Game of the Year 2015

That’s right, there’s only one game I’ve got to celebrate this year; it’s been a dry one. Though, I do have an honorable mention.

Honorable Mention: Duetmaxresdefault
It’s a smart game. Very smart. Clever, witty, addictive, rage-inducing, fun, thought-provoking, etc. All of that wrapped up in a neat little mobile package.

My Game of the Year: Life Is Strangemaxresdefault
Is it campy? You bet. At the same time, is it chock-full of more meaningful branching paths and choices in a story-driven game than any Telltale or Bioware product? Yes. Plus, I was playing that one episode with the terminally sick girl intro at two a.m. one morning and I cried for, like, a half hour. No other game has gotten me to do that or ever will. Sure, the first episode has some issues with teenage-lingo and the final episode stumbles a bit in the villain department, but otherwise, it’s just the best thing to come out of a dev studio this year.

Review of Mortal Kombat X for PC

It’s a damn fine game.Mortal_Kombat_X_Cover_Art

Unlike the shitty companion app, the only issue with Mortal Kombat X‘s big-boy system debut is the fact that the devs are having more than their fair share of patching issues, which is par for the course in today’s culture of releasing broken games. Beyond that, the core package is beyond fantastic.

Here’s the lowdown: the story mode is restrictive in character selection, meaning that you’ll be experiencing it how the devs want you to, rather than choosing a fighter you enjoy playing as, so that sucks. But the towers more than make up for the balls-strangling story mode, as there is such a diversity of challenges between the living and traditional towers that finding a match modifier to suit your mood is almost guaranteed. Similarly, the single match options and special invasion boss challenges offer a good amount of fun for recreational play. Surprisingly, I found my favorite mode to be fatality practice mode. Now, this is my first Mortal Kombat, so this may have been in others and I just didn’t know, but having an entire mode dedicated to practicing fatalities is great, and I absolutely appreciate it.

Next up is the Krypt, where all the unlockables are hidden. The thing is like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter if it got a MK makeover, being a first-person exploratory den of spiders and graveyard of tombstones, all primed for discovery. There are hidden items that you can use to unlock new areas, like if you find Raiden’s hat in one area it means you can access a new path in another, and so on and so forth, making it more than just an unlockable cove but an entire meta game in and of itself, which is cool. And the jump-scares here are surprisingly more effective than anything I encountered in Dead Space 3… even if that’s not saying much.

Moving over to online mode, which is what I’m referring to if I say anything related to invasion challenges, is where the game really shines, contrary to what popular internet whining might have you believe. The elephant in the room is how Netherrealm can’t do online for shit, and I’m here to say: yes, in fact, they can. I’ve encountered three or four unplayable matches out of the two hundred plus I’ve enjoyed so far online, with the overwhelming majority of those sporting great connections and fostering fun competition. Online is chock full of content, including the staples such as King of the Hill, Survival and of course ranked and player matches, but the new invasion content really mixes up what we’ve come to expect from online fighting games. Everyone has a faction, and you compete in special online events to earn points for your faction, typically earning you extra koins at the end of the week if your faction wins, which can be redeemed in the Krypt for cool stuff. Some say the faction system is broken since Lin Kuei has been dominating the past two weeks, but over the past few days I’ve seen it even out and now the White Lotus are leading. Basically, there’s an achievement to get level 50 in every faction, so naturally the community is sorting itself out so that no one faction is dominating anymore. This is a good thing.

Now that I’ve covered the surface level content, let’s talk about the core gameplay, because what good are modes and avenues of play if the play itself is bad? Luckily, of course, fighting game fanatics can ease their worries, as MKX is probably my favorite fighter of all time. Now, this is coming from a guy who sucks competitive dick at fighting games, but let me put up a comparison for you: I’ve played Injustice, SF4 (all versions of it), SFXTekken, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Soul Calibur 4&5. Out of all those games, the closest I ever got to being “good” was Soul Calibur 5, and the closest I ever got to being good in a traditional fighter was Injustice. My win to loss ratio in Injustice was 2/30, give or take. I am that bad at fighting games, and the ratio was even worse for Street Fighter. Point of the matter is, my current ratio, for MKX, is somewhere in the neighborhood of 220/30, no shit. There are two reasons for this, both of which are specific to MKX: firstly, the block button. This shit is a necessity for me, rather than that horrid Japanese-style hold back to block nonsense, as this isn’t twitch based, but grounded in strategic timing. I love it. Secondly: the variations of each fighter. I main Goro and D’vorah (the first fighting game I’m good enough to say I main characters in, yay!) and here’s the thing, I actually know, skill-wise, why I like the versions of them that I do. Kuatan Warrior Goro is better than Dragon Fang Goro for me, because the former allows for immediate wake-up combo grabs, rather than the latter’s reliance on a little damage buff for every hit. For D’vorah, I like Swarm Queen over Venomous because the former has moves that immobilize the opponent longer, versus the latter’s shorter stall times. But that’s the thing: every variation serves a purpose for a different kind of player, and that’s something I’ve missed in other fighting games, like Injustice for example. Let’s say I loved Aquaman in that game, but disliked his anti-air techniques. If he were in MKX, one of the three variations of him would undoubtedly remedy this problem by taking out one or two moves to make room for a better anti-air attack selection. It might seem small, but it makes an otherwise deal-breaking character feasible. It’s a great inclusion.Mortal-Kombat-X-3

So there you have it, my lengthy review of Mortal Kombat X. It’s a fucking wonderful game, as long as you have a great internet connection, don’t want to garner your playtime through story mode and have a tolerance for more of this generation’s rampant patching nonsense. If you can handle those three things, then MKX will blow your mind, guaranteed, if not figuratively then literally in a fatality.

Gamerrob’s Top 5 Games of 2014

While it’s been a pretty bad year for games overall, a few quality titles did manage to slip through the cracks. So, let’s see what five games I found to be the most enjoyable from the lacking selection pool of this year’s releases.

Honorable Mention – Valiant Hearts: The Great War – PC

header

For all the shit Ubisoft pulled this year, the release of Valiant Hearts was a breath of fresh air. It’s using the same gorgeous engine that the recent Rayman games used, which means it also has an amazing art style. While it’s weak by gameplay standards, it has a good story with a good message.

5.) Murdered: Soul Suspect – PC

murdered soul suspect screen

If you wanna talk about underrated and unappreciated games, look no further than Murdered: Soul Suspect. The game sold so poorly that Airtight Games went out of business after developing it, for crying out loud. Not to mention that critically it did poorly thanks to mainstream media shitting on anything that’s different. In short, it is an awesome point and click murder mystery game with a good plot, fun enough gameplay, wonderful graphics and a chilling atmosphere.

4.) Ryse: Son of Rome – PC (it’s a 2014 release for PC so it counts)

B0h5SpWCIAEo33Q

I can understand why some wouldn’t like Ryse, considering almost the entire game consists of the same under-baked combat from start to finish. But what I think some are overlooking is the fact that the core combat is fun, and that doesn’t change no matter how much you play it. Couple that with a VERY cool campaign with lots of awesome set-pieces (think God of War but mildly more realistic) and an extremely addicting cooperative arena mode, and Ryse is a game that allows for some of the best mindless fun of 2014. Not to mention you can wear the Crysis nanosuit in multiplayer.

3.) Bayonetta 2 – Wii U

WiiU_Bayonetta2_scrn10_E3

While Ryse was more of a guilty pleasure of hack ‘n slashes, Bayonetta 2 is the supreme leader of the genre. Featuring one of the most intricate combat systems in modern gaming, a wealth of content and an over-the-top universe to be absorbed in, Bayonetta 2 is the absolute pinnacle of button mashers. Whether you want quirky Japanese story telling, precision combat or a masterful mix of both, this is the sequel for you.

2.) Titanfall – PC

titanfall

Titanfall was 2014’s comet of gaming: it shined so bright for so brief a time span. A mere two months after it launched the community was on life support, but for those two months it was the absolute acme of online first-person-shooter fun. The movement felt fantastic, the guns were satisfying and the titans were glorious fun. While it might be too late to enjoy this game for yourself considering how hard it will be to find a match, just know that it was definitely worthy of all the hype it generated.

1.) Alien: Isolation – PC

alien-isolation-screenshots-7-alien-isolation-tips-to-help-you-survive-the-xenomorph

If there is one game that oozes quality, hard work and love this year, it’s Alien: Isolation. Every single minute of the game is packed with tension, agony and everything that made the original movie so engrossing. Every mechanic within the game is fully explored and gives the player a wide range of options to use against a downright genius AI, and the atmosphere is second to none coupled with the best graphics and best sound design of 2014. Alien: Isolation is a technical masterpiece and a trophy as to what can be accomplished when you give the right team the right source material.

Review of Bayonetta 2 for Wii U

In short, Bayonetta 2 might just be the finest beat-’em-up of all time. There are good ones, like Devil May Cry, there are great ones, like Anarchy Reigns, and then there are phenomenal ones such as Bayonetta 2. For those saying “not worth buying a Wii U for”, that’s either because you’re not a real beat-’em-up fan or because you weren’t going to buy it in the first place. For anyone with an inkling of interest in this game, know that your anticipation has been completely justified.
WiiU_Bayonetta2_scrn10_E3
Bayonetta 2 signals the return of the titular witch from the original, this time accompanied by a Nintendo-sized budget. All of the original cast return, including sassy rival witch Jeanne and bad-ass bartender Rodin. Some new faces appear as well, but mentioning them would spoil important aspects of the story, so just expect some unexpected appearances. As far as voice acting and story-telling go, Bayonetta 2 is hit or miss. The voice acting is well done for characters such as Bayonetta and Jeanne, but on the other side of the fence you have characters such as Loki who provide some of the worst dialogue and performances in video game history. This falls on both the writers and the voice actors, and while it’s not that important for this kind of game, the lack of truly talented writing and acting do hinder the overall powerful narrative.

In terms of gameplay, if you loved the original Bayonetta or love button mashers in general, then this game has you covered. Not only does it improve upon the original, but it provides so many new weapons and gameplay-altering costumes that the experience feels entirely fresh in a deceptively familiar way. All aspects of the original title are present, including core mechanics such as witch time and animal transformations, as well as the previously unlockable skills such as air-dodge, now available right from the get-go. This means that the game can start expanding and refining on its original foundations right from the prologue, meaning crazy new skills and weapons for veteran players to enhance their experience with right out of the gate. New weapons include everything from a magic bow to a dual-pair of pink, spiky vine-whips (my personal favorites). Each weapon has unique animations depending on if you equip them to Bayonetta’s arms or feet, which results in thousands of different combo-pairing opportunities.WiiU_Bayonetta2_scrn03_E3
In terms of length, Bayonetta 2 clocks in at around fourteen hours, give or take. With tons of different difficulty levels and unlockables, though, there’s ample incentive to replay the entire adventure from start to finish (not to mention that the core gameplay is inherently fun on its own). There’s an online mode called tag climax, a competitive co-op experience where two players try to kill as many demons and angels as possible while competing for the high score. Stages for this mode are unlocked by completing single player chapters, so in a way both modes work together to give each other longevity. Tag climax matches range from five minutes to thirty minutes a piece, and while they’re not especially engaging (not to mention the online community is shitty), the inclusion of the mode serves as a reason to pick up the game every so often for quick bouts of inconsequential action.

Lastly, the soundtrack. Bayonetta 2 has turned one of the most slowly-paced Frank Sinatra songs, “Moon River”, into one of the most rip-roaring and fun pop songs in recent memory. Not to mention the main theme, “Tomorrow is Mine”, is absolutely fantastic in its own right. These two songs sung by the amazing Keeley Bumford, in accompaniment to a fantastic soundtrack including such classics as the “William Tell Overture” mean that pretty much anyone with a love of music will find something to jam out to.

One minor note is that graphical fidelity has been noticeably upgraded since the last time around. Not too much given the hardware limitations, but there is definitely a visible improvement since 2009’s Bayonetta.

With the only minor downside being some occasionally shoddy writing and acting, you are committing a sin against yourself if you love beat-’em-ups and ignore Bayonetta 2. Even I, one of the most casual button mashing gamers in recent memory, absolutely adored every moment I spent with the game and can see the unlimited potential it has to entertain hardcore fans. With one of the most engrossing action experiences of all time under its hood, a glorious female protagonist, a large assortment of content and a surprisingly accessible touchscreen mode (although most players, like myself, will prefer the traditional button scheme), this Wii U exclusive adventure might be the best game Nintendo releases all year (yes, I am considering Smash Bros. in that comment). In short, if there is one console exclusive worth supporting this year with your hard-earned cash, it’s Bayonetta 2.

And if somehow you’re still on the fence, remember that it even includes the original Bayonetta (complete with some snazzy Nintendo-themed gameplay-altering costumes), so you’re getting two of the best button mashers of the decade in one package.

Top 5 Reasons Destiny is the Worst Game Ever

Before we kick this off, let me say that “Worst Game Ever” is a sarcastic title, just so that I can keep this article in league with my other “Worst Game Ever” write-up for Assassin’s Creed 3. ┬áBUT, I do make these to point out glaring flaws and stupid aspects of the game that everyone is overlooking. With that out of the way, let’s see why Destiny is on track to suck later this year!download

5.) It’s a watered-down Halo. Bungie really doesn’t know how to do anything else. Want a handful of Halo assets palette-swapped and on the PS4? Then I guess this is the lowest common denominator game for you!

4.) It’s a watered-down Borderlands. Can you collect shit? Yessir! Is there any real addictive nature to upgrading weapons, adjusting stats, and the usual RPG jargon? No.

3.) Boatloads of exclusive content. Sony’s getting exclusive content, Gamestop’s getting exclusive content, and Microsoft gets shafted by their former lovers at Bungie. I honestly couldn’t care less about who gets what, but it’s a disgusting practice that pisses me off every time it comes up.

2.) Cross-Gen malarkey. When a game crosses gens, you have idiots on the “next gen” side claiming that the game is watered down in order to accommodate the previous gen. When, in actuality, it is the previous gen’s game slightly bolstered to look incrementally prettier on the more current consoles. Diminishing returns, anyone?

1.) ┬áThe hype is unreal. The majority of people playing the beta say “it’s okay, has potential, not all that entertaining”. People are sizing this thing up to be the second coming of Christ, when in all honesty it looks like it’s gonna be another Watch_Dogs, albeit with less controversy and corporate politics. Ride that hype train all you want, but I guarantee when regular people get their hands on the retail versions of Destiny, the train will come to a screeching halt.