Tag Archives: PlayStation

REVIEW: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (Spoilers)

Uncharted Lost Legacy Chloe and Nadine

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is the first title in the Uncharted series to have players control a character other than Nathan Drake, a star that has formed the mold for protagonists in many modern video games. I have enjoyed seeing Nathan’s character grow over the years since Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, but after last year’s release of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and the conclusive finale he received in that game, I think Nate deserves a break from the treasure-hunting gig. This time around, Chloe Frazer of Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3 fame takes the spotlight in an adventure that stands entirely on its own from previous entries. As the sixth full-length title in a series that spans nearly ten years, does Uncharted: The Lost Legacy feel worth picking up the grappling hook once again?

Uncharted Lost Legacy Standing Vista

The answer is yes, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is worth the price of entry. Fans of the series know exactly what to expect, and newcomers should feel perfectly fine jumping in, as this is a story separate from every other game in the series. There are a few returning cast from Uncharted 4, but you won’t find any story threads incomprehensible by not playing the previous games.

Uncharted Lost Legacy Chloe

The story contained in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a well-constructed tale that offers a glimpse into Chloe’s past without relying too much on her background. Learning more about this character who, until now, was a sidekick to Nathan Drake is enjoyable, as Chloe tells her partner Nadine about the troubled childhood she had while growing up. Chloe’s monologues about her father’s past exploits in searching for the legendary tusk of Ganesh offer a look into why she began treasure hunting in the first place; a minor detail that I have been wondering since her reveal in Uncharted 2. It’s great to see Naughty Dog fleshing out the character in a way that isn’t overbearing; providing enough hints of Chloe’s past to keep players interested, but not leveraging the story entirely on her upbringing. Not as much is learned about Nadine, but seeing her reaction to the loss of her former militia ‘Shoreline’ and the emotions associated with it is a nice addition. As always, the performances given in The Lost Legacy are very well-executed, no piece of dialogue feeling awkward or out of place. Naughty Dog have become professionals in the realm of video game motion capture and voice acting, and I hope the rest of the industry continues to take notes.

Uncharted Lost Legacy Asav

Speaking of the story, an Uncharted adventure isn’t complete without a villain to push the treasure hunters forward. The Lost Legacy introduces Asav, a militia leader that also seeks the tusk of Ganesh, but for more nefarious reasons. His motivation was established well enough, and the multiple battles between Chloe, Nadine, and himself provide even more thrilling melee combat that I praised earlier, even if it is just a glorified set of quick time events. In a grim twist of fate, Asav is left behind on the train that is plummeting to its doom near the end of the game, with Chloe and Nadine paying no mind that the warlord is about to meet his doom – this is a twist of sorts that I welcomed with open arms. Chloe and Nadine don’t seem the traditional type of protagonists who attempt a rescue of their greatest enemy when the enemy is outmatched, so as grim as the depiction may be, I found the end of Asav’s storyline to be wrapped up nicely.

Uncharted Lost Legacy Map

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy started its development as a shorter slice of additional content for last year’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Shortly afterward, it grew into a project larger than the developer Naughty Dog initially expected, eventually created as a stand-alone adventure, with its own physical release. The expanded development has also brought with it a longer game than I initially expected – The Lost Legacy took me about 7 ½ hours to complete. Compared to the 11-13 hours that Uncharted 4 takes to finish, this game feels a bit breezy; but when it is looked at as an Uncharted game, I think it is a great length for the adventure. The action knows when to ramp up when excitement is needed, and when to slow down when the player needs a breather from combat. This is in stark contrast to certain sections from Uncharted 4 that contained long lulls of zero action to spice up the very long stretches of time spent exploring and solving puzzles.

Uncharted Lost Legacy Combat Still

Combat in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is nearly identical to the previous game. Chloe has her own unique melee takedowns different from Drake, but gunplay remains the same as before. I wasn’t the biggest fan of shooting in Uncharted 4, even though it works fine enough. I always felt like aiming in Uncharted 2 was more precise and satisfying. However, the melee combat in this game is as great as ever. The way the camera zooms in on Chloe when she lands punches or kicks on enemies is fantastic, giving a real weightiness to the action and emphasizing the “it’s just like a movie!” tag that Uncharted has become famous for. I still lament the loss of a proper dodge/parry prompt like in Uncharted 3, but doing environmental takedowns on enemies feels so good, its loss is acceptable.

Uncharted Lost Legacy Artifact

In fact, the melee combat is so good in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, that I recommend playing the game on light difficulty. I played through the game on normal difficulty, and found myself taking damage at a faster rate than I was used to. This is coming from someone who has completed the previous four Uncharted games on crushing difficulty, the hardest difficulty selection in the series. Maybe it is a sign of my aging, but I’ve grown weary of the hitscan attacks that enemies employ. Playing 2016’s Doom was a wonderful time for many reasons, one of those being the player’s ability to dodge enemy projectile attacks. I wish more shooter games could employ this method of staying alive. Yes, it would be pretty silly to be able to dodge bullets in games that mimic realistic combat; but I guess what I’m trying to say is, the enemies in nearly every Uncharted game have incredible aim, and are able to shoot down the player from extreme range. I’ve gotten a bit weary of this fact, and I wish these games didn’t rely so much on waiting behind cover as the screen washes away its red and grey shading, allowing the player a return to the fight.

Uncharted Lost Legacy Horse Puzzle

As always, the set-piece moments in The Lost Legacy remain as awe-inspiring as they are in previous games. In a callback to Uncharted 2, a new train sequence finds Chloe on a runaway train toward the end of the game that I found to be one of my favorite sections. This chapter on the train evoked memories of playing a similar train level in Uncharted 2 back in 2009, and it is performed wonderfully in this new game. On a technical level, this chapter is amazing, and the combat potential is larger than ever. Players can run along the train, climb along the sides, jump off of the train itself to hijack enemy vehicles, and rope swing their way back onto the track. It is a great demonstration of all the advancements that the combat in Uncharted games has seen, and I loved every second of this chapter. The rest of the set-pieces may not be quite as memorable, but there are a good number of exciting sections that keep players on the edge of their seat.

Uncharted Lost Legacy Banner

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy doesn’t do anything that will shake up the action video game formula, but instead refines many of the concepts put forth from previous Uncharted titles. I find that perfectly fine, and overall I’m satisfied with the latest title from developer Naughty Dog. It offers a compelling experience from beginning to end, and it kept me engaged the entire time. As an added bonus, the multiplayer and cooperative modes from Uncharted 4 are also included within The Lost Legacy, and are still  populated; in my time spent playing online, I always found other players to connect with very quickly. This game is a complete package that feels like a full retail release, and yet is offered at a discounted price, making it all the more sweet.

 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. I just began another semester at University, but I’ll definitely find some time to write my Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle review this week. I just finished the game yesterday, and as a big fan of Xcom 2, I’ve got a few things to say about Mario’s latest wacky adventure! Hope you all have a great week.

  • Matt
Advertisements

REVIEW: Sonic Mania

Sonic Mania Wallpaper

Hey everyone, I’m back from vacation! I spent a week away from home by the shore, which gave me ample time to relax on the beach; and of course, dive into Sonic Mania, thanks to the portability of the Nintendo Switch. I’m not shilling for Nintendo, I swear! I just love this system. Being away from home right after the release of Sonic Mania was also a great opportunity to play it on the go. Anyway, let’s get on with the review. As someone that has only played a handful of Sonic games, what do I think of the blue blur’s latest adventure? Important note: I’ve never played the original Sonic games from the Genesis. I’ve only played bits of Sonic Advance for the Gameboy Advance, the entirety of Sonic Rush for the Nintendo DS, and a few of the home console 3D adventures. However, I’ve watched an entire run of Sonic 2, and seen parts of Sonic 3.

Sonic Mania Circle

To put it simply, Sonic Mania is awesome. The game is a celebration of the best parts of Sonic the Hedgehog 1, 2, and 3 (& Knuckles) remaining true to the original trilogy while providing fun new levels and boss fights. The controls for all three characters (Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles) is tight and exactly as expected; not nearly on the level of responsiveness as classic Mario platforming, but precise enough as not to feel annoying.

 

A cool new addition for Sonic is his ability to spin dash while in mid-air, allowing for a speed boost upon hitting the ground. This gives better opportunities for gaining faster speed, which is especially useful in the game’s time trials for each of the game’s thirteen zones. Each of these zones is separated into two acts, excluding the final zone. A few of my favorites include the classic Green Hill Zone, Oil Ocean Zone, Lava Reef Zone, and Studiopolis Zone, but each one brings fun diversity to the fast-focused gameplay. For example, Hydrocity Zone has players navigating levels both above water and submerged in it. Finding shortcuts and avoiding large falls rewards players with the higher ground, allowing them to bypass some underwater sections. I never found the underwater sections to be particularly frustrating, mostly because of how short they are. There are a couple of forced underwater sections in certain levels, but the frequent air bubble pockets made these parts less stressful than I remember them being in previous Sonic games.

Sonic Mania Knuckles

The level design in Sonic Mania is great, offering many speed opportunities as well as precise platforming challenges within each act. It is very difficult to explore every nook and cranny of a level during a single playthrough, and once this fact is accepted, it’s fun discovering the many secrets and power-ups that lie in wait throughout each level. I’m a bit of a completionist, often feeling compelled to 100% finish a game if I especially enjoy it, but I have accepted that there is no way to do this in Sonic Mania unless you play through the game multiple times as each character. Thankfully, each character offers unique abilities that enrich the levels they occupy, but that also means Sonic won’t be able to reach a certain high ledge that only Tails can fly toward, or one which Knuckles can reach using his wall-climb. Even after finishing the game as all three heroes, I still mostly enjoy playing as Sonic, but Knuckles isn’t far behind, his wall-climbing ability and glide offering surprising maneuverability across each act’s sprawling landscape.

Sonic Mania UFO

The two bonus games offered in Sonic Mania range from decent to fantastic. To access the first bonus game, players will have to collect at least 25 rings and pass a checkpoint marker, from which they can enter an isometric, top-down view of Sonic as he runs along blue orbs attempting to hit them all, avoiding red orbs in the process. I think this bonus game is a fun diversion, but I did not feel inclined to play it at every chance I got. However, the second bonus game, hidden in certain secret spots within each zone, is a ton of fun. This bonus game finds players controlling Sonic behind his back, akin to modern 3D titles, chasing after a UFO carrying a chaos emerald. Sonic’s movement in this bonus game is a bit slippery, especially as he gains speed, but I always felt in control of his movements despite this. As you pick up speed by collecting blue orbs, the bonus stage music ramps up, driving you to try your hardest to avoid falling off course before catching the UFO. Finding the entrances to this bonus game encourages exploration, as they are often well hidden in each level away from the main path. Collecting all of the chaos emeralds grants an extra zone to tackle, but I won’t spoil the results of that encounter here. It’s a challenge collecting all of the emeralds, but boy is it worth it!

Sonic Mania Boss

As expected from a Sonic game, there are boss fights aplenty. Presented at the end of each act, most of these battles are executed well, some sticking with the tried-and-true design of jumping into Eggman’s robotic ship at least eight times. The most interesting of these battles offer a unique spin on the formula. I found a few in particular to be especially interesting, but I won’t spoil them here; I’ll simply mention which zone they take place in. First off, Chemical Plant Zone, Act 2 is stellar because of its unexpected nature, which felt right at home in the game (especially considering there is already a Sonic game with which they ripped this boss fight straight out of). Flying Battery Zone, Act 2 is great, offering a familiar method of attack with different means of hurting the boss. And finally, the boss fight in Act 2 of Metallic Madness Zone is a lot of fun, especially because it incorporates a mechanic from the entirety of the level itself into the fight. Overall, I’d say the boss battles in Sonic Mania are a success. A few of them harken back to the original trilogy for inspiration, while others offer a different look at the formula. In my eyes, the only stinker of a boss fight would be the final confrontation in Act 2 of Oil Ocean. Trudging through slimy goop during a high-stakes battle isn’t fun, especially when certain sections of the fight force away all of the solid ground of which to stand on. I found myself dying to this particular boss more times than I could count, but they were eventually defeated by exercising a lot of patience. To me, it felt a bit cold in an otherwise great zone.

Sonic Mania Logo

Sonic Mania feels like a love letter to fans of Sonic’s side-scrolling roots. Even though recent 3D Sonic titles have incorporated side-scrolling and precision platforming elements into the mix, none of them brought nearly as many interesting ideas to the table as Sonic Mania does. The entirety of this game oozes with personality and care; I encountered zero bugs in my extensive time with the game, save for one graphical error at the end of Green Hill Zone, Act 2. This game has made me understand the gaming community’s love for the original Sonic titles, and has me more excited than ever to see the future of Sonic the Hedgehog.

 

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! Next, I’ll be writing my review of either Rise of the Tomb Raider or Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. I finished Tomb Raider a week ago, and I’m going through Uncharted right now, so I’ll soon see which one I’m more interested in writing about.

 

Have a great week, everyone.

 

  • Matt

Review: Wipeout: Omega Collection – Futuristic Fury Road

wipeout omega collection cover

Since the closing of Studio Liverpool back in 2012, fans of the former developer’s long-running racing series known as Wipeout have expressed doubt on the future of the franchise. Despite at least one Wipeout title appearing on every PlayStation console to date, Sony appeared to care little about the Wipeout games after Wipeout: 2048 on the PlayStation Vita was released. After 2048’s release, there was no sign of a new entry coming anytime soon, to the dismay of fans including myself. To my knowledge, the series was never really known as one of the more popular PlayStation brands, and so a future for the franchise was unknown. After several years of waiting, a new entry in the historic racing series has arrived on Sony’s latest and most powerful hardware in the form of Wipeout: Omega Collection, brought to us by the fine folks at Sony XDev. It’s not exactly the sort of package that fans were asking for, but the game is everything that was promised to us. In this collection, players get access to remastered versions of Wipeout HD, Wipeout HD Fury, and Wipeout 2048. To kick off this review, let’s take a dive into what makes Wipeout special.

 

I’m not a big fan of racing games. I dislike driving in my day to day life, and have felt little joy in driving in the digital space, besides participating in the occasional round of Mario Kart. There are only two games, one of them being a recent addition to the list, that are the exception to this mindset – games in the Wipeout series, and Fast RMX, on the Nintendo Switch. I won’t describe here in detail why I enjoy Fast RMX, but the similarities it shares to Wipeout made my time with the game an enjoyable one. With this in mind, I view Wipeout as the undisputed king of high-speed, futuristic racing action.

wipeout assegai

I have not played every Wipeout game in the long-running PlayStation series. In fact, I’ve only played a total of three of them (four, if we’re counting the Omega Collection). Despite this, I’ve felt a love for the franchise ever since I started playing Wipeout HD on the PS3 some several years ago. I was enamored by the fast ships, tight turns, heart-pounding music, and dazzling visuals that sparked across the screen when I played. My time spent with Wipeout was more exciting to me than any other racing game I had yet played, and that was due in part to the high speed thrills that Wipeout HD provided. I spent many hours in my high school years attempting to earn gold medals on each and every course offered in the game’s single-player mode, which include challenges such as time trials, speed laps, and traditional races. Offering multiple levels of AI difficulty, the game presented players with a fair level of challenge that asked for racing course knowledge and a deep understanding of the game’s core mechanics.

 

Some of the core mechanics that distinguish Wipeout from other racing games include the barrel roll, health system, and unique power-ups that can be used against opponents. Every racer’s ship has a level of health attached to it, totaling at 100 hit points. When a barrel roll is performed, the racer’s ship will spin in mid-air, consuming around 15 points of health, and grants them a speed boost upon landing on the ground. It’s a risk versus reward system that favors players who keep a close eye on their ship’s health, and when combined with the risk of being hit from other players and the ability to regenerate their own health by absorbing collected weapons, is a system that I find works very well. Certain weapons do more damage than others, and knowing when to attack or defend is key to your survival on the race course. Lose all of your 100 health points? You’re eliminated from the race, and you earn zero points in any tournament standings. Wipeout can be a brutal game, especially with pilot assist off, and players have to be mindful of the weapon pickups as well as their health pools if they hope to achieve victory.

wipeout harimau

The game is aware of its steep difficulty curve, and starts the player off with slower races and weaker opponents. Pilot assist, an in-game feature that aids racers in avoiding walls, is also recommended for newcomers. For veterans of the series such as myself, the difficulty level can be tweaked to my satisfaction to provide a satisfying challenge, while still feeling fair. This degree of control is flexed across all three games in the Omega Collection, providing a complete package of gameplay across a variety of stunning courses.

 

One of the best parts about Wipeout: Omega Collection actually isn’t the included Wipeout HD and Fury games, but instead Wipeout 2048 is the most exciting part of this package. 2048 was originally released on the PlayStation Vita, and while it is a visually stunning title on the handheld, those visuals would not translate well onto the living room screen. With this in mind, the folks over at XDev completely remastered the original game’s visuals into a native 4K resolution running at 60FPS, and the result is simply spectacular. The frame rate of all three games in the Omega Collection has suffered no noticeable dips, even with the high-speed action in full force. Pulling off sharp turns on corners has never felt so good. Despite these games being a retread in the franchise, it’s a technical marvel on PS4, and a great addition to any owner of a 4K display. This level of eye-candy can only be found on the PlayStation 4 Pro, of course, but the game also looks stunning on the base PS4 at 1080p resolution. The work that has been put into a full remaster of 2048 is greatly appreciated, as well as the solid ports of Wipeout HD and Fury.

Wipeout EGX

Featuring a solid career mode across three separate games, there is a ton of content to choose from in this collection. When you are finished with the game’s offline content, how does the online portion stack up? Unfortunately, I think it could do with some tweaks under the hood. I’ve played at least a couple dozen online races in Wipeout: Omega Collection, and I have experienced very little lag in any of the races I participated in. So what’s the problem, you ask? Well, the answer is unfortunately the lack of players available to race against. I mentioned earlier that the Wipeout series is not one that I ever knew to be very popular among the PlayStation crowd, and this appears evident the moment you navigate the online multiplayer menu. To find an online race, players scroll through a list of lobbies that are created by other players. There is a high level of customization offered, allowing up to eight people to engage in every sort of multiplayer content on any in-game track, at whichever speed class they desire. The problem arises when you notice the lack of available rooms to play in; the last time I logged in to play Wipeout online multiplayer, about a day ago of this writing, I found only two available rooms to join. I could create my own room for other players to join, of course, but who knows how long it would take to have other racers notice and connect before quitting? Simply put, I think racing games are among the few multiplayer genres that benefit from matchmaking, as opposed to player-created lobbies. I know this is usually disagreed upon in the gaming community, but in the case of Wipeout, there simply aren’t enough players to encourage the effort needed to play online. I love the game enough that I am willing to wait a minute or two for other players to join an online race, but not everyone is that patient. If a matchmaking system were in place, it would be even more simple for players to find each other quickly and effortlessly engage in online races. Perhaps this isn’t an issue that can be fixed by the developers, but is instead a fault of the small player base. This is a shame, because I have found the online experience to be fun and, in regard to online connectivity, reliable.

 

Playing this game again on PS4 has reminded me of the fun that I had all those years ago on PS3, and the Omega Collection continues to provide new thrills each time I sit down and play. If you are someone who enjoys slick, futuristic vehicles that fly at incredible speed on higher difficulties, don’t let this one pass by. Also, the community needs more people playing online, so please help out, if you pick up the game. Just like Titanfall 2, this game is a gem that deserves a large player base, but has instead suffered from a general lack of interest/poor release date.

wipeout zone

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading my review. Feel free to follow my work here on Word Press, or check out my Twitter page. I talk there about anything, usually gaming, but also retweet pictures of adorable animals. Have a great week!

 

  • Matt

Spider-Man PS4 – Hopes and Concerns

Spidey PS4 face

Hey all, Matt here! Just a minute ago, I finished watching the PlayStation E3 2017 live press conference. I’ve got a couple of thoughts on the show I’d like to share in a future post, where I’ll be writing about my thoughts on E3 2017 in its entirety. However, right now I’d like to focus on PlayStation’s final game that was shown at their E3 showcase, Spider-Man on PS4.

 

Ever since a new Spidey game was teased during last year’s E3, I’ve been patiently waiting for new information on the web-slinger’s PS4 debut. I have not felt excited about a new Spider-Man game since I played Spider-Man 2 on the Gamecube back in the mid-2000’s. That isn’t to say all of the Spider-Man games since then have been bad, but the ones that I played have certainly fallen short of expectation.

 

Since the announcement that Insomniac Games would be heading development on a new Spider-Man game, I’ve felt a stronger hope for a strong new entry in Spidey’s long list of video game releases. As the creators of Ratchet & Clank, Sunset Overdrive, and Resistance, I had faith that Insomniac Games would deliver an amazing new title in Spider-Man.

 

Today’s short demonstration at the end of PlayStation’s E3 event for Spider-Man has left me excited to see more of the game, and also worried about a few of the chosen mechanical decisions.

Spidey goop

Let’s cut to the chase – What am I most worried about? Well, I think anyone who saw the latest gameplay was quick to notice the frequent reliance on QTE’s throughout the demo, otherwise known as quick time events. This event is when a game wrestles control from the player and asks them to press a certain button, usually displayed on-screen, in time with the game’s action. Most of the time I don’t mind QTE’s as long as they aren’t entirely relied upon, but I wasn’t expecting quite the large number of them to show up in the gameplay demo as they did. Although Spidey’s basic combat looked solid, and the stealth sections interesting, the QTE’s that appeared in between encounters made me a bit disappointed. I think an over-reliance of QTE’s causes a lower level of excitement to continue playing a game, because it feels like the player is allowing the game to play itself, as opposed to the player being in total control of the experience.

 

Regardless, it was an exciting demo to show off, teasing at the involvement of Wilson Fisk (A.K.A. Kingpin) being involved with Spider-Man in one way or another, and I’m curious to see where the team at Insomniac Games takes the story.

 

Now that my initial worries are out of the way, what am I excited about in Spider-Man for PS4? Well, my answer probably won’t surprise anyone.

 

The swinging looks good. Straight up, it looks smooth, precise, and appears to offer a good level of control over Spidey’s mid-air movements. Obviously I have not played the game for myself, so I cannot attest to if the swinging really is any of these things, but that is how I felt from watching the gameplay stream.

Spidey PS4 logo.png

More than anything else from this E3, I was looking forward to Spider-Man on PS4. While the game is still at the top of my radar, I felt a little underwhelmed by the game’s first live demonstration. The entire sequence felt a little too linear and quick-time focused for my taste, with only a glimpse at the open-world swinging to be offered. However, I am still eagerly awaiting more news about the game, and will be there on day one to play Spider-Man on PS4. I still have hope that Insomniac will give Spider-Man fans a game that they enjoy, and frankly, deserve.

 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. Feel free to follow me for any future posts I create.

 

  • Matt

Nier: Automata – A Leg Up On Its Predecessor (Review)

nier automata carnival

Note: Spoilers ARE present. I played a total of 40 hours, finishing the game three times and experiencing the three main endings of the game (including the two big choices that are made at the very end of the third playthrough). I also completed about 90% of the game’s sidequests, and plan to finish the rest of them soon.

 

Before I start this review, I should note that I have not played the entirety of the first Nier game. I own the PlayStation 3 copy of the game, and have booted it up once, but decided to watch my favorite group of people on YouTube play through the game instead. Why did I do this? I believe it was during a deluge of other game releases that had me preoccupied, and it saddens me that I didn’t play through the first Nier myself. However, after watching the entirety of the first game (yes, multiple endings and all!) I believe I have a good grasp of the story and gameplay. Because of this, I felt prepared to give game director Yoko Taro’s latest installment in the Nier franchise Nier: Automata a shot, especially after hearing the positive press that the game has received.

Nier Automata enemy and 2b

From my understanding, the gameplay systems present in Drakengard and Nier are not usually the reason people are so fond of these niche titles. Instead, it is the beautiful and unique stories told that capture fans’ hearts and keep them wanting to play.

 

When it was announced that the world-renowned Japanese game developers at Platinum Games would be creating a new Nier title with Yoko Taro at the helm, many fans of the first game, myself included, were enthralled. The brilliant storytelling from Yoko Taro’s pen and paper, brought to life with the advanced game systems that Platinum is known for, could combine to create a truly remarkable new entry. Thankfully, these expectations have been met, and dare I say it, surpassed. Nier: Automata is a beautiful game with likeable characters, an unforgettable story, and an engrossing gameplay hook that fans of the action genre have come to expect.

 

The plug-in chip system used to tailor the player’s gameplay style, both in combat and out of combat, is satisfying and flexible. Players collect a variety of skills, called electronic chips, that can be applied to their character to enhance a multitude of abilities. A custom chip set can be crafted, or the game can be told to create a balanced chip set – regardless, the system is well thought out and a fun place to craft your own unique playstyle. Whether you specialize in mid-air combos, ranged attacks, or hacking your opponents, there are a decent variety of choices for the player to take down enemies that keep things from getting stale.

nier automata reverse cover

Do I need to say anything about the game’s soundtrack? It’s phenomenal. I’m listening to it as I write this review, and will probably be listening to it six months from now, as I did with the first Nier game. If nothing else, the soundtrack needs to be heard and appreciated even by those who do not plan to play Nier: Automata. There are a few remixed tracks that crop up in the sequel from the first game, and they are interwoven in a smooth way that I appreciated.

nier automata trees

Actually, I do have one more thing to say about the soundtrack. There is a fair amount of the hacking minigame present in Nier: Automata, and it is almost exclusively present in the game’s second playthrough. Players will probably notice that any background music perfectly transitions into a chip-tune sound when the change from combat to hacking minigame occurs. Every time this musical transition happened, I was impressed. The way this is implemented at any point of gameplay is satisfying, but the way this transition occurs within the game’s final moments during the credits sequence is absolutely amazing. Some of Nier: Automata’s vocal tracks are sung in both English and Japanese, and feature a bit-tune version of these songs as well. The end credits sequence had my jaw hung open when there were transitions between not just the bit-tune and vocal versions of the same song, but also the multiple languages being sung. For example, a few lines of a track were sung in English, and then a few lines would be sung in the Japanese track, all in a seamless transition. To say it is breathtaking would be an understatement. This game has one of my favorite soundtracks not just for games, but to anything. The game features truly marvelous music that should not be missed.

nier automata 2b and 9s

 

Oh, and on that credits sequence – it’s one of my favorites in any game. Wonderful way to wrap up the story and feature an intense battle before the final cutscene.

 

To be completely honest, I’m rather intimidated to write about the story that is present in Nier: Automata. Similar to its predecessor, the story is engaging, complex, and features multiple likeable characters that have plenty of screentime. I am afraid that I cannot give the multiple narratives at play enough credit where the credit is due. With this in mind, I will do my best to provide a short write-up of my favorite bits of the story. Perhaps my favorite moments in the game’s story are the real-world questions that the game asks. What is the meaning of our existence? Do we have desires worth fighting for, and are those goals ultimately worth the sacrifices we make? These questions are addressed by the main characters as well as side quest characters that bring the world in Nier: Automata to life. Both friendly and hostile machines show a startling level of humanity that I did not at first expect from the game’s characters, and the fact that this is accomplished with zero humans present in the story is a remarkable feat in my eyes. For a better look at the themes that I most appreciated in this game’s story, I think George from SuperBunnyHop can provide a more detailed explanation. I’ll link his Nier: Automata video right here.

Nier automata cavalry

Now, I’ve done enough gushing about all of the game’s good. Although I think Nier: Automata is a simply astounding game that should not be missed, I think a lack of intricate combos like those present in other Platinum games like Bayonetta is a missed opportunity. The combat is more than serviceable, but I found it to be on the more simple side. As a big fan of seeing vast button combinations that can be executed in battle, I could see a list of unique combo attacks being a positive addition to the game. Something akin to Bayonetta or Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’s combo system would add a great deal to the game’s already satisfactory battle system.

Another criticism I can provide is the over-reliance on fetch quests in the game’s side quests. Although most of the side quests provide an interesting narrative to accompany them, some of the quests feel to rest a bit too much on collecting a certain resource for an NPC, or going off to slay the machines they ask you to kill. These issues are not as big a problem as they would be in other games, thanks to Nier: Automata’s satisfying movement, but they are still worth noting.

nier automata emil

To wrap this review up, I think that if you own a PS4, and have either played Nier or are okay with doing research in that game’s story to better understand Nier: Automata’s universe, you owe it to yourself to play this game. Yoko Taro and the wonderful folks at Platinum have crafted an experience that I will not forget anytime soon, featuring extremely engaging characters, a gripping storyline, and some of the best music in today’s modern world. Yes, I just said that. True, it is a bold claim, but I believe that Nier and Nier: Automata’s soundtracks offer music that rivals the best of the best, both within and outside of video games.

 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you greatly for reading my review of Nier: Automata. I had a good deal of fun writing this review, with the game’s soundtrack accompanying my writing. If you’re interested in seeing my other work, feel free to follow me on Twitter or here on WordPress. Have a great Memorial Day, all.

 

  • Matt

Persona 5 – I’ve Played 70 Hours, Here’s My Impressions So Far (No Spoilers)

  • Just for reference: I am currently about 70 hours through the main game, and am halfway through the sixth palace.

Man, I’ve been waiting for this game for quite some time. This year marked the release of a ton of fantastic games, but Persona 5 is a title that has been on my most-anticipated list for years. Remember the initial release window that Atlus announced?

P5 initial release date

My, how time has flied by.

Waiting for this game was not quite so painful for me as it was for other fans, because my only other Persona experience is in Persona 4 Golden released for the PlayStation Vita. It is a fantastic game, and left me wanting to see more from the series. Since the announcement of Persona 5, I have been avoiding any and all online coverage of the game beyond the intro cinematic trailer that debuted what feels like years ago.

After sinking 100+ hours into P4G, I knew what I was getting into when I started up P5. The crazy premise for the protagonist to begin his wacky adventure, the enjoyable and fun cast of characters, the stylish menus – and man, are those menus stylish as hell – are all present in this latest entry. Even though the core formula is the same – level up your protagonist through battles, build your relationship with friends you meet along the way, and fuse collected personas – it does not feel at all repetitive, thanks to the simply astounding menu design that takes place. From the battle selection all the way to managing inventory items, pressing the directional buttons to navigate your way through boxes never before felt so satisfying.

P5 wallpaper

Characters and enemies all have a satisfying pop to them that helps their appearance stand out and give weight to each battle, and every action performed is straightforward and quick. The loading times outside of the initial game load are extremely short, and I have yet to run into any bugs or glitches, as expected. This game is polished to a fine sheen, and it shows very quickly upon starting up.

The plot device for the game’s narrative to progress forward is both captivating and very different from the quiet introduction of Persona 4’s story; as someone who thought that the pace of P4’s beginning was a bit sluggish, seeing P5 start out strong is an exciting change. Having played P4G before this game, working with the persona fusions is easier to understand and still a lot of fun. I can definitely understand where confusion for newcomers may lie, and it is good to see that the game does an even better job of explaining persona fusions this time around.

P5 steelbook cover

I wish I could say that I have been taking my time with this game, but that is not entirely the case. Upon Persona 5’s western release on April 4th, 2017, I dumped a disgusting amount of time playing the game within the first week. Since then, I have taken a step back and done other activities to step my life forward, but I’m still steadily trucking through this (so far) fantastic new entry in the Persona series.

“This is a really amazing time for video games.” I’ve heard that phrase uttered a few times during different podcasts I listen to over the past few weeks, and it could not be any more true. There’s truly something for everybody; and if you like Japanese games, this is a dream come true. I still have to make time to play (and save up money) for Nier: Automata, Resident Evil 7, Gravity Rush 2, Yakuza Zero, and Mario Kart 8: Deluxe. I’ll be posting here in the near future about my thoughts on other games that I’ll be playing, but if you want to let me know your thoughts on what you’ve been playing, I’d love to hear it. Or, if you want to give me your thoughts on my writing, that is also appreciated. I always look for new ways to improve.

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful week.

  • Matt

Most Anticipated Upcoming Releases – Spring 2017

Hey folks, we are a little less than one week away from the launch of Nintendo Switch! I feel like this past month has flown by, and that is probably for the best – I can barely contain how excited I am to play around with the new system. Zelda has gotten high praise across the board, and now we’re getting confirmation that an additional two Switch games will be there at launch – both Snipperclips and Fast RMX! I played a fair chunk of Fast Racing Neo on the Wii U, Shin’en Multimedia’s previous racing game that featured high speed racing similar to F-Zero or Wipeout, and Fast RMX looks to be more of what I enjoyed. Snipperclips appears to be a great co-op title that is easy to pick up and play, even for people with little knowledge of modern video games; I may purchase a copy down the road if my family or friends show interest. Unfortunately, Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth Plus has been delayed until March 17th, but with Zelda in my hands, I can wait. As a long-time fan of the Isaac series, it’ll be great to get the full dungeon-crawling experience anywhere on-the-go. 

zelda-wolf

However, the Switch is not the only future gaming event on my radar. The much-anticipated PS4 exclusive Horizon: Zero Dawn is finally releasing in three days from now, and I have been waiting a long time for this one. Ever since the (leaked?) piece of artwork showcasing hunters from an indigenous tribe conducting battle against a giant mechanical beast, I have been heavily anticipating what Guerrilla Games could handle with their newest title. Although some people did not enjoy the Killzone series, I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for Killzone 2 as well as Killzone Shadow Fall. I was hooked onto both of these games for quite a while, because both of them arrived at the perfect time. When I picked up my PS3 in 2009, Killzone 2 was released to lots of praise, and I very much enjoyed my time with that game. Killzone 3, unfortunately, did not hold my attention quite as much, but was still a solid experience. Then, when I picked up a PS4 on the system’s launch in November 2013, I also got Killzone Shadow Fall along with it and felt a similar spark of excitement playing it as I felt a few years prior playing Killzone 2. All of that said, I am entirely supportive of Guerrilla’s decision to distance themselves from the Killzone series and move on to other projects, such as Horizon, because new intellectual property is always a good thing for the industry. New unique environments, characters, and storylines are welcome to me over a sequel, and Guerrilla deserves to go crazy with it, as they seem to have done with Horizon. It is a very risky venture, creating a new IP instead of settling into a routine of sequels for an already well-established series, and I hope it pays off for them, because Horizon: Zero Dawn looks (and sounds) phenomenal.

hzd-pic-leak

↑ This is the leaked art I mentioned earlier. Please excuse the numerous watermarks! ↑

Beyond the Switch, Zelda, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and the other Switch launch games that I previously mentioned, the rest of Spring through early Summer looks very promising. Nier: Automata is a game that I never thought would be possible, and yet it is almost upon us. The latest collaboration between the insanely talented team at Platinum Games with the inventive mind of Yoko Taro is a match made in heaven, one that nobody was expecting. Based on my time with Automata’s free demo on PS4, I can tell it is going to be a wild ride (seriously, if you enjoy fast-paced action titles, give this one a look!)

nier-automata-enemy-and-2b

April is going to bring us Persona 5, and… Well, I don’t think much else needs to be said about that game. It looks nothing short of amazing. I’ve been on media blackout for the title since the first gameplay trailer debuted a while back, and I have confidence that it will be worth the wait.

p5-wallpaper

I’m going on a short vacation in late March, but I’d like to write a piece about my thoughts on vocals in video games before my departure. If I can find time between playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Fast RMX, and Horizon: Zero Dawn to write, then I will publish that piece! This is a problem, why are so many great games releasing in this short time span? I still have interest in playing Nioh, Resident Evil 7, Gravity Rush 2, and Yakuza 0. Unfortunately, they will have to wait until another day.

That’s all from me, for now. Talk to you all soon, hope you enjoy your time with the exciting new releases. Thanks for reading!

  • Matt