PS4 one month later: A first impressions review.

So the PS4 has been out for nearly a month and despite having other commitments that I should have paid more attention to, I have spent a good deal of time planted in front of the new device. There is always a bit of concern when coming into a new console generation, and consensus prior to any launch is to wait for the all the first wave kinks to be ironed out. But I am an impatient lad so wait I did not.  As you know from my reviews, I’m not overly technical in my analysis and basically like to rant about what I like or didn’t so that’s what I’m gonna do here.  Bear in mind this is a first impressions review, and I have yet to sit down with a Xbox One.

The Controller
Might as well start with what Mark Cerny started with when the console was first announced: The Dualshock 4.  Now, I’ve always been a big proponent the Sony controller. It may not have had better triggers than the XB360’s but it fit more comfortably in my hand, and after several hours of use, didn’t feel as clammy as the 360 control did when I went back to pick it up {bleh, gross}.

The new Dualshock 4 designs handles are elongated and rounder, almost like holding a pair of tubes in your hands but the angle of the curvature is nearly perfect. Its got this kind of smooth grained plastic that glides into your hand very easily, and above all else? It just feels great. I didn’t think the controller would be a big deal for me but comparing the 3 to the 4 side by side, the differences are incredible.

Hashtag - Dualshock 4

I have to say its weird to not have “Start” and “Select” buttons on the controller anymore. I Mean I guess it makes sense, since those were relics brought in from the old coin op days. In their place is the options button, which is the surrogate start button I would guess as it basically does what the start button would do.  Its fine, but its location near the top and to the right is a little hard to get used to. We have the share button, which I will get into later. And finally the touchpad button. This is an interesting idea to add to games, but so far of the games I’ve played its only really had token functionality. Much like the early Sixaxis controller, people don’t really know what to do with it yet.  Assassin’s Creed 4 so far has had the best use of letting it bring up the map and glide around it easily.

Lastly the shoulder’s and triggers just feel better. The design of the new triggers specifically because they contour to the shape of your fingers really well, and they don’t have that kinda pressure sensitive spongy feel the Dualshock 3 controller had. I feel it’s an improvement, I am curious to see how it will hold up against the XB1’s pressure sensitive rumbling triggers.

Hashtag - DS4 Triggers

It also has a pretty clear speaker in the front of it, to scare the ever-loving shit out of you when you pick up that first Audio log in Killzone. On the bottom of the controller there is a standard 3.5 headphone jack that you can use nearly any headset with, and it allows you to use your headset for the full in-game audio rather than just chat, so its handy for you high-end headset owners.

The only thing I think I don’t care for in the controller is the new analog design. The new rubber feels good on the thumbs, but they took away the convex arch of the sticks for a concave design. Perhaps it is just my brain playing with me but it felt like my fingers were always about to slip off the analog stick. In a shooter like Killzone it didn’t affect me much, but in something like Assassin’s Creed 4 where you are holding one direction for an extended period it can be annoying.

The Hardware
Done away with the smooth rounded designs sheened in fingerprinty attracting plastic. The PS4 boasts and aggressively edged rhombus that is slightly larger than the PS3 slim but much smaller from the original PS3, and by comparison smaller than the XB360. I could rant about the specs of the system but we pretty much covered that in the announcement conference and since I’m talking about my experience with it so far, we’ll skip the techie jargony crap.

I will sadly admit that the device made me feel like a fucking idiot, because after excitedly hooking everything up, it took me a minute or two to figure out how to actually turn the goddamn thing on. Come on Sony, You could have made the power and eject a little more noticeable. Friggen’ Kotaku actually had to make a how-to video for this crap.

Hashtag - PS4 Console front
Seriously, I’m not an idiot. You can barely see the power and eject markings

The console itself runs very quietly. Even on binge game days where I can play for hours on end, you practically hear nothing from coming from the device. The old 60gb model PS3 sounded like a jet turbine after a few minutes of gameplay, so naturally for a launch console this is an improvement. The only time I could audibly hear the fan is when the temperature of my room really kicked up from all the electronics running. PC with a GTX760, monitor, older model LCD tv, PS2 neon light, and two lamps with the heat running in the winter tends to kick the room up to somewhere around center of the sun temperatures.  That was pretty much the only point I actually heard the system fan running, and even then it wasn’t as loud as its predecessor’s was.

There was a lot of complaint about wave one defects, specifically with the HDMI port not being flush. Now I’ve tried to look at the back of my console and try to find a pair of images showing the difference between the bad one and the good one, and honestly I haven’t seen one that clearly depicts one. I haven’t had any issues (for the most part) with its use so I am assuming I have one of the good ones. I didn’t have any issue with the hard drive either.

Hashtag - PS4 Console back
That little nub in the back hasn’t seemed to affect my gameplay or the console turning on at all.

The only screwy thing with the console so far is when I log out of the device in standby or off, occasionally I will get some weird staticy garble on my screen that will persist unless I turn the TV off then on again. The HDMI and TV have worked faithfully with multiple other cords and devices so I don’t think that is the issue, and I haven’t experienced this issue at any other point then logging out of the console so it’s not a huge concern for me. Compatibility issue perhaps?

Hashtag - Garble
I’ve noticed I have to actually be playing a while before this happens. Turning the system on and off hasn’t caused this garble to appear, and it only persists till I turn the tv off and then on again. Concerning, but ultimately a non-issue.

And thank you to Sony for allowing me to use the previous power cord and standard HDMI. It just saved me a step when hooking it up and if my wire goes back for any reason I have a backup that doesn’t using a retardedly large power brick.

Interface and Sharing
So the PS4’s new dashboard interface seems to be hybrid variant of the cross media bar (XMB) and tumblr-esq social media layout. The most current items you pick will be front and center, and below them will provide you with links for the DLC and extras you can purchase, as well as what you friends are doing with the game. It’s an interesting layout and feels a bit more intuitive than the XMB did and more thankfully than that, it moves quickly and smoothly. Loading up my trophies still sometimes can take a minute but not nearly as long as the PS3 used to.

Also, something I actually stumbled on is like Microsoft’s use of the Kinect, the PS4 also has some voice activated functionality as well. With the use of a headset mic or the Playstation Camera you can say “Playstation” and a number of options will pop up such as go to game, go to menu, pause, and a bunch of other things. I only played with it briefly, but its cool that the functionality is there. Clearly it’s not going to be as robust as the XB1 is because it’s not connected to all your devices, but it’s still a cool feature that kinda slipped under the radar. Hopefully they add more you can do with it later.

The share button taps into one of the newer features in the game world in that everyone thinks they are important that their game stream will get people to watch them (Read: Me), and it certainly didn’t take very long for some dumb jackass to go out of the way to ruin it for everyone by streaming his naked passed out wife, forcing services like Twitch to change their TOS policies. So now its just game footage and nothing else. Thanks Dounkface, this is why we cant have nice things.

That said, streaming is pretty easy but probably could be cleaned up some. As you play, the system is constantly capturing your footage so when you want to share something, its got the last 15 minutes of game play saved. You can go in and trim and edit, and if you have a mic you can enable it to record your commentary. The mic that it came with is flimsy and small, but it worked well enough to communicate with a friend as I played a game. However when using it to produce commentary on a twitch feed, you can barely be heard over the actual sounds of the game.

It is very cool though, in a matter of seconds I was able to get both my Ustream account and my Twitch account up and running and I was streaming and commentating over Resogun and people in the respective chats can drop me messages to tell me that I am gay, I suck at this game, or how great their CoD kill to death ratio is {like I give a flying shit about CoD}. It’s actually motivating me to get the PlayStation camera so I can get my mug on the screen at the same time. It’s not as nice as those who can Chroma Key into their stream, but it’s certainly a start.

hashtag - Streaming

My biggest issue with the PS4’s streaming is the system is locked off to external hard drives or USB flash drives, so there doesn’t appear to be a way to remove the captured footage from the actual console. That’s a shame for those people who prefer more robust options when editing their videos. In addition to this, as of now the HDCP hasn’t been removed from the PS4 so people who have external capture cards or pass through can’t capture their footage that way either (unless you have a hdcp splitter). I suppose I understand this desire to try to move to the pure digital format so we are forced to pay money for products we don’t actually own, but I think it sucks.  I liked being able to plug in a USB stick and watch a movie I have on it, I like using my external HDD to back up my hard drive in the event mine craps out.

PLAYIN’ ALL DEM GAIMES!!!
OK, so not all of them. But for supposedly pretty weak launch line up, I was not left with little to do right out of the gate. Upon my purchase of the system I took home both Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag and Killzone: Shadow Fall. But In addition to those two titles Sony included a month of PS+ and 10 bucks credit to PSN so I was also able to download Resogun and Contrast for free. There were also a few free to play games available as well in Warframe and Blacklight: Retribution. So from the moment I got the console home and got myself situated, I had 6 games ready to go right out the gate.  That’s not a bad start for launch day.

As you have already read, many of these games require massive installations of 30+ gb or more on a number of titles, luckily this has become a streamlined process. Killzone for example needs about 45 gigs of space. Upon inserting the blu-ray, it immediately starts to install the necessary files to the game and I’d say within 30 seconds or so, I was able to start the game. It made a couple of the cut scenes unskippable but pretty much right out of the gate I was able to jump right into a game without needing to wait on 50 minutes of installs and updates. It all runs seamlessly and in the background, and constantly updates as I play.

Hashtag - Dashboard

I don’t want to go into excess on the reviews since I plan I writing actually #quickies for here and full reviews on RQ, so I’ll just give you some brief thoughts about what I’ve played so far:

Killzone: Shadow Fall: So I’ve never been a first person shooter guy, nor have I played any of the previous Killzone games. It feels like a pretty standard modern shooter, but it does try to make use of all of the controllers functions in some ways. The story was average, and they aren’t the best looking character models. But the game was entertaining enough to see through to the end. Visually everything else looks fantastic, and the game runs had a very smooth frame rate which I am also a fan of. I’ve also played a bit of the multi player and my only comment for that is: Fuck Grenade Launchers.

Hashtag - Killzone

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag: So we pick up the story after the tragic ending of Ass Creed 3 by taking control of silent protagonist working for Abstergo Entertainment. In it you live the memories of Desmond Miles’ descendant Edward Kenway. Not really an assassin or Templar, you basically take to the high seas pirating ships and island for your own personal wealth while getting to live through the major moments in the golden age of piracy.  This game brought Assassin’s Creed back for me. Stealthing missions actually feel like I’m being an assassin, destroying ships on the high seas is fun, Edward is a likable protagonist, and this story line had a defined beginning and ending. The shitty Desmond story still looms overhead, but honestly I barely thought about it as I played the game.

Contrast:  So its not a graphical powerhouse, but this is one of the indie titles so I wasn’t expecting it to be. This is one of those stylized platformer darlings that require you to get from point A to point B or collect items by manipulating shadows and fading in and out of walls. I haven’t found the story to be interesting yet but the game play mechanics are cool. These kind of niche titles always find their mark with someone.

Resogun: Kind of a twin stick shooter that mixes Gradius, Asteroids, and Geometry Wars. It’s a simple concept and a very short game, but its an absolute blast to play single player or Co-op. If you have a PS4 and PSN and you haven’t downloaded this one for free yet then you are seriously missing out. This was probably one of my favorites so far.’

Hashtag - Resogun
Resogun was brilliant in its design simplicity, challenging gameplay, and easily the MVP of the PS4 Launch.

Blacklight Retribution: Pretty much a competent but generic first person shooter. It’s already been out on PC and the PS4 version doesn’t seem glossed up any. If you need to scratch the FPS online gaming itch, its a nice free option. I’ve played it a few times but it doesn’t have the shiny presentation that Killzone has.

Warframe: Sci-Fi ninja 3rd person shooter. The sword mechanics are kinda wonky and the game feels somewhat generic. Does have 4 player co-op though. I haven’t really sat down with it at any extended length so I don’t have any strong feelings to it either way. It hasn’t left a lasting impression though.

Lego Marvel Superheros: Picked this one up on sale on black friday. Never played a lego game before but it’s somewhat met my expectations. It’s a rather childish and easy cartoon brawler. There is no real challenge aside from the game having some poor conveyance on directing the player where to go. I wonder what audience it’s for because the relatively simple gameplay makes me feel it’s for kids, but many of the gags and jokes seem to be for adults who either know the comic mythos very well, or are familiar enough with the recent Marvel films. Collectibles out the ass in this game, and the number of playable characters is absolutely mind-boggling. So far nearly every peripheral character has gotten a little bit of screen time and its blends all the major comic series in the universe together. Clark Gregg comes in to reprise his role as Agent Coulson, and the voice talent in the game is the venerable who’s who of the video game industry. While its been easy, its been an enjoyable game so far.

Hashtag - Lego Marvel

The Verdict
I’m not gonna give you one. Why? Because chances are you weren’t on the fence about this when you clicked this article. Most of those in the console gaming world have already picked their side and drawn their line in the sand. Like I said months ago when I commented on the Sony presser, consoles aren’t spouses or allegiances and you aren’t required to have just one of them.

So I’m not gonna fanboy out and tell you why I think one console is superior to the other. The one thing I will say is that out of the box, its given me enough to do to keep me entertained for a month. Could you afford to wait to get one? Probably.  Is there a chance there will be a hardware issue? Sure, as is the case with all new products.

It sucks a lot of the bigger name releases got pushed back, and for the supposed ease of programming I would like content to be coming out for it a little faster.  But all things considered in the grand scheme of things?  It’s not a bad start for this console generation.

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#Quickie: Beyond:Two Souls

It’s safe to say that Quantic Dream has a different approach to gaming as a whole. You can tell that by the fact that they don’t say that they make games, but “cinematic storytelling experiences”. It’s a pretty flowery term for lack of gameplay in my book, but despite that they have managed to produce some pretty good titles in Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy.

So now we have the highly touted Beyond:Two Souls that has dazzled us with their impressive motion capture cinematics featuring the acting talents of Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. After a series of trailers it appeared to be in the same vein of gameplay that Heavy Rain was, but they surprised us at this last E3 trailer with a very military heavy sequence that made us think there might be more to this game than appears. The question is, would that hold up after release?

Rage Quitter - Beyond; Two Souls -  Action

The short answer is no. While the controls and interactivity of the game has been greatly improved since the previous QD title, you really are jumping into this title for the story of it. In Beyond: Two Souls you play sad, lonely, and troubled youth Jodie Holmes (Page) as we play through sporadic points of her life. Jodie since the day she was born has been haunted by an entity that she calls Aiden. After having a very tumultuous upbringing in a foster home, Jodie is left under the care of Nathan Dawkins(Dafoe) to monitor her connection with Aiden and in time learn to try to control him.

Graphically speaking the work done with the motion capture might be one of the most impressive I have seen this console generation. This game really does take motion capture to the next level and if it didn’t have the obvious tell-tale look of being an animated graphic it could very well have been a live action movie. It’s handy because it requires the actors to perform some of the stunts to a degree so the animations are lifelike and realistic for the most part, and with the exception of showing teeth, all of the facial reactions are picture perfect.

Rage Quitter - Beyond; Two Souls -  Mocap

Throughout the story we are constantly jumping through various points of Jodie’s sad, horrible life as she trudges through experience to experience.  While it does manage to come together properly in certain points, it causes the entire experience to feel very disjointed and difficult to follow. On more than one occasion I’d feel I’d start to get a handle on things, and the out of the blue the set pieces would completely change on me.

Most of the play as Jodie somewhat falls into the same type of control Heavy Rain had. Wandering around a room, looking for the interactable elements. They did fix the movement controls to feel a bit more natural, which is a massive improvement over the complete train wreck that the previous title had offered us. But the real I guess “fun” of the game would be when you switch and control Aiden.

When shifting to Aiden you basically can glide around Jodie’s immediate area. Depending on the situation, Aiden’s functions change although pretty linear in function. In some situations you just have to play the spooky ghost and knock things around, other times you can possess people to infiltrate areas, and sometimes if you are lucky you will get to strangle someone to death to fend of an enemy entity. Sadly you usually don’t get much in the way of options of what you can do, you just have to really do what is presented.

Rage Quitter - Beyond; Two Souls -  Training

And that’s really it. You get this illusion of freedom to make different choices and play scenarios differently, but for the most part it doesn’t seem like it alters the gameplay or the story too much. So is the game any good? Well, I tend to be a sucker for a decent story. I managed to crank out the whole thing in about two sittings. The game features multiple different endings and there are ways to play scenarios differently so I suppose there is a bit of replay value. I would say that I enjoyed my time with it.

Would I recommend you buy it? No, probably not. Not for 60 bucks anyways. There just isn’t enough engaging elements to it keep you glued to the TV to keep going at it. Even sitting through the story a 2nd time was a bit of a challenge for me since the game is nearly a constant wash of depressing moments. I have my own sad life to experience that shit. So I guess I could probably give it a fairly half-hearted recommendation.  It’s worth a redbox, or if it came down to 20 or 30 I would say go for it. But definitely not full retail price. If you want to play a good Ellen Page game, play the one she’s not in: The Last of Us. (Johnson > Page)

The other soul of this review can be found at Rage Quitter.

#Quickie: Battleblock Theater (XBLA)

Somewhere along the way, platformer games and I had some kinda falling out. After Super Mario World on the SNES they just never had that same appeal for me. With the exceptions of a few very innovative titles like Braid or Limbo I for the most part don’t seek these games out. However, there was one that I was hearing quite a good deal about and saw a lot of my friends playing it. It was the new game from Behemoth Studios: BattleBlock Theater. So being the credible and respectable game critic that I am (false), I knuckled under and gave it a shot.

The general jist of the story is you (the player character) and your friends go on a sailing trip on a “friend-ship” seeking adventure with best friend to one and all: Hatty Hattington. On the trip the boat is caught in a storm and is shipwrecked on a seemingly abandoned island. All of your friends are taken captive by the inhabiting cats, and Hatty is given a possessed top hat that takes control of him. In order to survive and escape, you are put through the many fatal trials of Battle Block Theater for the amusement of the cats.

Like most platformers, the objective is to get from point A to point B.  To unlock the exit you need to collect at least 3 gems and there are up to 7 gems and a ball of yarn in each level. The faster you complete it and collect everything the better your rank is. Most of the levels are pretty tightly contained, and I found myself breezing through the beginning stages of it. But as you play through, more and more block types are introduced throughout. Some of them bounce you like a pinball, some of them make you slide, some explode under you, some shoot lasers, some disappear for a few seconds.

Rage Quitter - BattleBlock Theater - Time Trial

But what I liked the most about it and probably the big selling point for me from a gameplay stance is the emphasis on perfection and speed. Needing to tear through levels at breakneck pace and solve puzzles as you do it made the game a very entertaining experience for me. The first few levels you just rip through but as the game’s layouts get more complex you really need to take a second to plan a few jumps ahead or it quickly becomes a mess of trial and error. But that fun kind of trial and error where you go. “Well shit, that didn’t work, maybe if go about it this way….”

Perhaps the best thing though, is the absolutely hilarious narration that takes place during the game. Our unnamed narrator in between stages delivers a form of paper cut out puppet show that explains the story and history of Battleblock Theater. It’s so sporatic and off the wall that it pretty much got me to laugh every time. During gameplay he will also make sarcastic comments at you while you play and collect things. He also has a very  “Still Alive” moment after you complete the game that I thoroughly enjoyed. The trailer {See below} features a song I loved so much its probably the main reason I purchased the game (and also made a ringtone of it).

There is also a series of co-op and multiplayer maps as well.  I didn’t get the opportunity to play the co-op maps but I have been told that the puzzles change to requires two people to complete them, a la Portal 2 for example. There is also a handful of vs modes like basketball, king of the hill, capture the horse (flag), and a classic beat em up to name a few. All of these can produce extra gems for you collect which you can use to purchase new heads for your player character, and there are a lot of them.

Rage Quitter - BattleBlock Theater - Boomshakalaka

If I had to complain about anything, I would say the games length is a bit short. Butit’s a 1200 point arcade game so I wasn’t exactly expecting an 80 hour adventure. There is also a level editor you can create for your friends and throw out online, but frankly that kind of feature is just way over my head. I didn’t use it in Little Big Planet and I can’t imaging myself using it here.

BattleBlock Theater I feel is one of the blueprints to a perfect platformer. Its got the right level of humor, fast paced levels, fun to play, and has some decent replay value to it. I would say it was absolutely worth the 1200 microsoft points so if you have the points to spend, grab a friend and give it a shot.

Buckle your pants, and check out the full review at Rage Quitter

Plants vs Zombies 2 is Free-to-Play

The sequel to the very enjoyable Plants vs Zombies has hit the market and has gone Free-to-Play! You can download it from the app store right now and begin playing. If you would like to add more to the experience you can use your cash to purchase expansions, power ups, and other features. But from what I have been reading it is just as enjoyable without spending a dime. I am glad to have a new toilet game to play!

 

#Quickie: Mugen Souls

Summer is tough for the gamer. From about March on, usually nothing comes out in the world of console gaming. When this happens, that’s when gamers get a bit more daring and try out things they normally wouldn’t or pick up niche things they wanted to try. Since I’m a bit of a fan of JRPGS and Nippon Ichi, that’s what I did with Mugen Souls, and dear god… I wish I hadn’t.

The story of Mugen Souls roughly is this entity who resembles a pink haired elementary/middle school girl appears in the vastness of space. She awakens to the glimmer of the 7 worlds found throughout space and entranced by her sparkle, she decides that she wants to claim them for herself. To be the “undisputed god of the universe”. She is found in space by Altis (a demon who was thrown out of the netherworld and converted to half-angel) and Ryuto (a pervy kid who’s stolen a spaceship). Using her ability to make people become her peons, Chou-Chou subjugates Ryuto and claims his ship as her own, and takes of on her conquest of the world. Using her ability to transform into 8 differing personalities, she intends to “Moe-Kill” each world’s hero and demon lord into submission and claim the world for herself.

If there is something that non-anime fans could point to explain why they don’t like it, Mugen Souls would be a great example. It opens up with an overly girly J-pop dance number that to put simply is almost stomach churning. Many of character designs are designed to be overly cutesy. A lot of the gags fall under bad anime stereotypes or fanservice and have a tendency to fall flat. It does manage to produce a couple of laughs by poking fun at some of the things we take as normal in the world of adventure games, so it’s not completely abysmal. It’s fairly well voice acted, it just doesn’t really have a great story behind it.


(Footage captured from personal play for Rage Quitter)

But you will feel like a creep playing it, make no mistake. I said 8 distinct personalities, but what that should read is 8 distinct fetish types. At first I thought terms like Sadist and Masochist were thrown in there to be kind of  goofy with the types, but as you play through the game you really do start collecting people based on their fetish.  Some will make you scratch your head, some might make you uncomfortable, but the real problem comes in when you realize that the main character very clearly resembles a minor. Apparently this game had some controversy in getting localized because of this issue. Huge Shocker.

In the real meat of the game it fails pretty damn hard. It starts of fairly simple, overworld map with monsters to avoid, and engaging them takes you to a Phantom Brave-esq battle system. But as Nippon Ichi games usually do, you are bombarded with tutorials about the games intricacies and to say its overwhelming is an understatement. To quickly summarize. You can attack which has the possibility of teaming with other players for big damage, you can use abilities which can bounce enemies around the map and into other monsters or crystals for big rewards, or you can use Chou-Chou’s “moe kill” to convert them to items or your peons. Peons are used to upgrade your spaceship for the occasional space battles that occasionally come up during the story.

But the game fails its hardest is in its execution. The game is just broken. Even after installing to the HDD, the game suffers from horrendous load times, freezing issues, incredibly choppy frame rates, awkward controls and camera. It just makes for a horrible experience, and this really does more damage than anything else I can complain about. Believe me, there is a lot to complain about on this one.  Cheesy story, annoying grating and unforgettable music, complex combat system, excessive use of fight cutscenes. Perhaps the fact that it’s a virtual unknown release should give it a pass, but this is almost shovelware levels of bad quality.

There are a handful of good ideas and things that I liked that could have made the game fun if they were cleaned up, but there just isn’t enough good here to make it a worthwhile experience. Mugen Souls might possibly be one of the worst games I’ve played in a long, long time. Buyer beware on this one.

You can see just how much venom I spit over at Rage Quitter.

#Quickie: Bioshock Infinite

I really shouldn’t be reviewing a first person shooter. I find most of them to be exactly the same from every other one that comes out. However, there are a handful excellent examples of them that break my incredibly jaded exterior and provide a enjoyable experience. The original Bioshock is one of those examples. Bioshock 2 was not and was so poor that I didn’t want to play any more of the series.  However, the reviews this game have been so stellar I felt it could not be ignored. So with a bit of hesitation I redbox’d, knuckled down, and played through Bioshock Infinite.

One of my biggest selling points in the original Bioshock was its atmosphere. Scary setting, creepy enemies, excellent use of darkness and pacing. Infinite manages to flub on almost all of these points right out of the gate. Instead of the dark collapsing atmosphere of Rapture, we have the perpetually bright and sunny yet outwardly racist streets of Colombia. Instead of the terrifying creepy Splicers or the monstrous Big Daddies, we have 1920’s well dressed assholes with guns, and giant Mecha-Washington or the Handymen (which are just some asshole in a robot suit with a big glowing weakness on his chest). Sorry, other people with guns are uninteresting and get a big red X from me.

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/PgD7dpAz4eI

I felt they messed up with the equipment as well. In the original you got 8 or 9 weapons varying from boring old machine gun to fun weapons like the chemical thrower. In addition to having multiple weapon choices, you also had various types of ammo you could use for each weapon which had different effectiveness to different enemies. Bioshock Infinite instead decided it would bet better to fall in line with every other shooter and only allow you to carry two guns at a time with only one ammo type. Some people think its exciting to constantly be interchanging weapons. I do not, I don’t want to be stuck with a sniper rifle when I’m only sparsely in situations where it would even be useful.

Tacking on with disappointment of the guns, the Vigor’s of Infinite weren’t really as up to snuff as the Plasmids of the original. There are a handful of cool ones like sending a murder of crows after someone or the ability to send a ghost after machines and people, but after I maxed out my Shock Jock and Devils Kiss (read Electro Bolt and Incinerate) all of the other vigors I could use were useless or ineffective. It felt like I had less options too since some of the effects of the older plasmids were condensed to a single vigor. Useful maybe but I liked the variety better, these you at least get to switch between all of them whenever you want unlike the weapons.

I will say there were two points in this game that I really did like. First off, Booker (the protagonist) and Elizabeth (the support character) make for an incredibly likable pair. Booker isn’t a silent protagonist like in the previous Bioshock games so it allows him to have some very good character building moments and with a pretty deep backstory allows him to grow as the game progresses. Elizabeth is a great support character because she is competent and confident without being aggressive or arrogant.  She also helps while you fight by finding ammo, restoring your health or salts (for vigors), and she even digs up money as you are exploring.  She really does get you to fall for her right off, and she seems to have this understanding that something big is going on around her.

 http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/31-NAkq8YEY

Because these characters are so strong, it goes a long way in helping the storytelling. Bioshock Infinite easily has one of the best stories in the series by far. It does have a bit of a slow beginning to it, but without spoiling just after half way the story goes batshit crazy and completely alters the dynamic of the story with a very sci-fi concept. And while the climax was disappointing with a lack of any real boss fight, the storytelling was beyond exceptional with a very incredible ending to the tale that left a lot of people with their jaw on the floor. It may be a little cliche given the introduced concept but it was executed so well I was willing to over look it.

So then, recommendation? How can I put this….  Well, I guess the best way to say is I’m glad I didn’t buy it, but glad I got to play it. From a strictly technical gameplay standpoint, they completely watered down the well established Bioshock gameplay aspects to make it fall in line with the every other 1st person shooter released in the past few years. It was boring to me in that regard. But the game weaves such an exceptional tale that it would be worth your time to at least see the game through to the end, either through purchase or rental. I don’t think it merits the near perfect scores its getting, but its a solid play.

Would you kindly see my full review on Rage Quitter?

#Quickie: God of War: Ascension

Do I even need to intro this game? Really? We’ve done this dance like 5 times already, its the same eff’n game. Alright fine fine… Kratos is mad about something and he’s gonna swing some blades on chains around and horribly murder things. Oh, and something about gods. We good? Ugh… fine.

God of War: Ascension takes place before the events of all the previous titles which is suppose marks the beginning of Kratos storyline (not enough to say before he already had his blades and was completely psychotic, but shush). He’s being tortured in the Furies prison for trying to break his blood oath to Ares and is fighting to escape and stop the visions that haunt him.  You know, like in all the other God of War games. This may be a new and original story, but I swear I’ve heard this all before.

The game is still fun. Unchanged really. Only really a few subtle differences. Kratos now has elemental choices instead of different weapons, which I liked. The rage meter needs to be full to use the heavy hitting combos regular players are familiar with, which forces you to be skillful and precise. Other than that though, the gameplay aspect isn’t exactly gonna throw you a curve ball.

But what IS different this time is the addition of a multiplayer mode. Usually I hate the addition of a online mode to a game that has never needed it before. But in this case, it’s the game’s major saving grace. It provides a new interesting way to play God of War, it seems incredibly well balanced, and probably the biggest selling point for me is that a Level 1 online player actually has a fighting chance of surviving against a higher level opponent if they are a good enough fighter. But if their not? No problem, there are chests to collect, traps to set, and checkpoints to grab to boost your score. Its fun to play, fast paced, and has quickly become my reason to play the game. For a guy who usually hates online play, this shocks and terrifies me.

The bottom line here is that God of War: Ascension doesn’t bring all that much new to the table. If you are new to the series or want to know more of the Kratos tale, its worth a play. If you are looking for a new type of multiplayer mode to try, Ascension delivers. Unless they plan on making some radical changes to this series, they really should consider making this the last God of War title while people still have fond feelings for it.

There’s as 87% chance you can find my full review at Rage Quitter.