Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Saints Row; Gat out of Hell

Pointlessly Pleasing.


   There is no point to Saints Row, Gat out of Hell. There was never a moment in the game where I felt as though my actions were progressing, changing or in any way altering any part of the game. The fun, that to be had, was over at the same moment the game was, for better or for worse.

  The game is a series of 'quests' to grow in 'power' so the hero can take on Satan and win freedom for fellow crewmates. The problem, however, is that each of the quests feels completely like the previous. Different historic figures have ended up in hell, and, as the player, you must gain their favor in order to disrupt  Hell enough for Satan to notice. But, each of the party leaders have quests that are often exactly the same as the other's. They do not, in any way, tie to the character who you are striving for the favor of, which leaves the game feeling as though you are meeting somewhat interesting characters, only to be a boring errand boy.

  In reviewing this game, I feel as though I should leave the review shorter than usual. I prefer shorter reviews, but this game simply does not have enough substance to make for a full-fledged review. The game is easy to beat, amazingly so. Doing just the main missions I was able to purchase enough powers and upgrades that Satan's boss fight was a series of freezing him and shooting when he was immobilized. After finishing the fight, I had 0 intention of going back into the game world, as further upgrades simply would have made my character far too powerful to even be remotely close to the realm of challenging and fun. This game recognizes that players enjoy the sweet taste of success, but instead of moderately giving slices of candy, this game drags a player through the entire Willy Wonka chocolate factory at an alarmingly fast speed.

  The positive, however, is the game world itself. Hell is a blast to explore in flight. Coop was tested, and it worked exceptionally well on multiple occasions in typical Saints' fashion. If there is anything that other large open-world games could learn from this series, it is making a game fun for multiple people, at once.

 Other things of note include the addition of drivable cars which seems odd, this is mostly notable because of missions where you have to drive and deliver a car to a location. This breaks the excellent flight and fight combination the game rides exceptionally well. Combat can be tricky before weapons are upgraded, but this feeling of needing to upgrade disappears when the player figures out how to acquire new powers, making most enemies a simple repetition of dodge-superpower-shoot-repeat until they die. 

   In the end, Hell is easy and fast to Gat out of. If you loved Saints 4 and wanted more, this may be up your alley. However, if you enjoyed the first three Saints' in the series, this short, 3-5 hour game may be better to Gat away from.

FINE

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Wolf Among Us

A Monster in Sheep's Clothing
  It seemed right that I play a TellTale game. In my mind I do not like games that the narrative is the focus. Give me a combat mechanic, let me play a cool character or tell me a crazy awesome story, but don't walk me through a world you built simply because you built it, to me, that was never a game.

was.

  The Wolf Among Us, and, the TellTale way of playing games, shifted how I was playing a game altogether. It's different. It's paced out unlike anything I have played before, with moments of complete uncertainty that teeter on the brink of downright chaos, simply because I was brash in decision- making or because, in this living, breathing world, the other characters were too fast to make their choices as well. Anger fuels some of the characters, others it's love and for a few, its protection of their own hide that is the motivation, but in the end, the symphony that is found here is breath-taking, even if only because you're holding your breath, hoping you did not completely mess something up. 

  I should note, when playing this game, I tried something unique. A friend of mine was making the choices while I held the controller and actually PLAYED the game, taking care of the action scenes as they came and, if I felt the need, making choices myself, ignoring their input. This helped alleviate some of the mental-wear that I felt I may find playing a game where each choice is carried through. I consistently play games how I see as the 'right' way, and, knowing I was stepping into a world of living characters who may hinder that was a bit much to take head on.

  It has been years since this game was released (two of them, to be exact) and it has been accessible to me all of that time, the only reason it remains unplayed was because of the episodic nature, and the content itself. I am, as I feel other people should be, exceptionally opposed to pre-purchased content. The idea that the game I am buying is to be released, in chunks, over a period of time rather than given to me as a piece, is not something seen in other mediums of art. No album is purchased with the promise that, not only will you enjoy it, you will get it periodically. Blurring the lines between television and games, TellTale is one of the few developers that I can say, in my years of watching pre-bought content burn, does it exceptionally well. Had I bought in right from the get go, I would have been incredibly excited to rip into each new chapter as they were coming out. I do not change my stance and I will not say that buying a product before we know the quality level is a good idea (that is one of the reasons why I write reviews!) but when we have someone who does something well, consistently, we learn to trust them, and I believe TellTale (and maybe TellTale alone) is earning that trust.

  In the end, the game is exciting, it is a living, breathing comic book where you get to write the next pages as they come. There were technical problems, one almost game-breaking one where my dialog was in Spanish for no reason, but the game made it easy to overlook the technical struggles in order to find a new, exciting product.

FINAL SCORE - IMPORTANT

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Reviewing the Ratings

Changing the Game

  This should (hopefully) be a short post about the changes I want to make when it comes to how I, personally, review games. I will be doing away with a number-based system and aim for a more industry-formed way of looking at games and the art that I truly believe they are and can continue to be.

  In popular game sites such as IGN and Gamespot, both of which I am a huge fan, a number system is in place for helping readers pick up and decide what games are worth playing and what games may not be up to par. As with any art or medium, this is important. Helping people be able to shift through the steady flow of games that is released annually is a service that is helpful as well as time saving. However, the number system is something I shy away from, personally. I appreciate Gamespot and their belief that a 10 means a game is a very important piece of gaming. A 10, to them, does not represent a perfect game, but rather, a game that should be in one's gaming collection, if at all possible. Using this way of thinking, as well as my personal conversations with fellow gamers and gamers-to-be, I formed my own system.

  • IMPORTANT: These are games that shape the industry. These are games that changed the game. An important game is not flawless and a great game is not always important. However, in an important game we see ways of thinking and different things that may and probably should carry into the future of gaming. Examples include Minecraft, Skyrim, Metal Gear Solid V; The Phantom Pain, Titanfall, Dishonored, Super Mario World, Super Smash Bros. Assassins Creed 2, Pokemon GO! and more.
  • GREAT : This game is not less than the first, but simply, is great within the industry, without changing the shape of the industry. A game here may include; Donkey Kong Country 3, Battleblock Theatre, Borderlands 2, Halo 3, Assassins Creed Brotherhood, Far cry 3, Diablo 3, Call of Duty; Modern Warfare 3, and more.
  • RESPECTABLE: This is the center of the scale. A game here may not do everything well, it also may have parts that were great or truly awful, but, overall, the game was not great, however, it is still very playable. Games here include; Saints Row 4, Hand of Fate, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Lego Starwars 3, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, Fable 3, Charlie Murder and more.
  • FINE: While RESPECTABLE has a better collection of good parts, FINE games tend to fall on the other side. These are games that are a little rougher to play or lack aspects that make them feel like incomplete packages or rushed products. Examples include; Fight Night Champion, Dungeon Defenders, Shoot Many Robots, Army of Two, Dead Island, Sniper Ghost Warrior, and more.
  • POOR: By far, the most uncomfortable category. As a reviewer and game lover, I try my very best to believe that games will not fall into this category. Games are art, and, by extension, pointing out the flaws in someone else's art is not only hard and painful, it is a complicated matter as of the 'why' when something does not work well within the context of a game. That being said, games in this category include; Assassin's Creed 3, Kinect Star Wars, Ninja Gaiden 3, Too Human, Ryse; Son of Rome, and more. This category, hopefully, will continue to be the least used, going forward.
  This is the new system which I shall be using to review games. I cannot speak to the degree of what the audience likes or what the developers or sales teams intend to deliver. I simply will continue to play games and give my thoughts. I have spent thousands of hours playing games and exploring the wondrous lands that have been created ( including the ones I've built myself, thanks Minecraft and Terreria) I intend to spark a conversation and give recommendation based on that, that is all.
- Mattaghetti, Chief Editor.

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Skyrim Remastered

Rebirth
(Reviewed on XOne)
  Skyrim was, of all time, one of my favorite games. The simplicity that comes when you use a skill and it levels up is simply magic. Never in an Elder Scrolls game could I be a mage who can give myself armor just as easily as I could be an archer who can make the deadliest of poisons. 

  In playing the remaster of Skyrim, I was able to push myself further, faster, knowing the basics of leveling skills without having to do the trial and error of the original release. This--with the exception of Blacksmithing and the fixing of the infamous dagger glitch- has lead to me moving through the game easier. It should be noted, as well, that I have started Skyrim numerous times with varying different types of characters, so using my Redguard and pushing him through the same paces that I have done a number of times is easy and just as fun as it has always been. In the places it is the same, Skyrim is still simply delightful.

  With a good remaster, change is the measure by which we should judge the product, and in Skyrim, every change feels as though it breathes life into a land that had plenty of life left in it. If you played any number of the large, AAA titles that have arrived since 2011, chances are you had to take time away from Skyrim to do so. In returning, things seem slightly different, but the differences are simple and near perfection. The god rays that have been added make Skyrim's different environments feel cold and dry when exploring by Whiterun, yet also alone and scary as you venture north, into the watery unknown. The easy shift in the feeling of the game is something that Bethesda has done well, historically, but with changes from clearer skies to cold, musty air, Skyrim feels more alive now than ever. 
  
Past visuals, the game steps away from the loading screens which, in later parts of the game, become painfully long. Thankfully, on the remaster, the game feels fresh and keeps moving, also solidifying the Quicksave on the pause screen, making the well-timed autosave system even better, as the player can simply save on the fly. Kinect, has been removed. Although this is neither a positive or negative, it is becoming disheartening to see companies support for Microsoft and their (frankly awkward) extra peripherals start to slide.
  
The biggest change, of course, is mod support. Before writing this, I was writing to a different member of the game industry about the impact that this change has. Bethesda allowing mods and pushing to get them to consoles (even though Sony has shown reluctance) is a shift in the industry that will hopefully be followed. The mods, in short, work exceptionally well. I have to keep the mod section short, as there are so many (over 1,900 for Xbox one at the time of writing this) and I simply have not tested them all or even a majority. However, of the mods I have tested, I am pleased to say that they improve and change the game in different, exciting ways. Personally, i have used mods that allow items to be melted back down to ores, Ars Metallica, frequently, while swapping out other magic and weapon mods seamlessly, thanks to Bethesda's smart interface building. Unfortunately, tuning on any mods stops achievements and trophies from being earned. It is fair, as the mods can make the game far too easy, but it does make it as though two separate playthroughs are needed, or, one playthrough and then mods simply for the endgame. 

In the end, Skyrim is Skyrim as it had been, but in the most subtle ways, Skyrim is able to be so much more. It has new life, new reason to visit if you loved the game or if you are an achievement hunter who wants to get all of that gamerscore and all of those trophies. Luckily for me, I am both, and my time in Skyrim, with and without mods, has only had the surface scratched.

FINAL RATING: IMPORTANT

-Mattaghetti
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