Also available on Xbox One and Windows
I was very hesitant about pre-ordering this one. Knowing that it was multiplayer-only, I waited until the first Titanfall dropped below $10 to pick it up, and when I did, I got exactly what I expected - a decent online shooter with some cool giant robots and pretty much nothing else noteworthy about it. Call of Duty with robots: that's what it felt like to me. There was so much missed potential. Robots are freakin' awesome. Think what a cool single player campaign they could have make with that source material! So when I heard that Titanfall 2 was getting a campaign, I was intrigued. As I started to see teasers and screenshots and read early reviews, I decided that I'd give it a shot. I'm a junkie for sci-fi stories, so I'd stick my neck out for this one. I am not disappointed.
The story revolves around your character's field promotion from rifleman to pilot and his inheritance of the Titan BT-7274 when a mission goes horribly wrong and basically everyone you know is brutally massacred. One design choice that I have to complement right off the bat is how often the giant robot is used under your control. It's not shoehorned in so that you're ALWAYS in the robot, but it's not just a gimmick that gets used like three times, either. The game is pretty even between traditional FPS combat outside of your Titan and actually controlling your mobile WMD. That balance could very easily have been skewed one way or the other, but the devs managed to keep it right in that Goldilocks spot.
The campaign's length is right about what you'd expect from an FPS - around 7 hours - and if you can look past the cliché Optimus Prime-esque voice of the BT, it's a really enjoyable and engrossing experience. The combat feels fantastic, and the weapons are a joy to use. The wallrunning and double jumping also make Titanfall 2 one of the few first person shooters I've played that included platforming sections that were legitimately fun and not a royal pain in the ass.
Yall know that I'm a gamer focused almost entirely on single player, but I did play a round or two of the multiplayer, and I've got to say, I'm extremely impressed. Not often am I truly impressed with FPS multiplayer. The only two FPS multiplayer modes of this gen that I can think of that truly impressed me were Battlefield 1 and this. Don't get me wrong, there have been a good number that were good, but actually impressing me is hard for an FPS multiplayer. I think the last game before this month to do so was Conduit 2 for the Wii.
Titanfall 2 isn't a masterpiece, and it probably won't be one of the stand-out games from this generation a decade or two down the line, but it's a DAMN good shooter both online and off. If you're into sci-fi stories or first person shooters, don't miss out on this one. Maybe wait for a price drop to $40 if you're not planning to do any multiplayer, but don't forego it entirely.
My Rating - 4 Neps
Also available on Gear VR, Oculus, and Vive
EVE: Gunjack started off as an Oculus Rift game IIRC, but having yet to adopt PC VR, my first experience with it is via Playstation VR. Gunjack is definitely a budget VR game, but that shouldn't dissuade Playstation VR owners from giving it a go. It's definitely worth it.
Gunjack is a digital-only title that offers what in a lot of ways is a much simplified, arcade-style version of Valkyrie. You play as a guy manning a stationary gun defending a legally dubious mining operation from pirates. As a stationary gunner, you don't get to move, and you look around and aim my moving your head. It's a bitch if you're having neck pains (like I was towards the end last night), but generally speaking, it's EXTREMELY smooth and much more precise than I had expected. It's also extremely affordable; it's normal price is $10, but if you're a Playstation Plus subscriber, you can download it for $8.
As is par for the course for these early Playstation VR titles, it's not a graphical wonder (please note that some of the images here are a mix of Oculus Rift and Playstation VR), but it does look quite good - better than some VR games I've played on the platform - and the action is so often so fast paced, that you'll very quickly stop paying any attention to the headset's somewhat limited graphical prowess. One thing that is worth mentioning is how effectively the 3D audio is used. Make sure you've got some good headphone for this one; the ambient audio and sound effects add a very subtle but very immersive touch to the experience.
This is what I think we'll start to see frequently on VR platforms - short, fun arcade experiences. I think we're a few years off yet from full-length experiences' being commonplace, but Gunjack is a perfect example of how VR can revive the "arcade" style game with a modern twist. If you own a Vive, Oculus, or PS VR, I absolutely recommend picking up Gunjack. It only provide two or three hours of play for your first playthrough, but for the price and how much fun those few hours are, it's well worth the cost of admission.
My Rating - 4 Neps
Also available on Xbox One and Windows
This is the first time I've ever been truly excited for a Battlefield game. As a history buff (and teacher), seeing a major big budget video game visit World War I - the most historically significant conflict ever fought and one that never gets the attention that it deserves - was EXTREMELY exciting for me. I waited eagerly for the release day to arrive when I could crawl through the trenches of Verdun, fight the battle of the Somme, and resist the Ottoman Turks' control of Arabia.
The game didn't quite live up to those expectations, but it came damn close. First I'll address the campaign - what I looked forward to the most - and then the multiplayer - what the rest of the world looked forward to the most. I have always enjoyed games that told a good story over anything else, and with how (relatively) obscure the first world war is in most people's minds, there was great potential for storytelling in this game that could be both entertaining and informative. Unfortunately, that potential went largely untapped. The campaign takes place over six sections (including a tutorial/installation time-killer), each section containing something like three or five chapters. These each tell the story of a different part of the war - the trenches on the western front, the early days of aerial combat, amphibious landings and beachhead invasions, the exploits of the legendary Lawrence of Arabia, etc. The problem is not with the content of the campaign - each mission was extremely fun and told a different part of this multi-faceted and deeply complex military conflict. The problem with the campaign lies in its length; it's extremely short. It'll take maybe 4 hours, I'd estimate, to get through it. World War I changed the world and the way global politics was played forever. There was SO MUCH more EA could have done with that setting. I was thrilled with what was there; it's how much could have been that left me feeling disappointing and wanting for more.
The multiplayer is exactly what you'd expect from Battlefield - large scale, strategic, and insanely addictive. I'm absolute rubbish at it, but damn, is it fun. In most ways, it really is Battlefield 1942 in 1917. They didn't try to be Call of Duty like Battlefield 3 and 4 did. Back are the huge maps with multiple control points, each of which require (or at least recommend) a different tactic to attack or defend. Picking the right tools (class) for the job is at LEAST as important as an individual player's skill for most of these fights, restoring to Battlefield what always gave it an edge over other shooters IMO - that hint of strategy in a genre full of camping and run-and-gunning. I haven't played around a whole lot with Battlefield 1's multiplayer since I was focused on the campaign, but I intend to change that this weekend, and what I have played was IMMENSELY enjoyable.
Graphically, the game is gorgeous. The lighting effects accentuate the water and mud in a way that is almost too realistic, if that makes sense, but that also drives home the wet, miserable conditions of the French trenches during the war and adds a dull, dreary feel without overly desaturating all of the game's colors. The sound design, as one would expect from Battlefield, is superb. Each gun has its own sound and feel, and each vehicle has a personality. It really brings to life the now-century old machines of war in a way that few games can. If you let yourself get sucked into, Battlefield 1 can immerse you in a way few other big name shooters these days can. I may be a bit biased with how excited I am to have a big budget shooter set in World War I, but I can't praise this game highly enough.
Because of the disappointing length of the campaign and the aspects of the war that were left untouched that I feel like could have added another layer of depth, I can't say that this game is near flawless. It is, however, an EXCELLENT game, and as far as "dude-bro" first person shooters go, this is the best one I've played in years. I absolutely recommend this one to anyone with a PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or gaming PC. This is not a Battlefield title that you want to miss.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm a complete horror junkie. I also have a passionate love for arcade style rail shooters. I think virtual reality is the coolest thing ever. This game gives me a horror rail shooter in virtual reality. I was basically in hog heaven the entire time I was playing the game. This right here is what virtual reality is all about - scaring me shitless while making me feel like a boss dual wielding revolvers.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is, for the most part, related to the first Until Dawn game in name and developer only. There are some nods to the first game in the dialogue once you get like halfway in, but it's the kind of nod that one who's played the first game would immediately recognize while those who haven't wouldn't even notice. Like Stephen King's cameos in all of the movies based on his books (except the shitty Jack Nicholson version of The Shining which was SO bad that he refused to cameo). Like I said, the game is a rail shooter, and it's done by putting your character on a roller coaster in some horribly dilapidated theme park full of monsters and psychopaths. Who knows why you're there? Who cares? Just shoot shit.
The game can be played either with the DualShock 4 controller or with two PlayStation Move controllers. The game suggests that you use two Move controllers, and having played both ways, I whole-heartedly agree. PlayStation Move just gives the game a much more genuine, natural feel with the aiming, and the precision is rock solid. My only gripe with the precision has nothing to do with control scheme. My problem is that you have no crosshair. You have a light on each weapon, and lining up a shot to the center of that light give sort of the same effect as a laser sight, but it's a flashlight, and when you're moving, trying to aim at targets that are also moving, and probably freaking out a little bit, that's not exactly a pin-point accurate thing. You do, however, get a feel for aiming the weapons after the first level or two, so it's a minor gripe.
The game isn't too terribly long - probably 3 hours worth or so, I'd estimate - but arcade rail shooters aren't a genre known for game length, either. It's a shame that the use of PlayStation VR sort of precludes the option of multiplayer - one of the genre's greatest strengths - but this game is fun enough that it's totally enjoyable solo, and if you do have some friends over, you can take turns on the levels and watch each other freak out since what they're seeing is also displayed on the TV screen. If you're not into horror games or rail shooters, pass on this one, but if you like either of those things and have a PlayStation VR, I absolutely recommend this one.
My Rating - 4 Neps
Also available on Windows
Gears of War is one of those precious few series that started off with a rock solid storyline, rode the wave of multiplayer-centric gameplay, and has returned to its roots by reinvesting in plot. As a longtime Gears fan, it makes me extremely happy to see this fifth installment (despite the name) return to its story driven roots and give us a glimpse of what transpired after the events of Gears of War 3.
Gears of War 4 takes place around 25 years (IIRC) after the events of Gears of War 3, and while series protagonist Marcus Fenix is not the playable character in this game, his son, JD, is. Of course Marcus and even Cole and Baird make appearances in the game, but the story really revolves around JD and his friends, Kait and Del. I'm not going to talk too much about the story because I don't want to spoil much, but I will say one thing to maybe put a few fears at ease. When I first started playing, my fear was that Gears of War was going to do what Halo did with the Forerunners in Halo 4 and what Stargate SG-1 did after the defeat of the Goa'uld - make some bullshit enemy out of nowhere because oops, we beat the bad guys and suddenly have no antagonist. Worry not, fellow Gears fans, such shenanigans do not take place here. I won't say more than that since learning who your enemy is is one of the mysteries of the game (although it's really easy to figure out from early on).
The core gameplay is exactly like you remember it. They've changed almost nothing from the original formula, and that's a good thing. A few control tweaks here and there, but if you're familiar with the control scheme of the first four games, you'll have no problem jumping right into this one. The visuals are great (as one would expect from an Xbox One first party title), and the audio design matches the quality of the visuals. Background music never steals the stage from the action on screen, but it complements it nicely. Sound effects don't drown out the dialogue during gameplay, something I've noticed becoming increasingly common these days (or maybe I'm just more cognizant of it, idk).
Truthfully, though, what I probably appreciate most about the game is not the visuals or the narrative or even the gameplay. What I appreciate most simply because so many games cheap out on this is the voice acting. The voice casting was really top notch for Gears 4, delivering dialogue with enough quality to help you really get sucked into the story. While he's not, and I could tell he sounded a little different, I spend most of the first chapter or two of the game convinced that JD was voiced by Nathan Filion until I broke down and Googled it. It's probably just my Firefly fanboy coming out, but Nathan Filion totally could have voiced that character and done an outstanding job. Then again, I think Nathan Filion would do an outstanding job voicing any character.
Let's face it - the Xbox One doesn't have many exclusives. Gears of War 4 is one of the few that really shine, however, as a reason to own the console (assuming you don't do your gaming on PC). I've only played around a little with the multiplayer (since we all know I'm a single player focused gamer), but I thoroughly enjoyed the 8 hours I spent with Gears of War 4. I definitely recommend it to anyone with an Xbox One.
My Rating - 4 Neps
Also available on Oculus and Vive
I'm late posting a review of this - pneumonia kind of kicked my ass all of a sudden - but I'm finally getting around to writing up a review for EVE: Valkyrie (I've edited the post date to reflect when I finished the game and would normally have posted a review). This was my first foray into PlayStation VR and virtual reality in general (minus the Virtual Boy), and I gotta admit....I'm not disappointed. I actually beat this four days ago when I was just trying out my PS VR, but I'm gonna go ahead and say that this is a title that every PS VR owner needs to pick up.
I've never played an EVE game before, so I don't know how well this fits in terms of lore or whatever, but what I do know is that it's a damn good space flight blow-shit-up simulator, and that's pretty much everything I want out of a virtual reality game. You fly your ship with the standard gamepad controls, but you can turn your head in the cockpit to look around, and your homing missiles are aimed at a target with your head movement, not the control stick, so you can (in theory) fly towards and shoot one target while aiming missiles at a target in a different direction. Just being able to look around the cockpit, though, is incredibly immersive.
Because it's a PlayStation VR game, the visuals aren't super impressive - you gotta make sacrifices when your headset is designed to be affordable (affordable being a relative term when the headset costs more than the console needed to use it) - but the immersion of the gameplay more than makes up for any graphical sacrifices IMO. The story campaign is really short - like six missions, I think - but there are a couple of other offline modes, and there's a really good online component. You can either do PvP team deathmatch or co-op vs AI team deathmatch online. The matchmaking is very smooth, and I experienced zero latency with the online play. It was so smooth that I thought it had put in an entirely offline match until I saw the PSN IDs.
It's only a launch title for PlayStation VR, so keep that in mind if you pick it up, but for a launch title, it's breathtaking. It's a bit shallow in terms of single player offerings, but the gameplay is so much fun and the online matchmaking so smooth that even the single player Nazi that I am is thoroughly pleased with this. This is what we need on VR platforms - spaceship combat.
My Rating - 4 Neps
Depth Hunter 2 is one of those games I see in my Steam library and think to myself "When did I even buy this? WHY did I even buy this?" I haven't the foggiest about the former, but as for the latter, I suspect it was in an otherwise cool sounding Humble Bundle or a "it's 99 cents, how bad could it be?" Bundle Stars bundle. Aaaanyway, as my Vita sat on its charging cradle, I found myself without anything to play until I could return to Trails of Cold Steel. I didn't want to start a long game since Gears of War 4 is coming out Tuesday, and PlayStation VR is coming out Thursday, but I needed SOMETHING to play while the Vita charged. I pulled up my Backloggery page and used the Fortune Cookie feature on my Steam library. It told me to play Depth Hunter 2.
There are definitely worse ways to spend two hours. The premise of the game (as the title might suggest) is that you hunt fish. You're a diver armed with a spear gun, a camera, and an unnaturally large lung capacity. From there, you swim around and massacre various species of fish to the brink of extinction. The game starts off really cool, actually. You get various generic missions like "Hunt 5 fish" or "Hunt three Red Snapper fish" or "Kill everything in a two kilometer radius in ten minutes." Okay, I made up the last one, but you do get told to hunt as many fish as you can in five minutes. It's a little disappointing when you discover that you're not allowed to hunt sea turtles, but I guess that's understandable.
There are three hunting locations - Some Place (I think Thailand?), South Africa, and Some Other Place (I don't know, Caribbean maybe?) - and the game starts to show some of its flaws by the second place. You FINALLY get to see sharks when you get to South Africa....and you're not allowed to kill them. They won't attack you, but you can't attack them, either. You can just look at their docile majesty and take pictures of them. You can't shoot the rays, either. That was kind of disappointing. The campaign becomes a bit of a slog once you get to the third location. In addition to not being able to kill sharks, rays, or turtles, it now adds dolphins, whales, jellyfish, and eels that it won't let you massacre. It's probably a minor point to most, I know, but I really wanted to hunt Ecco's family down. You also begin to notice that, aside from a few unique species (half of which you can't kill), it seems like every part of the world's oceans have exactly the same fish. It's not like it breaks the game or anything, but it does get a little bit tedious killing mostly the same shit everywhere you go (especially when it has you spend 10 missions in a row either collecting treasure from the ocean floor or taking pictures of fish, neither of which involve killing anything).
Now don't get me wrong - it's a relaxing game, and I really did enjoy it. There are some major letdowns. What's the point of a hunting game that doesn't let you kill threatened and endangered species OR massive apex predators that you'd be scared shitless to be around in real life, let alone attack? If you liked the Endless Ocean games on Wii, however, then I'd definitely suggest checking this out one. It's bit more involved than Endless Ocean, but there is an exploration mode for each of the three locations that lets you just sort of do whatever you want, so it's neat for fans of opened ended exploration games. Not sure how much it is these days, but as long as you download it for $5 or less, I'd suggest checking it out.
My Rating - 3 Neps
Also available PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Android, and Windows
Ninja Pizza Girl is a game I have been awaiting for a long time, and it's a game for which I was actually pretty hyped. I back this game on Kickstarter however many years ago the campaign was ongoing. It was a cool concept - a platformer based around a ninja who delivers pizza. Since I delivered pizza at the time, I was interested. One of the few surprising cases where a Kickstarter campaign actually delivers the promised product, I was eager to download this on my Wii U when I got my code, especially since I'd played the Steam demo a year or so ago and liked what I saw. I should have taken it as an omen when the North American eShop screwed up and wouldn't let me download the game for two days. I REALLY wanted to like this game. Unfortunately, I just can't.
At first glance, the game plays a lot like a low budget 2D Mirror's Edge. The first problem that you will notice is the frame rate. I'm not sure if this is exclusive to Wii U or if other platforms have this issue, but the game ran at 15-20 fps pretty much the whole time. I've read that it runs MUCH smoother on PC, and I don't remember a frame rate issue when I played on Steam, but it's rough on Wii U. The visuals don't impress at all, and while I naturally cut some slack for indie games, both the character models and the environments just feel bland and uninspired. One big plus in the game's favor, in my opinion, however, is the soundtrack. The sound effects are so-so, but the music is pretty good, ranging from subdued to outright dubstep. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but it's definitely mine.
The writing in the game is okay, I guess, but the writing is also where we get to what made me REALLY want to like the game. The central message of the game is about bullying, and while that's a fairly cliché theme, it's an important one that I don't think gets stressed enough, especially with the game's focus on empowering victims. Even if I don't like the game as a game - and despite my efforts, I definitely do not - I respect the hell out of it and the small team that made it for one single scene. At the end of one of your deliveries, you deliver to a woman who asks you to wait a minute when you knock on the door (she was getting dressed, apparently). When she opens the door, she mentions that she hadn't had a chance to go shopping for clothes since she transitioned and that it was hard to find a way to feel feminine in men's clothing. Your character tells her that she shouldn't worry about that because clothes aren't what make one masculine or feminine. That was it, end of scene. What struck me was its normality. In the same way that Mass Effect included blatantly gay characters but presented in a way that made it a normal, unnoteworthy part of life, Ninja Pizza Girl did that with a transgender character. The scene wasn't particularly skillfully written as it's very abrupt and obvious about the point it's trying to make, but it's still a step in the right direction. As one who has a good number of dearly loved transgender friends, I appreciated that. A lot. Even if it's in an indie game that doesn't run particularly well and that most people will never play, normalizing transgender people is something that I will always respect and appreciate the developers for including.
Between the performance issues, the bland visuals, and okay-I-guess quality of the writing, I just can't make myself like this game. I really want to; even if the writing isn't particularly good, I can appreciate the attempt to craft a socially aware and progressive plot and dialogue for the game. Unfortunately, the gameplay just doesn't back it up. Perhaps on PC with the absence of the performance issues, I could look at this game a bit more favorably, but on Wii U, I just can't recommend it.
My Rating - 2 Neps
I first started Gears of War: Judgement two or three years ago, and I started playing it immediately after marathoning the first three games. I quit after about an hour because it just felt so...meh. Picking it up again years later when I remember next to nothing about the previous games except that I loved them, it's a much more enjoyable game. Judgement suffers from the same problem that plagued Halo 3, Bioshock 2, Soul Calibur III, and Star Trek: Elite Force II - it's a fantastic game, but because its predecessor was a much better game, it feels like a disappointment when directly compared. When you play it on its own without comparing it to its predecessors - either intentionally or subconsciously - it's actually quite a fun, enjoyable experience
Most of the game takes place before the events of the first Gears of War game, although the extra campaign chapter - Aftermath - takes place during the events at the end of Gears of War 3 and is unlocked after earning a certain amount of stars in the main campaign. The story revolves around Baird (though I think we all played it just for more Cole), and truthfully, it's not bad. As I mentioned, it's just not as good as the previous games. The game's visuals are about what you'd expect from a late-in-life Xbox 360 exclusive - good but 95% just varying shades of grey and brown (gotta have that "edgy" color scheme).
If you've played a Gears of War game before, then you know how the gameplay works. You run around as walking advertisement for anabolic steroids, shooting aliens in the face with your machine gun and cutting them in half with the chainsaw attached to it. They do nothing to break from the formula with Judgement. Where the game really shines in my opinion is the writing. It's not that the story is particularly revolutionary or outstanding (although I do love that it's told as a frame story), but the dialogue really makes the characters distinct and likable. This is especially true in each character's chapter. While you spend probably 2/3 of the game playing as Baird (he is the main character, after all), each of the other characters - Paduk, Cole, and Sofia - get a chapter in which he or she is the player character, so the dialogue is more from his or her perspective. It's nothing crazy different, but it does give a nice subtle variety.
All in all, I enjoyed Judgement once I finally got around to playing through the whole thing with some distance between me and the first three games. It's not a game that I would recommend the average gamer go pick up, but it's quite cheap these days, and I definitely would recommend the game for fans of the Gears series. I played it this weekend to finish up the already released games before Gears of War 4 comes out Tuesday, but unless you've already played Gears 1-3 and really enjoy the series, I can't say that there's a pressing need to go find this one.
My Rating - 3 Neps
Also available on Windows
Trillion is one of Idea Factory's more unique games in my opinion. It's unique feature/gimmick is that the whole point of the game is to beat a boss with 1,000,000,000,000 hit points, hence the title. It introduces a nice cast of characters, each with unique personalities (even if they are a bit caricatured). The storyline is interesting enough if a bit generic and predictable. I'll talk a bit about the game's various aspects, but this is one of the few IF games that I've played that I just didn't really care for.
At its core, Trillion is one a run-of-the-mill Idea Factory RPG/raising sim. The "main" character is Astaroth, the third Great Overlord of the Underworld and the grandson of Satan. Serving him are seven Overlords - one representing each of the seven deadly sins. In addition to the Underworld, there is also Heaven inhabited by angels and ruled by God and the human world. Heaven and the Underworld have been enemies for centuries because of course they have, and the human world just sort of dicks about minding its own business, left alone by the other two worlds. Anyway, Trillion - which went on a rampage and almost destroyed the Underworld once before during Satan's rule - appears and starts gobbling up the Underworld and everyone in it. Astaroth gets all cocky and says "DIS BITCH BOUT TO CATCH THESE HANDS" and then proceeds to get dead. Really really dead. Fortunately there's a random witch who just happens to be chilling out near by who resurrects him in exchange for his soul after Trillion's defeat.
You have something like three or four weeks to train up each Overlord before sending her out to fight (read: get killed by) Trillion, each day being one "turn." During these turns you can choose to train certain skills, each of which translate to a different type of XP, or rest. At the end of each week, you'll fight a wooden dummy-Trillion. Once Trillion wakes up (this dude takes month-long naps), you fight him, dealing as much damage as you can before either dying or running away (assuming you have enough affection points or whatever they're called). Making your Overlords like you is extremely important as these affection points will be depleted first before your health or mana. It's also important because you can't retreat from a battle with Trillion once your affection points are depleted.
The fights with Trillion is where the game is a bit cool. The damage that you deal carries over from one fight to the next and even from one Overlord to the next. It's basically impossible to kill him in one, two, or even four encounters, so this is a critical feature. The downside is that the aforementioned affection points do NOT carry over; if you deplete all but 10,000 of them (you'll probably have at least 10 million at the start of a fight), that's what you'll have starting your training after the fight. It's also worth mentioning that the training time between fights decreases each time that you have an Overlord retreat, and the more damage you do to Trillion during a fight, the less of the Underworld that he'll eat after that fight. There are several sections of the Underworld, and each section has several levels, so you've got some breathing room, but it is a finite amount of time, so you need to have some kind of a strategy going in.
The long-term strategy aspect is where the game loses me, though. It just got really monotonous and boring really quickly for me. That coupled with the severe bugs I encountered (it got to the point where the game would crash literally every turn), and I just gave up and called it quits about halfway through. It's important to note that, to the best of my knowledge (via copious Googling), the bugs I encountered are not common, and I think I'm just extraordinarily unlucky in that regard. Monotonous gameplay is not a bug, however, and to get the "true" ending, you have to play through the whole game nine times. Granted, if you stick with it and power through, that shouldn't take more than 50 hours or so, but between the bugs and the boredom, I didn't even have the patience to stick through with it for one entire playthrough.
Pick it up if you see it cheap, but unless you're collection Idea Factory's games, I wouldn't overspend or go out of my way to find this one.
My Rating - 3 Neps
Also available on Windows
It's not too terribly often that I quit playing a game before I beat it, but this is one of those times. Truthfully, it makes me frustrated with myself when I shelve a game before finishing it, but I just got so sick of Recore. Like, it's not a bad game at all, but it got really monotonous towards the end, and once I found that I had to force myself to keep playing without enjoying it in the slightest, I realized that it was time to write this one off as a loss and move on.
At its heart, Recore is a third person shooter, and it's truthfully not a terrible one. The biggest problem is that it isn't a good one, either. It's just okay, and in my opinion, that's the worst thing that a game can be. If it's just abysmally awful, it at least has value as a laugh and an example of how NOT to make a game (looking at you, Chasing Dead). I think it's obvious why great games are enjoyable. Games that are just okay, though? They're not good enough to get enjoyment from playing, and they're not bad enough to get entertainment from suffering through. They're just boring and depressing. That's how Recore is.
The basic premise of the game is that humanity launched a fleet of sleeper colony ships to settle on the planet of Far Eden with robots called Corebots that were tasked with maintaining the ships and building settlements and terraforming equipment on the new planet. You play as a fairly generic sci-fi chick with a small group of robot pets and blow up other mean robot pets while collecting magical rainbow-y balls. The plot is okay, I guess, but it's nothing that hasn't been done way better elsewhere. The combat is...okay. I mean, it's pretty good. Your companion robot helps you in battle through use of standard attacks and a "Lethal" attack (which is deceptively non-lethal unless you tell it to use that when the enemy is already low on health), and you can attack through either a fairly standard automatic fire or a more powerful AOE charged shot. When the enemies' health get low, you can either kill them outright for scrap parts you can use to upgrade your robots, or you can rip out their core (you seriously the rip damn souls out of these robots) with your magical totally-not-a-grappling-hook thingy for energy or some shit that you can use to upgrade a particular stat on your robot.
What really killed the game for me is that you have a certain number of these prismatic cores (the magical rainbow-y balls) to progress to certain areas of the game, and I got really fucking sick of hunting these pieces of shit down and going through boring-ass challenge dungeons to get them. There's probably an easier way that I just didn't figure out, but I hate this collectathon crap in general. That's why I quit playing Sonic Lost World - I got sick of grinding for damn woodland creatures to unlock levels. So I have no idea how this game ends. I suspect that - if most of the game is any indication - it's a painfully okay ending with no memorable traits whatsoever. Pick this one up if you find it for $15 or less, but don't pay more than that, and don't go out of your way to find this one.
My Rating - 3 Neps
Also available on Xbox One, OSX, Linux, and Windows
I have been looking forward to XCOM 2 for several years, ever since I first played Enemy Unknown back in late 2013. I held off on it when it first came out, hoping to find a good sale on it within a year, but then I read about the ports to PS4 and Xbox One. Being a hardcore collector, I naturally opted for the physical console releases. When opting for a console port of a PC game, one naturally expects diminished quality and often fewer features. What one should not expect to sacrifice is basic functionality.
Before I tear into this painfully sloppy console port, let me explain the game itself for those who may not be familiar with the series and highlight its positives that will be common across all platforms. XCOM is a long running series of turn based strategy games revolving around the idea of an alien invasion. It began with UFO: Enemy Unknown for PC (and, later, Amiga, Amiga CD32, and PlayStation) back in early 1994 and was revived with a reboot in late 2012 called XCOM: Enemy Unknown for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. While I have about half of the games in the series, I'm ashamed to say that I've only played the reboot and XCOM 2 (I'll remedy that eventually, I swear). They are, however, outstanding, and part of what makes XCOM 2 so good is that they didn't change the formula. Like, at all. It plays almost EXACTLY like XCOM: Enemy Unknown but with prettier visuals (as one would expect moving up a console generation).
One of my FAVORITE parts of the game is the options for soldier customization. I had my usual offensively named soldiers (whose names I won't mention) along with soldiers named after me, a few of my friends, my three favorite students, and - of course - some of my favorite characters in My Little Pony. In addition to naming them, the game allows for a decent variety of props and hairstyles as well as hair and armor colors. The visual customization options aren't AMAZING, but they're definitely "good." The game is also extremely approachable in terms of difficulty. There are (IIRC) five difficulty settings ranging, making it appealing to long-time series veterans and new players alike.
Now for the less-than-glowing part of this review. I will start this part by saying that you should ABSOLUTELY buy this game. I will add that you should ABSOLUTELY NOT buy this game on PlayStation 4. I haven't played the Xbox One version, but I can't imagine that it performs much better. This game needs to be played on PC. The game looks great on PlayStation, but the performance leaves a LOT to be desired. The most immediately glaring issue is the loading time. This game has a loading screen to load the loading screen for the mission's loading screen. I'm not kidding. There's a black loading screen that will usually take about two minutes. Then you have a loading screen disguised as a "briefing" that you can't skip. That lasts for a minute or so. Then there's another black loading screen that will take you another two minutes. And after all that loading, the game still stutters when the mission first loads.
It gets worse, though. As I got farther in the game (I'd reckon past the 3/4 mark), the loading times got worse. It got to the point at the very end where it would take literally five minutes to get past a SINGLE loading screen (and remember, there are usually three in a row). I got curious and tried a little experiment. A game of NBA Jam on my Sega CD loaded faster than my mission in XCOM 2. In the time it took to load the final cutscene of the game, I loaded and finished a fight in Samurai Shodown 2 on my Neo Geo CD and got a second fight loaded and started. On a console with a 1x CD drive. It's insanity.
So it takes longer to load than it does for an old country couple to drive to town on Sunday morning. If only that's where the problems ended. As I mentioned briefly already, the cut scenes and initial parts of the mission stutter significantly (single digit FPS at times). Three or four times, I had game crash on me entirely. Sometimes the game would just give up after seven or eight minutes trying to load whatever came after a cutscene and just replay the cutscene and try again. Fortunately the gameplay itself had few performance issues (there still were some, but they were much less frequent and much less severe), but the fact that it's the non-interactive part that makes your console have a stroke is a bit absurd. I seriously question the legitimacy of 2K's quality assurance department (assuming one exists) at least insomuch as their console ports are concerned.
You definitely shouldn't forego XCOM 2, but let my mixed bag of an experience be a lesson to you all; play it on PC. If you want it on your shelf like me, wait for it go on sale or something because it's just not worth playing on PlayStation. Like I said, I haven't played it on Xbox One, so I can't say whether or not the performance issues are similar, better, or worse on that platform, but I would be surprised to learn that Xbox avoided the PlayStation host of issues.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.