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  1. Developer: Arc System Works Publisher: Aksys Games Platform: PS3 Release Date: March 25, 2014 ESRB: T for Teen Forging the highly influential fighting game series, Guilty Gear, Arc System Works has shown that they have quite the knack at incorporating some really over-the-top characters in their equally crazy and deep fighting games. After some licensing problems early last generation, Arc System Works decided to create a spiritual successor to Guilty Gear, and so, the Blazblue series was born. Surprisingly, despite being considered an obscure "anime fighter" overseas, Blazblue is actually easily one of the most popular recent fighting games in Japan, yes, even rivaling the likes of Street Fighter IV. That said, Blazblue as a series has certainly not been free from annualized releases and it is now seeing its fourth console release with Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma. This begs the question: does Chrono Phantasma prove to be just another incremental re-release or does this most recent title earn its rite of passage as a well-earned sequel? The Blazblue series is one of the very few examples you could turn to for actual in-depth storytelling in a fighting game. Due to the sheer scale of the storytelling it could certainly pass on its own as a visual novel considering how far it goes to flesh out its world and characters, with Chrono Phantasma probably being the best example of storytelling overall in the series. Unfortunately, considering how it is the third part in the series (narratively-speaking), it does very little to invite people who weren't already invested since terminology like "Kushinaga“s Lynchpin," "Seithr," "the Boundary," “Ars Magus," and plenty more jargon are likely to completely go over newcomers heads, and the so-called recap mode, "Teach Me, Miss Litchi," does very little to alleviate it. Even for fans, however, the storytelling is riddled with many slow, long-winded parts and some predictable narrative points, making it hard to recommend to beyond those who are already invested in its universe. That said, that is just one facet of what the title has to offer, and what Blazblue is best at is being an excellent fighting game. So what makes this newest version better than the others? Well, I could bore you all day talking about mechanical changes and character tweaks, but really, if you cared about that you would've already looked into it. Beyond the story mode the most important additions are the new characters, faster overall gameplay, added gameplay mechanics, as well as the much improved modes and general interface. Starting off, there are seven new characters, though this unfortunately includes two DLC characters. Sticking to Arc System Works strengths, however, these new characters add a ton of variety/depth and each plays radically different from one another. For example, the intimating Azrael exploits "weak points" to significantly increase his damage potential, while the misleading, yet fabulous, Amane utilizes his graceful mobility to fight from afar primarily using his huge scarf, and then there is the extremely agile Terumi who literally curb-stomps enemies into submission. Needless to say, the new characters are very welcome additions to the already hugely varied cast that are a part of the Blazblue series. Serving as the offensive alternative to "Break Bursts", which knocks away foes mid-attack, there is a new mechanic introduced in Chrono Phantasma called "Overdrive". This enhances a character's offensive capabilities for a short period of time, while also briefly stopping the in-game match clock, and varies from character to character. While usually playing on character specific strengths, like the main character Ragna will drain more health from his attacks, or his partially psychotic brother Jin gains freezing properties to more of his skills, it also significantly increases the power of certain distortion drives (special attacks requiring meter).This new mechanic leads to some really cool combo potential as well as being great tool when the player is in a pinch, especially those who put in the time to master its inner workings. If all of these crazy mechanics and new/old characters sound daunting to you, don't worry; Chrono Phantasma actually has a surprisingly comprehensive tutorial. I don't think it goes as far as, let's say, Skullgirls, having you fully understand fighting game terminology if you press all the way through it, but it does a great job at breaking down every in-game mechanic in addition to teaching you how specific characters work. The same applies to the challenge mode which, rare for the genre, seems to teach you combos and skills for each character that are actually viable in real competitive play. Those who really sit down and play the title will appreciate the many clever improvements and additions to the online competitive play. You have your ranked matches, as well as the ability to create specific rooms for player matches or as an online training mode with friends, which have seen some much appreciated refinements in their interface, but what is likely the main attraction/most novel is how lobbies are handled. In lobbies, you create a custom chibi-esque avatar, as well as a goofy personal catch-phrase, and have your character roam an arcade-like environment that feels surprisingly casual, even if the competition you can find there are by no means that. Also, as usual for recent Arc System Works fighters, the online netcode is generally pretty good, allowing you to have matches that run rather reasonably steady overall. I“m amazed I have gotten this far without gushing about the soundtrack. With the exception of certain background tracks in the story mode, the audio definitely takes some liberties with freshening up the musical score in Chrono Phantasma. Every single existing character battle theme has received entirely new arrangements in it, which are very refreshing to hear even if I think very few improve upon their fantastic original compositions. The entirely new and specific character battle themes like Amane's, Bullet's, Kagura's, and many others really steal the show, and Daisuke Ishiwatari still proves that he is some sort of gaming musical god with his many very varied approaches to rock-styled musical themes. The rest of the presentation is a bit more mixed. As usual, I think choosing between either the Japanese and English dub really comes down to personal preference despite being mostly comparable. I find the Japanese to be much more well-rounded and have more varied voice talents, which was more than enough for me to prefer it, especially in the story mode. Also, while not surprising, it is disappointing that even if characters have a few new animations and there are some new environments, the visuals in-game have changed very little even since the first game.That by no means intentionally undercuts what is easily one of the best examples of 2D sprite-based animation in video games even now, but it is quite clear that very little has been improved upon cosmetically in this title. Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma may completely alienate newcomers with its storytelling, but as a fighting game it makes a ton of smart adjustments for would-be fans that are old and new. It's pretty much as substantial as a sequel to a fighting game can get without essentially creating an entirely new game. The many added modes/characters, faster and more rewarding gameplay, in-depth storytelling, and the various improvements to the general interface do enough to make it not feel like a shallow cash-grab, despite using very familiar visual framework. It doesn't reinvent the wheel (of fate) for the series, but man does it give it some pretty sick rims for those who want to give the series' (ice) car another ride. Pros: + Huge amount of character variety, faster combat, and lots of depth to its gameplay + Well-made tutorials and challenges + Huge story mode that is the best in the series + Great online netcode with a much-improved system interface and a creatively implemented lobby hub + Fantastic new character battle themes and novel musical remixes of existing ones Cons: -Dense amount of Internal jargon and awkwardly paced storytelling that will leave all but existing series fans completely lost - Still using most of the same visual assets from the previous games Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great Unlike the previous iteration, Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma proves to be an earnest sequel that is full of content for fans both old and new to sink their teeth into. It is not wholly new but it makes a ton of refinements/improvements overall, making Chrono Phantasma without a doubt the best title in the series. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher
  2. While Vita fans are still waiting for the handheld release of Borderlands 2, Gearbox has announced another game in the series in the meantime, and it isn't Borderlands 3. Instead, it's an interquel called Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and it takes place between the first and second Borderlands games. The Pre-Sequel will introduce four new classes to play as in addition to fighting alongside Handsome Jack and witnessing his rise to becoming a tyrant along with the Hyperion Corporation. Another new aspect of the game will be low-gravity and oxygen-powered combat. Also, the four characters corresponding to the new classes should be familiar to Borderlands veterans; you'll have the opportunity to play as: Athena, the Gladiator - first seen in The Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC for the original Borderlands Wilhelm, the Enforcer - previously a boss in BL2 Nisha, the Lawbringer - The Sheriff of Lynchwood from BL2 Claptrap, the Fragtrap - The goofy robot companion from BL2 That's most of what is being shared about the game at this moment, but Gearbox has confirmed that they are working on the title in conjunction with 2K Australia. More information will be revealed in the coming months, but for now, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is planned for release on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC later this year. Source: Borderlandsthegame.com What are your thoughts on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel?
  3. barrel


    From the album: Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma

    © technologytell.com

  4. If you're looking forward to the next episode of The Wolf Among Us, the good news is you won't have to wait long! Episode 3, subtitled "A Crooked Mile" is officially slated for release on April 8th for PC/Mac (worldwide) and PS3 in North America, and on April 9th for Xbox 360 (worldwide) and PS3 in Europe. Telltale also mentions the iOS version is coming next week as well. A Crooked Mile looks to be the first episode where Bigby fully loses control and takes on his more wolf-like appearance if the trailer is anything to go by. Expect more revelations and story reveals as well. You can check out the trailer . Source: Twitter/Telltale Are you looking forward to Episode 3 of The Wolf Among Us?
  5. Today SEGA announced when we can expect to see the upcoming Alien: Isolation release in stores: October 7th, 2014. Developed by Creative Assembly (best known as the developer of the Total War series), Alien: Isolation is a first-person survival horror game that looks to recreate the sense of fear and dread from Ridley Scott's classic movie, Alien. You'll need to scavenge resources and improvise solutions all the while trying to stay alive amidst being stalked by a blood-thirsty xenomorph. Will this game rise above the disappointment that was 2012's Aliens: Colonial Marines? Early previews are pretty positive so far, so we'll have to wait and see. Maybe, just maybe this is the Alien game fans have been waiting for. Alien: Isolation will release on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, and PC. Are you excited for Alien: Isolation?
  6. Jason Clement

    PlayStation Plus Instant Games for April Revealed

    It's that special time at the end of the month where the PlayStation Blog gives a sneak peek at what we can expect to see on PlayStation Plus next month, and boy what a month it's going to be. The big game that's coming for PS3 users is Batman: Arkham City, and it serves as a great jumping-on point especially for those that may be curious about the recently-announced Batman: Arkham Knight. Aside from that, the Metal Slug-inspired Mercenary Kings will be available as an Instant Game for PS4 owners, so be sure to keep your eyes out for that. Here's a full list of everything you can expect to see on PS Plus during April- PS4 Mercenary Kings PS3 Batman: Arkham City Castle of Illusion: Starring Mickey Mouse (check out our review here) Stealth Inc. PS Vita Velocity Ultra Pixel Junk Monsters Ultimate HD Are you looking forward to playing any of these titles?
  7. Developer: Gust Corporation Publisher: Tecmo Koei Platform: PS3 Release Date: March 11, 2014 ESRB: E for Everyone It“s hard to believe that the Atelier series now celebrates its fifteenth main entry with the release of Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky. Even if fans in the West have seen a good majority of the most recent official Atelier titles, the series actually has a history dating as far back as 1997, back in the PS1 era. The Atelier series is a fickle breed. There are a few constants, like having a deep focus on item-crafting and annualized releases, but the series changes just enough to have fans not be entirely sure what to expect with each new entry. Last year“s Atelier Ayesha was one such example of trying something rather different with the franchise's name. Ayesha had a bigger emphasis on its entirely new setting and more serious overall storytelling, and it served as a part one of an entirely new trilogy (meaning it is independent from the previous PS3 Atelier "Arland" trilogy, which includes Atelier Rorona, Atelier Totori, and Atelier Meruru). As a game, however, I felt it took quite a few steps back from the actively engaging Atelier Meruru. Still, even if the series has the occasional disappointment, Gust has a habit of learning from their mistakes with their direct sequels if their previous “Arland” trilogy has taught me anything. I expected no less from part two of the Dusk trilogy with Atelier Escha & Logy. At the start, protagonists Logy and Escha are drafted to the R&D division of a small rural(-ish) town called Colseit due to their abilities as alchemists. The R&D division of Colseit is in a bad position, with dwindling government ratings and constant member dropouts, causing them to be severely understaffed. With promising abilities and different skillsets, Logy and Escha have to work together in order to strengthen the status of the division as well as trying to help improve the living conditions caused by the decaying region for those around them. With the focus on two main protagonists, this leads to both the main gameplay structure and narrative gimmick of the game. At the start, the player has the choice between either protagonist“s story. Escha has a bigger focus on item-crafting and her story feels more like traditional Atelier games due to its more light-hearted tone, while Logy“s story is slightly more serious and battle-centric in his mission objectives, making it more akin to entries like Mana Khemia or Atelier Iris. That said, even if the two protagonists have their occasional deviation for both gameplay and story scenarios (as well as their various narrative endings), there is a lot of overlap between them for the most part. Choosing one character will not be terribly different from the other as it is just a matter of personal preference. In actuality, the storytelling is pretty minimal in Escha & Logy, especially coming off of last year's Atelier Ayesha. Like almost any other Atelier game, what storytelling that there is is usually be conveyed through the many character interactions. There are returning characters and nods to the previous game, but as a whole it has surprisingly little expectation that people have played the previous game at all. This leaves newcomers rather free to check out this new title with next to no narrative hitches (minus one, rather significant, but passively delivered spoiler of Atelier Ayesha). Despite knowing that, it is disappointing that the setting/characters Atelier Ayesha tried its best to build up are almost entirely ignored in this new game.This is further emphasized because the new supporting cast of characters are not as interesting as earlier games although Logy and Escha themselves are handled better than main protagonists in most earlier games. Even more important than the storytelling in Atelier titles, though, is the gameplay. Logy and Escha are assigned new objectives from the R&D division in four-month in-game intervals. During these intervals the player has one primary task which is essentially required (at least to be on track for the good endings), and a bunch of optional secondary objectives which dictate their ratings, monthly stipend, and the amount of free time they have for other stuff. The objectives mostly require players to either synthesize, explore different parts of the region, or battle the occasional foes. A lot of the appeal of Atelier titles is actually through their seemingly carefree design. Atelier Escha & Logy is no different for the most part considering the ease of the main objectives and the flexibility in how you can approach them. Atelier entries tend to be charming in their simplicity and light-hearted tone, avoiding the grandiose narrative scale that so many RPGs have, but are also very pleasantly surprising in their depth and deceptively engaging structure. This especially applies to how they utilize item-crafting, or alchemy, which is a staple of the series. The main objectives do prod the player in trying out crafting, for obvious reasons, but little by little the player will notice that it is more than just a means of completing the story objectives. Crafting goes towards many important aspects like character equipment, healing/attack items to use in-battle, assigned narrative objectives, to even tools that can make traversing the region all the more convenient. Atelier Escha & Logy probably has the best implementation of crafting in the series that is less limiting than the previous game. Alchemy itself becomes kind of like an entertaining puzzle when trying to best utilize different materials and their properties during the process. It may sounds complicated on paper, but really it just means there is more purpose to forging individual items, doing it well, and learning the surprising amount of depth behind it. There is more to Atelier than just item-crafting, of course. The lead characters have to explore different parts of the region to obtain new materials for alchemy, battle monsters, or complete specific tasks assigned by the R&D division. Combat has seen a pretty big improvement over Atelier Ayesha (which was definitely a step back from Atelier Meruru), with faster/flashier animations, but also maintaining Ayesha's position-based battle system. What is really new, though, is you can switch party members in and out of battle at any time, similar to games like Final Fantasy X or Mana Khemia. This lays the groundwork to be able to not only be able to change between almost all party members mid-combat, but also have them protect fellow allies from damage, follow-up attacks, or use unique special skills. This aspect only gets cooler the further you get in the game, like using the combination skill "dual draw" where Logy and Escha use two attack items at once to create an entirely new attack of greater power. At the end of the day, however, it is unfortunately easy to not fully utilize the cool improvements done to the battle system, because of the game's lack of difficulty and most battles not requiring too much thought. The biggest problem I have with the game is that even if it may have the best mechanics in the series, from combat to synthesizing, it is not structured to be as actively engaging as earlier titles. The four-month deadline structure is rather restrictive because if you are able to complete all objectives ahead of time (which is very easy to do for veteran players), you can have next to nothing to do in-between until the next set of tasks. For most of the game I found myself with way too much in-game free time. I hate to bring the comparison up so often in this review, but Atelier Meruru actively fed you new goals to do even if you were essentially ahead of the main story objectives. In contrast, Escha & Logy deliberately limits where and when you can progress, including the rate where you can obtain new tasks and synthesizing recipes. It may be strangely specific complaint, but I believe that it is a crucial to why I think this game has more intermittent levels of enjoyment for more seasoned players, like myself. With every new Atelier game it seems like it“s the same story with the presentation. The environments are still rather bland overall and most have the detail of something you'd encounter from the PS2 era. However, the character models are vibrant and faithfully render the anime-esque style, even if they have sort of stiff animations. On the audio side, it seems like the localization team is getting better at handling the English dub casting. It isn't amazing or terribly noteworthy overall, but I found myself picking English since I much preferred the voice for Escha in particular over her Japanese counterpart, as well as certain other characters, and that's saying a lot for a person who normally defaults to Japanese when given the choice. The music maintains the relatively high bar Atelier Ayesha established, even I don't think it is as great as that soundtrack, but it has a more consistent musical style with the jazzy flair to a lot of the music tracks that stands out in particular. Atelier Escha & Logy takes another step towards making the series more approachable as well as making a lot of smart subtle refinements and changes to the gameplay. The structure is unfortunately more linear than past iterations due to a more controlled deadline system, which series veterans can find rather limiting. Looking past that, though, Atelier Escha & Logy makes for an easier recommendation than most Atelier entries since it remembers how to make an enjoyably light-hearted gameplay experience that still manages to sneak in a surprising amount of depth and gameplay substance. It doesn't quite hit as a master specimen of the series due to some narrative/structural issues, but it serves as a very promising example of the series moving forward and proves the series is still quite welcome even now. Pros: + Two different playable main characters, each with a different focus, and plenty to work towards + Combat and crafting aspects are the best in the series + Solid musical score with a jazzy flair + Lots of subtle mechanical refinements to the series“ quirks Cons: - Narrative is pretty minimal and the overall character interactions are less interesting than earlier games - Series veterans can easily find a significant lull in things to do between deadlines due to the more linear structure - Certain gameplay systems are underutilized Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good Atelier Escha & Logy creatively experiments with its own newfound strengths and some lessons learned from games past. It doesn't make for the definite Atelier experience, but it's proof that it is moving close to it. A download code was provided by the publisher for this review
  8. Lone Survivor: The Director“s Cut (PS3) Developed by Superflat Games Published by Curve Studios Released September 24, 2013 Review Written March 22, 2014 Originally Posted on The Time Heist Blog Another game from my Christmas sale binge, Lone Survivor is another recent title that I pursued without knowing any prior information about the game. Created by Jasper Byrne of Superflat Games, Lone Survivor: The Director“s Cut is an atmospheric survival horror game reminiscent of the Silent Hill Series. Taking a different route visually, Lone Survivor is a 16-bit side-scroller that still manages to bring the fear. Though it may look like an odd SNES released twenty years too late, this indie title has much to offer once you leap into the rabbit hole. Throughout the six hour campaign, this indie title has little nuances that just grow on you the more you play it. Even though it doesn“t redefine the survival horror genre, Lone Survivor captures certain elements of popular survival horror games to lend an enjoyable experience. The first hour of the game is possibly the most intense as you don“t have any equipment except for a flashlight and a few pills. Adding that to roaming around a mysterious apartment complex without a sense of direction built my expectations as well as the foundation of how I would play the entire game; slowly walking and stealthing around to avoid all enemies. Although I say the first hour of the game felt the most intense, there is a level entirely within a basement that almost required me to bring a spare change of pants. Old age had caught up to Snake as he“d forgotten how to properly stealth. As mentioned, the game really relies on its eerie ambiance and without it Lone Survivor wouldn“t be nearly as enjoyable. Before even starting the game, the introductory screen dictates that a horrifyingly immersive experience is gained through following the game“s “ritualâ€. The “ritual†is more about the player“s mindset than the game“s adjustments, basically instructing the users to play in the dark with loud volume and away from distractions. I played using their instructed “ritual†and did feel a bit more immersed but this came at the price of feeling very paranoid at times. The sounds from within the game would often be a bit too ominous and any quick movements would instantly set off mental alarms. In a way the game“s “ritual†was very helpful in getting the correct mentality while playing and as the game is called Lone Survivor I“d imagine that mindset would be that of fear and paranoia. Touching more on the atmosphere of the game, the audio is very impressive. Clear sound effects and music help add to the game whether it being soft melodies while in safe havens, staticky undertones when enemies are near, and any sound effects for surfaces walked on or items used. Visually the game isn“t too bad either. By being 16-bit, Lone Survivor has the ability to play on nostalgia factor from those who love that art style or gaming era. Using mostly a dark selection of colors it really sets the tone that this world you“re playing in is in such a bleak, disturbing state. Yet, even in a gloomy world you have to strive for survival. That was the moment I realized I should have never left James Franco“s house. With such a bleak situation you come to learn that the character you play as is an unknown man who is just labeled as the Lone Survivor. Being one of the few characters still alive in the apartment complex, this man definitely has his own personal demons, and as you progress in the main story many of them come to light. Interestingly the more you play, the more he begins to delve into the insanity of his own situation and with such he progressively becomes more self-abhorrent as he pursues his goal for escape. In attempts to maintain your characters sanity you have to feed him and let him rest when he requests such or else his sanity fleets even more so. This feature within the game was interesting at first, but over time the main character started sounding more like a broken tamagachi, constantly complaining about needing food or sleep. But following suit with the theme of survivor horror, there“s always never enough food to satiate his ever-growing appetite. Give us your lunch money!!! The controls for the game are very simplistic in that you only move left and right and have a scatter of buttons to use specific items. There is also a quick-use wheel you can bring up to avoid diving into your inventory when very dire situations arise against the several enemy types within the game. Sometimes having the extra healing items or weapons still can“t save you from the stronger enemies. Though don“t fret if your character dies a good handful of times as the game can be a bit unforgiving in terms of difficulty the deeper you get into it. Lone Survivor is an interesting tale of a man“s attempt to escape reality and death. Almost like being lost in a corn maze, the more you attempt to understand what“s going on you become even more disoriented with no ability of reversing. The perplexing story becomes even more fragmented as there are a total of six endings to the game, and only two of them, I believe, reveal the truth about the game“s happenings. Although the game can often be very slow paced, the hunger to find answers really drove me to finish. With this all said, I would definitely recommend purchasing this game on Steam or PSN. It may not be overly scary as a survival horror game, but it does offer an interesting experience worth a playthrough or two. Review Written by Solid-Alchemist If you enjoyed this review and would like to check out some other opinion pieces, come on over to The Time Heist. Any critique's or recommendations are welcome! Editorial Note:
  9. barrel


    From the album: Atelier Escha & Logy

    © www.siliconera.com

  10. barrel


    From the album: Atelier Escha & Logy

    © www.siliconera.com

  11. barrel


    From the album: Atelier Escha & Logy

    © www.siliconera.com

  12. barrel


    From the album: Atelier Escha & Logy

    © www.siliconera.com

  13. barrel


    From the album: Atelier Escha & Logy

    © www.siliconera.com

  14. barrel


    From the album: Atelier Escha & Logy

    © www.siliconera.com

  15. solid-alchemist

    The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC Review

    The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC (PS3) Developed by Naughty Dog Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Released February 14, 2014 Review Written March 8, 2014 Originally Posted on The Time Heist Blog WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FROM THE MAIN CAMPAIGN. ONLY READ IF YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE SINGLE PLAYER CAMPAIGN. Finally finding time to hit the keys again, here“s my review of The Last of Us DLC, Left Behind. As Naughty Dog“s first attempt at single player DLC following the positive reception of The Last of Us, this addition to the main story has some big shoes to fill. Not surprisingly, Left Behind does fill those shoes quite well in maintaining the story flow similar to the main game as well as bringing the emotional drama that many of us have come to savor from the Last of Us. Left Behind“s entire three hour campaign sets us in the role of Ellie. Taking place a few months before the main game“s story as well as during a prominent section of the main game, Left Behind uses a method of slow growing tension that constantly keeps the player on edge. Knowing that certain events are about to transpire left me anticipating their occurrence during my entire playthrough. This setup actually worked in way that helped create a greater immersive experience. Naughty Dog went about this by utilizing interjectory flashbacks and flash-forwards to allow the player to recover from intense encounters while also fearing what else is ahead while they work towards the next flash-forward. Simply put, playing as Ellie in Left Behind is as nerve racking as it was in main story. Naughty Dog says, “Happy Valentine“s Day!!!†A new character introduced during Left Behind“s flashbacks is Riley, a friend of Ellie. Riley is actually a very likeable character, almost complementary to Ellie“s personality in a multitude of ways. During these flashbacks, Riley helps build more character development for Ellie that many fans wanted during the main story, and reminding us that Ellie is still a young girl growing in disease-ridden world. Interestingly the flashbacks involve mostly a bunch of mini-games and several opportunities for dialogue. These mini-games are the reason I felt the flashbacks were a sort of emotional break when interspersed between the flash-forwards, but the flashbacks didn“t offer full emotional leisure as you still expected a certain event to occur every time you returned to the flashback. Speaking of the flash-forwards, this is where the meat of this DLC is at. Taking place immediately after Joel is impaled during the main story; these parts of Left Behind reveal the struggles Ellie had to go through to keep Joel barely hanging onto life. These segments were the most intense as Ellie would need to rely on stealth to survive against both infected and hunters. Battling against enemies while also being wary of a few jumpy moments, playing this portion was very satisfying as it helped divulge more of Ellie“s inner strength while presenting how she felt about her relationship with Joel. After seeing Ellie fight tooth and nail to keep Joel alive I began to feel more like Joel“s actions during the main story“s ending were within reason. Comparatively, if the roles were switched I would believe Ellie would have reacted in the same fashion; both needing to go off the deep end to maintain the last facet of survival. Aim for the bushes! In total Left Behind is a great addition to the Last of Us. Though there aren“t any big changes to the game“s mechanics, Naughty Dog did compose scenarios where the player could pit infected against hunters. These moments were always satisfying as I“d use them to take out the final survivors after initiating a battle amongst them via a bottle from the distance. In conclusion, the DLC is only three hours long at the cost of $15. This may seem like a bit of a stretch in terms of value, but as a fan of the game, Left Behind is a worthwhile addition. It“ll make you crave more of Last of Us“ universe while momentarily tiding you over until Naughty Dog“s next rendition. Go buy it and don“t get left behind… Review Written by Solid-Alchemist If you enjoyed this review and would like to check out some other opinion pieces, come on over to The Time Heist. Any critique's or recommendations are welcome!
  16. So the newest generation of home console gaming has finally finished arriving, and while the previous generation of home consoles is still on its way out, now“s a good time for us to look back at all the good it brought to our expensive hobby. All generations have their perks, and the generation in question is certainly no exception (try saying that five times fast). We had some pretty awesome technical improvements over the generation prior, whether in the form of experimental controls or a stronger focus on that thing we call “teh internetz,†and we even had some lesser-known developers rise to the challenge and provide us with some rather stellar works of art. And if I were to sit down and create a list of my top 5 favorite achievements from last generation… well, it might (and does) look something like this: #5 Motion Controls (When Done Well) Love it or hate it, motion controls happened. And while plenty of games made it look more like a gimmick and less like something that could actually enhance gameplay in any possible way, there were also games that managed to pull it off beautifully. An easy example would be first-person shooters. Well, some of them. And then there was the Wii port of the critically acclaimed survival horror title Resident Evil 4, which is what I would consider the definitive version of the game. With something as simple as pointing the controller at the screen to aim your guns, even before the days of Wii Motion Plus and PlayStation Move (sorry Kinect), it just worked. But shooters aren“t the only games that pulled off motion controls without ruining everything. Maybe it took a while to see anything truly awe-inspiring, but we were eventually introduced to Wii Motion Plus and PlayStation Move, which finally gave us the ability to swing swords ”n“ such more realistically. This, of course, allowed games like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword to have the fluid controls they had. …Oh, don“t look at me like that! Those controls worked flawlessly for me, so you can be quiet! Look, the point is that motion controls aren“t all bad. Plenty of games pulled it off very well, which is why I have it on this list. #4 Advancement in Online Multiplayer Ah, I remember the days… sitting around my house playing Mario Party with my brothers as we called each other cheaters when someone else won a minigame… good times. But while playing with multiple people on the same console is loads of fun and all, it“s also very restricting since, well, everyone has to be in the same physical area at the same time to engage in multiplayer. All that changed, however, when some company created an attachment for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo known as XBAND, and then later when Sega created their NetLink attachment for the Sega Saturn, and then even later when Sega included a built-in modem for the Dreamcast. The PlayStation 2 and Xbox also had online functionality, and there was a modem attachment for the GameCube, though online multiplayer didn“t really take off until the following generation. I“m talking consoles, mind you, so don“t give me that “PC master race†nonsense. And boy, did it take off. Last generation, online multiplayer became so huge that as we“re making the 8th generation transition, always-online DRM is now a problem amongst gamers. If you followed the PS4“s and Xbox One“s earlier announcements, you know what I mean. Of course, when it“s something simple, allowing us all to connect to each other over the net and playing together (with some profanity involved here and there), it“s an amazing thing. And of course it is. Otherwise it wouldn“t be on this list. #3 YouTube With all the YouTube we all watch (don“t kid yourself, you watch it), it“s hard to believe that it didn“t exist prior to February 14th, 2005. Wait, it was founded on Valentine“s Day? Huh… anyway, with its inception, YouTube opened up a new world of possibilities for gamers. Egoraptor, JonTron, PewDiePie… The YouTube gamer celebrities you might know and love were far from where they are today back before the 7th generation began. Did you know that, out of the top 100 YouTube channels, 16 of them are gaming channels? That“s a lot when you eliminate all the VEVO channels and channels that belong to things like NBA, Red Bull, and even YouTube themselves. Hell, PewDiePie alone sits comfortably at #1. Did you get that? The #1 channel on YouTube is currently a gaming channel. Yeah, you can see where I“m coming from. So whenever you watch the newest episode of JonTron, rewatch PokéAwesome for the hundredth time, or watch PewDiePie exaggerate his fear scream at another horror game, remember: none of this was around until the last generation of home consoles arrived. And so on the list you go, YouTube! Even if you are a little out-of-place compared to the others. #2 PlayStation 3 (A Little Later in Its Life) Fanboy or not, there are countless gamers around the world who will tell you about how much they love their PlayStation 3. The games are awesome, the online service is fantastic, its Blu-ray feature is incredibly convenient; there“s a lot of good to be said about Sony“s third home console. Of course, it took some time to get to the level of success it“s at today, but once it finally hit its stride, it became one of the greatest things ever for gamers. Before I get to the good, let“s take a brief look back at how this phoenix handled its earlier life before rising from its ashes. Do you remember? The PS3 was once an overpriced machine with next to nothing to play on it, and it didn“t sell very well at all. In fact, the internet had its fair share of memes dedicated to the console“s lack of games. Needless to say, the magic of the PS2 pretty much vanished once its predecessor was released. Of course, this phoenix indeed rose from all that and Sony found its spark once again. Sure, it never reached PS2 levels of success, but now it has some of the greatest games of the generation, many of which are available via PSN, which is another one of the PS3“s perks. As much as I love Nintendo and tolerate Microsoft, Sony definitely made me happy last generation, which is a valid enough reason to add their creation to this thing you“re reading. #1 The Rise of Indie Games And now we reach the top dog in all this. I thought long and hard about my favorite thing of last generation and, in the end, I couldn“t help but feel that indie games deserved it. We“ve had plenty of indies in the past, but it wasn“t until the 7th generation of home consoles that we were able to play them on the big screen. At least not like we do today. Thanks to the likes of Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA), PlayStation Network (PSN), and WiiWare (no abbreviation), our home consoles received so many fantastic independent games that I just can“t help but consider last generation the “Rise of Indie Games.†Seriously, have you played any of these indies? Last-gen gave us Journey, Flower, Bastion, Limbo, Braid, Fez, Mark of the Ninja, Spelunky, World of Goo, and so many other great games that were great without being from a triple-A developer/publisher. Many even considered Journey to be their game of the year in 2012. It“s pretty apparent by now that we have tons of extremely talented game developers out in the world who aren“t as well-known as Nintendo, Capcom, Konami, or Square Enix. And you know what? I couldn“t be happier that all this talent are making names for themselves. They deserve success, and it“s great to see that gaming has gotten to the point where creative minds can find success without as many restrictions as we“ve had in the past. And having sites like Kickstarter and Indigogo definitely helps. Indie games deserve my #1 slot of the best things of last generation, hands down. Let“s hope the current generation provides us with even more indie quality. Do you agree with this list? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.
  17. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate was originally a tie-in game that released on handhelds in conjunction with Batman: Arkham Origins' releason on consoles last Fall, and now Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has confirmed that the previously Vita and 3DS-only title is heading to consoles as well courtesy of Armature Studio. Dubbed Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Deluxe Edition, it will deliver the same story and gameplay experience but in HD this time. You'll be able to check out the game in HD when it releases as a download-only title on PSN (for PS3), Xbox Live Marketplace (for Xbox 360), Wii U eShop, and Steam on PC for $19.99 on April 1. http://youtu.be/lDb9p89Xw5Y Source: Press Release Would you play Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate on console?
  18. If you're craving more Monster Hunter-like action on your PS Vita, XSEED has now confirmed that Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is now officially arriving on the PS3 and PS Vita on April 1, and no, that ain't no April Fool's joke! You might recall from earlier announcements that Ragnarok Odyssey ACE isn't exactly an all-new sequel to last year's Ragnarok Odyssey but instead a revised and expanded version of that title. Some of the new additions include expanded and enhanced character customization options such as eight new brand new voices (four for male characters and four for female characters), new job-specific powers called ACE skills, a new weapon type called Halomonas weapons that grow in power along with the characters, and more. There's even a vast new dungeon complete with its own story, all-new bosses, and new challenges that unlocks after you beat Chapter 9 (which was the ending chapter in the original game). And once again, you'll be able to import your character along with his/her equipment and save data from the original game so you can continue playing them in this one. Ragnarok Odyssey ACE will be available for $39.99 in retail and on the PlayStation Store while a physical, limited edition will be available for Vita for the same price (and will include a 25-track OST), or you can opt for the regular Vita version which will be $34.99. You can check out the latest trailer for the game below. Source: PlayStation Blog Are you interested in Ragnarok Odyssey ACE?
  19. solid-alchemist

    Proteus Review

    Proteus (PS3) Developed by Ed Key and David Kanaga Published by Curve Studios Released October 29, 2013 Review Written February 16, 2014 Originally Posted on Boss Dungeon Not really knowing what I was getting into, Proteus is one of the few games I picked up during my Playstation Network winter sale binge. Developed by Ed Key and David Kanaga this artistic odyssey leaves the player, or viewer I should say, with more questions than answers. With a minimalistic art style sprinkled with a musical undercurrent, this journey makes you want to believe it has more to offer. When you first begin Proteus your character awakens in the middle of the ocean a mile away from an island. Your character is actually less of a character and more of a floating, disembodied eyeball but that is fairly irrelevant. As you move out of the waters and trek upon the nearby beaches, you gaze upon the beautiful, minimalistic art style. With every step you are given a snowballing melody that adds to the bewilderment. Musical tones spring for every movement, every creature, and every plant. Not really knowing what you stumbled into, you continue on seeking answers. I“m singing in the rain!!! Proteus creates this peaceful, relaxing experience of meandering while maintaining its ambiguity in order to grab your interest for at least one playthrough. The biggest draw of Proteus is its ability to appease your inner wanderlust in the same vein as games like TESV: Skyrim or Fallout 3. Although only resembling those games through the innate desire to roam freely, Proteus brings forth its beautiful textures and sounds to inspire exploration. With a changing time cycle, weather cycle, four seasons, and randomly generated islands it can be somewhat of a different experience for each player but by much. There is just something calming about seeing pixilated clouds glide towards your screen and slowly release a downpour of rain. Adding more upon that, the pixilated art style is very soft in its presence. I really enjoyed the first moments I spent watching trees rustle in the wind through blocky textures like some 16-bit dance. The skyline is also the most breathtaking element within Proteus as dawn and dusk flow while a rare falling star glimmers in the corner of your screen. The visuals are definitely a key point of the game along with the musical tones, as they both help develop the serene nature throughout your journey. The controls to Proteus are as minimalistic as the entire game“s structure as well. You only have the ability to move, look, sit, and save. The minimal controls are meant to help promote your wanderment but I felt it holds the player back by lacking interactive buttons and this comes off as one of the flaws within the game; your character doesn“t really interact with the environment you are viewing. Some animals will run away when you approach them, but that is the only reaction you gain from wandering the island besides the handful of moments that will leave you audibly saying, “Whoa.†Without feeling like I was truly interacting with the island or able to do anything other than walk, I felt less like I was playing a game and more like I was viewing a digital art gallery throughout my one hour playthrough. This is what you get to work with. Looking at Proteus after completing it, I“ve been trying to distinguish if it can even be categorized as a game. Sure it has some gaming elements and is fairly linear in getting to the end screen, but it lacks what you find normally within a game; an objective or at least a straightforward one. This was the most frustrating aspect for me as there“s no sense of direction, no instructions, and no true interaction with the world you traverse. What“s the point of playing if there is no goal to complete? Sure the game starts out interesting and somewhat fun while searching with reckless abandon, but that novelty wears off after completing an hour. Proteus doesn“t offer many reasons to really return to the island to replay another session. Yet digging deeper into the basis of this game I found one objective the creators had intended for the player. Albeit very basic, the goal of Proteus is to just explore and be free. Strangely the game achieves influencing the player to explore as many players will begin to do so without realizing it. Even with that realization I still think Proteus is more of an hour long visual-musical experience than a game; a digital art display. Bees!! Fact: treating a bee sting has more objectives than this game. Proteus starts you off lost and confused, searching with questions when there are no answers. From a distance it appears that it doesn“t have much to offer, yet a peaceful hour long experience is left available for those willing to take it. I took a blind leap into this game and personally don“t feel the experience obtained from Proteus is worth the money. I“d say pass on it unless it sounds like something that will artistically appeal to your inner wanderer. Review Written by Solid-Alchemist