God Eater 2: Rage Burst Review

godeater_keyart_revisedv11_wlogo-700

Right! Let’s get a mention of Monster Hunter in straight away. There’s no way I can not write this without mentioning the mother of this gaming genre.

I will be mentioning Monster Hunter a fair bit in this review because God Eater 2 is what some would call a clone, whatever you call it, it’s certainly a variant in the genre. It’s a genre that’s rapidly gaining popularity in the west, with Monster Hunter now seemingly reaching cult status with gamers that enjoy a challenge.

There have been many games that use the MH basic formula. That formula simply being – kill things and use their body bits to make better weapons and armour. That’s it. Kill, kill, kill and kill some more. What MH manages and none other seem to get near is an abstract and bizarre game-world, with vague systems and little in the way of real tutorials, to the point of being inaccessible for many.

I’ve played a lot of these types of games now, they’re actually all worth checking out if you can find them very cheap (Ragnarok Odyssey, Toukiden, Freedom Wars being three of my favourite, special mention to Soul Sacrifice, but sadly I never got on with it). They’re all deeply flawed and all have one thing in common – they’re all playable on Sony’s PS Vita. The Japanese have a predilection for hand-held social gaming and Monster Hunter and its bastard babies satisfy that hunger perfectly.

ge2rb_event1

Onto God Eater 2!

That’s why I’m here and you’re here. I just needed to waffle and tell you all where I sit with the game.

If and when you do buy God Eater 2, you actually get two games, both God Eater 2 and God Eater : Resurrection.

They’re both incredibly similar, the same engine and they play almost completely the same, apart from a few changes in skills and weapon and characters.

Oh boy, the characters.

God Eater’s roots are well and truly in traditional Japanese animé. I loathe animé. As soon as I started playing the game(s) I felt as if I was completely out of my comfort zone to be covering it (I probably haven’t seen the right animé for me yet). I just don’t get it. Melodramatics with a cast of annoying school children dressed in European regency clothing does nothing but bring out in a rash of my psyche.

Also the leering. The camera angles concentrating on female characters crotches and backsides. We all like being and feeling sexy, but I’m sure we can do that without a sense of the lecherous now. Sexy is good and should be celebrated to a degree, being lecherous really isn’t cool. Sexy is also consensual and a two-way affair. GE cinematics do often fall into the greasy hole of voyeurism.

ge2rb_event3

The disc version of GE2 comes with GE : Resurrection on both the Vita and PS4. Every purchase of God Eater 2 includes this.

Confused? Fuck me, wait until you get on to some of the gameplay mechanics.

So what do you actually do on these two God Eater games? Like all games from the MH influenced stable, you get a mission. That mission usually involves going to kill a monster and butcher the said monster for resources (bones, the hide etc.), as well as collecting resources from the locale. GE is much the same, with a story centred around mankind being threatened by the ‘Araigami’, they’re just monsters. There’s a story, which is something the MH games do have. You don’t come to these games for story, you come for the combat and GE manages that very well.

As I previously said, both core games are exactly the same, differing stories. They shares assets and locations, but as far as I can see, in terms of narrative they completely standalone games.

I’ve spent most time with God Eater 2 now, also having played a good 6 hours+ on GE:R. Both games actually take about 5 hours to start warming up. This slow start is going to put a lot of people off.

ge2rb_event4

There are also surprising amount of deep systems, obscure terminology, crafting, upgrading, bullet types, AI character upgrading, perks, gadgets and a big pile of other concepts. Those 6 hours of slow games play at the start could and should have been filled with proper tutorials introducing you to all these elements a step at a time. Alas, the tutorials are quite bare. There are references in the menus, but often I felt quite swamped under a deluge of lists.

Fear not if all the above scares you. You can still run out onto those battlefields and pummel shit out of those oversized beasts with your equally oversized weapons. Combat is satisfying. In fact, at times combat is orgasmic. It is fundamentally a pickup and play game. Things do get hairy in terms of tactics further on into the game.

Now I’m giving this game a bit of a kicking, aren’t I? I legitimately didn’t like this game at first, I really regretted taking it on. Despite the gaping flaws, these two games are by far the finest Monster Hunter variants I have played. Those 6 hours of warm up soon give way to some battles that have left me sweating and satisfied. It’s good to be moist.

Combat comprises of you having two weapons, a melee weapon and a gun. Using your God Eater power (pressing triangle on your controller transforms the weapon into a soul-devouring blob). Perform this on a live beast and you activate your ‘Blood Art’, these essentially being your super-power. Perform it on a corpse and collect materials for crafting and upgrading. Your Blood Art can also be activated by playing combos well. All battles see you supported by AI teammates or online matches.

The camera can be awful. On the Vita (which is the lead platform) you can get a bit lost, the camera can lose you, never enough to take you out of the action. On the PS4, colour and hue are lost and textures are ugly.

ge2rb_battle1

Without a doubt, God Eater 2 and Resurrection are the best MH clones I’ve played. They offer both depth and great combat. From my early hours of grumbling and rolling my eyes to the whole shebang, to finding myself forking out money for the Vita version.

There’s a hell of a lot of game here as well. If you’re willing to look beyond the defects, shortfalls in real tutorials and slow start you will be rewarded with a frantic killfest. GE is well worth the time of any Monster Hunter fan or a great way to have a look at one if the genre is new to you.

The games are also cross play and save with the Vita and PS4 and the system of uploading and downloading games works a treat.

The annoying animé story has even started to grow on me as well.

SCORE:8/10

Pros:

Fantastic fast paced and at times, bonkers combat.

Heaps of depth in terms of crafting and skills customisation.

The best Monster Hunter clone I’ve played

Cons:

Looks pretty awful on PS4

Dodgy camera when the fight gets busy.

Pointlessly slow to start and lack of cohesive tutorials.

Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition – PS4

07_after review size

Initially released in 2012 to a mostly positive reception and as a sequel- to the 2010 original Darksiders game. After the demise of Vigil Games & THQ, Darksiders 2 has been resurrected by new publisher Nordic Games, with a vision of imposing life back into the franchise.
For anyone not in the know and who may have missed the last gens effort like myself, you take control of Death, who happens to be the eldest of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, and generally someone you do not want to **** with. One of his fellow Horseman, aptly named War has been taken prisoner and is being held responsible for crimes basically relating to his birth name. Death doesn’t appreciate this so sets out with assistance from his trusty steed ‘Despair’, and a GPS guiding Raven named ‘Dust’ to both free his brother by proving his innocence and simultaneously resurrecting humanity

Darksiders at its basics is a role-playing action game with puzzle elements and an abundance of hack & slash, with the primary weapon being a pair of well-honed scythes you’re more likely to be hacking than handshaking. Secondary weapons are also freely available such as axes, maces & hammers all with their relevant damage wielding stats, in addition to butchering implements such as extended Wolverine claws and other bladed arm-extensions there is a massive variety of tools you can ‘windmill’ aggressively whilst chaining hits into your enemies.
Your foes come in a mixture of all shapes and sizes, however, other than the big boss characters no real strategy is required to slay them down, await their attack, dodge and hit them on the counter-attack is usually enough to show success, what can prove tough and can make it initially tricky early on is they do attack in groups and at the same time. The massive bosses on the other hand, do require the use of your special abilities like the grapple, once obtained, in order to lay the smack down.

02_afterEach kill provides experience points and destroying enough enemies earns you points to spend on new abilities across two skill trees – Harbinger and Necromancer. The first assists you in battle where the second deals with spells, you can focus on one of the tracks or branch out to both as you progress, There are about thirty different skills in all, ranging from dealing additional damage to gaining health from downed enemies to summoning bloodthirsty ghouls or a murder of crows to tag in and fight alongside Death.

Currency is dropped by enemies and chests, and can also be acquired by selling items to vendors. Special “Possessed weapons” are rarely acquired, which provide an excellent mechanic for trading in items, possessed weapon can be upgraded by “sacrificing” standard items to it, and you’ll spend a fair amount of time clearing down your inventory to max out these weapons.

Graphically adding dynamic shadows, the resolution has been raised up to 1080p and locked the frame rate at 30fps, which is a shade disappointing that they couldn’t squeeze out double that to complement Deaths fluid acrobatics. It’s clear to see why when the action heats up the game can stutter which shouldn’t really be a thing this gen, overall there doesn’t seem a great leap from last gen. The time I feel should have been spent on tidying up these issues, a bit of polish would have gone a long way on potentially securing enough attention to warrant a follow-up adventure with either Strife or Fury.

DS2-screen_01

The levels are huge and littered with sub-quests, dungeons, collectibles, to keep you busy between the major plot points & story advancement. In addition to your deathly horse there is a fast travel system in place to get you to where you need to be. The puzzles mostly involve navigating platform sections , jumping on ledges, across beams and running across walls through dungeon areas, these can initially be tricky to see where your next step is. The camera angles at times did lead to frustration, there is definitely an amount of challenge in them and this increases as your skills and journey advances.

Darksiders 2 is currently available for around £20 on PS4 and Xbox One, and whilst the price is definitely a plus for anyone yet to have experienced it and makes it great value for money especially as it includes all the DLC which has been cleverly spliced into the game, the silly season is right on our doorstep. Triple A titles are being released weekly right up to the end of the year, and with a guaranteed 30+ hour of game play, time must really be on your side if you’re able to shoe horn this title in amongst everything else being released, It may have actually paid off to hold off on the release until early 2016. Having said that, the combat is tight and enjoyable and the storyline is compelling, so maybe you should pick this up now and store it in your inventory until the seasonal hype dies down.

Pro’s
Excellent boss fights
Good RPG elements
Fantastic storyline

Cons

Glitches & frame rate issues
Camera angles.
Made minimal use of the next gen hardware

Score 7/10

Umbra – Pre- Alpha Preview

UmbraKSCover-1080p review

I started spotting word of this game over Twitter, a few re-tweets here and there. What was being touted was a Kickstarter project using Cryengine, next-gen graphics and what looked like a whole bunch of fun on the intro video.

They were not wrong.

The build I have been given to test is very early, super early in fact. But from what I played, I loved. Umbra is a hack ‘n’ slash extravaganza. Also did I mention that it is stunning? The Cryengine does just that, makes you want to weep with joy. Watch the video, crank that bitch right up and rejoice as your eyeballs melt out of your face.

Incredible eye candy aside the game plays exceptionally well for a demo that takes up about as much room on your HDD as a well detailed photograph. I’ve played it through a few times, I’m still finding new ways to combine my skills and spells.

Let’s explore the mechanics – you have quite a choice of skills and spells, and you can assign these to either mouse button, and a small pool of additional spells on your number keys – or in my case assigned to my thumb keys on my shiny new mouse. There appears to be space for using a controller as well. Plugging in an Xbox controller led to all sorts of fantastic oddness, but the tech is there to be built on.

There is no fixed progression, you have a mana, rage and stamina pool to draw upon, each combining in their own ways to allow blocking, sword sweeps and fiery death to be visited on the shuffling hordes. Boss characters make an appearance like Diablo – Colours dictating what to expect from the enemy type and what abilities they possess.

Umbra_screenshot_04 review

Spells combine most satisfactorily, much like Diablo, you can build an arsenal of attacks that mean you barely get touched by enemies as they come at you in waves. My favourite being an area attack that flash freezes everyone around you. Allowing you to lay tremendous amount of beat down with your weapon of choice, or as I did, a great big fireball.

The last time I checked, this game has reached its kickstarter target and is well on the way to completing its next stretch targets.

The sheer amount of stuff happening on screen at any one time is staggering. Light interacts with motes of dust, leaves fall from trees, clothing ripples, enemies and not to forget the burly SoB Crusader chap with the *Insert Weapon Here* and shield looking like a Juggernaut. Bodies stay splatted , body parts strewn all over as you lay waste. Bits of scenery have a habit of exploding as well when you start throwing your sword and spells around. It’s truly a feast for the eyes.

Noteworthy Differences :

You get a house, or at least a housing area is promised. The idea of being able to maintain your own little slice of umbra and personalise it at will has a big draw factor form me.

There exists a spell ability called an Apocalyptic Form. This allows the hero to transform into an all singing, all dancing walking nuke which different forms convey different stat boosts and abilities. Sounds exciting, and i can’t wait to see where they take it.

1

 

Wants :

This game is pretty much amazing but there are a few things I would love to see.

  • Spell growth – I get that the more times I use a spell the better (read stronger/more damaging) it becomes. I would love to see alternate spell choices fixed or otherwise. Spell branching into different effects and sprites.
  • A female character, this is a stretch target I know, but it seems a very large stretch.
  • The ability to change my UI how I want it
  • A haunting soundtrack
  • Companions
  • Multiplayer

Try to avoids :

  • Repetition of levels. I love the idea of procedurally generated maps. This will increase replay value massively
  • Diablo and its play it harder – get better rewards. not everyone wants to play the same thing over and over.

 

All in all I can’t wait to see the finished product, Hell, the beta in fact, as this demo is absolutely stunning. If you haven’t backed it or are just curious as to it’s current state you can find them on Kickstarter HERE

 

 

Frugal Gaming Review – Shadow Warrior

shadow_warrior_logo

A Mystical, Action, Adventure, Comedy, Kung Fu, Monster, Ghost Story!

Reboot, Remake or Re-Imagining? I’m not sure which one best describes the snazzy new version of 3D Realms 1997 over the top action-fest. Having originally launched just a year after the cult hit Duke Nukem 3D; which was also developed by 3D Realms, the first game to bear the Shadow Warrior name never seemed quite as popular. It was a good couple of years down the line that I first played it, and whilst it was a solid game it never held the same kind of lasting appeal as the old King did. Fast forwarding fifteen plus years and Shadow Warrior, which launched on Steam some time ago, is now available on the current crop of consoles. Whilst it was Take-Two interactive and Borderlands darling developer Gearbox that finally birthed the abomination that was Duke Nukem Forever, it’s a relatively unknown developer backed by an indie publishing heavyweight that has shepherded Shadow Warrior to release. So, have Flying Wild Hog and Devolver Digital managed to outdo the big boys? Well let’s face it outdoing the “shittiest game of 2011” isn’t really that hard, but Shadow Warrior not only makes the Nukem effort look rank amateur, it’s a cracking game in its own right.

SW_Screen_3

Have You Paid Your Dues Jack?

Filling the shoes of Lo Wang; a wisecracking assassin, you start the game working for a powerful businessman called Zilla. Your task is to retrieve an ancient katana currently in the possession of a collector, if the 3 million dollars that Zilla is prepared to pay doesn’t do the trick, then all options are clearly on the table. Needless to say the money is rejected and you soon find yourself killing loads and loads of people with rather sharp implements and the occasional gun. It’s not long into Shadow Warrior’s 20 odd hour campaign that human enemies will be the least of your worries.

The sword that you were after turns out to be rather special; one of a set of three, that when combined can slay immortals and is pretty much Kryptonite to demons. I did mention demons right? What started as a simple retrieval mission, quickly escalates into pretty much saving the world from all manner of hell spawn. The story actually surprised me, it’s well thought out, well written and the voice acting for the most part is pretty good. It’s funny too, and in a much more grown up way than I was expecting. There is still certainly lowbrow humour, but Shadow Warrior doesn’t rely on this stuff for the laughs, using it more as a homage to the original game and also everything that has influenced it.

shadowwarrior-walkingdead1This Is Going To Take Crackerjack Timing Wang

Gameplay in Shadow Warrior is some of the most fast paced and frantic that I’ve ever experienced in a first person shooter. Enemies swarm, overwhelm and always feel threatening. Combat is played out at such a pace that I really appreciated the ebb and flow of engagements. A five minute onslaught followed by a lull to catch my breath and poke around the corners of the fantastic environments leaves the whole game with a real sense of pace and timing. There is plenty to do in these less hectic periods too. Collectibles abound and hidden areas are scattered throughout the game. Whilst it’s still an A to B kind of game, the levels are so large that it leaves plenty of room for exploration.  From hidden shrines, fortune cookies and pixel art Hentai girls, there is a lot to discover and adds a whole lot of replay-ability for the kleptomaniac inside within.

Whilst I guess that Shadow Warrior is best described as a first person shooter, it has plenty of meaty guns after all and it no doubt that helps with marketing the game, but it’s also somewhat of a disservice to what I consider the star attraction. Apart from shooting down the occasional winged beast with which ever gun was easiest to equip, I played pretty much the entire game with just my trusty katana. Slicing and dicing foes hasn’t felt this good since Jedi Outcast back in 2002, and with a repertoire of unlockable special moves, it really does make you feel like a wise cracking badass katana master.

For those who do prefer gunplay, it’s still solid but nowhere near as rewarding as wielding a sword, nor as refined. Shadow Warrior does feature Iron Sights, but instead of utilising the customary left trigger, you have to half pull in the right trigger, which then zooms you in. Pulling the trigger all the way then fires, it’s as awkward to use and it is to describe and to be honest if guns are your thing then hip-firing seems to work just as well. The selection of death dealing mechanical devices is pretty good and players will find themselves immediately at ease with the selection. Much like the unlockable special katana moves, all the weapons can be upgraded which is a nice touch if that’s the way you want to play.

SW_Screen_1Give Me Your Best Shot Pal. I can Take It

Graphically Shadow Warrior is a bit of a mixed bag. Environments can look stunning at times and the frame rate remains a pretty constant 60fps throughout, which in itself is an impressive feat, considering the amount of action that can be going on around you in the more hectic scenes. Where the game does stumble is in the character models. Most look average and some just look plain bad. It’s more of a niggle than anything else and didn’t detract from the enjoyment that Shadow Warrior offers, but they do definitely stand out as one of the games weaker points.

Shadow Warrior is a great package with a lot to offer. A meaty worthwhile 20 hour campaign, fantastic frantic gameplay, well designed levels ripe for exploration, meaningful weapon and character skill trees and a whole lot more.  Shadow Warrior is perfectly balanced, providing enough nostalgic nods to its forbear and the genre in general whilst feeling and looking resolutely modern. Flying Wild Hog have shown what can be done with some of these older licenses that are ripe for revival and I’m looking forward to seeing what the studio does next.

Hail To The King Baby, his name is Lo Wang.

8.5/10

Developed by Flying Wild Hog

Published by Devolver Digital

Shadow Warrior is available on PC, Xbox One and PS4

Xbox One version reviewed.