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6:18 AM on 09.18.2012

Let's Talk! - Borderlands 2, "Dook hut, no fapping!"

I'm sure plenty of you have your copies of Borderlands 2 in hand and I'd love to know what you think of it so far.

I attended the midnight release, picked up the ultimate loot chest edition and hardcover collectors edition guide, came home and immediate jumped in to the game. I'm about 7 hours in and am so ass-deep in side-quests that I forgot what was going on in the main quest.

I was so determined to start off with Salvador but the midnight release party I attended had the game available to play, and after seeing how awesome Axton's sabre turret was, I picked him instead. I'm leveling up with the Guerilla skill tree, couch bro-opping the game with my girlfriend and her Siren. Being able to lock down bosses with Phaselock and handle massive groups with the Sabre Turret has made for some really intense firefights and some amazing fun overall.

What class did you pick, what made you pick it and how are you liking it so far?

I easily sank 250+ hours in to the original Borderlands over 4 playthroughs across both the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, so my expectations with Borderlands 2 was obviously high. To me, Borderlands 2 is Borderlands with a shitload more Borderlands thrown in to the mix.. and that is in no way a bad thing. Certain annoyances with the original have been fixed and I'm really loving the badass token upgrade system, skin customization and overall humor found in the game itself.

As for the loot chest case.. not so much. The loot chest is made of cheap plastic and was poorly put together. Ours doesn't even shut all the way and it looks like the lid is about 1/8" to far to the side, so you can look right inside of it without even opening the top. The goodies inside were definitely worth it, especially the art book, Marcus bobble head and stickers for my pussy wagon (1998 Toyota Camry).

If the last 7 hours are any indication of the amount of fun I'm going to be having for the remainder of my playthroughs, this should easily top the list of 2012 releases and be my game of the year. I know it's way too early to tell, especially since I've only seen a fraction of what Borderlands 2 has to offer (and Assassin's Creed 3 & Dishonored haven't released yet), but it's quite similar to the original game and I haven't been able to put it down since I got home shortly after midnight.

If anyone out there is possibly interested in so bro-op fun, add me to PSN and just mention you're from D-toid. PSN ID is PepperedSnoot.   read

8:52 PM on 09.15.2012

Let's Play SLENDER, Friends! Part 1 online!

So I'm late to the party and was unaware that the Youtube BB Code no longer works here, so this is going to be a boring looking post shamelessly plugging my soothing voice. This is my first Let's Play for Slender and I apologize in advance for my annoying voice and constant 80's rock singing. Enjoy!

Also a fair warning.. there is cursing in this video, so it's probably NSFW.

I'd love to know what you think, good or bad, so here is the direct link to the video. I'm currently working on re-editing it since I failed with Sony Vegas Pro 11 and didn't select the tiny intro video with the Friday the 13th NES music. Once I get it updated, I'll change the link here so everything is streamlined correctly.


9:44 PM on 09.14.2012

Lollipop Chainsaw - Review

The students of San Romero High have been turned in to zombies and itís up to cheerleader Juliet Starling to crack some undead skulls in SUDA 51′s zombie beat-em-up for the Xbox 360 and PS3, Lollipop Chainsaw. With a short campaign, questionable humor and a slightly simplistic combat system, is it worth the purchase or should you head over to Gamefly and give it a rental instead? Letís find out.

Rewind, if you will, back to the glory days of the arcade. Taking your $5 bill up to the change machine, stuffing the handful of tokens in your pocket and pumping one after another in to your favorite cabinet until there was nothing left but a few balls of lint. Combine that feeling with magical rainbows, Streets of Rage, a sarcastic talking head, Tony Basil's ďMickeyĒ, Evil Dead and enough gore to make George Romero happy and you pretty much have Lollipop Chainsaw defined perfectly.

The entire story of Lollipop centers around San Romero High cheerleader Juliet Starling, her zombie slaying family and her boyfriend Nick; or his head at least. Itís her eighteenth birthday and she heads off to the park to meet Nick and introduce him to her parents for the first time, but Nick ends up being bitten while saving Juliet from a zombie. Juliet, being the overly affectionate girlfriend that she is, removes his head ďwith magicĒ and proceeds to carry him around on her belt for the remainder of the game so he can look up her skirt and make various one-liner jokes.

"You're getting a C-, bitch!"

The conversations between the two can be downright hilarious, with Juliet playing the ditsy cheerleader and Nick being the overly-sarcastic voice of reason, but it's a role reversal of sorts with the male character being the one treated like an object rather than a love interest. The voice acting is also pretty cheesy and it just adds to the charm. Lollipop Chainsaw never once takes itself seriously and feels like a great port of your favorite B-movies if they mated with the cast of My Little Pony and injected themselves with bull shark testosterone or the ďrageĒ virus from 28 Days Later. The entire game is probably equivalent to watching a Troma film while high on bath salts.

The dialogue is always over the top and my girlfriend and I would periodically look at each other with that ďdid they really just say that?Ē look, but itís not like thatís a bad thing. Weíre both mature adults with a fondness for campy films and zombies and we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves in to. Sometimes the jokes were hilarious and sometimes they missed the mark, but more often than not my inner 10-year old would chuckle as Nick shouted "If I had a neck, I'd be shitting all over these people!" or the camera took advantage of up-skirts or cleavage shots to further set the campy mood.

Moving in another direction, combat is pretty simple in Lollipop using your pom-pom attacks to weaken the enemies before switching to your chainsaw attacks to decapitate them in an explosion of happiness and rainbows. While this might sound pretty basic, mashing buttons will only get you killed on anything above the easy difficulty setting since Juliet can easily become overwhelmed. Without the ability to block, she has to rely on quick dodge reflexes to avoid incoming attacks and leap-frog over the hordes to gain better a better attacking position.

Pom-pom attacks stagger while the chainsaw goes for the head. That's where the pudding is, after all.

Killing enemies adds to Julietís sparkle meter that, when triggered, allows you to enter ďsparkle hunting modeĒ to the tune of Toni Basilís ďMickeyĒ blaring in the background. Forget the fact that you can instantly decapitate weaker enemies in sparkle mode to wrack up coins, because the only reason you need to fill it is to mow down zombies to Mickey over and over again.

You can then use the collected coins at various kiosks to purchase physical upgrades like health and damage, better combo moves, additional costumes, concept art and background music. There is a metric shit-ton of stuff to unlock and that only adds to the replay value of Lollipop Chainsaw, which is fantabulous since the campaign only lasts around 5 or 6 hours.

The highlight of the game comes in the form of some of the most outlandish, flamboyant boss fights in the history of gaming. One boss, Zed, screams through a microphone and throws his words at Juliet while another starts as a rock star on a flaming motorcycle but ends up as a giant robot elephant that rollerblades around the room with a chain gun. What in the shit is going on here? This is why I love Suda 51 games! Every boss is brilliantly executed and satisfying to play with none ever coming across as cheap. Just like the old days, you learn the patterns and you exploit them, except now you cut them to pieces as a half-naked cheerleader with a head on her belt.

If Rick James wore a diaper, looked like Papa Shango and had a bunch of half naked women flying around with him on a space ship, he would be Josey James.

Lollipop consists of a tutorial level, 5 chapters and the final boss fight. Each chapter lasts around an hour and generally consists of mass amounts of zombie genocide, collecting stuff and completing a few quick-time events. Usually youíll find yourself at a dead end that opens up after youíve killed a certain amount of zombies, but the monotony of the ordeal is broken up with various mini-games that can be hit or miss. For instance, Chapter 4 has a Pong room where you lure zombies in to the path of the ball while another chapter has Juliet manning a harvest combine, mowing down hundreds of zombies as Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Right Round" plays in the background.

Speaking of which, the zombie slaying soundtrack of Lollipop Chainsaw is very eclectic and worked really well for each of the chapters. Iím a huge fan of Mindless Self Indulgence and The Left Rights and hearing Little Jimmy Urineís voice as Zed, as well as his musical influence on the boss stages, was awesome. His collaboration with SUDA 51 just makes sense, with both of them being completely off the wall artistically. Lollipop also includes tracks from Arch Enemy, Five Finger Death Punch, Children of Bodom, Skrillex & Dragonforce.

My main complaint with Lollipop lies in its wonky camera in tight spaces, which has been a common trend as long as 3D gaming has been around. There were a few times where the camera just wouldnít adjust back to a stable position and taking my finger off the dodge button to swing it back around with the right analog stick was enough time to end up in an undead gang-bang, but it was really only a problem in tight spaces. Still, it was never fun to chase the high score only to have a group of zombies run a train on me because I couldn't see what in the hell was going on.

The Verdict

Overall, Lollipop Chainsaw is a very typical Suda 51 release and that is in no way a bad thing. I'm always excited for new Suda games because I know that they'll be unlike any game I have ever played before and, most likely, will never play anything like them again. Lollipop's in your face, ďfuck the normĒ punk rock attitude is exactly what Iíve come to expect from SUDA 51 and I never lost interest during my runs through the game. It combined everything I loved about the arcade and classic horror films from the 70's and 80's. The important thing to remember is that Lollipop Chainsaw is, at heart, a throwback to classic arcade beat-em-ups and horror films. Sure, the campaign may only clock in around 5-6 hours, but there are worldwide leader boards for high-score addicts, tons of costumes to unlock, various upgrades to purchase and collectables to find by replaying the game over and over again. I know it's been out for a few months now, but Lollipop Chainsaw is a special kind of game that will always have a home in my collection. Itís easily a game I can pick up 10 years from now and have just as much fun as I did today, just like Jet Set Radio, Contra or Mike Tysonís Punch-Out. Itís just that good.   read

3:54 PM on 09.12.2012

No Budget Gamer - Double Dragon: Neon & Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on PSN.

I'm a fan of free games, but I guess it's hard to call PS Plus games free when theoretically I'm paying to have that service. Still though, it's relatively cheap and the quality of free games lately have been pretty damn good!

Now that I have your attention..

If you're currently a Plus subscriber or are considering the option, right now you can download free copies of InFamous 2, Little Big Planet 2, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One & Borderlands with 50% off all DLC. You can also download free copies of the indie arcade titles Bloodrayne: Betrayal, Outland (which is deliciously sexy), Renegade Ops & Pac-Man DX.

Usually once per month Sony switches things up and adds new freebies to the mix. Sometimes they even offer pretty good deals on downloadable titles with a discount or an early release. For instance, right now you can pick up Jet Set Radio for $8.99 and play it 6 days before it's released to the rest of North America.

Yesterday, the Playstation store updated and Playstation Plus subscribers can download two old-school beat-em-ups in the form of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Double Dragon: Neon (a re-boot of the classic Double Dragon). I can assure you that SPvTW is a fantastic game in the vein of River City Ransom and RPG-style level ups, but I have my doubts about Double Dragon: Neon. It's in the process of installing as we speak, but it looks pretty terrible from what I've seen so far. Once I give it a few beatings - or it makes me want to pour salt in my eyes, whichever comes first - I'll toss up a review, but for now a free game is a free game.

Has anyone played Jet Set Radio HD or Double Dragon: Neon yet? If so, what are your thoughts?


6:34 PM on 09.11.2012

No budget gamer? 5 cheap alternatives to pick up and play without going broke.

I pre-ordered the super deluxe loot chest edition of Borderlands 2 and the hardcover collectors edition guide, so needless to say I've been saving my money before my debit card melts on the 18th of this month. With little to no extra funds to throw around, I've been playing some pretty fantastic indie titles that are either extremely cheap or, best of all, free.

If you're in the same boat and you need that gaming fix, here are 5 games that are either completely free or extremely cheap.

#1 - McPixel

After watching some Let's Play vids of McPixel on YouTube and winning a free Desura code in PhilK's recent contest, I finally had a chance to sit down and participate in some amazing retro mini-game mayhem that usually starts with me kicking everyone in the balls. McPixel puts the titular hero in various mini-game scenarios that require you to defuse bombs within 20 seconds or risk blowing yourself up and trying again later.

The chiptunes soundtrack is pretty fantastic and the system requirements are fairly non-existant, so McPixel should run on anything you own. There is a Windows, Mac OS & Linux version for download as well as a mobile version confirmed in the future. McPixel is the only game in history to be sponsored by torrent site The Pirate Bay and over the last weekend it was offered for free with voluntary donations, raising over $7,000.00 and selling over 3,000 copies. It has also been officially Greenlit by Steam.

Since then, SOS has discounted the full price of McPixel on their official website to $7.43, but if you're interested in picking it up on the cheap, it's on sale through the Desura client for $0.99.

#2 - Super Hexagon

Super Hexagon is a flash-based nut punch from the maker of VVVVVV that mixes the sounds of Bit.Trip and the gameplay of Tempest. I've played a lot of Dark Souls in my time, but I can say that Super Hexagon is the hardest game I've played since QWOP and not in the sense that QWOP was difficult due to the controls.

Using the arrow keys, you move your little triangle in a circle, avoiding the incoming walls that build around you while thumping electronic music plays in the background. It's a simple concept that will kill you over and over again, considering that most players won't last longer than 10 seconds.

Super Hexagon is available in the web-based Flash format, as well as the App Store for the iPhone and iPad. The Flash version is obviously free, but Apple versions started out at $0.99.

#3 - Slender: The Eight Pages

Perhaps you've seen Tobuscus scream like a girl or maybe watched PewDiePie do pretty much the same thing, but if you haven't played Slender you owe it to yourself to react in a similar manner. Not the prettiest game in the world, Slender is a first person exploration horror game that drops you in the middle of a forest in search of 8 pages scattered about 10 different landmarks. Armed with only a flashlight (I almost typed fleshlight, but that would have been a different game altogether), you slowly make your way around the forest while constantly being pursued by the Slenderman, a creepy pasta invention of a tall, thin man in a suit without a face.

Looking at the Slenderman in still images, he looks pretty ridiculous, but once you're in the zone and hunting down that 5th or 6th page you can't help but ignore your surroundings until you turn around and he's standing in your face. It's not as scary as Amnesia but still worthy enough to give a run through since you don't have to drop any money down on it.

Slender: The Eight Pages is available as a free download at the official website but does have higher system requirements than anything else on this list. I have a gaming PC that ran Slender perfectly fine at the highest setting but when I played it on my laptop and it's whopping 2GB RAM and factory graphics card, it ran like crap even on the lowest setting.

#4 - Abobo's Big Adventure

Released on January 11, 2012, Abobo's Big Adventure is the ultimate tribute to the NES. ABA stars the titular villain from Double Dragon and places him in rage inducing re-boots of classic NES games like Punch-Out, Pro Wrestling & Megaman. Plowing through the levels usually consists of killing everything in your path to fill Abobo's RAGE meter and unleash the most devastating attacks.

Growing up in the NES generation, playing ABA was a blast from the past and one of the best retro titles I've ever seen. It's one thing to pander to gamers by creating an 8-bit tribute, but you can really tell that the developers behind Abobo's Big Adventure really loved the NES and paid homage to the many timeless classics with lots and lots of TLC.

Abobo's Big Adventure is free and played in its Flash-based format.

#5 - Happy Wheels

Yet another free Flash-based game, Happy Wheels is essentially the gore-obsessed sibling to Little Big Planet if it were being controlled by Jigsaw from the Saw films. Filled with thousands of levels created by other players, you'll select your character and figure out how to get from point A to point B or trigger a certain event selected by the level's creator. It's easier to just watch a video of Happy Wheels rather than try to explain it.

If you're interested in checking it out, head on over to their website and get used to exploding on mines, throwing your child off the back of your bike and pogo sticking around while getting stabbed in the ass.

So there you have it - 5 games that won't break the bank and offer hours of fun.. if your idea of fun is dying repeatedly or seeing things die and explode. Hopefully it is. I know there are loads of other options and these are just some of the more popular titles, but if you're new to the indie gaming scene and want a good starting point, I highly recommend checking out both the Steam and Desura clients. Tons of indie games have been released over the years and both clients are constantly running sales.   read

12:45 AM on 09.06.2012

Everything I know about self defense, I learned from video games.

Growing up a nerd in the ghetto, it's obvious that I was going to get in to more than my fair share of altercations. As I laid there, arms up in the blocking position, I thought about what my heroes did in my favorite video games and I knew that I could duplicate their strategies and come out alive.

First off, as long as I was wearing a suit of armor, no matter how hard I was hit, I could still fight in my underwear like Arthur from Ghosts n' Goblins. Thankfully, the sight of a short, pudgy kid in his underwear was usually enough to scare my opponent long enough for me to run in the opposite direction. Hopefully I remember to shut the barn door so the pig doesn't poke its head out. Shut up, it's happened to you and you know it.

If I were ever attacked by a stray dog, Resident Evil taught me that if I waggled my analog stick fast enough that I could break free and stab it repeatedly with a knife. Call of Duty taught me that I could click my analog stick in to snap its neck since doing it myself was too much to ask of a reclusive white kid. I'm a weakling, after all, but the only analog stick that I have probably wouldn't work after clicking it in, so this is a one-time thing.

I can also escape death with the Final Attack + Phoenix materia combination! Not only will this prevent my demise, but summoning a giant, flaming bird will no doubt score me major cool points with the lady folk and I'll probably end up in the local paper as some sort of devilish summoner. Actually, that will probably get me burned at the stake. I guess I'll just take one of those rings from Sonic the Hedgehog and wear it somewhere where nobody can see it.

If my superhero sense is on its A-game, I can counter any attack when I see squiggles appear over my enemies head. Unfortunately, hallucinations are never a good thing, so getting punched in the mouth should be the least of my worries. I'm also not bulletproof - neither were Batman's parents. Count it! - so I need to know when to talk about fight club and when to run away. If real life were like Dead or Alive, I'd be screwed since I can't counter for shit in that game. I'd be like Bass, sitting back spamming an elbow attack over and over again until Hayabusa throws me in to the air and explodes in to that manly cloud of fluttering leaves before driving my face down in to the ground.

If Punch-Out taught me anything, it's that I can always start round two with full health by spamming the select button. All I need is an older, black friend to do the hand-job motion behind me with his mouth open and then chase me around on his bike while I wear my pink sweatsuit and it's game on! Fat people will always have band-aids on their abdomen, so pull their pants down and start swinging.

Ice Climber taught me that a bi-ped polar bear wearing speedo will drop like a rock with one hit of a sledgehammer. I'm still waiting to find one of these elusive beasts to test the theory of evolution as it's been about 22 years since the game came out. This tactic also applies to throwing salt at walking vegetables, kicking a dead turtle's corpse at a living one and, of course, shooting zombies in the head (unless we're talking about Operation Raccoon City).

Hiding in a box doesn't really work as well as you'd hope. Chances are you'll get shipped somewhere you didn't want to go, get urinated on by a canine or have your disguise kicked off before being shot at point blank by the business end of an automatic weapon. You're honestly better off shooting the fire extinguisher or just snapping necks when no one is looking.

And finally, if this plan goes awry and you draw the attention of the police, Grand Theft Auto IV proves that you can just go home and that somehow works like whipping out a pack of Mentos. The cops will understand that you made a mistake, forgive you and go back about their business.

So the next time you get in to some sort of Rumble in the Bronx, hit up your mental checklist of how self defense works in video games and apply that logic to real life. Trust me, it'll work. If all else fails, summon a Pokemon and run like hell.

If you've got some other ideas, let me hear them. It's our duty, as gamers, to teach self defense to the next generation of gamers so they don't have to go through what we did.   read

11:24 AM on 09.05.2012

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City - Offline Review

I apologize in advance for the last few blogs being nothing but reviews, but hopefully they've been enjoyable reads at least. With Gamestop running their current sale, RE:ORC has dropped down to $19.99 which was a reasonable price for me to pick it up just to play the offline campaign. My internet is a bit too unstable right now for any online multiplayer, but the campaign was fairly short and I wanted to throw in my two cents.

Released in North America on March 20th for the Xbox 360 and PS3, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a squad-based tactical shooter that takes place during the events of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. While some familiar faces return, ORC puts us in the shoes of the Umbrella Security Service on their mission to rendezvous with HUNK and assist the Alpha Team in stopping Dr. William Birkin from surrendering the T-virus to the United States Military. Unfortunately, anything interesting about that scenario stops after the end of the first chapter.

During ORCís 7 chapters, youíll run in to the usual enemies like zombies, lickers, hunters, tyrants and the Nemesis, which makes sense given the time frame of the campaign. Youíll also run in to Leon, Claire, Sherry & Ada Wong but unfortunately theyíre not on your side this time around. Instead, youíll be playing as an entirely new cast of characters to the Resident Evil canon.

ORC is a class-based shooter and between each mission you can select which class youíd like to play as, using the experience points gained during the missions to purchase class-specific abilities and new weapon load outs. Each class has their own unique abilities to purchase and upgrade. For instance, Four Eyes, the ďfield scientistĒ, can not only turn opposing soldiers in to zombies but also mind control up to 3 attacking zombies at once. She can also learn a pheromone grenade that attracts zombies to the affected area and equip a visor that shows nearby infected targets and their weak spots. Each class has their own unique abilities but I found hers to be the most interesting.

Look at those gas prices! No wonder everyone ends up in Raccoon City!

Unfortunately, while this all sounded promising at first, ORC suffers from some of the worst AI in recent memory as well as random spikes in difficulty that kept me from enjoying the game as much as I wanted to. I couldnít even tell you how many times my entire squad would walk through obvious trip-mines or hang out in the open during fire fights. At one point during Chapter 5, youíre dodging spouts of fire while ascending an elevator and not just one of them, but my entire squad, stood directly in the fire the entire time. Half the time they were either shooting a stray zombie while opposing Spec-Ops troops shredded them to pieces, or they would stand around doing nothing while I was ass-deep in a pile of lickers. If I didnít shoot every trip mine or use my only First Aid Spray on them, they would have died every time. Iíve even seen them pick up their own First Aid but only twice through the entire campaign did one of them ever use it on me (or themselves) when one of us needed it.

Had I been playing through the campaign with 3 of my friends, Iím sure the spikes in difficulty could have been handled accordingly. But when youíre depending on your squadmates to throw grenades and watch your back and theyíre off somewhere by themselves meleeíing a zombie to death, you wonder how in the hell youíre supposed to survive 5 hunters and 30 Spec-Ops troops all shooting with pinpoint accuracy. Sometimes your squad would get in the way and it wasnít even their fault. Pressing in the aim button zooms in over your shoulder, but if anyone is behind you their textures pop over in to your field of view and prevent your bullets from going through them.. while theyíre behind you.. are you following me here? You zoom in to shoot your own people standing behind you? Right. Just checking. How this sort of technical flaw made it beyond beta testing and at least two patch updates is beyond me.

They must be twins.. or the result of lazy developers.

Stepping back to the varying spikes in difficulty, some of the campaign is fair and requires the skill on your part to take cover, dodge grenades and handle the swarm of zombies to the best of your ability while maintaining the cooldown of your special ability and keeping inventory of your ammunition. This is when ORC shines and I often wondered why it was rated so low by the media. Then there are those instances where you will die over and over again wondering how in the hell youíre supposed to make it out of certain situations alive without throwing your squadmates to the zombies and running for dear life to the next checkpoint. One annoying area in particular occurs in a later chapter where you have to deal with a pretty decent amount of Spec-Ops troops while being smashed to the ground repeatedly by hunters being dropped from the sky by helicopters. You have a split second to notice the shadow on the ground and GTFO, but for some unknown reason, Slant Six decided to make the dodge function combine the pressing in of the left analog stick and one of the face buttons.

This brings me to my next complaint Ė the controller layout. The same button used to pick up items is also the same button used to revive fallen squadmates. When your squadmate dies, they drop their weapon which usually leads to you picking up and putting down your weapon 3 and 4 times before actually getting the prompt to revive them. In order to quick-turn 180 degrees, you have to tilt down the right analog stick and hit L2 (for the PS3) which also causes you to look directly at the ground in the process.

Graphically, ORC isnít the ugliest game on the market, but Slant Six didnít exactly do a great job of bringing to life some of the more iconic locations from RE2 & 3. Major locales like the Raccoon City Police Department or the inflamed city streets look dull and, pardon the pun, lifeless. I can only brain the same fat zombie in a gray sweatshirt so many times before I notice that either the family tree in Raccoon City goes straight up or the developers were lazy. And why is everything oily looking? Is everyone a former pro wrestler or on their way to the beach? Either way, none of the characters or zones really impressed me and I got the impression that the layouts were nothing more than a generic place for people to shoot each other online. I donít know if Slant Six just didnít think anyone would actually play offline and pay attention to details or if this really was their idea of a good looking game. Either way, it failed miserably.

For some reason, everything in Raccoon City has this very oily texture.

So for all of the faults, there has to be something good to say about ORC. Eh, not really. Iím sorry, but as much as I try to sit back and think of something I actually enjoyed I canít seem to find anything other than the possibility of replaying it with friends if anyone actually kept their copy. Itís really a shell of a game that could have been something special for Resident Evil fans, especially considering the timeline of ORC is during the prime of the series, but unfortunately itís just a skeleton in the genre. Granted, it definitely controls better than Resident Evil 5, but I would have gladly taken the old tank controls in exchange for a decent story, playable characters with more personality than a dead hooker, and more attention to detail. You canít take a turd and slap the Resident Evil name on it and expect it to be better than it would have been if named something else.

The Verdict

While my trip back to Raccoon City was a short one, there was an overabundance of technical flaws that kept me from enjoying most of the game. I applaud Slant Six for taking the RE series in a new direction and I honestly hope they can learn from their mistakes to bring out a sequel with a bit more polish worthy of the Resident Evil name. Beneath all of the texture pop-ins, terrible AI, poor controller mapping and random spikes in difficulty lies the brainchild of a pretty decent squad-based survival horror game. Unfortunately it just missed the mark completely and fells like nothing more than a cheap attempt to cash in on the Resident Evil reputation. There were definitely times when I actually enjoyed the game and I dug the option to choose your class and level up abilities, but the bad far outweighed the good. Aiming is wonky, your squadmates (if not actual human players) arenít the brightest crayons in the pack and sometimes the game just throws way too much shit at you at random intervals. If youíre curious about ORC and you want to play offline, do yourself a favor and make friends.. or wait for an actual zombie apocalypse.   read

4:48 AM on 09.03.2012

Eternal Poison (PS2): Review - A gothic Pokemon of sorts, minus the fun parts.

Eternal Poison is a strategy RPG developed by Flight Plan and released by Atlus for the Playstation 2 back in 2008. Originally titled Poison Pink in Japan, EP is presented as some sort of gothic Pokemon experience that allows you to capture and use demons to fight by your side.

Unfortunately, this only sounds good on paper once you realize that the demons are generally weaker than other mercs-for-hire scattered across the HUB world. Thankfully you can destroy captured demons for gold, items or new spells, but that doesnít forgive the entire niche of the game from being obsolete. I catch and raise Pokemon to fight them, not to put them in a blender in hopes for gold or a new hat. EP is played through three different perspectives of five separate parties which are selectable after completing the prologue tutorial and each will last about 10-12 hours.

Generally, I like the SRPG genre, mainly for their intricate combat systems that seem to differ from game to game & I also really enjoy their job class customization (like Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea). Outside of the Disgaea & Fire Emblem series, there really isnít a constant flow of SRPGs hitting the market, so after finding a copy of Eternal Poison I was eager to give it a shot and try something new. Unfortunately, it ended up being a very bare bones adventure with an uninteresting storyline, simplistic combat and a very lackluster character customization feature that only allows you to pick one of two specializations once you reach a certain level (just like the original Vandal Hearts for PSone).

The story of Eternal Poison unfolds between battles with 2D drawn character models, text boxes and your typical over-dramatic spoken dialogue, which I would have been fine with had the plot been even remotely interesting. The translation team must have messed up somewhere along the way as well because an obvious female character in my party was constantly referred to as ďheĒ or ďhimĒ. Now before you question my argument, as there are tons of JRPG characters of questionable sex (Iím looking at you Ion from Tales of the Abyss), this character has breasts and a female voice yet the North American voice actors still refer to her as a man for the remainder of the campaign. WTFM8?

At least the art style is unique..

Generally when I see the name Atlus on an RPG (even if theyíre just the publisher), I expect it to be punishingly difficult, yet enjoyable. Take the Shin Megami Tensei series, Tactics Ogre & Kartia for example. Eternal Poison, surprisingly, is actually quite easy unless you get burdened by under-leveled mercenaries that join your party or don't abuse the level-up system, which is honestly quite broken. Itís a very simple design that fails to break any new ground or take any risks. You have melee, casters and archers that all deal a specific type of damage although there arenít that many types to begin with. At any time during your turn you can hit the triangle button, highlight a target and see exactly what their weakness is so you know how to approach the battle before you even move your first character, removing any sense of danger, tactical approach, trial and error or fun from the game.

But wait, thereís more! Each time an action is performed in battle, youíre greeted to a 5 second loading screen that segues from the 2D sprite battle grid to a 3D cut-scene that can last all of two seconds. This is the same concept that got old really quick with Fire Emblem and thankfully you can turn this feature off in the options menu. Your party will consist of the 3 or 4 characters shown on the chapter select screen but you can recruit pre-selected mercenaries by talking to them in the worldís HUB. These characters have no backstory, most have no reason for even being there and existed solely to fill a slot as you deploy your team on to the next battlefield. As forgettable as they were, they still wound up being more useful that any demon I captured for later use. You are also awarded zero XP for completing a stage, but instead must rely on making actions during combat or risk gaining very little from each battle. I found myself wasting turns casting buffs or unneeded healing spells just to drain out as much XP as possible since there is absolutely no way to go back and play previous levels to grind it out instead.

The tried and true battle grid is about the only thing Eternal Poison does right.

Now with all of this complaining, there has to be something interesting about Eternal Poison, right? Well, sure, I guess. Each enemy has what is called an Overkill meter which is basically an extension to their health pool, but not in a sense that it allows them to take additional damage. For instance, if Poorly Designed Enemy A has 100 HP and 10 Overkill health, they will still die if dealt 100 damage. However, if you deal the killing blow and it deals 10 damage more than it needed to, rather than die, that enemy will become ďboundĒ. Bound enemies can then be captured by any of your party members and later used back in the HUB world to destroy in exchange for a random item, spell or gold. The concept that sold me on Eternal Poison was the ability to use minions I capture on the field but more often than not I found myself selling them off for better equipment. Once you take that concept away, Eternal Poison is just a shell of an SRPG that is equal parts uninteresting and forgettable.

The Verdict

As much as I want to give Eternal Poison an F, it did have an interesting art style and the soundtrack was halfway decent (and included with the game as a bonus disc). If this had come out on the PSone 15 years ago, I probably would have had more fun with it, but unfortunately there are far better SRPGs on the market that offer a hell of a lot more than this. The story isnít very good, the combat is entirely too cut and dry for my liking and the ďbindĒ concept that sets this game apart from any other is pretty much just a cheap way to make extra gold. Unless youíre new to the SRPG genre and want something easy to get your feet wet, or youíre a big SRPG fan looking for something else to play, I strongly suggest staying away from Eternal Poison. But hey, thatís just my opinion.   read

1:55 PM on 09.01.2012

Dragon's Dogma: Review - A monster slaying virtual pimp simulator worth playing!

If you had a magic cauldron and tossed in Skyrim, Dark Souls and Shadow of the Colossus, even the most clever alchemist would end up with something close to Capcomís first entry in the open world RPG genre, Dragonís Dogma. If youíre a fan of the games mentioned above, youíll definitely find a lot to love in Dragonís Dogma, but chances are youíll find a few things that will test your patience during your time in Gransys as well.

The centerpiece of an RPG is usually their plot, but sadly this is Dragonís Dogmaís weakest link. What starts off as an interesting premise fails to pick up steam until the end of the game, and by then youíll probably forget what was going on 60 to 100 hours ago. Your created hero is an ďarisenĒ, a person whoís heart has been removed by a dragon and is destined to live on and defeat them for the fate of the world, but it never really moves anywhere beyond that until the very end. Keep in mind that you find out this information within the first 20 minutes of the game, so the rest of your time will be spent exploring the massive world of Gransys, doing side-quests and killing monsters. If youíre looking for an engaging storyline to keep you moving, you may wind up disappointed in Dragonís Dogma, but I was okay with this spartan approach to storytelling in Dark Souls and I was okay with it this time as well. Why? Because both games offered what other games in the genre didnít, and that immersed me more than a cliched storyline ever could.

Itís worth noting that Dragonís Dogma is a challenging game - with a recently patched "easy" mode - and thankfully your arisen wonít be traveling alone due to the innovative Pawn system. A Pawn is another character that you create, is given a job class (like Fighter, for instance) and fights by your side for the remainder of the game. Pawns are AI controlled but as you kill monsters, explore new areas and complete quests they will become more knowledgeable about loot locations and battle tactics. The best part is that you can fill the remaining two spots in your party with other player's Pawns online, using their knowledge to help you find a weakness in a monster youíve never fought or find a treasure chest you might have missed. The same goes when another player hires your pawn, although they never actually leave your game. You might wake up one morning to find that your Pawn has been taken around by another player and returned with useful items and additional battle knowledge. Itís really a neat system that turned Dragonís Dogma in to not just a game, but a community. For example, I posted on a forum that I frequent about having trouble with a specific quest. One of the forum users hired my Pawn and equipped her with some better gear they had taking up space in their bank. The idea of using Pawns created by other players also gives your AI teammates a more human feel so you never really get the impression that youíre just taking around mindless drones, until the pawns start talking. Unfortunately, they never really stop. Be prepared to hear the same phrases over and over again each and every time you encounter specific enemy types.

The strongest feature of Dragonís Dogma is another reason why I kept coming back for more, long after giving up on the plot Ė the combat system. Massive beasts lurk the land of Gransys and youíll need to do more than just swing your sword or fling your spells to avoid becoming a grease stain in the middle of the woods. Every monster requires a tactical approach to take them down, forcing you to exploit their weakness or know when to run away. Large monsters play out much like the Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus, grappling their bodies and scaling them to find weak points. Mages can cast lightning on a cyclopes to stun them or ignite the wings of a griffin to prevent them from taking flight, while Rangers can shoot arrows that apply a toxin that weakens a certain area of the monster.

Dragonís Dogma also boasts one of the most well played out boss encounters in recent memory. The sheer size of the dragon and amount of destruction they cause really makes you feel that, while youíre now leveled up and have tons of skills at your disposal, you are still fighting something way out of your league. Whether youíre running from breathing fire or scaling the back of a massive dragon while itís flying around the world, Capcom pretty much slapped Bethesda in the face and showed them that boss fights donít have to be trivial hack and slash affairs. Dragonís Dogma has completely set the new standard on what combat can look like in future games in the genre and I cannot praise this title enough for how well it plays without sounding like Capcom sent me a free copy of the game (which they didnít).

So after basting Dragonís Dogma with praise for a majority of this review, itís time to get in to the downfalls that will hopefully be fixed in the confirmed sequel. My main complaint is that there is absolutely no effective form of fast travel until your second playthrough in NG+. Sure, there are Portcrystals that you can drop and Ferrystones you can buy to teleport to your Portcrystals, but these arenít available early on and arenít exactly cheap. By the end of my first playthrough I was swimming in gold, so buying Ferrystones was no problem when I pressed on to kill the post-game bosses that opened up, but having to spend 20-45 minutes just running from the city capital of Gran Soren clear across the map to an area I had already been to three or four times was somewhat agonizing. In the 60 hours it took to complete Dragonís Dogma for the first time, I would estimate that at least 15 hours of it was just spent running from point A to point B. It definitely gave the game an epic scale and a sense of adventure that made me want to explore every area thoroughly, but seemed like a cheap way to extend the amount of time I spent with Dragonís Dogma. I would have much rather preferred backtracking and killing the same monsters over and over if I could have spent 15 hours of my life doing something else. However, I've since put over 200 hours in to the game, so it obviously wasn't a deal breaker.

Graphically, Dragonís Dogma is a mixed bag. The world of Gransys and the unforgiving monsters that patrol it look and move fantastically, but NPCs have a very derpy appearance that makes them look out of place. Spells explode and pop on-screen in such a large scale that you would swear your Sorcerer was launching meteors from space or conjuring fire from the depths of hell itself. Seeing massive tornadoes throw goblins around like lifeless debris or witnessing a giant spire of ice shoot from the ground like frozen thorny vines looked amazing, but sometimes got in the way of seeing what in the hell I was trying to shoot with my arrows or smash with my hammer. I couldnít count the amount of times I had to reposition my Ranger after a Mageís healing spell went off near my location because I couldnít focus my arrows on anything through the bright green lights. I want to praise the awesome display of magic but I couldnít help but complain that it interfered with the game play a little bit when I wasn't the one playing the casting class. Going through the entire game again as a Sorcerer was a different experience because I was able to control the destruction rather than deal with fighting through the chaos as a different vocation.

The voice acting in Dragonís Dogma isnít terrible but left a little bit to be desired. Its Shakesperian dialect made following some of the conversations a bit of a nuisance and I couldnít imagine someone in North America playing this with English as their second language. I understand itís a fantasy game and for some reason we all associate the word ďfantasyĒ with ye olde English, but at least make conversations coherent and a little less repetitive. Some of the NPCs repeated the same wall of text each time you talk to them, but thankfully you can skip their life story and get right back to turning your quest in. The soundtrack, however, is phenomenal in every aspect. From the cheesy J-rock intro song that is still in my head, to the female vocal ambient tracks and epic scale battle music, Capcom completely nailed it. Like Skyrim and Portal 2 in 2011, I would gladly listen to the Dragon's Dogma soundtrack outside of the game for years to come.

The Verdict

As much as I want to complain about the lack of fast travel, the absence of any real plot or the cheesy voice acting, the combat in Dragonís Dogma and the innovative Pawn system were more than enough to make me want to play day after day until the credits rolled. The team behind Devil May Cry 4 and Resident Evil 4 did a bang up job on the combat, creating some of the most amazing battles Iíve ever seen in an RPG to date. In doing so, Capcom has proven that you donít have to be a western developer to jump in the ring and play with the big boys and honestly out-shined some of the biggest names in the genre. Dragonís Dogma has sold really well for them and theyíve already confirmed a sequel, I just hope they learn from their mistakes and press on just like we do in the game. In a game that mainly drew my attention with beta access to Resident Evil 6 and a pretty good demo, Dragonís Dogma wound up being my sleeper hit of 2012 and I'm still playing it through for a third time.

I'm trying to refrain from giving any review a "score" to avoid scaring away people from playing the games at all. Seeing a game receive a score like a 7/10 or a C+ can sometimes be enough of a deal breaker, even though it was an enjoyable experience, albeit flawed in some aspects. Take this review for what it is. It's my opinion, nothing more, nothing less.   read

1:59 PM on 08.30.2012

Hunting For Those Elusive Games - What Are Yours?

I like to fancy myself a video game collector and I tend to fixate on some pretty awful games, for whatever reason, I'm not sure, but I have a certain rule when it comes down to buying something I really want, no matter the price - I have to find it in-person and it must be complete with original case artwork and the instruction manual that I'll never read more than once.

Sure, I could always just buy whatever I wanted online (and I've done this before), but I prefer the thrill of the hunt finding that game that has been eluding me for what seems like an eternity. I've driven 2 hours to buy a used copy of the original Army of Two, which I know is pretty terrible, but I like couch co-op games no matter how bad they may be. Driving two hours for a game that was only $3.99 seems like a bit of a waste, with gas prices on the rise and everything, but I could actually see what condition it was in and I get that giddy five year-old feeling every time I find something I've been hunting for an extended period of time. Today, for instance, I was on a road trip to Myrtle Beach and the local Gamestop had a used copy of Calling for the Wii, which I had been hunting for almost a year. It was a three hour drive that I would have gladly made just to purchase the game, but I was there on personal business and it caught me by surprise.

My girlfriend is just as bad as I am, so we enable each other for these extended road trips. When she lived in California, she drove more than a few hours to Las Vegas to pick up a copy of Fatal Frame 2 for PS2 rather than buy it online. It's all part of the adventure. It's not just an agonizing drive to pick up a game, returning home and placing it on our shelf. It's the thrill of the hunt - plus the adventure is always something to do together.

Right now I'm on the prowl for some less-than-stellar titles that are relatively cheap, yet I can't seem to find them anywhere in person. I wanted to share the top 5 on my list, but I'm also curious as to what your elusive game(s) is/are, so feel free to comment and share your list. If you've driven a hefty distance to pick up a game that others would scoff at, share that too! I know I can't be the only one.

#1 - Rule of Rose (PS2)

Being one of, if not the most expensive PS2 title currently, Rule of Rose is a controversial survival horror title that had an extremely limited release here in North America. Frowned upon due to implied sexual situations within the underage cast, Rule of Rose plays a lot like Clock Tower 3 or Haunting Ground and focuses more on the psychological aspect of the survival horror genre. The is the only game that I'd consider purchasing online because I have no faith that anyone who forked over the cash to buy Rule of Rose would ever consider trading it in, and I have never once seen a physical copy, even incomplete. Currently sitting around $80 for a used copy ($110 new), it's definitely out of my price range, but is hands down the most sought after game on my list.

#2 - Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon (Wii)

Fragile Dreams is an interesting game developed by Namco Bandai and, thankfully, published in North America by XSEED, that was swept under the radar of many gamers due mostly in part to it being a Wii title. I completely missed the release of this title in 2010 and have regretted it ever since. Fragile Dreams is a unique combination of role-playing, adventure, exploration and paranormal encounters but not in the same sense that, say, Fatal Frame explores the paranormal side of horror. It's very much a Japanese-style game and frequently crosses the line between being lighthearted in its visuals yet setting a much darker mood with its plotline. I'd love to get my hands on a copy but have only seen a complete copy once; the 6 month time frame when I sold my original Wii and bought another. Go figure. To this day, I have yet to even find just the disc and the used price on both Amazon and eBay have tripled in 2012.

#3 - Ju-On: The Grudge (Wii)

Yes, I know, it's not the best survival horror title, but I'm a fan of both versions of the film and survival horror games in general. I liked the first-person exploration experience in both Calling and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (which is very underrated, in my opinion) and I'm sure I'd like Ju-On enough to play through it at least once, but even if it sucks I've definitely played a lot worse. It's one of those games that I decided to pick up one day and never found a copy, so I started to fixate on it. Since the start of 2012, Ju-On has gone from a $15 game to almost $60. I've seen a few complete, used copies go for $45 here and there, but the price spike on a game like this is kind of baffling.

#4 - Arc Rise Fantasia (Wii)

The final Wii title on my list is Arc Rise Fantasia. I usually buy whatever RPG releases in North America if I own the console (non-handhelds), but this one passed me by. I've asked around at the local Gamestop but the closest store to South Carolina that has a copy in stock is in Colorado.. ouch. Thankfully, Arc Rise Fantasia is only $15 complete on Amazon, so if I'm desperate enough for a (so-called) mediocre JRPG I can always just give up and pick one up online.

#5 - ObsCure (PS2)

The only survival horror title that we don't own right now is ObsCure, capital C and all. Released in 2005 for the Playstation 2, ObsCure is known for being downright campy and an overall terrible game. I've played ObsCure: The Aftermath and enjoyed it for what it was, but I'd really like to get my hands on the original. A buddy of mine who has similar tastes in campy horror games played through it and sold me on the series a little over a year ago but I have yet to find a copy of the original.

So what game have you been hunting for? There are definitely more than five games that I'd buy if I found them, but these are definitely my top 5. They're not AAA titles by any means, but a game doesn't have to be a blockbuster for me to enjoy it.   read

8:17 PM on 08.26.2012

Dragon's Dogma: Building a Better Pawn - An explanation of inclinations.

If there is one thing Capcom fails to do with Dragon's Dogma, it's holding your handing when it comes to getting the most out of your pawn. Hell, I had beaten the game once before I even knew what the different inclinations did or that I could change them with elixirs.

If you've played Dragon's Dogma and you've often wondered why that Fighter you just hired does nothing but stand around until you get punched in the face or why another pawn runs off and loots everything in mid battle, then this post goes out to you!

First things first, a little information on inclinations. Once you've created your main pawn, you'll be asked a series of questions with each answer leading your pawn toward two inclinations - a primary and a secondary. From that point forward, your pawn will react according to their primary inclination first and then, obviously, their secondary.

Each inclination tells your pawn to do certain actions over other actions and keeping your pawn's inclination to your liking not only assures you that they'll act how you want them to act, but also act that way when a fellow player rents them out. This should lead to more pawns coming back home with 5 star ratings.

So let me go over what each inclination does and toss a suggestion or two as to which class it would favor or why it's utter crap.

Scather - Causes your pawn to attack the strongest foes first. Ideal for Fighter pawns as they'll tend to keep the larger monsters at bay while the rest of your party picks off the weaker ones.

Medicant - Causes pawn to focus on healing the party and removing status ailments. While this sounds like the ideal primary inclination for Mage pawns, having this set as their primary will cause them to spam heal the entire party even if a sliver of health is missing. It's ideal to have this as their secondary inclination instead.

Mitigator - Causes pawn to attack the weakest targets first. Ideal for damage dealing pawns, especially ones in the Ranger vocation.

Challenger - Causes pawn to focus on long-range attackers like Rangers, Sorcerers and Mages. Another ideal inclination for damage dealing pawns, especially those that attack from a distance themselves like Rangers or Sorcerers.

Utilitarian - Causes pawn to use support the party with spells and abilities that would cause them to have an advantage in battle. This, in my opinion, should be the primary inclination of any healing-based Mage pawn. With Utilitarian set as primary, your pawn will focus on buffing you with elemental boons and Spellscreen. If you have Medicant set as your primary, your pawn will rarely cast anything but Anodyne due to your party never really having full health in combat.

Guardian - Causes the pawn to protect the Arisen, first and foremost. While this sounds like the ideal inclination for almost any pawn, this is actually the absolute worst inclination in the game. This is also the reason why so many pawns sit around doing nothing until the Arisen is attacked by enemies. Please, please, please, do everyone a favor that rents out your pawn and avoid having your pawn set to Guardian.

Nexus - Causes the pawn to protect other pawns at all cost. This is also a terrible inclination to have as your pawn will not actively attack other targets unless a fellow pawn is attacked first. Avoid this at all costs.

Pioneer - Causes your pawn to scout ahead of your party. While it's not a bad idea to have this as a secondary inclination for a Fighter pawn (causing them to always be the head of the pack), it will cause them to explore areas ahead of you that you might not have entered yet - not head toward your ideal location. Another terrible inclination to have as no one likes a pawn that wanders off to do their own thing.

Acquisitor - Causes your pawn to seek out and acquire hidden items, even in battle. Giving this inclination to your pawn isn't terrible from your end - who doesn't like loot? -, but when you rent a pawn that just wants to wander off and loot everything in sight instead of fighting that swarm of bandits that are running a train on you, you want nothing more than to throw them in to the Brine. Take other players in to consideration when choosing this inclination.

So now that you have a better idea of what, exactly, an inclination causes a pawn to do, how do you actually set them? Easy! Back at The Encampment, near the Rift Stone, is an NPC in a yellow robe that sells elixirs for Rift Crystals instead of gold. On a side note, the same NPC sells a one-time use item that allows you to completely re-make your Arisen and your pawn the next time you enter the title screen. Anyway, from this NPC you can purchase various elixir associated with the inclination of your choice. What you'll want to do is purchase 2 of the elixir you'd like as your pawn's primary and 1 of the elixir you'd like as their secondary inclination. Drink the 2 primary first and then the secondary.. that's it.

While this doesn't permanently change your pawn's inclination, it allows you to change it any time you wish. Your actions in-game have a long term effect on your pawn's inclination and they can continue to change over time. For instance, using the "come" command too often will cause your pawn to shift to a Guardian or Medicant role, which is why you see these as the most common inclinations on rented pawns. It's so easy to do this in-game and most players don't even know that something as simple as yelling "Help!" or "Come!" will eventually render their pawn completely useless.

So when choosing a pawn to help out your party, how can you tell which ones are worthwhile and which ones are a steaming pile of Hobbit crap? Talk to them and select the "details" option. Scan the pages until you find the one that shows their inclination. Any pawn rocking Guardian and Medicant can immediately be sent packing back to the Rift, as well as any pawn with the Pioneer and Acquisitor combo. If you're looking for a healer, look for someone with Utilitarian and Medicant. If you're after a Fighter to keep enemies at bay, Scather and either Mitigator or Challenger are the way to go. Decide what you want from a pawn and keep on summoning them until you find exactly what you're looking for rather than heading out and basically going solo.

Hopefully this information has been helpful (even if just to a few players) as I know I've spent enough time in Gransys watching Fighters do nothing or run off to pick flowers. If I had found a post like this earlier in the game, life would have been a lot easier, but now that I've packed well over 200 hours in to Dragon's Dogma I figured I might as well do my best to explain the pawn inclination system to new and old players alike.

I'd like to do some additional Dragon's Dogma guide-like posts, mainly ones that focus on class-specific issues like which Sorcerer spells are the best or what skills to look for in another pawn when you have no idea how their Vocation plays. If you're interested in reading something like that, let me know and I'd be happy to write something up. I have a lot of experience with multiple vocations.

Don't be that guy.

12:26 AM on 08.24.2012

Dragon's Dogma: Should you buy any of the DLC so far?

Without getting too in-depth with DLC names, I'll start by dismissing any and all DLC that offers instant gear, weapons and/or additional rift crystals. Absolutely none of the gear will be viable after playing the game for one or two days and Rift Crystals come in such vast quantities that unless you hire nothing but higher level pawns, you'll rarely use them at all outside of buying character customization items and pawn inclination elixirs back at The Encampment.

The From a Different Sky DLC comes in a bundle for $6.99 and includes 100 additional quests available at the Pawn Guild's lower floor quest board in Gran Soren. You can also purchase them for $0.99 per 10 quests, but if you're going to buy them at all at some point, you might as well save yourself a couple of bucks and get them all at once.

Every single quest in this DLC pack plants Badge of Vows tokens across the map, usually in hard to reach places, and finding them rewards you with 1,000 XP, a handful of Rift Crystals, and around 11,000G after you vend the token itself. While the idea of running around Gransys to places you've already been to 15-20 times might not seem appealing, there are a few positives to buying From a Different Sky.

First off, if you're a trophy/achievement hunter, all 100 quests count toward the three "quest board" trophies. In a game where it's so easy to miss quests and fail escorts, it's nice to have something to fall back on. If you're a completionist, you'll pick up the trophies over time anyway - if not in your initial playthrough, then in NG+ - so it's probably less appealing to you unless you want the extra incentive to explore every nook and cranny in the world of Gransys. If you're just starting out in Dragon's Dogma, the early XP and gold will definitely help you move along a little faster, but eventually you'll be swimming in enough money that the appeal will start to die down.

On the other hand, you're limited in the amount of From a Different Sky quests you can pick up at once, which I believe the maximum is six at a time. This leads to a lot of backtracking since you're forced to complete one of them before you can pick up another. You may head out to the Catacombs to pick up 2 tokens only to head back to Gran Soren, pick up another one of the DLC quest only for it to send you right back to the same exact location. If I were able to pick up all 100 quests at once and focus on one area at a time, this wouldn't even be an issue, but in a game without any effective form of fast travel until NG+, it's very time consuming to constantly go back and forth to Gran Soren.

The Challenger and The Chosen DLC packs each offer an additional 8 quests, ranging from the usual extermination quests to bringing a certain NPC a specific item. Some of the quests were pretty straightforward, but I ran in to a couple of issues that made me rethink my purchase. I didn't like that the extermination quests require you to not only kill a specific monster, but kill them in a specific location - like waiting for nightfall to kill 13 Stout Undead near the Abbey instead of farming them anywhere else, especially when you may only run in to 4 or 5 of them per night. I also didn't like how some of them required either a very rare item that has, at best, a 25% drop rate in a specific treasure chest - causing you to panic save and reload if you looted a different item - or require you to hand in an old quest reward that you may or may not still have lying around in your bank.

Unlike From a Different Sky, these quests actually reward you with items - mostly weapons that inflict enemies with drenched or tarring debilitations, but also offer unique rewards with passive bonuses such as faster monster climbing, etc. Items earned this way sell for 0G and I didn't find any of them useful enough to keep, so for $2.99 per pack and most of the quests being either generic or a hassle, I can't really recommend either The Challenger or The Chosen DLC to anyone.

The TL;DR version of my answer is to avoid any DLC that offers instant weapons, gear or rift crystals. If you want more to do, I'd suggest picking up the From a Different Sky bundle because it's reasonably priced for an extra 100 quests. They definitely get old really fast, but they're a decent way to break up the monotony of the normal quest board offerings and count toward three in-game trophies/achievements. They're also a good way for new players to make some easy money and earn some fast XP early on in the game. If you don't mind forking over the extra cash, consider the other two DLC quest packs, but if I could go back in time I'd avoid them. 8 quests that bring nothing new to the table and some requiring you to have kept old quest rewards is definitely not worth the $3.00 US.


If you have any specific questions about any of the quest board or armor DLC packs, let me know. I had some funds left in my PSN wallet and picked up most of them to go through Dragon's Dogma for a 2nd time (starting over completely).

It's also worth noting that DLC is specific to your save file, so if you start over you will have to buy the DLC over again. At least that's what the disclaimer says on the Playstation Store. However, I got a free rift crystal pack from pre-ordering the game at Gamestop and I purchased the first collection of From a Different Sky DLC when it was initially released on a weekly basis, but when I started over they were both added to my new save file. I had invested about 90 hours in to my first playthrough, deleted my save and started over completely on a new save file and the DLC was still there. I can't confirm that this will happen to you as well, but I figured it was worth mentioning.   read

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