Middle-Earth : Shadow of War (Review)

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Shadow of War was developed by Monolith Productions it is a follow up to 2014’s Shadow of Mordor which was met with a lot of praise for its interesting take on open-world action game with the Nemesis system and interesting interactions with the enemy Orcs.

Shadow of War is an Action RPG with a loot system and leveling and gear rank and that was one of the things that really excited me about the game but it is ultimately done poorly, you only have Sword, Dagger and ranged weapon for weapon class and the more powerful gear is only more powerful by few points, then there is the Legendary gear which adds interesting perks but still nothing that interesting, the enemy Orcs also have that ranging from Normal to Epic and Legendary orcs with their uniqite and interesting perks which I found to be better than the gears, adding a legendary orc to your ranks was one of the things that I enjoyed about the game.

Mobility is another matter, the game the same feeling I got from playing Saint’s Row 4, a lot of powers to play with and at the same time a little Batman Arkham movement too with the stealth movements, it is all good and gets the job done but I just wish it wasn’t so overpowering, furthermore the locations are varied from region to region from the snowy mountains to swamps and jungles and urban areas which I really liked more than Shadow of Mordor’s locations, the open map is huge and it is well-designed alowing you to move around however you want.

Combat is very fun while feeling a bit worn off, the whole Assassin’s Creed/Batman Arkham combat is not that fun anymore despite the later fight providing a bit of challenge which makes countering and using some of your skills fun and satisfying, but it doesn’t help that the auto-targeting system sometimes targets your allies and you end up beating them up too, I really hope this is the last we see of this combat style and we move toward the Souls like combat which is proving to be much more fun and rewarding with games like Assassin’s Creed Origins embracing it, Stealth is fun and skills like chain takedowns is useful and makes attacking a pack of Orcs rewarding and fun, The Nemisis system has elevated the combat and the gameplay significantly, you actually care about your enemies and the Orcs you are fighting or when they are fighting beside you it is a very smart system and very well designed.

The worst part  in my opinion is the story, I couldn’t care less about any of the characters or what was happening or anything for that matter, Talion is a character that I couldn’t care less about, he might as well be a nameless mute that you make at the beginning of the game seriously it is really terrible and I think that is the worst part of Shadow of War and Shadow of Mordor, the fact that they are set in the Lord of the Rings universe I wish it was based in an original fantasy universe that was made from ground up for these games.

Verdict : I spend over a 100 hours playing Shadow of War and I really enjoyed it, while the uninspired loot and god awful story didn’t make me fall in love with it as much as I thought I would I still had a really good time with it and I always look forward to the next game from Monolith. (8.5/10.0)

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Blade Runner 2049 (Review)

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Blade Runner 2049 is directed by Denis Villeneuve starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto and Ana de Armas, the film is a sequel to the 1982 Ridley Scott film that was based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

I have to start off with acknowledging that I have seen every version of the original film, I have read the book and I have also spend a lot of time reading theories and fanfictions about the original movie so needless to say I was very hyped for this film and before you continue reading if you are hyped for it know that I will not talk about any plot points here because going to the film without knowing anything is the best way to go.

Ryan Gosling is the main protagonist of the film, his name is K. and he is a Blade Runner just like Deckard was in the first film and he stumbles upon a bunch of secrets and events that could change the way the world looks at the line that separates humans and replicas, and he did a fantastic job in this film, as a matter of fact all the actors involved did a fantastic job here, who would have thought a day will come that I will say “Dave Bautista is a great actor with some dramatic chops?” well today is that day.

The friend I went to watch the film with was new to the Blade Runner world and the first thing that they noticed was the authentic of the film, it is beyond beautiful Roger Deakins once again comes up with a film that you can freeze every frame of the film and have it hanged on your walls it is absolutely fantastic, which compliments the soundtrack that takes you to the world of 2049 and leaves you there.

what makes this film so special is in a world of franchise building and cinematic universes 2049 stands on its own as a sequel to one of the most impressive films of all time and surpasses it, it doesn’t hurt the original film and it doesn’t also needs it to stand on its own, it finishes the story that starts it and also leaves room for sequels even if they don’t necessarily need to be made, it is a remarkable Sci-Fi film that I will be watching again and again for the years to come.

Verdict: Denis Villeneuve is the new golden boy of cinema, he is one of the most accomplished directors working today alongside giants like Christopher Nolan, and he delivered one of the best Sequels ever made. (10/10)

How I reignited my first love in gaming

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back in the mid-90s when I was barely 9 years old I remember walking by a store that used to sell Sega Genesis games and they were playing Mortal Kombat II, I could never get it out of my head two Ninjas fighting one of them was freezing the other and the other was using a rope to pull the other toward him, at least I thought it was a rope, I think from that moment my whole life was about perusing that amazement and feeling of pure awe.

I kept on playing fighting games on any console or handheld I got my hands on for the years after that like:

  • Mortal Kombat on Gameboy
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    I didn’t know this game existed but when I did I was hooked, me and my brother spend hundreds of hours playing this game and we burned through a lot of AAA batteries, despite the fact that we just played the tower over and over somehow we really did have a good time and didn’t mind the repetitiveness that came with it.
  • Mortal Kombat 3
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    I am well aware of the far superior Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 version but back in the 90s I wasn’t, I played this game for a long time and for some reason the worst MK character (stryker) was my main, maybe because I learned to do his fatality by accident?
  • Street Fighter II
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    Street Fighter II is a household name, some even call it the greatest fighting game of all time, but coming from all the blood and violence of Mortal Kombat for some reason Street Fighter felt like a step-down but never the less it was very fun and learning most of the combos that were written in the manual that came with the game was really good for its time.
  • Mortal Kombat II
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    Definitely, the one I played the most, to this day MK2 has one of the best 2D fighting game plays and it is hard to replicate, I think I played this game every day for at least 3 years.

There were other fighting games like Bloody Roar and Tekken 3 that I played but those were my absolute favorites, but after I started playing other kinds of games like RPGs my interest in fighting games slowly withered, by the time Tekken 5 and Mortal Kombat Armageddon I started to care little for fighting games, and since my siblings started developed other interests and stopped playing with me I barely cared to boot those games, as a matter of fact, I think Tekken 5 was the last fighting game I played on PS2, during the same time I was playing another fighting game on DS and it was a Japanese ROM of Jump Superstars , but I did quickly give it up in favor of whatever RPGs came my way back then.

and that was it, for years I didn’t care about fighting games while I saw my old favorite series like MK evolve into something great with the last two entry and also Never Real’s other title Injustice being set in the DC universe which is a favorite of mine, but I never got interested in it, I always knew even if I buy a fighting game I will end up quitting on it after a day and that wasn’t something I wanted to do, until this year.

During March I decided to play something along side Breath of the Wild, I knew I will spend a lot of time in that game and I knew sometimes it might get a bit boring when you play massive games like that, so I bought MKXL and I played a few matches a day and I was having a lot of fun, and this created something in me like a nostalgia feeling for the genre, so I started playing more fighting games, but I decided to play those that I find different and interesting like:

  • ARMS
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    When it comes to it Nintendo holds the keys to my gaming heart, I don’t know what is up with their games but I could never get enough of them, and ARMS is one of those new concepts, the game is 3D fighter and uses fighters with arms stretch and boxing each other…..I know it sounds weird you just have to try for yourself, I spend around 50 hours in the game so far and I still play it daily.
  • Mortal Kombat XL
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    With Fantastic graphics and controls, MKXL really rains supreme as one of the best health based 2D fighters, it is absolutely fantastic, I have spent somewhere around 50-60 hours in it so far and I have played various modes of it, it is very fun and I am looking into taking my experience to Ranked mode.
  • Super Smash Bros. for 3DS

    Now this was a treat, I bought the 3DS version and during my first match I thought to myself that this will probably end up in my drawer never to be played again and boy I was wrong, as soon as I understood the basic controls which are very different from every other fighting game I fell head over heels in love with this game, I have been playing it for a month and so far I have put over 60 hours in it, one weekend I played it for literally for 10 hours straight and I had to recharge my 3DS twice, I honestly can’t wait for the game to come to Switch so I can play more of it.

So I will keep playing these and I already preordered Pokken Tournament DX on Switch and I look forward to that as well, it is quite amazing how Smash Bros. and MKXL literally took me back to a time when I was 9 years old and I couldn’t wait to try a new move or combo, it is the kind of experience that most people miss out on by presuing just Stories in video games even though they are meant for more than that.

Destiny 2 Beta impressions

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it is not secret that is was hyped to the moon and back for Destiny back in 2014, problems aside I did put in over 400 hours and I really liked my experience with the game despite many issues that plagued the game for almost 2 years, but sooner or later Bungie fixed some of those issues and the game grew up into a household name, with D2 coming out this year and the beta just rolled out couple of days ago I wanted to talk briefly about the game and highlight what makes it different from Destiny 1 while not feeling like a different game:

  • Technical aspect: Destiny always looked good, the game has a marvelous art style that makes it seriously stand out, with D2 Bungie took what made the first one great and amped it up with so much detail and effects and little things here and there, truly it shines as an example of Bungie’s capability and creative art vision.
  • Gameplay: if there is one thing Bungie did nail with the first game it will be the gameplay, Destiny takes what made Halo great as a shooter and makes it way better by adding skills, variety of guns and vertical movement to make it really fun to play and Destiny 2 is more of the same and that is a really good thing.
  • The Red Legion: We fought Vex, Crota’s army, Oryx’s taken and so many other cool enemies, the Cabal always felt like the left out faction from the bunch because they never got their own storyline, well things have changed and these basically Tanks who “Shoot first and Ask Questions Never” are here to kick your right in the nuts, they are scary and fearless and they will make your life a living hell!
  • Dominus Ghaul: Remember Tom Hardy’s Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, Ghaul reminds me a lot of him, from his monologue and his theatrical actions to his voice and mask he is like Bane on a ton of Venom, he is scary and intimidating and takes your world by storm.
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  • PvP: The available mode in the crucible is a bit more tactical and slower paced mode which is fun and can provide some intense battles, I didn’t have any of that because you don’t get to pick your weapons in the Beta so you can’t strategize as much as you could later when the full game comes out.

While I am sure I will have an issue with the loot drop and the general end game progression of the game I am just glad that Destiny is back and I will sink in a lot of time before moving on to another game eventually.

Biggest contenders to Game of the Year in 2017

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I know it is weird to talk about Game of the Year in July but 2017 is a very weird year for gaming in its own right, we usually get the biggest titles during the last few months of the year but it seems like a drastic change has happened in the gaming landscape by releasing the critical darlings early on the year and the blockbusters later on, the following games is what I think are the biggest contenders to GOTY 2017.

Note: I am talking about the Overall GOTY and not just The Game Awards or a specific site, Overall GOTY like 2016’s Overwatch and 2015’s The Witcher 3

  • Horizon Zero Dawn
    Guerrilla Game’s action RPG was a big hit this year, with a Metascore rating of 89 and selling a crapton of copies it is safe to say we will see a lot of Horizon in the coming years, but is it GOTY worthy?  well, I don’t see why not, the game doesn’t necessarily do anything extraordinary outside of its magnificent graphics but it does everything well enough to earn it a spot.
  • Persona 5
    Persona started as a cult game with many people loving it for what it does and some people not even willing to give it a chance for the amount of time it requires to play it, but with Persona 5 things has changed the game sold almost 2 million copies and has a score of 93 on Metacritic and with its really stylish graphics and music and the underline society reform message it might be the hit Atlus needed to go from a midrange developer to the big boys table
  • Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
    Shadow of Mordor was a surprise hit in 2014 and it was a major contender for GOTY of that year, the sequel seems to be even bigger and better, taking the same concepts from the original game and dialing them up to 11, the game is scheduled to come out on October 3rd but early impressions are very very positive.
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
    This might be a long shot but I like to root for an underdog, Ninja Theory’s latest game is a psychological action hack and slash game set in a world invaded by Vikings, it is a very dark and grim looking world and our character is suffering from severe mental illness which will make our journey a lot more interesting!
  • Assassin’s Creed Origins
    Ubisoft is bringing back their juggernaut open world action game back after taking a year off in 2016 to reinvent the franchise and it looks like they did a fantastic job with it, the developer calls it an Action RPG the game adopts the Soulslike combat with what it looks like to be a Tenchu looking stealth gameplay, it looks gorgeous and it looks massive, what could go wrong? oh Ubisoft.
  • Star Wars Battlefront II 
    Dice’s first dance with Star Wars wasn’t their best effort bit it looks like they learned from their mistakes, the result is a major online FPS that is going head to head with Activision’s Call of Duty this November, the game might not win overall game of the year but I do believe it has reserved a spot on the best FPS of the year.
  • Splatoon 2
    Just like Battlefront II I don’t think Splatoon 2 is going to win GOTY but it will be a contender for best online shooter, Nintendo’s take on the shooter genre is definitely a different one and they won a lot of hearts with it, the game is currently expected to be one of the best-selling games of the year and definitely a major title in Japan.
  • The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild 
    Arguably the biggest contender and let’s face it it is probably gonna win everything this year, Breath of the Wild is one of the best games ever made and it is one of the best-received games ever in history and it is a game that I have put over 160 hours in so far and I am still aching to play more.
  • Super Mario Odyssey 
    it is really funny that Nintendo’s biggest competitor is Nintendo its sell this year, after the fact that the game was the on the top of the biggest games at this year’s E3 means the game is on its way to review glore.

 

Three games that should get the Souls makeover.

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From Software re-invented the wheel with their 2009 PS3 hit Demon’s Souls when it comes to sword fighting in games, perhaps their new take on the combat style is the biggest update sword fighting received since Capcom’s Devil May Cry, and just like DMC a lot of games are trying to adapt the Souls like combat right now games like God of War (PS4) and Assassin’s Creed Origins are already on that path and some might argue that Breath of the Wild has a little bit of Souls like combat as well (I argue that), also other creative studios has taken that concept to other games like 2D side-scrolling Metroidvania games such as Salt and Sanctuary and Dead Cells and Death’s Gambit, some others take the concept and add it to other mediums like The Surge and Lords of the Fallen. while I think over saturating the market with souls like games is not ideal I also believe some classic games could use the make over and here are some examples of classic games that I think could use the Souls like combat to evolve and make a comeback

Onimusha 
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Onimusha was a household name on PS2 with 4 titles released in the series with a tactics game and a fighting game too, sadly the series never sold very well and Capcom discontinued it even though fans of the series has been crying for a new entry to the franchise but Capcom remains silent on the matter, I do believe a Souls like Onimusha could be the shake up that they want right now for a game like it and I also believe it will find an audience.

Vagrant Story
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Vagrant Story is perhaps Square Soft’s weirdest game to release on PS1, it was released very late on the console few months before the release of PS2 and it never got a sequel, while the game takes place on Ivalice the same world of FFXII and FF Tactics it isn’t technically a Final Fantasy game, the game received amazing reviews being the only game on PS1 to receive a 40/40 from Famitsu but sadly it didn’t sell very well to justify a sequel and remains as one of  Yasumi Matsuno’s great lost games, the game’s dark setting a story is a perfect fit for Souls like makeover and we might finally get the sequel we never got!

Castlevania
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Konami is the worst, they hold some of my favorite franchises hostage with their terrible business practices and shift in direction, they pushed great developers like Hideo Kojima and Koji Igarashi out of their offices and from their teams and their terrible policies make them look like a Yakuza Clan and not a game publisher, however I have the biggest love for Castlevania and I would love for it to come back one day and maybe with a Souls like combat, with that being said Fuck Konami.

 

Persona 5 (Review)

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I think it is important that I clear my bias from the beginning if I could name my all time favorite game series it will be Elder Scrolls, Zelda, Monster Hunter and Persona, so it is very obvious that I am a huge fan of this series and I was looking forward to the fifth entry since the moment they announced it. but I think it is also important that I talk about my history with the series and how did I end up playing them in the first place, it all started with Persona 3 Portable on PSP I started playing this game after I finished Valkyria Chronicles 2 and it left a hole in my heart, I wanted to start something similar so someone recommended P3P for me and I started it, I really liked it and by the time I finished that Persona 2 came out and I played that and its sequel as well, I really loved the high school setting and the anime like pacing was right up my speed, then a year later I bought Vita and played Persona 4 and that was the top for me, I spend over 174 hours in that game playing it twice and I loved every moment of it, it was really amazing and I still have so many fond memories of it.

Persona 5 starts off really strong and just keeps getting better, you are a transfer student like every other game before it but this time you are branded a criminal and you are under probation, you live in an attic above a cafe and there begins your journey toward fame and adventure by establishing your very own Phantom Thieves gang. Every Persona game has some familiar themes like the alternative world and your party’s ability to travel to it, using Personas to aid you in battle and taking down a target every month, I really like this aspect of the series which allows the creative team behind the games a certain amount of freedom to craft a new story and setting and themes within the compound and limitations of the series, for example P3 was about a team of Persona users who wanted to study the Dark Hour and the mysterious Tartarus, P4 was about a group of students who discovered a hidden world within the TVs and their attempt to solve its mysteries, P5 is about a group of Students who navigate the Metaverse and use it to change corrupt adult’s hearts in spectacular fashion, it is this small difference between the games that make them very exciting for returning players of the previous games and also really fun for the new ones.

The gameplay went through little modifications from P3/P4, in those games, you explore a procedural generating dungeons which could get a little bit repetitive however in P5 the main dungeons or Palaces as the game calls it are not procedural but handcrafted with puzzles and challenges that you need to overcome to get to the end of it, the battles are mostly like the previous games you get to control four characters each with different abilities and you exploit the shadow’s weaknesses to either eliminate them or talk them into joining you, outside of battle you get to fuse these Personas to create new ones with other abilities, the game has four difficulty settings I started with Easy then I switch to Normal even at Normal the game was fairly easy and as soon as you get a hang of the battle system there won’t be much of a challenge to overcome except for couple of bosses, and that is basically 40% of the game, the other 60% is a simulation like every other Persona games where you spend your time with your friends and the girls you are trying to get with (Makoto in this case) which will also make you stronger by leveling up your arcana, as you notice there are SO MUCH to do in this game and that is why I spend 124 hours just finishing it up once, really long game.

The game has a slick and stylish design that looks like a playable anime, the animations, and special effects are so stylish and gorgeous and burst with attention and detail it will amaze you at times, all of this is accompanied with a perfect OST, the OST is so good that I have been listening to it every day for the past two months, some tracks are blood pumping and others are emotional and touching, magnificent work. every character is brought to life with their great voice performances (Not Haru) and amazing in the dungeons costumes (Again not Haru), the standouts are of course Makoto and Ryugi’s designs they look amazing.

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Perhaps my only gripe with the game is the same issue I had with P3/P4 which is most of the social interactions are not voice acted and that could get really boring if you are not that invested in one of their stories.

Verdict: Persona 5 is one of the best games I have ever played, it is a game filled with a style which highlights its substance, a very long story is complimented by one of the best designs and OSTs I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. (10/10)