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barrel

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Everything posted by barrel

  1. barrel

    Watchu' Buyin' August 2016 Edition

    Nah, it was entirely because of randomly playing the open beta at the last minute. But had I not played it I wonder if I would've given it a chance (or if I would've just thought it was like another Team Fortress 2, but more people going crazy over "waifus". I remember talking to Wildcard months before launch and told him that I couldn't care less about it, basically.). I think I even peer pressured Venom into getting it, and he's like the Overwatch guy of GP now. I tried to play through stealth as well. I remember HATING the 1st boss in particular because the game decided it was fair to checkpoint the fight as the boss was guaranteed to hurt me for most of my health. After that 1st boss I learned that it complete stealth runs were probably just going to be suffering (I found the ones after easy, but the 1st fight gave me a lot of difficulty because of how it auto-saved and I had no real weapons.). But either way, I viewed the endings as literally pulling switches and having people tell you why you should (...because it was.) even if the themes behind some were interesting.
  2. barrel

    Watchu' Buyin' August 2016 Edition

    I already bought Abzu and pre-ordered Bound. I plan to get God Eater 2 on Vita, but since that is digital only I'll have to wait until it appears. Other than that, I definitely plan to play Mankind Divided though I'm not sure if I want to play it right away based on how I was rather mixed on certain aspects of Human Revelation (I liked the themes and setting, but thought Adam Jensen was a real boring dude, for example....and he's back in the lead role. Also, those bosses were the worst, I don't care what they did with a director's cut years later.). I still can't decide if I care about No Man's Sky, but I think it's because Minecraft-ish survival games aren't really my thing even if you sci-fi them up. It doesn't feel like it has take over the world yet, so I might not feel obligated to. I dunno, man, it's basically Mass Effect 3's ending in which you flip like 1 of 3 switches and get some take it or leave it 2 minute spiel about the state of the world. (Though, Human Revelation is not as insulting as Mass Effect 3's...)
  3. barrel

    Shiren The Wanderer 2 (1)

    From the album: Shiren the Wanderer

  4. barrel

    Shiren the Wanderer

  5. barrel

    Shiren The Wanderer 1 (3)

    From the album: Shiren the Wanderer

  6. barrel

    Shiren The Wanderer (46)

    From the album: Shiren the Wanderer

  7. barrel

    Shiren The Wanderer (24)

    From the album: Shiren the Wanderer

  8. Personal list: Tokyo Mirage Sessions (only played like 2 hours? I wanted to beat some smaller games 1st.) Zero Time Dilemma (I'm still in shock Amazon has not shipped my order.... 5 weeks after launch. Amazon has been handling the LE extremely poorly.) Firewatch The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine Street Fighter V (I blame Guilty Gear Revelator for distracting me. That, and Capcom pushing me off with gross dlc stuff.) I've already played some of the obvious heavy-hitters like Overwatch, Uncharted 4, Doom, and Dark Souls 3 (in the case of Overwatch.... still playing.). I'm working my way through the Rachet and Clank reboot so I'm not going to count that either. I have a lot of handheld games that I have been meaning to play too, but, of course, they are all like RPGs.
  9. barrel

    Review: Grand Kingdom

    Developer: Monochrome Publisher: NIS America Platform: PS4 and PS Vita Release Date: June 21, 2016 ESRB: T for Teen This review is based on the PS Vita version of the game I obnoxiously fought with recalling the name of Monochrome's newest tactical-RPG release, Grand Kingdom, on PS Vita/PS4 for quite a while. Not because it is exactly a hard title to remember, but I constantly got it confused with Grand Knights History; a former and almost localized Vanillaware PSP release. Apparently the confusion was not unwarranted as both Grand Kingdom and Grand Knights History share the same director, Tomohiko Deguchi, despite having completely different development teams behind them. Either way, Grand Kingdom managed to finally find a sticking point within my memory with its more unique take on tactical-RPGs. It is quite common for most Japanese strategy-RPGs to intimate the likes of either Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics, but Grand Kingdom is not really similar to either of those even on a fundamental level. If I were to toss any particular loose comparisons, I would say that Grand Kingdom somewhat reminds me of a hybrid between RPGs like Valkyrie Profile with how it handles active, deep turn-based combat and the classic Ogre Battle with the importance of team composition. The entire premise of Grand Kingdom is the player assembling a mercenary troop and taking on various jobs. Mercenary works comes from either the somewhat brief main story that does just enough to convey the world's sense of character, or participating in large-scale battles with the surprisingly robust online functionality that involves making contracts between four key nations. Though it may be tempting to either go heavily into either single player or online, in reality, both aspects truly feel like two sides of the same coin in Grand Kingdom and the player is strongly encouraged to utilize both actively. The reason why both single-player and online are important is that neither is mutually exclusive and often play off of one another. For example, a huge component of Grand Kingdom is making squads. Even if you may only actively play one 4-person party at a time when it comes to moving your chess-like piece on a simplistic grid in normal missions, you can have entirely different parties getting other rewards for you in the mean time. I often found a routine is sending in dispatching new parties online to fight in a war simply so I could gain level ups and money while I was asleep. However, without a doubt the strongest facet of Grand Kingdom is its deep party customization and active combat. You can go as detailed as you want when it comes to creating unique character attack combos and maximizing their timing to deal the most hurt, almost akin to a fighting game, or set button-mashy preset attacks -- and that's just for melee classes. Grand Kingdom does a great job at making the handful of classes feel very unique, like perhaps having a trusty "Challenger" class place explosive barrels to impede enemy movement or spellcasters, like Arcanist, pelting foes from afar and juggling them in the air with well-timed button presses. There is a real satisfactions in creating your own party and finding out what works for you (or doesn't, in the case of accidental friendly fire). One of my biggest problems with Grand Kingdom is that there is simply not that much incentive to really change things up. The combat depth is there, but the level, mission, and enemy variety simply to utilize it simply is not. As one is chipping away at online missions or main story objectives it is real easy to create a huge disparity in levels and stats between different squads, which will likely lead most to sticking to one party and delegating other squads to get them free stuff online. This is a real shame because the combat has so much depth. Frankly, you will see a lot of the same enemies rather quickly as well as samey scenarios on maps. For me personally, party stats eventually mattered much more than me getting creative at eliminating them through actual strategy. I hate to say it, but I found a bread and butter routine for my main party and it would have been too much of a grind to make my five other squads catch up any time soon to purposely change it up. It is a shame, because aspects like online are surprisingly robust and, sadly, not really for me. Beyond dispatching party members to get you free stuff (....you can tell I used it for that a lot), there is a whole other layer involving the four factions. Players can plan out invasions, make treaties, gather resources to expand a war's effort, and plenty more when going online. There are even neat touches like being able to battle (AI-controlled) parties of other players during these section based on which faction you war against. It is clear that Grand Kingdom wants to become a title that one keeps returning to. And, in all honestly, after the main story, the online functionality is likely the biggest and best way to strengthen your party for those who want to go for a Disgaea-like meta game when it comes to re-leveling characters for better base stats. For me, however, all I saw was a grind without that much incentive despite the promise of added, faction specific, story missions for significantly higher party levels. One can tell Grand Kingdom has a lot of heart, however. In my case, it was not immediately easy to tell as the game has the unfortunate luck of being immediately compared Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir, which is simply unfair as both the 2D visuals and soundtrack are quite charming overall (just... not astounding like Vanillaware stuff.). That said, aside from the aesthetic, and eventually through the more-likable-than-you'd-expect main story, the Vita release is hindered by some technical foibles, specifically load times. It may seem minor, and it may very well be for people, but I found myself put off by having to often wait five or seconds when trying to get nitty gritty with slotting attack different abilities or transition between different menus rather often. It often feels like Grand Kingdom is at odds with what it intends to achieve. In one moment, the combat, party customization, and online functionality are surprisingly deep and have several creative ideas with their execution. However, it loses in a battle or attrition as it struggles to introduce much incentive, or actual enemy/map variety, to do much more than follow a formulaic grind after the brief main story. I appreciate Grand Kingdom's initial ideals, but I wish my morale in the long haul was simply higher justify a continued march at its side to proudly wave its banner. Pros + Pleasant 2D art direction and soundtrack + Tons of party customization for attack/combo slotting, group formations, and + Several creative ideas for online functionality through various warring factions that strongly encourage returning regularly for perks Cons - Simplistic battle maps and very few enemies types do not lend themselves to gameplay variety - The huge disparity in stats created through level-ups can easily create the temptation of simply using 'what works' at the sacrifice of actual gameplay strategy - If one does not get into the online aspects they may find themselves hard-pressed to do much beyond the short main story - Noticeable load times on Vita Overall Score: 6.5 (out of 10) Decent Grand Kingdom is a creative take on Tactical-RPGs from its deep combat mechanics and many unique warlike online systems, yet, without a strong enough formation to several other gameplay components may unfairly cause it to be forgotten after its brief tale is told Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Vita code provided by the publisher.
  10. Developer: Gust Corporation Publisher: Koei-Tecmo Platform: Vita/PS4 Release Date: June 7, 2016 ESRB: T for Teen There is something to be said about the Atelier series when it has crafted more main titles than even Final Fantasy. And yet, despite having so many entries stored throughout its' history, Atelier still somehow manages to retain its fanbase with individuals such as myself. There is clearly a winning recipe to their addictive and light-hearted RPG formula focused on alchemy that Gust Corporation still shows no sign of stopping any time soon. After enjoying the previous release, Atelier Shallie, quite a bit, I was excited to see what the newest entry, Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, had in store. It was the perfect opportunity to make a fresh break from the former "Dusk" trilogy and is also the first title to make its way to the Playstation 4 hardware. The end result, however, is that it may very well be the most disappointing title that I have yet played from the series. Disappointing does not mean bad, of course. The primary reason why I still play every Atelier entry year by year is that they have pretty much always been mechanically solid despite hit & miss aspects on a per game basis. But, that's Atelier Sophie's biggest problem, it does not really feel like it improves any particular aspect. Atelier Sophie certainly changes things but I would be hard-pressed to say they are direct enhancements over previous releases, and in several regards Atelier Sophie feels like an overall step back as a game. Before getting into all of that, Atelier Sophie goes more back to basics when it comes to tone. The previous Atelier trilogy tried to be more self-serious with its storytelling -- in particular Atelier Ayesha, which yielded mixed results because of its ultimately unrealized narrative and character potential. Atelier Sophie is far more straightforward in comparison. The fledgling alchemist Sophie finds a mysterious talking book in her departed grandmother's atelier. The book, whom refers to herself as Plachta, tells Sophie that while she is able to help Sophie get better at alchemy most of her memories -- as well as former written contents -- are gone. As Sophie starts to write down new alchemy recipes on Plachta“s pages, the two learn that that may very well be the key to slowly recover Plachta's lost memories, and so, the two decide to help out one another out and become fast friends. The setup largely transitions into the game's overall flow as well. Whether this comes from exploring areas or trying out new things via alchemy, Sophie will gradually come up with new synthesis recipes to recover more of Plachta's memories. This premise helps makes the title feel more carefree as well. Though I do think it is a solid concept in nature, as there is no looming yearly deadlines or a possible narrative guilt for failing to make progress in time, Atelier Sophie does not necessarily benefit from it. There are two main reasons for this, one being the newly added Day/Night cycle and the other being how retrieving Plachta“s memories very much creates stopgaps to the gameplay progression. I'll try to avoid being too technical about Atelier gameplay conventions, but the Day/Night cycle is not handled very well in Atelier Sophie. Basically, both characters events in the central town of 'Kirchen Bell', as well as explorable areas outside of it change depending on what time of day it is. The thing is that both character events and item gathering (needed for alchemy, in particular) are linear in nature. So, for example, you may need an alchemy item that you can only get at nighttime, or there may be a character event that only happens in the morning. Both of these can lead to a lot of tedium with the inherent flow. To add a wrinkle to the disjointed day/night addition, getting Placta's memories, aka the main source of gameplay progression, absolutely requires you do such things to trigger alchemy unlocks that comes from specific character events or exploring environments at certain times. Even formulas that were totally solid in prior games, such as combat, don't feel as good in Atelier Sophie. They essentially fragment aspects that made the turn-based combat feel surprisingly active in recent games, like follow-up attack and defending allies one another from incoming enemy attacks, into the newly added "offensive" and "defensive" stances. You can still technically use follow-up skills, but only if multiple allies are the same stance offensive or defensive stance, and you have no control over which ally (or what order) they do it in. Ultimately it feels like an unnecessary and more limiting change under the guise of trying to be more strategic. It also does not help that combat feels noticeably slower because of it. Like much of Atelier Sophie, it is not bad by any means and is occasionally fun later on, but it is a baffling change when previous games simply handled it better. If there is one aspect that I think Atelier Sophie actually improves, and is not a weird half-step back in, it's the series's signature alchemy system. Like previous releases, it continues to shatter that expectation that crafting is often boring in games and creates an addictive formula when it comes to making one item to the next. The title borrow many alchemy elements from the prior "Dusk" trilogy while adding more of puzzle element to each creation. Basically, each item you add have their own color and shaping, and by adding them smartly to the cauldron it will lead to very useful traits or outright better items. Though it was weird for me to adjust to, unlike the rest of the game the alchemy system grew on me over time. The shift to new hardware did not help the title either. Now, I pretty much always complain about how explorable environments often look very drab in Atelier games, but it is even less acceptable on the PS4. Sure, the character models are pleasant to look at, and the whimsical soundtrack is great to listen to, but even as someone who is not really a technical snob still thinks the environments look quite awful in this title. Though I know it won't happen with Atelier Firis on the horizon in Japan, Atelier Sophie is probably the first title to truly make me think that Gust Corporation should give their games another year to polish everything up. This does not just apply to the presentation, Atelier Sophie simply does not feel fleshed out as an Atelier release from presentation, gameplay, as well as the generally boring cast of characters. Atelier Sophie is probably the first title of recent Atelier releases that I would have honestly been totally fine with skipping outright. Oddly enough, I don't even think it has to do with series fatigue at all as someone who has been following the series pretty much yearly. I simply think Atelier Sophie takes too many steps back from its gameplay systems to its overall structure and is that much less enjoyable because of it. To further reemphasize my main point, Atelier Sophie is by no means a bad game, just an unremarkable step back for the series that makes a very disappointing debut on PS4. Pros + Carefree design allows the player to take their time + Deep alchemy system with a puzzle-like charm to it + Whimsical soundtrack and vibrant character models Cons -Overall structure feels quite aimless and is very disjointed because of the newly added day/night cycle - Getting certain alchemy recipes and ingredients can be needlessly tedious - Environments look awful and are really not acceptable on PS4 - Odd steps back with combat and gameplay interface - Wholly forgettable characters and storytelling Overall Score: 5.5 (out of 10) Average Though Atelier games have a tendency for distinguish themselves amongst many tried and true Japanese RPGs. Atelier Sophie, however, may very well be the least noteworthy and forgettable title in recent memory to bear the Atelier name. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS4 code provided by the publisher.
  11. I plan to get 7th Dragon. Few other things are either curiosities or maybe buys (Like, if a couple people I know get Monster Hunter Generations I may consider it.). Playing I Am Setsuna at E3 really killed my interest in the game, so I'm not sure if that is even curiosity territory for me anymore. (though, E3 is a terrible place to play RPGs.).
  12. barrel

    Evolve on PC goes F2P!?!?!

    Wasn't Evolve's biggest problem something to do with how they handled DLC for it? (like locking entire playable monster forms in buy or preorder only dlc, which fragmented the community even more.). I guess F2P will make it so a handful of people will at least try it out, but this does not strike me as appetizing since I can't imagine it will be better handled in F2P form.
  13. HAPPY B-DAY, TK.

    1. TKtheknight

      TKtheknight

      THANKS DAWG! WOO!

    2. Steve Bitto

      Steve Bitto

      Sorry for the late bday wishes, TK! Hope it was a good one!

    3. TKtheknight

      TKtheknight

      Thanks Steve! I didn't do anything on my birthday, but had a great buffet for dinner lol. Woo!

  14. barrel

    E3 2016 Hands-on: For Honor

    Ubisoft tends to get quite the reputation for either their endless sequels or titles that might as well just be sequels with their shameless open-world game homogenization. It is for this reason that the multiplayer and melee-focused action title, For Honor, caught the eyes of many curious on-lookers, including myself. I mean, having knights, vikings and even samurai duke it out in brutal melee combat just seems like a recipe for chaotic fun, especially if it is well done. When getting onto the actual demo, however, I did not expect to play, well... single player content. Before I was hit by the wave of disappointment of not getting to try out the multiplayer -- or at the very least being able to play as a Samurai right away -- the single-player content actually seemed surprisingly solid in For Honor. Unfortunately, the demo itself only had you playing as a knight. Nothing against knights, but they are simply not as cool as samurai or vikings. Still, as you are tossed into the fray, you -- and a squad of mostly useless NPCs knights -- start making your way around a castle under siege. So, in tutorial-like fashion, it teaches you much of the basics like shifting your guard/attack stances and learning the timings to either attack or defend. Even as I was learning the fundamentals, I was pleased to notice that the controls felt great and very responsive. Running around felt smooth and attacks have a strong sense of weight behind them, even more so after you viciously decapitate foes. Essentially, the core concept of combat is built around attacking, or defending, from three different angles and mixing it up with light/heavy attacks, or pulling off a guard break for those that are too defensive. I learned that it is actually much better to be relentlessly offensive and hoping you are not being too predictable than trying to plan counterattacks, as the window for an enemy being stunned after a blocked attack is not very long and can easily lead them towards another, almost free hit. It also shows that if you are in a situation where it is two against one, those two people are at a big advantage. Anyway, aside from teaching the basics, For Honor's single-player demo does a good job at making true one on one confrontations feel rather tense. Though you cleave your way through many fodder enemies and move about the castle with occasional exposition, at the end of the demo you are the chosen knight for a duel to settle the siege. And, while the character you are playing as talked about his opponent lacking experience mid-battle, the enemy itself felt close to what I would imagine a human player would be like in that they are just as capable as bringing you down as you are them if you are not paying attention. For Honor definitely expects fighting to become second nature, and -- for what fun I had in single player -- I can only imagine it being even much more so against equally skilled human players. It is rather strange going into a demo expecting multiplayer mayhem, only to walk out of it rather pleasantly surprised by the single-player content. Either way, the demo for For Honor did more than a solid job of whetting my appetite for the supposed early 2017 release. It looked, played, and sounded excellent from the single-player mission alone, and considering how multiplayer is supposed to be the forefront focus of the final game I found myself far more interested in the final product. Those that have their eye on For Honor will be be happy to know that it not only seems promising from a gameplay standpoint, but also that it is likely to have worthwhile single-player content as well for something originally pitched as a purely multiplayer experience.
  15. The original Gravity Rush was easily one of my favorite Vita releases. Sure, it was recently ported to PS4 as Gravity Rush Remastered, and, in doing so, lost its former exclusivity along with many other Vita releases. That said, there is something really special about Gravity Rush's original debut with its charming aesthetic on the Vita's gorgeous OLED screen and basically an entire game centered around, pardon me, the free-falling rush of controlled gravity. It certainly was not flawless, but it was ripe with potential and left many fans pining for a sequel after the original's end . Of course, a high-budget sequel directly to Vita was no longer in the cards now that Sony has pretty much abandoned the PS Vita in favor of the far more successful PS4 home console. Thankfully, Sony did not forget to make Gravity Rush 2 while shifting entirely to PS4, and though it is not certainly where I would ever expect to play it, I am glad that Gravity Rush 2 seems to remember what made the first title good and clearly improving upon it. What I liked about the demo is that gravity defying heroine, Kat, does not seem to have lost any of her former skills whatsoever. The tutorial refresher shows off all of her former abilities from melee attacks to being able to levitate/toss objects and everything controls a bit tighter than it once was. In particular, her mid-air dive kick that was a little bit too necessary in the original seems more accurate. Where Gravity Rush 2 starts drawing the differences is by making the world more lively, They amplify the already great cel-shaded aesthetic to the point where local NPCs are noticeably more character-based in the bustling marketplace they show off, which is refreshing to see after how empty and constantly terrified NPCs of the original were. Though, they still seem skittish when Kat uses her powers. This carries over to the side quests as well, which seem to actually have cutscenes and varied mission design this time around. In the original Gravity Rush, side quests were little more than time trials without any context. In the demo, however, they have you meet an eccentric delivery man whom has his cargo stolen by pirates. So, Kat zips around and flies after them only to be attacked by monsters. Beyond her standard attack kit, they give Kat a little taste of her entirely new crowd-clearing special moves as well as completely new fighting styles. The fighting style they show off in particular is called 'Lunar Style,' which seems more capable of dealing with aerial foes and also has her literally teleport as her connects her flurry of kicks. Admittedly, I did not see much more beyond that on the show floor as it seems to have had like a ten-minute time limit in place. Which is a real shame as the stuff right after seemed much more exciting with entirely new enemies and more bombastic attack skills (I envy those who saw more behind closed doors). But it was nice to see key criticisms of the original game getting addressed in Gravity Rush 2 for however brief my time was with it. And, for as little of the main story they showed off, there clearly looks to be familiar faces from first release making a quick return which fans will likely appreciate. Playing Gravity Rush 2 on the show floor was quite surreal. For one reason, it was because it is on PS4, where I would not have even considered possibility for a sequel a few years ago with a former Vita exclusive. The other reason is that I still feel like I don't know a whole lot about Gravity Rush 2, despite the final release supposedly happening by the end of the year. Gravity Rush 2 is flowing with potential by feeling clearly familiar in the eye-catching aesthetic while at the same time looks to go out of its way to address criticisms with the original's gameplay by adding more depth and variety overall. I can only hope that they upcoming title ultimately goes above and beyond expectations, but much like the original I expect to enjoy my time with the final release of Gravity Rush 2 regardless.
  16. Developer: Arc System Works Publisher: Aksys Games Platform: PS4 and PS3 Release Date: June 7, 2016 ESRB: T for Teen This review is based on the PS4 version of the game For almost an entire console generation the classic 2D fighting game series, Guilty Gear, was nowhere to be seen. Basically, after a merge between Sega and Sammy Corporation, the developer Arc System Works lost the rights to Guilty Gear entirely. To fill in the generational gap, Arc System Works even went so far as to create a spiritual successor to the series called Blazblue, which saw many iterations and spin-offs. Then, out of basically nowhere, Arc System Works managed to reclaim the rights to Guilty Gear and revitalized the series in a spectacular fashion with Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- in 2014. With a master craft approach to gorgeous 3D cel-shading, and many familiar gameplay systems, it was basically the perfect storm of feeling fresh and familiar at the same time. Of course, even with a rocking debut, the reinvigorated series continues with fighting game tradition and finds itself with an enhanced release by the name of Guilty Gear Xrd- Revelator-. As impressive as Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- was at reviving the series, and even as a fighter, it was also noticeably bare bones in most ways. Xrd basically debuted with only fifteen characters, used a rather standard fare approach to most modes, and had a mess of an online interface. Though I enjoyed my time with the original release, it was almost in spite of itself in some regards. The first significant improvement is boosting the -SIGN-'s default character roster of 15 to a current total of 22 in Revelator. Like -SIGN- before it, the entirely new playable characters are all welcome additions. New character Raven is one such example, who is an incredibly agile fighter that gets a masochistic burst of strength with the less health he has. Then there is the martial-artist Kum Haehyun where, as bizarre as a mechanical old man controlled by a young girl is, she has a more straightforward fighting style that relies on more traditional fighting game "link" inputs rather than "gatlings" like the rest of the cast. Most unique of all, however, and without a doubt my current favorite to play, is the tricky Jack-O. Jack-O“s core concept is built around Real Time Strategy gameplay mechanics in which she puts down miniature fortresses, which get stronger and also spawn mnay minions over time to overwhelm foes. The other added characters are certainly very enjoyable as well but not quite entirely new for different reasons. For instance, former DLC only members in -SIGN- (like the literal walking Guns N' Roses reference that was Elphelt Valentine to the overly-confident 2nd king Leo Whitefang) are still entertaining and no longer have the overpriced DLC stigma attached to them. However, the cooler additions are the returning, and formally 2D, fan-favorites Guilty Gear characters like the sky-pirate Johnny and Ki master/ greedy waitress Jam. The two not only look fantastic in Revelator's captivating aesthetic, but even retain their signature mechanics from their 2D days like Johnny's technical "glitter is gold" system (yes, a Led Zeplin reference) to Jam's charge based Ki-style. Shockingly enough, Revelator is also a direct narrative sequel to -SIGN-. Now, I won't dance around how I found -SIGN-'s storytelling to be a rather dull tease of things to come. And frankly, I would've said the exact same for Revelator, which "ended" on an even more insulting cliffhanger... until the day 1 patch. Yes, it is hard to believe, but they literally added the 2nd half of the storytelling via a free day one patch, and it's far and away the best half. It is jarring how much better the 2nd part of the storytelling is in comparison (even the production values) actually, as it is thoroughly entertaining, bombastic, and surprisingly fulfilling throughout. Frankly, if the first half of the story mode was as consistent as the second half of Revelator's narrative, it could've easily become my go-to example for a fighting game story mode done right. Other than that, Revelator feels like an appreciated checklist of refinements and, weird fishing minigame aside, without so much as any real new modes. Character re-balancing is there as one would expect as well as a few mechanical and presentation tweaks. Such mechanical changes include being able to break from throws, the new Blitz attack, an added homing dash to dust moves, and the ability to power up special moves at the cost of a Burst. Better yet, If none of that previous sentence made any sense to you, well, don't worry, as the tutorials are quite helpful in Revelator and may very well be the most entertaining in a fighting game outright. First off, the standard tutorial is, dare I say it, actually kind of fun. The tutorial for Revelator is basically an obstacle course created by none other than Jack-O. To intentionally spice things up from normally regimented instructions in most fighters, Jack-O has the player do things like pop balloons to practice movement and also navigate around the terrain, as well as her minions, while hopefully teaching the player many fundamentals like attack links and blocking. There are even many helpful FAQs at the pause menu to also clarify many basics. Granted, while Guilty Gear Xrd-Revelator- is still a rather technical and hyper aggressive fighter at the end of the day, it's still great to see that it is willing to teach its' basic concepts in a fun fashion without being too daunting. Last, but certainly not least, for players who intend to play the title more actively (myself), will be happy to hear of the vast improvements added to the online multiplayer. Xrd arguably had some of the most poorly presented menus for online multiplayer, where basically setting up matches or picking your character was more cumbersome than not. Revelator, however, basically steals Persona 4 Arena Ultimax's arcade-like lobby system and feels far more inviting because of it. Players can seamlessly use any of the game's modes while being in the many regional lobbies to. And, just like in -SIGN-, the netcode is excellent and seems to be even better with Revelator. Perhaps the most unfortunate consequence that Guilty Gear Xrd- REVELATOR- has going against is that it feels like what Guilty Gear Gear Xrd Sign- should have been right out of the gate. On one hand, Revelator truly makes a lot of smart improvements and is still a great fighter. The new characters are a blast to play, the online multiplayer and accessibility options are fantastic, various mechanical changes are appreciated, and even the story mode (...2nd half) ends up being actually worthwhile. On the other hand, it is a harder sell at the full retail price because of the strong sense of familiarity without any real added modes and most other enhanced aspects being harder to appreciate through less trained fighting game fans eyes outside of the fun tutorial. At the end of the day, Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- makes much headway for both serious and completely new players, but those straddling the line will may find it to be too little and too soon. Pros + New characters are a lot of fun to play, Jack-0 in particular being incredibly unique + Great, and surprisingly approachable; tutorials with many useful tips + Excellent online netcode and lobby interface + Story mode becomes surprisingly entertaining Cons - Very little that is new in terms of modes -First half of the story mode is a real slog - Does not quite shake off the feeling of it basically being what Guilty Gear Xrd-SIGN- should have been Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator much improves the nitty gritty details of its predecessor, from quite welcome additions to the playable cast, great online multiplayer and tutorials, and even storytelling. But, for those who were not already looking forward to its release, it will be harder to appreciate its existence with a less apparent sum total of enhancements that likely should have been part of its first debut Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS4 code provided by the publisher.
  17. Understanding Fate/Stay Night as a series is about as bizarre as explaining how many creative liberties it takes for the legendary historical figures within it. For example, a gender-swapped King Arthur is the poster child of the series. That said, she goes by the name of 'Saber,' which is both her 'servant' class name and also alias in the 'Holy Grail War' against other chosen 'magus' participants, or 'masters.' Now, for everyone's sanity, including my own, I'll spare you all from much more of Nasu's vast amount of convoluted jargon for the series. What I will say is that the Fate/Stay Night series originally started as a visual novel/eroge made by Type-Moon in 2004. The visual novel gained so much popularity in Japan over time that it got various hit & miss anime adaptations as well as many spin-offs from light novels to video games. Admittedly, my knowledge does not really go too far beyond the massive original visual novel (which takes like fifty hours to read through.), but know that the lore rabbit hole goes very deep for Fate/Stay Night, especially with so few official localized releases. Now, the upcoming video game Fate/Extellla: The Umbral Star by Marvelous Entertainment is a bit more complex than some loose narrative extension to the original visual novel. It would be more accurate to say that Fate/Extella is actually a sequel to the very much overlooked (from myself included), and surprisingly localized, PSP RPG called Fate/Extra, which takes place from a parallel universe to Fate/Stay Night. What this means is that even seemingly familiar characters like 'Saber' from the original visual novel actually take on a noticeably different context in Fate/Extra (i.e. Saber Lily is the protagonist of that game, but she is not the same as Saber from Fate/Stay Night). Thankfully, what I have played of Fate/Extella was not anywhere near as confusing as any of that preamble. Fate/Extella is an unabashed Musou game at heart that also happens to be a direct sequel to Fate/Extra. The primary gameplay consisted of going across the map while selectively killing enemy leaders to gain the most control over the given level. Though the final game will allow multiple 'servants' to play as, the demo only allowed the player to slash up legions of enemies as Saber Lily. Like other Musou titles, Saber Lily's bread and butter were through the use of light/heavy attacks and raking up combos (and kill counts) over the hundreds. The minor, and slightly more distinctive mechanics, were through various special moves. For example, by pressing the circle button Saber Lily will go into an attack which seems to single out nearby targets and mashing the circle button during it will increase its effectiveness. Even more flashy were what I assume to be a 'Noble Phantasm,' which is an extremely powerful crowd-clearing special move based on gathering specific items during a stage. Probably my personal favorite special skill was when Saber Lily temporarily transforms into a more melee-focused and fisticuffs-like fighting style, which changes her entire moveset. Of course, I won't pretend to be an expert at the game as I did not know how to use healing items and this caused me to embarrassingly lose to a certain iconic 'hero' -- but none the less very memorable figure within the series -- King Gilgamesh. What is interesting is that upon losing all of your health, you have the choice between using one 'command seal' for a standard full-health continue (up to three), or using all three commands seals at once for only one continue while getting a permanent health and attack buff during the entirety of the map. I went for the latter due to curiosity and was able to roll through the stage with no little difficulty afterwards, and quickly destroyed Gilgamesh and other following 'servants, but I was told that it is often more practical to go for the three separate continues. Admittedly, aside from those features, Saber Lily's moveset did not seem very deep at all -- even for musou standards. I will assume this is because you gain more attack combos as you level up, but, if not, hopefully one enjoys the Fate/Extra either the characters and storytelling enough to overlook such possible shortcomings. And, based on the person running the booth, I was told that the storytelling is significantly bigger than one would expect from any musou title. Apparently they even got Fate/Stay Night's original visual novel writer, Nasu, to write the story script for Fate Extella. I would be lying if I said that did not dramatically enhance my interest in the title. Fate Extella: The Umbral Star seems to be trying to occupy a weird space amongst many Musou-like titles. While there is certainly no shortage of Musou titles, especially from Omega Force, those who are invested in the Fate/Stay Night series (like myself) will likely find there to be an alluring pull in what Fate Extella may offer in what is normally a crowded subgenre. From the various iconic series heroes, their incredibly flashy over-the-top skills, and the supposedly fairly in-depth storytelling around, Fate/Stay Night, or even an avid Musou enthusiastic, may have something to look forward from XSEED's upcoming 2016 Winter PS4 and Vita release.
  18. I am usually a fairly curious person when it comes to food, but my stomach already hurts reading this. So... probably not? I dislike cheetos nowadays (I can have like 1 chip before I'm already tired of it. I used to like hot cheetos tho.), so that alone is a deal-breaker. That said, in theory, if it was something other than cheetos I'd probably be more curious about about having something with mac n cheese filling on the inside.
  19. WAIT, Nier was in fact on Xbox 360 (and PS3). Actually, in Japan, the version we played in the US on both consoles was based on the original 360 version there (To avoid a weirdly long explanation of their differences, I'll just say Nier Replicant and Nier Gestalt *we played the latter* sorta had recent Pokemon-ish differences. Primarily tho, the two versions changed the context of the main character.). But, to back up your point, it is very likely that Nier did (even) worse on 360. But yeah, Automata looks great. I'm not quite sure if I should be looking forward to it narrative-wise (which is why most people played the original Nier. That, and the amazing music.), but it seems like Platinum is bringing their action A-game to Automata
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    E3 2016 Hands-on: Bound

    I knew next to nothing about Bound prior to playing it this year at E3. My reason for going to the Sony booth was specifically to play Gravity Rush 2 but -- amidst the sea of mostly familiar sequels -- the PS4 title Bound immediately caught my eye for many reasons. So, rather than prancing ahead in ignorance, l decided to curiously check out Sony Santa Montica Studio's rather uniquely styled 3D platformer. It is perhaps unsurprising that Sony has Bound under their banner. Not because it is that similar to prior properties at all, but more so in that evokes an overwhelming mystique that Journey had, while the captivating aesthetic ebbs and flows to the point of feeling almost tangible like the paper craft world of Tearaway did. Apparently it draws much inspiration from Modern Art styles, but I do not have a keen enough eye to discern which influences they may be in particular. There is one thing I can say about Bound with absolute confidence, however: it looks and sounds phenomenal in motion, and is incredibly picture-esque -- which is almost an understatement. Bound“s first demo (I was unable to try the second one) starts you off with some rather quick exposition for the masked ballerina-like protagonist in which her mother relays an order to kill a fiend that is terrorizing her kingdom. Yes, kill. Admittedly, I“m not sure how one is to go about murdering an incredibly menacing looking creature while only seemingly really equipped a cartwheel dodge and a flamboyant jump, but I suppose that answer will wait until the final game in August. Bound seemed more entreated with its visual storytelling than going too deep with its 3D platforming. The most complicated mechanic I encountered basically involved having to do two consecutive wall jumps to trigger switches that did not seem immediately obvious (even that took no more than like fifteen seconds to figure out.). Other than that it was mostly traversing thin balconies, slipping under doors, or climbing ladders, which I still quite enjoyed since it is just that stunning to look at throughout. That said, based on the small slice I played it clearly cared more about moving the player forward than them using mechanical 3D platforming finesse to progress. I was also charmed by the many minor visual details it smartly utilizes in the midst of gameplay as well. One of the apparent details I noticed, in terms of game design and presentation, is how much it complements the 3D traversal. For example, as you turn the camera into a wall that would, in most other games, likely obscure your view or hinge in a strange way. In Bound, however, the actual wall will seamlessly dissipate in a way that felt totally natural to its world while also allowing the player to clearly navigate about the near trance-inducing 3D environment. Another detail that I found really neat is how holding different button combinations will allow her change into different dance stances in a free form-like manner, which is also a nice touch. But anyway, after the brief and generally straightforward tutorial-themed traversal, the masked heroine eventually encounters what seems to be the kingdom-destroying fiend in question. The confrontation is cut short as it attempts to attack her with some sort of pillar and as she falls to her knees the scene quickly fade to black. Just before I expected to see a “Thanks for playing!” message while it also passively aggressively implied that I should get off, the gameplay perspective briefly switches from third person to a more distinctively bleak first person outlook. I can only best describe this snippet as one ambiguously walking around a dinner table and various shredded, pixelated fragments began to formulate into people around a surprisingly modern setting. It seems likely that this will serve as groundwork for a more relatable meta-narrative, but like most of Bound I can not say this with complete confidence. I mean, just before I was twirling about as a masked ballerina who is apparently out to kill someone, and am still wrapping my head around that premise. I would not go as far as to say it was my favorite title of the show, but Bound was easily my most pleasant hands-on surprise of E3. I definitely want to see more of what the downright gorgeous, and incredibly mysterious, world of Bound has in-store. It seems likely that if one has been captivated by the beautiful visuals, as well as if they have enjoyed more artsy titles such as Journey, then Bound should be worthy to keep an eye on its stylish PS4 debut later this year on August 14.
  21. I have always had a soft spot for 2D Castlevania games. Their stylized Gothic aesthetic, awesome soundtracks, to the simple satisfying flick of a whip or sword through many often fiendishly hard action-adventures games have always struck a gaming chord within myself. Too bad that series is virtually dead now by the hands of Konami, especially after what seemed like the final nail in the coffin to the series after "Lords of Shadow" ran thoroughly into the ground. Still, much like how Dracula usually finds another means of resurrection, Koji Igarashi found the means to create a spiritual successor to the iconic series through the use of Kickstarter under the name Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, which more than managed to reach its funding goal. Despite however much I wanted another 2D Castlevania successor, I was quite skeptical of Bloodstained. Part of the reasoning for that is because of the shared developer Inti Creates, which have a negative stigma attached to them after the PR mess that is Mighty No. 9, but also because even Castlevania itself was not that consistent in quality prior to its demise. However, after a surprising appearance of the demo in the Xbox booth of E3 2016, I decided to stand in line and give it a chance. Even before playing it, I heard many people in line compare Bloodstained to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. While that isn't entirely inaccurate as it retains familiar level-ups, changable equipment, and even a quick back-dash, the actual pacing feels more more in line with older titles like Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, and -- by extension -- its 2.5D remake, Dracula X Chronicles on PSP. To further that line of thought, the demo literally takes place on a ship that clearly pays homage to the ghost ship stage of Rondo of Blood with some not-so-subtle familiar flail-tossing knights as well. For as thinly-veiled as its inspiration is, it feels totally right at home to veteran Castlevania fans in aesthetic alone, despite the shift to 3D (or 2.5D). Bloodstained's demo has you playing as the heroine Miriam right away. Almost just as quickly, she is able to shift from her dukes (or, more accurately, her feet) to a sword she can brandish after obtaining it from the first treasure chest. From then on, you are given access to what feels like a proper Castlevan- I mean, Bloodstained level. This includes the interwoven level design that features several hidden secrets to entirely new touches like being able to ignite cannons with fire magic to open parts of the terrain. Everything from the controls to the design feels just about right for a spiritual successor to the iconic series. I mean this to the point where cutting up various jellyfish monsters, knights, zombies, weird chimera things, to even slowly moving across environments retains that simple, yet satisfying, classic Castlevania feel throughout. Sure, there are certainly new things, like how the bosses have setpiece moments within the environment, or how changing equipment changes how Miriam looks subtlety, but at the end of the day demo felt distinctly Castlevania in the best way possible. The most fresh aspect, aside from the colorful 3D presentation, is that the boss itself felt more involved and, dare I say it, more fair than most bosses from the series it is based off of. The attacks are choreographed fairly and the boss itself had no problem shifting about the battle field to change its tactics. After finishing the demo, I noticed two very distinct changes before and after playing: 1) My outlook towards Bloodstained shifted hugely from cautious skepticism to genuine anticipation. Not only does it more than maintain the spirit of Castlevania, it adds modern touches that transition seamlessly. 2) a cowboy hat-wearing Koji Igarashi was silently watching me play the demo, as if to reassure me that the final game is in safe hands. Well, maybe not. He was likely wondering why I was spamming jumping kicks so much (I secretly wanted to use a divekick). I would like to pretend, however, that all people looking forward Bloodstained can imagine Igarashi wearing a cowboy hat and his silent presence is proof alone that everything will be fine. Oh, and, the demo was quite fun, so that is another reason why I am looking forward to its supposed March 2017 release date.
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    Grand Kingdom pic 4

    From the album: Grand Kingdom

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    Grand Kingdom

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    Grand Kingdom pic 3

    From the album: Grand Kingdom

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    Grand Kingdom pic 2

    From the album: Grand Kingdom

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