Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Score Rush Extended (PS4)

Years ago, back when "The Inferno" was a fledgling indie gaming blog I crossed paths with two of XBLIG's most interesting, and unique shmup (shoot 'em ups) creators. Those creators being Matthew Doucette, and Jason A. Doucette of Xona Games. I was privileged enough to be able to review a couple of their retro inspired shmup titles including that of "Score Rush", and was able to try to best their high scores that were set before the game's launch. Being an old time arcade fanatic, and shmup enthusiast I greatly enjoyed the simplicity, and challenge of said games. They stayed true to what made the genre so attractive, and in doing so made those who could gain the highest scores in the leaderboards more noteworthy. In this day, and age that challenge seeking side of the gaming community is lost to the casual crowd though. Long gone are those multitudes of gamers seeking to achieve the highest scores possible within the shmup genre. Regardless of this loss of interest shmups continue to be created, and continue to thrive within the gaming culture.

As a quote included in "Score Rush Extended" so rightfully says shmups are the one genre that has withstood the tests of time. Players only pick them up for short bursts of fun, but return to them often over spans of years just to be able to make themselves known as top score leaders. Shmups, as they were are all about short lived gaming sessions, and long lasting replay value. They are also a genre of games that are somewhat misunderstood by the modern-day gamer. The casual direction the gamers of today have been steered in is basically negating any admiration of games that offer up a proper challenge. It's sad to see, but like the quote also said the genre has done alright for itself, and continues onward in games like, "Score Rush Extended".

Monday, May 30, 2016

Happy Memorial Day!!! (5/30/2016)

In our day to day lives, and even in our daily gaming activities some of us often times do not stop to think of the men, and women stationed abroad, and at home who are constantly fighting to keep this country's freedoms intact. Some of us take what they do for granted without a second's thought like some spoiled child who expects them to continue without question. Some of us don't even account for the fact that our freedoms are made possible by the service men, and women who willingly serve in this nation's army, navy, and air force. The fact is if it weren't for them doing what they do we wouldn't be able to partake of the simplest pleasures in life. We'd be too worried about scraping by, and doing as we are told by people who don't have our best interests in mind. If we fail as a society to acknowledge, and appreciate what those fighting for us do we may one day find ourselves forced to fight in their place while wondering why it is nobody cares about our sacrifices. Today, for the sake of remembrance, and for looking forward do the right thing, and put your own petty internet inspired battles aside to remember the fight that really counts. The fight for our right to live freely. If you know someone who has served our country, or who is currently in service of it let them know you appreciate what they have done, and continue to do. Show some respect. Honor those who have sacrificed it all so that we might see a better tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Last Blade 2 (PS4) - Faults & Finds

Consider this a companion piece to my core review. It will include info on things I figured out, encountered, and forgot to include ...

The first thing I want to address is the annoyance that is the item unlock message. At first I didn't know why my matches were being rudely interrupted by a pop-up message that brought up the pause/options menu. As it turns out it was letting me know I unlocked one of the gallery's 29 unlockable images, and that it was saving my progress because of that fact. I'm not sure why SNK thought it was a good idea to do things this way, but it's definitely not a good development decision. Thankfully once you unlock all of the gallery items you'll no longer be bothered by the pop-ups, and can play the game without pause.

The Last Blade 2 (PS4)

Coming in three years after the arcade release of "Samurai Showdown III: Blades of Blood" at November of 1998, the series known as "The Last Blade" returned to the gaming scene with a sequel that was very much like it's preceding SamSho (Samurai Showdown) inspired entry point. This Dreamcast follow-up release, and fan favorite known as "The Last Blade 2" continued onward with the tale of ongoing spiritual warfare waged between a group of select characters which were each explained away in the first installation. Some might say the game was a Samurai Showdown derivative like me while others may argue that it was it's own unique experience altogether. Whatever you choose to believe the admiring fans have spoken out, and in a recently held PSN poll they have voted for "The Last Blade 2" to receive the full re-release treatment. A treatment which has since come to pass. While the core game stays pretty much intact in it's newer version there have been noticeable adjustments, newer options made available, and new additions added in to make this gem of a fighting game more than what it was initially. Not only will you find the game you boasted about through the years along with all of it's secrets in HD clarity, but you will also be able to experience it online through the Playstation network with players across the globe. Whether or not it stacks up to your expectations though is up for speculation ...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Battleborn vs OverWatch

The hype is real folks. The fans have spoken, and most of them seem to favor OverWatch over Battleborn. Whether this hype continues to be validated or not is yet to be seen though. As a gamer, and a guy who has seen the direction competitive multiplayer games take I do have my concerns for both games. Those concerns lying more so with the people playing, and moderating said experiences than with the games themselves. What you have to understand is that online competitive play is nothing like the eSports events that take place in a locally competitive environment. You are actually facing off against random players from across the globe. Some of which do not have your best interest in mind. They usually are not monitored on an eSports level, and often times get away with their cheating regardless of complaints. Cheating aside I feel that both games in question have met with a similar judgment from the gaming community. I've seen, and heard players say that you cannot solo OverWatch, and that the objectives in the modes of play are limited as are the character offerings. On the flip side I've seen Battleborn called out for several things including a poorly implemented reward system, a grindy type of experience that is not in the players favor, and a lack of content. I myself have bitched about it having a mandatory server sign-in. While all of these things are bad in their own right you have to think about which things can be fixed, and which ones cannot.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Life, Gaming & the Pursuit of Happiness

Sometimes in life we need a reminder of why it is we do what we do. Whether it be job related, hobby related, or life related we just have a desire to figure out why it is we were so interested in whatever it was we thought we were interested in. A good Twitter friend of mind tried to explain this to me earlier this week regarding my thoughts on my current review situation. I tried justify my thoughts against what he said which were basically countering what it is I was trying to comprehend. For the longest I've relied heavily upon numbers to get me what I need to be able to provide the reviews for you guys. It wasn't so much that I couldn't do it without the required numbers backing me up, or that I thought numbers mattered, but it was more so that I thought that's what the industry providers were asking of me. To some extent I may have been right, but to rely on such a standard to get me by as a "respectable" journalist was a fool's errand. I know I'm good at what I do no matter who chooses to follow me, or who chooses to trust in me.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Battleborn - Pros & Cons

Most of you know that my initial thoughts of "Battleborn" were mostly against it. I felt that Gearbox, and 2KGames making the game server reliant was a huge mistake. I personally feel that requiring a server sign-in at launch limits the gamers' control over their paid for experience. Should the servers go down for whatever reason the gamer would not have access to the game at all. Furthermore all of the players' save data being stored on server data banks that they do not have access to can lead to even more complications should said data banks be hacked into. I'm not saying your data is any safer on your PS4, because it isn't, I'm merely saying you have even less access to what you've earned/paid for due to said development choice. That accompanied by the looming fact that Battleborn is a wholly team oriented with each played character playing a crucial role in in-game team efforts makes this game an iffy buy. When you play competitively in Battleborn it's not like playing as one of CoD's elite soldiers, or Destiny's heroic guardians who can each carry their own in PvP combat. Each used character in Battleborn ultimately feeds off of, and relies heavily on the aid of assisting players' characters. You have weak healer, powerhouse brutes, and a balanced few characters who are equally assist and combat centered. In that sense k/d is made less important even though the uneducated few still thinks it holds sway in Battleborn's victories. If you fail to see Battleborn in this light then most of your time will be spent being frustrated.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cheating in Online Gaming, Is it Real?

Cheating has been a staple of person to person competition long before video games ever came into the picture. Cheating has been present in poker during the wild west days, and various other games of chance and skill throughout history. It has been present in early to modern-day sports, and will no doubt continue to be a staple of humanity's recreational hobbies so long as competition, and the payout from such sporting events are present and rewarding. Even video games are subject to such things though the payout may be less than substantial in an economic sense. To deny any of this is to be ignorant to the facts of human history, and human nature itself. Why do you think the countries of the world are always at war with each other? Why do you think such warring nations will go out of their way to secure a victory over their opposition in any way possible? It's all about controlling the outcome, and reaping the rewards of said outcome. That, and being better than those you deem unworthy. Sometimes it's even about demeaning those you find who are in a better light than you. The same ideology that are those few reasons is very much the same in today's increasingly competitive world of entertainment.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Binding of Isaac: AfterBirth (PS4)

Unlike some of you I was first able to play this deeply disturbing dungeon survival-horror game when it came out on the PS4 and PS Vita consoles a few years back. I had wanted to play it for so long, and finally being able to do so on one of my currently favorite gaming consoles was a privilege. I think what attracted my attention to it more than anything was the indie design which seemed to incorporate both "The Legend of Zelda (LoZ)" dungeon layouts, and a twin-stick shooter mechanic for the core combat. Of course the game itself has a lot more in store for the gamer than just that, and with this latest DLC expansion the game opens up even more so on said offerings.

What "The Binding of Isaac" had, and has going for it (for those of you who are unaware) is an immense replay value in a challenging pick up, and put down gameplay driven package. It features it's own unique protagonist, and an underlying story that is definitely not forgettable. There are plentiful encounters of creepy humanoid creatures, defiled denizens of the damned, and grotesque bosses of varying sorts which each bare their own pseudo-religious overtones. All of which Isaac (the protagonist) must face in the labyrinthine darkness of the basement he has been imprisoned in. It's a telling presentation that plays heavily on Isaac's troubled childhood, and the fanatical mother who is out to rid the world of his supposed evil ways. Much like a living nightmare Isaac himself has faced his many fears in the basement of his home with only the tears, and the power of his imagination to combat the very real threat before him. It is these tools which you must use in a twin-stick shooter fashion as Isaac to make your way to a final ultimate fight against your wayward mother.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune vs Zombies (PS VITA)



In possibly one of the most creative, and different ways imaginable developer Tamsoft, and publisher Idea Factory have come together to steer the Neptunia lore in a distinctly new direction. This spin-off of sorts does away with the usual Neptune guided hijinks, and puts Blanc of Lowee in the seat of power as a the Gamindustri gal leading the show. In fact it is a sort of indie movie show that plays out as the Gamicademi girls/CPUs fight off a very real zombie threat. When the game begins we find the ruling CPUs of the Gameindustri attending a Gamicademi (Academy) which is on the brink of closure due to a lack of attendees. Like the anime "Love Live!" these CPU goddesses, and their CPU sister candidates devise a plan to attract an even bigger crowd to the Gamicademi in hopes that they can keep it open. This begins with a fantastical idea involving the creation of a film club, and later a scripting of a zombie apocalypse indie that pays homage to games like 'Resident Evil'. The filming starts off innocently enough with only actors participating, but for whatever reason real zombies come into the picture only to be used by Blanc, and her quirky film crew as source material for their indie film project. There are plot twists, and sequels aplenty as you act your way from cut scene to cut scene in fun-loving film fashion.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Battleborn (PS4) - Day One Impressions

As a Gearbox Software, and Borderlands fan I took a gamble on getting this MOBA hybrid upon launch. I knew little about it, but enough to have a basic idea of what it offered. I knew it had a separate story mode (unlike OverWatch), and PvP content. I knew there was co-op play, and for that reason alone I purchased the game in hopes that it could be a new gaming experience which me, and my Destiny friends could turn to. Upon getting into the game though I found both good, and bad things about it.