Team Sonic Racing Review – Written by Jose R. Vega
Product provided by SEGA.
It had been seven years since Sonic got the chance to go kart racing with Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed. Since then, things have been dormant with SEGA putting their focus on other games. Last year, SEGA announced that Sonic would return for another round of racing. It would be known as Team Sonic Racing. Instead of Sonic racing alongside characters from other SEGA franchises, it’s between Sonic characters. Playing it safe but does this change translate to a good racing game?
Sonic Team Racing’s story goes like this. Sonic and his friends get an invitation to take part in the Ultimate Test of Racing Skill. It gets Sonic curious and before long, they meet a strange Tanuki named Dodonpa. Noticing his similarities to Eggman, they are cautious. Despite this, they take part where teamwork is the key to winning races. All the while, Eggman along with his team have plans of their own. He seeks to use Dodon Pa so he can obtain the Ultimate Energy Engine and use it to become an unstoppable force.
It’s interesting that this game actually has a story but what I also like is that this one puts more focus on the Sonic characters and their world. It’s pretty good. Sumo Digital gets props and it shows. Although I wish we had gotten much of the story in the form of animated cutscenes rather than what with we have here.
But if you wonder how the game plays, don’t worry. If you have played either Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing or the sequel, you will feel right at home with this one. The game plays very similar but with a few differences. Team Sonic Racing emphasizes on teamwork, similar to that of Sonic Heroes. You have a choice of 15 racers that follow in one of three classes: Speed, Technique and Power. Speed characters are well balanced and fast, they have a Radial Burst that protects them from projectiles. However they have poor defense & acceleration. Technique falls in the middle with good handling and acceleration. They also can attract rings while tackling rough terrain with no slowdown. Power is all about strength with strong boost and defense. They can also smash into obstacles or other racers. The only drawback is that their top speed and handling is subpar. Choosing the best racer in a team & working together is optimal for success.
Races have teams of 3 working together to win while contending against rival racers. The use of the slipstream allows teammates who are falling behind to catch up all while getting a big burst of speed. A useful feature. Items come in the form of Wisps and they provide racers many options. Some wisps though are exclusive to a specific character class but they can be used by any racer if it is acquired via Item Exchange. Item Exchange is another feature added to the game. It isn’t just limited to you. Even your teammates want to send items and accepting them can help turn the tide of a struggling race to your favor. Teams also have a Team Ultimate and depending on the character using it have their own individual theme. It’s pretty clever too. In terms of customization, there’s plenty with the various car parts you will acquire. You get them by spending coins in a slot-machine that will net you a different part. In some cases you’ll get a Legendary version that gives your ride a gold sheen. With 15 different characters, expect to spend a lot to get all the parts along with various items and decal to make them look to your liking.
The game has both single and multi-player. Single player comes in the form of the Team Adventure mode. You take part in various challenges such as single races, grand prix (a collection of 4 races) and there are also mini-games that require high scores to get the highest rank. Each challenge also comes with multiple objectives to complete. Some are simple like winning 1st place while others are a bit complex. Not only that but acquiring keys can help unlock more challenges. If players simply want to beat the game, it is not long. At Normal difficulty, it’ll take you roughly 7-8 hours to complete but for completionists, it’s twice as long. Replay value is plentiful with multiple difficulties, cranking the length up further. Winning races will net you coins that you can use on the slot machine to unlock parts. Online play is available where up to 12 players can race each other. Time trials are also available where racers can post their best times while trying to prove your skill to the rest. There’s much to do whether online or off.
With it’s presentation the game looks great. At 1080p it’s intense and colorful but depending on the console, it can run either 60fps or 30fps. For PS4, especially at Pro, it runs at a solid 60fps and it’s great. It’s amazing though on other consoles, especially at Nintendo Switch it runs at 30 fps. It could be due to limitations but you get what you got. Music is awesome with composers such as Jun Senoue returning to do the soundtrack and others such as Tee Lopes ready to make their mark in their own way. Voice acting is good too. No complaints there though Silver’s voice will take a while to adjust.
Although I do praise the game for its many positives, there are some issues. Some of the challenges in Team Adventure Mode can get repetitive. In a few instances, you race in mirror tracks and it’s probably to make up for the limited number of tracks there are. At higher difficulties, the game is brutal mostly since the AI doesn’t play around. It plays for keeps. At least the game is NOT a full price $60 game. At $30 now, it does give you plenty for your money’s worth though if it were full price and it offered so little that would be a different story altogether. I commend SEGA for not having it at that high a price. However if you are playing this on the Nintendo Switch, the opening movie is removed. Why they did that? I will never know.
Team Sonic Racing is an overall fun experience that is satisfying, albeit a challenging one. Presentation is pretty solid and the gameplay is really addicting. Not to mention having single and multi-player action is enough to get you hooked for hours. But some of its issues can hinder the game from reaching its full potential. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a pretty awesome and I commend SEGA and Sumo Digital for pulling off a really awesome game. I only hope that they learn from this and that hopefully the next game where Sonic gets to race is even better. Team Sonic Racing is worth your time and money, I guarantee it.
I give Team Sonic Racing an 8 out of 10.
Devil May Cry 5 Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for review.
It has been more than a decade since the last Devil May Cry game was released and the franchise would go dormant since then. Though Ninja Theory would make their take on the series as DmC: Devil May Cry, fans wanted to see what happened to the main Dante. They didn’t need to wait long. Capcom would announce the next chapter of Devil May Cry during E3 2018. A few months later, fans would finally get to experience the next chapter in the form of Devil May Cry 5. After a long wait, is this the game that returns the series to form?
Taking place five years after the events of Devil May Cry 4, Dante along with Nero must deal with a new threat called Urizen. Urizen unleashes a massive demonic tree known as the Qliphoth, bringing forth demons. Together with a mysterious individual called V, the three must trek through a ravaged Redgrave City and into the demonic tree to stop Urizen and destroy the Qliphoth. Many truths would be revealed in this journey and one will realize what’s important and obtain a power far greater.
Its story is well done, putting focus on not only the main characters but also pay tribute to the franchise. Much of the cast gets some screen time with some getting a few appearances here and there. The main characters all get equel time to shine so there’s that. Plus the game is also nice enough to provide a detailed summary of events for the entire series. It’s nice to help get people up to speed with the series so they don’t get lost. It’s pretty good and it’s also at the edge of your seat too with a few twists and turns.
Devil May Cry has always been known for it’s fast hack-and-slash gameplay and this game carries it real well. In this game, you have access to three different characters, each with varying play styles. Dante returns and he’s every bit as he was in Devil May Cry 4, having access to all four of his gameplay styles from the get-go along with his signature weapons Rebellion and Ebony & Ivory. He also has access to new weapons such as the Balrog gauntlets and can acquire new ones to boot. Not only that but he can go Devil Trigger to boost his strength while laying the smack down on enemies. Nero also makes a return, playing similar to how he was in Devil May Cry 4 but with one change: the Devil Breaker. Due to events in this game’s story, Nero no longer has his Devil Bringer arm. Instead he has access to special prosthetic arms that provide him a variety of abilities in battle. They can range from letting out a blast of energy, slowing time in a set area or even powering up the Red Queen. Nero can carry multiple Devil Bringers and can even find some on the field and can detonate them to not only damage enemies but also get Nero out of a sticky situation. Versatility is what Nero is all about,
New to Devil May Cry 5 is V, a mysterious individual who has his own unique style of play. He has access to three animal companions, or famiiars: a raven, a panther and a behemoth demon. They serve as his way of attacking enemies by either long range projectiles or close range strikes. Using the Devil Trigger, he brings out the behemoth demon to dish out major damage. Compared to the raven & panther, the third demon is autonomous and attacks whatever is in the way. But they can’t finish off enemies and that’s where V comes in. V can deliver a strike with his cane to finish them off and if multiple enemies are around, he can do it in rapid succession, building up a high rating. V prefers to keep away from battle yet he isn’t afraid to deliver the blow if needed.
Players will require to use the three characters as they trek through 20 different missions. Many missions let you play as a specific character and some missions allow you to choose who you wish to play as. Thankfully the game offers an equal amount of time for Dante, Nero and V to explore and battle foes. Much of the game is a mix between action and exploration. The action occurs when the player encounter demons that gets in the way while exploration has the player moving while finding secrets such as hidden missions or items. Boss battles are Red orbs are the game’s currency like in previous games and they’re needed to unlock new abilities for Dante, Nero and V. They can also be used to buy items such as health upgrades or Devil Bringers. Its length is as you expect from a Devil May Cry game, taking around 10-12 hours to complete. Replay value is high with multiple difficulties and it increases the length further, especially if players wish to max out the characters, acquire all abilities and obtain all the trophies. The game also rates you for how skilled you are and being at your best nets you the high S rank. It also includes not dying & the game will penalize you should it happen.
As for its presentation, the game looks great. Devil May Cry 5 is awesome to look at. Many of its levels are really detailed and expressive. Plus it rounds at a solid 60 fps to boot. The same can be said for the characters. Voice acting for the game is still top notch with people like Reuben Langdon, Johnny Yong Bosch and others help give life to the characters. The fact that they also do motion capture for them shows their devotion. Music is phenomenal with many tracks having a rock and roll feel. Some tracks have vocals and they are phenomenal to listen to.
But if there are any issues that I have with Devil May Cry 5, it’s that the game can really throw a curveball at times. Don’t get me wrong. Devil May Cry 5 is a fun game but the game can sometimes surprise you. It’s only a minor issue but players who understand the game inside and out will find it a minor inconvenience. Also the game has microtransactions but it’s mostly for those that want to have a head start. Not to mention DLC in the form of additional stuff that improves the experience.
After 13 or so years, Devil May Cry 5 is a return to form for the series. Having three different characters that have different playstyles offer a fresh experience. Not to mention the game looks and plays great. It’s everything fans can ever ask for and more. With additional content like the Bloody Palace out, hopefully Capcom can provide more for fans. Even if the company has no plans, the game is still a complete experience. What more needs to be said? Devil May Cry 5 is stylish and awesome!
I give Devil May Cry a 9 out of 10. The game earns my personal Seal of Approval.
Purchased product for this review.
It’s always never easy to end a story and it’s the same way when it comes to video games. Last year, SEGA celebrated Yakuza’s 10th anniversary with the release of a prequel called Yakuza 0, a remake of the first game as Yakuza Kiwami and the announcement of an all-new Yakuza game. Come 2018 and the new Yakuza game arrives, serving as a final chapter to Kiryu’s story called Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. Its theme is of family and how far one would go for family. Does this game serve as a farewell to a recognizable hero or come down as a fall from grace?
Yakuza, or Ryu Ga Gotoku, has always been known for it’s story, characters and gameplay and this game is no exception. The story takes place 4 years after the events of Yakuza 5. Kiryu returns to Kamurocho after serving time in prison but something seems off. Haruka is nowhere to be found and the only clue that he can find of his whereabouts is a young baby boy named Haruto. If that isn’t enough, Kiryu becomes the target of a rival clan. It’s up to Kiryu to find Haruka, protect the boy Haruto and find out what’s really happening. But what he’ll discover will lead him to a secret that may bring Japan to ruin.
From my own personal experience, the story is great. I was hooked to see how it would play out and how they would handle Kiryu’s final tale. There are some twists and turns that do surprise me at times and the ending is one it’s best you see for yourself. You will be in tears by the time it’s over. I am a bit bummed that some characters aren’t in this game but it’s mostly for the sake of the game’s plot. Not much anyone can do.
If you played any of the games in the Yakuza series, you will feel right at home with this game. Kiryu is the only playable character in this game and don’t worry, he’s just as good as you remember, if not better. Yakuza 6 is an action RPG game where you go through the story, complete side quests and take part in activities that can offer plenty to do. Yes. Yakuza games always deliver in terms of content. As for Kiryu, he kicks butt just as you’d expect and this time he’s packing new tricks up his sleeve. Instead of multiple styles, he has only one style that offers a mix giving him offense and defense. Not only that but he has access to a heat gauge that fills up as you deal damage to enemies. When it’s full, Kiryu can go into a powered-up state called Extreme Heat Mode that gives him access to stronger attacks. The heat gauge can also be used for Kiryu to pull off flashy attacks. It offers him versatility and how it goes depend on the player.
Since it’s an action RPG, players need to level Kiryu up and they do so in a variety of ways. Kiryu can obtain experience points that are split into 5 categories: Strength, Agility, Spirit, Technique and Charm. You get experience by completing various activities whether it is the main story missions, sub missions, eating or even awards. The experience you acquire go towards four categories: Stats, Battle Skils, Heat Actions & Other Skills and depending on the player can have Kiryu be upgraded however they wish. It offers a lot of versatility for players and in some ways, a necessity in order to go through the game itself.
There is a lot to do in Yakuza 6. In addition to the city of Kamurocho, Kiryu also has access to the small town of Onomichi. Each of the areas offers many activities and missions to take part in. Kamurocho has access to places like arcades, hostess clubs, a gym, karaoke, online chat rooms, etc. It has a lot and it shows and Onomichi is no slouch either with its fair share of mini games like spear fishing and baseball. Yakuza 6 also gives us Clan Creator, a tower-defense like mini game that has you using a group of units to take down enemy groups. They are short but is very useful if you want to grind for yen, the game’s currency. There are also sub missions that show the daily life of both areas including some that are familiar but also surprising. One example being a quest where you must unite a bunch of people together to form a baseball team. For length, beating the main story will take you around 15-20 hours to complete, as it’s 12 chapters long but the side content extends the length to a lot more. Premium Adventure returns, letting players complete anything they missed out on and New Game+ with its Very Hard difficulty extends it further while testing players. You are getting a lot for your money’s worth and it shows.
The game plays great and it also looks great too. SEGA decided to incorporate a new engine for the game, the Dragon Engine. This allows Yakuza 6 to run seamlessly at 1080p with a stunning 60 fps. Not only that but battles also is seamless too. Compared to games like Yakuza 0 and Kiwami where battles start as enemies meet you, here once enemies spot you and race to you, it happens immediately and they end the same way as well. It’s well done. Voice acting is what you come to expect for a Yakuza game and it’s great. There is no English dub sadly but it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the game. Music is awesome too with many great tracks, especially some that contend with boss battles. There are bosses in the game and they are without a doubt challenging. Plus it makes it all the more satisfying when you beat them too.
If I had any nitpicks, it’s that the game really does emphasize grinding. If you plan to max out Kiryu, it’s essential and thankfully there are plenty of opportunities to do so but players won’t be able to max out Kiryu completely unless they spend a lot of time on the game. Also Kiryu is the only playable character and it’s sad that we don’t get to play with anyone else. Characters like Shun Akiyama and Goro Majima are mostly relegated for the sake of the plot. But it’s Kiryu’s last tale so basically all the focus is on him and him alone.
Yakuza 6 serves as the final tale for Kazuma Kiryu and it holds up really well. The game not only looks amazing but plays amazing too, offering something new while feeling familiar. It’ll challenge you don’t get me wrong but by the time you are finished, you can’t help but feel good and wanting more. With SEGA announcing a spin-off entitled Judgment, it will not be the end of the Yakuza series. Far from it, to be honest. This is Kiryu’s last tale and it’s one you do not want to miss out on.
I give Yakuza 6 a solid 9 out of 10. It earns my personal seal of approval. A must-buy.
Marvel’s Spider-Man Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased game for the review.
Spider-Man has had his fair share of video games over the years. Some were good, others not so much. After the disappointment of Amazing Spider-Man 2, Activision decided to call it quits leaving Marvel to find a company who could give the webhead justice. E3 2016 revealed a new Spider-Man game but it wouldn’t be under Activision’s helm. It would be Insomniac, a company responsible for the Ratchet & Clank series. After 2 years and a lot of waiting and anticipation, Insomniac’s Spider-Man arrives as a PS4 console exclusive. Did Insomniac do him justice where Activision could not?
Let’s start with the gameplay. Why gameplay? Because the instant you start playing, you know that Insomniac nails being Spider-Man to a T. Getting around is outright fun though it can take a while to get used to it. Once you do, it becomes second nature and it makes being Spider-Man so awesome. It can get addicting and it’s proven a fact. In fact, it’s so good that it surpasses how Spidey goes about in Spider-Man 2 back in 2004. Not only that but the combat is great and simply seamless. Sure it has some similarities to the Arkham series but that is where it ends. The difference is that Spidey has access to a variety of moves at his disposal. He still has punches and kicks but Spidey also has gadgets that can help against tough enemies. They can range from simple web shooting to using gadgets such as Web Bombs, Electric Webs and even the Suspension Matrix. Spidey also has access to different suits that unlock various focus power-ups. By clicking L3 & R3, he can use a power that can help turn the tide. Plus he can have up to 3 suit mods that can provide unique advantages. Spidey isn’t invincible however so constantly moving takes priority. Perfect dodges can help avoid attacks while stunning enemies and focus attacks can help deliver the smackdown.
As mentioned earlier, he has access to a variety of gear such as suits, gadgets and suit mods. Many of these are obtained by exchanging tokens and you get tokens by completing side activities throughout New York. They can range from shutting down enemy bases to stopping crimes that happen in the city, finding backpacks scattered around the city and even taking part in challenges that test your mettle and skill. There is a lot to do in this game that it can take you a very long time. Not only that but there’s an experience system in play where you gain experience. You get it by completing either challenges or missions throughout the game. Leveling up will give you skill points that you can use to acquire skills for Spidey and they come in 3 categories: Innovator, Defender, and Webslinger. Not to mention a boost in health and melee damage. In turn, it makes Spidey stronger and it’s all the more worth it in the long run.
As for length, the game is split into three acts. Overall it takes you about 15 or so hours to complete but for those who wish to 100% the entire game, it’s extended by 10 hours. Is it worth it? Absolutely! The game has a good amount of length with a lot to do. But you aren’t just limited to being as Spider-Man. There are sections of the game where you get to play as other characters such as Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. Their sections are a bit different like Peter going to meet with other characters or Mary Jane having stealth. Though there are a few of them, they can sometimes slow the game down, especially on the stealth sections where it’s all trial and error. The AI can be exploited if you are skilled enough but I wish those sections can be improved upon. It’s my only negative that I have with the game thus far.
Story-wise, the game focuses on an older Peter Parker. No origin story this time as it has been seven years since he donned the garb. He’s a college student working for Otto Octavius as an intern though his relationship with Mary Jane ended pretty bad. After defeating Kingpin, Spidey has to contend with a new threat in the form of the Demons. But the Demons are just one of many threats that will push Spidey to his limits & it eventually leads into a battle to save New York from someone who desires nothing more than revenge.
This game’s story is well done and it gets you hooked to boot. Since it’s not a movie-licensed game, Insomniac Games decide to make a story that lets the game stand on its own. It works. It really does as it has many twists and turns that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. Not only that but the voice acting is top notch. Yuri Lowenthal is great as Peter Parker and Spider-Man. He captured it well and you can feel his emotion in his performance. In fact, all the voice actors did a good job capturing the feel for many of the characters. It’s top notch.
As for the game’s presentation, it is stellar. Insomniac Games did a phenomenal job capturing the feel of Spider-Man all while making it stand out from previous games. It looks great and plays great but if you were expecting it to run at 60fps, prepare to be disappointed. The game looks great at 1080p but it’s locked at 30fps on both PS4 and PS4 Pro. Insomniac did state their reasons why but even so, it shouldn’t stop anyone from playing and enjoying the game. Music is great and really captures the feel of Spider-Man. Insomniac has high production values with the game and it only wonders how they’ll top it in the possible sequel. The game will have upcoming DLC in the form of additional stories and challenges. Thankfully they are better than most other DLC that has already been seen in other games.
For all the positives this game has, there are a few faults. Stuff like the faulty AI in the stealth sections have been mentioned but there are others. The side stuff such as combat and challenges can get repetitive. Sure completing them are needed to make Spidey better but having to do them repeatedly can be a bit of a slog. The game also has a fair share of glitches. They aren’t bad and have since been patched out but from what I’ve seen, they can be quite scary to look at. Fortunately, it shouldn’t dissuade you from enjoying this game. No way.
Insomniac took a gamble to make a Spider-Man game that can stand out. It paid off in major spades. A great story with solid voice acting, addicting gameplay with tons of content, high production values and a presentation that puts previous Spidey games such as Activision’s games to shame. A few negatives here and there shouldn’t dissuade the experience and the best thing about it is that Insomniac is the one behind this. Marvel made the right decision and this game is definitely a game of the year material. Spider-Man is worth your money and if you have a PS4 but you haven’t bought this game, what are you waiting for?! Get it! Now! You won’t regret it!
I give Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4 a solid 9 out of 10. It earns my personal seal of approval and it’s worth your money.
God of War Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for review.
When people think of PlayStation, they think of games like God of War. Since 2005, the franchise is responsible for giving us addicting action packed gameplay, a protagonist that’s on the violent side and a tale that spans several games. After the release of God of War Ascension in 2013, the franchise went dormant until E3 2016 when Sony showed a young boy and a much older Kratos. It confirms that a new God of War is on the horizon and after two years of hype & anticipation, God of War would arrive. A game set in a new land with a new story to tell, does this game hold true to what the rest of the franchise would abide by?
Set years after the events of God of War III, Kratos finds himself in Norway, in the realm of Midgard. He would marry and have a son named Atreus. After the passing of his wife Faye, Kratos goes on a journey with his son to spread Faye’s ashes on the highest peak of the nine realms. Along the way, they would meet many people that either help them or bring harm. Their journey will soon culminate into one filled with secrets, revelations and a desire to be better.
The game is treated as a soft reboot for the series but personally it is a continuation set in a new land with the same protagonist that we all know. Only difference is that Kratos has gotten older with a child and is able to keep his anger in check. Its story is very well done with the focus being on Kratos and his son. This has enough twists and turns that you really want to see how it all ends. Not only that but the game delivers on exposition detailing Midgard, the realms, the people that you encounter and it’s history. So for anyone that is interested in this stuff, there you go.
The God of War series has always been known as an action game where you beat down enemies, solve puzzles and tackle tough bosses. This game however decides to turn it on its head. It’s a 3rd person action game with puzzle solving and a bit of RPG elements mixed in. Like in previous games, you play as Kratos except the camera is always set behind him. It does give a good view of what’s in front of you but at times in battle, you can get overwhelmed and you have no idea who will strike at you next. Kratos isn’t limited in combat this time. He has access to a brand new weapon, the Leviathan Axe. The Leviathan Axe is your go-to weapon for most of the game, not to mention versatile. It’s used as both an offensive weapon and can help in puzzle solving. Plus being an ice-based weapon, it can freeze many things in its tracks. Kratos also has access to his fists and like previous games can go into a Spartan Rage. The Spartan Rage lets him go full on with either his fists or throw boulders, and it can also help restore his health. It offers a LOT of versatility opinions and how you go about it depends on you.
In addition to Kratos, there’s also his son Atreus and he serves as a secondary gameplay style. He serves as the eyes and ears for his dad providing him warnings and at times can offer assistance. Armed with a bow and arrow, he can fire arrows to stun enemies allowing Kratos to deliver added hits. They can also be enchanted to add additional effects. He even can use magic to summon some added help too. Whereas Kratos is more brawn, Atreus is the brain of the two and he helps when it comes to solving puzzles. One can’t exist without the other and how they implement the two is just well done.
God of War is still an action game but SIE Santa Monica decides to add a bit of RPG into this. There’s a leveling system in place where Kratos can get stronger in one of six different stats: Strength, Runic, Defense, Vitality, Luck and Cooldown. They determine a variety of factors and they can also be improved by having Kratos equip armor. Armor that you collect and equip can improve your stats and as you play, you’ll get access to better gear. They can also be upgraded by means of trading in hacksilver, the currency and specific items. Upgrading them improves the gear and with it your stats. There are also enchantments that add additional boosts to your stats while giving Kratos bonuses that can help in battle. Your axe can also be equipped with hilts that offer perks and even your weapons can be armed with talismans that either offer either active or passive effects. It doesn’t end there. Atreus can also be customized as well with different garbs and enchantments. There are also skill trees for both of them that offer new moves and advantages. You use experience to unlock perks on the tree and also, they are used to improve your runic attacks, special moves that allow your weapons to do all sorts of insane stuff. A lot to take in yes but it becomes second nature as you play.
God of War is a long game, taking players roughly 20 hours to complete with an additional 8-10 hours if they plan to 100% the game. With New Game+ recently included in, the length is extended further. There is a ton of content for you to do such as side quests that offer rewards, challenge areas to test your skills and even optional bosses that will push players to their limits. All the while, the game is a technical marvel. Running at 60 fps, the game is just outright awesome. It not only looks awesome but even plays awesome too. Sometimes things go from quiet one second to intense the next. There are boss fights and some are without a doubt the best ever seen. It does offer a balance in terms of action, puzzles and platforming and I’m happy they achieved it. Voice acting is well done though Christopher Judge as an older Kratos started growing on me. It makes sense since Kratos has matured from his Spartan days but it serves to remind Atreus to be a better person.
If there are any negatives, it’s that the game can at times spike up the difficulty in some instances. Things go well at some points but then a spike comes in and makes it a tough challenge. Being that the game has four difficulty settings, you have the option to change it at anytime… unless you are doing it at the hardest setting where you can’t. It’s the only negative in a game that is otherwise so amazing.
2018 has been a stellar year for Sony with their exclusives and God of War is no exception. Taking the series in a different direction may have been a big risk but it paid off big time. The game looks awesome and it plays awesome too. It offers a story that grips you from start to finish, with gameplay that is truly addicting and offers so much to do in the game that… what more needs to be said? If you have a PlayStation 4 right now, this game is worth your money. It really is. There’s a reason why God of War is known as one of Sony’s best franchises. It’s no exception. Get it. Now.
I give God of War a solid 9.5 out of 10. It is worth the full purchase and it earns my personal seal of approval. No questions asked.
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for the purpose of reviewing.
What do you get when you take the charm of Disney with the role-playing fortitude that is Square-Enix? You get a series like this. Since 2002, the Kingdom Hearts series has attracted fans far and wide with its story, characters, and gameplay. It evolved into a franchise that spanned numerous prequels, sequels, and spin-offs. In 2013, Square-Enix announced that Kingdom Hearts III would finally be in development and the wait for it began. During that time, they would release compilation games onto Sony’s PS3 in the form of HD 1.5 Remix in 2013 and HD 2.5 Remix a year later to get people busy. Three years later, we would get them both in the form of a super compilation on PS4 called Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix. Containing final mix versions of 3 KH games, two movies and an updated GBA to PS2 game, is this THE definitive Kingdom Hearts compilation to recommend to new fans?
This game is pretty much that, a compilation of several Kingdom Hearts games that were pretty much given the HD treatment. You get a total of six games: Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, RE: Chain of Memories, 358/2 Days, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Birth By Sleep Final Mix & RE: Coded. Six in one disc, that’s a lot. All six are similar to how they are on the PlayStation 3. The only difference is that Square decides to upscale the games at 1080p at 60 fps. That’s impressive. The fact that they’re able to pull this off is astounding. Not to mention with the PS4 hardware, the load times are a lot shorter making them seamless. Still, an impressive feat has given that they were able to pull this off well with Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue.
All of the games play well and if you’ve played any on the PlayStation 3, you will do fine here on the PlayStation 4. There are however several differences between the two. One difference is that since it’s on the PS4, there’s a lack of a Start & Select button. It’s substituted for the touchpad and option button on the controller. Pretty good. In addition, all of the changes and improvements from the PS3 version are in the PS4 version. It makes them all streamlined but depending on what game you choose to play can differ. There’s also trophy support like in the PS3 version. Unlike the PS3 version, however, they fixed it so that you only have to beat it once at the hardest setting to get most of the trophies. A major reprieve since truthfully, nobody wants to go through all that hassle.
Length-wise, each of these games will take you hours to beat, longer if you plan on trying to complete them at 100%. Since most of these games are Final Mix versions, more content is included such as new bosses, keyblades, challenges, etc. Not only that but KH2FM also included additional voice acting for the added scenes. That’s a lot. As for 358/2 Days and Re: Coded, they are pretty much full movies clocking at 3 hours each. They simply summarize the events that go on in those respective games. Square did take the liberty of updating Days by adding more scenes and in a way it does help. Though it makes you wish they were playable to see how much it has improved graphically.
The presentation on all six games is well done. Being that they upscaled all six games to 1080p at 60 fps helps a lot. They all look great and play great too. Voice acting is still solid with a robust cast that nails their lines well. Even the likes of Mark Hamill, the late Sir Christopher Lee and the late Leonard Nimoy help add a lot of weight to the series. Music is similar to the PS3 versions with KH1 and 2 Final Mix having their soundtracks completely redone to add more oomph to the games themselves. They are all good but I wish there was an option to allow players to have the original PS2 soundtrack and to switch between them. It would have made this a definitive package and a recommendation.
As for any negatives, there isn’t much. Almost all of the playable games are the Final Mix versions meaning that they are more challenging than the originals. Not to mention that games like Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix & BBS Final Mix had problems where the game would have a tendency to crash. It hurts even worse if players forgot to save, causing them to lose a lot of progress. They have since been fixed with updates but it was a big issue at the time. Also, some games had some censored changes when they come overseas. It was done to prevent controversy but it shouldn’t hinder anyone one bit.
So in conclusion, this compilation offers so much content on one disc that it isn’t funny. Upscaled graphics and frame rate, familiar controls and the fact that this takes 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix and put them together in one package. The best part about it is that it wasn’t a full price game. In fact, you can get it now at around $30 so it’s a steal. With Kingdom Hearts 3 coming in a matter of months, if you want to get into the series and don’t know where to begin, this compilation is it. Be ready because a series like this isn’t an easy journey for sure.
I give Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix an 8.5 out of 10.
Yakuza 0 Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for the sake of this review.
In 2016, the Yakuza, or Ryu Ga Gotoku, series would go on to celebrate its 10th anniversary. SEGA then makes the announcement that to commemorate this event, two Yakuza games would be released. One would be a retelling of the original Yakuza called Yakuza Kiwami. The other would be a prequel to the first game putting its focus on not only Kiryu but also Majima. A prequel focusing on the game’s two most memorable characters… is Yakuza 0 worthy of telling the series’ very beginnings?
Yakuza 0 takes place in Japan in December 1988, 8 years before the events that would set in motion the first game. The plot centers on an empty lot and that whoever obtains the deed would decide the fate of Kamurocho. It centers on two characters: Kazuma Kiryu & Goro Majima as they try to not only get to the bottom of this but also contend with their respective predicaments.
In Kamurocho, Kiryu’s charged for a crime he didn’t commit and must not only prove his innocence but contend with his former clan who are after him due to his connection to Dojima. In the town of Sotenbori, Majima is in charge of a nightclub called Grand but in truth, he is under constant watch due to his exile. But he then takes a hit that would guarantee him back only to find that the target in question is a defenseless blind woman. Hoping to find answers, he decides to protect her while having to deal with the wrath of the Tojo Clan.
The game’s story is just amazing. From start to finish, you see how their tales go and how they reach their conclusions. Since it is also a prequel, we see the main characters being very different from what they are now and the decisions they make would shape them into being who they are today. I love it. There will be moments that’ll fill players with emotion but by the time it’s over, you can’t help but feel bad for some characters as the later games detail their inevitable fates. That’s what happens in a prequel game after all.
If you’ve played any of the previous Yakuza games, you will feel right at home with Yakuza 0. It’s an action RPG game where you pretty much do whatever you like, depending on what happens in the game. Most of the time will be spent going through missions to continue the story. But during those instances, you’re allowed to explore and do various activities. Sub-stories make a return where you can help people with their many issues. At times they reward you with items and money. Side activities are aplenty such as mahjong, baseball, bowling, and even you can go to arcades to play games such as Outlaw and Space Harrier. And if that isn’t to your liking, you can still take the chance to beat up bad guys that cross your path. Most of Kamurocho is still accessible for you to explore but some stuff like the Millennium Tower isn’t there.
Yakuza 0 offers a lot of new additions to the game. One of the biggest is a secondary protagonist: Goro Majima. In later entries, he’s pretty much an anti-hero with an obsession for fighting Kiryu. Here in this game, he’s different and this is before he became the Mad Dog of Shimano. He has his own hub to explore, Sotenbori and his own problems to contend with. In addition, he has his own set of fighting styles that offer a different experience. Both characters each have three fighting styles they can use in battle. Kiryu still has his styles from the first game but Majima’s are new. Thug is similar to Brawler, being balanced. Breaker focuses on breakdancing to deal damage to enemies and Slugger specializes on using a bat or other weapons to give foes the smackdown. It’s a nice change of pace and it does help set the two apart. Both of them also have a fourth unlockable style but that requires a lot of work to unlock it for each of them. Like the first game, the yen is the game’s currency and since this is Japan in the 1980s, the people spend it like there’s no tomorrow… literally. The yen is not only used to help buy items and supplies but also to level up your characters. Fortunately, the game gives you plenty of ways to acquire yen to make it possible. In addition, there are several mentors that will assist Kiryu and Majima in unlocking new abilities and attacks they can use in battle. Want to be the best? Seeking them out and learning from them is the best choice.
Another addition is the special side activities. Real Estate has Kiryu going around, buying up land in Kamurocho in the hopes of raising money and driving rival gangs out. Cabaret is all Majima and your job is to make your club the best in Sotenbori by not only making your guests happy but growing your ladies to ensure they make it possible. These activities require some skill to complete but the rewards are worth it.
Yakuza 0 offers a lot to do in one game. With two protagonists, the game’s length can get ridiculous. To be fair, if you plan on just beating the game, it’ll take you roughly 15-20 hours but to complete everything raises it to around 70-80 hours. Replay value is high since after beating it, you have access to Premium Adventure and Legend difficulty aka New Game +. As for progression, the game lets you control Kiryu or Majima for 2 chapters. After 2 chapters, you shift to the next character with a recap that details what happened in their story. It’s a good way of getting players up to speed on the story. There will be times you will switch between the two characters but eventually, you will have the option to switch between them whenever you like. It’s useful in case you missed out on some things with the other character. There are a ton of other activities you can do such as collecting tapes that can unlock some softcore videos, places where you can phone chat with girls that can lead to dates if you’re lucky, singing karaoke and others but yeah… stuff like that is one of many you can do in this game.
This game looks good. For a PlayStation 4 game, it’s awesome. SEGA did a fantastic job showing Japan in the late 1980s, during a time when they were in an economic boom and it reflects on it. The characters look good in cutscenes and can be really expressive but when you go to the game itself that leaves a bit to be desired. It also has a stellar soundtrack and what’s more is that in battle, the music changes depending on what style you use. But the game also has some tunes that happen in the more important bits like in boss battles. There are boss battles aplenty and it’ll get you on the edge of your seat with some being awesome. Yakuza 0 is also on PC and personally, if you want the best experience, the PC version is a recommendation.
For all the good that Yakuza 0 has, there are some negatives. Most of the presentation seems a bit dated but I feel it makes sense. Yakuza isn’t about how good it looks, it’s about how good it plays. Not that it’s a bad thing. Also, the game can be unfair in some instances with enemies carrying stuff like firearms. It kills the momentum at times… like in Yakuza Kiwami.
Overall Yakuza 0 is a welcome addition to the series, being that it’s a prequel that helps set up the first game. Two protagonists having two stories that intertwine into a plot revolving an empty lot, gameplay that is good with a lot to explore and do and so much more. Despite some minor hiccups, it’s a solid game. Very solid. What else can be said that hasn’t already been said? If you wish to experience how two legends got their start, this is it. Every series has a starting point and this is that one. Just be ready because this is one journey you don’t want to miss out on.
I give Yakuza 0 a solid 8.5 out of 10. It’s worth your money whether on PS4 or PC.
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.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased copy for the sake of this review.
Why do franchises survive? Why do they endure? That’s a question many people wonder about. How can a franchise be able to survive despite not having much recognition? Such is the case of one called Shantae. It began in 2001, released for the Game Boy Color that was well received but was released during the end of the handheld’s life cycle. Despite this, Shantae would continue to thrive with two more sequels: Risky’s Revenge and The Pirate’s Curse. Come 2013 and WayForward announced that a new Shantae game would come. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, they succeed and in 2016, WayForward releases the 4th entry in the series, Half-Genie Hero. Does Half-Genie Hero do what Mighty No. 9 could not?
Half-Genie Hero takes place some time after the events of the third game, The Pirate’s Curse. On one eventful night, Shantae gets word that the Genie Realm would be in danger. So she heads to town only for Risky Boots to invade and steal the design for the Dynamo. After driving Risky and her crew off, her uncle works on an invention that can help drive away evil threats. So Shantae goes on a journey to help her uncle get the parts needed for his invention, unaware that it’s all part of Risky Boots’ master plan.
It’s plot is what you would expect from a game like this and it’s alright in my book. It starts off simple enough but gets interesting when you reach the end. Pretty okay and a bit satisfactory to boot.
WayForward put a lot of care and love into the Shantae series and Half-Genie Hero is no exception. The game’s a platformer but has a few things that differentiate it from other games. Shantae still plays like she was in previous games and she has most of her familiar moves. Returning to the series is her morphing ability, allowing her to shape shift into one of many animals that she unlocks throughout the game. She does this by means of dancing and you can choose which animal to use. This time around, the transformations offer Shantae a lot of advantages and are necessary in order to beat the game. There are a total of 8 transformations for her to use. She also get access to additional dances that provide support.
Not only that but the game is more of a collect-o-thon than anything else. Gems are the game’s currency and you use them to unlock various abilities for Shantae. All of them are useful. There are also other items to find as well such as Heart Holders that increase your max health and a game like this wouldn’t be complete without trade sequences. Throughout the game, you will be tasked to return to previous areas to acquire items necessary for you to trade with others. All of it will culminate in access to the next area. It does get a bit tedious after a while but necessary if you plan on completing the game 100%. Boss battles are aplenty here with some requiring a lot of skill to win.
Half-Genie Hero isn’t a long game. If you just plan on beating it, you’ll complete it in roughly 6-8 hours and trying to reach 100% will net you about an hour or so more. The replay value is high here, especially for those that like to speedrun the game. For presentation, the game is awesome. WayForward did a fantastic job on it and it shows. Not only that but the game runs great at 60fps. A well done job if I do say so myself. The music needs no words. Jake Kaufman does it again delivering some great tunes. Some songs are just too good to listen to such as Tassel Town, Neo Burning Town and others. All of them are a delight to enjoy. There is voice acting as well. Christina Vee does a great job as Shantae but also as Risky Boots as well. Simply put, this game was made with a lot of love and respect and it shows.
Since this game was made possible via Kickstarter, the game also has DLC and there are several. First is Risky Boots’ Quest, taking place during the events of the game. You play as Risky Boots as she goes on her own journey to acquire what she needs so that he can rule Sequin Land. Next is Friends to the End, focusing on Sky, Bolo and Rottytops. In this mode, the three of them head inside Shantae’s mind to save her from her dark counterpart, Nega-Shantae. Last is a special costume set giving players access to three modes; Ninja Mode, Beach Mode and Officer Mode. These are what-if stories that detail Shantae in different situations and offer different gameplay. Basically this game has a lot to do and WayForward even added a harder difficulty called Hardcore Mode that will push players’ skills to their limits. You can buy all of it as DLC but for anyone that wants it all in one, they released the Day-One Ultimate Edition that contains all of it and more. The Day One Ultimate Edition is a major recommendation.
There aren’t many flaws in the game and yeah, the game requires a lot to do if you wish to complete 100% but overall, it’s a fun experience. Having played the game many times, it’s still fun. It really is though it makes you wonder if their Kickstarter did better so WayForward can bring out even more content. Imagine the possibilities.
Half-Genie Hero does everything that Mighty No. 9 could not. The game looks great, it plays great, it has great music and it offers a lot for your money’s worth. For the franchise’s fourth game, WayForward, Matt Bozon and Jake Kaufman delivered. The best part is that it’s not expensive but if you want to have everything in one, the Day One Ultimate Edition is a definite recommendation. It’s worth the full purchase price. Let’s hope these guys can keep at it and hopefully give us more… instead of ports of older games.
I give Shantae: Half-Genie Hero my highest rating… a perfect 10 out of 10. It earns my full on seal of approval.