Retro Game Friday: Kingdoms of Amalur

This week for Retro Game Friday I’m covering the only game made by the infamous 38 Studios. It’s Kingdoms of Amalur!

Plot Synopsis: A mortal known as the “Fateless One”, who, having died before the game’s outset, is revived in the experimental Well of Souls by the gnomish scientist Fomorous Hugues. The first and only success of the experiment, the Fateless One must escape the facility when it comes under attack by the Tuatha Deohn, a subsect of the immortal Winter Fae, who are currently waging a “Crystal War” on all the mortal races in the name of their new god “Tirnoch”.

Plot: The plot is okay, and there are plenty of sidequests, however it’s not completely original enough to be truly noteworthy to me. The fact that there is obvious and blatant nods to actual Earth mythology is a big demerit for the writing. That being said the story was enjoyable enough.

Gameplay: This played a lot like both Skyrim, in the freedom aspect (mostly although not like Breath of the Wild or Metal Gear Solid V), and Fable in the button usage and combat system.  There was enough customization to feel like you your character was unique and special for you, but not so overwhelming that you are required to spend 10 hours to get the perfect look. Although I suppose almost any game with a customization system could count as such if you want to be really picky. The combat was frenetic and fast paced, and it felt like if you put World of Warcraft and made it a single player console game. Sort of. That’s just the feeling I got from playing it.

Art: The art is okay, and while it’s aged somwhat poorly it’s not as bad as games from the 90’s or 00’s in terms of aging.

Music: Pretty standard fantasy fare, not too amazing or too spectacular though.

Overall: This is a fun game, although it has it’s flaws. Worth a shot playing it if you can find a copy.

For those who like: Action-RPGs, Fantasy, Drama, Frenetic Combat, Good Plot, Decent Artwork.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

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Video Game Tuesday: Loot Boxes Are Evil?

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m answering a question I’ve been asked recently. Loot Boxes Are Evil?

Loot Boxes?: A term used to describe a virtual item that could be likened to a booster pack for a trading card game. However since this is a virtual item and made purely of code you can’t really trade the items gained from a Loot Box to someone else for money or other goods. You won’t see people on Ebay selling Overwatch Loot Box contents like you would with rare trading cards from something like Magic: The Gathering.

Evil?: Well recently people have been in an uproar over the stunt EA pulled with the recently released Battlefront II monetization plan which was in lieu of paying for DLC. You had to either spend ridiculously long amounts of time to unlock heroes like Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader, or spend real cash to get a chance at earning them. Frankly I hate EA, I will never ever respect them as a publisher because of the practices they use like this Loot Box debacle, or yearly game releases of series like Madden. This last one is really unnecessary, just add the new atheletes that get drafted that year into the game with DLC for god’s sake.

So EA is at fault?: Pretty much, there is a bit of blame to be laid at the feet of the developers at DICE for going along with their plan for microtransactions, but at the end of the day they are working for EA to produce a game. EA has frequently been named America’s most hated company for a reason, beating out banks and telecom companies like Comcast or Time Warner. They tend to use sleazy means to get people to spend more money on their products.

So why all the uproar?: Well for one it was a Pay to Win situation, where if you spent the money to buy the heroes you had a serious advantage against other players, or at least that is how I understand the issue. I very well may be wrong on this, however as some really cool politician (and I can’t believe I’m putting those two words together in writing) from Hawaii said, EA is playing off kid’s desire to be heroes from Star Wars in a game and milking them and their parents to gamble away their money. It’s a sleazeball practice and frankly really needs to stop. Cosmetic items like Overwatches skins in their loot boxes are one thing, but getting gameplay changes like the ones in Battlefront II is unacceptable.

What about Gacha Games?: That is a topic for another day, which I’ll cover in the very near future. However there are some differences and those are pretty important. Will those differences hold out against the weight of public sentiment? I’m as clueless as the rest of you, personally I doubt they’ll get nearly as much recognition.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday! What are your thoughts on the topic? Leave a comment below!

Retro Game Friday: Battlefield 1942

This week for Retro Game Friday I’m covering the first entry in a series that is incredibly popular now. It’s Battlefield 1942!

Plot Synopsis: Look up World War II.

Gameplay: This was a pretty revolutionary game at the time, as it had a massive amount of players that could play in a single match at one time. 64 players was pretty amazing. As for the rest of the gameplay it follows the now standard Battlefield formula of capturing locations and holding the majority of them to slowly whittle away the enemies spawn tickets which let an enemy respawn upon death. 1942 also allowed players to pilot various vehicles ranging from Jeeps to bombers. This made the matches get really insane when you had all 64 players playing.

Art: The art has aged poorly, but that’s to be expect of a 3D game.

Music: I don’t remember a whit, I was having too much fun gaming with my friend online.

Overall: It’s might be worth a try if you can get a free copy, but I’m pretty sure the servers for online play are down now so it’s not really worth spending any money on this.

For those who like: FPS, Military Games, World War II, Vehicular Mayhem.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

Retro Game Friday: Black & White 2

This week for Retro Game Friday I’m covering the sequel to one of my favorite games. It’s Black & White 2!

Plot Synopsis: The player is called to the world from a “pure prayer” and thus comes upon a scene of a Greek city being devastated by a huge Aztec army. After the player saves a certain number of people, their people are transported to a new land with a handful of refugee worshipers, the player must re-establish a power base from which to eventually defeat the Aztec empire.

Plot: The plot was okay, but really the meat of the game was always in the gameplay.

Gameplay: Like in the first game you could evil or good, or more neutral. Frankly I enjoyed the more neutral path as I got to make my populace happy, but was an absolute terror to my enemies. One of my favorite tactics was to have my creature toss corpses into enemy areas to cause chaos. Yeah I’m particularly evil in that manner, but frankly it was effective as hell.

Art: The art is much improved from the first, but it still has aged poorly. It’s better, but you can really tell how old the game is (12 years). There are probably mods out there to improve it if you wanted to play the game now.

Music: I honestly don’t remember much of it.

Overall: A great sequel.

Video Game Tuesday: Hype

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This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering a topic I find people complain a bit too much about. It’s all about Hype!

Hype?: Yes as defined by Urban Dictionary it’s “when someone gets excited about something”, but I’m going to define it a tad bit further as “when someone gets excited about something because they’ve been told only good things about it”. It’s not always a good thing, I’m talking about you Destiny, but sometimes it’s a necessary thing for a game to do well.

Really?: Yes some great games are left relatively unknown from the majority of the gamer population simply because no one has heard about them. Games like Tales of Zestiria, Okami, and many more are destined to sell rather poorly because no one talks about them, or talks about them much. They don’t get talked about in big press conferences or get much marketing in the form of Ads, or have articles written by people like me.

I’m sensing a “but” here: You’re right, sometimes a game can honestly be overhyped, like Destiny a game where the best out of the box form of gameplay was an exploit to shoot into a cave endlessly in order to get rare items because they launched with a really stupid loot design that shouldn’t have gotten past the pre-alpha stage. Call of Duty is another series that is constantly gushed over, even though in reality the games only get a visual make over every year, and a bland story can’t really cover up the fact that you’re playing essentially the same game that was launched the previous year only with minor changes. Or Sports games, a genre of Video Games I still can’t believe people buy constantly despite it having the exact same issues as Call of Duty except they don’t even bother to half-ass a story into it.

So when you’re hearing about those big name games take everything with a grain of salt, and go searching for some games that almost no one talks about, like Tales of Zestiria or Okami.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday! Do you have any games you’ve found to be over or under hyped? Leave a comment below.

Video Game Tuesday: E3 2016 Predictions

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It’s nearly that time of year again and I’m going to make some guesses for this week’s Video Game Tuesday! It’s my E3 2016 Predictions!

Things that will be discussed for sure: Sports games (ugh), Call of Duty (let it die already!), Destiny (let’s see how Bungie shoots themselves in the feet this year), and Zelda Wii U. Now for my actual guesses!

Nintendo: I think I remember reading something on Kotaku a month or two back about how Zelda will be the only thing discussed during E3, but I bet we’ll get some word about the NX, if only to learn when we can learn about it in an upcoming Nintendo Direct.

Sony: They’ll be talking about some first party exclusives, and there’s good chances of the PS4.5 being announced formally.

Microsoft: Like Sony, there is a good chance that they’ll be talking about the Xbox One hardware updates they have planned. There’s also a very good chance at them announcing Halo 6. Oh and they’ll bring the yearly sports games onto their conference stage like always.

Ubisoft: Watch Dogs 2 will be announced most likely, hopefully it’ll take the concept of the first game and make it a masterpiece like they did with Assassin’s Creed and Assassin’s Creed II. There will most likely also announce Far Cry 5, but who knows. Thankfully Assasin’s Creed has been confirmed to be taking a break this year, hopefully they can reinvigorate the series, but no high hopes from me on that.

Bungie: They’ll announce the September Destiny expansion and barf up some lines about they’re going to knock our socks off with a real story in Destiny 2. I’ll believe it when I finish playing the review copy.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday! What are some of your guesses about what will be talked about or announced this year? Leave a comment below!

Video Game Tuesday: Star Wars Battlefront Beta Concerns

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Hi everyone for this week’s Video Game Tuesday I’m going to be talking about some concerns that I’ve had after this last week playing Battlefront. It’s all about the Beta!

The Good: I was worried that vehicular controls would be stupidly complicated like they are in the Battlefield series. It’s not thankfully, in fact DICE could and should take this model into future Battlefield series. I love flying around in an X-Wing and blasting enemies out of the sky. I also enjoy the fact that the game is so freaking nice looking. Playing as the Hero was neat, although I’m disappointed in DICE using the Jedi version of Luke in the Hoth setting. I mean come on is it that hard to give a random Rebel model his face and than a blue lightsaber instead? Because the lightsaber will always give them away I don’t see the point in using that model, other than it showing that EA has once more shown their grubby nature by not paying the additional 2 hours of a single modeler and animator’s time that it’d take to implement that.

The Bad: I didn’t see any destructible environments. I know they said it’d be limited, but I imagined it’d be like the old Red Faction games where after so much geometry was changed it wouldn’t be able to be changed anymore. I haven’t seen anything. Not even snow caves in the Hoth level getting caved in, which you’d think would be an obvious possibility, as it was in Empires.

Also missing was the fact that the class system from the previous games were gone. They were incredibly useful for those who wanted to take out enemy vehicles or pilot them. Speaking of the vehicles, why the hell are they power-ups scattered around the field? I want to be able to run up to an AT-AT and take a co-pilot seat, or run through a huge space ship’s flight deck and grab an A-Wing. Making them power-ups brings several issues up. First is that when using a power-up you are vulnerable and if you get hit you’re essentially dead and you’ve just lost it. I could see if they had implemented it in order to stop people from hogging the vehicles, but they didn’t change a damn thing even with it.  Second is when “flying in” to the battle space, you are essentially a sitting duck watching a neat but pointless after the first time cutscene. It’d not be so bad if it was from a random point around the field’s perimeter, but it’s from a single point, which let me and any other halfway intelligent player camp the other side’s spawn point, and while they were watching the pretty cutscene I had brought them to a point where they had the option of dying or trying to bail, but still dying because you can just jump out of the vehicles instantly anymore.

Another huge issue is the fact that the lobbies are limited to a 20 person team in the biggest modes, which is 12 less than the previous iteration in the series, which was on the original Xbox and PlayStation 2. That was not one, but TWO console generations ago. There is no excuse why we can’t be having 40 vs 40 at this point, except that EA is once again being stingy with their money.  Even 50 vs 50 wouldn’t be unusual. Yes it’d be a massive toil on their servers, but you know I bet EA has the money to cover that from selling Madden every year. God forbid we miss a single yearly release in that pile of trash people call a game.

Overall: A few things right, but many many things going down the wrong path for this iteration to be worth yours or my money.