Tag Archives: PlayStation 4

Sonic Mania Review

Sonic Mania Review – Written by Jose Vega

Product provided for this review by SEGA. Special thanks to them.

For more than 25 years, Sonic the Hedgehog has been one of SEGA’s flagship franchises. It had humble beginnings during the 90s console wars between the Genesis and SNES but after SEGA went 3rd party, the journey got a bit shaky. 2006 would be the year Sonic would enter a dark age with many of their titles getting mixed to negative receptions. Things would pick up in the following years, despite some flops, and last year SEGA announced that Sonic would return with 2 more titles. One of them, Sonic Mania has been hyped for some time. Does the hype pay off?

Sonic Mania takes place after the events of Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The plot centers on Sonic & Tails returning to Angel Island, learning that a strange energy source was sighted there. Unfortunately, a legion of Eggman’s robots has got there first, getting their hands on the Phantom Ruby. However, it whisks Sonic, Tails, Knuckles (unexpectedly) and the Egg Robots to a familiar locale. Seeing the danger & the evolved Hard-Boiled Heavies off with the jewel, Sonic along with Tails and Knuckles must team up to prevent the Phantom Ruby from falling into Eggman’s hands.

It’s simple Sonic storytelling. Eggman enacts another of his world domination plans and it’s up to Sonic and his friends to stop them. Surprisingly he’s not the only threat they have to deal with. Eggman’s personal squad, the Hard-Boiled Heavies are also involved. This makes things a bit intense but what do you expect in a Sonic game. I have no complaints with it honestly.

Sonic Mania brings Sonic back to its 2D side-scrolling roots and it’s one that works, taking inspiration from the 16-bit Sonic games that made Sonic what he is today. If you’ve played many of the old school Sonic games, you will feel right at home here. You have three playable characters: Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. All of them play the same but with a few differences. They can jump, run, spin dash, etc. You get the idea. Sonic has a peel out move that lets him be on the move quickly. Tails can fly to avoid enemies and find hidden secrets and Knuckles can glide, climb walls, has a jump that isn’t as high & can access areas that Sonic and Tails can’t go through normally. You will need their strengths to conquer the game’s 12 zones. As far as length, you can beat the game in just a couple of hours and with three playable characters, it adds a lot in terms of replay value. There’s also Time Attack where you can race to get the fastest time and Competition where you and a friend can go head to head offline to see who can reach the end of a stage first. It’s great.

There are 12 zones in this game, each with two acts. More than half of the zones are classic levels from previous Sonic games but they’re given a revamp when it comes to level design. The rest are brand new to the game and offer so much to the experience. What’s interesting is that each level offers many paths for the player to come from. It’s still simple enough going from start to finish but how you go about it depends on the player. Sometimes there are secrets you can find such as item boxes or giant rings. Like the classic games, there are bonus stages and by hitting checkpoints or finding giant rings, you get access to them. Checkpoint bonus stages are of the Blue Spheres from Sonic 3 & Knuckles and completing them net you medallions and they’re used to unlock various secrets. The Giant Ring bonus stages have you chasing after a UFO that carries a Chaos Emerald. Your skills will be tested, as you must collect blue spheres to increase your speed and rings to extend your time. Beating them will be a challenge but worth it in order to get the Chaos Emerald. There are 7 of these and they get harder as you progress.

At the end of each act, there is a boss. Many pay nods to previous Sonic bosses. If anything SEGA really puts a lot of heart when it comes to the game and it shows. It also helps that Sonic Mania has a truly stellar presentation. The graphics are just what you expect for a retro 16-bit game and they did a job keeping it faithful to them. All of the levels offer something different and they are vibrant, full of colors and if you look hard enough, there are many nods and references to various SEGA related stuff. Sprites are detailed and authentic as well. They’re also expressive. Controls are very precise. Perfect would be too appropriate of a word to describe how good the game plays. I mean it. It’s perfect and easy to pick up and play. Whitehead Productions should be praised for giving us a Sonic game that feels like the old school games but in a new environment. I only hope SEGA can get him involved in a possible Mania sequel.

Although I want to praise the game for its presentation, what really nailed it in for me was the music. Tee Lopes went in and delivered a soundtrack that is godly. I kid you not. All of the music in the game is amazing to listen to. Whether it’s remixed versions of Green Hill & Flying Battery or songs from the new stages like Studiopolis and Mirage Saloon, this game has it all. A game that has a stellar presentation, topped with a superb soundtrack. What more needs to be said?

I do have one minor issue with the game and it can be quite a challenge. The game feels like the old school Sonic games and new players who may experience this can find it to be one that requires them to get good. The difficulty is a bit balanced but there will be some moments of unfairness. It shouldn’t dissuade anyone though. Sonic Mania has a lot of content and high replay value that anyone can be able to enjoy no matter what. But yes, it is challenging but there’s a good amount of reward for those looking to complete everything.

It’s surprising how fans of the Sonic franchise were given the go ahead by SEGA to produce a game that’s not only fun but serves as a love letter to the Sonic franchise, it’s fans and SEGA as a whole. Sonic Mania is a special kind of game. Being at around $20 is enough to convince anyone that it’s worth a definite buy. Everything about the game whether it be its presentation, controls, music, etc. delivers on all fronts. Sure it can be a challenge for those that have little idea but it shouldn’t dissuade anyone otherwise. If you haven’t played a Sonic game or if you feel you want something that reminds you of the good old days, Sonic Mania is THE game. The blue blur isn’t going anywhere and this game proves that he’ll be around speeding through for many years to come.

I give Sonic Mania a 9 out of 10. I want to make it a perfect 10 but I feel this rating is more than enough.

Nioh Review

Nioh Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the sake of the review.

In 2011, a little game called Dark Souls was released that brought players a game that was gloomy and challenging. Since it’s release there have been games that felt similar to it or provided their own take and offered something new while keeping it familiar. So what do you get when you take Dark Souls and combine it with Japanese folklore, mythology as well as its history? You get Nioh. Nioh is Team Ninja’s take on the series but don’t let it deceive you. Behind its similarities is a game that offers so much and provides just as much of a challenge as any game they’ve done.

Nioh takes place in the year 1600, during a fictional Sengoku period of Japan when the country was in the middle of civil war before the rise of the Tokugawa shogunate. You play as William, a sailor who travels to Japan in search of a foe that has captured something important to William. He ends up meeting Hattori Hanzo, servant to Tokugawa Ieyasu who requests him to deal with yokai that have been coming about due to the chaos of war. What follows is William encountering many historical figures as he travels to Japan and stop an alchemist who wishes to bring ruin to Japan and eventually the world.

I like that Team Ninja has the game touch on actual Japanese history and it shows. They really did a good job. Most of the story reminded me of the films directed by Akira Kurosawa, since yes, part of Nioh was based on a script that he made but it underwent many revisions. Also it’s based off the real western samurai William Adams, minus the supernatural elements. It’s pretty interesting since after beating this, I wanted to learn more about William Adams, his history as well as some Japanese history.

As far as Nioh’s gameplay goes, you go about moving from one part of the area to the next taking down foes, collecting gear and trying to survive against anything that comes your way. You travel through six different regions in Japan and each one contains missions to go through and complete to acquire experience, money and new gear. Elements of Dark Souls are in the game but don’t let it dissuade you. Nioh’s fast paced, making the game intense as you progress. But how you go about it depends on the player itself. You have five different weapons to choose from: sword, spear, dual swords, axe and kusarigama or chain sickle. Each weapon provides a different style of combat and you can mix it up to provide an advantage. Made better is that you also have three variations: low, medium & high. You also have your Guardian Spirit, a spirit that provides various advantages to the player when activated. By relying on all of these in battle, you can take on any threat that comes your way.

Now like Dark Souls, Nioh has some familiar RPG elements. For example, you earn experience (or Amrita) by defeating enemies along with money and any items they drop. In order to level up, you need to a visit a shrine. Leveling up has you improving your character’s stats by adding points to them. There are 8 different core stats: Body, Heart, Stamina, Strength, Skill, Dexterity, Magic and Spirit. Adding points to any of the stats provides benefits to your character as well as whatever weapons you wield. This also allots to armor, having five different kinds: head, torso, arm, leg and foot. They come in different varieties, rarities and have stats that can improve the character. Some even come in sets and having all of the pieces provide numerous benefits but it all depends how you make your character.

You will need everything this game has to offer if you wish to survive. Nioh is a long game. It’ll take you approximately 20-30 hours and you’ll spend it completing various missions. There are three different kinds of missions: main, sub and twilight. Main focus on the story whereas Sub are devoted to providing you more experience and goods and Twilight are basically the same Main missions only harder. Main missions also have boss battles, requiring you to plan before striking. What makes this all work is that you have a hub menu to choose whatever mission you like. It’s the one thing I find that sets it apart from the Souls series. The hub is also used to access places like a shrine, blacksmith and even training grounds. Training grounds help you learn the basics and even challenge yourself against teachers in order to acquire new abilities. It’s perfect. Replay value in this game is high with exploration as you can find new gear and secrets such as kodama. Considering the game is having DLC with new missions will extend the length even more. You can also connect online and team up with other players in a PvE environment or take on others in PvP. It’s good but pray you don’t end up taking on someone who can kick your butt fast.

Nioh’s presentation is solid. It’s amazing to look at with the Japanese atmosphere, beautiful visuals and can be colorful depending on the area you visit. It does carry the dark omen in some areas and when you enter a Twilight Mission, the feeling of dread exudes all over. The game also has cutscenes that tell the story with voice acting to back it up. Surprisingly, Anjin’s the only character that is in English while the rest are in Japanese. Not that it’s a bad thing but it does fit the game’s atmosphere. Voice acting is great and the performances are well done. It’s impressive on all aspects. The music is awesome with an orchestrated feel especially in fights where you take on tough opponents. It’s exhilarating and a blast to listen to.

But though there are a lot of good things about Nioh, there are some minor issues. Yes, Nioh is a difficult game and the learning curve for it is strict, requiring a lot of practice, as well as trial and error. In some cases it’s luck based since the game can sometimes throw you for a loop & put you in a situation you can’t get out of. Thankfully you can always find ways around situations if you know the layout. Also the layout for your item box is a bit of a mess, made no better by the fact you don’t have an option to sort them all. Instead it slows down by having you scroll up or down until you find what you need. Nioh does let you search them via rarities but I feel a sort option would help. Since it shares elements with the Souls series, expect to die a lot. At least it isn’t as punishing. Plus the AI will ensure you go down, even if you are at a weaken state. Expect the unexpected.

It’s strange that a game that is brutal and challenging can be a lot of fun. Nioh perfectly fits this to a T with its superb gameplay, amazing visuals, great length and replay value, solid exploration as well as amazing music. The challenge is there and only those that have the skill to do it will persevere. Don’t let its difficulty fool you. Nioh is certainly a game that you want to have on your PS4 library. Team Ninja brought their own take on the Souls series. I can honestly say that it is very well done. If you have a PS4, get this game now. You won’t regret it.

I give Nioh a solid 9 out of 10. It is a must-own game for anyone that has a PS4 and earns my personal seal of approval.

Street Fighter V Review

Street Fighter V Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased my copy at full price for the sake of this review.

For almost 30 years, Street Fighter was the series that gave new life to the fighting game genre. Whether it’s the memorable characters, music or its tight gameplay, it brought us so much that fans still enjoy to this day. It’s previous entry Street Fighter IV provided so much, despite the game getting numerous updates and revisions. Last year, Capcom was ready to bring Street Fighter into the next gaming generation with Street Fighter V, released as a Sony exclusive for PS4 and PC. The question looms… does it deliver the same way SFIV had all those years ago or will this game crash and burn to the ground? Considering that it’s almost a year since the game’s release, I am going to be reviewing the game in its current state.

The Street Fighter series has never been known for it’ story. This game’s no exception. The story is split between “Character Story” and the Cinematic Story that was released in June as a free update. But to summarize, M. Bison of Shadaloo enacts his plan for world domination and he does so with the Black Moons. Now several groups are gathering to put a stop to Bison’s plans but many may be having plans of their own. The story is pretty predictable, your traditional “stop the bad guy before they take over the world” thing. Nothing fancy. Considering that this is set in-between Street Fighter IV and III, it does explain certain events that we would see in later games. The character story mode however consist of short segments that last 6-10 minutes but provide a bit of exposition for all the characters involved. They’re harmless fun but at least you get an idea of what the characters are and their motivations.

Street Fighter V doesn’t offer much in terms of content. Later updates did include modes like Challenges but when it was first released, the game provided little. It makes the game feel barebones. I find it disappointing. Many other fighting games like Mortal Kombat, Tekken and Smash Bros. offer a lot of content and variety at full price and the most important thing is having content for people that just want to pick up and play. To see that it doesn’t have that is upsetting and will only drive consumers away. I am aware that the game was released for the competitive crowd but unless there’s something for casuals, it’ll be a failure from the get go. There is online play but when it was first released, it had numerous server issues that hindered the experience. They did fix it eventually but overall, Street Fighter V is barebones on release and to this day, it still is. Capcom dropped the ball and they should have put a bit more time in refining the game to make it complete.

Despite the negatives, Street Fighter V is great in terms of graphics and gameplay. The game looks amazing, a step up from Street Fighter IV. From a design standpoint, it’s well done. The character models are better but for some reason, they seem a bit too muscular. All the stages are vibrant and colorful, backing it up with music. SFV’s high point also includes the music. The music is very good and some tracks are real addicting to listen to. Thankfully you have the option to switch between stage and character music so that’s a plus.

If you’ve played a previous Street Fighter game then you’ll feel right at home. The controls are the same but there are a few noticeable changes. For starters, everyone has a Critical Art, a V-Trigger and V-Reversal. They are the game’s main gimmicks. Each character has a specific V-Trigger and Reversal ability that sets them apart from the others. They depend on the character and can make matches pretty intense. I can say that Capcom did do a good job at making the controls easier for newcomers but can also be challenging for competitive players. Compared to Street Fighter IV’s battle system, this is a bit easier. Though I wish that the game could allow players to choose from a variety of V-Trigger/Reversal and Critical Arts. It can add more to the game and its characters.

I mentioned earlier that this game offers too few content but then they decide to include micro transactions. They can be obtained either by using real money or Fight Money, Street Fighter V’s currency and consists of alternate costumes, color palettes, stages and characters that would come as DLC. If that isn’t enough, Capcom has the gall to include a season pass… in a $60 full price game that offers barebones content. Just no. It’s unacceptable. If it were like Street Fighter IV then it would be okay but not here. I don’t accept it and even now that the place has been reduced to $30, it still isn’t enough. Had Capcom put more time and released it later down the line with more characters and modes, it would be better. But sadly it shot them in the foot and they paid the price for it.

Capcom may have dropped the ball big with Street Fighter V but it shouldn’t hinder anyone from taking the time to enjoy it. The presentation and gameplay are its high points but they can only last so long with its lack of content. Yes the game was released to please the competitive crowd and an audience is there for it but they did it at the expense of the casual crowd. Regardless, Street Fighter V is a well-designed game that anyone can enjoy… if only it could provide more for your money’s worth.

Had I reviewed this game when it was first released, my rating for it would be less than what it should deserve. For the time being, I give Street Fighter V a 6 out of 10.

BlazBlue: Central Fiction Review

BlazBlue: Central Fiction Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased copy for the sake of this review.

Since 2009, Blazblue is one of these franchises that bring something unique to the fighting game genre. For almost eight years, the series has been through a lot despite following the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Now in 2016, the fourth game in the series arrives with Blazblue Central Fiction. Originally released in the arcades, the game is now here on consoles. The question is if a fourth hurrah will be the one that will give the series glory or if this will be the last?

Blazblue is one of these games where the plot can be as ridiculous as its characters. Continuing from the events of Chronophantasma, the story centers on a mysterious embryo in the sky and signs that foretell the end of the world coming. Trying to explain it would be complicated but it’s what Blazblue is. It’s not much of a bad thing but there are some moments where it goes into the territory of absurdity. Longtime fans that have played the previous entries will have a good understanding of what will transpire. But for those that want to get into the series, the game provides a good summary of what happened, helping people get up to speed.

When you think about gameplay, it’s one of Blazblue’s high points. Fortunately it’s similar to the previous games so long time fans can feel right at home. However, this game has added some new mechanics while providing added changes. One such mechanic is the Exceed Accel, a kind of Distortion Drive that serves as a follow up to activating Overdrive. It deals a lot of pain but also ends Overdrive. Another feature they added is Active Flow, the opposite of Negative Penalty. Basically the more you attack and go on the offensive you get rewarded with boosted damage and Burst Gauge recovery. It also increases Exceed Accel damage. It’s a nice addition for players that put everything in their offense. Blazblue’s Drive system is still the staple of the series, providing each character with their own distinct skill. With over 35 characters to choose from, it can get hectic. But it’s a good thing obviously. All the cast from the previous games returns here along with some new ones.

Central Fiction has many modes for players to enjoy. You have your standard Arcade Mode like every other fighting game. However in the case of this, Arcade Mode is split into 3 acts. It’s because the Arcade version started with Act I and then updated twice, adding new playable characters and story. You have the option of choosing to do any act, depending on the character chosen. Story Mode takes you through the game’s story. It’s long and it’ll take you roughly 15-20 hours, more if you want to 100% it. Other modes include Tutorial, Training, Challenge, Versus, Score Attack and Abyss. They provide a lot more time into the game. Replay value is very high with some of these modes. Online Play is well done. You can either go to a Ranked Match, Player Match or a Lobby. Lobbies are easy to set up and can hold a lot of players. Sometimes online matches can lag but it’s seamless and well done. There’s also customization with so many different options you can have to set yourself apart from other players. So many things to unlock that it raises the replay value even higher. Design wise, the game is beautiful. Many of the stages are vibrant, colorful and add a lot to the areas you battle. Sure some of them are reused from previous games but seeing them all in 1080p is simply a sight to behold. For a 2D fighting game, it’s awesome. The music is real awesome. Some characters have themes that really rock and are addicting to listen to. It’s a game like this where I really want to buy the soundtrack for it and I recommend it.

There are some glaring faults Central Fiction has in spite of its positives. One of the biggest is of a lack of English Dub. Central Fiction is the first and only game in the franchise where at release there is no English dub, only Japanese. Rvery other game in the series always had both an English and Japanese dub. This doesn’t and it caused a bit of problems for fans. So much so that a petition was made to convince both Arc System Works and Aksys Games to release an English dub down the line. It’s disappointing there’s no English dub at launch but I hope that they’ll deliver it down the line. Also, it’s not a game like Blazblue without micro transactions. Most are purely cosmetic and minor but characters such as Es and Mai Natsume require money. They’ve done it before in previous installments with other characters but it’s upsetting that you need to pay to unlock them. I have nothing wrong with micro transactions if they’re done right but if its done in a way like that, no way.

Despite some negatives, Blazblue Central Fiction is a game that provides so much to do at full price. You have refined gameplay, a cast of over 30 characters, a story mode that can get you engaging, very strong online and various modes that offer a lot of replay value. Overall it’s a package that provides so much in one game. In a way, it feels complete. Truly. Had this game include an English dub from the start, I would rate it higher. Regardless for a fourth entry in the series, I can say that this is the best one. If you haven’t got a chance to pick this game up, now is the time.

I give Blazblue: Central Fiction an 8 out of 10.

Gravity Rush Remastered Review

Gravity Rush Remastered Review

Written by Jose Vega

NOTE: I imported my copy from Play-Asia.

In 2012, Gravity Rush was released for the PlayStation Vita. Back then it was well received for its presentation, gameplay aesthetics and taking full advantage of the handheld’s capabilities. While it did attract a following, it didn’t sell well enough due to Sony’s lack of support for the handheld. Four years have passed and fans were asking to see if there would be a sequel. They got their wish last year with the announcement of Gravity Rush 2 as well as an updated version of the first one, titled Gravity Rush Remastered. Now on a more powerful console, does this game hold itself well or has its weight come crashing down?

Story

If you are familiar with Gravity Rush then the plot is straightforward. The game takes place in the floating city of Heskeville. You play the role of Kat, a young girl with amnesia. She then meets a strange cat that gives her the power to control gravity. Kat uses these powers to protect the city and its people from many threats ranging from the gravity storm to a strange band of monsters called the Nevi who plague the city. At the same time, Kat learns more about her home, her powers and ultimately her origins.

For a story, it’s pretty simple. I have no complaints with it and it’s told between cutscenes, text between characters and pictures. The pictures are done similar to a comic book, moving in many directions and giving it a unique style. I like it. It’s pretty good and the music also adds atmosphere. It has some moments that can shock you, surprise you and makes you want more.

Gameplay

Now if you’re looking for something complex, it isn’t here. The game is a mix between action adventure, open world and platforming. Of course it isn’t a game unless you have ways to defend yourself. This game has plenty and there are many ways how to do it. They can range from physical combat to even using gravity to lob objects at foes from a distance. But it’s not just limited to the ground. You can take the fight anywhere, as enemies will attack you from all sides. This is where the gravity aspect kicks in. Kat is a Shifter, someone who can shift and use gravity. Her powers allow her to move anywhere depending on where you want her to go. It’s also used to attack airborne enemies and most can go down fast. Heck with gravity, she can slide adding a means of fast movement you can use to travel around. She also can stick to walls and ceilings with no problem, adding not only a layer of depth to combat but to exploration as well. Bear in mind however that all of this comes with a price, her gravity gauge. Using all of her gravity skills take up energy and if you run out, she has no choice but to fall down. It refills over time so make sure you use your powers with care.

Of course the game gives you the option to strengthen Kat and you do it with Precious Gems. They are the currency for the game and carry various uses, ranging from restoring Heskeville’s many areas to leveling up your character. Yes. This game has RPG elements. You use Precious Gems to level up your character in four different categories: Gravity Powers, Combat Powers, Core Powers and Special Attacks. Gravity Powers relate to moves involving gravity use, Combat Powers involve how strong your attacks can be, Core Powers relate to stuff such as increasing health, recovery time and shifting speed and Special Powers determine how strong your special attacks are. You start off with not much to use but the game’s end, you’ll see just how powerful Kat can be. I like that since you can be able to make Kat however you like but do bear in mind, if you want to survive, you have to get stronger.

All I’ve told you will be needed if you want to tackle this 10-12 hour campaign. In addition, this game also includes all the DLC that was released for the PlayStation Vita and they total an additional 2 hours. In short you’re getting more for your money’s worth. I say this because the game costs around $30. To me, that’s well worth it and I feel that anyone who buys that is going to get his or her money’s worth.

One of the most notable features that Gravity Rush Remastered has is that most of the stuff you can do on the Vita can now be done with a simple controller. Sure you can still move the DualShock 4 about while you gravity slide but personally it’s a good thing. Helps make things easier for people that didn’t like the controls on the Vita.

Design

I will say that the game looks absolutely amazing on the PlayStation 4. Sure, for its time on the PlayStation Vita, the graphics look well done. But when it’s brought onto the PS4, the graphics underwent a massive upgrade. It looks phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal! Made even better when the game is run at 60 FPS (frames per second). It truly Is something. There isn’t much in terms of flaws but I feel that the game is perfect. There is some voice acting but its better to watch what happens than having to hear it.

Not much to say since it’s basically a remastered port of a Vita game but hey, the guys behind it delivered and they should be praised.

Conclusion

It’s a rare thing where an updated version of a game does a lot better than the original port. Gravity Rush Remastered is proof of that. Amazing updated graphics, refined gameplay and improved controls help make the experience satisfying. That and at a $30 price tag is even more rewarding. Gravity Rush 2 is on the horizon so if anyone wants to prep up for when it comes out, this game is it. Gravity Rush Remastered is a must buy. You will be coming out happy.

I give Gravity Rush Remastered a 9 out of 10. It’s a must own.

Additional Notes
This review is long overdue as I was busy with other priorities. Fortunately I want to get them all out of the way so I can focus on what’s happening right now especially with the games that I hope to play and cover.

TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan Review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan – A Review by Jose Vega

Bought my game digitally for this review… and personally regrets it.

This game is available for PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC.

Since the 1980s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been a phenomenon that has changed the world and our way of life. Whether it is the comics or the cartoons, it is a franchise that many of us grew up on. With video games however, it’s sort of mixed. You have good games such as TMNT 4: Turtles in Time and TMNT Battle Nexus and bad games like Out of the Shadows. Now the reins of the heroes in a half shell are in the hands of Activision and Platinum Games. The question is will they be able to pull it off and deliver a game worth playing or are the four destined to end up in video game obscurity?

Let’s start with the story. The story involves Shredder and General Krang hatching a plot to invade Earth and take over. We never learn how they do it other than a cutscene in the beginning stating that everything’s ready. It’s up to the Turtles to stop the Shredder and Krang from succeeding. The story isn’t much to work with but it’s pretty barebones. You get various cutscenes of the Turtles dealing with many of the bad guys and eventually it all connects to their true plans. It’s straightforward but I wish it could be done better.

Mutants in Manhattan don’t pack much in terms of its content. All you have is a single player and online co-op. Regardless you trek through nine levels battling enemies and eventually a boss fight with a TMNT villain. Within each level, you have to complete objectives in order to fill up a blue gauge. You are graded by how quick you’re able to complete them. They can range from beating up enemies, carrying bombs to a portal, disarming bombs, destroying trucks, etc. Complete them fast and you’ll be rewarded with an S rank. You also get bonuses depending on which characters accomplished what and they can range too. It helps if you get lots of bonuses to boost your score so you can use the points to get supplies. Buying supplies such as pizzas, drinks, weapons cost points so you need to manage what’s best for you. At the end of every level, you take on a different boss. In some cases if you’re skilled in dealing damage, another boss will join in to make the fight difficult. That’s a secret boss and there is one per level. Some bosses can be challenging, requiring your skill to be at your best. There are also multiple difficulty settings that can either make things easier or harder. Beating it in Hard will unlock Very Hard mode and that can be even tougher.

As for the turtles, well they are very straightforward. Each of them is similar in terms of attacks and movement but what set them apart are their abilities. You have the option to customize their loadouts. Each character has access to four special moves as well as up to 3 charms. You start with one but once you beat the game in the harder settings, they’ll be unlocked. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock special attacks that you can purchase with trainer points and afterwards you can level them up with trainer points to make them stronger. The higher the level, the stronger the attack and the less of a cooldown you’ll have to endure. Sometimes if two characters do a similar special move, they can do a co-op attack that can deal a lot of damage. Use it a lot if you want to make things better. Charms can also be enhanced to increase their effects or if you don’t like them, you can destroy them to obtain materials. Materials are needed to improve the effects so you are required to beat down enemies and bosses in order to acquire them. If you’re playing offline, the AI is acceptable with four different orders you can give the other turtles. They follow it to a T and its done very well.

I will say that design wise, many of the TMNT characters bear resemblance to the IDW comics and they did it very well. They were able to capture the feel of the comics brought to life in this game. Very good. The voice acting is strong and at times humorous thanks to Michaelangelo. The other VAs all did great and it was a high point I find to be satisfying. Very satisfying.

Although I see good things about this game, there are some things I didn’t like. For example, the game isn’t that long. You can beat it in roughly 3 ½ hours. I’m legit. The whole game can be beat in under 4 hours on Normal, with another few in the harder settings. It was a bit of a bummer because most other games tend to be longer and provide a lot more. Since it does have replayability in the form of higher difficulties, the leveling up system, who am I to complain? Another fault I find is that it’s repetitive. You basically button mash to beat down bad guys in order to fill up a gauge until its full and then you head for the boss fight. It’s just stale and boring, having to do the same thing over and over, in nine stages. That makes it unsatisfying especially if you have to get all the trophies. The game also doesn’t run at 60fps. It runs on 30. Why? I have little clue. Oh and there’s no offline co-op. That to me is disappointing because every other TMNT game I played has an offline co-op. Co-op is there but it’s online only of up to 4 players. I didn’t try it but I’m not really sure how it works. It is good that there’s online co-op but the fact that there’s no offline co-op really hurts the game. It does.

Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is an all right game. I will say that it’s fun they brought many villains from the show to beat up, good replayability, an interesting leveling system for attacks and online co-op. But its lack of offline co-op, repetitive gameplay and lack of variety kind of hurt the game. Made worse is that it’s short with nine stages, despite the fact that replay value is there for those who want it. Unfortunately I paid $50 for this game hoping that it would be a game that would be satisfying. It didn’t. No disrespect to Platinum Games because I love what they do but I think they kind of flopped it. If it was to tie in to the upcoming TMNT film, Out of the Shadows… well they didn’t do a good job. Better luck next time.

Activision… can I get my money back please? I would rather put it towards something better like Overwatch.

I give TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan a 6 out of 10.

LEGO Marvel’s Avengers Review

For this review, my copy is a review copy given to me by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Available for the following: PS4, PS3, Wii U, 3DS, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Written by Jose Vega

In 2012, a film called The Avengers was released in theaters to widespread critical acclaim. It was the result of several Marvel films that would lead to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes uniting against an other worldly foe. The Marvel Cinematic Universe would form as a result. It sets the stage for future films all while introducing characters old and new for a modern age. Four years later, WB and Tell Tale Games would take the MCU and bring it to a completely different world… Legos. The result is LEGO Marvel’s Avengers. But you probably wish to ask yourself? Does it deliver? The answer is yes. It does in so many ways that it’s worth the price.

Like many LEGO games before, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers takes us through several films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with The Avengers and the sequel, Age of Ultron along with both Captain America films, Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World. It’s a pretty good selection and it lets fans relive some of the films’ many moments and in true LEGO fashion, they provide some very funny bits when it comes to the characters. I had a few moments where I laughed because the humor is very spot-on. It fit the LEGO environment and I liked it. It was great. The voice acting is ripped straight from the many Marvel films. I feel personally that’s one of the game’s faults. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not bad because some parts of the game with the voices actually make it feel like you’re watching the movie. But I wish that many of the people behind the films could maybe re-record their lines so that way it can feel alive. But they did include new lines into this game and I say personally that’s a good thing. In fact, it’s very good, in my humble opinion. I hope that in future LEGO games, they bring in the actors behind the films to provide voice work. It can help provide a better experience.

We move on to the gameplay and like many of the LEGO games, it’s roughly unchanged. That is a good thing because you know the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Warner Bros. and Tell Tale Games did a superb job doing so keeping the gameplay simple yet fun. All you do is collect studs all while beating up bad guys, solving puzzles with the characters you play with and trying to find any secrets that you’ll encounter such as Mini-Kits, Red Bricks and rescuing Stan Lee. Yes, everyone. Stan Lee is in the game and you’ll be encountering him a lot. Heck he even provides his voice to the game and that’s awesome. I love it. The game spans across 15 levels with the story mode spanning 12. Three of the levels can be accessed within the Space area that serves as a level select. Hub areas can also be chosen and in them, you have the opportunity to explore, complete missions to unlock characters, take part in races, find secrets, etc. There are a lot you can do in the Hub worlds that it can take you hours. Speaking of which, the story mode will take you roughly 7-8 hours with the free play taking a couple more if you want to find all the secrets in each level. Coupled with the hub worlds and their many secrets and you have a game that will take you hours, if not days. LEGO games really want you to put the effort needed and like many of them, they reward you for it. LEGO Marvel’s Avengers also has co-op so you and a friend can team up, take down bad guys and destroy everything around them. It’s a good alternative since if you are playing solo the AI can sometimes be unreliable. But I could be wrong since in some instances, they do provide a good distraction towards your enemies so you can complete objectives. There is also additional content courtesy of the season pass and at $10, it’s very acceptable since they add more characters and missions adding more to the game. I feel that it’s DLC done properly. Kudos to them.

Regardless of this and many other issues, the game is fun. If you enjoyed the previous LEGO games, then you’ll have no problem jumping into this one. It feels familiar but with the addition of an open world sandbox for you to explore makes this game a satisfying experience. I promise you that you will not be disappointed. That is a fact.

I rate this game an 8.5 out of 10. It is a great game that is enjoyable, easy to get into with hours of replayability and a challenge that feels right. Add in an open world sandbox and you have a game that delivers. I recommend this game to anyone that wants to experience the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the eyes of LEGOs.

Final Rating: 8.5