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Yakuza Kiwami Review

Yakuza Kiwami Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the purpose of reviewing this game.

Back in 2005-2006, SEGA released a game called Yakuza or Ryu Ga Gotoku (Like a Dragon) to the world. It would go on to be a big success for SEGA and would spawn a franchise. Many sequels and spin-offs would soon follow from its success. A decade later, the franchise would celebrate its 10th anniversary by releasing two games in the Yakuza series. One was a prequel called Yakuza 0 and the other would be a remake of the original. The remake, Yakuza Kiwami is a retelling of the original Yakuza. Does this remake do the original and the series justice?

Being that it’s a remake of a PS2 game, its story is largely unchanged. The plot centers on Kazuma Kiryu, a Yakuza lieutenant who takes the fall for a crime his friend Akira Nishikiyama committed in 1995. Ten years later, he is free on parole to find that his home of Kamurocho has changed. 10 billion yen ($90 million USD) has gone missing from the Tojo Clan, causing an all-out war between various factions and the only one that has any answers is a young girl named Haruka. Kiryu now makes it his goal to not only find his childhood friend Yumi, the missing 10 billion yen but also to protect Haruka from anyone and everyone that’s after her, including his old friend Nishiki who has become his sworn enemy.

The story is great. Everything about it is just well done but at the same time, you can’t help but wonder what happens next for all the characters involved. It has enough twists and turns that make your head spin. Being that it’s a remake, SEGA has taken the opportunity to add more to the game. An additional 25 minutes of cutscenes were added focusing on Nishiki and how what happened in the beginning shaped him to be what would end up at the end. It’s well done and you can’t help but feel bad for him. It adds more to his character than just having him be like a traditional bad guy in the original. It was what the original lacked.

As for gameplay, Yakuza Kiwami is an action-adventure game with elements of the open world, RPG and a bit of beat-em-up on the side. The game follows a chapter format where within each chapter of the game, you can do many things. Doing the story is one option but there’s a plethora of activities and mini-games for players to do. Kamurocho is a town that offers various doings such as bowling, pool, darts, karaoke, mahjong and so forth. Players can go to Hostess Clubs and woo beautiful women that work there. If they’re lucky and do well, they can take them out to dates. It’s as if SEGA took a piece of Japan’s heart and soul and integrates it into the game.

Not only that but players will encounter trouble in the form of punks. Things shift into a beat-em-up. Kiryu has access to three different fighting styles: Brawler, Rush, and Beast. Brawler is balanced, Rush specializes on speed and quick punches and Beast is all about brute force. You use these three styles to take down anyone that gets in your way. Taking down foes give you experience and you use the experience to unlock new moves and techniques for your three styles. There is an additional fourth style: Dragon and that is unlocked with a new feature that’s exclusive to Yakuza Kiwami: Majima Everywhere.

Majima Everywhere is pretty much a mini-game where you must encounter and battle Majima in order to fully max out the Dragon style. It can range from a variety of activities but they all have one simple goal: building up the fourth style. Being that it is an open-world game, players will have to prepare themselves for survival. The city offers plenty of places to stock up on supplies for the trials ahead. The yen is the game’s currency and you get it by completing sub-stories and selling stuff. Not only that but the game also has various sub-stories that detail life within Kamurocho and it’s people. Completing them offers plenty of rewards like goods and experience. But overall the game really gives you a lot to do.

All of this is enough to drive players to spend hours on completing the game. If you focus on story alone, the game will take about 20-30 hours but to 100% the game, it extends to the hundreds. Beating the game also adds more replay value with the Premium Adventure and Legend difficulty. As far as presentation goes, the game is a step up from both the PS2 and PS3 versions. It’s seamless and fluid with no load times to get in the way. The game also is amazing at 1080p running at 60fps. The character models are good and show a variety of expressions to boot. As for the voice acting, SEGA decided to give it an overhaul dropping the English dub in favor of a Japanese one. It’s very good. Fortunately, there are English subtitles but for those that would want to see the 2005 dub come to this game, expect to be disappointed. The music has some remixed tunes that were in the original but it’s a bit mixed. Some are really good while others are a bit of a miss. It shouldn’t stop players from enjoying the game.

Though there is a lot of good with Yakuza Kiwami, the game has some faults. The combat can get hectic at times when there are a lot of enemies. Fortunately, the game fixes some of the issues and lets you automatically attack the nearest enemy. It still doesn’t excuse the fact that at times, enemies can pack heavy artillery and you’d be really screwed. Also, the Majima Everywhere can be a repetitive grind, all for the sake of maxing out the fourth style, Dragon.

Yakuza Kiwami is a Yakuza game redone for the modern generation of gaming. With a stepped-up presentation, solid gameplay and plenty of content, what more needs to be said? Plus it has a story that gets you invested in the characters. SEGA put a lot of love towards the franchise and it shows with Kiwami. With SEGA announcing remasters of the other Yakuza games, now is a good time to get into the series. Want a starting point, go with either 0 or Kiwami but Kiwami is a good choice to see where the series began.

I give Yakuza Kiwami a 9 out of 10. It is a must buy game and earns my personal seal of approval.

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Gravity Rush 2 Review

Gravity Rush 2 Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the sake of this review.

In 2016, Sony announced that Gravity Rush would be given a remastered on the PlayStation 4. It was a huge hit with fans finally getting the opportunity to experience a game that was once one of the Vita’s best titles. In addition, they announced that a sequel would come to the PlayStation 4. That would be known as Gravity Rush 2. Released one year after the remastered Gravity Rush, does the sequel deliver the same amazing experience as the original?

Gravity Rush 2 takes place sometime after the events of the original game. Kat along with Syd end up in an impoverished Banga Village. They end up meeting a girl named Cecie and work to mine Gravity Ore from various Rift Planes. Things then pick up in the floating city of Jirga Para Lhao where Kat must find a way to bring order back to the people while contending with a dark force. All of this and many others culminate in a showdown to save the world and a revelation involving Kat and her origins.

Whereas the first game delved on Kat and her journey to save Heskeville from the Nevi and D’nelica, the second decides to go deeper, taking Kat and Syd to a new location and with it, a new situation. Sure players do return to Heskeville at a certain point but the main focus is all about Kat who not only must save the world but also discover her true memories. This game had a prequel anime called Gravity Rush: The Animation ~ Overture ~ that served as a set up to the second game. All of this makes it feel like a three-act play with this game serving as the conclusion to the tale of Gravity Rush.

Gravity Rush 2 plays just like the first one and it feels great. Kat still has all of her gravity-based abilities but they are now expanded on. One of the most unique things about this sequel is the use of Gravity Styles. She starts off with her default style but as you progress further, she will gain access to two additional styles: Lunar and Jupiter. Lunar lets her be as light as a feather and gives her an increase in speed and jumping height. Jupiter, on the other hand, is the opposite, making her heavy as a brick and giving her attacks a lot more power and strength. The good news is that you can change styles by using the touchpad. It’s seamless and quick, making things like battling and exploring easier. You will be controlling Kat for most of if not, all of the entire game but in some instances, you will play as Raven, another Gravity Shifter who plays similar to Kat but has her own style to set her apart.

This game has a lot for players to do and explore. Story missions help progress the game along while Side Missions give Kat various quests for her to do and rewards to obtain. Some rewards range from Gravity Ore aka the game’s currency to medallions that offer advantages for Kat. There are also challenges where players complete objectives in a set time limit to get rewards. Those times can be shared on leaderboards online. The game also has a treasure hunt like mode that lets players post treasure on certain locations requiring other players to look for treasure to get rewards. It’s an okay mode for players that want to put the time on it. Like in the previous game, Kat uses gravity ore to level up her abilities and for anyone that wants to completely max her out, expect to put a lot of time towards the Rift Planes. Rift Planes are a place where Kat can go to get more ore while contending with Nevi.

Gravity Rush 2 is much longer than the original and will take players 25-30 hours to complete. It’s split into four chapters with a total of 26 episodes. Not only that but the game also has DLC. Raven’s Tale is a 6-hour side story that centers on Raven and her origins. Originally being paid DLC, the developers decided to make it free for players to make up for the game’s delay. A good decision! There’s also free DLC in the form of costumes for Kat to wear. It’s fashionable and good to see Kat dress up and to those who have a save file from the original Gravity Rush Remastered can get access to the maid, black Kat, and special forces costumes at no cost.

Being that it’s a sequel, the game’s presentation is a big improvement. The game also runs at 1080p at 60 frames per second, giving it a flawless consistent feel. Not only that but the controls are easy to get into. It isn’t as complicated as other games but at least once players get the hang of it, it’s second nature. There isn’t any voice acting though there is some in a kind of jumbled foreign language. It’s nothing to complain about though. The music is magnificent and at times addicting. There are many memorable tracks and even music from the previous games has been given an improvement to reflect the change. Truly something.

As far as negatives are concerned, there is only one and the fact that in order to max out Kat, players will have to put a lot of time towards grinding for ore. It can get boring pretty quickly. Sure you can go back to playing previous chapters but unless there’s a way to get more ore faster, it can be a slog.

Despite the negative, Gravity Rush 2 is a big step up from the original. It offers a lot more to explore, new Gravity Styles, challenges, and even free DLC make the game feel complete. If you never had a chance to play Gravity Rush, you should start with the first. But for anyone that’s in need of a satisfying single-player adventure, this is it. This is Kat’s swan song and it’s one that delivers on all accounts.

I give Gravity Rush 2 a 9 out of 10. Better than the original and worth your time and money.

Ratchet and Clank PS4 Review

Ratchet & Clank (PS4) – A Review by Jose Vega

Product provided by Insomniac Games for the sake of this review.

Ratchet & Clank… one of Sony’s many franchises that have had success on PlayStation consoles for almost a decade. Insomniac had plans to bring the franchise to Sony’s next console, the PlayStation 4. How do they do it? They did it by bringing Ratchet & Clank to the big screen as an animated movie. It garnered a mixed reception but Insomniac also brought the movie in the form of Ratchet & Clank for the PS4. A game based on the movie based on the game… does this duo deliver on Sony’s newest console?

The story serves as a reimagining of the original Ratchet & Clank but with some differences. It still centers on the team of Ratchet, a lombax and Clank, a small robot. Together the two head on a journey to save the galaxy from the likes of Chairman Alonzo Drek and Dr. Nefarious.

Ratchet & Clank’s story is enjoyable for what it is. It isn’t the best but it does give us a tale of good and evil in its own way. Not only that but they took liberties in changing things up by bringing villains such as Dr. Nefarious, reimagining many characters that appeared before and in some instances, replacing familiar characters with others not making appearances. Not that all of this is a bad thing. The story is still enjoyable and good.

If you’ve played any game in this franchise, you will feel right at home with this one. The game is a 3rd-person action adventure where you control Ratchet and use him to explore various areas while dealing with anything that’s in his way. Controls play just like any R&C game but Insomniac decides to take it one step further. The controls are overhauled while giving Ratchet access to many new and familiar weapons and gadgets from the series. Health can be upgraded via nanotech while weapons can be leveled up the more they are used. Once they reach V5, it evolves into a stronger weapon. Clank also gets upgrades that improve Ratchet. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it but in a case like this, they simply made it feel familiar and better.

As for travel, Ratchet & Clank travel via space cruiser moving from one planet to the next. The main exploration occurs in the planets they travel in where you go in, defeat enemies, solve puzzles, help people and collect rewards that can be helpful on the journey. Most of the game you will get to play as Ratchet but some parts will have you playing as Clank. Here the Clank sections focus on puzzle solving in order to progress further. They can be head scratching but they aren’t anything too difficult. Some planets have mini games you can do to earn more Bolts and sometimes items. Bolts are the game’s currency and they’re needed to buy new weapons to use or in some cases gadgets. Raritanium also make a return and they’re used to add modifications to weapons. The game has a lot to do and a lot to conquer.

All of this is going to have players be spending quite a while to complete the game. Clocking it at around 8-10 hours if you just simply want to beat it but for completionists, it’s extended by about 2-3 hours. The game also has a Challenge Mode that is unlocked after completing the game. It’s pretty much Hard Mode but with a few advantages such as bolt multiplier and more powerful weapons, extending it’s length even further. Boss fights are there but they can be easy to deal with if you know what your doing. Regardless, you get a lot for your money’s worth and for a single-player game it nails it.

The game excels in its presentation and comparing it from the older games back on PS2 and 3, it’s a huge step up. It is amazing to look at. Each planet offers something different, providing a pleasant experience. The music has this orchestrated feel that does well on all fronts. Voice acting is still just as enjoyable, although some changes were made since not all the voice actors could reprise their roles from the game. But for what they have, it’s still good with many delivering great performances like James Arnold Taylor.

But as much as this game has a lot of positives, there are only two drawbacks. In previous Ratchet & Clank games, players are allowed to go back to previous worlds to grind for bolts and experience. In this instance, it doesn’t happen. When a player returns to a world they explored previously, they can find nothing. Just empty areas. A bit disappointing for those that wishes to take the time to make them stronger. The other negative is that the game has a pre-order bonus, a weapon called the Bouncer. That weapon is impossible to obtain unless you have an unused preorder code. Why Insomniac decided to do that, I’ll never know. But I feel that Insomniac should consider having this weapon as free DLC for those that couldn’t get it when it came out. It would be a good compromise.

In conclusion, Ratchet & Clank on the PlayStation 4 is a game that pays tribute to the franchise while offering a pleasant experience. Despite it’s negatives, the game is fun. It looks great, it plays great and it feels like you are experiencing the film in game form. Personally the game is the better choice because you won’t feel disappointed in the end. You will feel satisfied that you get to experience the series on the PlayStation 4. Let’s hope that Insomniac Games can give us a sequel to follow things up. It did do well sales-wise so why not.

I give Ratchet & Clank for the PlayStation 4 a solid 9 out of 10. It is worth your money.

Dragon Ball FighterZ Review

Dragonball FighterZ Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the sake of the review.

What do you get when you take a popular franchise such as the Dragon Ball series and involve one of the greatest fighting game developers in the business? You get Dragon Ball FighterZ! Namco Bandai announced last year that a new fighting game involving the Dragon Ball franchise was coming out. To make it better, the game would be developed by Arc System Works, the company responsible for Blazblue and Guilty Gear. It was a match made in heaven. Fans were excited and even well known fighting game enthusiasts such as Maximilian took interest. Now that the game is finally out to the public, does it live up to all the hype that had built up?

Many fighting games are filled to the brim with content and this game is no exception. Players can be able to go in right away and choose from many different modes such as Arcade, Story, Online, Training and so on. Yes it does have an arcade mode with four different courses for you to compete and get the highest score. Speaking of which, this game offers a very good tutorial that teaches new players how the game works with its fighting system. It’s a 4-button fighter similar to Marvel vs. Capcom 2 & 3 with three attacks and a special button for energy blasts. The rest of the buttons specialize in use for super moves and calling out allies for either switching or assisting players. Also it offers several ways of dealing with opponents such as deflecting, rush attacks and the vanish move where you can teleport behind the opponent to deliver a savage hit. The game does borrow some elements of Capcom’s Vs. series having 3-on-3 battles and it makes sense. Since it’s a Dragon Ball fighting game, it makes battles fast-paced and exciting. Comparing to other fighters, this one is more accessible, providing everything needed for both casual and serious players. It’s something that some fighters lack nowadays.

The game has a roster of 24 different characters, representing much of the franchise from the original to the most recent iteration, Dragon Ball Super. Each character plays different from one another and the need to find the right team is vital to ensure victory. On top of that, the many stages that players can duke it out on pay nods to the franchise in many ways. Plus they are destructible so when character unleashes powerful supers, it can go from calm to outright intense in an instant. Destructive and Dramatic Finishes help liven up battles and in some cases, the characters can re-enact scenes from the anime such as Goku destroying Frieza on Namek or the epic beam face-off between Cell and a Teen Gohan. It’s amazing. Even the Dragon Balls have a role to play when you battle and collecting all of them and summoning Shenron can give you an opportunity to make a comeback.

As far as the different modes, they offer a lot for players. For starters, there’s the Story Mode. Its story is split between three different Arcs where you take control of various characters as you go from one chapter to the next to reach its conclusion. Along the way, you get into the game’s plot. The plot in the story mode involves the DBZ crew having to deal with a new threat and in some cases, heroes and villains must put their differences aside to take on a greater evil. It also has a bit of RPG elements put in. When you battle and win, you’ll gain experience to level up your Link Level. The higher the level, the stronger your character will be. In some cases, it can be an opportunity to level up characters you like. You can go back and play previous chapters should you choose to. It isn’t long, taking you about 8-10 hours with a few more hours added in with Hard Mode. A lot I know but for anyone that wishes to achieve 100%, there you go.

The online for the game is great. You have your usual ranked and casual matches, lobbies can be set up where up to 8 players can join in and battle other players. It even has team battle where 3 players can each choose a character and team up against other teams. It’s incredible. The game also has a lot of customization for your profile along with various unlockables. Thankfully you don’t have to spend any money. Dragon Ball FighterZ has its own currency system that you earn by playing the game. You use the currency, Zenny to buy capsules that let you unlock various things such as titles, profile cards and alternate colors. Any duplicates are converted to Hercule Coins and they’re used to get rare unlockables. I’m happy that Namco Bandai has chosen not to follow the same route as other developers have done. It’s a step in the right direction. There’s also DLC in the form of 8 upcoming characters and they can be eventually obtained via FighterZ pass.

Dragon Ball FighterZ delivers in a lot of ways, especially in its presentation. Arc System Works did a fantastic job taking the anime and bringing it into the game. The characters are very faithful in terms of looks and movement. Everything feels familiar and right at home. The voice acting takes props as well and the good news is that the game includes both English and Japanese voice acting. Many of us who watch the anime will enjoy it a lot. If I were to list any negatives about this, it’s the following. First there is no option to turn off the auto-combo since it’s integrated into the game as a means of attracting new players. Also you can’t change the voices for each character individually. These are minor nitpicks and it shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying an awesome game like this.

In conclusion, Dragon Ball FighterZ is pretty much Marvel vs. Capcom but with Dragon Ball characters and that’s a good thing. The game itself is awesome from both a presentation and gameplay standpoint. It offers a lot of content, fast-paced gameplay and a story mode that is quite fun. What else can I say about this? Namco Bandai and Arc System Works delivered a game that is awesome on all fronts. If a game like Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite made you disappointed, Dragon Ball FighterZ will leave you satisfied and wanting for more. I guarantee it.

I give Dragon Ball FighterZ a solid 9 out of 10. It is worth the full price and earns my personal seal of approval.

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the sake of this review.

Crash, Crash, Crash… for over 20 years, this Bandicoot has been in our hearts with games that offer a challenge while providing satisfying experiences. But after 2010 with Mind Over Mutant, no one ever thought that another Crash game would be possible. That changed. Last year, Activision announced that Crash would be playable in Skylanders: Imaginators but in addition, Vicarious Visions would be working on a remastered port of the original three Crash Bandicoot games, in the form of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. Did Vicarious Visions do justice that Naughty Dog has done all those years ago?

For a remastered trilogy, the presentation is a huge step-up compared to the originals. It’s marvelous. I’ll be fair. The original three still hold a lot of memories to players but you can’t deny how this port did them justice. All the characters look amazing. The locations look vibrant. Even the voice acting is a step up from the originals. It’s a delight seeing many scenes, especially the openings of each game to find that they are just as good, if not better and I like it. I like it greatly. The music is simply amazing to listen to. Every single song from all three games has been given a facelift. Honestly what more can I say? I’ll be honest. I was blown away when I first heard it. It’s a delight. They are all very addicting to listen to, especially for the bosses.

Now for the gameplay, and if you played the originals back on the PS1, you will feel right at home here. Unlike the originals, there are some features the remastered trilogy has that set it apart. For example, Coco is a playable character in all 3 games. With Crash 1 and 2, you need to defeat the first boss to unlock her whereas, in Crash 3, she’s unlocked from the start. She’s similar to Crash if nothing else but it’s nice that his sister is playable in not one but all three games. I commend Vicarious Visions for improving on Coco’s design and like Crash, she is also expressive especially in her death animations. The games are similar to the originals, minus a few changes they made to make the game feel accessible.

The controls are similar to the originals so if you played the game before, you’ll manage. There are some things that make this feel different from the originals. One example is the jumping. The jumping feels heavier. It can have its issues especially on levels where platforming is key. Not only that but I feel in sections like Crash 3’s jetski, the controls for the ski feel a bit rough. I believe that Vicarious wished to add realism to how you actually ride a jetski. Personally, I prefer the original in terms of controls since the physics feel close to perfect. Guess some sacrifices have to be made huh?

Speaking of accessibility, the N. Sane Trilogy has some tweaks to make the game less of a pain, especially in the first game. Originally if you die on a level, you have to restart it in order to get the gem. Here, unless it’s a colored gem, all you need to do is break all the boxes. This is a much-needed change for people that just want to play and complete everything. With Crash 2, they made changes to the hub area by having the boss room included and the option for you to access the hidden area where the secret levels are. It’s pretty nifty. As for Crash 3, there are no added changes. The game also includes time trials for Crash 1 and 2 so you can now try to get the fastest time and collect relics. Leaderboards are also included so you can compare times with other players, as well as the requirements to get a specific relic. Saving the game is easier as you can pretty much save on the overworld or level hub. It’s another welcome feature.

It will not make a difference since each Crash game will take quite a while. Depending on what game you play, the length can take around 6-8 hours each, longer if you want to complete everything. With all of this, your skills as a player will be tested especially for new players that have never played a Crash game. Expect some trial and error if you wish to complete each game and get 100%. There is trophy support for all 3 games as well so that adds length to a complete package.

But if I were to have any nitpicks, it’d be this. Since this is pretty much an updated compilation of three classic games, the difficulty is one thing I find to be the most problematic, especially in Crash 1. Some levels like Road to Nowhere & The High Road can drive any player into madness. At least the sequels alleviate the difficulty by toning it down and making them less stressful. It still doesn’t excuse the fact that some levels will have you throwing the controller in a state of rage. My advice for players is to take it nice and easy. At least the game will not punish you if you lose lives or anything. The boss battles are still easy if you figure out their patterns. Some can be tougher than others. There is paid DLC in the form of a level that was never completed called Stormy Ascent. Stormy Ascent was a level that never got into the final game due to its intense difficulty. If you plan to tackle the level, be warned. It will show no mercy.

The N. Sane Trilogy does the original trilogy justice in so many ways while adding and refining them to make the games better. The presentation is amazing in all categories, the game feels familiar while challenging and it overall feels like a big improvement to a series that is considered classic. Though there are some issues, it shouldn’t stop anyone from picking it up and playing it. Whether you are a new player that wants to experience it for the first time or someone who wants to relive memories, the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a package I feel that’s worth the purchase price. The best part is that this is $40. You get 3 remastered games that have been given a lot of love and respect at an affordable price. How can you say no to that? You can’t! Get this game now! Show Activision that we need more games like this and maybe we may get a remastered Spyro trilogy! Get this game now! It’s worth the full price.

I give the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy an 8.5 out of 10. If you haven’t gotten this game, you should. Do it. Now!

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite Review

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the sake of review.

Marvel & Capcom… they are two different companies that have one thing in common: a franchise where many of their franchise’s best duke it out against each other. In 2011, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was released. Though it had a pretty positive reception, it wasn’t enough and the series would enter hibernation. Marvel was under the grip of Disney and before long, Disney would get involved making games of their own, only to call it quits after Disney Infinity bit the dust. Five years later, it was announced that Marvel and Capcom would be back at it again with a new entry into the Versus series. The game in question was Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite. Now that it has been released, does this game hold up to the hype?

The plot for Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite involves Ultron Sigma using the Reality and Space Stones to merge the worlds of Marvel and Capcom together. This creates a world where he is ruler but a legion of heroes from both Marvel and Capcom worlds unite to not only defeat Ultron Sigma but also find a way to undo and restore their respective worlds.

Many previous entries didn’t have much of a plot but this is the first time in the series where the plot takes precedence. Sadly I feel that it isn’t as interesting. Capcom had hyped the game’s story as being the main focal point. All it did sadly was only damage the overall presentation, especially when the demo was released a few months back. Compared to the final version it isn’t as much helpful and though it did improve when it came to the character models, having something that wasn’t as good in the beginning only serves to hurt the game, not help it. If anyone likes the story, more power to them. However I believe that a story had to be made in response to Netherealm’s games like Mortal Kombat and Injustice having story modes that provide a lot.

Gameplay has always been the Versus series’ strong point and this is no exception. Going back to basics, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite is a 2-on-2 fighting game where you choose two characters and then duke it out either with the computer or online against other players. It also is a 4-button fighter with 2 punches & 2 kicks respectively, similar to Marvel vs. Capcom 2. One noticeable feature is the Infinity Stones, brought back from Marvel Super Heroes. They provide a nifty addition by adding an advantage that can change how your team handles the battlefield. By pressing either the left or both shoulder buttons, you can activate an Infinity Surge for a quick effect or go full throttle with an Infinity Storm after filling up your Infinite meter. This adds a lot of variety to the game, as each of the six Infinity Stones offers different effects. You have a choice of up to 30 different characters to choose from. More than half of the cast is from the previous game and unfortunately it hurts the overall game. You have new characters such as Mega Man X, Jedah, Gamora, Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) and some that are coming down the line as DLC but I feel pretty disappointed that the roster is lackluster. Simply lackluster.

The game does offer a lot and compared to Street Fighter V, at least that’s better than having a barebones product. You have your traditional arcade and versus modes but there’s also Story. Story Mode will take you probably 2-3 hours to complete, more if players plan to do it in a higher difficulty. Mission Mode is back from Marvel 3 and it offers players a set of challenges they need to complete with each character. Online mode is also included with ranked and player matches. Players can also set up lobbied where up to eight players can play against each other. Interestingly, up to four games can happen in a lobby at once. It’s pretty cool. Compared to SFV, this game really offers a lot for your money’s worth and if you have friends then you’ll have a fun time. Also the game has an Easy Combo System that you can thankfully turn off in the options menu. It’s a neat addition for newcomers to get into the game without having to worry about anything complex. It also applies for Easy Hyper Combos as well, which like I mentioned can be turned off.

Though it has many positives, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite has many things that hurt the game. The presentation isn’t that great. Character models may look good but most of the time, they feel off. Compared to the demo where they looked real hideous in some cases, I am happy that Capcom took the liberty to improve on the models after much feedback. The story isn’t as great and can sometimes be real jarring. Since story had been focused on a lot, it also means there are no arcade endings. A bummer. Music is also a bit forgetful. Many of the tracks don’t seem to hook you compared to previous titles and though the game uses techno, it doesn’t click. I mentioned that the roster was lackluster. Several well-known characters such as Wolverine, Magneto and others aren’t in the game. This is mostly due to legal stuff behind the scenes between Marvel/Disney and Fox over the film rights. It’s upsetting that they aren’t in and I can understand why but on the other hand, all of this is just one big advertisement for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Another big nitpick is DLC and it seems Capcom hasn’t learned their lesson from Street Fighter V. Unlike SFV, this issue is minor at best. There is DLC in the game and it comprises of six new characters as well as some alternate costumes. A season pass for this can be purchased but I feel that their business model will only do more harm than good for the overall game. Made no better that the game has a $90 deluxe edition and a $200 collector’s edition that is outright poor. It didn’t help that the game had pretty poor PR especially with Peter “Combofiend” Ross as well as Pete Rosas and Michael Evans saying stuff like characters are functions or saying that there’s no X-Men because fans don’t remember them. It’s poor PR on not just Capcom’s part but also Marvel and Disney. No wonder the game had controversy from the get-go.

Overall, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite isn’t a bad game. It truthfully isn’t. The game has really good gameplay, addicting if you put the time and effort into it. However great gameplay doesn’t equal a great game if the overall presentation is lackluster. A poor roster of familiar faces with little new appearances, a story that doesn’t seem to grip you in, questionable choices behind the scenes and you get a recipe for disaster. Should you buy this game at full price? Absolutely not. Wait for a price drop or better yet, wait till Capcom releases a complete edition for this. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite may be a game that would get the series out of hibernation but it’s not the game we’re looking for.

I give Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite a 5 out of 10. You want a fighting game that feels like Marvel vs. Capcom but plays well? Wait for Dragon Ball Fighter Z.

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.