Dragonball Xenoverse (PC) Review

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It’s been a hell of a long time since i’ve played a Dragonball game, probably the last one I remember was one of the Budokai’s or Tenkaichi on the PS2, with some 15 games and 10 years since my last foray into the series, I was intrigued and excited.

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Dragonball Xenoverse is for new gen consoles and PC, and starts the game with a hype as fuck metal version of the anime’s original japanese song, Cha-La Head cha-la, which really gets you into the mood for punching dudes. From there on, it’s a collection of new story, ingame and anime cutscenes and a slew of campaign and free missions to play.
Xenoverse is a 3rd person fighter, and plays similarly to the zone of the enders series (lock on, and mash buttons dynasty warriors style, or use some of the many Ki attacks).

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So what do you need to know about Xenoverse…
The story is an interesting ‘history is being rewritten’ one, and has you travelling back in time to all of the famous battles you watched as a child, only something plays out differently – the end result is almost always the same of course, kill the enemy, but the way in which these scenarios are presented (well animated cutscenes) is a nice touch and helps explain why you are fighting with X, and why you are fighting against Y.
The core of the game is set out almost like an MMO – after creating your character, you progress through the story which unlocks the free missions, you get exp for playing anything, and can use this to buff your core stats in whatever way you choose (I like.). Your cosmetic choices are generally governed by your money (also gained from missions) or can be random drops in free missions, similarly all of the skills in the game can be equipped, but are dropped randomly by their respective user in free missions, or they can be provided by ‘trainers’ which are basically the named characters which appear in the hub world.

It’s a pretty cool choice, and a nice change from ‘oh ok, i’m Krillin, i guess i have destructo disk, solar flare, etc’, as now you can dress vaguely how you want (tied down to lore based dresswear of course) and pick whatever skills you desire – You’re free to go for a heavy melee fighter with physical combo skills and breakout moves, or you can put 4 variations of the kamehameha as your spells (why.).

There is online multiplayer as well, with co-op free missions, as well as online 3v3 battles and a tournament mode, which I assume is either 8 player rumble or perhaps a structured 1v1 tourney, i’m honestly not sure. I get the feeling this game will be great fun to play with friends, and either really fun or really frustrating to play against people online depending on the level of your character and how good you are at comboing/evading.

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The main part of the game then, if not already implied, is combat – everything else is kind of this facade for the actual game which is just a 3d fighting game. Is it any fun? Ehhh… It’s OK. And that’s where Dragonball Xenoverse sort of starts to come apart. I love almost everything else about the game, the characters, the skill selection, the grindy nature of it… but the main dish, the actual thing you’ll be doing 90% of the time, feels lacking. There are only so many combos available to your character, and then you can select 4 special moves, and 3 ultimate moves, everything after that just turns into rushing down your opponent, mashing 2 buttons and finishing with a skill – occasionally holding block or tapping A to evade out of an enemies combo. It’s pretty binary and doesn’t really lack the strategy that traditional fighting games has, and where everyone has such large health pools, you’ll find yourself having to do the same thing over and over before they go down. As a side criticism, there is this gigantic hub world, but it’s filled with pretty much nothing, theres no way to teleport or dash around, and so you end up wasting a lot of time running between counters for shops/missions.

As a final note, the artstyle is awesome – a nice cel shaded look which is clear to read and fitting for the series. The game also runs really well, at a straight 60 for me even with AA – it also supports 4k resolutions and 120/144 fps, so theres that too. Oh yeah, theres a shit load of characters (I was shocked when I found out the character select menu could scroll horizontally), there are around 40+ I believe – Personally, i’ve never wanted to play as any of the smaller members of the Ginyu Force, but y’know, that’s an option here.

Verdict:

If you can get over the somewhat mediocre combat, Dragonball Xenoverse has a ton of stuff to do, as well as online battles for you to show off your character and skills once you’ve geared up. The art style is spot on and the game is fun in short bursts – though you’ll often find those short bursts turning into hours of play due to the length of battles and grindy nature of the game.
If Xenoverse were a cheaper price (like £20, £25 max), i’d totally buy it, and I’m only the bare minimum of a Dragonball fan.

Approximate Game Length :  Long
Actual Worth / Steam Price: £20 / £40 = 0.5
Should you play it : For series fans only

Rating: 4 / 5

The Talos Principle (PC) Review

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I feel like Talos Principle went kind of under the radar late last year, and I suppose why wouldn’t it, the game had practically zero marketing and is a puzzle made by Croteam – yeah, THAT Croteam, the one with the long history of making deep puzzle games, OH WAIT. all they have made are serious sam games which involve headless men trying to jihad you.

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It was a surprise then, when Talos Principle actually turned out to be an incredibly competent 3d puzzle game; even more surprising is the massive amount of lore and storytelling they have managed to throw into the game. The core of the game involves small individual puzzles inside hubs which are inside other hubs, you’ll use lasers, jammers, fans, timed clones and more to make your way around doors, enemies, turrets and so on. There are a ton of puzzles, probably somewhere in the region of 100+ normal puzzles, then there are super hard puzzles which are unlocked by collecting star pieces, and these star pieces basically augment the normal puzzles and make them harder or require thinking outside of the box.

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Wall in the way? Put a laser transmitter on top of a box, and then float the box using a fan. Duh.

 

The hub worlds and the route of progression is pretty unique – each puzzle awards a tetromino which is used in the main hub to unlock new items or doors (to other hubs), it’s a strange world within world within worlds concept that ultimately really works in both a difficulty limiting fashion as well as a gated progression fashion, ensuring just enough of the world is left tucked away to keep you wanting to push forward. As expected, the further you get into the game, the harder and longer the puzzles become, however I felt the game did a fairly good job of introducing concepts gradually and letting the player figure out the rest – that is of course assuming you play the levels in order, which you don’t really have to. There are definitely some challenging levels in Talos Principle though, I personally found myself looking up hints/solutions about 5 times through my 9 hour playthrough, which isn’t too bad really, and shows that most of the puzzles can be fairly logically solved.

The story/narrative are also very impressively well done, and are not forced upon the player in any way – which is my favorite type of story. All of the lore and story are tucked away in obvious audio logs, or stored on computer terminals which are not required for progression – however the more you put in, the more you will get out, as the lore and world in Talos Principle is actually really interesting and mysterious (though I won’t say much more than that for spoiler reasons). I really did love the start of the game where nothing is explained, and everything is a mystery.

While there isn’t a massive amount of replay value, the game does it’s best at extending the game through natural means instead, as already mentioned there are a ton of crazy hard puzzles available, hidden behind extra hard puzzles. There is also just in general a lot of ground to cover and an expansive world to explore. Then finally there is a massive amount of easter eggs hidden away in the game, along with 3 endings.

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While Talos Principle might not have the strong storytelling of the portal series, or the more interesting mechanics of Quantum Conundrum, i’d argue that it has one of the more interesting worlds to wander through and has this mysterious tone throughout – and on the more obvious side, it’s really fucking long compared to everything else in it’s genre that i’ve seen, while being good enough that you’ll want to see it through. The game ran me approximately 9 hours for a normal clear, and probably much longer if you want to go for the stars and star levels.

Oh, as an ‘and finally’ note for the PC version, there are options in the graphical settings to change contrast, brightness etc, but also saturation, which I thought was really neat. More games should let me make them more colourful.

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Verdict:

Talos Principle is a shockingly good 3d Puzzler from Croteam, and easily puts up a good fight against it’s genre rivals like Portal. It’s filled with some great level design and game mechanics, beautiful environments, relaxing music and intriguing story.

Approximate Game Length :  9 Hours for basic clear with minimal extras
Actual Worth / Steam Price: £16 / £30 = 0.533
Should you play it : Yes, especially if you enjoy the genre.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

ps. At £30 normal price, the game is maybe a little on the steep side, but is probably a good buy at £20 or below.

Resi Revelations 2 Ep1 (PC) Review

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Mmmm.. So Resident Evil Revelations 2, admittedly I feel like i’m a tad out of the loop nowadays when it comes to Resi games, I didn’t get very far in Revelations 1, and I barely touched Resi 6 (for reasons we won’t get into right now). I did recently finish REmake HD again, but that’s a resi game from another time so i’m not entirely sure if it counts.

And so, here we have Revelations 2, a new episodic title in the franchise – As I understand it, there are 4 episodes to this game, each available for £5, or the whole lot for £20. These episodes, rather surprisingly, are also coming out on a weekly basis rather than the telltale style of waiting until everyone has forgotten what happened on the last episode before releasing the new one.

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I guess I’d better start talking about the game itself. It’s very similar to all of the recent Resi games, you run in a mostly linear fashion, you shoot zombies in the head, there is a second character with you (though done in a less clever way than Resi 0), you mostly don’t have ammo problems, there are grenades, you find items to progress and then there’s probably a climax event where you have to survive because everyone talks about that opening sequence of resi4 and so they just can’t let that shit go.

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The differences in Revelations 2 (at least in the PC version) is that there is a mysterious lack of co-op – despite there being 2 characters throughout the game, the second character also does not have a firearm but will instead possess a unique ability. There’s also a weapon parts/upgrade system, which is actually kind of cool and works by letting you add parts to your weapon to upgrade it. For some reason also, they have decided to put in a skill tree, I vaguely remember something like this being in one of the other recent games, so maybe this isn’t new at all, but you can spend your bp (exp) to unlock some small buffs – it’s worth mentioning that these aren’t your conventional skills, in that none of them actually straight up increase your health or damage, but rather work by changing the way your abilities work, or add bonus damage in special circumstances. Other new features include the ability to combine items to make new ones, alcohol can be combined with a bottle for the obvious firebomb, or combined with some cloth for a dressing – which is practically a necessity due to the new bleed system. The new bleed system occurs at a fairly low frequency, but will fill your screen with annoying blood splats and make your character drain health (seemingly rapidly) over time, I only got inflicted with bleed once by a large enemy, but it was highly annoying.

An unfortunate consequence of being part of the revelations series, seems to be that the game has kept in the item scouter from Revelations 1 – a laborious way of introducing extra items into the area, provided you scout them out, Revelations 2 does this by forcing you to use your second, defenceless character to point at items so that blind claire/barry can pick them up. Failure to play this shitty minigame of theirs will result in you having less ammo to fire, less herbs to use, etc.

Episode 1 takes place in a prison kind of area, and then a forest, with gameplay divided fairly equally between the Claire / Moira team, and Barry / Little Girl team (yeah, I forgot her name. always a good sign that you’ve made a memorable character and tried your hardest to integrate her into the story OH WAIT.). There is some overlap between the two, which I actually thought was kind of cool – seeing the consequences of one journey affect the next. Unfortunately the game kind of ends just as you start to get into it – the problem with episodic games I suppose. The title runs at exactly 90 minutes for me, though I imagine if you wanted to zerg it you could manage it in 30-45min on your first attempt.

Raid mode is unlocked on completion, which appears to be this title’s taken on the Mercenaries concept – However I remember mercenaries being more… intense, the raid mode in this feels more akin to running a low level dungeon in a PVE mmo on your own. The missions provide you with a linear path and then puts randomly spawning enemies in your area for you to kill, and these zombies (at the start of the mode at least) are the lowest of the low – providing absolutely no challenge whatsoever. So you run around, kill zombies, and then there are chests around the place which provide you with unidentified weapons/parts which you can use on your character, I imagine you can see where this is going. So what we have then, is a character who needs to level up to equip skills/items, we have a gold system, and then we have random item drops, and zombies with levels and life bars above their heads. Welcome what can only be described as a free to play Resident Evil game! …. Except its single player only… and you have to pay for it…

As a final note, many people on steam are complaining about bad frame rate issues and crashes, I didn’t experience any of these, but then again I was using a.. uhh.. ‘offline review copy’ we’ll say. If you do want to purchase this, it might be worth looking into patchnotes and stuff to make sure your experience isn’t marred. Personally, I had no issues running this on high settings @ 1080/60 stable.

Verdict:

Ehhh. The campaign mode of this episode can only be described as ‘adequate’, it’s not particularly scary, the new character doesn’t add a whole lot to the gameplay, and it’s terribly short. Raid mode has some interesting ideas, and would genuinely be a game I would play if it were online and free, but sadly it is neither of these.
It’s a solid modern Resi game, but that sadly doesn’t count for a whole lot nowadays.

Approximate Game Length : 1.5 Hours for this episodes campaign. Putting the estimate for the full game at 6-8 Hours
Actual Worth / Steam Price: £2 / £5 = 0.4
Should you play it : Nothing special. Fans of the series should wait for the inevitable steam sale when all the episodes are out.

Rating: 3/5

ps. Moira’s dialogue isn’t as bad as I anticipated from the early footage, majority of her lines are badly written to the point where it’s comical though, perhaps they are trying to establish shit dialogue as a Resident Evil feature?

3DS Games rundown (1)

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Now, I actually had a reasonable amount of 3DS games from before, but nonetheless, after 2 years of owning the console I had only purchased what I deemed to be the true essentials, as at £20-£35 a game, it’s just not really something I felt I wanted to spend money on that often.

Buying a Gateway has let me play games I wouldn’t otherwise even consider spending money on, and even removes region locking so I can dick around with some japanese games too, and as an added bonus – even opens up the door to free DLC and modified games such as UnDubs (At this point, i’ve become SO used to Persona 4’s japanese voices, that the English ones just don’t sound right).

 

Here’s what I’ve been playing lately:

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire – Which has been mostly disappointing, especially after playing Pokemon Y and all the new features that had, many of these have been stripped back for some odd reason. The ability to be able to catch most of the Legendaries is a nice touch though I guess.

Persona Q – Which, again, has been disappointing, it seems like an incredibly stripped down version of a Persona game, leaving only the dungeon crawling intact, which IMO is actually the weakest part of the game. Maybe deep down inside, i’m just waiting for a Persona dating sim.

Fantasy Life – Not the most fun game in the world, but certainly has enough pull and appeal to keep me engaged for 30 hours or so, it very much reminds me of leveling trade skills in WoW, running around trying to gather materials as multiple professions before coming back to blacksmith your way to OP status and get rich.

Tetris Ultimate – Which is shit. How did they mess up a Tetris game? Fuck sake ubisoft. Whats wrong with it? It’s plain, its a downgrade from Nintendo’s Tetris DS, and it has a shit colour scheme which makes it hard to make out the outlines of blocks. Can Akira just port TGM3 to everything?

Puyo Puyo Tetris – Which has made me realise just how bad I am at Puyo Puyo. Sadly seems to be missing marathon modes unless I’m just being blind.

Luigi’s Mansion 2 – Theres a good game in here somewhere, but Nintendo’s pandering to children and casuals have marred the experience somewhat with an overbearing amount of unskippable tutorial dialogue. I’m also not a massive fan of the episodic nature of each Mansion, which often results in you exploring the same area multiple times, instead of being like the original Luigi’s Mansion which felt more akin to a more lighthearted Resident Evil and letting the mansion itself become a massive play area itself.

Hatsune Miku Project Mirai 2 – Decent Rhythm game, filled with an adorable chibi miku. Having to unlock all the difficulties and songs is a bit of a chore.

New Super Mario Bros 2 – Meh. Fairly uninspired level design, it’s nothing you haven’t already played multiple times.

Weapon Shoppe de Omasse – I like the principle of the game, and enjoy the forging aspect, but the game rarely lets you do it, instead having you stand around waiting for text to scroll, or polishing weapons.

Zelda Majoras Mask 3D – Fantastic game, and I can definitely see why it’s a cult favorite. From what I hear, the remake has added in a lot of useful features and cleaned up the UI which i’m thankful for.

Project X Zone – It’s alright, though not as good as the average Disgaea game, and certainly not as good as Fire Emblem Awakening. The combat gets stale pretty quick, though the battle animations and large character roster are entertaining.

 

So of these, which would I actually deem as worth my money after playing? Honestly probably only Fantasy Life and Majoras Mask, everything else is pretty average or disappointing, which is quite a shame.