Gamestop Expo 2013 Post-Expo News and Opinions

While all of the mainstream kids were at PAX Prime, us cool cats in Vegas were checking out Gamestop’s annual Expo, featuring everything at PAX and then some. From next-gen consoles to Sonic in a Mario display, almost anything imaginable was there (except for a hands-on Watch Dogs demo).SonicMarioDisplay

First off, good news. Current generation games that were on display are looking great, such as Batman: Arkham Origins, Sonic Lost World and Titanfall (yes Xbox One fanboys, it’s coming to 360 and PC as well!).

The Arkham Origins demo was great fun, but some of Batman’s new gadgets made him extremely overpowered in the demo (remote batclaw, anyone?). Hopefully the full game still manages to challenge players.

Sonic Lost World was fun too, but primarily on the 3DS. My earlier analysis of the boring Wii U trailers was, in fact, correct, as Sonic doesn’t feel fast and/or exciting on Nintendo’s quirky console. Luckily, Sonic retains his trademark speed and FUN on the 3DS version, featuring faster paced levels and better Wisp usage. In short, if you own a 3DS you might just be getting the best version of the game.

Titanfall was the biggest surprise, as up until Gamescon a few weeks ago no one had gotten a chance to play it hands-on. Well, it’s flipping amazing. There was an hour+ long line to get into the multiplayer demo, but it was well worth it. Two teams of six rocket booted and quick-scoped their way around the map in what I assume would be Iron Man’s version of Call of Duty, but that all changed with the Titans. Once the giant robots got involved, conventional FPS mechanics hit the fan and the game really showed its true colors (which were amazing amber and f*cking awesome indigo). Even better, everyone got a Titan at one point or another, meaning that no one was left out of the Gundam robot fun.

Two of Ubisoft’s biggest and most anticipated games, Assassin’s Creed Black Flag and Watch Dogs, were present but not hands-on. There was a special screening for each, showing content not currently on the internet. While it was cute, there should’ve been a hands-on demo this close to both games’ launches, and the Watch Dogs demo sparked some serious concerns over the PS4 version being better than current gen versions graphically, but more on that later.

Microsoft’s massive set up at the Expo included demos for Ryse, Kinect Sports Rivals and even a photo-op with Dead Rising 3’s zombies. My verdict on the new Kinect is that it’s still a door stopper, although it IS better than the current Kinect. Not by much, however, as it still reads movements relatively slowly and still can’t process overlapping body parts, such as putting one arm over your chest. Kinect Sports Rivals wouldn’t have been much fun had the Kinect worked better, however, as the game was boring and felt like a poor imitation of Wii Sports Resort.

Ryse looked really boring, even though expo-ees weren’t allowed to even play the Kinect version. There was a one-on-one showroom where you could watch a Microsoft employee play a demo up close and personal, but that was as close as you got to Ryse: Son of Rome’s Kinect functionality.

Sony had demos of their new PS4 racing game Drive Club and Warframe’s PS4 port, but everything else was PS3 content (Beyond: Two Souls and The Puppeteer). Nothing was impressive and while Sony’s booth was big, it lacked impact.Vegas 2013 021Vegas 2013 020

The one big issue worth mentioning with what gamers saw of the Xbox One and PS4 was that the visuals weren’t impressive, far from it. If anything, most next gen games on demonstration looked just barely on par with some current PS3 titles, and a tad better than current 360 titles. The Watch Dogs PS4 demo looked bleh, and anyone who’s pre-ordered a next gen console would be wise to listen to myself and Adam Sessler and cancel that pre-order as soon as possible. Fanboys will be fanboys, but smart consumers should hold off, as these machines don’t seem to be living up to the hype they’ve generated whatsoever.

Those were the biggest highlights and disappointments of Gamestop Expo 2013, give or take a couple of games (such as Super Mario 3D Land and Bayonetta 2 on Wii U, which both had great demos, and a couple of less pressing games like Wolfenstein: The New Order and The Elder Scrolls Online). It was well worth the $35 admission price, and I highly recommend avid gamers to go to next year’s expo, as it’s as enlightening as it is fun.

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Review of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for PS Vita

This’ll be the last Vita review I do for quite some time, due simply to the fact that I’ve recently sold my Vita. Maybe I’ll do a PS Vita retrospective? Regardless, you’re here for an ACIII: Liberation review, so let’s find out if this portable Assassin’s Creed is worth your money.images

If you’ve ever played a traditional Assassin’s Creed game, you’re pretty much getting the same thing here. Now, I could go further in-depth to explain what a traditional AC game is like, but chances are if you’re reading a review for this game you’re already a serious fan of the series. Colossul open world maps, LOTS of AI citizens (albiet not as many as the game’s console counterparts, but due to processing power that’s understandable), silly sidequests and lots of horrible accents for the French characters. It’s the classic, tried and true AC formula that hasn’t seemed to fail… until now, that is. I’ve never been truly bored playing an AC game up until this one. Sure, there was the novelty of playing it on the Vita for maybe one or two story sequences, but around a quarter of the way through the campaign, things begin to get repetitive. Not even because the game is boring, it’s really not, it’s just that if you’ve played even one AC game before, you’ll know exactly what to expect.

It seems Ubisoft is starting to paint by numbers with this series; if the first game was a hit, why not release fifty more in rapid succession? Not to sound negative, it’s just that Liberation is forgettable. The open world city of New Orleans is impressive no doubt, really stretching the Vita’s limits, but it’s just not enough to absorb you into the game’s story. I mean, heck, there’s nothing new here to pull you in at all. If anything, there’s actually just a list of grievances I have with the game.  For me, the biggest turn off was the voice acting. Every time the game tries to establish the supposedly “intriguing” story with a cutscene, all I hear are some horrible Canadian-French accents. No offense to Canadians, and I understand this was made by Ubisoft MONTREAL, but still. For a plot revolving around slavery and conspiracy, I shouldn’t be giggling constantly at the horrible voice acting.

The gameplay doesn’t feel hefty either, feeling like an overly complex beat ’em up instead of a classic AC game. I think that’s solely because of the lack of a rumble component in the Vita, unlike most controllers which will vibrate during combat. It’s a minor gripe, but worthy of mention.

To be quite honest, there isn’t a lot wrong with this game. The locales are fantastic, the graphics are good, the soundtrack is solid and the controls are top-notch. But it doesn’t bring anything new to the table, doesn’t motivate the player to continue due to lackluster story telling, and isn’t worth anything over twenty dollars.

Review of Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale for PS Vita

Zelda acquired the smash ball- wait, wrong game.all-stars-lead-440x270

It’s widely known that PS All-Stars is Sony’s crack at making a successful Playstation-ized Super Smash Bros., and for the most part Sony admits that. But there was that little band of Superbot design team members who were determined to seperate this from Super Smash Bros., to make it its own game. The best thing they could conjure up? Super move kills only.

All cynicism aside, the game does a good job at being an original twist on the practically perfect Nintendo formula. Twenty characters, the majority of which are exclusive to Playstation, battle it out on small maps with up to four people. It’s a button-masher, nostalgia-inducer and fighter all wrapped up into a nice, family-friendly package. Does that mean it’s actually a good game?

I’ll put it bluntly: If you’ve never been spoiled with the glory that is Super Smash Bros. Brawl, then PS All Stars is for you. But once you’ve played the masterpiece by Nintendo, going back to Sony’s title with amateur developing mistakes like “super move kills only” just won’t do. The idea is fun, but in reality it just makes everything really unbalanced. Characters like Raiden and Nathan Drake have level 1 supers (super moves can be attained through basic combat and level up the more combos you pull off) that are on par with characters like Sackboy’s level 3. So depending on who you’re playing with, racking up kill points will either be a walk in the park or a near impossible task, and that kind of balancing, or lack there of, just isn’t acceptable in a supposedly “hardcore” tournament worthy fighter.

Not only are supers overpowered with some characters, but basic move sets aren’t balanced either. Colonel Radec has this cheap-ass sniper attack that can knock fifty shades of snot out of someone across the map, while most of Parappa the Rappa’s attacks can’t hit anything beyond point-blank range. Now, character and moveset variety is to be expected, but movesets that encourage piss-poor playing? Not exactly what I’d call a smart gameplay element.

I’ve been pretty harsh to the game thus far, but it does have some nifty features. The stages are unique combinations of various Playstation series’ levels, and some even have environmental hazards (though not to a degree where it feels anything more than just a petty annoyance, unlike SSBB). The items are solid enough to give the player an edge but not overpowered like a smashball or a really good pokeball in Super Smash Bros., so that’s another thing PS All-Stars has going for it. The menus showcase different characters every time you boot the game, which is a nice touch.  And that’s pretty much all I have to say in terms of complimenting this game.

At the end of the day, is this a Super Smash Bros. copycat worth your money? Frankly, no. Sure, it’s fun for Sony fans and people who want to see Big Daddys trample Sackboys (or vise versa), but otherwise you should stick to Nintendo’s superior game, or get this one after a twenty dollar price drop.

Review of Ultimate Marvel VS. Capcom 3 for PS Vita

This game blew so hard on the Xbox. So hard. But the Vita version looked like a better package all around, what with its touchscreen controls and added game modes. Was the investment worth it? Was this the massively improved version of the biggest rip-off ever that I’d hoped for? Read on to find out!imagesCAOIL5F8

When it comes to king of suckery at fighter games, I rule the kingdom. Not only do I faulter hideously at blocking, but seeing me do a combo successfully is as rare as a good Twilight movie. Needless to say, I’m not the best player out there. In all honesty, I just like playing fighters, even though I suck horribly at them, which is why I bothered getting into MvC3 in the first place. Luckily for me, the PS Vita version successfully quenches my thirst for a Marvel and Capcom fighter while also providing a miracle switch for my hideous lack of fighter talent! This miracle switch is called touchscreen mode, and I whole-heartedly recommend you go out and get this game if you enjoy but suck at fighters like me. I’ll go further in-depth on this, but if that’s all you came here to find out, then that’s your answer. Anyway, the touchscreen controls are a Godsend, as all you have to do is repeatedly tap the enemy (or yourself) and flashy, fantastic combos will perform themselves in quick, lightning succession. It’s a flurry of images, sound effects and tapping, and it’s the sort of mindless fun I want my UMvC3 to be.

As far as other improvements go upon the original game, there’s this cool new mode that lets you play through a territory-control style minigame while achieving new turf by fighting others either online or off. It’s really neat, and if you have a clan or something similar, it’s a heck of a lot of fun. The basic modes from the orignal game are still present, and the overall package feels really solid.

Overall, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 Vita Edition is just barely good enough for me to recommend you get it, even if you hated its console brethren. It’s not the all-inclusive package that you might get from, say, Persona 4 Arena, but it’s still a damn good time. For fighting game noobs or hardcore gamers who want some Capcom gaming on the go, this one’s a must.

Review of “The Asylum” Escape Plan DLC

Is it worth the twenty five cent sale price? Yes. Is it worth five frickin’ dollars? No.images

The Asylum adds another fourty or so levels to the hundred and twenty (if you include the free Bakuki’s lair DLC) that are already in Escape Plan. Not only that, but it adds quirky little costumes for your two inky blobs, Lil and Laarg to dress up in. It’s fun to pass the time seeing your two little characters roam around in gladiator outfits through the new and dangerous levels, but none of them stand out as something that absolutely demands attention for this DLC.

If Fun Bits Interactive starts spitting out more DLC priced at a quarter, it’ll be worth it. But for five bucks, an hour of content just isn’t enough.

For the full review of Escape Plan, click here.

Review of Escape Plan for PS Vita

I’ve had this game for, like, a year now.escape-plan-ps vita

Escape Plan is a puzzle platformer that uses touchscreen controls only. Initially, that sounds like a really scary premise: Precise puzzle movements that are controlled solely by twitchy fingertip recognitions. In reality, the final product is actually pretty great and does a good job utilizing its control scheme.

The motions you’ll play Escape Plan with are finger taps, swipes, swirls and rear touchpad bumps. It’s all utilized extremely well, and rarely do levels require awkward combinations of the previously mentioned movements. On the best of levels, you actually start to think touchscreen controls are a good thing in gaming. It’s a combination of the clever level design and quirky gimmicks that make the touchscreen gameplay work, as levels and gimmicks allow you enough processing time to figure out the puzzles and keep your fingers moving. I think that’s the key to touchscreen gaming, allowing you enough time to do your motions on-screen correctly, which Fun Bits Interactive (the developer) nails.

While gameplay alone is a big plus for Escape Plan, its real charm lies in its presentation and audio. The game chooses to diversify itself from other platformers by being completely black and white, like something out of a classic Mickey Mouse cartoon. Not only that, but every character hosts an inky, blobby physique, one that complements the two color color scheme perfectly. As simplistic as the visuals are, the graphics maintain cutting edge status for Vita standards, the lighting/shading effects being a perfect example of Escape Plan’s graphical capabilities. With that said, things still have an innocent factor to them that the game’s decidely classical soundtrack only helps to exemplify. Beethoven’s 5th playing as two black and white inky blobs scuttle and bumble their way through obstacles such as razor blades and giant hammers has a certain appeal that not many games have, being both perilous and humorous at the same time.psv-escape-plan-ss4

In conclusion, Escape Plan is both a poster child of intuitivity (new words ftw) and proper touchscreen controls, two things gaming as a medium is in desperate need of. Even if there’s only three to four hours worth of content in the actual package, Escape Plan’s unique allure alone is enough to justify the fifteen dollar price tag.

Review of Table Top Tanks for PS Vita

This is probably the most worthless yet worth it game I’ll ever get for my Vita.

Note: This game is extremely reminiscent of the tanks minigame from Wii Play, so I’ll be drawing a lot of comparisons between the two.

Sound: Cheesy sound effects. and that’s pretty much it. But for Wii Play “Tanks” veterans such as myself, there’s a huge nostalgia factor. Sound: 7/10

Presentation: The whole AR card gimmick isn’t very impressive, and only provides a background for your tank battlefield. With that said, the actual objects, tanks and textures look identical to that of the gloriously cartoony “Tanks” graphics, which is a major plus. Presentation: 7/10

Gameplay: My God, they might as well have just ported “Tanks” to the Vita. It controls exactly the same as the already mentioned Wii Game, with a slow little tank chugging along while shooting Nerf missiles at enemies/objects. It’s pretty fun and addictive, but having to set up those mother friggin’ AR cards every time you want to play a match is a serious damper. Gameplay: 7/10

Multiplayer: It uses ad-hoc, which is pretty much nerd code for “never gonna find a match”. And it’s true, because the ad-hoc only connects you with close range players, and oddly enough I couldn’t find a single match after a whole day of trying. I can only assume it’d be fun. Multiplayer: 2/10

Length: Loads of single player missions, a questionable multiplayer and a create-your-own-course mode add up to a few solid hours of fun, all for a cheap two dollars. Length: 8.5/10

Overall: Table Top Tanks gets a 6.3 out of 10. There may be lots of content, but the game just isn’t deep enough to actually be considered anything more than a light Vita diversion. Couple that with the practically non-existant multiplayer, and I recommend this only for those with two dusty dollars sitting in your Sony wallet.