WWE 2K19 Review

 

It is that time of the year again as WWE 2K19 is now in our hands. I got a review copy of the PS4 version of the game a few weeks ago, and now it is time for me to share my thoughts on this year’s installment of the game.

The cover star this year is the current WWE Champion AJ Styles as this year alone, he has proven to be “the face that runs the place” on the Smackdown brand. If you were to ask me 10 years ago when he was still wrestling for TNA if he would be on the cover, I would have said “not in a million years” but it happened this year as he is the MVP of Smackdown.

The roster this year is almost the same as last year with new additions to the 200 playable character roster such as The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’ Riley, and Bobby Fish), Andrade “Cien” Almas, The AOP, Bianca Belair, Riccochet, EC3, Tyler Bate, Pete Dunn, Lio Rush, Ronda Rousey, and Velveteen Dream. You can mix and match the current stars of today and from previous years in many matches to your desire. With the stacked roster this high, there is no reason for Tommaso Ciampa to be cut from the in game roster this year especially since he is the current NXT Champion.

This year, we got the return of 2K Showcase which was missing from the last two entries. 2K Showcase tells the story of the rise of Daniel Bryan in WWE. In between the matches, we are shown a video package along with narration of Daniel Bryan himself setting up what was going on storyline wise at the time before the match loaded up. It begins way back to his match with John Cena at Velocity from early 2003, all the way to his Wrestlemania return match from this year teaming with Shane McMahon going against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. All of those matches were great to play and I would have wished that we would have gotten to revisit the CM Punk/Daniel Bryan/Aj Lee love triangle and matches from 2012 but I understood why they could not do it. My only other gripe with this mode is that many of the matches can last up to 30 minutes due to the objectives that you have to do during the match.

For the first time, MyCareer mode plays like a WWE storymode from the past games. You start off in an independent promotion and then work your way up to the WWE Performance Center and from there, it is NXT and then the main roster of Raw and Smackdown. I love that this time, the WWE Superstars and even your own character is voice acted during the scenes. In fact, the scenes with “Woken” Matt Hardy during this mode is quite funny but you will have to see that for yourself. The learning curve during this mode can be frustrating at times due to you starting with a very low set of moves and abilities and most of them you will have to unlock via randomized lootcrates and even those are very expensive when you purchase them by in game currency so it is good that there are no paid micro-transactions, but this system needs to go in the next game for good.

The gameplay is much more solid than the last two entries as I rarely encountered glitches or bugs even when there were 8 men in the ring during a Ladder Match. The Cage Match has been reworked so you can escape easier along with fighting on the top edge of the cage. I wanted this feature for many years since it adds more drama to the match itself. The custom match creator this year can be saved in the option that you create it even in Universe Mode. The lightning and the entrances are on point and the presentation looks like if you are watching it on TV. The commentary has improved a slight bit, but at times I can hear repeated words during matches.

Speaking of Universe Mode, this year, you can finally assign managers to any superstar on your Universe Mode roster. You can also have up to 6 championships per show now which is great news for anyone that wants to have two mid-card championships on each show. On this mode now as well is the ability to choose who will be the Money In The Bank holder and which championship that either he or she will target. I wanted this feature way back in Smackdown vs Raw 2011 and it is great to finally see it being used in this game. Also, you can finally pick who wins simulated matches in case if you do not want to play the match and that lifted a huge weight off my shoulder. Universe Mode always needed adjustments since it was first introduced 8 years ago, but I felt that this year the developers made more effort to tweak it than any other game.

The Creation Suite’s features can have you there for hours doing customized things such as Create A Superstar, Arena, and Entrance but also for the first time this year, you can create a MITB briefcase with your own design as you please and use it on Universe Mode. You can also create block versions of WWE superstars or your own characters as well.

There is also an towers mode where you can face different superstars in different match situations. It starts off easy, but it gets hard with each match that progresses. It is like WWE’s version of Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter with their towers mode.

This year’s game has been a massive improvement from the last two games. The last overall game that I loved was WWE 2k14 and every year since then, it has not matched up to how fun a WWE video game is supposed to be and I can say that the fun factor has returned in this game. It is so fun, that they even added (by Xavior Wood’s request) a big head mode. I have not used this yet, but I know it was added in for nostalgia of silliness of 90’s games. Despite the hard learning curve of MyCareer mode and their lootcrate system, I fully recommend this game to pick up.

My score is a 8.9/10

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E3 2018-The Good, The Bad, And The Very UGLY

 

E3 is like Christmas for nerds. For a few days, major publishers get on stage and show off new footage, whether it be gameplay or CGI trailers, of their up and coming games. The companies involved include EA, Sony, and Bethesda. Like many others, I watched many of these live myself, or at the very least had it on in the background while I was working on something else. Now that E3 happenings are wrapping up, it’s time to do what every geek like me does…grade the conferences!

A few things to mention before I give my thoughts on the different conferences. First, I’m basing my feelings on the conferences based on two things: games and presentation. I place the emphasis on the games at the end of the day, but presentation can factor into how I feel about a conference. Also, I’ll be omitting Devolver Digital, Square Enix, and the PC Gamer Show from this particular discussion since Devolver’s is mostly a joke conference and Square Enix didn’t really show anything in their conference that hadn’t already been seen in others, specifically Microsoft’s. As for PC Gamer Show, I remember watching the first one they did and being bored for three hours, and I’d rather not do that again. With that out of the way, let’s get to grading, starting with…

Oh boy, EA…let’s just get them out of the way. I’ll say this about EA, you can always count on them to be the most boring of all them. No style, no real interesting games beyond a couple EA Originals…just a stale presentation. It doesn’t help that they once again spent a good chunk of time talking about sports games because they haven’t realized yet that nobody tunes in to E3 to learn about Madden. The ultimate takeaway here is that EA does not seem to understand how gamers work. They don’t seem to know what they want or what they’re here for. That’s why we get dreadfully long segments talking about the next FIFA game or the awful looking Command and Conquer mobile game.

There’s only two games that EA showed that were at all interesting. Unravel Two, a platforming game where you play as creatures made of yarn, looks pretty fun. I’m actually tempted to see if my wife is willing to give it a go with me, since it seems like it’s built to be played with another person. As it turns out, this game is out now, so it’s not like we have to wait to try if that’s what we decide to do. The other game is Sea of Solitude. I can’t say I fully understand what the game is, mechanically speaking. Hard to tell if it’s supposed to be a 3D platformer, an exploration focused game, or a puzzle game. But it looks visually interesting and could potentially be an enjoyable game. At least as enjoyable as a game about loneliness can be. But other than those two games, EA’s offerings were very slim.

I also thought it weird how much time was spent trying to convince us that they “made a mistake” when really they knew exactly what they were doing with Star Wars: Battlefront II and just wanted to nickle and dime us for all we were worth, only for their lootbox focused strategy to blow up in their face. They’re promising all sorts of things with Bioware’s Anthem game, and I just can’t see it ending well. I don’t see how anyone can be excited about Anthem when EA has essentially shown us what they really want to do with their games. But we’ll see…Anthem still looks boring. Yeah, I said it. Putting aside the fear of EA tampering with Anthem to make as much money out of it as possible, the game itself doesn’t look very interesting to me. Always online games tend to bore me. They promise to have a campaign or something for single players, but I get the feeling that will go the way of Destiny 2 where the campaign was pretty forgettable. Regardless, single player is obviously not the focus for Anthem, and thus it does not have my interest.

Conference Rating: F

If you had told me that Microsoft would have been one of my favorite conferences of all the E3 shows, I would’ve laughed. But I think it’s a combination of the rapid fire presentation of a variety of games along with the fact that many of them will come to PC (my platform of choice) actually had me really happy with Microsoft’s presentation. They kicked things off with a trailer for Halo: Infinite. No gameplay was shown, but I’m happy to see some Halo finally making its way to PC. I’m wishing so hard for a proper Halo to come to the PC platform that I’m even willing to play this even if it’s some always online game, just so Microsoft can know that they’d have people willing to buy Halo on PC. Because let’s be honest, if you’re a PC gamer then you have no reason to get an XBox just for one game since most every XBox game is coming to PC anyway. And even if you’re not a PC gamer, I would still question the need to get an XBox.

But this isn’t about consoles right now. This is about games, and Microsoft came out swinging. Kingdom Hearts III got its first of many showings here. A cute fox game called Tunic was shown off that looks like it could be a lot of fun. Fallout 76 took up a little time, but obviously Bethesda was saving most of that game for their own conference. From Software’s newest title, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice reminds me that I still need to try Dark Souls sometime. Gears Tactics could also be right up my alley, as I do enjoy a good strategy game. There were, of course, a couple duds. Forza Horizon 4 is not going to sell an extra copy by being at E3 (but at least they didn’t bring out the car this time), and Gears Pop looks weird and out of character for the Gears of War franchise.

Of course, we can’t mention the Microsoft conference without talking about the reveal at the end. Cyberpunk 2077 has been in the works for a long time now, and it’s nice to finally see that come out of hiding. There was a ton shown here, and it would take forever to talk about them all. Needless to say, however, Microsoft’s show has given me a few things to keep an eye on. In terms of conference presentation, everything was so rapid fire that there was barely a presentation to speak of. It was just one game after another, with a few occasional moments of talking. The focus was on the games here, and for that I’m pleased.

Conference Rating: A

 

For the third year Bethesda has brought their own conference. I think of all their conferences, this might be their second best. Their first conference still reigns supreme, but I feel this did a fine job. Though I could’ve done without the concert at the beginning before Rage 2 was announced. In fact, I think the entire conference could have been shortened by a good twenty to thirty minutes and we wouldn’t have lost much, if anything. But once again, let’s get to the games. Rage 2 and Fallout 76 were the two main titles of Bethesda’s E3 conference, with more emphasis on the latter. We started with Rage 2, and I still think that game could actually be pretty fun. It looks to borrow a lot of ideas from the DOOM reboot, and I believe DOOM 2016 sets the bar for how first person shooters should be from this point forward. We’ll just seen when it gets here.

Speaking of DOOM, a sequel to the 2016 reboot has been announced, but it was ultimately an announcement announcing an announcement. We got a teaser trailer for DOOM: Eternal, and then were told that gameplay would be shown at Quakecon in August. I wish they had just not said anything and shown off everything at Quakecon instead, but at the same time I can’t be mad about a new entry in what I think is the best shooter to have ever graced us. We also got a look at a new Wolfenstein game, but once again there was no gameplay.

Fallout 76 was definitely the main attraction here, and I gotta be honest I’m not sure what to think of it anymore. I think I’ve made it clear that online only games aren’t very interesting to me, but Fallout 76 has the potential to be an exception to that rule. It’s hard to know without playing it though, and considering it’s coming out around the same time as Smash Ultimate, I doubt I’ll get to playing the game for some time, if ever. One game that surprised me in how fun it looks is The Elder Scrolls: Blades, a mobile game of all things. Yet it seems to be a mobile game that actually, you know, has gameplay. Once again, it won’t be till Fall of this year when we get our hands on it, but consider me intrigued. Bethesda ended it all with two teasers, one for a new IP called Starfield and another for Elder Scrolls VI. There’s not much to say about either one, since we did just get logos after all, but I’m always down with new IPs and I’ve been waiting a while for Elder Scrolls VI to be formally announced, so it was nice to see them.

Conference Rating: B-

Starting off with a dancing panda was not a great way to start Ubisoft. Stop doing stuff like this. Anyway, I’m so terribly indifferent to the Ubisoft conference that I considered not bothering with reviewing it when I started thinking about this blog post. Ubisoft is a bit like EA in that nothing they do is particularly exciting or interesting. But the difference is whereas EA just has boring conferences, Ubisoft has boring, predictable games. We’ve seen Assassin’s Creed over and over again. Just Dance is nothing new. The Division looks like an online only bore. The only possibly interesting thing they had was Beyond Good and Evil 2, and I still have no idea what to think of this game. I’ve not played the original Beyond Good and Evil and even I know the tone of this game is very, very different from its predecessor. And being open world doesn’t help my interest levels.

Starlink could be cool if they cut out the toy stuff. Transference could be interesting, but it’s VR only and who knows when I’ll ever get a VR headset. I still question the future of that technology. I could talk about the Donkey Kong Country expansion for Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle but that’s for a game released last year. There’s so little to discuss here that I think I’ll just move on. If you like Assassin’s Creed or The Crew, then I’m sure there was something here for you. But for me, there was nothing of interest. Just a very “meh” showing. The dancing panda did not help.

Conference Rating: C-

I hope you’re not squeamish because Sony made it a point to bring out all the blood and gore in the games they showed. I also hope you’re not the type of person who has trouble sitting still for several minutes because Sony made sure you would do that for far too long. Things kicked off in a confusing fashion. The auditorium was dressed up like it was supposed to be some kind of church setting, with a man playing the banjo for several minutes. Then a trailer begins, and it’s for The Last of Us Part II. I know a lot of people are looking forward to this game including myself.

After a lengthy Last of Us trailer, we’re then stuck with talking heads…for thirty minutes. I’m not making this up. A bunch of randoms sat behind a test and talked…and talked…and talked…and talked…and talked some more.

It. Was. Awful.

I was moderating a facebook with some friends commenting on everything live, and when this segment played out everyone, me included, was losing our minds. We could not believe what we were seeing. No gameplay, no trailers for anything, just talking heads for thirty minutes. And when things finally begin to pick back up, we had to listen to some musical number before finally getting a look at the next game, one of the only ones shown at the Sony conference that I found interesting. Ghost of Tsushima is not only a pretty game, but it looks like it could be quite a lot of fun. Although I can’t say much more than that since the gameplay wasn’t necessarily something we’ve never seen before, but it looks like its well put together.

The Sony conference continued at a much better pace after that. A remake of Resident Evil 2 was shown, as well as yet another Kingdom Hearts III trailer. Death Stranding made its third appearance, and we still have no idea what it is. I really wonder about Death Stranding and how it will be received once it finally comes out. I fear it’s getting more hype than is really healthy, and on release it could suffer for it. But only time will tell, I guess. A new game called Control looked pretty interesting, but not a whole lot was shown. Nioh is getting a sequel. But the last game shown, and the other Sony game that has my attention, is the new Spider-Man game. We got a good look at what gameplay is like as well as some characters who will be making their appearance. A lot of people have compared this to the Batman: Arkham games, and I think that’s a good comparison to be made. If Spider-Man plays at all like the Arkham games, then I think we’ll be in for a real treat.

After so many successful E3 shows, it was pretty hard to watch Sony fail so hard this year. A lot of was down to how it presented its conference. A thirty minute long talking head segment soured the mood fast, and brief musical numbers throughout the show all felt extremely out of place. I found out later that those music moments peppered between trailers was for that Dreams game, which has been in development for a long time now, but I wouldn’t have known that just from looking. All in all, presentation was bad and there weren’t many games shown that interested me at all.

 

Conference Rating: D-

They showed Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Instant A+.

Okay, but really. Nintendo got right to business by showing Daemon X Machina, a mech based action game. I like mechs a lot in video games, so it quickly got my attention. I also really enjoyed the visual style of the game. We then got a look at a Xenoblade Chronicles 2 expansion, then swiftly moved on to the two new Pokemon Let’s Go games. I was surprised by how little time was spent on Pokemon Let’s Go, but at the same time I think I see why. Most people know how Pokemon works at this point.

Another neat looking title was Fire Emblem: Three Houses. If they can move away from the waifu simulator stuff the last Fire Emblem game (or rather, games) did, then that’ll be enough for me to be a happy camper. It’s also nice to see Fire Emblem coming back to the big screen after being relegated to the 3DS for a long time. They then showed off a handful of 3rd party games coming to the Switch, but a lot of them we already knew about like Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Wolfenstein II, and Dark Souls: Remastered.

Then we get to the main event: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. A lot of people wish more was shown, but being someone who considers Smash his favorite game series, of course I was all over this. The main takeaway is that everyone who’s ever been in a Smash Bros. game is coming back. This includes Solid Snake, Young Link, Pichu…yeah, they mean everyone.

It may come as no surprise then that I loved this conference. I will eat up anything with Smash Bros. in it. So this rating might come off as a bit biased, but there’s a good reason for that…it is. But as I mentioned, I judge these based primarily on games. And I love Super Smash Bros., and a half hour of that is perfect for me. Yes, I’m still giving this one an A+.

Conference Rating: A+

Regardless of my or anyone else’s opinions, I think it’s safe to say at the end of the day there was something for everyone here. I think Microsoft should especially be proud of the show they put on. I didn’t expect to be saying that at the end of E3, but here we are. Nintendo would of course captured me with ease when they started showing Smash, but I didn’t expect to get so much of it. It’s a shame Sony’s conference dropped the ball so hard when it came to presentation, but they were bound to do so at some point. Even if most of the games don’t interest me, I’m sure there are plenty of people excited to play Nioh 2 or The Last of Us Part II, so to you all I say happy gaming. Now we just need to hope that none of these projects get cancelled (RIP Scalebound). My ultimate (heh) conclusion is that there’s still not a great deal of games coming in 2018 that I desperately want to play, but since 2019 is when a lot of the games shown are planned to release it looks like it could be a crazy, fun filled year.

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Nintendo Switch Online Service Will Not Have Virtual Console

 

Today, Nintendo released new information about the online service that will be released in September:


So this offers not only the opportunity to play switch games such as “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” or “Splatoon 2”, but also classic NES titles such as “Ice Climber” or “Baloon Fight” online. 20 NES games will be available for release, but the selection is expected to expand steadily. All NES titles are supported by the Nintendo Switch Online App voice chat.


In addition, a kind of cloud storage system is introduced, with which it is possible, in the case of a reinstallation of a software saved scores again via the Internet. There is no more detailed information about the cloud, it is only pointed out that this will not be available for every software.


Further, the membership options are more accurately executed. So it will be in addition to the individual memberships for $ 3.99 (1 month / 30 days), $7.99 (3 months / 90 days) and $19.99 (12 months / 365 days), a family package for $34.99 be available for 12 months / 365 days. This is not only convenient for homes with multiple switch consoles, but also for people who have multiple accounts on a console because the online service will be account-bound. How many accounts can use the family package, is not yet known.

Last but not least, probably a less gratifying news: Nintendo confirmed to the English-language gaming news site “Kotaku” that there are currently no plans to bring classic games under the “Virtual Console” branding on the switch. However, this statement does not mean that there are no plans to bring classics to the Switch, not just under the name “Virtual Console”. So it could be possible that various SNES, N64 GameCube and GameBoy titles could later be available via the online service, or how the “NeoGeo Arcade” classics will simply be ported to the switch for a low price.

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My Arcade Gaming’s Mini Arcade Machine Review

If you love arcade machines or retro gaming, then this is for you. I have first seen this at the NY Toy Fair and i was interested in trying it out. Here is my review of the Micro Player Arcade that is produced by My Arcade Gaming.

Right from when you see the box, you know it speaks retro and something you used to play when you were a kid. I was given the Karate Champ game and there are many other mini arcade machines made by them including Pac-Man, Galaga, Rolling Thunder and much more coming soon. The buttons work great with no input lag at all. You can also detach the joystick from the machine too if you want just incase if you want to use the directional pad. The feel of the arcade is very smooth but also glossy on the edges just like an original arcade machine. The micro machine takes four batteries but you can also use an USB charger since there is a USB port. There is volume control too on the back of the machine and you can even plug in headphones if you do not want to have outside noise. To turn on the machine, there is a button in the bottom front and it is shaped like a coin slot with the “player one” or “player two” button but you do not have to use quarters to play these machines.

This is a great product and you can buy this for your kids during road trips or for yourself to play and collect. The publisher did a great job making this in an age where retro gaming is still in today’s society. I highly recommend for you to go to your local gaming or comic book store to pick this up.

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Toy Fair 2018-Keep Calm and Game On Review

If you love party card games such as Cards Against Humanity or Apples Apples, Then you can add one more to your collection that you can play with your friends and that is Keep Calm and Game On. This card game has a familiar concept of those two games but it has an interesting twist to the other two games that i mentioned and you will be laughing for hours during your time with the game. So what is in this game? Well it is time to dive in the deck of cards to see what is there.

Keep Calm and Game On is made by Breaking Games and they also have a library of games that you can check out. In this game, Each player is dealt with 6 response cards and the rest of the cards that are in the deck is placed in the middle of the table. Every player takes turns drawing a situation card and they have to read it out loud to the other players. The other players choose one of their response cards and gives it to the judge of the game to read. The judge has to decide of the response cards that was given to him, which response was the best out of all of them. Whichever the judge decides, the player gets a point and control of the situation cards. Then, each player draws another response card to fill their hand and repeat the next round. The first player to have 6 points wins the game. You can also change the rules to how many points the player must have in order to in to your own liking. The cards itself can turn situations into very hilarious responses. For example, one of the situation cards might read “WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS” and then one of the response cards might say “KEEP CALM AND BECOME A SUPER VILLAIN”. The possibilities are endless with this game. The twist comes with the “Panic!” cards as they bring a fun new element to the game such as skipping a judge or discarding responses.

This game can be played between 3-8 players and the age range is between 18+ and older. You can play this in parties or with your friends at gatherings. I highly recommend for anyone to try it and it only takes less than two minutes to understand the gameplay.

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Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Review

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is the long-awaited follow-up to Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy crossover titles that were released for the PSP back in 2008 and 2011. Although the game has been playable in its native Japan since 2015 in arcades, we’ve now finally gotten it released on the PlayStation 4 with a bunch of new content to boot.

If you’ve played the older Dissidia titles, you might imagine that you already know all about this new one, but you’d be surprised. While the core mechanics are still generally the same, there are some big shake-ups in how battle is done, largely to accommodate the now 3v3 setting the game defaults to.

While 2v2 and 1v1 battles are possible, it’s very clear that the game is built around this 6-player team-based format. Characters have been divided into classes. Fighting itself has been somewhat simplified, and some characters have had their movesets changed entirely from previous games, so your main might not work the way you’re used to. If the game still feels too daunting or confusing for you, there’s thankfully an extremely informative tutorial that’ll have you geared up and ready to go in no time.

These classes are: Vanguard, bulky up-close fighters with hard-hitting attacks such as Sephiroth; Assassin, quick-hitting speedy characters like Squall who’ll take you down fast if you’re not ready for them; Marksman, long-ranged fighters, for example Terra, who will make your matches very difficult from afar unless you brave their attacks and close the distance; and finally Specialists, like Vaan, characters who don’t quite fit into any of the aforementioned categories and have their own quirks that go beyond these roles.

The first thing you need to realize when picking up the game is that teamwork is an absolute must. You can’t just charge in on your own and expect to win, so the ideal way to enjoy the game is to have a couple of friends to go online together with, and try to best your foes with a solid gameplan, a balanced team setup, and proper communication. Of course, you don’t have to get so serious about it – Dissidia allows you to get matched up with random people online as well, though if you’re hoping for any success you should probably try your best to co-operate with others properly.

Although Dissidia Final Fantasy NT does bill itself as something of a reboot, especially with new developers at the helm, Square-Enix really are sticklers for continuity. As such, the story picks up after the previous Dissidia games, with earlier established relationships between characters intact, though you probably won’t feel lost in the game’s story even if you haven’t played them, just so long as you’re somewhat of a Final Fantasy fan.

The story is nice enough on its own, with diverging paths and fun interactions between characters, but the way to play it is a bit awkward; you’re required to play through online matches or the game’s single player modes against CPU fighters to unlock credits which will take you further in the story. Presumably, this is to make the story feel longer than it is, and while it might sound like a bit of a grind, it really isn’t that bad since the story continuously unlocks new Gauntlet challenges for you to conquer and this leads to more story credits unlocking at a smooth pace. It should be noted that while the story mode itself starts off fairly easy, and continues that way for the most part, there are a few boss battles where the difficulty spikes heavily, so be prepared to bring your A-game when you see them pop up.

One of the best thing about Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is the level of customization for characters, with loads of unlockable voice lines, different weapon skins, character skins, and so on that are all gained in-game without any monetary cost. Of course, the Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is no stranger to DLC, with 6 characters promised for release this year, but the game itself doesn’t feel incomplete at all.

While the game does have a fairly robust story mode and several single player modes that will earn you credits which you can use to unlock the wealthy amount of extras, you may well grow tired of it if you’re planning on sticking to offline only, as there’s no local multiplayer functionality. Playing online does feel like the game’s bread and butter, especially grouped together with friends, so if you’re averse to online gaming this might not be the fighter for you. For what it’s worth, the vast majority of online matches I played were a smooth experience, with a few choppy outliers and one single match that was entirely unplayable, out of close to a hundred matches played.

With 28 characters available at launch, there’s a wide variety of heroes and villains from the numbered Final Fantasy series to play as, and even two spin-off characters in the form of Ramza Beoulve from Final Fantasy Tactics and Ace from Final Fantasy Type-0. You’ll quickly notice that even within the four different fighter archetypes the characters are vastly different from one another. If, like me, you don’t have any of your absolute favorite characters in the game, settling for main protagonists or antagonists from your most beloved titles does just fine, and with the promise of future support by Square-Enix and Team Ninja, the characters you’re missing just might make the cut somewhere down the line, too.

In the end, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT gives you a lot to do, and is clearly focused on being a fighter that will have continued support for the foreseeable future. You might want to try it out at a friend’s house first to see if the gameplay jives with you, but any Final Fantasy enthusiast should at the very least give this title a shot. There’s a lot of love poured into the game, and seeing big team battles between Final Fantasy icons in familiar locales is bound to strike a chord with fans.

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Sonic Mania Review

I have no idea what the hell went on with Sonic. Gone are days of creativity, endless hours of fun, and the basic love of rings. Instead, we’ve gotten Poorly Design Sonic (Sonic the Hedgehog 2006), Make it Stop Sonic (Sonic Unleashed) Vertigo Sonic (Sonic Generations), Steroids Sonic (Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric)

So when I heard SEGA was giving Sonic another spin, I cried unto the heavens screaming “why?” I hung my head in shame for what I expected would be one of the biggest gaming mistakes in 2017. It’s not often that I’m proven wrong, and it even less often that I’m willing to admit my mistakes, but this is a special case for a special game that has already captured my heart and won’t let my childhood memories die.

Sonic Mania is beautiful from the very beginning. Captivating my soul, it starts off with a 2D animation sequence that transports me to a world of the 90s and I’m a kid again… before everything went to crazy. However, Sonic Mania is more than a game. It’s a “thank you” for “hanging with SEGA despite the numerous times we’ve screwed you over.” It’s forgiveness for all the terrible things that have happened before. Though they can never promise they won’t do it again (Sonic Forces has yet to be released) here is a metaphoric rainbow.

Even the name, Sonic Mania is a perfect way to describe this game. Merriam-Webster defines “mania” as: periods of great excitement and euphoria. an excessive enthusiasm or desire; an obsession.

It’s a rare treat to see a game like this fall perfectly into this category. Why? Because while Sonic may have been created by SEGA, it feels like it was created by Sonic fans which technically is true. Developed by people who originally created Sonic fan projects, they’ve painstakingly created a homage to their childhood while adding in fresh ideas and clever gaming with an old-school flair.

As a massive fan of art, there was something special about the 16-bit Sonic and those bold bright colors. It never felt like it was trying too hard for your attention, instead, it was a sign of prestige and honor. From the very beginning, Mania has that same feeling when those bright and beautifully bold colors splash onto the screen like a Jackson Pollack painting. It whisks you away to Green Hill Zone where those familiar loops and golden rings await to be collected.

While previous Sonic games encouraged speed which often resulted in disaster for me, Mania takes the controlled chaos route. Yes, there are those uncertain crazy loops but the game also encourages you to take your time and explore. By slowing down, I’ve discovered newly added sections, secret coin locations, and opportunities to interact with the expanded environment (hey there, sexy wood chipper). There were moments when I was so lost in the game that I forgot that I had to complete the level. Once I did, I was greeted by another level that was even better than the last.

As a lover of movies and TV shows, I fell in love with the new Studiopolis level. Bouncing on film reels was a delight and the flashbulbs and music felt like a throwback to old Hollywood. Despite the randomness of the level’s inclusion, Sonic never felt out of place and the setting came off like an extension of the original game with even more exciting adventures to come.

One of my favorite new levels is easily the breathtakingly gorgeous Press Garden, which can only be described as magical. Light colors fill the screen as everything is covered with pink, airy and light colors. While I’m not a girly-girl, I was taken aback and enthralled with the level of charm that poured through my screen. Compared to Studiopolis’ darker, jazzy and more adult feel, Press Garden was screaming to whisk my troubles away onto the pink leaves that floated around Sonic. There were moments when I had to stop and just marvel at the game’s details, which quickly prompted Sonic to stare at me with his side-eye and the original “gurl, bye” foot tap (man, did I miss that stare).

As I continued playing, I noticed how easy it was to control Sonic. Previous games often made me feel reckless. Unable to figure out how to handle the controls, I would often crash into things, lose all my rings and spend wasted minutes memorizing how to jump. This game, however, even managed to get the controls right. Tapping into sense memory, Sonic was able to perform all of the commands without any issues. In fact, if I closed my eyes, I would have guessed I was playing on the SEGA Genesis.

Boss battles are the most delightful as they prove most innovative. While there are classic robots, SEGA has built upon their design and how each battle is executed, which keeps the game and each level refreshing. Ranging from weird to “wait.. what?,” there are puzzles, pattern memorization, wind speed, shooting and more. It’s very hard for me to pick my favorite battle because each one deserves to be recognized.

Sonic Mania is not perfect. Even though the good outweighs the bad, there are some frustrations and complications. Mania is much harder than those of yesteryear. While death is not an often occurrence because the boss battles are “unique,” there are moments where death is immediate. As a result, the game landed me back to the beginning, making me complete the stage again. Despite the stage checkpoints, through a series of trial and error, this was a common and annoying occurrence, which can be argued isn’t necessarily the game’s fault but something of my own failing.

Sonic Mania should be the reason why developers reboot games, not just because of money, but to witness how happy games make people. Instead of ripping the original formula apart, reboots should build upon a game success. It reminds people why they fell in love with gaming, while also introducing a new generation to that same passion a game can create. Sonic Mania does both and more, it’s a game that will have you fighting to play with others and possibly your kids. The last Sonic game i have enjoyed very well was Sonic Generations but before that game, you would have to take me back to 1994 for Sonic and Knuckles. I give this game a 9.5 out of 10

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Injustice 2 review

Injustice 2 follows on from the Injustice Gods Among us story. This time seeing team Batman vs Team Superman call a break to take on a deadlier approaching foe, Brainiac. Injustice 2 brings a slew of new characters to the fold. The thrilling story continues were better graphics and battle styles. But does it have enough to keep you coming back?

Gameplay

What surprises you at first is that for a fighting game the Injustice series has done pretty well in terms of delivering an A class comic book story that is actually an interesting narrative that keeps you glued to the screen. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised when I checked the time and noticed that I had lost track of time because of how engaged in the story I was. Injustice 2 and NetherRealm once again deliver a beautiful and engaging fighting game, one that could see people like myself who aren’t usually into fighting games, suddenly finding themselves thinking twice thanks to a compelling story, which you don’t often see in fighting games.

Story aside Injustice 2 is an excellent fighting game brought to us once again from NetherRealm Studios, who are the team behind Mortal Kombat. Combat is fast and fun and depending on your expertise level when it comes to fighters, each character now also tailors to how players handle a fight. I found myself a fan of using both Green Arrow and Flash as I felt their combos were easier to perform. Green Lantern on the other hand came off as a bit more of a challenge for me. Combos are the key to winning here, which is especially so at the online front of the game. On several occasions, I would find myself in a match where I was way over my head, but more on the multiplayer section later. Matches are filled with other environmental objects to help you take down your opponent. You can also destroy the environment sending your opponent through walls or other objects which then takes you to a sub part of that arena to fight in. A lot of what was present in Gods Among Us has been kept around in terms of world destruction and set up.

Injustice 2 handles a lot like its predecessor in terms of gameplay mechanics. You still have your special ability of sorts that sees each character perform some sort of chain of attacks in a cutscene. These are performed after filling your super meter, which can also be drained when performing other combos. I have to say that I wish there was more than just the one cutscene/special ability per character. Grows old seeing the same thing repeatedly. Especially when you can perform a special ability twice in a match, it would be good just to see more variety is all.

Thankfully though when it comes to variety Injustice 2’s character customization section is fantastic. From special suit accessories to the colour of the suit, you can make your favourite character to play your very own for the multiplayer section. Injustice 2 now includes a microtransaction system for anyone who may be interested in paying real life money to collect character specific items quicker than grinding for them. Players can buy source crystals with their own money to purchase certain other items to change the look of your favourite fighters. These are of course optionable. You don’t need to spend money. These are just for the players that want get them sooner than later.

Multiplayer

This is where the game really opens up. I do advise completing the single player story first however as it helps you get a feel for each character and helps level them up and by completing each chapter you are rewarded mother boxes. Mother boxes contain items of clothing or appearances for each character. There are several types of mother boxes and each contains a certain level of rarity for special stat carrying clothes and weapons. They also have levels so don’t go thinking you can use an epic bow on Green Arrow when you’ve just started playing online. There’s some work to be done first. It pays to work hard as each new article of clothing or accessory that you unlock from a mother box can help increase a certain stat for your character. These stats help you when you go against other players of the same level. You are also able to customize your card with different art works., much like Call of Duty for example. You also display your win/loss record so try not to perform poorly or your friends may see how good or bad you really are.

Graphics and Sound

Injustice 2 is a gorgeous game and the character designs are more stunning than its predecessor, including the world designs and clever use of arena objects that can be used as weapons. A lot of love has been put into the attention to detail here and it shows in every scene during the story and other offline and online fights. Injustice 2 has also some impressive voice actors. The great Kevin Conroy is back to voice as Batman which is always a treat to hear, as well as several DC voice actor veterans. While not getting into the story but as someone who reads the Injustice comics as well it was awesome to see it play out on screen and once again as it was beautifully presented.

Overall

Injustice 2 is a fantastic sequel to a much-loved universe. Another fantastic story is told while exceptional gameplay accompanies it. Injustice 2 is a gorgeous sequel that delivers on all fronts. While the story felt a little short to me and some of the ultimate attacks feel like they still could use some variation, I enjoyed my time here. Injustice 2 comes in a year chock full of Fighting games coming out left and right and I can say without a doubt that Injustice 2 deserves a spot on any comic fan or fighting fans gaming shelf.

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Prey Review

Arkane have, in just a short amount of time, mastered their craft. The Dishonored games did a great job at throwing a bunch of tools at the player and letting them navigate rich deep worlds the way they want to. Prey feels the same, only amplified. Trading in swords and spirits for guns and neurological enhancements, Prey could be construed as Arkane’s take on science fiction. It hits some pretty familiar beats throughout, but Prey feels like a natural evolution of the Arkane trademark formula.


Prey itself takes place in an alternate timeline where John F Kennedy survived the assassination attempt in 1963, in turn directing more funding into the space program and sending us into space much earlier. In Prey, you are Morgan Yu, an employee for Transtar who presently owns the research space station Talos-1. Morgan wakes up with little to no memory of his past, but discovers that he himself is intrinsically tied to the station and its bizarre alien research.

 Prey-Screen-CorpsePrey’s storyline sounds pretty cliché and at times it is, though the story isn’t afraid to head into stranger directions than you’d normally expect. As the game began I wasn’t too keen to progress in the story, instead exploring the space station at my own leisure. Though as I got further in, Prey threw some twists at me that hooked me on the ideas it was selling. Despite this, I still found the playable character somewhat unlikable and the main villain quite forgettable. Still, Prey’s story hits the right beats at the right time to pique players’ interests. Think of it as a warped combination: Memento meets Dead Space meets BioShock.

When you play the first hour or so of Prey, more seasoned gamers will see where the game draws inspiration. You’re on a space station, it’s falling apart, you start off with a wrench, you use powers to defend yourself called psionics and you’re being lead along by a faceless or mysterious voice. Prey is woven from strong genes – taking inspiration from Dead Space, Dishonored, System Shock and BioShock. It’s a first-person game that isn’t afraid to have moments of quiet time to let you explore the sprawling space station that is Talos-1 at your own pace and leisure.

That’s really the name of the game with Prey. It’s an open world, that lets you explore areas of the space station in (almost) whatever order you wish. Everything is connected, whether you want to naturally get to an area using the winding corridors of the space station or you want to leave the station and re-enter it elsewhere while floating in space. Prey’s densely packed world, shortcuts and connections all come together to give the game a sense of having an open world without the barren filler environments that commonly come with it.

When you’re navigating the world of Prey you’ll be outfitted with a variety of abilities, weapons and powers that let you approach the playground of Talos-1 the way you want to. Most weapons serve a dual purpose – they can also be used to create platform on the walls to circumvent obstacles, or activate buttons from a short distance away. Each weapon having multiple uses encourages experimentation, as well as thinking outside of the box.

When you’re done with Prey once, I’d be surprised if you didn’t want to jump into it again. Not only because you’ll probably miss something while trying to explore the sprawling Talos-1 station, but also because you can change the outcome of the game based on your treatment of others throughout the story. It’s nothing totally revolutionary, but given Prey’s flexible systems, running through a second time is bound to be different to your first, intentional or not.

Your play style will greatly decide how long it’ll take you to run through Prey, though I’d estimate most players would get at least fifteen to twenty hours out of their first run. Perhaps even more if they explored the station thoroughly. This much is certain: Prey is a game that just begs to be played at least once more once you’ve finished it.

Taking a page out of Dishonored’s book, Prey features a stylised art style to bring its world to life. The result is something that never looks hyper-realistic but something more distinctive instead. Artistically speaking, Prey brings together retro designs with futuristic ones to create something not unlike BioShock’s Art Deco style. From a technical standpoint, the game is running on CryEngine which brings with it the usual caveats for consoles – namely longer than desirable load times. It’s not the best-looking game, especially compared to others, but Prey does its own thing and it does its own thing well.

Prey’s world is run down yet colourful, and the soundtrack perfectly complements the experience. Composed by Mick Gordon, the score is filled with sublime synth beats and strange, otherworldly noises and sound effects to create something eerie, atmospheric and tense. These pieces do an amazing job at elevating the already strong atmosphere aboard Talos-1, and is quite possibly one of the strongest soundtracks I’ve ever heard in a game.

Prey is another win for Arkane. It’s a game where everyone who plays it will have a different experience. One thing is certain though – that Prey remains a consistent experience from beginning to end. Providing players with intuitive gameplay systems with great synergy, freedom to approach combat how you want and game design that rewards creativity are just three ways that Prey succeeds. While BioShock was heralded as the spiritual successor to System Shock, Prey feels like a much more successful attempt. An absolute joy to play and experience.

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LEGO CITY Undercover Review

LEGO CITY Undercover was first released in 2013 exclusively to the Nintendo Wii U, with a similar release on the 3DS platform. This release is a port of the original game across all the latest platforms to a sharper, faster-loading version, which also introduces two player co-operative gameplay.


I’ve played many of the LEGO franchise games across a number of different platforms and LEGO CITY Undercover has a very familiar look and feel to its predecessors, in terms of the gameplay and the cutscenes providing the storyline in between gameplay. The game finds our hero Chase McCain returning to LEGO CITY to capture the notorious Rex Fury while also protecting Natalia Kowalski, who has entered a witness protection programme after providing evidence to put him behind bars before he managed to escape.


The first part of the game is heavily driven by cutscenes as it introduces the characters and gameplay to the player. For those familiar with LEGO games this does feel very laboured, as you’re probably itching to get started. That said, this part of the game does set the familiar humorous tone of the game, which in my opinion hasn’t grown tired at all; the detective briefing scene at the start of the game is great and features characters such as Starsky & Hutch, Sherlock Holmes and Columbo. An early level in the game takes Chase McCain to Albatross Island, which looks remarkably like Alcatraz, and the level centres around a plot line featuring numerous references to the film Shawshank Redemption. While some of the humour may be wasted on younger players, the game wouldn’t be the same without it and as an adult player it does maintain interest and puts a smile on your face.


The game may not be challenging to seasoned gamers as it’s not difficult to complete the levels, but there is plenty to explore in the 20 districts of the open-world LEGO CITY, so there’s plenty of longevity. I loved the scanner aspect of the game, which allows Chase to track the bad guys with some pretty neat tech. There are also elements of the city marked with blue and white bricks, which effectively allow our hero to perform some free running and cool slow motion action.


The game is a delight and the game will keep you entertained for hours. The open-world is great to explore and there’s plenty to achieve and unlock outside of the core storyline. There are many great elements to this game, all of which contribute to a great experience, so this comes highly recommended.

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