Gravity Rush 2 Review

If you’ve played Half Life 2 all the way to the end, you probably have fond memories of using the upgraded gravity gun to pick up enemies and launch them across the room. It was an absurdly fun, criminally short section that highlighted how much fun wielding that kind of godlike power can be in games. Gravity Rush 2 taps into this very same feeling of power, giving you the ability to pick up soldiers and use them as ammo. Need to take out a mech surrounded by soldiers? No problem—use your gravity powers to pick up the soldiers and then launch them at the mech’s weak spots, at which point shrapnel will come off that you can pick up and use as further ammo until it finally explodes. This isn’t the kind of thing you can do throughout the entirety of Gravity Rush 2, of course, but it’s certainly an example of the kind of thing that makes it truly special. That’s not to say that it’s without flaws, though, because many of the first game’s problems that ruined the experience for me are still present (even if they’ve been somewhat remedied in many cases); the game’s good moments are just so good that they more than make up for its many infuriating problems. Read more →

Final Fantasy 15 Review

When I was young, my family used to go on road trips in a conversion van that had a VHS player in it as its sole source of entertainment, and so I wound up watching a bunch of the same movies over and over again since the VHS tapes were too bulky to bring a bunch of them. One of these movies started with a skit featuring The Lion King’s Timon singing a cover of Stand By Me that caused Pumbaa to get pummeled by increasingly improbable cartoon violence, and seeing this hundreds of times over countless road trips caused me to associate the song with impending disaster. It felt apropos, then, when Final Fantasy 15—a game I went into expecting the worst of after playing two-thirds of the terrible FF13 trilogy—began with a rendition of Stand By Me. It certainly lived up to the expectations the skit had imprinted in me for the first 10 or so hours, presenting an unremarkable open world littered with shameless fan service and endless busy work. It eventually opens up and smooths out some of the initial rough edges, and there are some parts that were good enough that I even considered making this a positive review for awhile, but at the end of the day, this is a game that borrows so heavily from other games that it’s entirely bereft of originality or creativity. That’s not the same thing as being bad, of course, but Final Fantasy 15 takes so many cues from other games that it lacks any kind of individual identity, and considering how many games have done the same things better, you’re best off just playing those instead. Read more →

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Review

I picked this up having enjoyed the previous two Shantae games and wanting to start 2017’s reviews off on a positive note before the inevitable parade of mediocrity that typically has to be waded through before finding another genuinely good game. Apparently this was the result of a Kickstarter campaign from back in 2013, which means I was three years too late to get in on any of those backer rewards, but it’s kind of nice to be able to experience one of these games around the same time as everyone else instead of years and years after the fact. Now, reviews generally exist to answer the question of whether something is good or not, but the answer to that question is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no in this case. In fact, if my notes are any indication, the answer is “yes, then kind of, then yes again, then no no no no why is this happening, then ehhh, then yes again,” which is a roundabout way of saying that the game is worth it overall despite having some pretty glaring issues. Read more →

I Am Setsuna Review

Chrono Trigger is easily one of my favorite games, not to mention a gateway drug that compelled me to get a Playstation 1 (for Chrono Cross, naturally) and subsequently discover all kinds of brilliant gems I had missed out on, so it piqued my interest when I Am Setsuna’s store page claimed to have been inspired by it. That’s a lofty claim, after all, especially in a world of endless Final Fantasy games where many jRPG developers seem to have lost track of what made their genre enjoyable in the first place. There have been occasional exceptions to that such as Chaos Rings 2 and other games that I similarly fell in love with, but Square-Enix pulled the plug on many Chaos Rings games not too long ago, effectively erasing them from existence outside of piracy. Giving money to something they published after that was a painful proposition. Still, curiosity outweighed my better judgment and I decided to give this game a try anyway. I’m glad I did—I Am Setsuna has its moments of being enjoyable—but the poor writing was enough to ruin the whole experience by the end and cause me to question why this game falls so short. Read more →

Gravity Rush Remastered Review

Gravity Rush originally came out for the Vita, and while I haven’t played that version, I’ve read that some of the control issues from that release were ironed out in the PS4 remaster. I can’t even begin to imagine how bad the original controls were if the clunky mess that is Gravity Rush Remastered is the better-controlling of the two, though, and awkward controls are just the first in an endless string of fun-killing problems—the mechanics are seriously rough around the edges and tend to make parts of the gameplay luck-based, the story is unremarkable trash that sets up a bunch of interesting mysteries and opts to subject the player to a bizarrely vanilla series of events instead of tying up any of those dangling plot threads, the missions are repetitive and gimmicky, and the main character is quite possibly the most shallow and self-absorbed female lead I’ve ever seen in a game (but the writing is so inconsistent that this comes and goes unpredictably). Read more →

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine (DLC) Review

It was around 2009 when I started getting interested in catching up on PC gaming classics, but it was only in 2010 that I built a computer specifically for gaming that could handle the graphically demanding fare that my old laptop was too ancient to run. Among my first purchases for that computer was a little game from a few years beforehand that I had heard good things about called The Witcher, and it blew me away with its atmosphere despite being incredibly glitchy at times. In fact, I was so impressed that I committed the cardinal gaming sin of preordering the second game, and while it was different than the first and had a pretty unforgiving difficulty (which has since been drastically reduced to be friendlier to newcomers), I nevertheless came to love it just as much as the first game. The third game I was less enthusiastic about—yes, it delivers in several ways, but many things were sacrificed in the name of mass-market accessibility, and so I ended up merely liking it. The Hearts of Stone DLC is where I started to see the game come into its own and deliver on the promise that was always there, but never really came through in the base game. Sadly, the bigger expansion that is Blood and Wine reintroduces many of the problems Hearts of Stone fixed and ended up leaving me underwhelmed as the final story in the series. There are some great moments to be found here, don’t get me wrong, but the main story isn’t really anything particularly special and there are some questionable plot developments that don’t make a great deal of sense. At the end of the day, Blood and Wine is enjoyable, but I was yet again struck by the sense that it could have been much better. Read more →

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