Tuesday, December 16, 2014

EVE Online - This is EVE

EVE Online has been out since 2003 and since then has undergone upgrades, changes, and re-releases but is still going strong at 500,000 subscribers. Their latest video promotion "This is EVE" manages to promote the game in a new light.

Instead of focusing on features or doing a highlight reel of scripted moments, they concentrated on what makes the game great: its players. Unscripted actual conversation highlights a barrage of glorious space battles in a trailer that has been going strong since 2003 stand up to its next gen competition.

EVE Online offers a 14 Day Free Trial from their official website.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hyrule Warriors - Video Review

Hyrule Warriors Review - Come out to Play

Score: 7.75 / 10
Hyrule Warriors
Developer: Omega Force/Team Ninja
Publisher: Koei Tecmo/Nintendo
Release Date: September 26, 2014

  • Cinematic special attacks never lose their flair
  • Gives the feeling of being an all powerful warrior
  • Hundreds of different missions to complete
  • Variety of characters to choose from 
  • Co-op can be a blast
  • Gamepad potential is tragically lost
  • Every mission dilutes to killing things quickly
  • Repetitive nature can wear on you over time
  • Frame rate drops when too much action hits the screen

When you think Zelda you think dungeons, puzzle solving, and heroic quests with memorable boss battles. The most you recognize in Hyrule Warriors will be characters and locations, and that is where your familiarity ends. Koei decided to take a different approach to the Legend of Zelda copyright with this game, focusing on massive armies and powerful warriors taking on hundreds at a time. Those familiar with Dynasty Warriors series know the gameplay experience offered. While the Legend of Zelda characters can be fun to play around in a Dynasty Warriors setting, the lost potential with this game is hard to shake off.

Surely this will hit one of them...

The story for Hyrule Warriors is anything but canon and I remain thankful for that; because what you play out makes no sense in any way. It begins familiar enough with Link gaining the hero clothes and triforce of courage, but his path to quell the swarm of evil forces is a peculiar one. Introducing a pair of twin sorceresses, Hyrule Warriors involves their abilities to open rifts to the other Hyrule eras, bringing in characters from Ocarina of Time to Skyward Sword. You then close the rifts, but takeover as Ganondorf, undoing everything you just did. You further complicate that by taking over Link again to undo what you just undid. Confused? I was too. The story is a mess, shoving as many iconic characters as you can shove into one title, repeating elements of previous Zelda games (seriously, how does it take you five levels to figure out Shiek is Zelda?), and ultimately culminating in a mess of a story.

The basics of Hyrule Warriors is taking control of a all around awesome general who charges into hundreds of AI, overtaking bases by eliminating the enemy presence in each one. While the story mode bottlenecks you into taking specific towers for victory, most will open up and allow you to venture all across the battlefield, moving to where you are needed most. Sometimes the enemy will send out waves of enemies to take your bases, in which you must plan out what takes priority; attack or defense. It is the bread and butter of Dynasty Warriors saga, but with Legend of Zelda characters. The most disappointing feature is the potential lost over the gamepad. The most you can do is see current missions, see fellow AI's health, and select items...that is all. You cannot control your armies to attack certain points or even get a gamepad view screen of the map.

No more horsing around!

Amidst the thousands of clone enemies you go against are some formidable baddies, and that is where your character and weapon choice have an impact. The character roster continues to expand as you play, eventually unlocking a total of 13 characters with DLC offering even more. Though the heroes will all feel powerful, they did have significant differences in their approach. Link is your basic all around, Shiek attacks fast and fierce, and Zelda utilizes stored power to unleash devastating area attacks. No one hero felt similar to the other, but all felt like powerful machines capable of turning the tide of battle. No matter who you choose, a selection of items such as bombs and boomerangs are at your disposal with the potential to power them up for more of an effect.

In addition to a Story Mode, there is a Legend mode in which you navigate the classic NES map square by square, completing missions and getting a rank based on your performance. Missions have more variety here with altered rules like one-hit KOs or participating in a "battle quiz" to progress to the next room. Your ranking is generally based on time, damage taken, and enemies taken eliminated; and each rank opens up different paths that can lead to new weapons and rewards.

Déjà vu...

At the end of each mode you will be rewarded with a stash of rupees and materials. These materials can be used on each character to add an additional special gauge, up their defense, and improve their overall performance. Rupees earned assist in this upgrade, but can also be used to level up a hero you have been neglecting, saving you from grinding each individual character one at a time. There are even golden skultullas that appear in every level dependent upon meeting certain battle conditions, and must be killed mid-battle to collect them. Combined together, it creates a huge checklist for competitions on the sheer scope of things to complete and collect.

Hyrule Warriors at its core is Dynasty Warriors with a Zelda skin, but still, I found myself having fun with the game. Even after the hundredth mission I would find special attacks still left me a feeling of satisfaction and the overall brunt of the game was a joy. The hack and slash nature of the game just wears on you after a time. It is unfortunate that more was not done with utilizing the Gamepad, but being able to play on it was also great for times when the television was needed. This game is no Legend of Zelda staple, but it is enough of a fan service to hold you off until a new Zelda title hits the console in 2015.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Spotlight: Overwatch

Blizzard tends to stick to their bread of butter of WoW and Diablo, but their latest new IP looks like an incredibly fun ride. Akin to Team Fortress, multiple heroes with varying abilities duke it out over gorgeous maps. I actually have trouble deciding which character I'd love to play first.

One intriguing fact, no deathmatch. The game is purely objective based and will feature 6 on 6 team based objectives.

You can watch the latest gameplay trailer here:

All video rights exclusively to Joystiq

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I Can Dig It - Shovel Knight Review

Score: 9 / 10
Shovel Knight
Wii U - PC - 3DS
Developer: Yacht Club Games
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Release Date: June 26th, 2014

  • Nolstagic feel of a classic NES title
  • Classic challenge and atmosphere
  • Simple, enjoyable platforming and combat
  • Grocery list of feats to accomplish and collectibles
  • New Game+ adds little variation
  • Powerups make take a big of the challenge away

In the age of high end renderings, stunning cinematics, and complex gameplay; I still find myself enjoying an 8-bit adventure. An escape to a simpler time when two buttons and a directional pad were all you had at your disposal. Shovel Knight is an obvious testament to this, a nostalgic trip to when games were a simple, challenging, and rewarding experience. With its stellar presentation and ease to pick up and play, Shovel Knight is a game that felt like an NES title that I missed out on in my childhood.

Shovel Knight is the noble, valiant, and chivalrous hero you would come to expect. His companion, Shield Knight disappears after a dark magic overtakes them in the Tower of Fate, and Shovel Knight awakens to find the tower shielded. Distraught from his loss, he isolates himself, allowing The Order of No Quarter to overtake the land, led by the evil Enchantress. While the game is self aware with its satirical jab in naming its places and organizations, the story that plays out has a surprising impact. Shovel Knight feels like this broken hero trying to regain his purpose, with interludes of vain attempts to catch his falling companion while fighting off enemies, each time awakening to a dwindling campfire as he pushes on to the next level. It is a game that comes full circle in the end, but keeps you hopeful for Shovel Knight's redemption.

The brilliance of Shovel Knight is its ability to borrow elements of all the great NES titles and mash them together into a single game. You have eight unique bosses akin to Mega Man, a slew of items to use akin to Castlevania, hidden items and collectables akin to Metroid, etc. The sound design, the visual appeal, the overall feel of Shovel Knight is a nostalgic trip through an 8-bit world. The chiptune soundtrack melds perfectly with the world, and the cheesy dialogue compliments the quirky nature of the game. You are, afterall, a knight fighting with a shovel. It is a game that never takes itself too seriously, and the charming presentation and cast of characters manages to keep that alive.

The actual brunt of the game combines platforming and combat through a series of levels, ultimately culminating in a boss encounter. Each world provides its own unique challenge, be it the silhouetted run through the graveyard or running along the spinning gears and cogs of a clockwork tower; each area has personality. A common element through all of them is the challenge, as Shovel Knight is a game you get better at as you play but the initial run through will be fraught with deaths. Much akin to Dark Souls, you learn from each death, and the well placed checkpoints will assist you in getting through each trial without making you start from the very beginning too often.

Completionists are rewarded for exploring every nook and cranny of a space, and despite the linear nature of the levels there are many hidden rewards that await those who persist in finding everything.Walls that are revealed through a subtle block placement or treasure chests that appear after defeating all the enemies in an area are a few of the methods used to hide away the many items and treasures featured in the game. The gems collected in each level can be used in the village to upgrade your shovel for new features, or purchase armor that has various effects from doubling magic to reducing incoming damage taken. This armor choice gives a slight level of customization to how you play, increasing magic usage if you are keen on using Relics. A few random encounters along the world map and extra levels focusing on certain Relic abilities will offer paths off the main quest to gain even more loot.

Just a shovel and the ability to jump can only get you so far, as such Shovel Knight can equip a multitude of different tools to help him along his way. Relics, or commonly known as sub-weapons, can be obtained by purchasing them from the village or finding them hidden away. Every time you use a relic it takes a chunk of magic depending on its use, and there are quite a few at your disposal. The war horn can hurt enemies in a large area, the Chaos Sphere bounces around and clears out a room, and Dust Knuckles help in punching through blocks to traverse large gaps. The most useful of all of these was the Phase Locket, which renders you invulnerable for a period of time. While this costs a decent amount, it did tend to make the game fairly simple in its ability to negate incoming damage.

Shovel Knight is one of those arcade titles that is easy to pick up and play, and one you want to see through to the end. There are a ton of Feats to accomplish such as running through a level with no damage as well as a New Game Plus mode. While there are some new caveats the second time around, the new game plus does not add much to the experience; replacing food with bombs and making enemies deal more damage. Regardless, Shovel Knight is a solid downloadable title and worth digging out your wallet to purchase.