappy as it should be. Some moves get lost, and I spent a hell of a lot of time playing the original injustice, so it's not like I don't know what I'm doing. *shrug*

    After playing most of the cast I've been maining Black Canary as she suits my playstyle and I forced myself not to play Catwoman. I don't know how long that'll last though - I do love Catwoman's playstyle and combos, have done since the first game. Blue Beetle and Black Adam seemed kinda fun too. Want to test out Robin as well. It's rare that I enjoy so many characters - only Tekken really has the same depth for me.

    Graphically it looks great, the stages are fantastic and the female faces had a radical overhaul after the complaining of the last bunch of games. I'm not so hot on Diana's face though...kinda suits her personality in the game I guess.

    With my brief time with the game (arrived yesterday), I think my only complaint, bar story, is how much each DLC character costs - which has far more to do with WB than it does Netherealm, and it's the cost of doing business I guess.

    4.5 'Sick burn Ivy'/5

  • PC

    12 hours (including DLC)

    With the sad closing of Visceral recently, as well as Halloween (which means bugger all in the UK bar capitalism) I thought it would be an interesting time to revisit the most maligned of the Dead Space games. Evil Within 2 had left me feeling unsatisfied both from a horror standpoint and from a gameplay standpoint. Perhaps Dead Space 3 might help?

    Short backstory - I thought Dead Space was a well-designed game visually, thematically and the sound design was fantastic...but my god was it boring. The lack of any narrative voice from Isaac and the trudge from one corridor to another made the whole damn thing a slog for me. The lore was excellent though, and I wanted to learn more. I even enjoyed the books..to an extent.

    Dead Space 2 was pretty much perfect, bar the need for QTEs and the multiplayer. I got everything I asked for and more.

    Now..Dead Space 3. Hated because it adds cover mechanics (barely ever used) MICROTRANSACTIONS (ignored and unnecessary for gameplay. That's all EA, the publisher, not the game's fault) and..well..Unicron. And...I don't disagree with the complaints. However, they didn't really affect my enjoyment of the game. It still retains the feel of the second game, despite adding in a crafting system that seems totally unnecessary and limiting you to carrying only two weapons (only ever really used the standard cutter though..it's OP once modded) If I could describe Dead Space 3's problems in one word it would be 'unnecessary'. Crafting, scavenging, DLC as ending, certain characters, weapons...Unnecessary. That's the real issue with the game. It's unfocused and suffers for it.

    What's good is really good though. After the crappy gears of war style beginning, you're in space, traveling through zero-g environments and investigating different wrecks from a flotilla. Side missions pop up and ask you and possibly your co-op partner to take a look. Sadly these, like co-op itself, give you unnecessary rewards. Just parts that you can find elsewhere - they do add in story bits, but only through text logs. The Co-Op stuff is a bit of a waste as well. Originally they wanted to have Carver question Isaacs sanity more - it's something you see in the DLC - but this had to be scrapped due to, who else, EA. Now it's just bog standard Co-Op, which I skipped entirely.

    Once down on the planet it becomes very Lost Planet, which is an odd touchstone (I love Lost Planet by the way)but it works - especially given the game's origin in The Thing. Wastelands of ice abound - but you get the feeling that they wanted to do more with it and were held back by either time or budget...and then it's back to going through corridor after corridor of the same looking areas. Ds2 was set on a space station, and different levels had different designs and ambiance. They straight up re-use rooms here. DLC is the worst for this as you a literally backtracking through areas from the main game. It's boring.

    Sound design is again fantastic - though after playing Maiden of Black Water earlier this year, I think more could have been done to give the sound room to breathe. Maybe because I'm not using headphones but it all seemed very 'in your face' rather than being left to fill the areas.

    I played the DLC - Don't bother. It's about an hour and just watch it on YT. I get the feeling they knocked it out quickly as they knew they wouldn't get a chance to revisit the game - which is sad.

    You'll notice I don't mention horror or how scary the game is - that's because it's not. In all honesty, I don't find any horror games scary. Fear comes from the unknown, not the known that you've blown apart with a rocket launcher. Lovecraft knew this, game designers for AAA games don't. These are power fantasies, not horror games.

    Even with all these negative points, I enjoyed my time with the game. Far more than Evil Within 2 - like...by miles. Despite the appearance of Unicron and Co I really enjoyed the lore and story of Dead Space and I'm sad to see Visceral and the series disappear.

    3.5 'I dunno what's in there, but it's weird and pissed off'/5

  • PC

    44:18 for the main story line, with most of the side quests done. I have a 750ti, so I played at 720p with everything low. At the very least 30fps, mostly near 60fps, with one exception.

    So, straight out. I hate Tengus. I loathe them- with their beady eyes, long beaks - penchant for throwing magic through solid objects. Hate them. I'd rather fight a monk that thinks it's a flaming wheel - and, as anyone who has played Nioh would tell you, that's saying something. So, Nioh...

    Nioh is an odd game. Most will look at its mechanics and say 'it's a souls game ripoff' (like how I look at souls games and say 'it's a Monster Hunter/Megaman rip off via Berserk') and they wouldn't be wrong. They wouldn't be right either, and that's the rub. Nioh is far more Ninja Gaiden (unsurprisingly given the developer) than Demons' Souls and for that I am forever grateful. Halfway between the clanking brutality of the Dark Souls games and the svelte mindgames of Bloodbourne, Nioh carves it's own niche with aplomb. Combat is fast, furious, and often ends with body parts sprayed around - though rarely your own. You see, by upping the speed that characters can move while in a combo - and by utilising the 'ki pulse' mechanic that boosts your stamina regen while in combat - you can wreck shop in a way that Souls characters could only dream of.

    Nioh is, at least in its base form, far more forgiving than Souls games. This may be because there are less enemy types to deal with, thus it's easier to learn the patterns. It may be because there is a (very) rare item that retrieves your amrita/souls from your corpse - thus blunting the threat of death. It may be due to how powerful the buff/debuffs are - especially on the default difficulty. After that though - best of luck, you'll need it.

    So what does Nioh do differently? First up, lets talk about the story. Based on (in a similar vein to 'based on a true story') the life and times of William Adams, who was not Irish, a young man who found himself stuck in Sengoku era Japan. If you cut out the mystical, ninja, demon stuff - oh and him being Irish, then it's not far off actual events. Amusingly I'm reading a book set in the same time period where John Dee and Ned Kelley are very much part of the story - but I digress. For people who have either zero knowledge of European history (that's everyone outside of Europe) or zero knowledge of Japanese history (that's everyone outside of Japan that hasn't played Tecmo Koei games or studied it at Uni) the story will make very little sense. Luckily for me I grew up in Europe and happen to know a lot about the Sengoku Jidai - enough to loathe Ieyasu and bemoan the deaths of Mitsunari and Yoshitsugu. Even so, by the end of the game my eyes were filming over every time we had a cutscene - I just didn't care anymore and wanted to go back to slicing and dicing. As such, I can imagine that many were either put off or uninterested in the story, which is a shame because it had some potential. Nothing was made of William's Irishness..one would assume he would have been Catholic, which might explain why he was fighting Dee and Co. When Dee said to William 'Your country needs you' I flat out laughed.

    What wasn't a laughing matter (segue) was the depth of the RPG elements and how the elemental spirits factor into it. Your 'beast mode/final form/ssj' mode evokes the elemental power of the spirit that you've chosen on your mission. You can switch these out as there are roughly 20? or so, each with different abilities and stats. They all fall within the template of earth/wind/fire/water/lightning and bosses tend to be weak to two of these elements. Meaning that it's usually best to fill up your gauge (via killing enemies and abosrbing amrita/souls), smack the boss about till they're half health and then go ham on them with your elemental power. This doesn't always work - you can be knocked out of it pretty easily, or grabbed and killed.

    Which brings me to talk about THAT boss. You know, the one that teaches you how to play the game properly or you just give up. That's the second boss in this game - the bat lady. She's so fast it ridiculous. Add to this that she can paralyze you from afar before tearing you apart - and that when she's staggered she has a grab attack that can one shot you..yeah, I can see how people got frustrated and gave up. She's nothing compared to some later bosses - Ogress and Ornstein's cousin Sakon Shima come to mind - but I'm sure she caused many players to give up.

    If you were one of those people, stick with it. It's worth it in the long run - like the Soul's game before it, Nioh rewards patience and adaptibility. I was stuck on the last boss for ages (the last, last, last, last, last, last, last boss..if you follow me) until I switched to a weapon I'd never used before and finally got it done. Experimentation is recommended and allowed as you can buy a respec item at any time (though the cost goes up). I stuck with dual swords and single sword mostly, with an odd Odachi to mix things up.

    I feel this is going too long and meandering rather, so I'll finish with this - as soon as I completed the game I went into the DLC and died..horribly...while having RE5 flashbacks. I then went into the Abyss and died..horribly. Even after 44 hours I not only wanted to play more, but still have a lot to learn. I can't give a game any higher a recommendation than that.

    5 'Nobunaga ain't no one's bitch' /5

    Added to favourite games of all time list.

  • PS3

    Couple of hours, if that.

    What a comparison.

    Last year saw the release of the Yukimura taiga (Japanese historical drama) show in Japan and both Capcom and Koei-Tecmo released games to tie into the series.

    KT gave us 'Spirit of Sanada' which was released in English and I have yet to finish it...cause it's long.

    Capcom gave us Yukimura-Den..and I finished it in half an afternoon.

    To be fair, the real difference between the two is in presentation and..my god..the moveset. This is the 7th? Basara game and they've fully updated Yukimura and Masamune's movelist - to be more in line with a seriously OTT version of the Samurai Warrior 4 movelist - emphasising speed and movement. Tap triangle a couple of times and you've crossed a room and killed everyone. It's daft, exhilarating and very much needed in the game.

    Outside of the short story mode, there's free mode, which is just the story with whoever you want to play as, and the trials - kinda like DmCs bloody palace mode. Everyone returns from Sumeragi with the addition of Yukimura's brother and father...both of which are interesting additions. Especially his bowler hat, teleporting magician of a father.

    The problem with the game lies in lack of content. If this had been standalone DLC with a price to match it would have been fine, but as a full release..especially compared to the sprawling Tecmo-Koei game..it's not good enough.

    2.5 'IEYAAAASSUUUUUUUU'/5

  • Xbone

    25 hours for the main story - but I spent about 5 hours wandering off track to do side quests, pick up glaives and generally enjoy myself early in the game.

    Spoilers!

    SPOILERS - I know how whiney people can get about shit like this. Heaven forbid it's the journey rather than the answers that matter.

    Okay, straight up - I really like this game. In fact I'd probably put it in my top 3 FF main line games. The main theme of family and friendship worked fantastically for me, I really liked these guys - especially Ignis. Iggy is top 3 favourite FF character of all time as well for me. Dude is a legend, especially after playing his insane DLC.

    However, I can understand most of the complaints. Keep in mind that I've played this only after a year of updates - I can only imagine how awful chapter 13 was before the tweaks.

    My major complaints are as follows:

    a) Cindy. I don't think that needs to be elaborated on.

    b) Not enough Luna. Luna is possibly the most interesting character in the game, and certainly the best female character in a FF game since Terra as far as I'm concerned. Hopefully the incoming DLC will help with that..but

    c) The DLC should have been part of the main game, as should have the Brotherhood and Kingsglaive movies/series. I actually really enjoyed Kingsglaive and some of the questions raised in the series (Cor..wtf?) have yet to be answered. Probably DLC again.

    d) The multiplayer - errr..it's a cool PSO type game but, why?

    e) The combat was fun, but needs more refinement. I can understand people saying it's 'press X to win' but there is some variety in movement with the way you move directions. Also the game wasn't 'ridiculously' easy. Some encounters stomped me enough that I brought out the magitek armour just to keep the story flowing.

    f) Time skip: Why? What's the point of doing that just for the last battle?

    G) Ardyn..blegh. I felt that the prophecy was more of the villain than Mr Crow Wing.

    H) The plot point regarding the magitek troopers and the guilt trip really didn't work. 'You're killing innocent people' nooo I'm freeing them from a horrible curse you inflicted on them.

    I) Ravus. Kingsglaive helps with this, but..come on, dude needed way more time to tell his story. The boss battle near the end didn't have anywhere near enough setting to it.

    -I should note that I haven't played Prompto's DLC - just Iggy and Gladio.

    Tons of issues, I agree. But I still feel the game is more than the some of it's parts. The friendship between the main characters is stronger than nearly anything I've seen in any other game or tv show. Yes, the ending is badly realised, but it was inevitable and worked well. Sacrifice is the name of the game, everyone from his father, Luna..even Ravus sacrifice themselves for him. It's reasonable, as King, that Noct do the same for his people and his friends.

    Then there were the little things, like the photos, or the chocobo naming and colouring, or the 'recipes' or driving along the road with 'SEPHIROTH' blaring out of the speakers. Or just 'Stand by Me' playing over the credits.

    I can see why people hate this game, but I'm not one of them. I love what this game tried to do, and how it almost succeeded.

    4 'needs more Luna, less Cindy'/5 if DLC was part of the main game it would be 5.

  • PC

    Couple of hours on the 'Shadows Fall' Campaign and then Survival Easy on all base characters (+ Ibuki, Juri and Kolin), Survival Normal for Kolin and all their character stories.

    Funny thing - at the time I hated SFIV due to the art style, frame linking and that god awful music. I'm much more appreciative of it now (turning down the music helps). That said, I really like the decisions they made in SFV - generally speaking. I think the V-Trigger system is great and gives a dose of personality to all of the characters - allowing the shotos to actually play far more differently than just speed/hp/damage adjustments. Juri, Kolin and Vega probably have my favourite triggers in the game - Haven't played Zeku (this ain't no Zaku, boy) but he looks boss too.

    As to the..story. I liked the random character appearances, and loved the variety of dolls. They could do with being a touch less racist - and F.A.N.G is one of the most racist things I've seen in ages. Couldn't get more yellow peril if he tried...but the doll's attacks were different enough to be interesting. It was also nice to see C. Viper and other people just hanging around. #bringbackrivalschools. That said, by half way through I was skipping stuff because the writing was so, damn, bad. Also I don't think they've got decent 3d animators there cause..some of the OTT anime mannerisms just looked..off. Rashid doing anime stereotype mannerisms is the weirdest dissonance I've seen in a while.

    In comparison, I actually enjoyed the character story modes. They're faaaaaaaaaar too short and kinda a joke, but they were generally better written than the story mode. Juri is only really the one I remember.

    Character wise, I think removing the charge motions from a lot of characters was a wise move, at least for me. I can never understand the need for charging. Why not do it like KI or MK and just make it a straight input? That's probably just me though - those who play charge characters would be pissed as hell..probably.

    I was surprised by how many characters I enjoyed playing - the obvious ones like Karin (thankfully back after Alpha 3) but characters I would never, ever, ever, play - like Gief, Birdie, Vega or Balrog (Claw/Boxer) were actually fun now. Gief is god tier in this game - he's hilarious and fun to use. I don't like what they've done to Ibuki..the removal of her neck snap I can kinda understand..but why not put it as a v-trigger dependant move..but the backward jump Kunai? come on maaaan. As I've written elsewhere Kolin is my favourite at the moment, with Juri and Karin just behind. I'm not too impressed with the DLC nonsense but at least they're trying to finish the game. If they could make 'Sim less annoying to play as/against and just burn FANG from everyone's memory that would be great. Then bring back Dudley, Makoto, Maki and make some of those dolls playable. Oh and Gill of course. Then Sean, Q, Remy.....

    Review in progress but as it stands 3.8/5. It's fun but has some serious issues that need to be addressed.

  • Xbone

    8 hours

    Though I'd play through the game again, having picked it up in a sale and wanting to have a fuller picture of the story for Death of an Outsider.

    I think the world building and the narrative are far stronger in this game, rather than the second. I couldn't care less about Emily's fight for the throne, nor about Delilah. In fact it's the least interesting thing in that game - Corvo, on the other hand, is far more interesting. His reasoning is sound, and - for once - I think the lack of voice actually adds to his character. He's like death itself - silent.

    That said, blinking has serious issues. It's one of the main mechanics and yet it's not always clear where you'll land. It was worse in the DLC with Duad..the amount of times I died though I thought I had a safe landing..urgh. It's infuriating. Also other weird bugs cropped up with AI routines not kicking in on certain flags, and just general 'open door to find guy staring at you after a loading screen' nonsense.

    It's a great game, but frustrating as well.

    3/5 nice to revist.

  • 3ds

    41 hours

    FUCK YES.

    I was determined to finish this before the end of the year - I've been playing it off and on since April - and I managed it at 5pm on the 31st December. Booyah.

    That's not to say this is a hard game, mind you, in fact it's probably the easiest I've played. About the same as W - which I think this game bears a lot of similarities with.

    For those not in the know - the Super Robot Wars/Taisen series has been around since the Gameboy era and is essentially a SRPG crossover between multiple anime series. Generally it's mechs like Gundam, Getter Robo or Mazinger (the holy trinity) but then you get stuff like Tekkaman Blade, Izcer or..bizarrely..Hatsune Miku. Yes, Miku is in this game..and I barely ever used her.

    The storylines tend to be a mixture of a bunch of mecha storylines threaded through with the OG (new characters for the game) plotline. In this one it's essentially Fafner, Macross Frontier (again), Gundam 00 (again, again) Tobikage and Dunbine - with a dash of Demonbane and Heroman. Time traveling and intergalactic god make appearances and the main character is slowly being killed by the power of his mech. It's good shit if you like crazy 80-90s mecha anime.

    There are 3 important parts to an SRW game. The first is the system. This time it's a partner based system - like the OG remake. You can have single mechs, or put them in a squad of two. This changes who can attack and their spirits (special abilities). It works well in this game, mostly due to the transformations for mechs like SKL or the OG mech.

    Second is the animations for attacks. These haven't really been upgraded much since the DS era and still look pixilated. That said, when Mazinkaiser SKL does it sword attack and you get the fully voiced cut in, like the one in the OVA - this doesn't matter. The same with Demonbane and the OG mech..these scenes are fantastic. Also far less Gainaxing going on (less breast shots/bouncing) which is a good thing!

    Finally, the most important part of any SRW is the roster. I have to say, I originally wasn't too hot on it. 40% of the roster is just bit players from Fafner or Linebarrels of Iron. Fuck, Shinn from GSD is in there - it's the unholy trinity of the same artist. But then the good shit arrives.

    The OG mech is my favourite since W - mostly due to them being very similar and his attacks literally breaking reality.

    Demonbane is a god...in the most OP sense. He alone could have solo'd the game once fully upgraded.

    I love Aura Battler Dunbine and the mechs were OP as crazy in this game. I managed to get Burn Burnings and Zwarth (yes, seriously that's his name) on my first play through and it was a massacre.

    I continue to use Lockon (00) and Michel (Frontier) as my snipers - they do great work and they're in everything so that's fine.

    Shout out to the main character from Fafner in Mark Elf? I don't like the series but it got the job done.

    Dancougar is an awesome mech but useless as a Super when you've got Demonbane. Did I mention that Demonbane would eat a fully powered TTGL for breakfast and still have room for Ideon?

    Mazinkaiser SKL was fun, but I missed Koji and crew...and it's just not on to have no Getter. I'm pretty sure it's against the law in Japan not to include Shin Getter at the very least.

    Anyway, as you can see, I enjoyed my time with the game. Is it as good as W? No. No GGG, no Tekkaman, no Astray frames, no Getter, no Mazinkaiser OG, no Wing, I could be here all day. It's not as good as the OG games either - but it's almost as good as both and that's high praise from me.

    4.8 'Who knew Tobikage was so cool?'/5