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Found 18 results

  1. Hailinel

    Review: Attack On Titan 2

    Developer: Omega Force Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games Platform: Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: March 20, 2018 ESRB: M Note: This review is based on the PS4 version of the game Released in 2016, the original Attack on Titan was both a fun action game and a novel title from Omega Force, which for most of its history has been focused almost exclusively on the long-running Musou franchise. With Attack on Titan 2, the studio has returned to the world of high-flying, giant-slaying action, bringing some significant new twists along for the ride. Is a return to the world outside of the walls worth it? Like the original game, Attack on Titan 2 is based on the anime, rather than the original manga. Where the first game covered the scope of the first (and at that point, only) season of the series, the sequel covers both Seasons 1 and 2. The biggest change in terms of the story presentation, however, is in the point of view. New to the game is an original, player-created protagonist who joins the fight against the Titans alongside the established cast, and elements of the story have been rewritten to account for the player-character’s presence. For the most part, the presence of the new character works. The character creation system is robust, allowing for a fair degree of fine custom detail. The plot remains focused on Eren, Armin, Mikasa, and the other cadets of the 104th, giving the player a secondary observational role in most of the proceedings as famous scenes from the series play out. This premise does stretch itself thin in the latter half of the game, however, as the player zips back and forth between different battlefields as the characters are scattered, but that logistical detail is simple enough to forgive. The core gameplay of Attack on Titan 2 is nearly identical to that of the original game. During battle, the player can swing through the air using ODM (omni-directional mobility) gear to approach and latch onto rampaging Titans; giant, monstrous humanoids that can only be killed by striking at the napes of their necks, but who can be weakened or slowed down by severing their arms and legs. The core gameplay loop of approaching and downing Titans one after another is a satisfying one, but it can take practice to learn ideal positioning. And sometimes, what appears to be an ideal strike will result instead in a miss, causing the player to rebound away. Similar issues can arise when a Titan has been sent falling to the ground. Prone Titans can clip through nearby environmental objects such as buildings or supply bases, which can sometimes hamper getting in a clean shot on the nape. This can be mitigated with practice, but it’s still disappointing that Titans don’t react to the surrounding environment when they fall. In the original Attack on Titan, some portions of the story allowed the player to assume direct control of Eren’s Titan form, allowing for direct hand-to-hand combat against other Titans. While Attack on Titan 2 removes such sequences from the Story Mode’s primary scenarios, this feature has been given a new focus in a mini-game that becomes available at the Titan Research Lab. The player can “learn” about Titan behavior by taking on timed challenges while in control of one of the many standard Titans found in the game, though this feature isn’t available until after the player has managed to capture a Titan for the first time, rather than kill it. Getting rewarded for successful human-munching rampages is amusing and a good distraction from the game’s primary action, though the context of its inclusion relative to the story is bizarre. The biggest gameplay change to come with the sequel is a new emphasis on day-to-day life and activity. Between missions, the player has the freedom to wander the Trost District and other locales to speak with their comrades. Similar to mechanics in games like the Fire Emblem series, the player can raise support levels with various characters they meet by both fighting alongside them in battle and during social events responding to their comments appropriately. As these support levels rise, the player will gain access to new skills that boost stats or impart new combat abilities. That in mind, socializing is a must, and fortunately, many of the social event scenes in the game are entertaining. Outside of Story Mode, the other primary game mode is Another Mode. Playable in single-player as well as in online multiplayer, this mode is focused around completing smaller side-missions. These missions can generally be finished in a matter of minutes, making them ideal for quick play. Those that play it on the Switch also have the option of local wireless multiplayer, though I have not had the ability to test this feature out for myself. Online play quality has from my experience been OK, though I have also run into several connection errors while accessing online features in the lobby. The presentation in Attack on Titan 2 is on par with the original game. Its characters, both human and Titan, are rendered in colorful detail, and the story dialogue is fully voiced in Japanese. Performance is mostly smooth, though some battles that become particularly hectic with large numbers of Titans and aerial humans on screen at once can cause spots of momentary chugging. Attack on Titan 2 is what a good sequel should be. It improves on the key features of the original game, and its player-created protagonist adds a fresh take to previously-adapted material. While there are rough patches that could have used more polish, it’s a respectable sequel overall, and fans of the series should find it well worth their time. Pros + Fully adapts two seasons of the Attack on Titan anime from the perspective of an original protagonist + Tweaks to aerial combat provide the player with new options + The character progression system offers a great deal of flexibility + A larger roster of major and minor Attack on Titan characters can be unlocked for use in Another Mode Cons - Camera angles can sometimes make lining up an attack more difficult - Some of the finer elements of combat aren’t as well-explained as they could be, making some aspects of getting good at combat an at-times frustrating act of trial-and-error Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Attack On Titan 2 is a worthy follow-up that improves on key features of the original game while also adding fresh takes, even if the game could use a bit more polish in some areas. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using a retail copy that was bought by the reviewer
  2. Hailinel

    Review: Dynasty Warriors 9

    Developer: Omega Force Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: February 13, 2018 ESRB: T for Teen Note: This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game Change can be an odd thing. Video games, particularly those from long-running series, are often accused of not changing things enough from one game to the next. In the best-case scenarios, making a grand, sweeping change to an old formula can be just the shot in the arm a series needs. But there’s also the risk of a change backfiring, doing more to alienate established fans than expand the audience. Dynasty Warriors 9, Koei Tecmo’s latest entry in their core Musou franchise, is easily the boldest attempt at redefining what a Musou game is, but does that boldness equate success? Like its predecessors, Dynasty Warriors 9 is an action game adaptation of the classic Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms -- a romanticized retelling of a turbulent period of Chinese history that followed the fall of the Han Dynasty. The core narrative follows the individual factions of Wei, Wu, Shu, and Jin, with a few others from the period before the foundation of the three kingdoms or that exist outside of the tripartite conflict. Against this backdrop, there are over ninety playable characters, each with their own story mode and ending, though only a few characters are available from the start. What sets Dynasty Warriors 9 apart from the previous entries is its new open-world structure. While previous games featured contained maps as individual stages with sets of choreographed objectives, Dynasty Warriors 9 presents the player with the entirety of post-Han China to explore. The landscape is enormous, dotted with cities, fortresses, peasant villages, vast plains, steep mountains, thick forests and lush jungles. Coming to this game from previous entries, it’s astonishing to see just how large the map is. With the new open world and expansive map comes a significant change in the game’s basic flow and structure. In a traditional Musou title, the player begins a stage on an enclosed map and is given a series of objectives to perform, some optional, some not, until the final objective is reached and achieved; generally defeating a stage boss, reaching a specific point on the map, or escorting an ally character to safety. This basic flow is still present, in a sense, but it’s not immediately obvious. Each chapter in Dynasty Warriors 9 is structured such that the player is tasked with a primary objective, along with a series of secondary missions that are scattered around the map. It’s entirely possible to rush in and complete the primary objective, thus immediately leading to the next primary objective or ending the chapter, but in doing so, the player can miss out on story beats and mission rewards. Additionally, the core difficulty of the primary objective gradually lowers as more of the secondary missions are completed, representing the player’s efforts in either aiding their force’s advancement or stymying the enemy’s own plans. A side-effect of this new flow is that there’s more downtime between the larger battles, but this isn’t a negative. The game is open enough that it’s possible to advance from one mission to the next without delving off the beaten path. Even if the focus is kept on the missions, it’s not uncommon to end a chapter with an enemy KO count ranging between three to five thousand. After putting in the efforts to clear all of a major battle’s sub-missions, it’s rewarding to ride up to the final battle as enemy officers express panic over a lack of reinforcements, dwindling supplies, and malfunctioning siege weapons. And when it comes to the combat, Dynasty Warriors 9 isn’t afraid to make some significant, but welcome changes. The charge system of combat that was present in most prior entries has been replaced with a flow system that emphasizes the use of flowing state modifiers to stun an enemy, knock them in the air, or to the ground, as well as moves such as finishers that become available when an enemy officer’s health has been reduced enough. It dramatically alters the feel of combat, but unlike the much-maligned Renbu System that was introduced in Dynasty Warriors 6 and immediately abandoned, this new system feels like a change for the better. Dynasty Warriors 9 is most recognizably like past entries in the series during the larger battles, where the game is at its most frantic. Whether it’s avoiding elemental magic while making the final push to Zhang Jiao or choosing whether to pursue Lu Bu at Hu Lao Gate, the wild moments that have defined the series are still present. The open world structure simply offers more options in either approaching or avoiding them, just as the new combat system offers room to be more freeform in experimenting with attack combos. As for the open world itself, it’s fun to finally see China in a better context. While obviously not a scale representation of the nation, seeing how locations that were the settings or set pieces of enclosed stages in previous games now have a geographic relationship with the rest of the world is enlightening for someone like me that didn’t have that kind of understanding before. It also adds to that sense of progression, particularly for parts like the march from Si Shui Gate to Hu Lao Gate, and finally to the confrontation with Dong Zhuo in Luoyang. Other moments that were represented with fanciful scenarios in past games, such as the Battle of Chibi or the escape through the stone sentinel maze, are given a more realistic touch with their locales being defined parts of the large world. But the open world isn’t perfect. Like many games with such vast worlds to explore, Dynasty Warriors 9 has its share of odd glitches and bugs. The worst I came across prevented harvestable materials from spawning, which impeded the completion of a sidequest. Fortunately, the issue corrected itself when I saved, exited, and then reloaded the game. Some of the battles also simply aren’t as engaging in the open world context. Naval battles, while very few and far between, involve taking a small boat out into a body of water to meet up with other boats, and then jumping from one boat to another to take on a handful of enemies that can easily be knocked into the water, only to respawn on the deck over and over until they’re defeated. Thankfully, these battles aren’t very long, but they just aren’t a good fit for the combat of a Dynasty Warriors game. The basic exploration of the open world is very similar in structure to other games. Points of interest become highlighted on the map on approach, making them viable points for fast travel, waymarks on roadsides point out locations on the map that haven’t been found yet, and watchtowers can be climbed to uncover large swaths of land in addition to new locations and material item spawn points. Many of the villages and cities are home to various facilities such as blacksmiths and shops where new items can be bought or crafted, and some of these facilities have even appeared in previous Musou titles that featured explorable hub zones dating back to Dynasty Warriors 7. Out in the wilderness, the number of activities to engage in is sparse. Wildlife can be stalked and hunted with a bow (Dynasty Warriors 9 is, in fact, the first game in the series to give everyone a secondary bow weapon since the PS2 era), and it’s possible to fish in any body of water so long as you possess bait. Both activities net material resources useful for cooking or crafting. There are also roving bands of bandits with powerful leaders that can be similarly encountered, and both townsfolk and captains in the smaller forts that dot the roadways offer optional sidequests that mostly boil down to defeating a certain enemy at a certain location for a small reward. These activities can be fun in spurts, but unless you’re intent on getting materials for a specific item or weapon, they can be safely ignored. The side activity I’ve found most engaging is the use of the hideaways. Scattered around the map, hideaways are homes that the player can purchase, use as fast travel points, and decorate how they see fit. Certain furniture when acquired also gives the player ready access to cooking and crafting, changing the player’s costume, and the ability to receive gifts from friendly officers. It’s even possible to invite other officers in for a visit to raise the player’s relationship with them. In a way, it’s a little like having a slice of Animal Crossing in Dynasty Warriors. Regarding the game’s story, Dynasty Warriors 9 is one of the best interpretations of Romance of the Three Kingdoms that the series has yet produced, possibly only second to Dynasty Warriors 7. The length of each character’s story differs, with some being significantly longer than others, but the range of characters offer differing perspectives on the same periods of time, and each character has their own unique story ending. If there’s a hindrance to the storytelling, it's in the game’s English voice acting (and all new English voice cast), with many performances that range from bland to poor. However, the game does come with the Japanese language voices, and in a first for the series, full voice acting in Chinese. The general presentation is solid as well, highlighted by the detailed character models of the core roster. However, the game shipped with noticeable performance issues on all platforms, and Koei Tecmo has been working to iron these out. Playing the game on my standard launch PS4 with a performance patch in place, I’ve felt that the game’s performance is more than acceptable, though if you’re the sort that demands anything akin to a consistent 60fps at all times, you won’t find that here. Graphic pop-in is also common, the most extreme cases involving the smaller, destructible wooden roadside forts that dot the landscape. Riding up to them on a high-level horse at full speed, I frequently met soldiers engaging in a small skirmish before the fortifications had time to appear. It should be noted that the game has received additional support since its launch beyond performance adjustments. Quality-of-life touches have been made to rebalance certain aspects, ease exploration of the map, and even unlock characters at a faster rate. These fixes are certainly welcome, and I hope that more are coming, as the game was certainly in need of polish at its release. Dynasty Warriors 9 is a fun game; one that I’ve put dozens of hours into and expect to put in dozens more. Its open world is destined to be divisive, and not everyone that loves Dynasty Warriors games or Musou titles for what they are may be willing or able to adapt to the new format, which even for a series veteran like me required time to understand. The game has both incredible highs and annoying lows, and I could easily go on measuring aspects of both against each other. But with the new combat system, quality storytelling, and willingness to experiment with a new gameplay format, I’d tell any veteran fan of the series to at least give it a shot. It’s not what we’re used to, but it is still Dynasty Warriors, if only through a different lens. Pros + New combat system offers a new an interesting flow to battle + A vast open world based on Three Kingdoms-era China +90+ characters to play as + The soundtrack offers a mix of beautiful orchestral and rocking battle music + An engaging and entertaining retelling of Romance of the Three Kingdoms with Japanese and Chinese language options Cons - Performance issues and glitches - Poor English voice acting quality - A lack of depth to open world activities - Some characters are missing their signature weapons from previous entries - Select missions don’t mesh well with the open world structure Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good Dynasty Warriors 9 is a fun game that has both incredible highs and annoying lows, and with the new combat system, quality storytelling, and willingness to experiment with a new gameplay format, I’d tell any veteran fan of the series to at least give it a shot. Disclosure: This review is based on retail product that was paid for by the reviewer
  3. Hailinel

    Review: Toukiden 2

    Developer: Omega Force Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games Platform: PlayStation 4, PS Vita, PC Release Date: March 21, 2017 ESRB: T for Teen Note: This review is based on the PS4 version of the game After the Monster Hunter series jumped from the PSP to the 3DS as the franchise“s platform of choice, several companies tried their hands at the format to fill in the hunting gap on the Vita. One such game was Koei Tecmo“s Toukiden: The Age of Demons -- a game that, while it held very close to the gameplay structure of Monster Hunter, distinguished itself with a creative historical setting and gameplay elements that made it more than a simple clone. After following the initial release with an enhanced PS4 version in Toukiden Kiwami, the developer Omega Force has brought about its first true sequel in Toukiden 2. Set after the events of the first game, Toukiden 2 returns to the Midlands; the last remaining region of what was once Meiji-era Japan where humans live in a world overrun with demons, or oni. As in the first game, the player takes on the role of a slayer whose name and appearance can be customized, and whose job is to leave the confines of Mahoroba Village and protect it from the relentless hordes. There are a few callbacks to the original game, as well as returning faces, but the story doesn“t require knowledge of the first Toukiden in order to follow along. The storyline is surprisingly strong, with characters that start off as one-note showing more depth over time. A stark factional split keeps the village divided politically to a seemingly irreparable degree, which at times leads to some surprising but effective moments of drama and tragedy. The conflict is exacerbated by both human faults and oni attacks, but the narrative is kept light enough with plenty of humorous moments, as well. As a hunting game, Toukiden 2 strays from the first game“s formula in a significant way with the introduction of an open world. Unlike the first game, which used Monster Hunter-style maps of segmented zones, the map in Toukiden 2 is one large landmass populated with oni, side quests, and hidden secrets. What“s more, the world can be explored freely at will without a time limit; instead, a restriction is placed on the player in the form of the miasma gauge, which measures the player“s exposure to a toxic atmosphere created by oni. In regions of the map where miasma is thicker, the gauge will fill at a faster clip, though making progress in the story and by clearing map waypoints will reduce the miasma and make it easier to explore more of the map over time. The new map indeed goes a long way in giving the game“s world a sense of place. In the original game, the player visited different maps referred to as ages, such as the Age of Grace, Age of War, or Age of Chaos. Each of these maps was thematically based on an era of Japanese history, but there wasn“t anything to link them, other than they“re all accessible by leaving the village through its lone gate. Toukiden 2 reintroduces the ages as regions of the map, interconnected with each other and the outskirts of Mahoroba. In sum, the world feels vast, with a lot to explore, and only a small portion is seen while sticking close to the main story. The combat in Toukiden 2 also receives an upgrade in the Demon Hand. This new tool, which is essentially a spectral grappling arm, lets the player grab on to oni from a distance to close the gap or trip them up. When a special gauge is filled, using the arm on a giant oni will instantly tear off one of its limbs, weakening the demon while dealing heavy damage. The Demon Hand also has its uses outside of combat, allowing for some light traversal as well as destroying barriers that blockade select routes. It“s a little unwieldy to use at first, as it takes some time to get used to aiming, and in single-player, the AI partners tend to be much faster in using their own Demon Hands, getting into the fray before the player. It doesn“t take long to get used to, however. Toukiden 2 offers multiplayer that lets four players team up on oni-slaying missions together. These missions, also available in single-player, are analogous to the missions that the first game was structured around. In general, they“re short, sweet, and quick to jump into. After accepting a mission and heading for the gate, the game will take the players straight to a portion of the world map that has been cordoned off as the mission area. And once the target oni are slain, the mission ends, and it“s easy enough to jump right into another. The Mitama system from the original game also returns with some upgrades, allowing the player to equip Mitama for offense, defense, and the Demon Hand, with effects that vary based on the type of Mitama equipped. The Mitama equipped also determine what skills can be activated during battle, which can have a major effect on your play style and your role in a group, whether that be as an offense-focused attacker or a more support-oriented slayer with team-healing abilities. The system is of limited use in single-player (I made it through the story largely with the earliest acquired Mitama), but it offers more key significance in multiplayer. The vast majority of the game“s Mitama are based on figures from Japanese history and folklore, dating from the nation“s prehistoric era through the Meiji era and early twentieth century. Collecting these Mitama is one of the game“s more prominent side-tasks, and it“s worth it, not only for the varying abilities provided by them, but in learning their historical context, as each Mitama has its own accompanying biographical text. Certain Mitama that are historically associated, such as spouses, also provide extra boosts when equipped together. In terms of presentation, Toukiden 2 is on par with Kiwami in a technical sense, and shares the same art style, but with a greater sense of cohesion to its unified map. Many of the oni are distinctive and diverse in their design as well, with the giant oni standing out in particular. On the audio side, the game features well-done Japanese voice acting, though there aren“t any subtitles for incidental flavor dialogue party members may chatter in the field. The music, largely reminiscent of the original game, is of high quality and fits the mood and setting. But beyond those presentation checkmarks, Toukiden 2 is very much a sea-change in terms of being a sequel. While the original Toukiden and similar titles have been referred to as Monster Hunter clones for their not-too-subtle attempts at mimicking that franchise“s formula, the sequel takes great strides in furthering its own identity and creating a more unique experience as a result. It“s refreshing, and it makes for an easy recommendation. Pros + Open world structure gives the sequel a fresh take over the original + An entertaining story with fun characters + A great range of weapon types, as well as tutorials for each + Gameplay styles can be customized through equipping Mitama Cons - The camera can be obstructed at times when fighting giant oni in tight spaces - The game doesn“t do a perfect job of teaching all of its mechanics up front - The number of quests available in the open world feels somewhat sparse compared to the map“s size Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic Toukiden 2 takes great strides in furthering its own identity and creating a more unique experience as a result, making it a refreshing and easy recommendation. Disclosure: A downloadable PS4 code was provided by the publisher for this review
  4. Developer: Omega Force Publisher: Koei Tecmo Platform: PS4, PS Vita Release Date: January 31, 2017 ESRB: T Koei Tecmo“s Dynasty Warriors series, which originally began as a one-on-one fighting game on the PlayStation, has since blossomed into a long-running action game series known for pitting the player against hundreds of enemies at once. The franchise has spun off in a number of directions over the years, from similarly themed games based on various anime licenses to the Monster Hunter-inspired Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce series, but the latest spin-off takes a sharp turn away from the frenetic action the franchise is known for. In exchanging large-scale beat“em up action for turn-based strategy, the developer Omega Force brings us Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers. Godseekers is a strategy RPG in the vein of Fire Emblem, Disgaea, and Final Fantasy Tactics. It retells the story of Romance of the Three Kingdoms as all Dynasty Warriors games before it, complete with larger-than-life interpretations of figures from the novel and Chinese history, but works in a few original twists a more overt fantasy. The main story follows Zhao Yun and his friend Lei Bin after they inadvertently awaken Lixia, a mystical woman that needs to recover scattered elemental orbs that grant her power. From there, the story darts through plot points that should be familiar to anyone that“s played a Dynasty Warriors game, from the revolt against Dong Zhuo to the fight to reclaim Xiapi from the fearsome Lu Bu, ever so slightly rewritten with Lixia“s quest in mind. The core tactical gameplay does a remarkable job of translating the Dynasty Warriors style of action into a strategy game. The player is allowed up to five characters in the active roster per battle, and every character in the game has their own unique attacks that cover varying ranges measured by the grid map. Some excel at close quarters, others do more widespread damage, and still others excel or focus on ranged attacks. Like the core action games, each character also has their own Musou attacks; special skills that deal extra-powerful damage, but can only be used when a charge on the character“s own Musou gauge is full. The most powerful technique is a special team skill called Synchro Mode. When active, it lets two or more of the player“s party to act in tandem, dealing a full turn“s worth of damage against foes before unleashing a super-powered attack that can be powered up by mashing the X button. It“s particularly useful for clearing out large swaths of enemies off of the map and a strategic necessity, particularly in more time-sensitive battles. However, it“s balanced out by the fact that it takes some set up to get more than two or three units in position to take part in the assault. Dynasty Warriors is known for battlefields full of enemies, and Godseekers does its best to live up to that concept. Maps in Godseekers routinely see the player greatly outnumbered. Though, at least on Normal Mode, the majority of the enemies don“t pose a particular threat. Standard grunts do a small fraction of the damage that officers are capable of and tend to be fodder for building up the Musou and Synchro gauges. They only become particularly vexing on maps where time is of the essence and the mission requires rescuing a stranded officer or clearing the objective within a set turn limit. That being said, the core story missions offer excellent variety in terms of their design and objectives. Even when missions with similar objectives occur back to back, the map designs, unit placement and specific requirements give them unique flavor. Unfortunately, the same can“t be said for the many, many, many side mission battles that become available on the world map. Though early on they“re useful for building up experience, gold, weapons, and items, the sheer number and more mundane mission designs tend to wear out their welcome. As a better aside, there“s the Path of Destiny. Functioning as the means to unlock additional characters to add to the permanent battle roster, the player can witness entertaining conversations between members of the large cast, gradually moving along tracks that unlock as various requirements are met. Occasionally, special battles open up that -- if won -- will yield a new character for the player, and on the plus side, these missions tend to be as good as the main story missions in terms of their design and variety. On the downside, there“s a lot of grinding to get through. The requirements for attaining a character“s next tier on the Path of Destiny generally need the player to progress beyond a certain point in the story, as well as additional requirements such as having a specific character fight in X battles, defeating Y, enemies, or leveling up the character to Z. At times it can be a slog, though the reward of unlocking a desired character can feel worth it. However, the five-character limit in battles is constraining, and many characters won“t see use outside of the monotonous side-battles. As for the game“s presentation, the plot offers some novel takes, particularly in how key events frequently revisited in Dynasty Warriors are altered for the sake of Lixia“s story that add some surprises to the more well-tread points, and the core cast of Zhao Yun, Lei Bin and Lixia are an interesting trio together. But even with the twists brought by Lixia, the story feels somewhat dry and predictable. That“s not to say that the story is bad; far from it, in fact. However, it is hard to escape the thought that the plot is essentially Dynasty Warriors fanfiction, which may or may not be appealing depending on what you“re looking for. But while the plot is lacking in some ways, the game does manage to retain the look and feel of a traditional Dynasty Warriors despite the dramatic shift in game genre. The map designs look like they could exist as standard Dynasty Warriors maps, and the battle camera can be set to view attacks from the perspective of an action game. It feels like a cheap shortcut to say that it looks and sounds exactly like it should, but given what the game is aiming for, it“s not an inaccurate statement. Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers is an entertaining game, and Dynasty Warriors fans looking for something outside of the norm should find a lot to like. It stumbles on some of its design choices, but it does more than enough right to be engrossing in bursts. At the very least, it“s a good distraction as we all wait for more news on Dynasty Warriors 9. Pros Matches the look and feel of a traditional Dynasty Warriors game perfectly. Robust character growth and weapon customization systems. A well-executed battle system translates the action series into tactical strategy. Lots of entertaining character dialogue. Cons Side missions become monotonous. Enemy turns can take forever to complete, though there is a fast-forward function. Path of Destiny advancement requirements are sometimes a grind. Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers is an entertaining game, and Dynasty Warriors fans looking for something outside of the norm should find a lot to like. It stumbles on some of its design choices, but it does more than enough right to be engrossing in bursts. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS4 code provided by the publisher
  5. Hailinel

    Review: Attack On Titan

    Developer: Omega Force Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: August 30, 2016 ESRB: M for Mature This review is based on the PS4 version of the game Omega Force, Koei Tecmo“s long-time developer of their prolific Musou, or Warriors franchise in most all its incarnations, has adapted the hack-and-slash action format to suit what has become a sizeable number of anime and manga franchises. There are Musou games based on Mobile Suit Gundam, Fist of the North Star, One Piece, and most recently, The Heroic Legend of Arslan. Omega Force“s latest effort, Attack on Titan, fits right in, but for all of the Musou blood in its veins, the core game is anything but. This shift from Omega Force“s norm is born largely from the necessities of Attack on Titan“s premise. Humanity is on the verge of extinction, hunted down and eaten by Titans; feral humanoid giants with masculine features that lack genitalia. The last remaining humans live within the bounds of three concentric walls, but a century of peace is destroyed when the Colossal Titan, a unique Titan that stands taller than these walls, attacks and breaches the outermost Wall Maria. The game“s core premise of fighting back against these Titans is where it deviates the most from the core Musou template. The relatively pint-sized humans use Omni-directional Maneuver (ODM) Gear, which allows them to shoot out cables to latch onto buildings, trees, or even Titans, and swing through the air in a manner like Spider-Man. Titans can be targeted at the arms and legs, which can be severed with enough damage, but the only way to actually kill a Titan is by striking the nape of the neck. Additionally, the protagonist Eren Jaeger acquires the ability turn into a Titan himself. At key points, Titan Eren becomes playable with controls that function much more like a traditional brawler. These moments are relatively few in the story mode, but they do add extra variety to a game that is otherwise all about the flow of weakening and downing Titans while flying through the air. Aside from the story mode, the game“s other primary mode is Expedition Mode, which can be played either solo or through online multiplayer. Playing online allows for cooperating with a group, and voice chat can be used as an option, but the experience either way does not differ that much, as the focus is the same. Complete survey missions to unlock new survey missions and the more challenging expedition missions. Just like Dynasty Warriors is entirely about cutting down enemy soldiers by the thousands, Attack on Titan is focused on taking down Titans, though by a much smaller number. Outside the core concept, missions offer a fair variety of objectives, such luring Titans into traps rather than fighting them directly or defending a character from a Titan onslaught. Encounters with unique Titans like the Colossal Titan also offer breaks from the established norm, and the game eventually introduces “Dire” Titans as special objectives that are significantly tougher than the norm. Another aspect of the game“s Musou lineage shines in its character selection and progression options. Though only a select few characters are playable in the story mode, more are unlocked as progress is made and are available for play in Expedition Mode. Each character has a series of skills that unlock as they level up, and while everyone shares the same blades and ODM Gear, their skills and individual stats separate them into diverse play styles, whether they be offense-oriented or more adept at commanding a team. There“s also a Regiment Level shared by all characters that governs what equipment and forging materials are available for purchase. And just like a standard Musou, progress along these various tracks carries between modes. The game“s presentation does an excellent job of matching the look of the source material, with the major characters recreated in high detail. Standard Titans stand out with their ghoulish, vapid expressions and their often bizarre movements, while the unique Titans exude a greater malevolence and a finer sense of detail in their design. Additionally, the cast of the anime also does a worthwhile job reprising their roles for the game However, the downside to the game“s presentation is that the story is told in a decidedly CliffsNotes fashion and leaves out a large amount of characterization and background to focus on the action. This will most likely be a problem for anyone that comes into the game that hasn“t at least watched the anime, as some key points, such as how Eren has the ability to turn into a Titan, are glossed over. The in-game encyclopedia helps, but there“s only so much information that it can impart. Attack on Titan isn“t a traditional Musou game, and it has a slightly greater learning curve with the ODM-swinging and the specifics of Titan combat. Those key differences work in its favor, however, and deliver a breezy action game with an identity all its own. It“s easy to recommend to any fan of Omega Force“s style of action games, fans of the anime, and even fans starved for the web-swinging a decent modern Spider-Man video game. Pros + Faithfully recreates the look and feel of the anime. + ODM swinging and Titan combat are a lot of fun. + An in-game encyclopedia helps give background on many of the game“s characters. + For the more squeamish, there is an optional blood toggle that reduces the level of on-screen gore. Cons - The story presentation is not friendly to newcomers, and the conclusion is abrupt. - The camera can occasionally sit in unhelpful places. Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Attack On Titan is different from traditional Musuo titles, but that works towards the game's strengths, making it one of the most unique entries in the genre yet. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS4 code provided by the publisher
  6. barrel

    Review: Samurai Warriors 4-II

    Developer: Omega Force Publisher: Tecmo Koei Platform: PS4/Vita Release Date: September 29, 2015 ESRB: T for Teen This review is based on the PS4 version of the game I have been out of the loop with Musou action games for a good while. Back on the PS2, I had fond memories of playing the original Samurai Warriors, but the mere existence of Samurai Warriors 2 & 3 completely slipped me by… not to mention the enhanced versions of those same games. Regardless, Musou titles have been getting more and more positive fervor as of late, from fanfare spin-offs like Hyrule Warriors to the most recent Dragon Quest Heroes. Even last year“s more traditional Samurai Warriors 4 picked up traction as well from series enthusiasts. Of course, it would not be a proper numbered Musou release without an annualized and somewhat confusing enhanced version, so here we are with Samurai Warriors 4-II. As I implied before, Samurai Warriors 4-II in general is all new to me. So, aspects like being able to switch between two characters on the fly mid-battle, multiple special meters for "Hyper Attacks" and "Rage Mode" skills, interim saves for convenience during combat, and 50+ playable characters were all pleasant surprises for myself. Heck, just the regular attack animations are infinitely more responsive and cooler to look at than my old man's Samurai Warrior's perspective of a bygone era, like Nobunaga Oda floating and demonically swinging dark energy matter to decimate foes or Motochika Chōsokabe playing a Shamisen like an electric guitar... that can somehow cut down armies of soldiers. But, after an hour of so, the new sheen wore off for me and the basic it the basic hack and slash formula was not nearly as foreign to me as as I would have expected -- for better or worse. I mean, Mitsuhide Akechi still for some reason has purple hair, the enemy soldiers like to stand by and do nothing, and pretty much every key figure in the Sengoku era of Feudal Japan apparently felled 1000+ enemies in a single battle with bread and butter attack combos in around 30 minutes -- clearly the pinnacle of historical accuracy. Humoring series quirks aside, actually, the main difference between the original Samurai Warriors 4 and Samurai Warriors 4-II is its the story mode. The prior release divided the storytelling into four factions while 4-II is by different groups of characters. Though the surface-level character motivations and cutscenes makes it seem like it's easy to follow, I am pretty sure the transition from one fight to another will make next to no sense for anybody who doesn't have some background knowledge of Japanese feudal history (and in some instances make far less sense with that knowledge due to some characters being, erm, alive.). To be honest, it's pretty disjointed from any perspective (and not particularly entertaining), even if it seems like Omega Force was probably aware of this by making the latter unlocked story modes progressively less and less serious. Going down the list of additions beyond the story mode it appears like most are real minor quality of life stuff or giving players more excuses to chip away at grinding levels for its huge character roster. There is a new Final Fantasy X styled sphere grid system where you collect tomes from battles to unlock passive and stat bonuses for every characters. Also new is a "Survival Mode" which brings a risk/reward mindset as players decide for themselves whether to climb further up a tower with varying objectives for a potentially huge cash out . Other than those, the typical incentives from the previous game from loot drops, leveling up weapons, and a create character mode to give really devoted players to chew on something for a good while. This sorta hits the underlying theme of Samurai Warriors 4-II (and doubtless other Musou games)...which is, how much do you enjoy turning off your brain and grinding in the quickly familiar a hack & slash gameplay formula? After my initial novelty seeing what is new from my ten year gap away from the series I eventually learned that my answer was "not very much". Even removed from my context of not enjoying mashing the square (and triangle) button THAT much, at least without the gameplay moveset depth of a good character action game to compensate it (which this doesn't have), the value proposition does not seem strong even for returning fans of the first iteration. There is literally only one new character, Naomasa Li, whom honestly seems rather lukewarm compared to many other characters in the roster and the save transfer functionality between the two is woefully short for how little has been added. Also, the recently announced Samurai Warriors 4: Empires, which seems to have more new going on, makes Samurai Warriors 4-II as a follow-up seem fairly lacking. With a near ten year gap from the last Samurai Warriors title that I have played it was fun to see the transition to the most recent release of Samurai Warriors 4-II. There is plenty to chip away at from a time perspective with its diverse, huge roster or characters and mechanics to grind. But, after getting over that initial novelty rather quickly, it is quite telling that its love it or hate it button-mashing formula made me quickly learn my stance for this release on its own. For those that have played the previous Samurai Warriors 4 there doesn't seem to be a strong incentive to check out this psuedo-expansion because of its near negligible changes to gameplay and modes, and Samurai Warriors 4: Empires frankly seeming more substantial for those willing to wait. From the context of somebody who is not an already established Musou fan, Samurai Warriors 4-II does even less to change one's mind. Pros + Tons of varied playable characters + Responsive controls and satisfying, flashy attacks animations + Love it or hate it button-mashing gameplay Cons - Is an unapologetic grind when it comes to unlocking new attacks or improving stats - Fairly minor additions over the previous release - Story mode is really disjointed and underwhelming - Love it or hate button-mashing gameplay Overall Score: 6 (out of 10) Decent With little to invite series veterans, or even newcomers, Samurai Warriors 4-II is a confusing expansion/sequel that is likely better off being ignored for an ultimately better iteration down the line than having those try to stubbornly uncover its merits. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS4 code provided by the publisher.
  7. barrel

    Review: Toukiden: Kiwami

    Developer: Omega Force Publisher: Koei-Tecmo Platforms: PS4, PS Vita Release Date: March 31, 2015 ESRB: T for Teen With so many Dynasty Warriors versions, spin-offs, and crossovers, it is hard to believe that Omega Force actually has the time to do anything else. Yet, last year Omega Force tried their hand among fellow "Hunting" action-RPGs with 2014's Playsation Vita exclusive Toukiden: The Age of Demons. It was firmly entrenched in ancient Japanese lore and in many ways tried to make many aspects associated with games like Monster Hunter less obtuse. Not unlike Monster Hunter, however, it has quickly seen an enhanced version for not only PS Vita but the PS4 as well with Toukiden: Kiwami. Does it earn its second welcoming or has the thrill of the hunt long since passed? Among most hunting games that actively try to distinguish themselves—Soul Sacrifice with its oppressive setting, Freedom Wars with its fast-paced mobile combat, Gods Eater Burst with its anime-like storytelling, and so on—Toukiden wears its inspiration on its sleeve the most from not only Monster Hunter but its contemporaries as well. In a normal context this would be a bad thing, but in the case of Toukiden it feels like it takes a harder look at certain clunkier flaws associated with the genre. I'm not saying such aspects don't exist in Toukiden: Kiwami, but the moment to moment gameplay can possibly be more fulfilling for those who want less opaque progression and more context to their monster slaying. The first reason for this is that there is an honest-to-goodness story mode in Toukiden. In the original release, the main narrative was a character-driven tale of the fellow hunt—I mean "Slayers" of Utakata Village as they fend off Oni for a world on its last legs. In Kiwami they nearly double the story content by including an entirely new narrative arc that takes place three months after the original's story that encompasses more of its internal lore and also introduces new faces as well. Though storytelling expectations are admittedly low for the subgenre in general, both story modes still manage to easily surpass expectations by doing a solid job at creating a localized tale that is interesting enough to kill one Oni to the next despite its predictable moments. While narrative context is certainly appreciated, the bulk of the time is spent taking down large Oni with allies in the narrative or those in online multiplayer. Because of this, it is especially difficult to not make a million comparisons to similar releases, since on a rather basic level Toukiden: Kiwami really does not really attempt to do too much different. Missions are rather typical and rarely amount to anything more complex than kill X amount of monsters or felling a boss-like Oni. It also bears mission repetition problems that are quite commonplace for the genre where you fight a few too many of the same bosses with minor alterations (or none whatsoever) to advance. But as I said before, it is not a surface-level perspective that makes Toukiden stand out among its action-RPG niche, but rather the refinements around it. Aspects that would seem like blasphemy to Monster Hunter like being able to see an enemy's health bar, having surprisingly useful single player A.I. companions, being able to revive allies, and requiring far less material farming are minor on paper but go a long way in making the title more approachable instead of being an overbearing commitment. Toukiden: Kiwami specifically makes this even more the case from having newly added powerful team attack skills or being able to send your fox-like pet "Tenko" to retrieve items during missions. This carries over to fast-paced and satisfying combat mechanics as well. There is most certainly depth to each class, and none of them feel unfit for solo play either. I found myself rather fond of one of the three newly added classes to Kiwami, rifle in particular, due to its surprisingly technical style. The rifle class has you utilize different ammo types creatively and try to trigger different effects altogether if they are fired at grenade lobs. Of course, because of its basic mission design, and combat skills being nowhere near as varied as a pure character-action game like Bayonetta 2, it can feel rather button-mashy for melee classes in particular. Which, considering Omega Force's Dynasty Warriors pedigree, is perhaps not too surprising that it falls into this "love it or hate it" pacing over time. What also helps differentiate combat are the Mitama and limb dismemberment systems. Mitama, aka the souls of fallen heroes, give players various passive skills in combat. Due to the sheer variety of Mitama, you can forge your own play style since all of them seem practical. For example, as a rifle user I found it highly valuable to use agility-based Mitama, which increased my weapon reload speed and allowed me to occasionally negate attacks. Other classes may find it more valuable to use Mitama to make it easier to dismember/purify Oni limbs, which in doing so makes it easier to deal direct damage to enemies or obtain rarer item drops. Though, like the original, limb dismemberment can be annoying since certain classes have more difficulty with it and therefore can take significantly longer to kill tougher Oni because of it. Aside from the newly added story mode and classes, there is tons to delve into in a multiplayer environment. The story modes alone are quite a bit to chew on but Oni-slaying purists can be occupied much longer if they want to tackle much tougher late-game missions for higher level gear and weapons. What is neat about both the Vita and PS4 versions is that they both feature online cross-play in addition to being able to transfer saves between the two if you happen to have both. For a former Vita release the game holds up surprisingly well visually with its transition on PS4. Certain character models may look doll-like, and some textures look rough upon close examination, but otherwise the general art direction and environments, as well as the very solid framerate, fair well despite being on far more technically proficient hardware. Also good is the soundtrack, which has a decidedly classical Japanese instrument flair but is all the more fitting because of its well-done overtures and certain boss themes. It may not distract incredibly passionate Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate fans, but for other people who haven't been able to get into more popular hunting titles (like myself) or just want to try a different flavor of it, Toukiden: Kiwami can possibly be different enough to be a preferable alternative. It has a fairly in-depth story mode, is more approachable and faster-paced from a gameplay standpoint, adds significantly more content, and it also fills the void of a complete lack of any Hunting action-RPGs on modern consoles. It may not be the most original take on the action-RPG subgenre but the cut of Toukiden: Kiwami 's jib is in the right place. Pros: + Decent story mode with nearly double the overall content from its original release + Fast-paced combat and diverse Mitama mechanics make combat, bosses in particular, satisfying + New classes, team special attacks, and bosses are welcome additions + Surprising solid visual transition from Vita with neat cross-play/cross-save functionality as well Cons: - Like most in the hunting subgenre, it suffers from some shamelessly repetitive mission design - Many classes can feel rather button-mashy over time - Limb dismemberment mechanic can be annoying Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good Though lacking in originality, this substantial re-release boasts a ton of content and a different, more approachable and just different enough take on the hunting subgenre for who want more context and less grinding to their monster slaying. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS4 code provided by the publisher.
  8. Famitsu magazine has released new information about the much anticipated, upcoming Zelda spin-off Hyrule Warriors today. Among the news announced was that of a two-player mode that will make use of both the TV and Wii U gamepad. Even more interesting, perhaps, was the announcement that there will be other characters you will be able to play as besides Link, including Impa, who will lead the Elite Guard in Hyrule Warriors and fights with a long sword. Fans of the Zelda series may remember Impa as Zelda's guardian and servant to the royal family of Hyrule in her many incarnations throughout the games, but perhaps her two most famous roles were in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time where she fled Hyrule Castle and hid Princess Zelda from Ganondorf, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, where she acted as Zelda's guide and protector from Ghirahim. While this is the first time we've been able to play as a character other than Link in a Zelda game (canonical or otherwise), the Dynasty Warriors and Warriors Orochi series are known for incorporating many different characters, such as the most recent entry in the series, Dynasty Warriors 8, which features over 70 different playable characters. Additionally, Famitsu revealed that different weapons will change the way your character will fight, with one-handed swords emphasizing speed and heavier weapons highlighting damage instead. Weapons will also be upgradeable and there will be a character progression system as well. While no release date has been announced for North America or Europe yet, the Hyrule Warriors is announced to be 70% complete at the moment and will be releasing on August 16 in Japan. More news about the game is expected to come at E3 in just under a month where the game is said to be playable. Source: Famitsu (via Siliconera) Are you excited to play as other characters in Hyrule Warriors?
  9. Christopher Haygood

    Review: Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper

    Developer: Omega Force Publisher: Tecmo Koei Platform: Wii U Release Date: November 18, 2012 ESRB: T for Teen A retail copy was supplied by the publisher for this review Tecmo Koei sure loves its Warriors franchise, and whether you agree or not, it has its high points. Warriors Orochi 3 was the best game of the Orochi series – which brings characters from both the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series together to fight hundreds of enemies who love to stand around while you kill them – and one of the best Warriors games in general, which surely number in the hundreds of thousands by now (even Koei has probably lost count). This port for the Wii U contains more content than previous releases … but at what cost? A hydra has attacked the land, killing all of mankind“s forces except three generals, who decide to get even by socking science in the mouth and going back in time. In this way, they plan to rescue the fallen generals of the past, recruit them in their army, and launch a retaliation (or pretaliation?) against the opposing forces in the key battles that led to defeat. If you feel like pretending you“ve never been exposed to the gameplay of a Warriors game, I“ll humor you: due to rampant fool overpopulation, it“s your job to eradicate fools in prodigious quantities, using one of a wide variety of characters, their weapons, and special moves. There's some tedium in this style of gameplay, to be sure, but the amount of unlockable generals keeps it from getting too bad. In Orochi 3, the cast of playable characters is beyond massive; with over 130 to seek out and recruit, the roster can make you wonder if you“re playing a video game or reading War and Peace. Most of these characters are from previous Warriors titles, while some are borrowed from other Tecmo games, such as Dead or Alive, Ninja Gaiden, Bladestorm, and others. The big addition to this installment is Duel Mode, a one-on-one fighter in which each player chooses three characters to switch out when needed. Players earn Battle Points as they land attacks, which can then be spent on activating special cards in story mode for added bonuses. Duel Mode is surprisingly fun, and feels like a throwback to two-player games of yore like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Golden Axe. Aside from this new mode, Hyper also contains two new characters (on top of the two included characters from the Japan-only PSP release): Ninja Gaiden“s Momiji, and Shennong, the legendary emperor of Chinese mythology. Unfortunately, if you“ve already played Orochi Warriors 3, this is all the Wii U version has to get "hyper" about. This apparent rush job takes little advantage of the Wii U“s hardware capabilities; to prevent total processing failure during the times when the screen is packed, hordes of enemies and even some bosses will occasionally blink in and out as if they are victims of Spontaneous Ghost Syndrome. The framerate also takes a blow in this version, and although slowdown issues are nothing new in the Warriors games, it's particularly jarring in Hyper, and one gets the impression that this problem could be remedied if only more time was spent in the transition. During the more sizable encounters, it“s like someone dropped this game's source code in a giant vat of peanut butter and molasses and then glued it onto a Wii U disc using that stuff they put on flypaper. These extreme cases of The Slows usually only last a few seconds, but it's enough to frustrate any gamers except those possessing the most Zen-like patience. The visuals are a tiny bit uglier than the original, as well, but they're adequate, and the cutscenes are still beautiful. The Wii U controller“s button layout makes extended button-mashing a comfortable endeavor, but the gamepad“s screen does little to boost the experience; while it“s nice to be able to turn off the TV and play the game in bed, on a trampoline, or while practicing for a Rockettes audition, and although the gamepad can be used in local co-op instead of having two players jumbled together on the same screen, the mini-map is far too “mini” on the smaller screen and is rendered nearly useless. While the game's still there and more-or-less as playable as the PS3 and 360 versions, there's not enough new material here to warrant purchasing Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper if you've already played those previous versions. Newcomers, however, will still be treated to one of the highlights of the Warriors series. Just keep in mind that it loses some of its luster in this hand-me-down version. Pros: + The core gameplay of the original remains intact + New Duel Mode is entertaining Cons: - Slowdown gets particularly extreme in this version - Characters blink in and out at a distracting rate - There's a fairly lackluster amount of new content Overall Score: 6.0 (Out of 10) Decent Although Duel Mode is a welcome addition to this version, slowdown mars the game and keeps it from being a must-purchase, especially for those who have played it on other consoles.
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