Retro Video Game Review- Final Fantasy XII

Although the Final Fantasy series is known to shake things up with every release in the numbered series, it’s hard to believe without playing Final Fantasy XII that the formula would be shaken up so much. The game is largely polarizing among the series’ audience, some love it, some hate it, all for a range of different reasons.
  
Unlike its predecessors, Final Fantasy XII’s combat system works in real-time.
The classic and heavily refined turn based combat system that was once a staple of the Final Fantasy series is gone, with a real-time combat system similar to that of an MMO in its place. The combat system works by placing each command on a timer similar to the ATB meter on previous games, a command is selected, it charges up for a set amount of time and is then executed by the character. The game takes full advantage of the real-time combat system by removing battle arenas and making the world of Ivalice a combat area, the game no longer drags you out of the overworld to fight seemingly random appearing enemies instead, you can avoid combat if you like.

  
Alongside summons which are a returning feature in the series, Final Fantasy XII features abilities call quickenings as a replacement for limit breaks in previous titles. The quickening is a large-scale attack from a character that can be continuously chained using other members in the party. The system gives the player a mini-game with quick time events to keep the chain up with an increasing difficulty to keep the chain going. When used, quickenings drain the characters mana points meaning that a last-ditch attempt to bring down a boss with quickenings fails, there is no way for party members to cast magic without the lengthy process of spamming ethers.

Both quickenings and summons become relatively underpowered further through the game and are pretty useless to use late game, this results in a limited options for combat in the later portions of the game and does take some of the fun and depth out of the combat.

  
It’s hard to say that the gameplay has aged in any particular way, the combat feels fast and responsive and because of the limited nature of movement in the game, it doesn’t feel floaty or fiddly like older game tend to do. There are some occasions when trying to face an object like a chest at the right angle so that a prompt appears to open it but this is rarely difficult to the point of it being annoyance.

  
Both quickenings and summons become relatively underpowered further through the game and are pretty useless to use late game, this results in a limited options for combat in the later portions of the game and does take some of the fun and depth out of the combat.

  
It’s hard to say that the gameplay has aged in any particular way, the combat feels fast and responsive and because of the limited nature of movement in the game, it doesn’t feel floaty or fiddly like older game tend to do. THere are some occasions when trying to face an object like a chest at the right angle so that a prompt appears to open it but this is rarely difficult to the point of it being annoyance.

With the real-time aspect of the combat system, the Gambit system has been introduced to allow you to keep party members in order and doing exactly what you want them to as party leader and when. The system works by giving the player a set amount of conditions and actions to correspond with them. A simple example of this would be to have a character automatically use a potion if a character in the party has their hit points drop below a certain percentage. The gambits are listed in order of importance to make sure a character doesn’t prioritize DPS over healing a party member if they are your primary healer. The system can be complicated to get a grasp of but results in a sophisticated and effective party if mastered. The system can be made more thorough in terms of increasing the amount of things a party member can do further into the game, it allows the party to be ready to counter the large amount of status effects enemies later in the game can cause with ease.

The gambit system can result in a dysfunctional and potentially catastrophic party set up if you don’t have the full grasp of the system though, for characters can start fighting enemies on full health while being attacked by those that can be easily finished off with a few hits because of the gambit that sets party members to attack the enemy closest to them and not the one the partly leader is targeting. This can result in heavy damage to the party when it can be avoided. Thankfully, the game features an effective tutorial to explain how everything works.

Although the gambit system works great, it does take a lot of effort out of the combat, I found myself turning off gambits for my primary character and setting the other party member’s gambits to correspond with my actions so it felt like I was actually doing something. It’s a small gripe of my own that may not be shared but a gripe all the same.

Final Fantasy XII also features a very deep character progression system, this is done with the licence system which allows the player to progress each of the characters in the party in any way they see fit. This results in a beautiful amount of freedom when it comes to party organisation. The licence board works as the way characters learn new abilities as well as learning how to use different pieces of equipment, each checker on the board represents a different weapon, piece of equipment, ability or augment which can be learned by spending points dropped by fallen enemies.

  
Each party members licence board is identical to each other with very slight differences when it comes to the positioning of abilities call quickenings. This means that every character is able to equip any weapon, wear any armour and use any spell if they’ve gained the licence for it on the board. While this does add an exceptional amount of depth, it does take away from the personality of party members when it comes to using them in battle. It’s possible to have Basche, a disgraced member of the Dalmascan military as a full magic based character in battle. While this is great from a gameplay perspective, it contradicts the narrative around the characters somewhat.

The game’s art style also vastly differs from its predecessors taking in a lot of visual influence from middle eastern cultures such as ancient egypt with the use of statues similar to that of the statues of Pharaohs for its more ancient areas within the game. The game’s art style is not free of the trademark grandeur and beauty that the Final Fantasy series is known for though. even the games mines are intricately detailed and grand in terms of architecture. The games characters in terms of design also feel much more grounded in this iteration in the series, each of them are distinctly japanese in terms of style but their weaponry and clothing feel much more based in reality for a game in a fantasy setting (bunny eared characters make an exception to this).

The game in terms of its visual fidelity has definitely aged, the serious lack of anti aliasing makes the game look like a pixellated mess on a high-resolution screen, as the game is practically impossible to buy new, I’d recommend that you play it through an emulator on a much higher resolution with anti aliasing turned on, with this, the game tends to look much better than a lot of early Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 titles because of its art style.. The cut scenes on the PS2 version are still stunning in their own right and hold up well to modern games, While they are beautiful, they are also frequent and tended to pull me out of the game, cut scenes have never been a thing I’ve particularly liked, while they are absolutely beautiful in the game, I would have preferred something real-time or at least a storytelling method that is a little more immersive.

  
The voice acting in the game is pretty top-notch and is a vast improvement over previous titles in the series, with Final Fantasy X’s voice acting paling in comparison. The voice acting on the english dubbed version avoids the stereotypical anime voice acting silliness that is prevalent within a lot of english dubbed titles for the east, not that there is anything wrong with those but it does have a bit more grab with a broader audience from the west because of this.

The story feels much less character driven than previous titles, with more of the feel of a massive space opera or fantasy epic, Vaan kind of fits the mould of previous Final Fantasy protagonists but he does have a lot less character than previous protagonists have, instead, he feels like a hollow shell for the player to use as a vehicle through the game. This isn’t inherently bad but it is different from its predecessors and may be a turn off for certain fans of the series. The game can draw comparisons with Final Fantasy VI by including a large cast of characters each with their own motives for being involved in the plot however, it lacked an emotional drive to push me through the game. Instead, the political and militaristic based plotline was what kept me interested. The game picks up and drops small plot points throughout the game but overall, the story is pretty solid and engaging and its cast of characters is equally as solid with a few exceptions, Baltheir and Basche being highlights in the cast.

  
Overall, Final Fantasy XII is a fantastic RPG and a highlight to the PS2 era of gaming, it’s combat system is deep and responsive, it’s party management mechanics are top-notch and hold up to modern standards, its graphics when emulated are still beautiful and beat a lot of games from the early 360/PS3 lifespan and it’s story is engaging end epic. I would definitely recommend playing this game.

WWE 2K16 review 

WWE’s highly anticipated annual game, WWE 2K16 released today, and I’ve had an opportunity to play through this year’s edition. It’s refreshing to say that 2K and WWE didn’t eliminate much, if anything from last year’s title, something 2K15 couldn’t say. The additions, however, are noticeable. Although it isn’t without flaws, WWE 2K16 is a major leap forward for wrestling fans everywhere.
   
 

Before The Match
Right out of the gate, there were some unfortunate things that caught my attention. The audio on this game left plenty to be desired. In-ring commentary has never been good on a pro wrestling game, so that was no surprise. However, the ring announcing by Lillian Garcia was chopped up, and didn’t go together well as it should have been. That, coupled with the fact that the audience pops aren’t where they should be for entrances, it takes away from the experience before your character even gets in the ring.

  
Inside the ring
Once inside the ring, there were improvements and setbacks. I’m all for a simulation, based game, but the pace in which 2K has set for WWE 2K16 is incredibly slow, maybe the slowest of any pro wrestling game ever. I was glad to see that they seemed to increase the size of the ring, after reducing it last year.

Some of the movements are a little weird, and simple things like stomps can sometimes take too long, but an addition I really liked was that of the usage of the ropes. Wrestlers back one another into the ropes out of headlocks, lock ups, and things of that nature. You can choose whether or not you want to make a clean break, as well. Also, characters pull their opponents back towards the ropes before using an Irish whip, which was something I never knew I’d wanted in a game until WWE 2K16.

The referees are slow in this game. Really, really slow. Frustratingly slow. It sometimes takes three seconds for the ref to get on the ground to make the three count. It’s also pretty hard upon first play, for me at least, but I don’t consider that a negative in any way, shape or form, even though it did take me five tries to beat Sami Zayn with Seth Rollins, and he kicked out of three Pedigrees. I digress. The reversal system is a welcome change, as you now have a set number of reversals (you can earn more), and matches aren’t just an endless chain of reversal, reversal, reversal. There are also small things, like characters remaining in a seated position to sell after a kickout that really helps and adds a realistic nature to the game. Top rope moves also land with more fluidity than past incarnations.

The roster speaks for itself, the largest ever. This was something that had to be done after 2K peeved a lot of fans last year with the lackluster roster. Still, the exclusion of Bayley, Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch is inexcusable. Regardless of the weak reasons 2K offered fans for this, they have tons of NXT talent in the game. Fortunately there are 100 created wrestler slots, so I’m sure someone will make spot-on versions of these women to download.

I’m a big fan of having as many moves as possible in a video game (Fire Pro Wrestling Returns, y’all), and WWE 2K16 did an excellent job of adding that. Although moves like the piledriver have been banned from WWE TV, they remain in the games, and the Curb Stomp got the same treatment, which was nice. Many of the missing match types from last year have returned as well, giving the game a much more complete feel.

Customization and Career
   
  
 
Customization is a really cool part of WWE 2K16. If you want to throw a mask on Sami Zayn and make him relive his indy days, go for it. If you’d like to create your own supershow, have at it. Create-a-title is also back in the game, as well as create-a-diva. Create-a-finisher has not returned, but that mode had so many issues with it, there probably wasn’t much worth saving. You can also build your own arenas that compliment your custom shows, and use logos that fit them. The creation suite is worth checking this game out in itself.
The Steve Austin mode is fun. I won’t spoil anything, but you play through the story of Stone Cold Steve Austin all the way from his WCW days right up until today. Nothing has matched WWE Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain’s story mode (which had infinite flexibility due to it being text based, without commentary holding it back), but this is a pretty cool mode and worth playing through.

  
WWE Universe mode doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere, and a not a whole lot has changed with it. Fans have clamored for the return of GM mode, as well as the aforementioned Here Comes The Pain career mode, but it appears that WWE Universe mode will have to do for now. There’s nothing wrong with it, it just turns into an endless cycle fairly quickly.

  
My Career mode is a giant improvement, but that isn’t saying a lot, as last year’s edition (and the game as a whole) was one of the worst ever put forth by WWE. This year, you won’t work and work and work, only to have your game abruptly ended after reaching your goal. There’s plenty of improvements to be made, but it’s a way better experience this year.

One of the most infuriating things about WWE 2K16 is microtransactions. After you pay 63 bucks for the game, 2K asks you to spend upwards of 30 dollars more for additional characters, moves, features and things of the like. That’s just the way things are these days, but $100 for a complete game is a little too much to ask.

Closing Thoughts
All in all, there were significant improvements and fixes to this game. Last year’s edition was an all-time bad pro wrestling game, and WWE 2K16 is more than solid choice. I enjoy the realism of the game, but sometimes the gameplay gets too slow due to selling, which may end up being a good thing, since you can’t spam German Suplexes anymore. I’d recommend this purchase, even if you were jaded by last year’s terrible output.

Graphics- 8.5

Replayability- 7.5

Audio- 7

In-Ring- 8.5

Online- 8.5
OVERALL- 8/10

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METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN REVIEW

After spending fourteen days straight with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, I can safely say it’s Hideo Kojima’s magnum opus. It’s quite simply the best game he’s ever done, plus the amount of freedom given to you throughout its entirety is absurd. If you’re a die hard fan of Metal Gear and are up to date with its timeline, Phantom Pain takes place during 1984 after the events of Metal Gear Solid V:Ground Zeroes (1975) and before the first Metal Gear (1995) on MSX. It has been 9 years since the tragic events in Ground Zeroes and Snake is a little worse for wear, having just woken up from his coma that nearly spanned a decade.

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After a prologue that sets up the rest of the game Snake is rescued by his comrade and friend, Revolver Ocelot, before continuing his war path for vengeance and freeing his former partner Kazuhira Miller from the clutches of Soviet forces in Afghanistan. I’m not going to spoil the story or talk about the plot points (I agree with Kojima Productions’ wish to keep it a surprise), but I will say that there are twists and turns, and it ranks as one of the best tales in the series yet.

There’s no doubt that this is the largest and most accessible Metal Gear to date, full to the brim with content. But it’s not just a case of quantity over quality, every inch of the game is meticulously detailed, and has a vast amount of replay ability. It’s also incredibly fun, which always helps! The tone is vastly different to any other MGS game, as there are no more overly-long cut scenes and most of the detailed narration is dealt through cassette tapes, which you can listen to at your own pleasure. If you’ve played Ground Zeroes and think you know what to expect, I suggest you put that taster behind you and get ready to embark on a journey with no half-measures.

Unlike the confined spaces found during other entries in the series, MGS V consists of two enormous maps, Afghanistan and Africa, each of which house a plethora of side-ops and main missions; enabling you to explore and complete objectives in a dynamic and natural way. Each mission is structured like an episode from a TV show, operating in bite-sized chunks like if you were watching hit TV shows such as Breaking Bad and Sons Of Anarchy. Even if you’re in the middle of a mission that leads into the next with a tense cut scene, a small “to be continued” caption will appear, sending you back to your base of operations to prepare. It was a bit awkward for me, because 5 seconds later I’d simply continue, but if people need a break and want to gear up/upgrade sufficiently, it’s actually a very smart move.

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Characters that will appear in this game:

Big Boss/Punished “Venom” Snake

Kazuhira Miller

Ocelot

Quiet

Skullface

Eli

Tretij Rebenok

Code Talker

Huey Emmerich

“Man on Fire”

There are more Characters and Groups that are in the game but I will not spoil the rest.

The variety of missions at hand will see you take out specific targets, gather Intel and garner more help. Funnily enough there isn’t a difficulty mode present, despite other titles encompassing tons of different options. Though I did find the gameplay pretty tough at certain points, it only made me want to upgrade further and try a different approach. Some people might get tired of a handful of repetitive missions, but I always had fun replaying them with a different tactic in mind. Being able to choose whether I operated during the night or day gave me a lot of flexibility, since enemy locations would alter depending on the time I chose.

Before setting off to fight it’s vital that you prep accordingly. Your Air Command Centre (ACC), gives you full control over all your upgrades and missions, tasking you to select which one you’d like to conduct first. As previously seen in Peace Walker, managing your Mother Base remains an integral part in Phantom Pain, allowing you to recruit staff and utilize resources for upgrades.

Acquiring items from the battlefield such as biological material and fuel canisters is incredibly important. These will allow you to develop extra platforms designed to boost your stats, including combat, R&D, support and medical. If you choose to focus on leveling up your R&D level and get the best Fulton, for example, you’ll then be able to extract entire containers of resources at a much earlier stage; reaping rewards much quicker and progressing more comfortably. You’ll also be able to extract vehicles as well, such as tanks or cars to take on missions.

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Staff management is also key, and you can automatically or manually assign your comrades to the best departments. Despite being able to systematically place staff in their most skilled department, I decided to fully focus on R&D first, which let me take advantage of more advanced upgrades a lot sooner. It’s not always the best option, but just like any part of MGS V, it’s up to you to decide on how to proceed. Furthermore, you can send staff on their own missions to obtain more resources or extra recruits. Whilst I did get into the habit of sourcing soldiers with higher skill ratings (via upgrading my scope), I often attempted to extract anyone and everyone, in order to beef up my units and unlock upgrades at a quicker pace.

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No matter what you try and accomplish, having the support of your army is always the heart of your experience. For instance, buddies can join you and aid your quest for vengeance in a multitude of ways. Bringing in a horse or bi-pedal Walker will allow you to traverse the environment more quickly – along with the other vehicles you’ve acquired as well. A dog can help distract your enemies or make you aware of their presence, and your comrade Quiet (who you can choose to kill or recruit) will aid you in combat, scout out maps and coordinate while dispatching enemies. Each aspect of a buddy’s armor and equipment can also be upgraded, such as changing Quiet’s cleavage with a little gold or silver paint. Lovely.

Your ACC can be used for mission briefs or organizing your army, but it also provides some vital support. As well as taking you in and out of missions, once on the ground you can also strategically place air strikes or smoke for cover, which can often be the life line you need in the midst of a firefight. There’s simply so much available to the player, no one will have the same experience. I constantly tested different ways to enter a mission, often resorting to complete stealth and learning from my many mistakes along the way.

After initially hearing about the absence of the veteran voice actor David Hayter in this game, it took me a while to move past the change in vocal chords. However, much like the constant change of actors playing Bond, I embraced the change and am now more than happy with Kiefer Sutherland’s portrayal. I have been an fan of him since the 24 TV show so I am used to hearing his voice and delivery of dialog. In fact, I believe Sutherland sounded more like an soldier than Hayter ever did. Exploring the beautiful vistas of Afghanistan is amazing, and the added jungle as you progress to Africa enhances the experience. The persistent image of a dusty wasteland is sometimes hard to muster. Having said that, the rest of the game’s extremely high quality means it doesn’t bother me. Now, where’s that remake of MGS 1 in Fox Engine?

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With Kojima Productions’ impressive Fox Engine powering the entire experience, everything looks suitably crisp and clean, packaging in a tone of detail. Despite this being released on older hardware as well, I’m impressed with the core experience and I don’t think it has been hindered on more powerful consoles as a result. Then again, the fact that its design and graphical fidelity has had to cater to equipment with less power, it does make me wonder what could have been should Phantom Pain have released exclusively to PS4 and Xbox One, and not their older siblings.

To me, Robin Atkin Downes as Kaz Miller was more enjoyable in this game than he was in Peace Walker and Ground Zeroes. His anger really shows during the cut scenes. I would be mad at the world if I lost my leg and arm so I understand why. Troy Baker as Ocelot to me, was his best voice acting in any video game since Snow from Final Fantasy XIII. And James Horan as Skullface  not only delivered an great and believable performance as an villain, but also made the player wanted to take him down for good. I can call him the Joker of the Metal Gear series since his and Big Boss’ upbringings kind of parallel each other.

Conclusion

Phantom Pain presents the most flexible gameplay in the series to date, and fills in unseen moments from the Metal Gear saga with style. I strongly suggest you pick this up and experiment with your own strategies, as you’re presented with endless possibilities. Grab your cardboard box, the world needs saving!

bigboss

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OUTFIT7 LIMITED BLASTS OFF WITH “MARS POP”

OUTFIT7 LIMITED BLASTS OFF WITH “MARS POP”

THE FIRST REAL-TIME, MULTIPLAYER BUBBLE SHOOTER GAME

 

New App from Talking Tom and Friends Creators  
Features Colorful, Fun and Explosive Gameplay For Players Of All Ages

 

July 23, 2015 — LOS ANGELES — Outfit7 Limited, the global family entertainment company behind the successful Talking Tom and Friends franchise, today launchedMars Pop the first bubble shooter game that offers true real-time, multiplayer competition for casual gamers of all ages.  Whether it’s a friend down the block, an old college roommate, or an unknown player across the globe, Mars Pop pairs individuals of similar skill levels to compete live in a thrilling competition to explode bubbles faster than their opponent. Mars Pop is easy for beginners, challenging for pros, and engaging for everyone in between.

 

Whimsical and fun, Mars Pop is a reimagined, futuristic take on the classic bubble shooter game. It matches players instantly, gives them identical starting screens and sequences of bubbles, and enables them to view their opponent’s screen as they battle for bubble shootout glory.  Users can compete anonymously against players around the world with no sign-in required, or connect via Facebook to find and invite friends to play, even if they’re offline. Players can also compete in global tournaments to up their bubble supremacy and earn rewards, and can even see how they rank on leaderboards against their friends and other players.

 

The game takes place in the year 2124 in NeoMars, a modern, visionary city on Mars where lead characters Jet and Eve live. On Mars, every martian has their own NeoBot: an inseparable advisor, friend and protector; capable of nearly everything and linked to their own DNA. Players can choose between the adventurous Jet or fearless Eve characters and, together with their NeoBots, challenge their friends and opponents from all around the world in epic bubble shootouts.

 

NeoMars is filled with wonders, adventure and fun, and offers its inhabitants new experiences that could never be possible on Earth. Mars Pop app is one of many product launches planned for the wider NeoMars brand, which will include animated content and merchandise in the future, and will offer the whole family fun-filled, action-packed entertainment.

 

“Set in a world bursting with color, Mars Pop combines the riveting, edge-of-your-seat aspect of real-time competition in an imaginative and fun setting,” said Samo Login, CEO of Outfit7.  “It won’t take newbies, casual or experienced gamers of all ages long to figure out that they’re not just racing the clock, but a live opponent.”

 

Mars Pop is Outfit7’s first product introduction outside of its highly successful Talking Tom and Friends franchise, which boasts over 2.8 billion downloads and 250 million active users per month.  Outfit7 is a next generation entertainment company. Through innovative technologies it has grown from an app developer with a suite of award-winning and globally popular free apps, to a fully-fledged transmedia powerhouse with a CGI animated series on YouTube and the YouTube Kids app, webisodes, music, global merchandise and themed retail experiences.

 

Mars Pop is cross-platform, available for free on iOS, Android and Windows.  For more information, please head to the Mars Pop website: www.mars-pop.com or view the gameplay video.

 

Retro Video Game Review: Megaman X2

  

As the first game was a success, Capcom decided to release a sequel to Mega Man X. Similar to the previous game, Mega Man X2 for the SNES plays similar to the classic Mega Man games but with new features added. This time, the game has even more new features to make it more interesting and also uses more the power of the 16-bit console.

  
The game resumes the story from the last one. Some time after the events of the first game, the Maverick Hunters recieve a threat from a group called the X Hunters. These mavericks claim that they have the body parts of Zero and challenge X to defeat them in order to recover them. At the same time, a maverick outbreak is happening again. So, as X, it’s your job to once again stop this threat from causing destruction around the world.

  
The game plays and feels pretty much the same as Mega Man X. All the controls feel pretty tight and responsive. The default buttong placements are the same and the button customization is back too. The only difference this time, though, is that you’ll start with the dash right from the start.

  
The game again places you on an opening stage that’s designed to get you into the action while at the same time teaching you the basics of how the game is played. After this, you’ll meet the classic stage select screen with the eight regular stages and their respective bosses to defeat.

A cool thing of the game is that sometime during the progress of the game, the X-Hunters will decide to challenge you to battle if you want to recover the body parts of Zero. These will be optional extra boss battles that you can choose to tackle or not and will make an important difference later in the game.

  
The heart and sub tanks also return once more as hidden secrets that you can get. They work exactly the same as before and also are quite useful in your journey. Besides that, the four armor upgrades are also back and this time give you different useful upgrades, like an air-dash.

Another new thing in the game is that this time you can also ride a bike in certain levels. The bike’s control is really basic and provides a good variety to the usual gameplay of the game. The Ride Armor is also back and better as it now has the ability to hover.

Graphically, the game looks good and sharp. The sprites and backgrounds are well made so you can notice details easily. This time, though, Capcom has also used their own chip inside the game to make the game look even better, with certain bosses that are actually made in wireframe 3D and don’t clash with rest of the game’s graphics.

The music of the game is excellent. One or two tracks may not be that good, but the soundtrack will definitely stay in your head. All the music matches the appropiate situation and sets you in the mood for the action of the stages. The sound effects work really well too.

With Mega Man X2, Capcom has made a succesful sequel to the original Mega Man X. The game is highly recommended for everyone and a must have for both Mega Man fans and action game fans.

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email me julian@alternativemindz.com

Video Game Review: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

While most RPG gamers are waiting for the upcoming Final Fantasy XV video game, Square-Enix released a different FF game to the tune of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. A gussied-up version of a 2011 PSP game by the same name, Type-0 HD brings the presentation of the portable original to a high definition standard so that PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners can experience the game on their HDTVs.

  

 The game is part of Square-Enix’s Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy sub-series and revolves around Class Zero, an elite class of recent recruits who, in addition to wielding a variety of weapons, have access to incredible magics and abilities. Every member of the class are made unique, though only a few are actually memorable by any degree. Those worth making note of include starting character Ace who attacks using a deck of enchanted cards and childhood friends Machina and Rem who take up the role of the group’s outsiders. Beyond those three, everyone else in the group fall into the trappings of your typical schoolyard archetypes including the brainiac, the tough guy, and the class clown.

   

 

Each member of the class has his or her own unique weapon. Unlike with most Final Fantasygames, however, these weapons can’t be swapped out for others or used by other characters. Rather, each character uses the same weapon all the game through. They can be upgraded as the game goes on, thankfully, so at least there’s that.

Parties are comprised of three active characters with the player controlling one in specific while the other two are A.I. controlled. The user-controlled character can be hot-swapped at the press of a button with either of the other two, which adds a bit of flexibility to the active (that is, non turn-based) gameplay. Furthermore, other characters can be put into reserve and swapped out completely at the game’s various save points. Even with all of the versatility provided to the player thanks to the large cast of playable characters, though, there are often times when it seems like the combination of active characters simply isn’t quite right for the situation at hand.

The game flows in a very structured and deliberate manner. Players are given a set of missions that tend to involve running through the game’s maps (which, by the way, tend to be comprised of a number of disappointingly small areas linked together), combating the occasional over-powered boss character, and helping the overall war effort as established in the game’s rather enthralling opening sequence.


As should be expected from a JRPG, Type-0 HD offers a good amount of side content outside of the main mission set. They way this side content is set up, however, is a tad disappointing. Accessible only during the class’ periods of “free time”, missions can be undertaken one at a time and provide players with items upon completion. While early on this seems just fine, as players progress into later parts of the game and one’s free time gets more valuable they prove to be irrelevant distractions at best.

Visually, it’s pretty easy to tell that this game wasn’t made natively for the current generation consoles. Still, as a prettied-up port the overall presentation is pretty good. Cut scenes are, in a word, amazing. Gameplay visuals, however, are a bit lacking. While the graphics themselves aren’t half bad, there are camera issues that really get in the way of things. These issues range from providing players with poor views of the action to jittering in confined spaces.

   

 

Thankfully, many of Type-0 HD‘s visual shortcomings can be overlooked thanks to the intriguing story that’s quite a bit darker and more mature than that of your average Final Fantasy game. Core gameplay isn’t ideal thanks to some control gripes dealing with enemy targeting, but it can carry its own. There is also quite a lot of content and players can expect to experience hours upon hours worth of gameplay, which is somewhat surprising considering the game was originally released for a handheld system.

For JRPG and Final Fantasy fans, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is well worth playing. For those who want to hold off until FFXVeventually comes out, please take note than Type-0 HD comes bundled with a playable demo of the upcoming game.

final rating- 8.4/10

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Video Game Reviews: The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

Ever since Ocarina of Time 3D was announced, Zelda fans have been clamoring for a similar treatment to cult favorite Majora’s Mask. So, after 15 years since its initial release, Majora’s Mask 3D is now in the hands of the public. Does it live up to the astounding amount of hype?

Well, yes and no. I am Julian Cannon and this will be my review of the game. 



Don’t lose your head– as a remake, the game is as good as can be asked. The graphical updates are wonderful and add an incredible amount of depth to the world of Termina as well as those living in it. For example, one of my favorite details is that in the Clock Town Bomb Shop, there is a small note on the wall theorizing about creating a rocket to the moon using bomb-powered flight. This note was in the original game, but now added to the wall are a series of sketches labeling their plan to get the rocket to the moon and back. It’s a small detail but the amount of charm it adds to the game is immeasurable. These details are especially important for a game like Majora’s Mask– the depth of Majora’s Mask comes from the minutiae of each NPC and the settings they’re in, so adding these small details only serve to improve the game.

Alongside the graphical updates, there have also been a lot of touch-ups to Majora’s Maskgameplay structure. The changes overall are minor, but they serve to help pace the game a lot better and make it much more manageable for those new to Majora’s Mask. In particular, the Bomber’s Notebook has been changed drastically from what it was in the N64 version. Rather than just showing the schedules of 30 different NPCs, the Bomber’s Notebook now keeps track of every side-quest in the game. There is still a schedule for the time-sensitive side-quests, and more NPCs have been added to the schedule for completion’s sake, but otherwise you just get a list of side-quests that are either finished, ongoing, or something you’ve heard about from another source such as the Bombers.

While it may seem like a lot to juggle, it’s very well thought-out and makes it clear what side-quests you’re in the middle of, how far you’ve progressed in them, and what more you need to do to complete the side-quests. This new organization doesn’t really do anything different to the side-quests themselves, but it makes completing them much more manageable and more entertaining because no matter what you’re doing it feels like you’re getting something accomplished.

Other than that any changes to Majora’s Mask gameplay are even more minor than that. Some side-quests will have new requirements to advance, such as needing the Goron’s Mask to start Anju and Kafei’s side-quest; other side-quests and locations have been moved around to make them more useful, such as the Stone Mask now being located in Pirate’s Fortress and the Great Fairy in Woodfall giving you a larger magic bar rather than the advanced spin attack. The best change is to the Song of Double Time; instead of fast-forwarding you to the next 12-hour block, you can now choose which hour to specifically fast forward to in the day that you are on currently. This eliminates a lot of the waiting for events that was present in the N64 version and makes the game a lot smoother and more palatable both to those who found the N64 game repetitive and newcomers who have never played Majora’s Mask before. However, all of these changes do not mean that Majora’s Mask is now a perfect package.



As was the case in the N64 version, the Great Bay area remains completely un-fun, but a few changes to its structure actually serve to make it worse. The main change is that swimming with the Zora Mask on is completely different. Whereas Zora Link would always swim at the same speed in the N64 version, there is now a great difference in speed between swimming normally and using the Magic Power attack. Great Bay is by no means a small zone, and that was the reasoning behind  swimming as a Zora being so quick on the N64. The speed was put into place so that you would be more inclined to use the Zora Mask to get through the zone quickly.

In the remake to get through the zone at the same speed you need to use a great amount of Magic Power, and using that much Magic just to get from point A to point B is a complete waste. The worst part about this now is that no matter how you swim as a Zora, it is no longer as satisfying as it was in the original Majora’s Mask. This defeats the purpose entirely of being a Zora, and many will question why the change was added in the first place.



Every other aspect of Great Bay remains more or less the same. The Zora egg fetch quest is still un-fun because it still feels like padding to make the game longer. You need to make two trips between Pirate’s Fortress and Pinnacle Rock at the very least, and that’s assuming that you got four bottles before beginning the quest in the first place. If you didn’t get four bottles, you’ll need to make at least two trips to Pirate’s Fortress as well as a trip to Pinnacle Rock…and so on. No matter how many bottles you go into the quest with, the quest still feels like a slog; the mandatory stealthiness required through Pirate’s Fortress is finicky and uninteresting. It becomes far too easy if you use the Stone Mask to make yourself invisible, which the game encourages you to do by placing the person who hands it out in Pirate’s Fortress itself. It’s a pain no matter how you approach it, and the fact that this was left almost completely unchanged is completely baffling.

Even more baffling than that is the fact that Great Bay Temple also has remained almost completely unchanged compared to the N64 version. In the Ocarina of Time remake, the Water Temple had a very clear pathway lit up to show you where the next water changing switch was. It was a minor change, just like any change in Majora’s Mask, but it helped make the dungeon much more navigable. An attempt was made to do something similar with Great Bay Temple; pipes that had water flowing through them now light up. In theory, this would mean that following unlit pipes would lead you to where you need to go next…but in practice this did not work. Great Bay Temple still looks largely the same until you’re too far in to prevent having to backtrack through several rooms, and there are lots of unseen hookshot points that make the dungeon much less sensible than it needed to be. It’s really disappointing, because of all the things many expected them to change in Majora’s Mask, Great Bay Temple’s structure was at the top of the list.



Remakes and remasters are a chance to listen to fans and make requested changes (as long as they’re within reason). Leaving the Great Bay Temple largely as is, when it was a known trouble area, displays a rather large missed opportunity. Considering the amount of polish that went into other areas of the game it’s almost as if they were unwilling to deal with this large, and almost universally disliked section of the game. Not just that, but actively making the zone worse by radically changing how Zora Link functioned seems like a huge step back in comparison with the rest of the small positive changes that the game made.

All of that having been said, issues with Great Bay are relatively small frustrations in the face of the rest of the product. There is so much that Majora’s Mask has to offer, and almost all of it outshines any of the game’s shortcomings. The unchanged Great Bay serves as a reminder that Majora’s Mask was not a perfect game when it was released, and it is still not a perfect game now. What Majora’s Mask is, however, is a game that has stood well against the test of time, and will continue to stand out as the most interesting Legend of Zelda title to date. Majora’s Mask is not to be missed, for veteran or newcomer alike, and deserves a spot in your 3DS.

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The Order 1886 Review

Third-Person shooter games have come a very long way and The Order 1886 is now part of my collection. Do I think this game is a hit, or do I think this game is a miss? Will this be another game that was just hype for the last 3 years? I am Julian Cannon and I am reviewing The Order 1886 for the Playstation 4.

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For starters, the atmosphere of this game is by far one of the best I’ve seen in an third-person shooter game. The environments and areas in the alternate history of London puts me in the mood to see what else there will be to discover. I give the developers credit for the 4 years spent on making this game from ground up.

The main conflict is between an old order of knights who are keeping the world safe from half humans and half beast like monsters. Hundreds of years later, King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable have their battle and struggle with the half breeds during the industrial revolution. During this time, many factories and engineers worked on technology far above their time.

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The voice acting exceeded my expectations as if I felt like I was watching an British empire like film that took place in that decade from my prospective. Sir Galahad, the main character, reminded me of actors who rare always in the bad mood in action shows such as 24, CSI Miami and Law and Order. Sir Perceval, the mentor of Galahad, had a great role along with Lady Igraine, who sometimes annoyed me but her role served its purpose.

However, the gameplay I had mixed feelings with but I will start with saying that the weapons for this game at that time period are very accurate. You cannot play this third-person shooter and expect every single weapon in the game to be used the same way in other games of this type. It took me a while to get used to the mechanics and it was worth learning. The game’s length is between 6-7 hours but I do not speed run video games at all. I love to take my time with them and that is what I did with this game since I have a normal schedule like every hardworking man and woman. The QuickTime events I feel should have not been implemented too often as I felt that it was not needed for most of the events. Is the game too linear? Yes but how many games are linear these days? Quality is what matters in my book.

After all is said, I really did enjoy the game besides a few gameplay features that needed to be balanced. The ending left me wondering if a sequel will be made in the future and I hope there will be a sequel. My rating for this game is 8.2/10

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Pros-awesome graphics, atmosphere, cutscenes and characters, historical references, puzzle solving, cover-gunplay

Cons-some gameplay features needed to be fixed, if you are not into long cutscenes, then this is not for you.

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Video Game Reviews: WWE 2K15

With the last gen versions of WWE 2K15 (Playstation 3/Xbox 360) getting a universal negative reception, can the current gen versions (PS4/Xbox One) deliver the hype? I am Julian Cannon and I am reviewing the Playstation 4 version of WWE 2K15.

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This game looks more close to real life than ever this time. From the camera angles to the lighting and the arenas along with the detailed look on the superstars and divas, this is the best looking WWE game to date. Most of the superstars and divas had their entire body scanned for the game. The ring was even scanned so it can look exactly like it is on TV. Everything may look a little smaller than the previous games but it will grow on you in time.

The roster is actually a huge let down. Compare the roster on last year’s WWE 2K14 to this game and you will notice that last year’s game had the better roster. It is good to see the addition of new NXT superstars such as Sami Zayn, Adrian Nevelle, Bo Dallas, Rusev and more, the rest of the roster is the weakest since Smackdown vs. Raw 2008. Many of the superstars are very outdated with their attires and music. Most notably, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins have their shield attire and music. However there are a few legends in the roster such as Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Kevin Nash, Ultimate Warrior and some good ones including The Wyatt Family, The Usos, Xavier Woods, Big E and more but some of the superstars in the game are exact copies of themselves (for example, current Batista and retro Batista should be just one character with a costume change instead of two separate characters).

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The gameplay has changed drastically for this year’s game. A new chain wrestling mini-game has been implemented to make matches play out more realistically. Pressing the grapple button at the beginning of the match will initiate a collar-and-elbow tie up. From there, each opponent will press one of three face buttons to place their opponent into a side headlock, a wrist lock or a waist lock with a rock-paper-scissors style outcome. (Headlock beats Wrist lock, Wrist lock beats Waist lock, Waist lock beats Headlock.) Whomever wins will place their opponent in the corresponding hold while both players rotate the right analog stick to find a “sweet spot”. If the attacker finds it first, they’ll perform a move, if the defender finds it first, they’ll gain the upper hand. Additionally, the attacking wrestler can strike or wrench the opponent’s limb, making it harder for them to find the sweet spot. This mini-game only happens 2-3 times during the match and can be turned off via the options menu. Strikes have returned to their normal speed with improved collision and selling animations from the opponent. Unlike in previous games, superstars will not stand up immediately after taking a bump or slam, the player must rotate the right analog stick in order to stand up.

The stamina system returns in this game but it has changed as well. It is a three-tier stamina meter which controls the pace of a match. Each move that is performed, especially striking and running, will drain the stamina meter. During the first tier, the wrestler will be full of energy and perform moves easily. During the second tier, the wrestler will begin to slow down. In the third tier, the wrestler will be completely exhausted, even being unable to perform their finishing moves should it drop too low. Although the stamina meter cannot be turned off, stamina will slowly regenerate as long as a meter is not depleted and can be adjusted to drain more slowly. The game’s submission system has been revamped. The “Breaking Point” submission system has been replaced with a two part circular gauge. The mechanic of the system remains mostly the same, but players only have to mash a single button rather than all four.

Wake-up taunt finishers are now known as “Charged Finishers” which combines the taunt & finisher into a single animation by pressing the finisher button when the opponent is grounded. Signature moves can now be stored as well. Catch and Catapult finishers have also returned. Both fighting styles and skill sets have been brought in to ensure that the characters behave more like their real-life counterparts. For example, high flyers like Rey Mysterio will not do power moves and will focus on diving and springboard moves while giants like Big Show cannot climb the turnbuckle and will focus on power moves. Superstars who cannot climb to the top rope can climb to the second rope and deliver moves such as Bret Hart’s elbow drop or Big Show’s slingshot body splash. The gameplay changes take some time to get used to so you will have to play around with it for a few times but if you do not like the new controls, you can revert to the controls from last year’s game.

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The 2K Showcase focuses on two rivalries. One of them focuses on the Triple H and Shawn Michaels feud which began in SummerSlam 2002 and ended in Bad Blood 2004 and the other is the CM Punk and John Cena feud that began in the summer of 2011 and ended in February 2013. I personally liked the HHH/HBK feud more than Punk/Cena but there should have been more feuds added to this mode such as Rock/Austin, Hulk Hogan/Randy Savage, Bret Hart/Kevin Nash and more that can fill up this mode but choosing only two out of many raises more questions than answers. The way you play these feuds is the same dragging style that was featured since WWE 13. Fight until a certain part of the body changes to red, do objectives, cutscene and repeat. I felt that this style of cut and paste should have not happened in this game. Two games to have this style is enough, three is overdoing it.

The MyCareer mode is the best mode in the entire game period. You take your created superstar and you build his career (cannot create divas on this version of the game). You start all the way at the bottom in the performance center, then to NXT. After you reach the ranks there, you will then head on to Raw and Smackdown and eventually to main event WrestleMania and become a WWE Hall of Famer. During this mode, whatever you do, outcomes in the experience such as wrestling as a Babyface or heel, forming alliances, and etc. there is a never ending cycle to this so it can get repetitive down the line. Also, There is a 1-5 star match rating system that will rate matches based on technique, pacing and momentum, with squash matches getting lower ratings and back-and-forth matches getting higher ratings.

There is new feature that allows you to import images from your computer to the game for created wrestlers but I couldn’t access this feature at the time I was reviewing this game due to the servers not being open yet. Also, returning from WWF No Mercy a very long time ago, every superstar and diva in this game is editable. You can change their entire look but you cannot change their hairstyles. The biggest blunder is that you can only create 25 superstars.

This is the point where it gets very disappointing. Players can no longer create divas, arenas, championships, finishers, use custom soundtracks (although an update to next gen consoles will fix this soon), and the only preset custom entrance for custom superstars is the one where the superstar is carrying the phone.

There are also many and I mean MANY matches removed on the current gen consoles

1 vs 1:

– Inferno
– Ladder
– I Quit
– 2 out of 3 Falls
– Special Referee (yet is in the showcase mode)
– Casket (yet is in the Showcase mode)
– 3 stages of hell (Yet is in the showcase mode)
– Backstage Brawl

2 vs 2:

– Tornado Tag
– Extreme Rules
– Hell in a Cell
– Ladder
– Steel Cage
– Table
– TLC
– Elimination Tornado
– Elimination Table
– Mixed
– Backstage Brawl

Triple Threat:

– Falls Count Anywhere
– 2 out of 3 Falls
– No DQ
– Ladder
– Steel Cage
– TLC
– Backstage Brawl

Fatal 4 Way/4-Man:

– Battle Royal
– Hell in a Cell
– Ladder
– Steel Cage
– Table
– TLC
– Falls Count Anywhere
– 2 out of 3 Falls
– No DQ
– Backstage Brawl

6-Man:
– Elimination Chamber Tag
– Championship Scramble (Was removed in 2k14, but notable still)

Handicap Matches:
– All handicap matches

Final thoughts: if you want this game, the only good things are the MyCareer mode and the new gameplay features. You cannot hype a game this much for 6 months and then give us a half-assed game with missing features. 2K showcase is just a copy and paste of 30 years of WrestleMania from last year’s game and the Attitude era mode from WWE 13. I cannot find a reason why to spend $60 plus tax on a game that presents only half of what last year’s game had. If they kept all of those features in, this would have beat out last year’s game. I know this year’s game engine is built from ground up but that is no excuse to remove many features especially for the ones in the create suite community. The decision to take away the ability of creating divas is a slap in the face to every women who plays WWE games. Although you can create divas on the last gen version, that is not the point. My conclusion is that everyone should wait for next year’s game instead or keep 2K14 until next year. This game gets a final rating of 5.5/10

Video game reviews: Super Smash Bros. For 3DS

Finally, after 6 long years, A new Smash Bros game is here (for the Nintendo 3DS of course). Does this game live up to the hype? Well let’s see as I review Super Smash Bros. for 3DS.

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With 49 characters to choose from, this game has the largest roster to date. With newcomers such as Megaman, Pac-Man, Roslina, Dark Pit, Duckhunt, Bowser JR. And more along with returning characters featuring Mario, fox, Pikachu, Samus and Link and more, this gives you a variety of characters to choose from with many fighting styles they possess.

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First, I would like to talk about the graphics and presentation. Although it is highly recommended to play this on the 3DS XL, I have it for the normal 3DS and the only difference is that you can see what is going on more better when you play and everything else is slightly bigger than the normal 3DS. The graphics are actually great and it looks better in 3D. Super Smash Bros. Brawl had the realistic approach but this game’s approach is colorful and a bit cartoonish but that is not a bad thing at all as I think this game looks better than Brawl. The game also runs at 60 FPS (frames per second) and the speed of this game is much faster than Brawl but not as fast as Melee.

The gameplay on the handheld feels as if you are playing on a normal console but everyone’s perspective will be different or the same as mines depending on how they play. The commands are responsive but however, the functions for the circle control pad can take work but try to not overuse it or else it will break. A few gameplay changes from Brawl include removing the “random tripping” mechanic. Many players were turned away when that was included in Brawl so good thing that was taken out. The grabbing of ledges has been changed to prevent edge hogging. What this means is for example, If player 1 Is hanging on the edge for their life before they are knocked off, player 2 would try to hang on the edge but the player cannot because player 1 is already there and would stay there. This has been fixed so when this happens, the players would be bounced off in favor for the other player. The swimming feature from Brawl is also removed and the neutral attacks that previously ended in an indefinite number of weak hits will now always transition into a finishing move. I always had a problem with players spamming neutral attacks like that since Super Smash Bros. Melee so I was glad that was fixed.

One thing I almost forgot to mention is that larger characters such as Bowser, King Dededee, Donkey Kong and more actually look their size compared to past games.

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There are 34 stages in the game in their normal form and their final destination form. A few of the stages feature a boss character that you would have to defeat or a character that can assist you. My only problem with the stages is that they brought back too much stages from both Melee and Brawl. Two stages to be brought back would have been find but 9 is way too much.

Now there are a lot of modes in this game to keep you busy for a long time. Those are, Classic Mode, a mode Smash Bros. Veterans know but it changed a bit. Now you can choose your path on which opponent you would like to face and there is a slot reel for rewards for you to choose before a match begins. Other modes include All Star Mode, Multi-Man Smash, Target Blast, Trophy Rust and the Home Run Contest. All of these modes you can win trophies, coins and custom parts in which I will get to. The most disappointing mode of the entire game is the Smash Run. You spend 5 minutes on this mode with 3 other players or CPU collecting power ups on the map by defeating enemies and when the time runs out, the final battle begins in either a match or an event to race to the finish. How would you like to collect power ups for strength and defense to then realize that the finial event (if it is an race to the finish), one player is very faster than everyone else and that is unfair. If the final battle is a match, you will not know if it is a team match or a different rule until it happens.

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The customization is new to the series. You can create up to 8 characters using the Mii and their styles you can choose from are gunner, brawler and sword fighter. They all can be customized by appearance and move set and stats. All of the normal characters can be customized too by changing their stats and their special moves. This is great and you can create many possibilities with this. Unlocking the moves and stay power ups take time but it is totally worth it.

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My final take on this game is that it is great for everyone to play. Although the smash run is an upset, it is still good for casual playing other than just VS. Matches. The soundtrack to this game was great too and this game fixed a lot of the issues that was in Brawl. The Wii-U version comes out later this year but this is totally worth spending your money on and at least everyone gets their own screen.

Gameplay – 4.5/5

Music- 5/5

Replay value- 5/5

Presentation and graphics- 4.5/5

Final score – 9.5/10

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