The Witcher 2

I hope you have a GTX 980 and an i7-4770k, otherwise – you aren’t enjoying this game on ultra graphics.

But, if you’re willing to turn the graphics down a tad. The Witcher 2 improves upon the original in almost every conceivable way. Immensely better graphics, way better combat system, way friendlier user interface both for mouse/keyboard and controller, better animations, and a more engaging story. As old as it is, the game still looks extremely impressive. There are a great deal of natural landscapes and vista scenes that just make for great eye candy, for example. The castle siege at the beginning is quite a sight, too.

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Unfortunately, like the first game, that beauty is somewhat skin deep. Just like so many areas in The Witcher were cordoned off with invisible walls and fences or unopenable doors, so too are areas in the sequel. The game makes a point of showing you that you can use your medallion to find alchemy/other ingredients, but the perceived ability to run around the map and find things fades pretty quickly when you realize all of the lootable objects are blatantly obvious and never in the middle of nowhere. As much as I’d like to call it open world, it isnt, not any more than the first game.

Most important of all the improvements in Witcher 2 is the combat system. Good lord, the combat system is so, so much better than the original unengaging, frustrating, and primitive click-timing based system that so many games like Tera and Neverwinter capitalized on. It’s an MMO game style and it has no place in a single player game, so thankfully it was changed. W2 combat plays much more like an action RPG where left and right click or the equivalent gamepad controls determine strong or regular attacks. The timing of your button presses still affects your combos and the animations, and you still get the combo bonuses from the first game but they are a little less goals this time around, and more like rewards.

I do have negative things to say. People worship this game and Witcher 1, this game especially, for being so much different. Having played it now, I can conclusively say they are wrong. The game does have DLC. It does have QTE’s – extremely stupid ones for that matter. It has plenty of cutscenes, a bad save system that scares you in to manually saving whenever possible, and it does one of those awesome things like God of War 2 and 3 both did where you start out – in the tutorial – having skills, then dumps you with a crappy Geralt who has to relearn everything he learned in the first game, as if the first time he lost his memory wasn’t enough. They don’t even try to cover it up with a story excuse. How about just being super powerful for a moment, then facing equal or tougher enemies immediately once all game mechanics are introduced? Nah? Also, you have to meditate to use potions, and the entire quick menu section is convoluted, but at least you don’t need a campfire this time around.

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Overall though, Witcher 2 is a very good RPG – beautiful, fun combat, entertaining story (That bears a lot of similarity to Game of Thrones at times. Kingslayer, Vallettes always pay their debts, king with ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ children blah blah, etc.) Definitely buy this game if you liked the first one or were interested. It’s worth the price it’s at.

Bound By Flame

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It’s not that Bound By Flame is a bad game, per se, but within an hour of starting the game it’s pretty easy to see why the scores aren’t overwhelmingly positive for this title. It plays no differently, on the surface, from most other action RPG/hack and slash hybrids, but it doesn’t play as well as them either. While any of both your more popular hack and slash games and true action RPGs like Witcher 2, Darksiders, Darksiders 2, DMC 3 through 5, Metal Gear RR, God of War, and dozens of others utilize well built control schemes to condense various types of magic or abilities into one place, Bound By Flame makes the mistake of forcing you into a more MMO-familiar numerical menu, or quick-wheel which pauses the action, in order to do anything more advanced than swing a sword. In addition to this, the game utterly lacks a proper dodge function.

You can parry or dodge, but you can’t do both in the same stance. If you use warrior stance, you can parry, which doesn’t particularly help against large groups of enemies which can easily murder you regardless of parrying if more than one enemy hits you. Combined with the fact that you barely gain any HP from new armor or even levelling up, and you spend far too much time being a weakling that can be taken down by a pack of even the weakest enemies, your quest to simply survive until the ending is a frustrating one. If you use ranger stance, your combat is much faster and you can actually dodge – whether timed correctly or not – and it’s quite disappointing that you just can’t play the game without another stance.

In addition to that, while the premise of the game is for you to balance or choose between flame demon and human, you really have no choice but to use fire magic to accomplish anything. It’s just too bad even after putting skill points into it, your spells still cost so much mana.

As for the story and the dialogue, they really aren’t special enough to earn any praise. The dialog combines a lot of modern English and profanity (not that there wasn’t profanity in the old days) with the demon speaking in strictly Shakespearian English – to the point where the juxtaposition is just ridiculous. While I would like to be interested in the story, I find myself skipping through the dialog and cutscenes once the subtitles have displayed so I can get back to the game. Interactions with party members also seem ridiculous and overall your characters attitude is juvenile and callous, down to the wording he uses when he talks to people.

As a PC gamer I have to unfortunately comment on the graphics. When games like the Witcher 2/3 and Lords of the Fallen are basically the same thing, and your game looks like this on ultra, it doesn’t impress me. These graphics aren’t terrible, but they aren’t good either.

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I really wouldn’t buy this game until it’s on major discount – 10 dollar or less. The overall quality of the game combined with how short it is doesn’t merit even the $20 I paid. If you need an action RPG fix, this will satiate you – briefly, at least, but I fear it will not tide you over until a better game releases.

Final Fantasy XIII

 

Two things here:

Port:

Unsurprisingly, because why should Square Enix comprehend to any degree whatsoever the markets they are selling to especially when it comes to the Western PC gaming market, FFXIII for PC is not optimized by any definition of the word. The port itself is locked to 720p 30 fps, and the only way around this is to use Durante’s SweetFX-esque shader modifer to force override the locked resolution to 1920×1080 or whatever you want. You could also downsample and customize all of the graphics options which Square Enix did not include, at all, in the game.

Even so, and ignoring that Durante’s plugin is an early alpha build he spat out in a day, the game still runs terribly at 1080p unless you are already using a beastly GTX 980 and the latest-gen i7s. At 1080p with graphics truly set to low, the game looks good – but also runs horrendously. It’s certainly not unplayable, but pretty much defeats the purpose of gaming on PC when you could buy an xbox for 50 dollars and pick this game up for about 5, and “enjoy” basically the same experience.

Did I mention the 20 or 30gb of uncompressed cutscene videos you are forced to download just in case you want to listen to the Japanese audio? How about the fact that literally every time you launch the game, you have to customize the “options” – such as the on screen button displays – or they won’t work? Don’t worry though. Even if you do change the button descriptions to “controller”, it will still show keyboard keys and not 360 buttons or even Playstation buttons.

Oh, by the way, if you have terrible internet – do not use Steam cloud. In fact, don’t use Steam cloud for this game. If you do, the game will ONLY save to the cloud and will not create a local copy. As soon as you go offline or you turn off cloud sync, your save will be inaccessible.

Game:

FFXIII is hands down the worst final fantasy game ever made. There are those who dispute this, and good for them, but it’s not opinion. The combat system is drastically hands-off in comparison to even FF12 which literally played the game for you, and to make that better, it suffers from asinine mechanics that never should have made it past quality testing. Specifically, if your party leader dies, it’s game over immediately. They fixed this in 13-2 obviously but, this isn’t 13-2, is it? Once you get waist deep in the game, though, the combat and the paradigm shift system are fully realized – but they never make for an interesting battle except for a few select boss encounters.

The voice acting is hard to deal with, in English anyway. Hopefully everyone knew that already but you have some of those PC master race kids on here who only game on PC. Vanille’s VA is schizophrenic at the best of times, and really the only voice acting you can deal with is Snow.

It’s somewhat of a shame, though, as the game does have impressive graphics and a decent story. You’ll just have to deal with a cavalcade of bullshit until you can actually enjoy the game – which will happen literally at Chapter 11 or so. Until then, you will be forced to use subsets of all available characters as they journey in separate groups around Cocoon and Pulse. For the first chapter, you can’t even level up or change your roles.

The crystarium is a cruel joke and all it does is make you hate it for not being the sphere grid. Again, they kind of fixed this in 13-2 and LR, too late though. So, more pure linearity to enjoy. The entire game is one long hallway until you get to a room – Gran Pulse Archlyte Steppes – and even so that “room” isn’t exactly the most expansive free roaming area. All of this culminates in literally the easiest last boss I can remember in any RPG.

Unless you didn’t suffer through this game the first time, or you’re a collector – don’t even bother.

Remember Me

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Contrary to what many critics say, Remember Me is actually quite a good game. The graphics are quite impressive, on PC, even though if you examine each thing in the game individually the textures don’t appear to detailed or high resolution, and there are plenty of beautiful scenes and vistas in the game. Combat is accomplished with a “customizable” combo system in which you can replace certain pre-determined buttons with various different types of attacks which increase your power, restore your health, decreasse your “Special” cooldown time, and others. Ultimately the combat is not too complex and usually consists of very simplistic patterns like X Y Y X Y Y, or X X X, but it proves fun regardless when combined with later abilities gained and new enemy types to which you must adapt.

The story isn’t exactly “new”, as it builds upon concepts floating around the science fiction world and even Hollywood for decades. You are tasked with correcting the “wrongs” of a Paris, neo-Paris, in which Dumbledores pensieve has become commercial technology for every citizen to use – leading to memory junkies, and all sorts of weird “digital” modifications as well as multiple oddly labelled “memoriel” concepts which Capcom seems to have made up.

The platforming isn’t remotely as challengng as some harder platformers, but really it’s a lie to say that any 3D platforming game is difficult. That’s one of the only things I remember people complaining about, that the platforming was pretty much on rails and the camera always told you where to go with it’s focus. Regardless, the game is some good fun without putting forth much effort. On top of that, the graphics in many parts of the game are surprisingly brilliant for a low-key console game – and, it gives me hope that if Capcom actually got their act together, they could use many of the lighting effects and creepy environments in Remember Me as a good example of how to fix some of the atmospheric problems of Resident Evil.

Posted: October 13.

Fake PC Gamers

The group of gamers I hate more than anything – more than Sony fanboys, more than Nintendo fanboys, or Xbox fanboys, even more than actual PC gamers, is fake PC gamers. Seriously.  Just look at this.

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What a fucking idiot. These people shouldn’t be allowed on a computer or the internet at all. He didn’t even bother to research his bullshit statement. Literally 4 seconds of Googling would have proven him wrong. 1920×1080 didn’t EXIST in 2001. Wide screen 16:9 PC monitors were not for sale, in 2001. They weren’t even widely available until 2005 and furthermore, you weren’t running CS at 60 fps WITH a brand new GPU in 2001.

Know how I know that? Because I was fucking there. CS was my shit. Of all the frequent LAN parties I went to, I never even met a person with a widescreen monitor that did 1080p. You would think one of those hundreds of people, some of whom were gauranteed to have better machines, would have one. Oh wait I know, because they didn’t exist.

That’s aside from the fact that out of over 100 million games, the minority is running games in 4K. 4K monitors are more expensive than the actual GPUs needed to run games at 4k. Not everyone is doing it, or using display port.

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And this is all because of, essentially, the above pic – because Squeenix released the worst PC port of all PC releases this entire year, and said they would do better next time.

Fist of Jesus

Absolutely worth the 10 dollars. I bought this game on literally nothing but a half view of the trailer and some screenshots. If you like Battletoads, X-Men, Simpsons, AVP, TMNT, Final Fight, Castle Crashers, Double Dragon, Scott Pilgrim, or any other game in the beat em up genre, you will love this.

Unless you’re a diehard Christian with no sense of humor – then definitely stay away.

For the first 2 hours I played this game tonight I was laughing my ass off at the dialog, the animations, the names of powers, the enemies, and everything in general.

There is one thing I will note and that once you get deep into the game like chapter 3 and beyond, it gets harder than hell, no joke. Have fun beating Lazarus the second time, I gave up after 10 fails. I may be missing something.

You get Judas and Jesus and can swap between them – though thus far the controller bind for this does not work at all – and they each get 3 unique powers, usually one being protective, one being an AoE, and the other being a straight line attack that is also AoE but can only hit in a straight line. Your characters can pick up various weapons and items in the levels or buy them before it starts, and you can also destroy world objects to gain items.

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Each level presents a goal you must meet before the timer ends in order to proceed. Usually it is to survive but in the harder levels it is to kill a certain amount of enemies and gain a certaina mount of points, without dying, before the timer runs out. And on some of these levels, it’s ridiculously hard – enemies will literally fill the screen until it’s impossible to move.

Regardless, I haven’t had this much fun with a game in a very long time.

Resident Evil 4 HD

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Chances are you’ve played Resident Evil 4 about 194 times already.There’s nothing inherently wrong with the game but the fact is that even on a medium spec machine, which easily dominates the consoles this HD port was released on 2 years ago, the performance is going to be sub par.

I can’t explain why a game that runs at 1080p/60fps on a powerPC Xbox 360 machine runs like crap on a PC – obviously it’s the advanced FXAA and such – but it’s pretty ridiculous. Any time the particle effects become intense on the screen (So, basically, the entire last half of the game when you are being shot constantly and things are always exploding) your frame rate is going to drop into the single digits without at least a GeForce 7 series card.

Better yet, the game doesn’t even look noticeably better on PC at max graphics than it does on console. Other than that there are some occasional, weird glitches where if you use a controller, it will occasionally display the QTE prompt using the keyboard bindings instead of the controller, but that’s the only technical problem I ever encountered. It also lacks the option to adjust your controller sensitivity, but that isn’t a major problem that will stop you from beating the game.As far as the game, it’s RE4. Same stuff that was all in the PS2 port except it actually looks the way it was supposed to (You know, remember the PS2 port, and the original PC port by Ubisoft – el terriblay). RE4 ultimate edition comes with a PDF artbook and a 2 disc soundtrack, inherent controller support and the same achievements found on the console release.

If you’re a collector or completionist, I’d get this game, but just make sure your machine can run it.

Final Fantasy X HD Remaster

If I recall correctly, this re-master was literally the one reason I got a PS3. Everything else was secondary. Unfortunately, I had to wait 3 years for it to come out after it was announced in 2011. FF10 is my favorite game in the franchise. Yes, it is. I have played every main FF game until and including the 13 trilogy and sorry, I don’t care for 7 or 8.

As someone who still owns two copies of PS2 FFX, the regular and the international version, I have the privilege of freshly remembering and being able to compare the games side by side – not that I have because lugging TVs around is wasted energy, but I can walk between rooms. Obviously, and that’s why we paid $40, the game looks better. The majority of the textures have been either upscaled or reworked and the game runs at a native 1080p. I’ve yet to ever notice any technical issue or framerate drop 100 hours in and doubt there are any.

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Several, but not all, characters have received a makeover. Lulu, Auron, Yuna, Rikku, Kimahri, Tidus, and Wakka allegedly all have new models. In the earlier stages of the game, it’s not noticeable. Obviously Wakka looks different from the moment you meet him but Tidus, Auron, and Kimahri all look the same as ever. Lulu does too, for the most part. Yuna is the weird one. Her head shape seems to change at will when switching between pre-rendered cutscenes (not the actual CG movies) and real-time rendering. Everything looks the same, as far as the main characters, just better.

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Therein lies the problem, if you call it that. All of the main characters were spritzed up. No one else was. Seymour, Mika, Kinoc, Jyscal, Jecht, and the 7 party members. Every other person in Spira still uses their original PS2 model and original textures. In scenes where the party shares the camera with extras, the difference is jarring. It isn’t necessarily a huge problem and I don’t think people expected a complete remake, but it comes out ugly when you visit highly populated areas like Luca.

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See how both Auroch’s players skin looks kind of like crap in comparison?

As many people are aware, FF10 was the first fully voice acted game in the series. Rest assured, the infamous voice acting from the original game has not been altered. You can still enjoy that awful forced laughing scene with Tidus and Yuna. You can still listen to Yuna’s frequently inappropriate Shatnering when she delivers her lines. Really, the voices themselves sound exactly the same as the original and that’s all I expect. It is funny though, to note that because this is just an HD Remaster of the International version, the lip animations were animated to the Japanese dialog. So, like your favorite kung fu or Godzilla movies, you get to watch their lips continue to move long after they finish talking. Fortunately, you can switch to Japanese audio.

As far as new content, this collection really doesn’t have any. The expert sphere grid, Dark Aeons, and Penance were all featured in the International release. As this is the international version, the only additional content is the Eternal Calm video and FFX Last Mission, which really don’t contribute a lot to the story.

The main feature of this release is the soundtrack. The original soundtrack has been completely re-recorded by the original artists in what often seems to be an orchestral arrangement. Whether you enjoy the revised OST is entirely up to how stalwart and close-minded you are, but speaking from experience, I would never go back to the original after hearing this. Everything has been cleaned up and recorded at higher fidelity. Each individual instrument can be identified now and personally, Seymour Omnis’s battle theme might be the most bad ass thing since FF7, including the original FFX version.

In regards to the gameplay, this version seems significantly easier than the original FFX release. I’m using the standard sphere grid. I beat every boss on the first try and not once did I ever stop in any area to level any more than random encounters forced me to. This was not the case in the original game and believe me – though I’ve since played International and even replayed FFX original multiple times and thus know the game by heart, I still had to grind during those playthroughs. Not this time.  Even the celestial weapon minigames seem easier.

I have one qualm and it’s not a big one but it is a compound one. Maybe two qualms. First of all, in order to get the last Jecht sphere and thus unlock Auron’s last Overdrive – Tornado – you have to return to Besaid, at which point you have no choice but to fight Dark Valefor. Allegedly he is the easiest Dark Aeon but even so, you would have to level for days and days to get your characters strong enough to take him on. Thus, you must use Yojimbo, which many including me feel is cheating. Either way though, it requires a lot more work than it should to get the last Overdrive. This leads me to my second complaint. There is no trophy for defeating all the Dark Aeons, or maybe all Monster Arena creations. There is a trophy for Penance and Nemesis, both of which were in the original International release just like the Dark Aeons, so I feel there should have been a trophy. It would also have been nice to get one for Omega weapon.

For $40, including the artbook and FFX-2 HD, there is absolutely no reason not to buy the last good Final Fantasy game.

Deadlight

 

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Platforms reviewed: PC, X360

I actually purchased this game on Steam, for about 2 dollars admittedly, long ago during a sale. I also have the free copy from Xbox Live, and have played both. The game plays exactly the same regardless of platform.

Deadlight is a 2.5D side-scrolling survival horror platformer made by Tequila Gameworks, a team including devs from Blizzard and SCEE (Sony Europe), as well as lesser known developers. I classify it as survival horror because technically it is, although the focus is far more on the platforming than on the actual threat of the enemies as opposed to 2.5D survival horror games such as Dark Matter. The game is built with the Unreal engine and looks rather decent for a 2.5D.

Graphically there are some differences, as you would expect, between the console and PC version. Everything generally looks the same but you can tell in the Xbox version that things are lower resolution and, obviously, it’s not running in 1080p. Unfortunately, that’s one of the downsides to the game. The PC version didn’t receive any special attention and so even at 1920×1080 or higher, the game looks similarly shoddy and jagged on PC. Ultimately it’s not a big deal nor will you notice because the gameplay will keep you busy for the short amount of time the game takes to beat.

The story of Deadlight is revealed mostly through a comic storyboard, and it kind of reminds one of Walking Dead (the book) in both manner and presentation. In addition to that, there are some in-game sequences, but none of them are pre-rendered or out of your control. You participate in flashbacks and dreams and nightmares. The story itself is somewhat contrite and doesn’t particularly do anything to distinguish itself from dozens of other zombie stories, so any regular enjoyer of this genre isn’t going to pay more than a passing glance to the plot. On top of that, it bears more than coincidental similarities to Walking Dead. The Rat’s son literally is Glenn, I’m just saying. Even acknowledging the frequent references to Dante’s Inferno – which I never finished – I’m not sure they really add anything to the plot. Then again, I never finished the Divine Comedy because it’s boring. I didn’t even finish Inferno.

So that leaves the gameplay. Fortunately, Deadlight is one of the more challenging platformers out there. It’s not Castlevania or Ninja Gaiden or Strider hard, but it’s also a different game and isn’t supposed to be. There are some absurd challenges in the later stages of the game which seem almost impossible to defeat except by luck, at least until you’ve beaten the game and are used to them. The platforming is fun and seems quite natural – nothing you jump or hang on ever seems out of place or forced. As for the weapons, in the later stages of the game they are pointless – which is also when you get the most ammo – until the end. At that point, the zombies are frequently infinite and serve as a distraction to solving the puzzles.

In order to completely unlock everything in this game, it will probably take at least two playthroughs and maybe a little less than 12 hours, but considering it was available for free and is frequently discounted over 90% off or even practically free in a bundle, there’s no reason not to try this game out if you like platformers or zombies.

 

Call of Duty

Call of Duty is the worst franchise ever.

The debate rages on all over the net and in real life. People who don’t like shitty games, versus people who love shitty games, with self-appointed adjudicators in the middle who should just shut up and stay that way. You’ll see it everywhere, whether it’s tangential or not to the topic at hand, it all boils down to Call of Duty. There are two major groups: those who absolutely hate it and all it stands for, and those who continue to buy it and proclaim it the most amazing thing ever.

Most of the people who hate Call of Duty have ample reason and first-hand experience to support doing so. I’m one of them. I used to be in a high-ranked CoD 2 clan, in the early years of last decade. We practiced and played CoD 2 all the time, to the neglect of high quality good games. It was a completely different game back then, when you were shooting German soldiers and Nazis. You didn’t have sticky bombs, mortars, predator drones, nukes, ballistic knives, or any of the other mountains of nonsense present in the past 6 Call of Duty titles, like attack dogs.

Let’s face it, the first person shooter genre is more stale at this point than a carton of cigarettes in Fallout, and those are worth more too – they’ll net you 35 caps or more. CoD only managed to succeed because it transcended World War 2, took an idea directly from many other games like Counter-Strike or Battlefield 2, and put a terrible new twist on it that has defined the industry for years since – not in a good way, either. After all, even when CoD came out in 2002, we had all shot more Germans than WW1 and WW2 combined, in games like Day of Defeat, Medal of Honor, World War 2 online, and many others.

Now, we’re shooting various ethnicities per game. Russians, Chinese, Cuban, American, British, Brazillian, French, whatever, the list goes on. All the while the gameplay stays exactly the same, The multiplayer stays disappointing.  These days, I’m starting to determine my age using the annual Call of Duty announcement, rather than my actual birthday. What do we have now? Advanced Warfare? Kevin Spacey, ooooh all the kids love him in House of Cards. We want our franchise to be talked about as much as Game of Thrones.

In order for your franchise to be talked about like Game of Thrones, you’re missing a key element:

People give a fuck about the characters and story in GoT. They hate the Lannisters. They hate the Greyjoys, and Roose, and they want to hate the Baratheons too. They loved or liked the Starks.  Entire book sagas and going on 40 hours of film give you that amount of time with these characters. Furthermore, they are brought to life by actors who are on film – not digitized, not voice acting. There is nothing any character in CoD could possibly do to make you hate them as much as Joffrey Lannister. Even so, the CoD franchise is bereft of any ability to deliver a story on the level of any TV show, even if you don’t hold Thrones in high regard.

And seriously, with the title? Advanced Warfare? Advance Wars, Modern Warfare, Warfighter, Advanced Warfighter, Future Solider, Future War, those were all taken so you went with Advanced Warfare?

Call me when you make Call of Duty: Jurassic Warfare. Call of Duty: Prehistoric Warfare. Call of Duty: Ancient Warfare, something that at least pretends to be different.