Elite Dangerous Review – A Cosmic Adventure

Developer: Frontier Developments

Publisher: Frontier Developments

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)

Release Date: December 16th, 2015 (PC), October 6th, 2015 (Xbox One), June 27th, 2017 (PlayStation 4)

During my first hour playing Elite Dangerous I wanted to throw my controller across the room, break the controller in half and unplug my entire console and throw it out an open window, all out of frustration from not being able to dock at a station. What followed that first hour was a bit more frustration but starting to slowly learn how to play the game. Even when I was frustrated with the game I was still having a lot of fun playing Elite Dangerous.

What makes your first few hours in Elite Dangerous so frustrating is the tight learning curve the Elite Dangerous has. While there are a few tutorials, they really aren’t enough to fully teach you how to play the game. These tutorials will teach you things like piloting, combat, and landing procedures. However, one you complete these tutorials and jump into the game, Elite Dangerous throws you in the cockpit of a basic ship known as “The Sidewinder.” From here it’s up to figure out what you want to do and where to go. This can be extremely daunting and even with completing the tutorials, you’ll still have a hard time performing most of the game’s mechanics.

The thing is Elite Dangerous is meant to be hard, at its heart Elite Dangerous is a space simulator. It wants to feel helpless while you’re out in the depth of the Cosmos. Elite Dangerous wants to fail but it also wants you to learn from your mistake. It’s just up to figure out how to learn from failure. The best way to watch videos on YouTube, read up tips and tricks or just learn through repetition. In reality, no matter how many videos you watch of someone showing you how to dock at a station, the best way to truly learn how to dock is by jumping into the game and practice docking.

There are two ways you can play Elite Dangerous. You can play in open-play which will allow you to run into other players. Or you can play in solo-play and have the entire Milky Way to yourself. I personally played in solo-play for most of time. I just didn’t see the need to play this just so that to other player could ruin my exploration by killing me. I am also a bit selfish and want the galaxy to myself. Even when playing in Solo-play you will need an internet connection and that’s because this is a persistent open-world. Even when the game is off, things are still happening. Powers are trying to expand; community goals are still running and the economy is still working. While it would have been nice to not need a connection during solo-play it would have lost a lot of the experience by doing that.

When it comes to open-world games, developers often like to tease that you’ll have complete freedom to do what you want. Elite Dangerous doesn’t just tease this freedom, it actually executes it. In Elite Dangerous you can become a trader, filling up your cargo hold with goods and taking advantage of systems that are in an economic boom. You can choose to become a bounty hunter and hunt down those who have committed crimes towards other space pioneers, or you can go the opposite route and become a pirate yourself. You can hunt down pilots that have rich cargo, shoot them down, steal their cargo and then sell it on the black market. This will ultimately make each fight little risky as other bounty hunters will now be on to you. If trading, and fighting isn’t your things, you can also become a comic explorer. Setting out in the blackness of space far away from civilization and seeing what no other human has seen before.

While you can choose to only partake in one activity, the best to truly experience Elite Dangerous is by doing a mix of everything. For instance, I currently have two ships. One ship is for mission running and combat while the other is built for exploring, that way if during one game session I decide that I want to do a bit of exploring I can get out of my combat ship and get into my exploration ship. The choice comes down to you and you have the whole Milky Way to decide what you want to do.

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This is your game world. There are 400 billion systems to explore.  

Elite Dangerous doesn’t have a campaign to complete, but there are story-lines to found. Currently there are nine powers who are at war with each other and are trying to expand their reach over the galaxy. You can choose to join up with one of these powers and help them in their cause. You just won’t be interacting with a NPC and running through a series of missions to help them. There’s also random encounters with an alien race that seems like it might be building to a bigger story.

To be honest I am glad that there isn’t a long campaign to complete. I am fine with just jumping into the game and creating my own stories. I’ve already had more memorable moments in Elite Dangerous than any other scripted game I’ve played this year. My first time playing I set out to deliver some data to a nearby station. When I came out of hyperspace and I found myself face to face with a Pulsar. Not knowing how close I could get I began to get a bit closer and found my engines overheating fast. My ship eventually blew up and I had to buy my ship again. This was my first painful experience with Elite Dangerous but it’s something I’ll never forget.

Elite Dangerous is possibly the best-looking game I’ve played all year, even beating out Horizon Zero Dawn. The inside of each ships cockpit is extremely detailed, when you overheat you’ll actually see smoke and sparks coming from the computers and when you apply heat-sinks to counter the heat, ice will appear on the window. The best part about the visuals through are the stars. Every time I’d jump into a new system, the first thing I liked to do was decrease my speed to a stop and place myself directly in front of the star so I could see the beauty of the star. Seeing a solar flare shoot out of a star and form a loop is also a sight to see.

 

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There are a few ways you can purchase Elite Dangerous, you can get the base game for $29.99, or you can get a version that that has the base game and the Horizons season pass for $59,99. The season pass already has four expansions with a fifth one set to come out. With the pass, you’ll be able to land on the surfaces of moons and planets and explore the surfaces while gather materials to use for crafting. The season pass is $29.99 if you just buy the base game. The base game does have offer hours of content but the season pass does complete your Elite Dangerous experience. However, I would recommend getting the base game first and seeing how you like the game before investing into the game further.

One of the biggest issues with Elite Dangerous is the grind. There’s just so many things that you’ll need to grind for. From trying to get enough credits to afford a new ship, trying to raise your ranking with a particular faction in order to gain a permit for a system or gain enough reputation to get more better rewarding missions. The grind factor is going to vary from player to player. I personally don’t mind the grind too much, I don’t want to be able to get the best ship within my first week but the grind for reputation and rankings can get a bit annoying.

 

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The Anaconda is one of most expensive ships in the game.  

 

Besides playing the main game there is one more mode you can play, called Arena. Arena puts you up against other player in intense aerial combat in close-quarters. There are three modes you can play.

– Team Deathmatch puts is a four vs four fight to see which team can get the most points.

– Deathmatch is a free-for-all to see which player can get the most kills

-Capture the flag opposite teams try to capture the opponents flag.

Arena is a lot of fun due to the excellent combat in Elite Dangerous. Combat is simply just aiming and firing. You have to be in constant movement to avoid losing your shields and taking hull damage and time having to micromanage other elements of your ship   While Arena is fun, I just don’t really see myself playing it too often. Besides there only being three modes to choose from, I also found myself having a hard time getting into a game. I don’t know if there just isn’t enough people playing it or if it was a networking issue. I really wouldn’t blame players for not wanting to play it, besides it having a quick progression system, allowing to unlock new load-outs and ships; there just isn’t thing rewarding about the mode. You don’t get any credits for shooting players down or anything to use on your own ship in the main game, so I’d rather just play the main game and collect bounties in combat.

Overall Elite Dangerous is a tough game to recommend, not because it’s bad (it’s an amazing game) but simply for the fact that it’s just not a game for everyone. While that can be said for any game, Elite Dangerous is targeted at a certain audience. It’s more for those who want a tough space simulator and want to go out and explore deep space. Elite Dangerous is truly a rewarding and fun experience and is a game I will be sinking even more hours into.

Rating 8/10

Destiny 2 Beta Impressions

When Destiny came out in 2014, I was a bit underwhelmed. The epic story that was promised was shallow, characters had no personality, and any if you wanted to know more about the lore you had to accuses the Gilmore, which could only be used on an app or through Bungie’s website. Loot was a grind to obtain and even when you did manage to get a great gun it would still take a few magazines to kill an enemy. I did enjoy my time with Destiny but there was still a lot it could have done better.

Destiny 2 released a beta on July 18th on the PlayStation 4 for those who pre-ordered the game and then on July 19th did the same for Xbox one. An open beta went live for all users on July 21st. A PC beta is scheduled to come out in August. With today being the final day for the beta, I wanted to give my impressions of my time with the beta.

The first thing you’ll do in the Density 2 beta is select what type of character you want to play as from the three classes. Warlock, Titian, and Hunter. Unfortunately, you won’t get to customize the character. After that you get to watch a cut-scene which sets overall tone of the first story mission. Characters are introduced, they actually have dialogue with one another, and we are introduced with a threat.

The opening mission “Homecoming,” actually feels like a mission that you’d see in a first-person shooter. There’s a clear objective that you have to achieve and aren’t just having your ghost hack into something while you defend the ghost by fighting off waves of enemies. Have the time in the original Destiny, I was just going through the motions and had no interest in what was happening in the mission because they were just so damn repetitive. If “Homecoming” is any indication of what the story missions are going to offer in Density 2 then we should have a fun game on our hands.

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After you beat the opening mission you will have two more modes that you can play.

– A “strike” that allows you to run through a mission with two other players.

– Destiny 2’s “Crucible” mode, which is online multiplayer that offer two modes each with their own maps and game modes.

Out of the two the strike mission is what I enjoyed playing the most and was something that I ran through a few times. The strike will take you and two players though several locations and battling your way through a variety of enemies. The strike is pretty lengthy and offers some of the best moments in both the beta and the original Destiny. My favorite moment of the mission was when my squad came up to large building that had five rotating arms. Our objective was on the other side not only did we have to dodge the arms but we had in engage in a firefight as well. It was section that I always looked forward to when replaying the mission.

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Out of the faults that Destiny had, its gun-play was not one of them. Destiny 2 is not an exception. While the gun-play may not be innovate unlike another first-person shooter that I just played. It’s still fast paced and every shot feels precise. The AI is also aggressive and will pretty much do anything to kill you, so having precise shooting is a must.

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Now that we’ve got the positive elements of the beta out of the way, let’s talk about that wasn’t improved. One thing that really annoyed me about Destiny was how many bullets a single enemy could take before dying. Regular grunts could sometimes take half a clip just to kill and then when you got to the Elite enemies you could go through one or more magazines. I am all for enemies being a challenge to kill but when facing a good amount of bad guys like you do in Destiny then it shouldn’t take a full clip to kill one enemy. Challenging enemies isn’t about how many you bullets they can absorb it’s about how they engage you.

The other issue I had with the beta was once again there felt like there was little to no loot. In the opening mission I picked up one gun but that was scripted event inside an armory. No enemies dropped anything but ammo. Then during the strike the only time I got any loot was as a reward for being the mission. I am not expecting Borderlands loot drop rate but I shouldn’t have to go through an entire mission and only get loot at the end.

Overall I had a great time playing the Destiny 2 beta and I am actually excited playing the game when it’s released. I am just hoping that they make enemies take less bullets to kill and increase the loot drop rate.

Destiny 2 launches on September 6th for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox one. A PC version is planned to be released in late October.

Superhot – Review – The Most Innovative Shooter I’ve Played In Years

Developer: SUPERHOT Team

Publisher: SUPERHOT Team

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4 (Reviewed)

Release Date: July 21,2017 (PS4) February 26, 2016 (PC) May 3rd, 2016 (PC)

 

Since releasing on the PC in 2016 Superhot has been given the tagline, “the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.” The tagline is for the most part is true. I’ve had a blast every second with the game since I first launched it. So, what makes Superhot so innovative? Superhot isn’t your ordinary first-person shooter. You aren’t going to be running around, taking cover, picking up ammo and killing enemies. You are going to get to kill some bad guys, with some style as well. You just won’t be doing it in the traditional way.

Time in Superhot only moves when you move. That means that enemies can only kill you if you make a step, fire your gun, or just make any type of movement. Superhot isn’t just a firs-person shooter, it’s a puzzle game as well. Each level is going to pit you against as number of enemies and it’s up to you to figure out you are going to take out your foe without getting hit yourself. You’re going to be taking you foes out in several ways. You can simply shoot the enemy using a pistol, rifle, and shotgun. Melee weapons can also be used as well, such as a katana, baseball bats and crowbars. Or you just go and punch the enemy to death.

Nearly every object in the game, including your weapons can be thrown at the bad guy. What exactly does this accomplish? This can help you out in two ways. One, it can slow down the enemy giving you time to observe the situation and then make a movie. Second, if your foe has a weapon and you throw an object it can either block the bullet or will cause them to drop their weapon. This can allow you to pick up the weapon in midair and have an advantage over the bad guy. One issue I did have was that there was no indication of how much ammo I had left. There were a few times when I went to fire my pistol and found out that I was out of ammo. In a game where every step can be a matter of life or death not knowing how much ammo you have can hurt you. Eventually I just started tosses my guns at enemies after just one shot, unless it was a shot gun since they only have two rounds.

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One interesting feature of Superhot is what happens at the end of each level. When you complete a level, you will get to see a replay of what you did in the level but at full speed. With a booming voice repeating “Superhot,” over and over. This allows you to see every badass thing you did throughout the level in all its glory. It really feels like you just filmed your very own action scene in a movie.

The biggest downside to Superhot is the campaign. The campaign can be completed in around 1-2 hours depending on your skill. While the campaign does an interesting and rather dark story to tell, it was hard to get into a story like this when it ends just when it’s starting to get good. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t any content in the game though. After you do complete the short campaign you will unlock two modes. Challenges and endless.

Endless, puts you in an endless wave of enemies and you have to defeat as many of them as you can, using the same rules of engagements as in the campaign. Challenges is the basic premise of the game but giving you some requirements you have to follow. For example, one of the challenges speeds up your movement and you can only kill by using a katana. The issue with these two unlockable modes is that you’re facing  the exact same enemies in the same exact locations.. These two modes are fun and I’ve a good time playing Endless but it’s just not something I can see myself playing a lot. It’s more of a game that I’ll play when it’s 3:00 in the morning and I just want something quick to play.

The last few things I want to talk about is are the graphics and sound design. Superhot at times can be a bit quiet. The only time there is sound is when you fire a gun, glass shattering, picking up and throwing an object and the voice saying,” superhot.” When the game does have sound it basically flawless. The guns have a powerful sound to them and punching an enemy is satisfying. The only time you actually hear these sounds is when moving and doing an action.  When not moving the game can be a bit quiet and can make the game fell a bit dull. I feel that they should have added some type of music into the game when playing a level. It would have made it feel like an action scene even more than it already did.

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When it comes to the graphics the art style works for the type of game Superhot is. For the most you are going to be looking at red coated enemies it white coated areas. I would have liked to have seen a little more details in the environments but I never really saw it as a huge issue.

Over Superhot as stayed more is the most innovate shooter I’ve played in years. It took a concept like slow motion that has just been used as a game mechanic in other games and found a way not only to make an entire idea around it but was also able to execute the idea almost flawlessly. Superhot is being sold $24.99 and for the type of content you are getting I defiantly think it’s worth the price.

Final Rating: 9/10

 

Get Even Review – A psychological Mess

Developer: The Farm 51

Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment

Release Date: June 20th, 2017

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4 (Reviewed)

“Get Even” is a game that I didn’t even  know about until it was already out. I discovered it while browsing the PSN store read the description which grabbed my interest but after watching a trailer I knew it was something I would have to play. “Get Even” is a first-person shooter with a bit of psychological elements thrown in. It’s also a game that I regret buying.  There are some great concepts but unfortunately just weren’t executed well.

“Get Even” starts you off by exploring  Cole Black’s  last know memory, trying to rescue a girl who was abducted. After failing, Black wakes up in an abounded asylum with a strange device on his head known as the “Pandora.” With the help of this device and the guidance of a mysterious captor known as Red, Cole will try and piece his brain back together.

The asylum you are in is  honesty is the best part of the game. You will wonder the halls, collecting evidence, reading up on patients and occasionally kill aggressive patients who are out to kill you.  Unfortunately you won’t stay at the asylum for long. While exploring you’ll eventually come across a photo from Cole’s past and have to interact with it. You are then stuck in the memory until you can figure out what happened. This is where the game takes a strange turn.

Diving into these memories you are forced to stealth your way through mazes of enemies, solve puzzles and find evidence. While there is a stealth involved you are given a gun, but Red will constantly remind you not to kill anyone because it can disrupt the memory. However, gunplay is really the only way you can get past enemies as the stealth is practically broken.

There is barely any cover and the cover that is there enemies can somehow see you through it. For example, I was hiding behind a wall and on my map, I could see an enemy approaching on the other side. It’s cone of vison was on me and the enemy somehow knew I was there. Again, I was on the other side of the wall. He should’ve been able to see me. You can also takedown enemies but apparently that also disrupts the memory. That doesn’t mean you can’t disobey Red and go in guns blazing, if you do it will just affect the outcome of the game. I would advise tying to play through the broken stealth since trying to play this game like a normal first-person shooter will kill you in just a few shots.

There are some scripted moments where gun combat is unavoidable and that’s where you’ll notice that the combat is clunky and just not very fun. One of the only unique elements to the combat is the “Cornergun.” This device will allow you to turn your gun at a 90 degree angle left or right, making it easier to shoot enemies for cover through a screen. The issue with the cornerun is that unless you have a sniper rifle, every gun you pick up will be attached. You can’t even aim down the sight without having to look through the screen.

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Another interesting feature is how you gather clues. Along with just reading notes and listening to audio-logs, you can also scan certain area with phone and will feed you information about what it found. Like if you scan blood it will let you know who it belonged to.  The phone has other features as well. There is a UV light, a map, and a thermal vision.

Using these apps on the phone will also help you solve puzzles. Most of the puzzles are rather simple but there are a few that took me awhile to figure out but was then kicking myself for taking so long on an obvious solution. Here’s just one example of a puzzle. You try and open a gate but the fuse goes out. You then have to use the thermal vision to scan the line on the switch and follows it back to the breaker box and then turn it on. That’s how easy the puzzles can be.

After spending some time gathering evidence you’ll then get sent to a room that as the important evidence hung on walls. You can review the evidence but there’s really no point. They could have done something awesome with this room, like allowing you to figure out what happened by piecing everything you’ve gather together but instead they went the easy and rather boring route of explaining everything towards the end.   One thing you can do in this room is replay memories you’ve already completed trying to find anything you may have missed, and fixing any action you may have made.

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The only thing that was keeping me invested in the game was the story. While the story is a tad predictable it is still a well written story that knows what story it’s out to tell. The issue with the story is the second half of the game. While the second does become a lot more fun in terms of gameplay. You play as a new protagonist, gain the ability to warp to a designated spot making stealth a lot easier and can actually take enemies out without any restriction. The issue is you are going through memories you already played through, but this time trying to see if Cole’s memories was hiding anything. You see a lot of the same scenes, with maybe a new word or two and the paths are the completely the same. By the time I came to this second half I had already pieced everything together and had a general idea of what was going to happen. I was really just ready to wrap the game up.

One of the biggest positives about “Get Even” is the sound design and voice acting Both of which are pretty much flawless. The sound design in the asylum creates a prefect horror atmosphere which made me want to be there a lot more. There was one section in the asylum where I could hear a patient repeating the word party and it’s a party, over and over. As I got closer the voice became louder and more menacing. It was an awesome moment that kept me is suspense. The guns don’t sound too bad either. It’s just a shame that the actual shooting couldn’t have been better.

I do think “Get Even” struggled to figure out what type of game it wanted to be. When you’re in the asylum it tires and at time succeeds at being a horror game. While not the scariest game it does have its creepy moments but just as you are getting invested in the story in the asylum  the game switches gears and becomes a “stealth FPS” and doesn’t have nearly the same charm as being in the asylum.

“Get Even” does suffer some performance and graphical issues on the PS4. It ran at very a choppy 30 FPS. That at time made it hard to see what was going on. I am normally okay playing at 30 FPS, I really have never felt like it hurt my ability to play a game or made it unplayable but the framerate was just bad in this game. At time when using the screen on the cornergun the framerate would get even worse. There was an annoying head bob that was even worse while crouching. I got a huge headache during that first hour or the game. There was also a couple of section where I became stuck after entering a doorway. Having to restart at a checkpoint.  Objects in the distance would appear very blurry and most of the time when turning a white flashing line would appear on the walls.

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Overall “Get Even” is not a game that I can recommend at its price point of $29.99. While you can replay the game trying to play the game in a different way, I just don’t see the point in doing so. If a game doesn’t capture me during the first playthrough, I don’t see the need in playing a second time. The combat and stealth feel unpolished and at times pointless. The element in the game that is worth it is the story and asylum but in order to reach either one of those you have to go through the gameplay. If you do want to play this, I’d wait for a sale.

Final score for Get Even: 6/10

Perception- Review

Developer: The Deep End Game

Publisher: Feardemic

Platforms:  PC (Reviewed) PS4, Xbox One

Released: May 30th, 2017

 

Perception places you in the shoes of Cassie, a blind woman who uses the powers of echolocation to temporally see where she is going and objects near her. Cassie has been having strange dreams about a mansion. After doing some doing some research she finds the abounded mansion from her dreams and travels to Gloucester, MA to uncover its secrets. The concept of playing as a blind protagonist who uses sound to see in a horror game should allow for some interesting scares and tension. Unfortunately, after the first hour of the game, I realized something. The dark doesn’t really scare me anymore.

Here’s how the echolocation play into the game. Any sound like your footsteps, the wind, music etc. will create a brief vision of your area. The best way however is to tap Cassie’s cane.   The cane gives you a wider and longer vision compared to using the sound of your footsteps. You’ll need to use these sounds to navigate around the mansion. Perception does add a way to keep you from using the cane the entire time.  Cassie is being hunted by something called the Presence and by making too much noise the Presence can find you and you’ll have to hide or you’ll die.

This Presence just doesn’t offer anything to the game. The only way it comes is if you use the cane a little too many times, other sound in the environment really didn’t seem to affect it much. The reason I found this to be an issue is because it was easy to control myself from using the cane and I could see just fine by using the from my footsteps and other sounds.  When the Presence did come I found that there was really no point in hiding.

While the Presence does instantly kill you if it manages to catch you it doesn’t really do anything to stall your progress. The only annoying thing about being caught is that it sends you back to the start of the mansion but with the mansion being small you’ll find that just letting the Presence catch you is better than having to run and find a place to hide.  Again, if you don’t use the cane too much you really won’t have to worry about the Presence as much. I feel that they could have done a little more to make the Presence come after you. For example, in one of the Chapters bubble wrap covers the ground and your movement causes the bubble wrap to pop creating a lot of sound. Having more things like that could have made the game a bit more terrifying because it’s something that you can’t personally control.

The whole gimmick of using sound to see for me lost its charm around the first hour. I didn’t find walking around with a black screen to be fun, in fact I found it be a bit tedious.  It’s only redeeming factor is the terrific sound design. Every surface sound different when using your cane. Using it on stone sound louder when using it on carpet. Using the cane on surfaces that are louder will give you more sight when compare to a quieter surface. Oh, and it also made talking dolls in horror games a lot creeper. Something that I didn’t expect was possible.

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While the sound design is wonderfully done, the game really doesn’t offer anything in terms of music. There is some faint music once awhile but it really didn’t do anything to add any tension to the game. Music in anything horror related to me is a must. It just adds a lot more to the horror when compared to not having music.

Perception is pretty much a narrative driven game and that’s where I feel the game shines. I wanted to explore the mansion and uncover its secrets. Perception is dived into four chapters with each one focusing on a different resident of the mansion it’s up to you do find out what happened to them. You achieve this by finding different clues through notes, ghost apparitions and memory triggers.

The most offensive   thing about the game is that finding each clue to progress the story is too easy to find. Cassie somehow is able to use some type of third sight that can show her exactly where she needs to go. This removes any challenge of the game even more but is unfortunately a necessary evil. Without this third sight, you would be walking around the mansion blind (no pun intended) trying to find where to go because the clues you get are worthless.

Cassie can use an app on her phone to read notes that are scattered around the mansion. One other app allows her to call someone and they will tell her what is happening in front of her. Using these two apps actually did increase the gameplay by adding more to the story. I just wish it would have had more things like this and not as much   focus  on the echolocation mode.  To be honest I would have loved this story even more if it didn’t involve having to wonder through darkness. Cassie being blind adds nothing to the gameplay and buy the halfway mark in the game, it just becomes annoying.

Performance for me is mixed. While I could get the game to run at 60FPS throughout the game, there was some odd framerate drops. For some reason whenever the Presence would come I would instantly go from 60 frames to 1-2 frames, because of this and the fact the Presence overs no real way off failing, I just ended up letting the Presence catch me. The other issue with the performance was near the end of the game, once again my framerate tanked to 2 FPS.

No matter what I did I could not get the framerate to go back to a 60 framerate. Unfortunately, I was not able to complete the final chapter of the game. Now, normally I like to beat a game before doing a review especially if it’s a story driven game. With that said with how much of the game I had left and since there have been reports of other players having the same issues, I decided to go on with the review.  It’s a shame that Perception was plagued with this framerate issue because I really did want to see how the story concluded.

Over all Perception is a horror game that fails to add any true horror by having a “foe” that isn’t challenging and causes a severe framerate drop every time it shows up. I really can’t recommend this game, even with how well written the story is. I will be checking on the game over the next few weeks to see if the framerate issue is fixed and will give an update.

Final Rating: 3/10

Vanquish – Review

Developer: Platinum Games

Publisher: SEGA

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC (Reviewed)

Release Date: October 19, 2010 (Xbox 360, PS3) May 25, 2017 (PC)

 

Vanquish was always a game I wanted to play when I had my PlayStation 3 but after playing a demo for it I just couldn’t get past the clunky controls and the simple fact that it ran poorly. I was thrilled when I heard that a PC port was finally being released after so many years. Sega and Platinum was promising unlocked framerate and resolution.  So, does the game deliver on its promises or is it just a bad port? That’s what I am going to discuss in the review.

First up let’s talk about the graphics and performance. Being a port of a game from 2010 I really wasn’t expecting breathtaking graphics and for a port of an older game the graphics really aren’t that bad. They’re not great as there are some low textures here and there but for the most I was happy with the type of graphics we got. Most of the low textures are on walls and the ground and with how fast you are going to be moving throughout the game you really aren’t going to notice these low textures.

Performance wise Vanquish ran perfectly. Unlike the PS3 version the PC port wasn’t locked at 30 FPS and instead could run at whatever your hardware could handle.  I was able to get the game to run at a stable 60 FPS throughout most of the game with a few dips under 60 but never enough to the point where it made the game feel unplayable.

Vanquish delivers on its graphics and performance but how does the gameplay feel on the PC? Before I get into the gameplay I want to talk about the story in the game.  The story involves Bravo team and Sam Gideon a   DARPA agent and they are given the task of stopping a group in the Russian military known as the   Order of the Russian Star from attacking New York using a space station called Providence.  The story for the most part in the game was nothing special. For the most part, it was a generic storyline that gave you no real reason to care for any of the character including the protagonist. They had least tried to give Sam some personality which is more than I can say about the commanding officer Burns who had to be the most generic soldier character I’ve seen in a video game, actually in any media. Overall the story is forgettable and you really won’t miss much by skipping the cutscenes.

Thankfully what Vanquish lack in terms of story and character it makes up for with its gameplay. On paper Vanquish sounds like any other third-person cover based shooter but once you start playing the game you’ll find that’s far from the truth. Yes, Vanquish does allow you to use cover but unlike something like the Uncharted series, cover really won’t save you as much as you’d like. In fact, the longer you’re in cover the more danger you are in as enemies can destroy your cover and force you to move around. Your character Sam is equipped with the   Augmented Reaction Suit. The suit has a set of boosters that allows you to move around the area quickly by sliding. These boosters allow you to slide at incredible speeds and if you use it properly you most likely will never need to use cover in the game.

Along with the boosters the suit has a bullet time function or AR mode that can be triggered manually or will happened when your life is at a critical state. The sliding mechanics and AR mode is what sets the game apart from any other cover based shooter. However, you can’t go too crazy with sliding and using AR mode because both mechanics can put the shut into overheat which you make you less mobile. You will also instantly go into overhear if you perform a melee strike. The overheat is where my major criticism of the game come. I like the fact that there is a cooldown feature on the booster and AR mode, without the game would have been a bit too easy but the overheat takes a little too long to recharge. Getting out of this overheat mode is critical because as mentioned overheat severely gimps your mobility and in this game, you need your mobility. I feel that they should have had some upgrades for the suit, things like damage resistance and decreasing time in overheat would have been perfect. There are upgrades that enemies will drop but these are only weapon based upgrades and can instantly be installed on to your guns.

The upgrade system wasn’t something I was really expecting to be in the game but I was happy that I was in the game because guns without upgrades in this game lack any type of big firepower even the heavy machine gun isn’t useful until you some decent upgrade on it. The issue I have with the upgrades is that they aren’t permanent upgrades. For example, let’s say you but a damage upgrade and upgrade that allowed increased your magazine capacity on your assault rifle but decided to swap it out for a shotgun but then later want the assault rifle back. Those upgrade that you had on the assault rifle will be gone. I can see why there may be some people who would like that the upgrades are not permanent as it gets you to stick to a specific weapon loadout but there are weapons that   are better in certain situations. I liked to switch between the rocket launcher and laser beam but was didn’t want to put any upgrades on them since I swapped them out frequently. Both could have benefited from a few upgrades.

The other issue I had with the overheat was that it was tied to your health.  I get what Vanquish was trying to do with giving you an indication of what your health was like by having you go in AR mode similar to how the screen turns gray in Uncharted and red in Call of Duty. However, unlike those games you have a good sense of how much more damage you can take before dying.  In Vanquish it felt like the complete opposite. I could never really figure out how long I had before I would die. I think it would have been better if you had a heath bar that you could fill by picking  up health drops and still keep the AR mode triggering when you are in critical health. I don’t think this would have made the game feel too easy it just would have made it easier for the player to know what their health situation is like.

The game unfortunately is a bit short. I was able to beat the campaign in under seven hours. Unfortunately, there’s really not much in terms of replayability.  There are a five challenge maps that you unlock during the campaign. In these challenge maps, you have to try and fight have a large enemy resistance as fast as you can. You can then replay the map to try and beat your time. It’s a fun extra game mode but it’s not something I can see a lot of people putting a ton of hours into.

Last part on gameplay I want to discuss in terms of gameplay is the controls. Earlier I mentioned that I couldn’t play Vanquish when it was originally out on the PS3 due to the controls feeling clunky and the performance. Thankfully using mouse & keyboard felt amazing. Being on shooter on PC I really wasn’t expecting the controls to feel bad in terms of aiming and shooting, what I was more concerned was dodging. Platinum Games normally has a heavy emphasis on dodging and Vanquish is no expectation.  The main reason I was concerned about dodging is because I’ve found dodging while using a mouse and keyboard to feel a bit clunky and a little difficult to pull off effectivity, luckily dodging in Vanquish felt perfect.

Overall Vanquish is a fun, fast paced action game that finally found a home on the PC. If you have a PC that can run the game I highly recommend picking Vanquish up. The campaign is short but you’re getting a good value at a price of $19.99.

Final Rating: 8/10   

Persona 5 – First Thirty Hours – Mini Review

Persona 5

 

          Since Persona 5 came out on April 7, I’ve been trying to put as many hours into the game as possible. I am thirty hours into the game and still and still not even close to beating the game. I really want to give my thoughts of the game and I know that a full review in the near future is almost impossible so I’ve decided just to write a mini-review on my first thirty hours of the game.

            I don’t think there has ever been a game for me where I’ve reached the thirty-hour mark and still feel like I have a huge chunk of the game left. Even when I reached the thirty-hour mark in The Witcher 3 I at least felt like I made some progress. I also wasn’t getting any tutorial messages anymore. Now, this is not meant to be taken as a flaw, in fact it’s actually a positive element. The fact that a non-open world game is offering this many hours is welcoming. I guess I really shouldn’t have expected anything less from a JRPG, but I still appreciate it.

Now what are you going to be doing for the first thirty hours? Well, there are three core gameplay elements. First part is going to school, living a life after school and dungeon crawling. If your nervous about having to go to school in a video game don’t be, it’s actually a lot of fun and really doesn’t take up a huge chunk of the game. After school, you can do a number of things. You can study, hang out with friends to build relationships, and shop. Studying allows you answer questions in class which builds your knowledge.

When you hang out with people that are close to you; you have a chance to build you relationship with them this in turn depending on who you hang out with can help makes the skills of fused Persona stronger (I’ll get to fusing Personas a little later). On to the combat and dungeon crawling, the meat of the game.

The combat in the game is turn based and this allows for some in depth strategy. While the combat can be easy to figure out it however can be complex to pull off properly. Each enemy has a strength and weakness, sometimes they can even have multiple strength and weakness. You normally figure out these the more you fight the enemies.  This is part of where the strategy comes in. You can’t just spam attacks and hope to pull off a victory. You need to plan out your attacks. You have three forms of attacking, melee, using guns or using your Persona’s set of skills. When using your Persona, you each skill uses SP or health in order to use. Your Persona’s more powerful skill normally use HP points. Again, this is where a good amount of strategy comes in. You may want to use this powerful attack that could drop the enemy’s health by a lot but the same thing could happen to your health. You may want to instead use a less powerful attack and then let your teammate finish it off.

One part of the combat I enjoyed was the fact that you don’t have to deplete an enemy’s health to zero in order to win the battle. Most of the time when you attack an enemy using their weakness, you can knock the enemy down, once every enemy is down you put them into a hold-up situation. From here you can do two things. An all-out attack or talk to them. When talking you can ask for three things. You can try and gain that Persona’s power, gain money or an item. Depending on the situation of the battle whatever talking point you choose you will have to convince them to give you what you want.  The amount of options in combat is what can make the game feel a bit complex to full use effectively pull off.

Earlier I had mentioned being able to fuse Personas, this is where you are going to obtain you more powerful Personas. Once the game really starts to open up, you will enter the Velvet Room and from here you will be able to take the Personas that you captured in combat to fuse them together in order create new and stronger Personas. You can only create Persona’s that are at your or bellow you level. I’d recommend always creating Personas that are at your level. The more you use a Persona the stronger it will become and will starts to unlock more skills. My only complaint about the fusing process was that you couldn’t capture a Persona that you already had. It would have been nice to be able to capture at least one more so that you could fuse them together to create a more powerful version of that Persona, as long as it didn’t exceed your level.  When you do try, and capture a Persona that you already all, it will just tell you that you already own me and will just give you an item.

Overall my first thirty hours have been fantastic and I am excited to see what the next thirty  or more hours  will have to offer. As mentioned before I don’t really see a full review happening in the future but I doubt my overall thoughts will chance too much. It is a game I would recommend however.