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3:51 PM on 05.29.2015  

Current Gen: Mafia 2 Review

Mafia 2 was kind of hit or miss for me personally, it’s a game that tries really hard to create a realistic setting and story line but it is held back by several issues that pushed the game into mediocrity.


So much fun!!!

First of all, I’d like to get the bad bits out of the way so lets talk about the game play of Mafia 2. There are two different sections to play, driving and shooting sections, even a few stealth sections here and there. First of all lets talk about the shooting sections.

Now Mafia 2 is a third person shooter and I don’t have a lot of good things to say about this genre other than it has never appealed to me in the slightest for many reasons and believe me, this game made damn well sure to expose those issues. As expected, I was quite skeptical about the TPS sections and rightfully so.


For starters, the cover system. I can’t stand cover systems and this game really brings the worst out of them. Seriously there is this one mission where a boss throws seemingly endless molotovs at you which can hit you through cover so you have to leave cover only to be shot by everyone in order to get to the next cover only to be burned again. It was infuriating and after doing some research, it seems I wasn’t the only one who had trouble with this part.

Put simply (consider this a mini rant), I am sick and tired of seeing cover systems in video games. They do nothing but piss me off, they are just awful and for good reasons too. Cover systems are basically just popping in and out and firing random potshots hoping to hit the enemy as opposed to FPS games like Painkiller where you are constantly moving and avoiding enemy attacks.


The thing that gets me the most is that cover systems aren’t even realistic (unless you count Dishonored or Wolfenstein The New Order which are both games I personally disliked). The biggest issue with cover systems is that you’re in third person. If you want to make the game play feel realistic then do it in first person so that we can only peek in and out of cover to see where our enemies are (like in the two games I mentioned).

If you can see everything around you, whilst being in cover, it defeats the purpose of cover systems in general as it is completely unrealistic that you can see beyond cover on your screen so you know where the enemies are and the only reason why cover exists in games is because it’s realistic, otherwise we’d be running around and dodging bullets like Duke Nukem.

So all in all cover systems in third person shooters are stupid. What they should do instead is remove the stupid hitscan enemies and remove the cover and have you strafe to avoid enemy attacks. Look at the Serious Sam games for example, as much as I ridicule them for their unforgiving and frustrating difficulty, at least they made third person perspective playable and are the only game to do so (Warhammer 40k Space Marine came close but failed simply due to how slow you move).


Basically the game play goes like this, you watch a cut scene and are thrust straight into a fight, you have to run to cover quickly and mash the left trigger to constantly go in and out of cover and shoot estimated potshots at enemies and keep going in and out until the enemy decides to pop out then shoot them, rinse and repeat. This wouldn’t be so bad if enemies didn’t stay in cover for insanely long periods of time so you’re usually playing the waiting game. This can become quite tedious, especially when you die and have to restart it all over again which brings me to my next problem.

The stupid checkpoint/save system is absolutely awful. I swear, half the game was spent replaying annoying TPS sections just because I got killed by some random blind spot (I’ll get to that in a minute) and brought back all the way to the start of the gunfight so I have to do all of those annoying TPS sections all over again!

I swear, the checkpoints are so spaced out, it’s ridiculous, you’d think that after completing one section that you’d get a checkpoint… but no, instead you get a checkpoint after 2 or sometimes even 3 sections and each section can take ridiculously long due to the horrible cover system. So basically you clear out a room of enemies, go to the next room and get killed by a blind spot.


This brings me to the biggest problem with the shooting sections, the enemy placement. Mafia 2 pays homage to Red Faction in this regard as the enemies are placed in positions specifically to take you by surprise… or as I like to call, campy AI. I swear there are so many moments where you walk down a hallway and BAM! You get 1 shotted by a dude with a shotgun who was hiding in the room. The biggest issue with this is simply the minimap, it is dreadful. The minimap only displays enemies right when you’ve seen them and by the time the red triangles appear on the map, you are gunned down almost immediately.

There are so many points in this game where I reached the next section only to be one shotted by a group of enemies who appeared out of seemingly nowhere but half way through the game I noticed that this was due to the enemy placement.


There is this one section where you’re walking down the stairs and there is an enemy waiting for you right at the bottom and they can see you as you are walking down and kill you before you even notice them. There was also a part where I opened a door and was greeted by a shotgun blast to the face.

Put simply, the enemy placement is designed to aggravate the player, just like in Red Faction, only difference is that because Mafia 2 is a cover based TPS, it makes things twice as bad due to the fact that you need to be in cover to survive gunfights, if you’re out of cover, you’re not going to last two seconds and since you cannot see where the enemies are, you get ambushed in every single encounter before you can get to cover. Either that or you hug every single wall you come across… but then the enemies could hit you from another direction.


So all in all, this game is about trial and error, once you know the enemy placements, know how to react to the blind spots, you’ll beat it easily. Still I hate it when games give you cheap game over screens and make you replay a section you already did 10 minutes ago. That is what Mafia 2 does a lot.


The stealth sections are decent at best, you can drag bodies and perform sneak take downs and stuff but nothing too fancy. I personally found the stealth sections to be underused and it annoyed me that they usually ended with a huge gunfight essentially making it impossible to stealth your way through a level which was a shame. Also some of the enemy placements can make it a pain as they never seem to want to move. Put simply, Mafia 2 is definitely not a great stealth game.


Now the driving sections aren’t as bad but can still be frustrating at times simply due to the checkpoint system. There is one mission where you have to escape from the Feds and the police are on your tail immediately, you are also a wanted man. So you have to escape from the police whilst Joe deals with the Feds, sounds easy doesn’t it? Well it is… until Joe tells you to take him to Kingston in which you will have to navigate the map without getting any attention from the cops as you are a wanted man. In Mafia 2, being Wanted means that any cop who sees you will chase you down and that every area is locked down.

The problem is that because there is no checkpoint after killing off the feds, if the cops catch you or your vehicle gets smashed up, you have to restart the entire mission all over again! Seriously couldn’t you at least have given me a checkpoint after killing the Feds and escaping the cops?


On the other hand, cop chases aren’t all that bad, they never feel completely one-sided (like GTA 5’s cop chases) but never feel too easy. Cop cars are slow in Mafia 2 so you can outrun them with speed, additionally, you can kill the cops yourself to make things easier and since the guns work really well and unlike GTA 5, 4 star cop chases aren’t too hard as long as you have the right guns, if you can time it right, you can kill both cops and take their car. Alternatively you can change your clothes/licence plate when you have escaped the cops to lose your wanted status.


In any case, thankfully the driving works quite well in the game. Once thing I did enjoy was the speed limiter which allowed you to drive slowly, obeying the laws of the road. This allows you to role play a little which helps immerse you into the world instead of just driving like a complete lunatic all the time like in most open world games.

Speaking of Open World. Don’t go into Mafia 2 expecting an open world experience, sure there is a city to explore but the game is all mission based and the city serves as an extra. Think of it more like Halo 3 ODST’s New Mombasa in the sense that you have a city to explore but there isn’t much to do in it and it’s all broken up into missions. The city kinda acts as a hub between missions rather than a free roaming component as you will always find yourself in the middle of a mission. With that being said, there is nothing stopping you from exploring should you wish to do so.


Missions are split into chapters which can be loaded at any time from the menu screen

There are cars to steal, shops to buy from and wanted posters to find so there’s something at least. Just don’t think of it as deep as games like GTA, Saints Row or Sleeping Dogs as it’s nothing like them (though it’s probably closest to Sleeping Dogs).

Speaking of collectibles, you can also pick up Playboy magazines in between levels which rewards your keen eye with erotic imagery, coincidence much?


The game also adds hand to hand combat which feels like a glorified rock paper scissors game. I personally found it to be mediocre as it’s all about reading enemy patters which can sometimes be quite unpredictable. A lot of it is just rinse and repeat dodge and counter until you see the opportunity for a finisher. That being said, these sections do manage to break things up a bit and add something different though they didn’t get as much use as I would have liked. Sparring against a Mob boss would have been far more satisfying than just capping them in the head as this game shows. On the other hand, the combat isn’t quite on the same level of depth as Sleeping Dogs so I’ll probably take back that statement.


Mafia 2 isn’t all bad though and it does offer something of worth for those who are patient enough to put up with its issues. For starters, the world itself is very immersive. Seriously I have yet to play a game quite as immersive as Mafia 2. It seriously feels like taking a step back to the 50’s. The city itself is very well designed. The weather change is also brilliant. It feels like the entire city changes when you move on to the next time period. You start in what I presume to be the mid 1940’s around winter time and later on find yourself in the 1950’s mid summer. Heck even the cars change.


You can also listen to the radio when you’re driving. Sure it’s not a completely new concept and the music isn’t anything incredible (it’s not video game music) but it really gets you immersed in the time period with songs like Dean Martin’s “Let it snow” playing in the background when you first arrive in Empire Bay. In addition, the radio likes to make many references to modern culture claiming that such ideas are ridiculous. There is even a stealth section where I overheard the guards saying “you know what would be cool? If we had a TV program which we could interact with, we could use a controller to move around, it would be so cool” and the other guard makes a snarky remark insisting that it will never happen.

Another great feature is the ability to own and customize vehicles, it’s a nice little bonus which you will almost never make practical use of as missions usually provide you with a car and even if they don’t, you can easily just steal one. Nevertheless it’s still a cool feature and it’s always nice to have a little bit of personalized touches to your ride. Of course it’s not as deep as it could be but at least it had it. GTA 4 didn’t. The vehicles all look very nice too, some great classic looking cars to steal and drive around in. Put simply, the vehicle customization is a good distraction and gives you something to spend your money on (when you’re not buying new suits or guns).


The story in Mafia 2 is also done quite well though I would have liked to have seen more of it as the game is quite short. The story is presented in a rather gritty approach, particularly near the end, though there are a few comical sections here and there. For the most part it is a serious story though and can get quite dark too (as you would expect from a Mafia game).


There are all sorts of really interesting scenarios like being thrown into jail for 10 years and experiencing prison life which I thought was a cool addition considering most games tend to skip those parts, it helped me get all the more immersed into the game and opened my eyes to the harshness of 1950’s prison life. Something I really appreciated.


The characters are hit and miss, some are forgettable, some are pretty interesting. I found Vito, Joe, Henry and Leo to be the most notable characters, they kept the story strong for me, everyone else was quite forgettable (except Marty who was somewhat irritating).

Overall, Mafia 2 is a mixed bag, it’s an interesting experience for those who want an insight on Mafia life and it offers and engaging story and setting. On the other hand, the game play is pretty rusty and often frustrating, especially due to the annoying checkpoint system. Overall, Mafia 2 is not a bad game but it’s not really a good game.

Story/Plot: Good
Visuals: Good
Game play: So-So
Music: Good
Lifespan: Very Short
Would You Replay? No

Overall: So-So



3:41 PM on 05.23.2015  

Looking Back: Warcraft 3: Reign Of Chaos/Frozen Throne Campaign Review

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Since this review is for both the main game and the expansion, I’m going to focus on the campaign. In any case, the online multi player component might as well be considered dead at this point due to it’s utterly toxic community among other things. Just stay away from Warcraft 3 at all costs.

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So you say you’re a fan of RTS? But you also like RPG’s? Well this is the closest you’ll ever get (besides maybe Mount and Blade which is more of an RPG than an RTS) Warcraft 3 is at its core a Real Time Strategy with a twist. It presents itself in a similar manner to most RPG’s in the sense that there is a huge focus on storytelling, narrative and also leveling up. All these factors are what make up Warcraft 3.

It’s predecessors, Warcraft 1 and 2 were vastly different from the series’ third installment as they focused on more traditional RTS elements and was possibly an attempt to rival the Warhammer series. It wasn’t until Warcraft 3 where the series’ roots extended beyond what was merely a knock off Warhammer game and became a game of its own.

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Warcraft 3’s game play is similar to that of the tabletop game Chainmail In the sense that you are given powerful units called Heroes. Heroes are the backbone of your army and they plays a huge role in battles as they have many unique abilities which aren’t usable by regular Units. In addition, Heroes are able to level up and learn new skills, just like in an RPG but despite this, there is a level cap reminding you that this is still an RTS at it’s core. As such, you will need units to assist your hero. Units have basic upgrade trees which are very easy to figure out so you shouldn’t have too much trouble in strengthening them.

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Like many RTS, micromanagement is a huge part of Warcraft 3. Micromanagement is a fancy term for multi-tasking. Basically you will periodically have to build buildings, get upgrades and spend your resources as well as controlling your entire army. Picking the right units is easy. Controlling them on the other hand is far from simple. If you have an army of ghouls and you charge into an army of archers, your ghouls are history. Why? Because their armor is so weak. How do you avoid this? That’s simple, by moving your units back when they’re hurt… and that’s easier said than done.

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A good strategy is to surround enemies with your units so they cannot escape

Put simply, if clicking back and forth between your workers, units, buildings and hero’s isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll probably not enjoy the game play of Warcraft 3. Personally I hate multi-tasking, I’d much rather control my units with vocalized instructions than with a mouse and keyboard. Hence the reason why I’ve always wanted a Mount and Blade crossover with Warcraft.

But before you decide to bugger off, Warcraft 3’s campaign is still fun for newcomers to the genre and it gets you used to the basics very easily as well as putting RPG fans such as myself in familiar territory, despite it’s genre, Warcraft 3 managed to design the campaign in a way that it’s enjoyable for both RTS and RPG fans and I strongly recommend that if you’re a fan of RPG’s to give Warcraft 3 a try for two reasons.

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You can play capture the Illidan!

First of all, Warcraft 3’s format is similar to that of an RPG in the sense that you have creep camps. Creep camps are groups of neutral/hostile enemies that will attack anyone on sight and are not affiliated with the enemy. “So why should I go for them?” you say? Creeps usually carry valuable items on them, as well as gold and XP. Basically in the early stages of game, you will often find yourself battling creep camps to strengthen yourself against the enemy.

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In each campaign, your hero’s stats and inventory get carried over to the next chapter so you will want to scavenge high and low for better items to help you out in battles later. Some items are hidden in crates/barrels which you must destroy to get them. Others are quest rewards, yes there are quests in Warcraft 3, how else did World Of Warcraft become an MMO?

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Quest complete!

Questing in Warcraft 3 can make either a huge or small difference though sometimes it’s almost essential to do them, particularly if you aren’t a very good player. As such, Warcraft 3 offers many different approaches which doesn’t give it too many merits considering it is after all a RTS and as such it is expected to have multiple “strategies” to winning campaigns, quests are merely one of these.

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In addition, there are some levels, usually interior levels which give you a small group of units and a hero and send you into a more RPG style environment where there is no base to help you and you instead have to rely on your hero and units. If your hero dies it’s game over. These sections are usually quite innovative and as an RPG fan I quite enjoyed them, even if they are a little too easy as you are mostly battling through creep camps. There is one in particular near the end of the game which is actually quite challenging.

This is where the game makes use of puzzles to get from place to place. You will find many circle’s of power, these are used to interact with certain things. In addition, there are switches too, kind like pressure plates which can be used in a similar manner. Some missions meld both traditional and RPG style levels together. For example, one level requires you to send out workers to repair some observatories and you are given limited units and workers to repair with and as such you have to make your way through creep infested areas with limited units, eventually you find a gold mine and are expected to build a base. From here on out you are able to build more units to bolster your forces and you will need to, because the undead have already noticed you and are attacking.

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Put simply if you’re looking for a more innovative RTS, Warcraft 3 is definitely worth checking out as it has a lot of interesting levels which each require a different approach and the pacing of the game makes sure that you are not fed up with the constant base building and warring and provides small-scale RPG sections to break things up so there’s plenty of variety.

In addition, Warcraft 3 has many easter eggs that give the game that extra charm. Units and heroes each have their own dialogue whenever they’re clicked on, click on them multiple times though and they’ll start breaking the forth wall and start bringing up movie references among other things.

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By Elune, it is huge!

In addition, there are many other easter eggs which are easily missed. For this reason I highly encourage exploration in each level as there are many secrets to be found. There is even a bonus level to unlock that is easily missed. You can also utilize your abilities to traverse certain areas. Sometimes hidden items can be found in inaccessible areas which require a certain ability to reach. Warcraft 3 might be in real-time but sometimes it never hurts to stop and think.

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All that aside, it’s time to talk about the meat of the package. The second reason why I would recommend Warcraft 3 to fans of RPG’s is the story. Oh boy is the story of Warcraft 3 excellent. It puts most RPG’s to shame. If you’ve played games like Fire Emblem, you’ll probably feel right at home with Warcraft 3’s story… although it’s a lot less Japanese and has a lot more depth and lore.

——–Spoilers for Warcraft 1 and 2——–

Warcraft 3 offers 4 main campaigns (7 if you count Frozen throne) each with its own story line. Campaigns are split into 4 factions. First being the humans, a proud (somewhat too proud), self-righteous old race that has thrived in the Eastern Kingdoms for many years… until the orcs came. In Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (the first game) the orcs ravaged their lands one by one and the humans were pushed back towards the northern kingdoms of Lordaeron. In Warcraft 2, the humans were invaded once again by the orcs but barely managed to push them back and defeated their leader, Orgrim Doomhammer, imprisoned him and sealed his people in internment camps (similar to the concentration camps in WW2).

The orcs appear to be a savage and violent race but in truth they were once a peaceful, honorable race, guided by the elements (AKA the spirits). Despite their peaceful nature, orcs have always been boorish fighters and they are a highly competitive race. Battle is everything to them, it practically rules their entire society, the strong are revered, the weak are shunned. The shaman on the other hand were also revered for their guidance and the orc’s sense of honor kept them in check.

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However, certain events caused the orcs to become bloodthirsty savages. After being imprisoned in the internment camps for many years, they were rescued by an orc named Thrall and were united once more to stand against the humans. The orcs seek to return to their former ways and bring peace back to the lands of Azeroth, though their past provocations had not been forgotten by the humans and the hostility between the two races continues to rage on.

———————–Spoilers End——————————–

Aside from the orcs and humans, two new races enter the fray. These are the undead and the night elves. These two new races bring their own lore to the story line to set up an even deeper world. Furthermore, the Burning Legion, a race of powerful demons have returned to the world of Azeroth intent on destroying all existence. Who will survive? Will the mortal races make amends? Who is this legion? All these questions are answered in the story and I strongly recommend playing it yourself.

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One thing I personally enjoy about Warcraft 3’s story line is the ambiguity surrounding good/evil in each faction. Due to the story being presented in multiple perspectives, it’s easy to empathize with each of the four races (except maybe the undead). In fact there’s more to it than just racial perspectives. Certain campaigns put you into the perspective of a sub faction. These perspectives are usually found in Frozen Throne and give you a completely different hero to play as. These factions may or may not be opposed to their own race but they act independently from the main racial factions.

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Put simply, the characters in Warcraft 3 each have their own sense of morals but no one is truly good or evil (except maybe the dreadlords who are pure evil). Each character has their own demons to contend with (some more than others) and in doing so they may find themselves in situations where their demons influence their actions in a negative way which usually leads to many conflicts between characters among other things.

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Join the dark side, we have cookies!

This makes the characters of Warcraft 3 feel real, they aren’t just cut/paste heroes/villains, they’re just people with strong convictions who are willing to fight for them with their lives. Thus begins the terrible warfare that decides the victor and we love it. That’s what Warcraft is about after all.

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Then again, there is the undead campaign which is somewhat different from the other 3 campaigns. In the undead campaign, you play the bad guy, that’s right, you play as the main villain and you slaughter everyone in your way for nothing more than pleasure. Unlike most games, Warcraft doesn’t have protagonists or antagonists, instead each side is both a protagonist and an antagonist at some point (besides the Burning Legion, which I would just love to play as but sadly Varimathras is the closest we get :/).

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“Human names all sound the same to me” ~Varimathras


Varimathras is a badass

The ability to experience both sides of the coin is something video games should embrace more. I’m tired of games only showing one perspective in their story. We need more games like Warcraft which allows us to experience multiple perspectives for ourselves. As such i find Warcraft 3 to be the greatest storytelling I’ve ever experienced in a video game and it encouraged me to get the books to read more about the lore and having read several of them, I’ve come to the conclusion that Warcraft 3 has some of the deepest lore a video game can offer. Seriously, the lore doesn’t end with Warcraft 3, read all the books and watch the Warcraft movie when it comes out to experience one of the greatest stories established by a video game ever.

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Now with all that aside, time to talk about the little things. The visuals are a notable improvement from the previous games in the series though I would have liked to have seen a bit more detail from a 2003 game, I believe they did a reasonable job considering the time this game was made. The cinematics on the other hand are absolutely stellar. I mean it is Blizzard after all, they do make the best cinematics. It’s like you’re watching a movie.

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The music is done by Glenn Stafford and though his Warcraft 2 music was catcher, Warcraft 3’s music is a lot more epic and orchestrated, particularly in the cinematics which are really well done. It’s hard not to get goosebumps when you’re watching the human campaign ending. The voice acting is also fantastic, particularly the dreadlords. There are also many fantastic lines of dialogue to match making for some epic quotes such as:

“Save your breath human, you’ll need it to scream when I start tearing off your limbs!” ~ Grom Hellscream

Now if you haven’t already realized by the title, Warcraft 3 has online multiplayer but do yourself a favor and stay away. It’s really awful and I’m not going to review it. If you want to know more about Warcraft 3’s, I highly encourage you to read this article I made as it will tell you pretty much everything you need to know:

Warcraft 3 Blog

Overall, Warcraft 3’s campaign is definitely worth purchasing the game by itself, just be sure to get the expansion with it as well, you can’t just get one of them. Be sure to get both to finish the story. Trust me, Frozen Throne is even better, especially if you liked Reign Of Chaos. I also highly encourage you to try out the books too. As for World Of Warcraft, I have played it and I will say right now that it killed the entire series, don’t play it. I don’t play it anymore, in case you haven’t already gathered.

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Story/Plot: Exceptional
Visuals: Good
Gameplay: Great
Music: Good
Multiplayer: Awful (just putting that out there)
Lifespan: Quite Long (ROC) Decent Legnth (TFT)
Would you replay? Maybe
Overall: Excellent


10:08 AM on 05.15.2015  

Looking Back: Need For Speed Carbon Review

Now as we all know, EA are a greedy publisher. Their development team Black Box on the other hand are actually not that bad and it shows through Need For Speed Carbon.


Completely ignoring the controversy behind EA, I’m giving Need For Speed Carbon a fair chance. Need For Speed Carbon is available for many platforms but I chose the Wii version. Why, I have no idea, possibly because I just got a Wii at that point. So I’ll be reviewing the Wii version.


To start with we have the visuals. I honestly think that the visuals of Need For Speed Carbon are a vast improvement over its predecessors and still hold up well today. All the cars look nice and shiny and there are some great lighting effects on the paint work. The dark neon lit urban sandbox returns from Need For Speed Underground 2 which is good considering the bright, sunny Rockport kinda got tiring after a while, plus it provides a fitting environment to show off the game’s lighting effects.


I really like Palmont City a lot as it has a lot of cool areas, particularly in Silverton and unlike Rockport which had very few memorable landmarks, Palmont has plenty. This can help out a lot with the police chases as it helps to know where you are on the map and the visuals are a lot bolder and clearer due to the game’s darker environment allowing you to identify light easier. All in all though, I really think Carbon does well in the visual department.

But what really matters in games like this is the racing. First things first though I have to bring up the controls as they are easily the most interesting part of the Wii version. Unlike the other versions, the Wii version utilizes the Wii remote which requires you to tilt it to steer (kind of like a steering wheel). This can turn a lot of people off at first and can seem quite intimidating, its a bit like transitioning from the DK Bongo’s to the Gamecube controller in Donkey Konga, it just feels awkward. The bad thing is that there aren’t any conventional controller options, though there are still a few options here and there which require the Wii remote and nunchuck, I felt that the default controls were ultimately the least clunky of the bunch.

As you can see, i can’t drive in third person perspective using the Wii remote.

With that said, the Wii remote operates fine by itself. You use 2 to accelerate, 1 to brake and the best bit, A to hand brake. My god I can’t think of any racing game where I’ve ever used the hand brake as much as this, and it handles so smoothly too. This is partly due to the mechanics of the steering which are very fast and surprisingly responsive even on the Wii version. Cornering feels fast, as it should with the use of the hand brake, its as if you almost never need to use the brake.

In addition, there is speed breaker which can be used by pressing down on the d pad (or from a horizontal position, you press right on the d pad). Speed breaker is so ridiculously abusive though it’s not even funny. Like Nitrous, it regenerates over time, so you can use it on nearly every corner and it’s really fun to do so. This can be a good thing as it makes the game more accessible for newcomers to the series and ultimately makes the game more fun as it’s cool to watch your car drift around corners carrying the weight of all it’s speed. It’s as if they knew exactly how to make an engaging arcade racer.


As with previous installments, you have your nitrous to give yourself an extra boost, this can be done by pressing right on the d pad (or up horizontally) and can be useful at getting your speed back after a sharp turn. Something new however is crew abilities. Crew abilities allow you to either stop your opponent in their tracks or draft behind a crew member to gain some speed. As if speed breaker didn’t make it easy enough in Most Wanted, now you have another racer on your side who can win the races for you. Talk about hand-holding.

In addition, crew members have rubber band AI. This is usually a good thing since they stay with you, particularly if they’re a drafter but sometimes they get in your way and you end up ramming into their rear bumper with them complaining at you for driving like a lunatic when it was their fault. In addition, it can make a fun challenge to beat your teammate in a race as they generally play on the same level as you making them a tough challenge. Sometimes however your ally can be found all the way back in last place. Sometimes it’s because they hit a wall directly, sometimes a pursuit breaker blocks their way, this can even happen to the enemy racers too which is hilarious.


To step things up there’s the canyon races. These races are Need For Speed Carbon’s most stand-out feature. Canyon races turn off both nitrous and speed breaker, forcing you to drive with pure skill. The hand holding essentially disappears completely here and whilst the arcade racing mechanics might help a little, the tracks theme around tight corners and thin roads which are designed to intimidate the player. This makes canyon races some of the best this game has to offer, they’re intense and really fun. Essentially, canyons are the ultimate test of your driving ability in the Need For Speed series.

Canyon’s are tough but not tough enough for the Dodge Viper

Police chases make a return and they’re slightly different this time round. Police helicopters will no longer follow you on the map, why they removed them is unknown. On the other hand, pursuit breakers will no longer immobilize all police cars in an area and can be avoided by the cops. The only way to utilize a pursuit breaker is to have the cop get crushed or drive into it as opposed to Most Wanted where the cops would stop to investigate the damage.


As Palmont is a more cramped space, with lots of corners, there are a lot of quick exits to escape from the cops, and without the helicopters, the police will have a harder time finding you. Additionally, spike strips are not as effective as they were in Most Wanted and it’s possible to outrun the cops without tires as opposed to slowing town to 0. This makes the cop chases in NFS Carbon a lot more forgiving than Most Wanted and are still just as enjoyable though they can sometimes be a pain.

Another returning feature is the drift challenges from Need For Speed Underground 2 which have replaced the Drag races in Need For Speed Most Wanted (which I personally hated). Drifts couldn’t be more fun with the Wii remote, not to mention more challenging and rewarding. I swear your arms will hurt after a while as drifting requires you to corner some really sharp turns without touching the railings. The higher the speed the more points you get. I personally find drifts to be really fun though I can understand how they can be a huge turnoff to some. Still, I find them a lot more bearable than Drag races which were a glorified car frogger simulation with manual transmission (automatic all the way, sorry, I just suck with manual transmission, it’s the main reason why I never learned to drive IRL).

And that pretty much covers the general game play experience of Need For Speed Carbon but that’s not the only thing Need For Speed Carbon has going for it. Like all good street racing games, you gotta have some good car customization. It is something the Need For Speed games have been lacking for a while now and Carbon is arguably the best of the bunch in this category (though some argue pro street which I personally disagree with despite them being very similar as to me, the cars look a lot better in Carbon which makes the customization feel more desirable).


Like previous NFS titles, you can customize your rims, hoods, add a few vinyl’s here and there but what stands out the most is the game’s autosculpt system. This allows you to freely adjust the shape and size of your cars body to give it its own look. In addition, the number of vinyl slots is now limitless. This is the one thing that annoyed me the most about NFS Most Wanted, the fact that you could only pick one vinyl which was stupid as Underground 2 allowed you to have up to 4. Carbon rectify’s this problem by giving you limitless design possibilities. I guarantee you will never see two of the same car in NFS Carbon… unless they’re deliberately designing the same car.


Unlike the other games in the series, Need For Speed Carbon comes with its own original soundtrack. Instead of just throwing money at licensed music (which they still do with their EA Trax), they actually managed to design their own to accompany it. So if you don’t want to listen to licensed music, you can just turn it off and still listen to the game’s OST. I actually really like the OST as it’s intense (the cop chases still use the remixed version of The Mann), particularly the music that plays in the canyons which has a lot of heavy percussion.


The biggest issue with NFS Carbon is it’s length. The career mode is sadly very short, there are only 4 boss fights (each with both a circuit and canyon race) and the career can be a little too easy to beat. With all of its hand holding features like the speed breaker and your crew, the game can easily be beaten in a few hours. The final race however is really tough and it can really suck for people who have a low acceleration car as your opponent is driving the best car in the game with perfect handling down one of the game’s most twistiest tracks.

To make up for this, there is a lot of replay value to be had in NFS Carbon. Aside from the career mode there is also the challenge series. Though it doesn’t offer half as much content as NFS Most Wanted, it’s still there and has you driving some cars that are unavailable in career mode which is cool. In addition there are reward cards which are basically in-game achievements which reward you with new car parts, visuals and cars to unlock in Quick Race (the game’s multi-player). I actually went out of my way to get all of the reward cards in the game and it was a lot of fun replaying the game again each time to get them (though I set up a new alias as I wasn’t fond of losing all my pimped out cars to complete some of the reward cards).


Here’s proof, proof that I have no life…

The Wii version doesn’t have online multi-player but split screen is still there and can still be fun with a friend. It’s pretty bog standard and sadly there is no coop free roam like in Midnight Club 3 but it’s still quite fun for a little bit though you’ll eventually get bored and move on to something else.


Did somebody call the fire brigade?

All in all, Carbon is a solid entry in the series and is my personal favorite. As a racer, it’s up there, but it ain’t got nothing on F-Zero GX.

Advice to all Wii version owners: Play in first person perspective, trust me, it makes a huge difference. Oh and stick with default controls and learn them. You will grow to love this game.


Visuals: Great

Music: Good

Gameplay: Great

Customization: Excellent

Content: Satisfactory

Lifespan: Very Short

Multi-Player: Decent

Licensed Cars? Yes

Would you replay? Yes


Overall: Great



5:14 AM on 05.12.2015  

Awful Boss Battles: Nefasturris

So it's finally time to unleash all my hatred... i believe this is definitely going to be a series worth doing... hopefully. You know... those awful moments in videogames which make you want to smash your fist through the TV or fall asleep... or both. Even some of the nest games have some really horrible moments that really push your buttons. Today we're going to talk about boss fights and one boss in particular really infuriates me. The mere existance of this boss offends me... Today i'm going to talk about a boss from Devil May Cry 2, Nefasturris.

Now believe it or not, i don't really hate Devil May Cry 2 unlike a lot of people. I liked the direction they were going for it, lots of cool areas to explore and are all dark and give you that feeling of desolation, plus despite being stoic, i do think DMC2's Dante is still a badass, in fact you could say that this time around, he's too badass. So badass that he doesn't even need style to win boss fights... he just kinda stands there and shoots.

Disclaimer: I am proficient in the art of sucking when it comes to playing Devil May Cry

Which is all you can do against the mighty Nefasturris. Seriously this boss drives me up the wall. This boss is not only frustating as hell but is just plain bad. First lets look at his design. What the bloody fuck is that. Seriously, people actually gathered together in a board room and thought up this shit. You are fighting a giant hulking demon who's somehow managed to get himself trapped inside a skycraper, so the skyscraper turns rubber and you see this huge face pop out. I don't even know what to say about this, i mean sure it might look cool on paper but it's simply illogical. A skyscraper is a solid object with multiple floors. How can a demon that size fit in there (let alone get in there)? In addition, why do the windows turn to jelly when he pushes into them with his hand? I'm pretty sure physics don't work like that.

The only other explanation is that the demon itself is the skyscraper and we are led to believe that it's just a facade. If so, then why the hell does the building not dissappear when he comes out? Is the skyscraper actually the demon? If so then why? Why would you make a demon that is designed as a skyscraper and if you're trying to make it subtle, then why do you have his body popping out of it!? Seriously, this has to be one of the dumbest ideas for a boss battle i've ever encountered in my life. Sure i know it's supposed to be a videogame and trying to apply logic to a videogame is stupid but it's not half as stupid as the idea of this boss. I mean come on, it's a demon that just pops out of a jelly skyscraper, worst part is, it comes literally out of nowhere and serves absolutely no purpose other than to create something epic looking for the game's opening scene. Lets face it, that is all this boss is, it's purpose is to make the intro cutscene look epic and truth be told, when i first saw the intro, i thought this boss fight was going to be badass, sadly i couldn't have been more wrong.

What make's Nefasturris one of the worst bosses ever is simply the fact that it makes no sense in the context of a Devil May Cry game (gameplay wise at least). Devil May Cry is supposed to be a hack n slash game at it's core but this boss is so far away that it's near impossible to hit him with physical attacks and it's dangerous to even try, instead you're encouraged to stand far back holding down the square button and jumping and dodging his attacks as they come. Watch the video and see how many times i actually used my sword on this guy (the first form at least), sure i did try to use it but when i did i often got punished by the boss. This is the reason why i had to re record this footage as well as the reason why this boss is so frustrating, when a game gives me a choice between using a sword or a gun, i'm going to use a sword, i've always enjoyed sword fighting in games hence the reason why i play Devil May Cry in the first place, to hack n slash things with my sword. All i'm doing in this boss is holding down square and shooting him with SMG's (god help you if you decided to bring ebony and ivory to this fight) and dodging his irritating attacks.

Seriously, this guy has quite possibly one of the most irritating arsenal of attack's i've seen in a Devil May Cry game (though Geryon and Beowolf come damn close). He shoots this huge laser (which as you can probably gather by the video, i'm just too good at jumping into >.>) which covers the entire battlefield. To avoid it you jhave to jump over it. Well get this. Once you have the bosses health down below 3/4 his laser will start homing on you and this is near impossible to avoid especially if you're standing too close (hence the reason why you can't use the sword in this fight). The only way to avoid the homing laser is to jump up (just to have the laser move up) and when you land you quickly dodge forward twice (you see me do it in the video). If you're standing too close to the boss, you have to do the same but dodge backwards instead of forwards. If you're too close to a corner though, you're fucked as if you jump, the laser will hit you.

To ensure you're not standing too close the boss will also shoot what appears to be a shotgun blast laser, this attack is stupidly annoying to dodge. At least the laser is possible to dodge (if you do it perfectly) but this attack can hit you just about anywhere. you can literally just dodge into one of the lasers. Now if you're attacking him ,with the sword and he uses this, say goodbye to a considerable amount of health as all the lasers will hit you. Once again this forces you to use the guns. I hate being forced to use certain weapons. If i have a sword, i'm going to use it and in this boss, using it is so dangerous that it's safer just so shoot as it deals enough damage anyways (because as we all know, Devil May Cry 2's guns are overpowered as hell).

Nefasturris also loves to taunt the player by slamming his hand down, at the same time, he is vulnerable to melee damage for a short period of time but before you even think about it, Nefasturris will summon bats to stunlock you and the only effective way of dealing with them is *sigh* gunning them down. Essentially the only reason to melee attack this guy is simply to get devil trigger... just to make the boss fight end quicker and believe me, this boss can be a real pain to kill without fully upgraded SMG's (which i am using in the video). The faster this boss fight ends the better and considering the fact that there are two phases to this fight you'll want to get the first phase down really quickly.

Ello poppet...

In the second phase however, things get a bit differrent. His head comes flying off and you have to fight him again (yep it really is that stupid). The guy likes to shoot white balls at you, all you can do is mash circle and hold the analogue stick to the top corner and pray that you don't dodge too slow or into a wall or you will get hit, staggered, hit again and so on. Then his head will fall down and you have to get around him to avoid his shotgun blast laser, then you can finally use your sword (it's about time). Afterwards he will begin to shoot blue lightning, similar to Nevan in DMC3. The problem with this is that if you were expecting the white balls, you're probably going to start dodging... but these lightning bolts appear on the ground and it's obvious that their purpose is to troll the player by having them dodge left... only to dodge into the lightning. He will throw multiple lines of lightning at you and you can only pray that they don't hit you as he throws some of them in the air for good measure. Just to make things worse, he likes to throw both white balls and blue lightning at you at the same time but in truth this is no differrent from the blue lightning.

The thing that annoys me about this boss the most is that despite how annoying and frustrating he is, he really isn't all that difficult. Through trial and error you will easily beat this boss. It's just his cheap moves that annoy me the most and the simple fact that you have to avoid all of his attacks in a particular way or you'll get hit. In reality, Nefasturris is just a boring boss with nothing interesting to offer, his irritating attacks can knock you off guard at first but once you know exactly what you're supposed to do, he is pitifully easy... if annoying. Really it all comes down to guess work, guessing what his next attack will be. If you can anticipate all of his moves and know exactly how to avoid them, you will beat this boss so easily it's laughable.

Oh so it's Nefascaptis now... since when did losing your head warrant a name change?

Now you might argue "isn't that what a learning curve is all about"? Well normally you'd be right, bosses are supposed to challenge you and you're meant to feel accomplished, as if you learned something new after beating them but the only thing you're left with after this boss fight is dissappointment, you learn absolutely nothing besides the fact that the boss is both ridiculously annoying and ridiculously easy. Just look at Vergil in Devil May Cry 3, that boss fight is literally the complete opposite of Nefasturris, you come out of it feeling as if you accomplished something or learned something new. Seriously, each time i fought that guy (and for each playthrough) i came out of that fight learning something new each time. This boss left me with nothing but pain and frustration and every time i go back to it it brings back that same pain and frustration every time because by then, i forgot how to avoid the guy's attacks and have to re-do it over and over again till i can remember.

What's worse is when you do beat him, you are rewarded with the most anticlimactic deatn animation ever...

So there you have it, one boss down, many more to go. Oh and i'm not just going to discuss bosses, hell no. There are many other awful sections of videogames to discuss. Depending on how much or how little i have to say about them depends on how may of them i'll include in each one.

Sorry for the shitty image quality, unlike most images which i admittedly grab from Google, i decided to upload these directly from my capture card considering the fact that the entire boss fight is all in the video. As a result, the inages look like ass... but thats ok since this boss looks like ass anyways, just sayin.


12:07 PM on 05.10.2015  

Current Gen: Child Of Light Review

This review was requested a while back and i have just recently had the drive to write it. Child Of Light was developed by Ubisoft of all people, wait... you mean a niché indie style RPG was developed by a hugely successful publisher? Child Of Light is a sign that despite all their huge fuck ups in recent years, Ubisoft isn't completely worthless.

To make things even more interesting, Child Of Light seemed to combine many well known concepts into a single package, it's hard not to find something familiar in this game and even if you don't, it all seems to be formulated well despite it's first glance. The most recognized aspect to me was the gameplay. Ubisoft appear to have actually paid attention to game arts' Grandia series during development (something most publishers don't do) and have incorporated many of it's ideas into Child Of Light's combat system, essentially making Child Of Light the spiritual successor to Grandia, who would have known!?

Now lets dig deep into the combat, It's Pausable Active Time based (more of a forced pause) just like the Grandia games which is a great choice of combat style for such a game (better than the ever boring turned based system of Bravely Default). Just like in the Grandia games, characters move on an IP bar which designates each characters turn. Once the character reaches the act bar they can issue commands and begin raping the enemy with a multitude of attacks or just simply support. Like in Grandia, you also have the ability to cancel enemy attacks by attacking them whilst their portrait is within the act bar which interrupts their attack and pushes them back down the bar, it's a really addictive system and it returns better than ever in Child Of Light. Unlike the Grandia games, Child Of Light removed combo and critical attacks and just replaced them with... err attack. In addition, every attack has the potential to counter enemies. This is a double edged sword.

Now on paper, this is a great thing, now all the attacks are balanced and are all effective unlike in the grandia games. This makes Child Of Light's combat one of the most balanced of it's kind. On the other hand, some of the design ideas didn't really work well with this. One of which occurs later on in the game where enemies have the ability to counter your cancels and do various nasty things to you. Essentially this means you are punished for cancelling their attack. I swear i cannot count how many time i had fallen victim to this cheap trick and died so many times. Now had they brought back the combo ability and allowed us to deal more damage to enemies without cancelling them, this wouldn't have been a problem. However, since pretty much every single offensive move in this game counts as a cancel, you can be counter attacked so many times and believe me, enemy counter attacks are brutal in this game, sometimes even frustratingly brutal. Then again this adds a solid challenge to the game and is a kick to the nuts to all Grandia fans.

One of Child Of Light's most unique concepts is it's interaction with your wick companion Igniculus who follows you around like a lost lamb. Igniculus can be used to solve puzzles, illuminate areas and many other things, most notably in combat. Igniculus adds even more intricacy to the Grandia trademark battle system by adding two player co op. Now don't be fooled by this, you do not directly control a character as a second player, rather you control the battlefield itself with the mighty Igniculus (god i suck at spelling his name, have to google it every time :/). Igniculus has many abilities in battle, one of which is to interferre with enemy wait/cast times and ultimately slow them down allowing you to counter them with more precision. This can save you from many game over's if utilized correctly. On the other hand, Igniculous can also knock little flowers on the side of the screen to heal your character's health and magic points. You want to be careful when using him though as there is only so much the little guy can do. Similar to your MP, Igniculus has his own bar which when used renders him unable to use his abilities so be sure to use him wisely.

Now that we've covered the combat, it's time to get to the rest... the hard part. Child Of Light is a hand drawn side scrolling rpg with platforming elements or as many would call, an ATB based Metroidvania RPG. Just imagine cupid Kirby in the sense that you don't need to jump. Yes once you reach a certain part of the game, you are given wings! Yes it turns out the Red Bull rumors were true... only this time, you're handicapped with the inability to move forward and back. Just imagine that for a second would you, you're granted wings but you can only move left and right... anyways, the entire skybox is your oyster. You're free to explore the world as you see fit... not that there's much of it. In any case, yes Child Of Light is a semi-open world 2d side scroller and i say semi because... well it's a pretty small world. Serously, you could finish this game in potentially less than 5 hours (i wouldn't know as i'm not a speedrunner). This is pretty pitiful but kind of expected the moment you see the skill tree. It's a very short game and although i don't mind the occasional shortness, this game is really really short. Seriously this game is on the same level as Zone Of The Enders in it's shortness and that's probably why it was retailed at £15.00 for the deluxe edition.

Anyways lets get back to it, there are lots of differrent dungeons to find and explore for you metroidvania fanatics out there along with many side quests to do as well. This thankfully saves the game from it's ridiculously short legnth but for those who want to focus solely on the main story, you might be disappointed. In fact the majority of the characters won't even join you unless you complete their related side quest. Thankfully the sidequests aren't too tedious and offer pretty decent rewards for them so they're all worth trying. The only issue with side quests is the simple fact that there is no end game content. Once the game is done you are just left with the side quests and that's it, so character maxing is essentially pointless as there really isn't any need to make your characters stronger after the main story. Characters on the other hand are mostly essential.

Character management is kept rather simple but is still enjoyable nontheless, each character has three differrent trees which are all sadly linear (seriously skill trees are getting old now). The skills they learn on the other hand are actually quite diverse, you even have characters who are strictly for buffing. There is a nice selection of abilities to choose from though so you have plenty of tactical choice in battles which i really appreciated considering a lot of RPG's still miss this. In addition to the skill trees, many quests reward you with gems, this essentially gives you something similar to the fusion skill in Two Worlds 2 where you can combine gems of the same colour to make new gems and they all gave differrent effects depending on what they're equipped on. Gems are essentially equipment modifiers (or should i say they are the only form of equipment). Gems can be placed in your weapon, armor or accessory. There are many kinds of gems to be found from rubies, sapphires, emeralds, ambers etc. I had a lot of fun with this game's character management despite it's simplicity and i believe they did a fantastic job with it overall.

Music wise... i think the game got a little too repetitive. Seriously it's mostly just one single song the whole way through the game. The battle music was particularly epic to say the least though. I wouldn't consider it to be the most memorable soundtrack i've ever heard any time soon but it's definitely not a bad soundtrack... of what there is of it. Put it this way, i've seen worse, much worse. It's evident that whoever designed the music in this game put a lot of effort into it.

Visually i have a small personal nitpick... now this might shock you but i really don't care much for hand drawn art styles, it just feels a bit too rough a lot of the time and just doesn't draw me in. That being said, there are some fantastic visuals in this game, particularly the underwater locations. There is quite a lot of detail in the overworld and dungeons though some of the actual houses are pretty ugly to me... that's probably due to the game's hand drawn visuals which i just don't really enjoy much. Nevertheless to those who can appreciate the hand drawn art style, Child Of Light is best described as a breath of fresh air in it's visual department.

Now on to the story... where do i start... i hate it. My god writers, did you really have to fill this game's dialogue with so much jargon!? Because that is literally all the story is, never ending jargon. I am serious, literally the entire script is complete and utter jargon... and why you ask? Because the developers insisted on the story being written in rhyme. Yes that's it, you are playing a long ass poem. My god you writers made this game almost impossible to review because i couldn't understand 80% of the dialogue. Of course having played the legendary Kirby 64, i was able to get the gist of the story without acknowledging a single line of dialogue. It's a pretty bog standard and kinda predictable story once you have the formula sussed. Put simply i found the story to be absolutely bland. Most of my fun was spent exploring and in battles, the story did absolutely noting for me, especially by the end, we didn't even get to explore a final dungeon, it just cuts to the final battle. Such a shame.

W..what? What the hell is a Promontory!? *looks it up on google* "A high ridge of land or rock jutting out into a body of water;headland." Should i be ashamed or insulted? I'll go with the latter, because i'm an asshole.

In any case, Child Of Light was like eating a teaspoon of caviar... you crave more of it when it's finished  but it's over before it even begins. Considering this, it's definitely not a game for those who want to invest a lot of time into it but for people who want a very short RPG experience, look no further. It's pretty cheap after all. Put simply, this game is a glorified taste test.


Plot/Story: Flawed

Presentation: Excellent

Gameplay: Excellent

Music: Satisfactory

Lifespan: Too Short

Would you replay? No


Overall: Good



Like this review? Read more here!


9:59 AM on 05.05.2015  

Terry 309's Review Archive

The purpose of this blog is simply to link all of my reviews together without making my bio ridiculously long. Now considering the fact that i'm going to be a lot more lax with reviews in the future, i believe that it's best to focus on the reviews i already have but that all depends on how i feel. I'm going to list all of my reviews here so that people can find them for easy referance. Please note that the quality of my reviews is rather mixed, some are better written than others.

Reviews 2015:

Mafia 2

Warcraft 3

Need For Speed Carbon

Child Of Light

Mount And Blade Warband


Eternal Sonata


Shadow Hearts Covenant


Legend Of Heroes Trails In The Sky

Reviews 2014:

Zone Of The Enders The Second Runner


Midnight Club 3 DUB Edition


Kirby Air Ride


Red Faction




Tales Of The Abyss


Salvation Prophercy


Starfox Assault


Painkiller Overdose


Kirby 64 The Crystal Shards


Legend Of Dragoon


Star Ocean The Last Hope


Star Ocean Second Evolution


Infinite Undiscovery


Baten Kaitos Eternal Wings And The Lost Ocean


Valkyrie Profile Covenant Of The Plume


Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria


Star Ocean (SFC)


Pokemon XD Gale Of Darkness




Star Ocean Till The End Of Time


Tales Of Graces F


Grandia 2


Kirby And The Amazing Mirror


Shadow Hearts




White Knight Chronicles


Final Fantasy V


Painkiller Hell And Damnation


Pokemon Colosseum


Kirby's Adventure Wii


Diablo Hellfire


Warhammer 40k Space Marine


Tales Of Xillia


Two Worlds 2


F-Zero GX

Reviews 2013:


Well, i managed it, a lot of these reviews are pretty bad in terms of quality but with the new site i believe it's fitting to finally do this. I don't know if i'll be writing as many reviews as i used to, back then i had a lot of games to cover... now i've sorta run out so i have to play through more games if i want to review and it depends if i believe they warrant a review. Still with this it's easier to sift through my previous reviews so hopefully people who want to find a review of a game they're looking to pick up can find it here.

Sorry about that...


11:03 AM on 04.20.2015  

Star Ocean Series Retrospective

In recent celebration of the announcement of Star Ocean 5, i thought it would be appropriate to do a retrospective of the series. As such i'm going to return to using Google images again because i just don't give a damn anymore, if it gets taken down, it gets taken down, at the end of the day i just do these blogs for fun so lets get on with it.

Before i even begin with the Star Ocean series, i have to mention one game in particular which influenced the foundation of the Star Ocean series. That game is currently on my backlog and i have recently started playing it. Tales Of Phantasia originated as a novel known as Tale Phantasia which was written by Gotanda himself. It later received a videogame adaptation thanks to the financial support of Namco who published the game and designated it's development to Wolf Team. Members of Wolf Team included Masaki Norimoto (game designer), Joe Asanuma and Yoshiharu Gotanda (writer and programmer). These three people would later become known as the three aces, hence their subsequent company name.

Tales Of Phantasia's development didn't go smoothly however. A lot of people were outraged by Namco who ultimately used their rights of ownership to alter many of the Wolf Team's design choices to meet their own criteria, changing the title to Tales Of Phantasia among other things. This caused much controversy within the team and caused Joe Asanuma, the teams former director to pull out causing the game's release to be delayed for an entire year, additionally, propositions for a new company which was subsequently labeled tri-Ace were made causing the significant internal collapse of Wolf Team which forced Namco to hire new staff and form an entirely new team later known as the Tales Studio.

My personal experience with Tales Of Phantasia has so far been good though the signs of age are quite potent. I have only just started playing the game though and to be honest i believe part of the game's charm is in dejap's translation. Other than that, there is a lot to like about Tales Of Phantasia and it's easy to tell that it was heavily influenced by the three ace's design though due to the nature of the gaming industry, these features are obviously quite subtle. Nevertheless a lot of the ideas from Tales Of Phantasia were later incorporated into their first game, Star Ocean.

Is this even legal!?

After tri-Ace was formed, they began development on a new title to rival Tales Of Phantasia. The heavily Star Trek inspired team developed what is known today as the Star Ocean series. Their first game, Star Ocean on the Super Famicom, like Tales of Phantasia was never released overseas (besides it's remakes). Star Ocean retained a lot of the design choices from Tales Of Phantasia but with a whole new story and universe. The first thing you will notice with Star Ocean is that the visuals improved dramatically over their former project though due to financial limitations, a lot of the features from Tales Of Phantasia were abandoned. Features such as particle effects which were one of Tales Of Phantasia's most noticeable quirks were an unaffordable luxary and had to be abandoned.

To make up for it, the team decided to improve on their design with their own talents. Additionally Star Ocean used the Super Accelerator chip which enhanced the game's technical capabilities including additional RAM giving Star Ocean an edge over Tales Of Phantasia in terms of tech, so to speak. This allowed the developers to put additional effort into the game's design in order to outmatch Tales Of Phantasia and whilst it is difficult to find those improvements, they are apparent if you look closely enough.

As is made apparent by the two images, the visuals were enhanced considerably, Star Ocean used more detailed textures and sprites to create a more visually appealing world. The traditional world map from Tales Of Phantasia was scrapped in favor of a more linear but more detailed overworld. This was a hit and miss for fans as many preferred the feeling of freedom in the more open-ended world map of Tales Of Phantasia but you cannot deny that this design decision was well thought out considering the circumstances, they needed something in the game to stand out and the visuals were quite possibly one of the game's most stand out features when compared with Tales Of Phantasia.

All in all comparing the two is rather difficult. Both games were very strong in their design that in the end, they both amounted to being just as good, if you look at it from a timeline perspective, Tales Of Phantasia possibly had the edge due to it's financial support but in the end, you cannot fault tri-Ace for this, at the end of the day, Yoshiharu Gotanda is the founder of the Tales series and the three aces all played a part in Tales Of Phantasia's design.

Personally i praise the effort that was put into Star Ocean, particularly the private actions, a feature which was added to the series which was later swiped by Namco, most notably in their mid 2003 game, Tales Of Symphonia. Using the power of variables, the game recorded certain actions the player took during certain events and recorded them thorughout the game to alter future events. This later became the series' most recognized feature, a feature that has provided greater replay value, particularly in the game's sequel, Star Ocean The Second Story which expanded on this feature greatly (i honestly don't believe i gave that game a fair chance in my review).

Before i get onto the second story, i would like to touch on the game's second most prominent feature, item creation. Item creation was a crafting system which allowed the player to create their own items with base materials, requiring a certain skill level do do so. In the first game, item creation was rather tricky due to it's fail rate and required a lot of grinding to be utilized properly. On  the other hand, the sequel, Star Ocean The Second Story perfected the system which ultimately paved way for other games such as the Atelier series which primarily focused on item creation.

Star Ocean The Second Story was essentially a perfected version of the original Star Ocean, it took all of it's concepts and ideas and perfected them, similar to how F-Zero GX perfected F-Zero X's ideas but with a whole new story which was very finely linked to the first game. Unlike Namco, tri-Ace chose to focus on it's own features and expand on them, keeping the battle system mostly the same. Unlike the first Star Ocean, free movement was made a lot smoother through use of the d-pad, no longer did you have to use the clunky cursor to move around in battle, you could just move wherever you wanted with the d-pad. Unfortunately, this came at a sacrifice, one of Star Ocean 2's biggest flaws was it's inability to change target manually. This was what the d pad was originally used for in the original Star Ocean.

This personally caused a lot of issues with the game as certain boss fights were downright frustrating as you were often stuck to one target and couldn't switch it easily. Even with it's improvements, the game still feels kinda dated by todays standards, another one of the game's issues was the ability to stun lock enemies infinitely. I swear the stun lock is the biggest issue when it comes to most action games. On the bright side, the private actions were more numorous, the cast of characters was also greater, it is impossible to recruit all of them however as picking one cancelled out another and some were pretty difficult to obtain. This limitation gave the game more replay value and added an element of choice. This feature was in the original game too but in Star Ocean The Second Story is was on a larger scale. The problem with this was that it was difficult for players to obtain certain characters without a guide, i swear i missed so many characters playing through Star Ocean The Second Story, i do want to replay it again, i really do but replaying RPG's is not an easy task as i mentioned in a previous blog: to replay or not to replay.

Visually i still believe the SFC version of Star Ocean to be far more appealing as it felt way more detailed than Star Ocean 2 which chose a more water colour art style. The character sprites were very detailed and some of the locations were well designed. Overall though i do believe Star Ocean The Second Story to be one of tri-Ace's weakest efforts when it comes to visuals in my opinion though it certainly wasn't all that bad, i just don't believe the game stood out for it's time as well as other games on the ps1. Still i'm pretty sure that there are others who think otherwise and appreciate the game's art design, good for them. In any case, Star Ocean The Second Story is the only game in the series to have a traditional world map unlike it's predecessor (unless you count the remake).

When a ps1 port of a 1996 PC game beats you, you might as well give up.

On the contrary, where the game truly shines is as i mentioned prior, it's features. The private actions, the item creation, it's all so much better than the original. Item creation is much more deep than it was in the first game where you could perform item creation with your entire party for new skills. There are so many different professions available, my favourite being contraband which is broken beyond belief, in a good way. From this point onwards, tri-Ace prides themselves on providing the players with the tools to break the game and Star Ocean The Second Story was no exception. Through item creation, players were able to craft the best weapon in the game early and destroy every boss with minimal effort.

The private actions have always been an addictive experience within the Star Ocean series and convince the player to explore at their own pace rather than focus on the story. However without a guide, it's easy to miss over half the game's content so if you do intend on playing through Star Ocean 2 (which i reccomend), be sure to have a guide handy.

The third game changed everything. Star Ocean Till The End Of Time, or as i like to call the Gothic 3 of JRPG's was released in early 2003... but just hold on a second. There is another, lesser known title that i forgot to mention.

Dat face...

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere was a direct sequel to Star Ocean The Second Story. Considering the open-ended nature of the first game, Star Ocean Blue Sphere made little sense, Dias and Leon are both in the party which makes little sense but ok. I've dabbled into Star Ocean Blue Sphere a little and from what i can gather, it appears to be somewhat similar to Seiken Densetsu but with battle transitions. The dungeons feel very Zelda esque and the gameplay feels a tad dumbed down from the previous installments. I never really remember my characters leveling up or getting stronger but then again, i never really made it that far as i couldn't speak Japanese.

Blue Sphere was released on the Gameboy Colour so naturally, memories of my childhood seeped in when i played it. It's a shame it was never localized though (even though the recent title might explain a little bit) and it feels almost forgotten, especially considering the Star Ocean 5 trailer said that it took place between Star Ocean The Second Story and Star Ocean Till The End Of Time but what about Blue Sphere? Will Star Ocean 5 acknowledge it's existence? or will it forever remain non-canon (which considering the nature of Star Ocean 2, perhaps it's for the best).

In any case, moving on we have Star Ocean Till The End Of Time. This game changed everything about the series and focused more on the battle mechanics rather than it's features. Big mistake. The game was released in such a mess that it had to release a directors cut version which was later localized as the Star Ocean Till The End Of Time we've all come to know over here.

For starters, item creation was scrapped in favor of the invention system. My god did they mess that up so badly. Instead of re-living the "put an item into a pot and hope for the best" system, they decided to have the player actually invent the item using their brain power and FOL, lots and lots fo FOL (the game's currency). For starters, using money to create items was a terrible idea, especially since you could end up creating just about anything. In Star Ocean 1 and 2 you have many differrent base items which each had differrent results when used in Item creation so that you could use differrent base items to create differrent items depending on what you wanted. In Star Ocean Till The End Of Time, they were replaced with X components, not actual base products, just components used to design the base products.

This meant that if you wanted to make a specific item, you just had to pray. The item crated depended on the amount of FOL you spend, unfortunately you cannot manually decide how much fol you want as it's decided at random so you have to keep shuffling through FOL costs until yuo find the one you want. Then you have to invent... and boy oh boy does it get worse from here.

Behold, Star Ocean Till The End Of Time's invention system!

If you aren't already bored with Item Creation, you'll probably want to throw in the towel when you find out that the combat is absolute ass. Unlike previous Star Ocean games, using the trigger buttons was no longer used for special attacks, instead to use a special attack you have to press the face buttons (x and o). In addition, to use normal attacks you press the face buttons (x and o) yes, to do regular and special attacks you press the same bloody button. I cannot stress this enough, you never use 1 button for two differrent things, it's annoying. Sure to use special attacks you are told to hold the button down but it's still easy to mess it up and perform a normal attack and vice versa. 

In addition, performing special attacks costs the users Hit Points, not that it matters because running out of HP isn't the problem, running out of MP on the other hand is a huge problem as for some reason one of the developers said "hey, why don't we give the play a game over screen when all their characters run out of MP, sounds cool huh"? As a result, the game was plagued with insane difficulty spikes simply due to MP damage. If you've been using Cliff for the entire game, i really hope you're ready for some pain when you enter the Urssa Lava Caves. The worst part is that whereas there is a healing spell for HP, there is no way of healing MP besides the use of items, so MP damage can be devastating even to those who have a reasonably high MP bar (and those who do tend to use a lot of MP).

On the plus side, the game's setting and story were quite enjoyable, to me at least, sure the characters felt a bit lackluster at times but they made up for it with the fantastic soundtrack. Star Ocean Till The End Of Time easily has the best soundtrack in the series (though the first game comes very close in that regard). Some of the sci-fi esque tumes are simply captivating, sure it might not be Valkyrie Profile 2 but it's still up there nontheless. Visually, it gets a pass, though the character models looked a little meh, the environments were bright and colourful and some of the later areas are pretty interesting too. It's one of those games which you either love or hate and as i previously mentioned in my top 5 videogame love hate relationships blog. 

*wink* *wink*

Put simply, Star Ocean Till The End of Time was a little rusty and felt unfinished but it had a solid setting that the other games had failed to accomplish. There was a lot more sci-fi in Star Ocean Till The End Of Time than in the previous titles and i find that they got the sci-fi theme right.

Of course i cannot mention Star Ocean Till The End Of Time without mentioning it's infamous plot twist. That Plot Twist changed the fans perception fo the game considerably, in fact it changed the perception of the entire series. It was a massive scale plot twist which changed everything about the Star Ocean Series and it was difficult for a lot of players to accept. Some players on the other hand (me included) welcomed the plot twist and admired it's philosophical concept. No matter how much you enjoy the game, the plot twist will either make or break it for you. If you're new to the Star Ocean series i reccomend saving Star Ocean Till The End Of Time for last as it is the final installment in the series, timeline wise. A bit like Devil May Cry 2 in the sense that it's the final game in the timeline but not the final game in the series.

Finally the semi-infamous Star Ocean The Last Hope, hoo boy, this game sealed the deal. Many people cried out in disgust after this game though they still forgot a lot of the qualities that this game had to offer. For starters, the visuals were amazing and still are, the landscapes are lush and beautiful and the lighting is great too, some of the sci-fi themed areas were really detailed and surprisingly colourful. Despite their creepy doll appearance, i actually really liked the character models, they just felt fresh, sure Lymle looked ugly as hell but i think everyone's appearance was highly detailed, even if some of them were a bit too scantly clad to tell.

The battle system is easily the strongest in the series to date, Unlike Star Ocean The Second Story, stun locking was no longer an issue. Whereas Star Ocean Till The End Of Time tried to fix it with the fury system (and ultimately failed), Star Ocean The Last Hope implemented the rush gauge which made your character immune to stagger effects and ultimately more powerful. This affected the bosses too making the game a lot more challenging. Alongside that, the game added a dodging system that didn't flat out suck and a blindsiding ability which allowed players to dodge enemies attacks at the right time to sneak up behind them and perform a critical hit, essentially the counter to the rush gauge but required more skill to pull off, especially against enemies who could counter blindsides (which were featured later on).

Character management was also expanded, whereas Item Creation was a shadow of it's former self, the actual character management was actually quite good, you could send them down different paths either specializing in the rush gauge or blindsiding... or none at all. The rush gauge kinda felt like Overlimit from the tales games but instead of performing a mystic arte, you performed some kind of unison attack (similar to Tales Of Symphonia) where you can do 4 attacks without interruption, allowing you to pile on the damage at the cost of your entire rush gauge. This did allow the player to break the game a little as the rush gauge charged up by holding down the B/O button (the dodge button) so you can unleash your attacks on bosses without risk of interruption.

Nevertheless the combat system and gameplay was really fun. There were so many things to do in Star Ocean 4 such as salvaging items, private actions and doing side quests etc. Star Ocean 4 has so much content in it that if you intend on 100% completing it, you're taking on a huge task. I never completed the final optional dungeon as it was just way too long (think Nifelheim from Tales Of Symphonia).

On the other hand, the game's signature features were dumbed down a lot. Pretty much every single character was available from the get go and private action endings stacked so you could get them all in one playthrough meaning there was no individuality of getting a particular ending. Item creation was pretty much copy/pasted from Infinite Undiscovery but with the invention system... yes the invention system returns, is it as bad? No. Why not? Because you spent SP to learn recipies instead of FOL and it's the same SP cost each time. Not only does this make things easier but it makes sense, as you level up, you get more SP for inventions rather than stockpiling money.

Another issue with the game is the pacing of the private actions, unlike previous games, you don't do private actions in towns, instead you do it whilst travelling between planets. It's a bit like the persona series where you spend half an hour reading dialogue then another half an hour dungeon crawling, there's no mixture in the pot, it's all just detached and i hate it when games detach story/narrative elements with it's gameplay, something which the latest game in the series intends to fix with it's new event system.

And finally, the most noticeable problem being the story and characters. This is the cause for all the infamy surrounding this game. Whilst not all of the cast were that bad, they weren't really as fleshed out as they could be but that's not the biggest issue. The biggest issue comes down to Lymle, Meracle and Sarah. Lymle is a completely emotionless doll with an annoying character arc and an annoying catchphrase which i will not mention to spare you your sanity, then there's Meracle who finds plenty of ways to annoy me, completely pointless character adding nothing remotely interesting to the game whatsoever.

Then there's Sarah, my got i could write a whole article about this character. I fittingly named her Earbleed simply because her voice is just plain awful, need i say more. I also can't stand how she tries to act smart all the time and just comes across as stupid and makes me think "why the hell did you just say that"!? Every time this bitch opens her mouth my ears turn red in pain. Then again. Star Ocean Till The End Of Time was no better (Farleen anyone?). When you make F-Zero GX's voice acting seem sophisticated, you should seriously consider firing people.

Combine this wish a half baked story line and you have a really embarrassingly bad narrative with a rather enjoyable battle system. Think of it as you will but i personally enjoyed it for the battle system alone. I really hope Star Ocean 5 can top it though.

So that's pretty much all there is to say really, the series has had it's fair share of ups and downs but i still can't help but love it, i don't know why but there's just something great about this series. Obviously the Valkyrie Profile series is way better but it probably wouldn't exist without the three aces who created the Star Ocean series. I'm guessing that Valkyrie Profile is an inside joke mocking Namco's Valkyrie games and i'm probably right. Isn't it ironic how two development teams hate each others guts yet the games they make are so very similar? Now you know why. Tales Of Phantasia was made by both tri-Ace and Namco but tri-Ace left the company to become what it is today. They chose to rebel against the publisher and look at what they have given us as a result. The legendary Valkyrie Profile 2 would not have existed if it wasn't for tri-Ace, for that i am glad they split up from Namco.

As for my views on Star Ocean 5, i really hope is destroys Tales Of Zesteria in sales, it probably won't but i can always hope. After all the backlash Zesteria have gotten recently, it could be possible that Star Ocean 5 trumps it. Perhaps then we may see a Valkyrie Profile 3, then my life will be finally complete. I really look forward to seeing how they handle cinematic battles and the visuals look stunning too, looking forward to that as well. All i'm going to say is that i'm pre-ordering that game day one.


5:48 PM on 04.06.2015  

An Egg For An Egg - Best Of Warcraft 3 Quotes

Warcraft 3 has many easter eggs but the most noticable are it's quotes. If you click a hero/unit too long then you'll get an easter egg where the hero/unit will get annoyed and will trigger a funny quote, usually a movie referance.

To start, i'll begin with the classic:

Ahh yes the greatest race in Warcraft lore, the Nathrezim. These guys are basically the consigiliere's for the Burning Legion (Kil'jaeden being the godfather). They host secret meetings and fuck things up, usually for their own amusement though their actions usually harness subtle intentions. When they're not in conferance, they often spend their time delegating and feasting on mortal souls. Dreadlords can be friend or foe, it all depends on the circumstance. Nevertheless, you should never trust a Dreadlord, they will gladly eviscerate you after you've served your purpose.

The Dreadlord is made fun of in the easter egg by being refered to as a "Druglord" and considering his shifty nature, it wouldn't be surprising. They also point fun at the fact that he's always walking even though he has wings. Apparrently the Dreadlords all have cellphones, possibly to converse with their bretheren or in this case darkness itself.

The Pit Lord is the complete opposite of the Dreadlord but still manages to be awesome. Unlike the Dreadlords who would rather use their minions to do their dirty work, Pit Lords love getting down and dirty and you can tell, they're giant pig demons for christ sake, they practically love rolling in muck or in this case, blood. They are essentially the Burning Legion's equivelent of Death Knights and charge into battle with their minions, unlike Death Knights however, Pit Lords are far less forgiving and may kill their own minions for failing them and sometimes just for fun. Like Dreadlords they enjoy being decisive but they often fail at it, so much so that they are seen as a laughing stock amongst the Dreadlords.

The Pit Lord is mocked for his grotesque appearance, he is pretty much a demonic pig after all. He's also mocked for having some of the largest teeth in history

There is also a Fat Albert referance... guess why this is fitting and you win a point.

Ahh the Blademaster, the hero everyone hates to see and for good reason, they steal your items, murder your workers and instagib your units with crit strike. Did i forget to mention that their primary move makes them invisible and move twice as fast!? Basically Blademasters are OP sons of bitches, they are the key to winning every game of Warcraft 3.

In lore, Blademasters are a rare sight, the only notable one being Grom Hellscream who unlike most Blademasters is far less disciplined.

The easter egg is filled with referances to commercials usually involving bladed products as he is all about hacking and slashing. This fits his character perfectly as his crit strike skill allows players to win by simply auto-attacking where the Blademaster does just that.

My god these guys are filled with easter eggs, try and guess all the referances. Mortar Teams are often mailed to the enemy team using the invisible spell or a zeppelin to destroy their town hall from behind. They're also used against Siege Tanks and Crypt Fiends. They attack by using massive mortar cannons  which deal a lot of siege damage but as units they are pretty weak, they can also shoot flares to reveal an area of the map, very handy.

They have so many quotes it's difficult to tell what the main theme behind them was, many of them refer to their mortar cannon but others feel kinda off topic. Still very funny quotes though.

Acolytes are the Undead worker unit, they are humans who devoted themselves to Ner'zhul (the Lich King) and joined the cult of the damned to assist the Scourge's war efforts by summoning hideous constructs to produce more monsterous undead units. Some even offer their own lives to Ner'zhul as a tribute and become...

The acolyte's quotes are some of the funniest and mostly revolve around darkness. He also claims to know the secret to eternal happiness. I guess being evil in't all that bad after all. Sign me up!

The shade's quotes are mostly jokes about being ethereal. If these guys don't convince you to join the scourge, nothing wi... oh wait

Kel'thuzad is Arthas' ever lovable suave side kick. He leads the cult of the damned but is a mere pawn of the scourge. Still he is a highly intellegent necromancer who is talented in many forms of magic. He is essentially the scourge's answer to Stephen Hawking.

His quotes represent his leadership over the cult of the damned and how he is essentially the chief recruiter for the scourge.

Varimathras is one of the three Dreadlord insurgents and is a badass motherfucker. Easily my favourite playable character in the campaign. Unlike his brothers, Balnazzar and Detheroc who use possession and mind control to subjugate their targets, Varimathras has none of those powers but has a silver tongue to match. This guy can talk his way through anything and is very persistant at feigning loyalty. He tends to play it cool for the most part and would go to any lengths to save himself from suspicion.

Being a dreadlord, Varimathras is well informed and proves a rather useful ally to Sylvanas...temporarily of course (if you read Ashbringer you'd know). Humans are basically toys for his own amusement but they can also be quite productive in the right situations.

His quotes mostly refer to him being "always on the winning side" due to his silver tongue and will string the player along trying to fool them into joining his side.

Being a horseman, the Death Knights quotes revolve mostly around the four horsemen of the apocalypse among other things.

Death Knights are fallen warriors (usually nobles) who have fallen in battle to the scourge but their noble heritage lives on in death as they have become the lich king's loyal death knights. These guys are natural born leaders and are often leading scourge forces into battle (unlike Dreadlords who would rather sit back and watch, occasionally toying with their opponents). I never understood how they all get their horses though but somehow every Death Knight is commissioned with one.

The Necromancers quotes mostly refer to reanimation. As they are human and usually spend time amongst rotting corpses, they become obsessed with the sensation of becomming reanimated and it is their goal to die and become liches once they have served their purpose as a human. As humans, necromancers serve as leaders amongst the acolytes and are usually sent to scout the populace to convert people to their cause. Afterwards they become liches and wield greater power as an undead.

The lich is a necromancer who sacrificed himself for Ner'zhul. Unlike shades, they are not completely ethereal, probably due to their necromantic talents which are used to create themselves a new body from their corpse, possibly other corpses. Liches wield great power, possibly gifted by ner'zhul. The power of frost and the power to sacrifice minions to increase their own powers. Liches suck in the power of death to create more and more death... if you know what i mean.

Their quotes represent their lack of body parts. As undead, they weren't able to salvage all of their body parts so they have to improvise, even so far as to attempting to impress the ladies with their new look.

Some Night Elves chose not to be tree-hugging hippies. These night elves chose the path of arcane and fel magic and are also adept ad physical combat too. Armed with great magical power, they can be a force to be reckoned with that can even match the might of a demon. These are Demonhunters.

The Demonhunter quotes poke fun at their obsession for fel magic and their defiance towards Night Elf culture. One of their quotes is "i love green trees" backwards. It appears that the Demonhunter and the Dreadlord are aquainted despite being mortal enemies. They're both friends of darkness though.

When morphed, the demon hunter's voice is deeper than Keanu Reeves... or so it seems.

Despite his size, the Mountain King is a mighty warrior and he won't let anyone say otherwise. Mountain Kings are fearless and just as powerful as even the strongest of orc warriors. What they lack on size, they make up for in stregnth and believe me, this guy's got a lot of muscle. He is also an avid drinker and appears to be british, much like my relatives.

Honestly this is what happens when you combine pretty much every single member of my family with TheDustinThomas. A legend is born.

Last but not least is the philosophical spirit walker. His quotes point fun of his overly philosophical views. Pretty much Mareg from Grandia 2.

Spirit walkers are tauren who follow the earth mother. They are able to become ethereal and commune with the spirits. Basically the Tauren equivelant of a Shaman, just replace elements with spirits.

In battle, they're handy to have as they can link your units together to spread out damage to prevent your units from being focus fired. they also ressurrect Tauren and dispel magic. Just one of these guys can make a huge differrence in battle.

And that's all, i hope you found these quotes as funny as i did. As for other easter eggs Warcraft 3 has... theres a lot, the entire ending credits is an easter egg in itself where they re-do the entire Warcraft 2 intro... with a twist. There's also the worlds largest panda and the secret tower defense level. There are even more but i won't go into them, there's just so many easter eggs in Warcraft 3.


7:30 PM on 03.24.2015  

Rambles: The pain of nostalgia

Well after my last blog i had to make another. Sure this blog is going to have zero effort put into it but i'm just going to write it anyways because why the hell not. There's a lot of things i have in mind and i could use feedback on it so stick around for that. Firstly i want to talk about the state of gaming and reflecting on the past. I think a lot of us feel this way and probably a few of us who don't. In my younger years i had this perception that gaming gets better and better though the ages and though i will always remember the games of the past, i would just move on.

Well times have changed and i think that just isn't the attitude to have anymore. I think it's common knowledge that cynicism has overtaken gaming and really i don't want to talk about it right now. I want to talk about the past and what i believe gaming is missing and why gaming will never be the same as it used to be. We all have fond memories for those games that deeply affected us, sometimes those memories hit us so hard that we want to experience them again. Then we remember that we've been there and done that, the experience will never be the same as the first time round, you know what i'm saying?

Gaming has had a huge legacy ever since the re-establishment of the industry post-crash, gaming has gotten better and better. To me it feels like a long time, well it's practically my life really, i honestly don't count the few years of my life before gaming as living. Gaming pretty much is my life. It had been for about 15 years now and as i've mentioned before, my initial library of games was thin and only many years later did i find the underappreciated gems that solidified my love for gaming. Nevertheless, i cannot deny that through all my years, i've played so many amazing games that it feels like an eternity of pleasure.

If we separate my real life from the equasion, i'd say that my younger days have been an incredible experience. Now that i'm older, i still feel that experience, i know i do because i've recently played some great games. The problem is, most of those games are pre-PS3/360/WII gen. I feel like playing a ps2 game tends to provide me with a better quality experience than any ps3 game. This is strange and really it's been something i haven't brought up because it's pretty much common knowledge though no one is willing to state it out loud because they are in the vocal minority. In truth, they are actually the majority.

My point being, gaming is dying, it has been dying since 2006, slowly degrading little by little and it's taken us so long to realize it... those that have anyway. Now it's taken me a while to come to terms with this. I've had to do a lot of research and i still have a lot more to do. It's pretty obvious that JRPG's were the first to go, the genre that made me the gamer i am today and elevated my gaming experience a lot. I knew gaming was dying for me at least but i couldn't make a strong enough argument... that is until now. Now is the time to make that argument, 2015... the year where gaming has really hit all time low. Now i fear that people are going to argue certain games that were released this year that they enjoyed but i don't give a shit. I'm not saying that gaming is dying in the same way as the SJW's do. I'm talking about the games, not the people who play them i.e the community, it's the community which keeps gaming alive and i really hope that we're strong enough to do so until hopefully one day something big will happen and gaming will reestablish itself.

Now what are the signs? I could list so many it's unbelievable but i'll just list a few to give you an idea. For starters, Blizzard Entertainment is now Activision, Origin is now EA, so many companies have fallen apart or have fallen in the hands of bigger companies (R.I.P tri-Ace), greedy publishers getting bigger and bigger using developers as meat shields which they just throw away, otherwise creating creative boxes that restrict the creative capabilities of the many talented developers which causes talented developers to leave i.e Kojima leaving Konami and that's just the beginning of the horror of what is the gaming industry of today. Be ashamed EA and Moneyvision and anyone else who has contributed towards this. Gaming is dying for one reason... it's an industry.

An industry which refuses to listen to it's fans and only listens to it's sales. This is the sad truth. Publishers play the trials and error game, to them videogames are like poker, they go in with no clue, throw marketing at it and hope for the best, if it makes money, brilliant, if it doesn't everybody suffers but you know who always suffers? Us, yes us the consumer. Our passions are indirectly turning against us and we don't want to accept it, i definitely don't, so we keep on playing, becomming less and less interested and more and more burnt out. Now you're probably thinking "why don't you give up gaming"? Because i'm not done with it yet. There are still many other hidden gems i missed or simply games i haven't tried and i believe i should try at least a few, i owe it t myself as a gamer to go back and experience these titles even though i really should be playing the new call of duty 15 modern gunning down extremists 2 (ok thats the biggest cliche and there are many other games i could mention that everybody else is playing and i'm not) but instead i'm playing something that was released ages ago, completely disconnected from everyone, i don't feel hype or excitement for new games becasue i'm in a completely differrent world of gaming.

That and the simple fact that paying £40.00, possibly more for a game which is underwhelming is simply unacceptible when i can pay £5.00 for a masterpiece. I want to know those masterpieces so that i can play them. I've made a lot of progress in my conquest and i still have a ways to go. Still got to play God Hand for example, it's on my radar.

It's come to the point where i've just said "fuck it i'll play anything as long as it's decent" and i buy it cheap. I'm not fueling the industry, this is contributing to shittier games but what differrence does it make anyways? If i buy them, they keep making games shit, if i don't they fire the devs and replace them with a shittier one, there just isn't any solution to this. It's time i just accepted that no one has control of the industry except the publishers, we can't make games better, developers can't make games better, games need money, without money games will never improve. The people with the money are becomming greedy and careless and aren't listening to us, the developers are trying their best it give us what we want but it just ain't happening.

Is it truly unavoidable? Can we really save the industry or are we powerless? Are our wallets even enough now? I don't think they are. The consumer will never get what they want because we aren't listened to anymore. As a result i'm sinking further and further into the past, it's like a mineral deposit, plentiful at first but you know it's going to end some day. I feel that gaming is the same way for me, i've mined so many diamonds that it's ridiculous. Over time i've broken many of those diamonds simply due to the fact that i've grown to dislike certain games which i used to adore. Some of those diamonds are broken my the industry and some of those diamonds are still pristine and sitting proudly on my shelf.

It's come to the point where i'm pushing myself to play games, i spend most of my time on Youtube or... here watching LP's of my favourite classic games or reading other people's blogs when i should actually be gaming. Granted i have been gaming recently and enjoying it but i feel that i dedicate far less time to playing games and more time watching/reading/writing about them. This is what has led me to run out of material for my blogs. This comes to the next part of my blog, the feedback.

So i thought i should just copy/paste all my reviews again but i don't really think people would take well to that. Through research of the c blogs, no one reads old blog posts anyways, believe it or not, i actually go back and edit some of my blogs, usually to add extra things i might have missed first time round. A lot of my blogs are outdated and some are actually not. Point is, i still need my reviews up here for referance, just incase someone types in the search bar just to find out if the game is for them. So i believe doing so would benefit those people at least and it may piss a lot of people in this communtiy off and though i do love this community, i feel that there is more to it that just appeasing to it.

Of course i'd like to hear feedback about this, if i do go alogn with this it will just be a daily copy/paste blog with no images (just to be safe) Later down the line if i can get hold of images i may put them up, but by then it won't matter. I just want my old reviews up again. it's like my legacy. My blog is like a diary of my experiences and i want to share them with everyone.

There's also other feedback i'd like to hear. I want to know if the absense of images would be an issue. I mean sure i get why images are so important and all, they split up the writing and all that but the images are not my work, no matter what sources they are. It just feels like a huge effort to have to grab random images, then i look at my blog sometimes and think "why did i put this there"!?

I swear some of the images in my blogs are just plain unfitting and they honestly seem to cover up what is otherwise a piece of shit. This is of course based on the analytics of my blogs. I'm tired of it to be honest, it's not my work and i don't want to be credited for something that isn't mine. So as such i really don't want to put images in my blogs anymore, sure it won't be as well recieved but i don't give a damn, this is a hobby, not a job. I can do whatever i want with it and as such i want to write and if you enjoy that in itself then that's good, if you don't then don't even waste your time telling me, i answered to people's criticism's in the past and all it brought me is more grief, i regret ever listening to the feedback, even though what they said was true. I realize there's something more important than making your blog look nice, it's called having fun blogging and that is exactly what i'm gonna do.

Of course i'm inviting everyone to join in on this, even if i do decide to copy/paste my old stuff back, i still invite people to respond to it, just know that it's not going to be a reccuring thing. This is just something i have to do to bring myself back, as i said in my previous blog, i want to make a fresh start and that means bringing everything back. In a way, this would be a good thing as some of my reviews have been improved dramatically. Some of my blogs have images that i captured myself, those images will remain. The video's will remain too. If i ever find the time to capture my own images i may do so, not that it matters.

All in all i can't take too long of a break from the c blogs, no matter what i do on here, it will be something be it lurking, commenting or writing these blogs, i'll be doing something, i will stalk the c blogs forever and you will not escape my persistant prescence. I just hope that my time here on the c blogs will bring positivity to the c blogs rather than negativity.

If you managed to read this long then good because there's more of this to come, if not i doubt you'll enjoy my future blogs.

On another note i unhid my top 10 VGM blogs as they exist purely to express my love for videogame music and i'm hoping to do more in the future.


1:52 PM on 03.10.2015  

Current Gen: Mount And Blade Warband Review

I'm a bit late with this one, too busy playing Mount And Blade Warband to make this review but alas, the time has finally come to review this awesome... if unpolished game. Mount And Blade Warband is the best WRPG ever made, it's better than Skyrim, Dragon Age, Gothic and pretty much every other WRPG on the face of the earth, i say this loosely because Diablo 1 exists and whilst that is a timeless classic, this game does so much more than Diablo ever did. Put simply, if you want an RPG where you can truly forge your path in an epic medievil world, you've found the right game.

Now Mount And Blade isn't a fantasy game... so it loses a few points for that... oh wait, no it doesn't, there are fantasy mods, heck there are even Sci-Fi mods. Mount And Blade Warband is everything you could ever want in a WRPG... but there's more. Mount And Blade Warband is more than just an RPG, it's a simulation... should you want it to be.

Now sure, pretty much everything about the game centers around war but you can do pretty much anything you want to in this game. Enjoy getting bored trading goods from town to town if that's what you enjoy, heck you can also be a cattle farmer and heard them to the nearest villiage where you can sell their meat for a profit. Nevertheless, there is obviously more to Mount And Blade Warband than just that. Mount And Blade Warband is all about gathering a huge fucking army and raiding villiages, killing armies of bandits, joining one of the many factions as a vassal/mercenary or even saying "screw you guys, i'm making my own kingdom and if you try to stop me i will fuck you up and throw you in my dungeon bitches"!

Of course war is the centralized feature of Mount And Blade Warband and eventually you're going to be at war no matter what but there are plenty of other things to do on the side too should you want a change of pace. Admittedly though, you will typically find that this can become a tad repetitive over time but to me, war never gets old. That being said, i can easily reccommend this game to anyone who enjoys medievil warfare, go get it right now, you are seriously missing out. For the rest of you... keep reading.

Where Mount And Blade excells at is it's intracacy. Ruling a kingdom is no simple task, let alone being a vassal and you are encouraged to do so only late on in the game. On the other hand you could just choose to stick with your chosen faction... if you want to be a hipster, go ahead. Should you choose to become a ruler, you need to pay attention to your right to rule. Not just anyone can rule a kingdom, you have to be a reknown adventurer who has proven him/herself worthy of leadership.

One interesting factor of Mount And Blade Warband is it's character creation. Upon creating your character you select your gender, facials, character background and base stats. These are secretly the game's difficulty rating in disguise. The difficulty of Mount And Blade Warband can be customized to your liking. Personally i turned saves on and fight easy ai with reduced damage but i played as a commoner who grew up as an ironsmith. The next minute i'm riding off into the wilderness taking bounties and working my way up the ladder, eventually becomming a vassal of the nords.

I spent many years fighting with the company of the Nords... however things started to get out of hand when the Rhodocks, the Sarranids and the Kherjits declared war on the Nords simulatenously due to the Nords recklessness, i thought i could do better, so i rebelled against the Nords and set up my new faction, The Brotherhood Of Arms and though it was a difficult ordeal at first, my past experiences had developed me into a strong ruler that managed to conquer many of my former faction's lands.

Now of course i make it sound easy, i was playing on the lowest difficulty which just happends to be the default difficulty. I didn't bother turning it up because i enjoyed the thrill of charging into battle and just wailing my sword around like a mad man. Of course if that's not your scene then you might choose a harder difficulty or even to remove saving completely so you cannot reload the game. Should you choose to do this though you will really have to think about your actions considerably because if you make one wrong move, you'll screw everything. Taking over Calradia may seem like a simple feat on the easy difficulty but if you're playing on the hardest difficulty with no saves it can be nigh impossible. Of course even on the easiest difficulty it's no free ride but i could play more agressively as a result which suited my play style.

Once you start the game, you will need to enlist new men into your army. You will be able to hire companions along your journey who can level up and develop as you do (well it is an RPG after all). Character management is a huge part of this game as you don't just level up your main character, you need to level up your entire army. Of course, leveling up your units is simple enough, they generally start off as farmers with pitchforks/hatchets but they can grow into powerful warriors, archers and even mounted knights. This is where the character management comes in, as your character develops, they will be given multiple branches which can develop them into a completely new type of unit. In other words you can develop your army however you want. Of course the customization for regular units is limited and this is where companions come in. Companions are essentially party members who level up conventionally as your main character does. This means they can have skills which you don't making up for your character's weaknesses. Choosing the right companions makes a huge differrence, it all depends on youer character's build. If you chose to be a strong, powerful dumbass, you might want to hire a medical companion to heal your troops after battle, you may also want to hire an engineer for raiding enemy castles easier.

Of course it's not that simple, you see some companions just don't get along and will leave you if you put them with someone they don't like. This is why it's important to choose your companions wisely. Worse comes to worse, you can send them on other jobs for a while such as spying on enemies and stuff to calm things down. You can also persuade them to stay if your persuasion skill is high enough.

As a ruler, you will need more than just a single army. Most rulers have several armies in their own faction, so taking them on solo won't be efficient, especially if your leadership is low. You need to hire other leaders to help you lay claim to Calradia. Upon starting your own kingdom, you will want to hire lords to fight at your side. However, lords won't fight for you without a cause and you must persuade them to join your cause. In addition, you will also need to grant them feifs (villiages, towns, castles) that you own in order to reward them for their efforts and show your appreciation. That being said, in some cases the tongue is mightier than the sword. Talking your way into people's recognition for you can often yeild great results. One time i approached Knudaar, a nordish lord. Our past endevours together back when i was a vassal of the nords had made us close friends... in a bit of a tricky situation, we were on opposite sides. Instead of just lopping his head off, which i could have done, i asked him if he would like to join my new order. After some careful consideration, he chose to join me against the nords and with it, all the feifs he had aquired through his efforts as a vassal of the nords, effectively giving me more territory than the nords as a result. This just happened to be my turning point in the game. Whilst i barely survived the nords onslaught on my measly kingdom, by bringing one of their men to my side, i had taken nearly half their nation, essentially becomming equal in power to the nords.

However, as a result, you must bear in mind that the same can happen to you. Vassals come and go and only the most trustworthy vassals should ever lay claim to a town/castle should you want to keep hold of your territorry. Trust works both ways though. If you grant feifs to someone else, a vassal will dislike you more. Once you find yourself with a lot of vassals, this can become difficult to manage so you don't always want to have so many vassals, sometimes a small team of trusted comrades can become a juggarnaught in itself which can lay seige to countless fortifications at your command. On the other hand, recruiting lots of lords can outnumber enemy lords and you can send them on other taks whilst you're pounding them in their castle.

It all depends on the lord's personalities and the only way to test them is by experimenting. As dangerous as this can be, you don't need to panic as it's usually pretty easy to tell the greedy lords from the content ones just by seeing which lords get mad when they don't get a feif. At the start, most lords will want feifs for themselves so it becomes really diccifult to balance things, later on however these lords tend to nominate other lords who they deem worthy of claiming a feif. This makes thigs a little easier. At some point you will find a lord that begins to dislike you. At this point you have the option of either keeping him in your army and pray he stays, grant him a feif or indicting him for treason. The latter will make all the other lords dislike you more so it is only used as a last resort. If you only gave them villiages, the first two options are the best choices. Whether or not you should give them a feif depends on their worthiness and greed. Do they have a powerful army? If so then you might want to consider giving them more feifs, if not then just leave them to rot.

There are multiple ways to recruit lords. One way is by recruiting exiles, i generally opt to keep exiles in my court. The problem with this is that your court will get full and you won't be able to get bonus relation gains with current lords when you host feasts. On the plus side, these lords are incredibly patient and leaving them in your court makes other lords considerably weaker. You can also recruit companions, i thought this was a cool idea. Companions are a mixed bag but better than exiles imo. Instead of begging to join your faction, companions have no intention of holding a feif until offered. Some companions are satisfied with this, others let the power go to their head and get greedy. Oh and companions can betray you as well so be careful. It's also important to recruit noble companions as common companions will make other lords hate you yet should you want to be a king who values equality, you may choose to do so.

There are so many differrent intracacies to ruling a kingdom and i'm not going to cover all of them but i think you get the picture. Mount And Blade is more than just a simple action game and even the mightiest warrior can lose to politics. Then again a politician with no fighting skill will find their lack of leadership and weakness in battle to cause them great losses in the long run.

Now as i said, there are so many mods for Mount And Blade Warband and whilst native (the vanilla version) takes place in a fictional medievil setting, there are many mods which take place in real life historic settings, fantasy settings and more. If you're into history and want to experience historic warfare, you might be interested in these mods.

Should you choose to stick with native, there is a diplomacy mod which has a lot of other features which improve the intracacy of ruling, personally i stuck with native but i'm not going to rule out any conversion mods in the future.

In any case you're probably wondering why there are no pictures in this blog. Instead i decided to make a video to show off the game as i believe in this case a video would be more appropriate and there is little point in placing images for such a game. Call me lazy if you want but i decided to make the video a little extra long to compensate:

Now Mount And Blade Warband isn't without it's issues. It's not the most polished game out there. There are a few glitches such as the siege tower not moving, clipping and a few other issues here and there. The graphics aren't the best either, visually the game is ok but nothing special. The heart of the visuals comes from watching the epic battles. There can be 100's of enemies on screen which can also make the fraerate drop a little, though you can decrease the battle size should you need to fix that.

One of the biggest issues with Mount And Blade Warband however is memory leak. After a while, the game hits a massive slowdown and there are also graphical glitches everywhere. This often happends when you've had the game on for so long. The best thing to do is to restart the game to recover from this. Aside from that, the game runs fine.

The combat is very simple. You basically press RMB to attack and LMB to block, basically like Skyrim but you can also press E to kick people. If you're not using a shield, you have to time your blocks precisely as your weapon can only block one direction. You can attack in differrent directions based on how you move the directional buttons. if you press W, you will do an overhead smash, A you will do a cleave to the right D will cleave to the left and S will stab the enemy (from my experience anyways). On horseback, combat is slightly differrent, you will either slash to the side or stab to the front. I never really grasped the controls very well, this is just the gist of it.

Using a lance however is differrent. The animation is slow and it does 0 damage however if you hit an enemy directly at high speeds with this motherfucker, they will get shafted and likely die instantly. Lances are great for killing mounted units... but not much else. They're only viable for mounted combat though.

Archery is quite difficult but satisfying to pull off, you have to time the shot just right to avoid reticule bloom. At early levels you will suck at it badly. Later on, you will be more accurate. Throwing weapons have less accuracy but deal more damage. Crossbows have a long loading time but don't have reticule bloom (from what i can recall).

The soundtrack can be best described as contageous. I can't help but hum to every tune in battle. The music really gets you pumped up for battle. I personally challenge myself to synchronize my kills to every beat of the music. There is nothing quite like charging into battle with this in the background:

Shit gets real when this plays...

There is also a multiplayer mode, i haven't played much of it because i get killed all the time. I have no comment on it other than it's totally inaccessible for new players simply due to the huge skill gap. As such i never really enjoyed it personally but others may do. If you have friends and can convince them to play the game, it might be a good idea to try it.

Ultimately, Mount And Blade is an experience like no other, it manages to capture the feeling of medievil warfare perfectly. If you've ever wanted to lead an army into battle, Mount And Blade Warband is the game for you. If you're not into medievil warfare, you might not enjoy it as much as others. Still if you're an RPG fan and find this game cheap on steam buy it!!!


Story/plot: As good as you make it

Presentation: So-So

Gameplay: Great

Music: Great

Lifespan: Infinite (though it can get repetitive)

Would you replay: Yes


Overall: Excellent


This game doesn't need conventional scores, it's the concept itself which makes the game so fun. Mount And Blade is in a league of it's own so i highly reccommend it if you're into medievil warfare.


1:36 PM on 03.01.2015  

Current Gen: Eternal Sonata Review

Title says current gen because next gen hasn't truly began IMO. Eternal Sonata is flat out dissappointing, i expected a lot more out of it than i actually got. Sure the game has a lot of things going for it but in the end it falls apart because it doesn't manage to pull it off. After playing the game and reaizing this dissappointment, i looked up the game and realized that i wasn't the only one. I guess sometimes you have to take risks to find those hidden gems and this game seems to be one of them... but it had a huge crack in it which could never repair and it was on the verge of crumbling to dust... which it did over time.

If i could describe Eternal Sonata in two words it would be "wasted potential". Eternal Sonata takes a huge risk with it's story concept in the sense that you are essentially playing out a dream. The game tries to explore philosophy a lot, in fact it does this so often that it feels misplaced. The game itself is short, the story is pretty basic and appears to have been rushed. Had the story had a little more depth to it, it could have made an impact on me but in the end it turned out to be nothing more than a rushed attempt at what could have been an interesting story but the storyline isn't the main issue here. Even if the story was fleshed out, it still wouldn't have saved the game from it's combat system.

If it was, then we wouldn't be stood here discussing philosophy in total darkness for seemingly no reason now would we?

The combat in Eternal Sonata isn't terrible, nor is it enjoyable. It's just boring. There is simply no strategy and if there is, it's barely noticable. For starters, the balancing is way off, some characters flat out suck such as Polka and Claves whereas others are ridiculously strong. I personally used Viola Algretto and March as they seemed to be the best combination to me. Jazz, Salsa and Falsetto are ok too, Chopin and Beat kinda get stuck in the middle.

The problem with the combat is simple, even a 5 year old could point it out. All you're doing is mashing A and then pressing Y at the end, that is it. That is the combat system in a nutshell. It's the worst kind of button mashing where you're given a slow paced turned based battle system and you're given a few seconds to unload everything. There is no cost for anything, only time. So you want to use regular attacks first to save time and finish with a special, that way you utilize all the damage.

The game also likes to seal off any form of strategy for a long time. Only once you reach about the halfway mark are you able to perform more than one special attack and when you do, you find out that you have to hold down Y for a couple of seconds to use it which is stupid considering the time gauge forces you to be rescourceful with your time. By the end you have the ability to counter attack and use special attacks, sure it's something and allows you to vary your combat a little but most of it comes down to timing. You see there's a guard mechanic which is all about timing. If there is one thing Eternal Sonata does right it's keeping the players attention in battle... because you pretty much have to concentrate or else you won't be able to deal the full amount of damage. Of course the tedium and repetition of the combat will lead you to being unable to concentrate and as such you will make one mistake like missing the enemy where the long ass animation will take off 1.5 seconds from your 4 second timer and this happends so often it's unbelievable.

Another mistake you can make is by using your special attack too early (which have long animations) and not pressing Y at the end of a combo. You can also end up wasting echo's by using the wrong special attacks. This is not due to the player being bad at the game, this is due to the player not being fully attentive to what is a dry combat system. Everyone knows that when you fight a boss, you wait for 24 echo's then you use your specials to get a harmony chain... at least in the second half. The rest of your characters just build them up and stay close to you. The problem is that there is no variety in the combat system at all, it's always the same thing time and time again with no real change in flow. Battles are all the same, build up enough echo's to make your attacks stronger (which is what they do) then press y to unleash all your echo's in a super powerful attack. Once party level 4 hits and you get harmony chains, you may skip a party members special to give more echo's to another party member. I found myself only doing this at party level 5 though because you get 3 harmony chains instead of 2 which allows that character who didn't use their special to use their special at full power on the other characters turn.

So i might be overfacing you with certain terms that you might not be familiar with but there is little point in explaining them. As this is a review however, i am obligated to so so. Echo's build up the stregnth of your special attacks, at party level 5 you are also able to use harmony chains at 24 echo's. Harmony chains are a fancy word for being able to use 2 special attacks in a row, at party level 5, a random party member is chosen for the third chain (which is unlocked at party level 5). Party levels are the games way of dumbing down the combat system for newcommers by removing certain features for a ridiculously long period of time. Party levels unlock new gameplay mechanics which try to imporve the combat over time but they don't amount to much. These are echo's, harmony chains and counter attacks. Essentially, this is the games way of keeping fresh but each party level has it's own set of strategies that the player is intended to use to get the most damage out of their attacks. Here are the strategies on how to win every battle in Eternal Sonata without fail (so long as you are good at timing your blocks):

Party level 1-3: mash A and finish with Y

Party level 4-5: mash A and use March's super nova/midnight cloud, follow up with another character who will combo until 24 echo's then use their special, then harmony chain. In party level 5, the only differrence is that you will want to stay close to march so you can use her chain, either that or just get a ranged character like Viola/Beat and use their ranged attacks. If you want to ensure maximum potential, use March, Viola and Beat, if you want better damage overall, get Allegretto instead of Beat but make sure he is nearby if you are going to chain with him.

That is basically it, you now know the secret to Eternal Sonata's combat system and can win every single battle without fail. Of course if you get lucky you can pull off a counter attack and use a free special attack (or build up extra echo's). There is very little point in going into any more depth in the game's combat, it's just boring, even though there are other features such as light/dark attacks, there's very little point as both light and dark attacks are copy/pasted from each other for the most part with differrent colours, so you're using the same attacks just with a differrent name and colour scheme. As such i can easily reccommend against playing this game for this reason alone. Eternal Sonata is a game which would have better off being a movie/visual novel for it's battle system is terrible and the investment they put into it has zero value, they could have just removed the combat and made it into a movie/visual novel. That way they could focus on the storyline and fill in some of the game's many plot holes.

It's a great shame really considering what this game was really going for. In fact it's one of the only games to even do it. Eternal Sonata is essentially a tribute to Frederic Chopin and instead of going on stage and performing one of his legendary pieces in his honor, a videogame was made instead, gotta give them points for originality i guess and i'm pretty sure that a conventional tribute has already been done. Heck, the game's final boss music practically serves as one.

Eternal Sonata tries something new, it tries to tell the story of one of the worlds most renowned pianists whilst offering a truly beautiful fantasy world to connect the events between his life and the afterlife (though i highly doubt Chopins final moments were spent frolicking around with a bunch of celshaded pre-teens but i digress.)

I don't know if Chopin would be offended or pleased with the outcome of this somewhat dissappointing game but i can tell that they were trying to prove to it's audience that gaming is an art form that stands along all other forms of art including music. That is precisely what this game aspires to be and it failed miserably in doing so. To the game's credit, it was developed solely by tri-Crescendo who are predominantly a sound division for several Namco and tri-Ace titles, the latter of whom the company split from but has worked closely together with. Originally they worked together with other companies such as Monolith in Baten Kaitos and it shows through Eternal Sonata's own combat system with it's time gauge.

Eternal Sonata is the first project developed solely by tri-Crescendo and whilst they gave a good go at it, they were in unfamiliar territory when developing this game and it shows. Whilst tri-Crescendo are excellent at programming, music and even art design, their knowledge of gameplay mechanics is extremely lacking hence the incredibly boring combat system. It's obvious that they have taken a lot of ideas from other games they were involved in such as Baten Kaitos and the Star Ocean series and they tried to meld both of them into one. Unfortunately their lack of practice left us with a gameplay experience which was extremely lacking which ruins the entire game.

On the plus side, as the game is developed by tri-Crescendo, the gods of videogame music, it is natural that the music is as good as ever, which it is. Motoi Sakuraba, the composer behind the amazing Valkyrie Profile 2 does a great job with Eternal Sonata. Personally i wouldn't say it's his best work but it's still highly enjoyable nontheless, he even went so far as to perform his own version of Chopin's Revolutionary Etude as the game's final boss theme. I also really liked the IRL Chopin sections alot, i thought it was cool to learn about a historic musician i never really knew much about and the music during these sections made me realize how he came to be such a highly revered musician.

The visuals are also one of the game's strong points, i have to say that Eternal Sonata is easily the best looking cell shaded game i've ever played. The character models are designed really well as are many of the games town and field sections. It's almost as if the game was designed to be watched and listened to rather than played and it makes a lot of sense since combat is not tri-Crescendo's strong point. There are some interesting locations here and there too, they kinda remind me of Baten Kaitos a lot which doesn't surprise me. I like the colours and the sharpness of the visuals a lot, i also like the effects the game has occasionally. Eternal Sonata is possibly one of the most vibrant games on the Xbox 360/PS3.

It's quite sad that tri-Ace have lost themselves to the mobile phone market, here's hoping that the companies' most talented individuals leave the company and work with tri-Crescendo instead, that way we might see them make a truly amazing game one of these days. Until then, they should carry on working with other development teams where their skills are best utilized.

There really isn't that much to say about Eternal Sonata, it is admittedly a lazy review, all you really need to know is don't buy the game, there are far better games out there. I reccommend trying Baten Kaitos over this as it is also developed by tri-Crescendo but also Monolith. Additionally of course i would reccommend playing Valkyrie Profile 2, a game which succeeds in what this game strove to accomplish, to prove that videogames are a work of art.

All in all, Eternal Sonata is what could be defined as an epic fail on a large scale, if not a wasted potential which could have been vastly superior if they had the right talent on hand. Sadly they did not and as such i couldn't reccommend this game any less.


Story/plot: So-So

Presentation: Excellent

Gameplay: Flawed

Music: Excellent

Lifespan: Very Short

Would you replay? No


Overall: So-So



2:01 PM on 02.27.2015  

My Top 5 Videogame Love/hate relationships

I think we all have one... or at least a few of them. I have quite a few that are worth sharing. Videogames can be as easy to love as they are to hate at times, there are good games and bad games and then there's those that you can't help but love no matter how bad they are and as awful to play as they can be, i keep going back for more. Allow me to list them here:

5. Gothic 3

Now i haven't finished Gothic 3 yet... too busy playing the vastly superior Mount and Blade Warband. Gothic 3 has a huge open world for it's time and lots of places to visit and explore with an open-ended storyline which you can easily forget exists. Part of the reason why i haven't yet finished the game is because i haven't explored it all yet. The last thing i did was prepare to attack Bakaresh only to find out that they don't follow me into battle.

The problem with Gothic 3? Thats easy, the horrible, horrible combat system or as i like to call it: stunlock hell. Now what is Stunlock hell? It's when your character waves his sword around like a magic wand and sword humps enemies against the wall. Gothic 3's combat system is essentially a sword shagging simulator. The problem with the combat is simply the fact that enemies are 10x faster than you and ever hit they do will stun you... only for them to hit you again and again and again till you die and you can't do anything whilst you are being hit. This usually means first one to hit wins. Essentially the combat is a game of luck. The balancing is off the charts too. Whilst humanoids are laghably weak, a pack of wolves can be extremely dangerous as they are super fast and deal just as much damage plus they dodge all your attacks by backstepping until you reach a wall so essentially, your goal in combat it to mash LMB until you reach a wall then get ready to shag them. Yes it really is that bad. Now lets see it in action:

Skip to 4:00 for bestiality porno

The game is also very buggy too. There were moments where my companions got stuck so much that i had to run back and find another path. I also managed to phase through a gap in the wall to get past an orc guard. There was also a point where after finishing every quest, my reputation wasn't enough to get into a castle, so i had to cheat to get it there. I did every single quest i could do.

Of course the community patch was so much better and a lot less buggier but still the game has a lot of issues. The animations are freaking laughable to say the least and the character models whilst ok for the most part, some of the facials look like peanuts. The main character is also uncustomizable but he has a pretty epic beard.

What this game does excell in though is the world itself. It's fun to explore in Gothic 3 and highly rewarding. There's a quest/treasure chest around every corner so there's always a reason to explore. The visuals are also very nice and have aged very well. Some of the music is nice though some of it got kinda annoying. There's plenty of enemy variety and lots of interesting ones though some frustrate the hell out of me. The enemy designs are very good though, particularly the raptors, they look awesome.

I also like the way factions work, you can side with a faction and go to war with another faction after completing enough quests... or if you're impatiant... and lucky you may even choose to charge in by yourself and kill everyone in town. Pretty much every NPC in this game is killable, theres no "unconciousness" like Skyrim, everyone can die. In fact it feels quite lonely after killing everything. Then again, Gothic 3 doesn't have much gender variety. The only women in the game are either erotic dancers or slaves. I think i saw 1 rebel woman, thats about it. Talk about stereotypes.

The world feels very gritty but not dark. The music also feels very hearty. As you watch the slaves work themselves to death you can listen to the calming background music. I particularly like the music that plays in orc towns, it sooths the soul.

Though i haven't yet finished the game, i have murdered both an orcish and a rebel faction and countless hashishin (those slaving bastards) and i have primarily chosen to side with the nomads. Though for the most part i will remain neutral to all sides. Because of the openness of the games story, you essentially make your own story. My goal is to eradicate the hashishin and to maintain the balance between rebels and orcs, earning a bit of money along the way. The game does have a charm to it that makes you feel like you're crafting your own quest which is cool. You're never distracted from doing what you want to do by the main story, you can go wherever you want when you want.

4. Star Ocean Till The End Of Time

Not one of tri-Ace's strongest titles but a great game nontheless. Now before you ask, no it's not the plot twist. In fact i actually liked the plot of the game. I felt Star Ocean Till The End Of Time had the perfect feeling of Science Fiction the series needed. It explored a lot of interesting philosophies and was accompanied with one of the greatest sci-fi soundtracks ever.

The music in this game is arguably the best in the Star Ocean series (closely followed by the first Star Ocean) and though it might not be as good as Valkyrie Profile 2, it's still impressive nontheless. I enjoyed the games melancholic themes as much as it's dynamic themes. It also has some really cool sci-fi themes. There's so much to like about the soundtrack and it really drives the game along.

Scary... but great elevator music in the background. Seriously Star Ocean Till The End Of Time is the king of elevator music.

What i hate about this game? Thats easy, the gameplay. Not just the combat, the gameplay. Whilst moving around the map isn't bad, the moment you go into battle, everything goes wrong. if you read my review of Star Ocean Till The End Of Time, you know exactly what i mean. You can read it here: Star Ocean Till The End Of Time Review. As i don't want to have to repeat myself, i will not go over the horrible combat system here but i will discuss the difficulty spikes. This game is filled with them. One minute you're breezing through it, then you go through a door and BAM, enemies will 1 shot you. It gets irritating, especially if there are no save points. Also the AI is dumb as shit, whoever designed the AI in this game didn't give a shit. I'll be honest when i say this, i would have probably not been as harsh in my review if Star Ocean Till The End Of Time had 2 player like in the Tales series (not including VS mode which was cool... if a little broken).

I just noticed... the characters are kinda creepy to look at...

Ultimately Star Ocean Till The End Of Time is one of those games you'll either love or hate. Me? I both love and hate it at the same time, it's a great game with poorly designed gameplay, at least to me it is. Any game which makes your fingers hurt after playing is poorly optimized and i believe this is the main issue with the game.

In fact i like to consider Star Ocean Till The End Of Time to be the JRPG equivelant to Gothic 3, especially considering it's initial release was godawful in Japan, just like Gothic 3.

3. Super Smash Bros (Series)

So i haven't played Smash 4 but know that Smash Bros is a series i have loved for a while now, i used to play Melee a lot when i was younger and i put so many hours into it. Just the concept of pitting two Nintendo characters against one another is cool in itself. I used to challenge lv 9 cpu with Pichu and it was great fun, occasionally i played with friends who did nothing but spam with Falco lol.

Smash also got me into other games such as Kirby, Star Fox and best of all the Legendary F-Zero. I must thank the Smash series for leading me in those directions because before that i only played games like Pokemon. Smash is half my childhood, the other half being Pokemon Gold, of course i was older when i played Smash and i missed the first game (until now). I started with Melee and it was so much fun, i wasn't competitive about it, i just wanted crazy fun.

That is until i was invited into a clan called Korlash. This was during Smash Bros Brawl. This is when i realized how toxic the community truly was and how overly competitive they were. You were looked down on for playing on any map other than final destination with items. Someone actually suicided and flamed me jsut because i turned items on. This changed my perception of the Smash series for good, a once loved franchise is now dead to me, i don't know why though. Perhaps the competitive nature of the game got the best of me and i kinda wanted to distance myself from it. That and the fact that they removed Pichu kinda made me leave the series behind.

Smash 4 wasn't exciting to me at all. I couldn't give two shits about it to be honest, what a turn around. I would have said that game had completely become a hate relationship had i not recently played Melee with my friend. It reminded me how much fun the smash games were, they were party games at heart and were all about the lulz factor. Watching my friend suicide with Falco is always so much fun and he does it every single time.

There were also cool elements in Brawl such as the stage creation and subspace emmisarry. Truly Sakurai is a talented individual but even still, his game no longer appeals to me and thats not because of him in particular, it's because of the fanbase which surrounds it. I hate the Smash fanbase, plus i'm glad i haven't been sucked in with these Amiibo's.

2. Space Engineers

Ok so this one is a little unfair as it's in early access. For those of you who don't know, i love games which allow me to embrace my creative side and Space Engineers does this well. the amount of options are staggering, you can save a blueprint of your work then copy/paste it into another world or you can simply use the blueprints as templates when you want to make lots of one thing.

I personally love building space ships, i've done so since Halo 3 with it's forge. Space Engineers allowed me to re-live those moments, only this time i can actually pilot my ships. Ironically though, most of my time spent playing the game has been spent building a huge station/city. It's an ambitious project and i've had a lot of fun doing it... but equally as much pain too.

Cars are cool too... but hardly useful in outer space

You see, the problem with Space Engineers is that there is no decorations/furnature. There comes a time when you become so invested into a project that anything that goes wrong gets you mega pissed. Now as i am essentially making a city, i have a lot of empty buildings, buildings which i would like to add interiors to. Same with my ships, i want to furnish them to make them look livable. Now admittidly, other games like Minecraft failed this too. Why is furnature so overlooked in games like this?

Now this is where mods come in, now there are lots of cool mods with furnature and stuff so i added them to my world and it looked great, it took hours to add furnature to every single building in the city but it was well worth it... or would have been.

Soon after, an update was released. This update corrupted almost every single modded world, including mine. The error message left by the developers was the most laughably unprofessional error message i've ever seen. As soon as the corruption was fixed, i reloaded my world and... everything disappreaered. Now i was mega pissed about this, of course i had backups but they were all deleted as well.

All that remained was my original, unmodded version (thank god i didn't overwrite that) and all the mods it once had, disappeared. If there's one thing i hate, it's losing things, progress included. I hate having to re-do things and i stopped playing almost immediately.

However, i recently had the urge to come back, i started again, this time without using mods. I hoped and prayed that the developers would incorporate some of the mods into the game. When i asked the devs if they were going to include furnature, they said "no, we're leaving that to the modding community". This is where the hate started. I paid for this game you know? I expected the devs to be more ambitious and give us more cosmetics. It seems they're not interested in that and are leaving that job to us. But why should they expect their paying customers to develop these things when they're so easy to do compared to other things, heck they're pretty much already on Steam workshop, why not intergrate them into the game, i'm sure the modders would be happy for the devs to do so.

Unfortunately the devs fail to acqknowledge it despite the obvious want from the community (hence the fact that there are already mods for them). It's like they're ignoring it for the sake of ignoring it when they could easily do it, they just don't want to or are too lazy to. I believe the former, they don't want to because they don't really care.

Another thing was the removal of ladders which was uncalled for. When they removed ladders, my ship was filled with holes and no way to get around due to the ladders being the main source of access. This pissed me off. The developers said they were bugged, sure they weren't perfect but this is supposed to be early access we expect an unpolished product and i personally found ladders to be one of the best ideas in the game (always wanted them back when i was making ships in Halo). Their exuse was "the ladders glitch out when the ship is upside down so we will remove them" but hold it one second, do we have to use ladders? No.

So you see, removing them doesn't fix the issue, it's not like it makes gameplay imbalanced, it just allows a more realistic form of traversing vertically but with ladders removed, now there is no way of traversing vertical passages realistically. Funnily enough, their replacement was "passage blocks" which were essentially the frame of the ladder (kinda like a hollow block with an opening)... just without the actual ladder. Passage blocks didn't actually add anything, you could still use your jet pack to go up ladders just like passage blocks, only passage blocks don't have ladders, so how are you meant to get up there should you not have a jet pack? Now crew members obviously wouldn't have jet packs whilst on board, if they needed to exit the ship, they couldn't do so without a jet pack. So essentially the developers have screwed me over, not once but twice, thanks developers.

To add salt to the wound, the devs have made deals with Moneysoft to release the game to XBOX ONE, have they no shame? Sure i'd understand if they were willing to actually give a shit about the ladders and furnature but it all makes sense now. They're just greedy, to confirm it, the next thing you know is the release of a retail copy, a retail copy for an unfinished product. How in the hell can they release something retail when it's unfinished? Explain that to me. It's not only misleading, it's just plain wrong.

Sure i admit, this looks cool but shouldn't you finish Space Engineers first?

To make matters worse, the revenue attained from these is going towards a whole new game called Medievil Engineers. At first i thought it was an april fools joke but it was true. Instead of investing money into their current unfinished project, they are investing it in a new project, worse of all it is also early access. What does this mean you say? They have two unfinished products on the market and this is comming from a team who abandoned their first project which was an open world mining game!

So put simply, i am very suspicious towards the devs of Space Engineers, i don't know where it will go but i still have hope. Here's hoping i can forget all this hate once the game is finished and then i will be able to write a review of it once it is complete, here's hoping it will be a positive review because this game's success is very important to me and i really want the devs to add furnature and bring ladders back. However, hope is all i can do, i cannot trust that the developers will do what i and manyothers want with the game. Will they continue to ignore our pleas? Will they add actual gameplay to the survival mode? Will they fix all the bugs? Will they even finish the game? All these questions remain unanswered and i have money bet on it that it will. God, early access sucks... but it's just so tempting!

If you play Space Engineers, feel free to message me on steam and we might play together, my steam name is terry 309, just realize that because the game is love/hate, i won't always play it and i may once again decide to quit playing it for a while. It's pretty much the only multiplayer game i have on Steam and even then, i rarely play multiplayer but to know people who do is good because after i've finished with my own world, i like to play with others, particularly those that don't grief (this game has a lot of griefers on multiplayer). I generally play creative the most as i find survival to be boring in it's current state.

Survival mode AKA Drilling Simulator 2015

In case you want to know what i've been working on, here it is: Eternus City

1. Warcraft 3

You saw this one comming didn't you? In case you didn't read my last blog, here it is: Warcraft 3 review (pretty much). Warcraft 3 is an RTS, i've always been terrible at RTS, sure the strategy isn't a problem... but doing it in real time is difficult as you have to micromanage things and i hate micromanagement in real time because you literally have to do 3 things at once, those are building, upgrading and microing. Now i'll admit that i'm terrible at thing game, as much as i like to cloak that fact a lot. However as much as i dislike the actual genre, the campaign itself was enjoyable to say the least.

Did i forget to mention that Blizzard are awesome at cinematics?

The Warcraft universe is my favourite to date in pretty much all types of media. You have so many cool races/factions each with a lot of depth. I said it before and i'll say it again, i want a Mount and Blade crossover with Warcraft, that would be so awesome. With it's lore and deep racial backgrounds comes a fantastic storyline. I don't think any other game has reache the same levels of storytelling as Warcraft 3 as i have mentioned before. The 4 main races: Humans, Orcs, Undead and Night elves all have their own perspectives and each one you become attatched to (even though in the undead storyline, you are a bat shit crazy evil dude with a highly dominant bad concience who just happends to literally be a real being).

It is these multiple perspectives which i love about the game, one minute you're out murdering orcs with humans, the next you're murdering innocents with undead (so funny to watch the terrified peasants run away from your army of ghouls as you throw a death coil their way).

The first campaign is pretty much a rip off of Star Wars Episode 3... hopefully that in it'self isn't a spoiler but you see where this is going. However the rest of the game plays off much differrent to Star Wars and in my opinion, much more interesting. You see there is this extremely powerful faction known as the Burning Legion. These guys were introduced as the new enemy in Warcraft 3 and they are one hell of an enemy.

The Burning Legion are a huge army of demons who have devoured practically every single planet they've come across in their goal of erasing all creation. Due to certain events in the game's lore, these guys have become mindless and chaotic. Their ideals are not their own, yet their willpower is still string enough to continue with this pointless task.

We are Legion!

You see, originally, their task to erase everything was given to them by their leader, Sargeras. Sargeras was a former titan (the creators of the Warcraft universe) but after sinking into a deep depression due to having murdered countless demons, he sank into despair and became that of which he once slew. He practically became a demon god and he gathered all of the great demon lords from each race and granted them incredible power so that they can carry out his wish of erasing everything the titans created. Why? Because Sargeras grew cynical of the titans ideals, as his depression grew, he believed that the titans were wrong and that their universe should be erased in order to right their wrongs. This triggered the moment he was sent by the titans to slay the Nathrezim AKA, the dreadlords. The corrupted powers of the dreadlords twisted Sargeras' mind upon their death, essentially Sargeras was merely their pray. They turned his cynicism, his mistrust into hate, they made him believe that the titans were truly the evil in this world and that their creations must be destroyed to right their wrongs. As such, Sargeras did just that and broguth together all the great demon lords in the universe to form the Burning legion.

Though Sargeras is never seen in game, there are several pieces of artwork of him, this being the most recognized artwork. Come to think of it, he kinda looks like the final boss of Final Fantasy X.

Each world was torn apart quickly by this seemingly limitless army of demons. Eventually they found the world of Azeroth, the planet in which the majority of the Warcraft series takes place. The demons invaded and Sargeras came to their world through a powerful magic well but the summoning had failed and Sargeras remained there, trapped in limbo forever. Nevertheless, even with their masters fall, the Burning Legion continue to fight for his ideals. Warcraft 3 begins their third invasion... this time without Sargeras.

As you can see, the storyline goes very deep into the lore so only if you know the lore can you truly appreciate the storytelling this game has to offer. With so many diverse races and factions, each with their own perspectives and events, you can expect a truly engaging storyline with lots of twists and turns along the way and lots of interesting characters to play. If there was an RPG which followed this storyline, it would be amazing. Truly the best storytelling ever told in any RTS game period.

On the other hand, there's the multiplayer community. Now you probably already know how i feel about it after reading my previous blog but Blizzard seems to have a terrible track record when it comes to it's game's communities. Their games are filled with elitist douchebags who don't like to associate those with newcommers and in Warcraft 3, that is only the beginning.

For starters, Warcraft 3 gave birth to the worst game ever made (or should i say Mod) Defense Of The Ancients. This later followed with the creation of League of Legends, Heroes of Neworth and later the well known Defense Of The Ancients 2 AKA DOTA 2.

Warning: This video contains DOTA footage

Welcome to the world of DOTA!

This has led me to despise the Warcraft franchise, it hurts even more that Blizzard are making Heroes of the Swarm, trying to make an official Warcraft MOBA which is painful to say the least, it truly is but i can't blame them since MOBA's are so ridiculously popular it's unbelievable, shame on you all who play MOBA's and telling developers that you want more of them. MOBA's are the laziest form of game design behind facebook games. In fact, Candy Crush Saga has more effort put in than pretty much any MOBA, argue about balancing all you want, i don't care, i hate MOBA's, they suck ass if i were to choose anything to throw into Room 101 it would be MOBA's. Fuck them all and fuck the vile comminities which inhabit them, those degenerate fucktards who ban all newcommers to the genre and do nothing but insult each other.

The rest of Warcraft 3's online is vile too. You get the 4V4 RT community who are a happy bunch of fuckers, the DOTA community who are all elitist pricks and don't hesitate to insult each other, other battle arena games, especially anime ones have toxic communites also, sometimes even the worst. There are also roleplayers on there, i know a few of them and they're all two faced bastards, i know most of them from a game called Mafia, easily the best thing on there and pretty much the only reason to play Warcraft 3 online. In case you don't know, Mafia is based on the card game where you have to find out who's the mafia before they kill you. Add a lot of foul language, perverted/offencive usernames and a lot of funny deaths followed by a hilarious rage and you have a truly hilarious party game, the sort of game you would play after a couple of drinks.

Allow me to demonstrate some of Warcraft 3's most obscene custom games:

What do you get when you combine 4chan with Videogames?                                     Answer: Warcraft 3 custom games

Aside from all this, there are also custom matches hosted usually by clans who wait for their pray to join in and play against them, they then maphack and upload the video's to Youtube to humiliate them, they usually put the word "noobs" in the title so that they can get easy pray.

There are also clan 1v1's with randoms who seek a cometitive challenge. Usually the game name is 1v1 TM OBS ONLY SKILLED. You can actually watch these matches which is quite amusing as you can listen to other spectators slate off the players by pointing out every single little mistake made by each player and calling them noobs. It's funny because the same players who slate them off are too scared to play against them when they are challenged.

Finally there is the public chat. People will either argue, do what is called "twat trivia" or just pure silence. (I don't think people do Twat Trivia anymore, it was pretty funny though, perhaps the guy who hosted it left alone with his co-star named SuckMyWank).

Other than that, there really isn't much else to say about Warcraft 3, there's the world editor i suppose, i messed around with it but never got the hang of it.

All in all, i just want a Mount And Blade: Warcraft edition, that way i can play more single player without the RTS gameplay, plus the sandbox elements would be so much fun in a world with so much lore.

If only...


On another note, considering the fact that "awesome lists" have become a fad recently, i would like to announce that Heat and SeymourDuncan17 have been added to the awesome list.

Here's an update to this incredible list of C blog Legends (you could be one of them):

Awesome list:

The Scholarly Gamer


Mr. Hoffman

Shade Of Light


The Gameslinger

Sonic 429




Lord Spencer




Gray Times




And... Mr Andy Dixon


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