Posts Tagged ‘PlayStation 4

31
Dec
18

Game Review: Darksiders III

It’s been an interesting year. I’m not going to go into all of it here; there will probably be a post about it later, but the short version is it’s been a long December, and one is hoping next year will be better than the last. Illness, financial concerns, and mental and emotional difficulties have plagued this one.

This is supposed to be a happy post. Despite all the bad press about gaming over the year, there’s been a lot of good things that have happened, with some amazing titles.

There’s the obvious ones; God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption. Everyone knows those names. Two of those are amazing games, the third is competent (unlike many, I am not a huge RDR fan. I don’t have anything against it… it just doesn’t hold me down and make me play it.)

There’s some lesser-known titles that deserved some love, too; Octopath Traveler was an incredible old-school RPG (and yes, I still think it was robbed on some counts at the video game awards) for the Switch fans, Call of Cthulhu was also pretty good and enjoyable title, though I don’t think it was worth the initial outlay. When it drops down to $30 or so, it’s well worth your time. Yakuza 6 and Shenmue HD both dropped this year, and if you enjoy brawling RPGs, crazy minigames, and “slice-of-life” sims, all three are well worth checking out.

The clear owner of my heart right now is Darksiders III. It’s taking a bit of a beating, with people complaining about too many Dark Souls similarities, unfair and unintuitive difficulty, graphics that aren’t quite photo-realistic and amazing.

I think they’re wrong.

Darksiders III looks good for what it is; a labor of love from a smaller studio who basically relied on that love, hope, and the support of fans – alongside a healthy dose of luck – to give rise to it. It’s not a AAA title, and it’s not meant to be. But the graphics are still damn good, pleasing and understandable. The character and enemy designs are great, clearly cut from the Darksiders mold. From the moment you start the game, you know what you’re getting into if you’re in any way a fan of the previous titles.

Gameplay wise, the Dark Souls comparisons are a little odd. The checkpoint and XP/currency system is similar, yes. Control and combat wise I think comparisons are being overblown; Fury is infinitely more maneuverable than any of the Soulsborne protagonists, and there’s a great deal more fast-paced hack and slash than you’d expect from those titles. Some enemies need you to drop back and study their patterns a bit more than your average God of War-like game, but those are intended to be the more difficult or mini-boss type enemies. Once you level up and unlock a few of the additional skills and weapons, it’s not quite like that.

So far as difficulty, I don’t see it. I’m going at it on Apocalyptic, as I did on the previous two titles, and yes. Combat is challenging. Not insurmountable, and I never feel as though my deaths are unfair. Grinding and learning patterns gets you past it. It feels appropriately difficult. A lot of folks complain about the lack of a minimap and the way the compass in the game works… but it doesn’t seem that hard to know where you are and where you’ve been. The compass adjusts quite quickly and is always pointing in the direction you need to go. If you can’t go the way it wants, swinging the camera around for a moment will typically show the path, usually a minor puzzle that needs dealing with (most of which are neon and color-coded to which power you need to do it.)

I think the root problem isn’t with Darksiders; it’s more in the mindset of gamers. Old farts like myself probably played more games with minimal direction or confusing UIs, punishing difficulty spikes that were designed to suck up your quarters or your continues. Compared to some of those, Darksiders is a walk in the park; at least you have that wonky compass (which still works better than that found in, say, Destiny, cough cough) and the reasonable expectation that learning the mechanics and patterns of a fight will lead to victory without random chance and glitching screwing you out of it.

All in all, I have to say Darksiders III is well worth it, and a lot of places still have it discounted to $40 post-holiday, so a great time to jump into it. Give it a shot.

If you didn’t know, I have a Twitch channel; I’ve mostly been playing Binding of Isaac‘s new Forgotten update and the PSVR on there, but I try to get on reasonably regularly. It’s been a bit of solace, as gaming has been about all I can do lately. If you want to check it out or follow me, clicky-clicky here.

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21
Sep
18

Game Review: Spider-Man (PS4)

As a former fan of Marvel comics in general and Spider-Man in particular, and an avid gamer, the release of Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4 was something I was looking forward to with a great amount of optimism and trepidation. Pete hasn’t had it easy over the years, with some winning titles (Ultimate Spider-Man and Web of Shadows come to mind) jarring pretty badly against some pretty crappy entires (Friend or Foe comes to mind, here.) That’s just recent memory; it only gets worse if you go back further. Remember Amazing Spider-Man for GameBoy? No? Good. Probably better for you.

Having 100% completed the new game, pre-ordered the DLC, and not having brought the disc back to GameStop, I’d say it says something about it; it’s good. Maybe not as good as Web of Shadows, which remains my favorite Spider-Man game (yes, I really do think it’s better than Spider-Man 2. Fight me.) but certainly on par with Shattered Dimensions, or Ultimate Spider-Man. That doesn’t make it perfect – there’s a few flaws, here, some of them serious – but it’s still a damn good game and well worth the time and money spent playing.

First, the good stuff: Graphics look great, and never mind all that Puddlegate crap. The lighting’s amazing – especially when you’re flipping around New York in the early evening – and the detail level is possibly the most intricate I’ve seen in a game with the possible exception of Prey or Bioshock. All the heroes and villains are instantly recognizable but with a unique spin that makes sure Marvel fans know who they’re dealing with but also aren’t going to be bored.

Sound-wise, the sound effects are decent, covering the bases and not getting in the way. Nothing particularly standout, but nothing actively bad either. The voice acting is amazing – especially Spider-Man’s, which has several of the open world conversations recorded multiple times that play back in different states. You may take a call from MJ in one play through while chilling on a rooftop playing with the camera, and Peter sounds relaxed. That same call may play on a different run through the game while you’re swinging through Central Park in pursuit of a mugger, and while the dialogue doesn’t change much, the inflection used and Peter sounding out of breath and hoarse really adds to the immersion.

Gameplay-wise, it hits all the right notes with a varied combat system that relies on agility and inventive web usage over brute strength, as befits the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Boss fights introduce new mechanics in appropriate ways, and dealing with the Sinister Six during their tag-team matches (especially on the Spectacular difficulty setting) can become appropriately hectic.

Now, the downsides. First, the music. What music? No, seriously. It’s rare that it’s present, and when it is, it mostly consists of a single twenty-second long generic superhero “rousing sound” on loop. It gets louder when you’re doing a lot of swinging, diving and web tricks, which only makes it more annoying and apparent.

Second, the combat. This may just be my own gripe – I was just coming off of Yakuza going into this – but combat frequently feels floaty and difficult to control. Especially using the quick-fire gadget/web button, it would often arbitrarily target someone other than the guy about to punch me in the face, or shoot the random thug who was no threat over the guy with the rocket launcher who really needed to eat an Impact Web, like, yesterday. I got used to it, eventually, but was still annoying.

Black Cat brings up my third gripe; I was excited as all hell to see trophies relating to her, as I have always been more of a Felicia boy than an MJ one. (Yet another reason Web of Shadows holds pride of place, I think. That symbiote Black Cat costume… mmm.) You get some entertainingly flirty and frustrating messages from her while you play an elaborate game of hide and seek, only to find… nothing. She’s gone. You never actually get to meet her, and after finding her collectibles and infiltrating her lair, you never hear about her again. Now, this is supposed to be resolved with the DLC – she’s a prominent factor, from what I hear, and may even be playable (Yes, please!) – and not everyone is going to care so much about her, so this may not be much of a negative for some.

Last complaint: It’s kinda short. Total playtime once I had 100% and the Platinum was about 22 hours. This is made more obvious by how repetitive the side-missions get (after you’ve pulled over your fifth speeding car, beaten up the thugs that came out of it, then beaten up the backup, you”re over it… and you’ll be doing that at least 10 more times, if not more); it feels a little content starved at times. The story missions are varied and great, though, and it’s a fun ride, regardless of length.

Bottom line; is Marvel’s Spider-Man worth playing? Hell yes. At least if you have any interest in superhero action games. It’s not the best Spider-Man game ever (please see Web of Shadows), nor the best super-hero game ever (Batman: Arkham Asylum or X-Men Legends II holds that title, depending on my mood) but it is still a goddamn amazing game and well worth your time.

No review copy was provided, and no company sponsored or endorsed this review. All opinions are my own. If you’d like me to review a particular game, drop me an e-mail or use the contact page.

What were your opinions on Spider-Man? Good, bad, ugly? Am I crazy for complaining about the things I did, or liking the parts I did? Want to argue Spider-Man 2 vs. Web of Shadows? Use the box below!KA Spiral no signature

 

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