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Found 9 results

  1. Developer: Tamsoft Publisher: XSEED Games Platforms: PS Vita Release Date: October 14, 2014 ESRB: M for Mature Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus knows exactly what it wants to be. Whether or not you are willing to accept its identity is another story, but frankly, it really doesn“t care if you do. In the producer“s own terminology, it has its sight set firmly on “Life” and “Hometown”, and you will know that immediately upon starting the game. I was aware of this, but I was still very surprised at how much more risque Shinovi Versus is in comparison to even Senran Kagura Burst. Reviewing Senran Kagura Burst may have caught me off-guard last year, but it was for entirely different reasons. Not because of “Life” and “Hometown”, which were certainly emphasized, but because it surpassed my expectations as a game and, dare I say it, through its storytelling. Neither aspect were terribly noteworthy on their own, but the overall experience ended up being better than the sum of its parts. Trying to balance expectations once again, Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus attempts to prove that extremely unapologetic "fanservice" and decent storytelling/gameplay can be two sides of the same coin. Much like the original 3DS title, Shinovi Versus plays up the Good Shinobi vs Evil Shinobi theme. Hanzo academy and Gessen academy help depict Good Shinobi, while the Hebijo Academy, and the newly formed Renegades (or rather, former Hebijo students from the Senran Kagura Burst), as Evil Shinobi. Despite their similarities as well as differences, they all have their own perception to the currently prescribed Good & Evil Shinobi beliefs and, unsurprisingly, are brought to conflict for one reason or another. The story does a reasonable job at catching people up who have not played the first game. That isn't terribly important for the mostly predictable main narrative arcs of the four groups, but considering how much more character-focused the storytelling is it's good to know newcomers will be on mostly fair ground. However, the storytelling itself is very hit and miss depending on the group you play. Narratively, I think it is pretty apparent that more substance is put behind the Evil Shinobi characters, in particular Hebijo, while Good Shinobi feel like they are generally driven by much more shallow ideals. The story modes are not as in-depth individually as the Senran Kagura Burst, but accumulatively the story modes end up being quite a bit denser simply due twice as many characters to play as. This is kind of the recurring theme for Shinovi Versus as there is simply more of everything in comparison to the first release: more story, more characters, more gameplay/missions, more unlockables, lot more cosmetic options, and... a lot more perversion. It may be difficult to believe this, but Shinovi Versus is way more perverted than even Senran Kagura Burst. I think a lot of this is attributed to the change from a Teen rating to a Mature rating between both games. Everything from disintegrating clothing in combat, exaggerated physics, to even innuendo in dialogue has really been upped with the release of Shinovi Versus. To give more specific examples, if you use a special move as a final blow in combat, you can destroy a characters bra or panties (granted, censored in a goofy way) and it will carry over into the next story scene, and I'm not even going to talk about how much lingerie the in-game shop has for its multitude of character outfits. It really creates a weird dissonance considering how serious the characters may be in certain story scenes, only to be wearing virtually nothing because of the perverted gameplay mechanics. But, is the gameplay good? Well, this release leaves the 2D beat 'em up plane in favor of a substantial transition to 3D environments as a brawler in Shinovi Versus. I am a bit mixed about the change in gameplay styles, honestly, simply because I have higher expectations in what I'd expect from action games that take place in a 3D space. I think I can subjectively say that Shinovi Versus is a better game than its predecessor. There are twice as many characters and they all feel quite different with their extremely flashy attack combos. Also, in general it simply looks and runs much better than the 3DS title. In a lot of ways, it actually feels like the more natural progression for the series mechanically and it really feels like it is doubling down on its own identity in regards to presentation, for better or worse, even if I really don't inherently care for the direction. That said, I“m going to be upfront—Musou-styled games are not really a sub-genre I care for at all. I re-solidified my opinion of this after playing Warriors Orochi 3: Ultimate recently. While Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is technically closer to a brawler more than something of a musou ilk, simply because of its smaller scale and focus on mobility, it does feel like it hits a similar simplistic action gameplay appeal. I may think it is better than what passes for musou nowadays, but I have higher expectations for 3D action releases and in this regard Shinovi Versus has several problems. My biggest complaints with this entry are actually with its camera and gameplay progression in particular. The first grievance is with its camera. There are two key reasons why it has issues, that being a wonky lock-on system and a camera that feels too zoomed. Unfortunately, you can't adjust either of these and you have to accept that it'll be obscured for one reason or another. Thankfully it isn't particularly difficult game at all, as I had only seen the game-over screen once when trying out a character for the first time, but I could imagine it being a big problem for those trying to achieve higher ranks or difficulties. Actually, speaking of that, I also don“t think the skill/combo progression is handled very well in Shinovi Versus either. Some characters feel absolutely useless when you first get them, and most characters don“t show their natural playstyle until hitting at least level 10. In all honesty, it sort of becomes busy work to essentially level grind for certain characters to even be fun to play as. It may not take long to level characters up, especially through the optional "girl's heart" side missions, but it still feels no less tedious especially for an already repetitive level design structure. If there is one thing I can say about Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, though, it is that it has a lot of personality. I don“t even mean that facetiously either; well, not entirely. It's visually vibrant and, perversion aside, has a pretty distinct look that looks solid in motion from gameplay, clean menus/interface, and story scenes on the Vita screen. It does have problems with fairly long load times, despite being Dark Souls-ish in terms of giving random tidbits. Also, like the original, the soundtrack is also surprisingly good. The character themes play with a lot of musical styles from rock-orchestra, Spanish guitar, and even creative arrangements of classical pieces. Overall, Senran Kagura: Shivovi Versus is almost unquestionably better than its predecessor. It looks better, plays better, has a lot more content, and goes the extra mile with more of its love or hate it distinct visual sensibilities. The biggest problem is that its transition to a 3D perspective is not completely seamless due to a limiting gameplay progression, awkward camera, and a lot of other quirks bogging it down. While it may have gotten further away from what I found to be a pleasant surprise with Senran Kagura Burst, as a straightforward beat 'em up it is still likely to surpass expectations for those who can cope with its overwhelming amount of perversion with its aesthetic. Pros: + Lots of varied characters with very flashy attacks and combos + Huge amount of story content and missions + Character theme songs are surprisingly good + Many cosmetic options Cons: - Lock-on is unreliable and camera is too slow/zoomed in. - Fairly repetitive level design - Long load times - Leveling-up progression severely limits character abilities early in - Much more perverted than even Senran Kagura Burst Overall Score: 6.5 (out of 10) Decent Despite a not wholly successful shift in gameplay styles from its predecessor, the series remains as a brawler that has more overall substance than you'd expect. Of course, you have to be willing to overlook (or look at?) its extremely unapologetic and perverted presentation in order to do so. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS Vita code provided by the publisher.
  2. barrel

    Review: Anarchy Reigns

    Developer: Platinum Games Publisher: Sega Platform: PS3/Xbox 360 Release Date: 1/8/13 ESRB: M for Mature This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game. A retail copy was provided by the publisher for this review. Platinum Games has earned quite a reputation over the years with their higher pedigree approach to action games. Even if they proudly have games like Bayonetta and Vanquish under their belt, it seems like as a whole, most of their games have been more so critical darlings than commercial successes. The ambitious developer hopes to continue the tradition by crafting their most recent game, Anarchy Reigns - a crazy beat 'em up/brawler and HD spiritual successor to their first title, Madworld. Though the game has been out in Japan for roughly over half a year, and more than arguably fully-localized, it has finally received an official overseas release and at a discount $30 price to boot. Does this overdue release earn its keep or should it be left in the bargain bin? Probably the most practical introduction to the game, outside of the necessary tutorial, is the game's single-player, which features two sides of a short story mode. Representing the 'black' side is Jack Cayman, familiar face and lead protagonist of Madworld in quite literally new colors, and representing the 'white' side is new character Leonhardt "Leo" Victorion. Both campaigns can are played separately by player preference, until both narratives eventually overlap for a final conflict, otherwise known as the 'red' side in the game's color based jargon. Jack's story tells the tale of a hot-tempered mercenary with a chainsaw attached to his arm and a quest for vengeance. Leo's story, on the other hand, tells of a law-enforcement cybernetic agent, tracking a rogue member by the name of Maximilian. Admittedly, Platinum's games have never really been known for their high-quality storytelling, and it is especially apparent in Anarchy Reigns. Even if a lot of the cast seem to have a distinct flair, a good majority of them are pretty two-dimensional and some embody some very general stereotypes. It's a good thing that Anarchy Reign's overall tongue-in-check nature makes it apparent that it doesn't take itself too seriously, but that isn't to say that that tongue-in-check nature spares the game from feeling like, outside of the end, the single-player story was constructed in a somewhat basic attempt at bringing the off-the-wall cast in back-to-back, short-lived skirmishes. Despite that, The single player is a solid means to get comfortable with the game, and the most efficient way to unlock a good bulk of the characters to play online. Unfortunately, it is possible to feel a bit underwhelmed with it as a whole. I enjoyed Jack's side of the campaign more, with its nods to Madworld and his more entertaining personality, but Leo's, from a gameplay standpoint, was more mechanically fun. Regardless, the single-player was, as a whole, pretty bare-bones and came off as repetitive. There are only a handful of maps and missions available, and overall it is centered around earning a certain amount of points until you can progress further. I wouldn't say it is particularly bad so much as it is 'entertaining enough' due to game's overall zany attitude and fun combat system. Combat in Anarchy Reigns is solid, as you would expect from a Platinum Games title, and it certainly has their trademark over-the-top style and quirk. Battles allow players to mess around with both ground- and aerial-based crazy combos, as well as use deadly environmental objects/subweapons, or simply show off with plenty of character specific signature moves in the midst of combat. Like a lot brawlers and beat ”em ups, it can be easy to misunderstand this game for a ”button-masher“ and, in all honesty, it may very well be possible to get away with that in single-player mode. That said, for those willing to take the time to learn the basics of the game, or those willing to take the extra step to learn deadly techniques for higher-level play with the the virtual training room, Anarchy Reigns actually embodies the upper echelon of the craft. Where Anarchy Reigns probably shines the most is in its online multiplayer. Players compete in various entertaining modes to showcase or better their skills. The more straightforward game types are tag-team, deathmatch (and the team variations), capture the flag, survival, and a few others, but I think Anarchy Reigns's more distinctive modes are Deathball and Battle Royale. Deathball combines the deadly combat with a hyperactive football-esque sport, and has teams try to score into opposing goalposts by any means necessary. Battle Royale, where similar in concept to deathmatch, is a much more frantic in nature free-for-all with many varying side-objectives, obstacles, and means to collect points and rise to the top. Technically, there is a few more modes that were relegated to pre-order downloadable content, but I was unable to try them as of this review. Even though a lot of the multiplayer is good fun in its own right, I am a bit disappointed the game doesn“t allow any offline component for it. I“m sure the game probably wouldn't lend itself well to a split-screen nature, but I don“t see why the smaller scale modes like Survival, Tag Team, or Deathmatch couldn't be played offline. Plus, with the ability to use player bots in online private matches or even in the single-player 'simulator' of the online modes, even the bigger modes don't seem too out of the question to me. It just seems like an odd omission to not include offline multiplayer, or at least some version of it. Visually, the game isn't likely to compete with the more renowned AAA big boys, despite using what almost seems like the entirety of a standard 360 disc in terms of space. There aren't a whole lot of maps, and neither the environments nor character models are likely to push the hardware for either platform too much. Having said that, the characters and their animations have a lot of distinct personality and the game doesn't really stutter too much on a technical level. Supposedly, the original Japanese release was riddled with quite a few technical issues, but I personally had no noticeable bugs in my experience with the game; I suppose a half year delay helps in that regard. Load times can possibly be a hindrance on 360 if you don't do a full install of the game, but are negligible otherwise. From hip-hop to rap to techno beats, the game's overall musical score seems to complement the game's 'cool' attitude well. I also noticed Anarchy Reigns sneaks in plenty of musical fanfare reminiscent of Platinum“s Madworld, with more than a couple distinctly familiar artists and tunes, which is neat. On the voice-acting side, even if the main game doesn“t have the best script, the English voice actors do a pretty solid delivery throughout from story events to the battles, and I never felt compelled to dabble with the vocal tracks of other languages. I may question the liberties they took with some characters though, and the stereotypes some represent, but I have no real complaints with voice acting or the overall audio. Anarchy Reigns makes for a very unique game, especially considering the default asking price of $30. Even if it could be perceived as a lack of confidence in the actual product, Anarchy Regins actually brings a much higher grade of quality to what is often associated to brawlers/beat ”em ups and more than earns its accessible retail asking price. The game does have some rough edges with a somewhat lacking single-player, a throwaway story, and non-existent offline multiplayer. Beyond that, though, it would be a disservice to not give the game a shot amidst the well-constructed combat system, online multiplayer, solid audio and voice work, and just plain fun over-the-top attitude. For those who enjoy Platinum Games' titles, they should feel right at home among the chaotic, lawless, but still very fun order that is Anarchy Reigns. Pros: + Fun combat system with many different playable characters + Entertaining online multiplayer + Solid voice acting and soundtrack + Lots of personality and style Cons: + No offline multiplayer + Somewhat lacking single player + Weak main story Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good A frantic and fun beat 'em up action game. Fans of Platinum Games should feel right at home, as Anarchy Reigns is more than worthy to note considering the fairly reasonable retail price tag.