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LONG BLOG

The Play it/Avoid it Report - 003 // Mario Kart 8, Sunset Overdrive, and more

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What's going on, Destructoid Cbloggers? Are you getting tired of me resurrecting this feature once a year? Tough shit! I played a few games that I want to talk about and I am going to use this platform to do so. If you've never seen this series before, check out the bottom of my sidebar for a list of past issues.

So I took the plunge and bought an Xbox One over the holiday season. Couldn't pass up a deal that came with an extra controller and year of Xbox Live for $350. Overall, I like it a lot more than I thought I would. Besides better graphics and all that jazz, some of the new features are really appealing. Being able to stream directly from the console is super cool, and being able to 'snap' stuff like achievements to the side is really handy. I love how quickly the system loads up, and the fact that it remembers exactly where I was in game when I powered down last. Also, did you know that every achievement you earn is basically a free wallpaper? Pretty slick.

Okay, enough of that. On to the good stuff. Here's what I've been playing lately.

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It should come as no surprise to anyone who follows me on Twitter or listens to my podcast, Secret Moon Base, but I friggin' love The Binding of Isaac like no other. I logged over 500 hours into the original and absolutely could not wait to get my hands on this sequel/remake. It's the sort of thing that I never ever thought would happen but I'm so very pleased to see it become a reality. The original game was brilliant in a lot of ways, but was sadly plagued with a shit-ass framerate and a somewhat rushed, hand-drawn art style. Thankfully, both of those things are much improved in Rebirth. I've heard of some slight issues on Vita, but as far as the Mac/PC version is concerned, the framerate is solid as Iraq. The new pixelated art style seems to be a point of contention for a lot of people, but you'll hear no such complaints from me.

As I mentioned above, this game sits somewhere between 'sequel' and 'remake'. Every item, enemy, character and boss is back, although a lot of them have been shifted around and altered. Some notoriously shitty items (like Lemon Mishap) are less shitty now, and others have been changed from trinkets to passive items, or from pick ups to trinkets, etc. For instance, you no longer have to sacrifice your trinket spot for the Polaroid (woo!) and the fucking Wiggle Worm is a trinket now rather than a permanent passive (thank god). Also, you can drop unwanted trinkets, pills and cards now! Am I dreaming? Another huge change is the store, which can be upgraded via the donation machine in the back. This is one of the few things that carries over to each run, and since some of the new unlockable shop items are absolutely fantastic, you'll want to get on this sooner than later.

One thing I'm not in love with, however, is the new soundtrack. For reasons I do not know, the entire original Danny B score was scrapped in favor of a more ambient one by Ridiculon. Now, it's not the worst thing in the world but, overall, it's just too low-key and uninteresting in comparison. But I won't let that drag me down. This game is too fucking fun to get caught up on inconsequential shit like that. You want to hear something crazy? There's already an expansion in the works which promises to include even more items, enemies, bosses, challenges, playable characters and stages. Whew, that's a relief because if this game was in need of anything, it's more content. Jesus H. Christ.

 

Play it if you enjoy totally normal activities like finding money in poop and crying on stuff to death.

Avoid it if you prefer to spend your free time laughing and interacting with friends and loved ones in this miracle we call life.

 

Let's be honest. You already know if you like Mario Kart or not. It's one of the few game series that's been around long enough and sustained a decent level of popularity throughout the years that, even if you aren't a fan, you've played it. Don't lie. You've accidentally hit a banana peel and watched in horror as numerous members of the Mushroom Kingdom laugh in your face as they zoom past you. You've enjoyed the warm comfort first place for nearly three laps only to get demolished by the blue shell mere inches from the finish line. You've hit yourself with a green shell. We've all been there. When it comes to Mario Kart, what separates the lovers from the haters is the ability to roll with the punches (or fireballs or whatever). You have to accept that you will get horribly fucked over at some point, but know that you will have the opportunity to crush someone else's dreams in the near future. It's the constant ebb and flow of emotion that makes Mario Kart "fun". You are never safe.

So anyway, there's a new Mario Kart for Wii U and it is exactly what you'd expect: amazing. Or terrible, depending on your feelings towards the series. There are 32 unique tracks. Some brand new, others returning favorites that have been tweaked or improved. There are a couple new items, like the boomerang and fire flower. The biggest change to MK8 are the addition of anti-gravity sections. Some tracks will twist upside down or let you ride on the walls. Strangely enough, it's integrated in such a way that feels totally natural. One second you'll be underwater, then pop out on dry land, bust a hard left and take an anti-grav shortcut, then blast off a huge ramp and glide down to the track. It's incredibly satisfying, not to mention drop-dead gorgeous. This is easy one of the most visually pleasing games I have ever played, no joke. The replay feature even lets you slow down the action so you can cower in fear as Luigi stares into the depths of your soul as he overtakes your position.

I went ahead and snagged the DLC bundle too, which is split into two separate paks. Both come with three extra characters, 8 tracks and a few new vehicles to customize. Some of these DLC tracks expand beyond the confines of the Mario universe and let you race around in other classic Nintendo worlds, such as F-Zero, The Legend of Zelda and Excitebike. All in all, I was very impressed. And since it was priced so reasonably (the bundle is only $11.99), I basically had no choice. I mean, did you friggin' see the Epona motorcycle? I'm not ashamed to admit that the screenshots alone aroused me sexually. If I were to have a single complaint, it would be that the character selection is seriously lacking in the obscure goon department. Where is Dry Bones? Petey Piranha? King Boo? Does anyone seriously use Toadette??

 

Play it if you just can't get enough of this crazy, genre-defying series.

Avoid it if you have definitely had enough of this stupid, dumb-ass series.

 

 

Pssst. Hey you, gamer. Over here. Do you like stabbing things in the body, neck and face? Well, I have some very very good news for you. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor lets you stab an infinite hoard of filthy orcs in the body, neck and face non-stop for around 15-20 hours. How does that sound? "Can I decapitate them in slow motion?" Fuck yes you can. Bathe in steaming hot Orc blood as the recently emancipated heads of your victims fly gracefully through the air. "But sometimes I like to shoot arrows at them, too," you say. Fret not! Draw your bow and fire a barrage of arrows into the chest cavities and eye sockets of disgusting Orc warchiefs to your heart's content. They practically beg for it! "But sometimes I like to peacefully wander the countryside and pick flowers and stuff." Hmm, okay... I guess you can do that too, if you want. There is a variety of plant life that you can, err, harvest vigorously. Uhh...look out, plants! No one likes you!

Full disclosure: I'm the gamer in that scenario. I love silly, over-the-top violence, but I also appreciate having something to do that's not brutally murdering life-forms. Shadow of Mordor scratches both itches. After some tutortial nonsense, the game basically just drops you into a huge section of Mordor and lets you do what you want. There is a story, sure. Something about revenge, I guess. I found it completely uninteresting, but if you're into The Lord of the Rings you'd probably dig it. The naked goblin dude is in there for a bit and says "my precious" a lot. You guys are into that shit, right? There's also a ghost elf that pops out of your body from time to time who tells you where to go, which is helpful. I was too busy slaughtering Orc warchiefs to care, though I fear I may have gone a little overboard.

The big thing in Shadow of Mordor that everyone likes to bring up is the Nemesis system. Though I won't go so far as to call it revolutionary, it was pretty fucking cool. I sort of got addicted to discovering their fears and weakness by interrogating lower thugs and, later in the game, sending them death threats to increase their power and get better rune drops. I do have a bit of advice, though - don't do what I did and nearly max all of your skills before moving on to the second area. There are certain skills unlocked by playing story missions that are really interesting and change up even basic encounters in a major way. Some even involve *gasp* not indescriminately killing everything that crosses your path. I know, I was shocked, too! Oh yeah, the combat is lifted from the Batman: Arkham games and you can climb around like in Assassin's Creed. Good stuff.

 

Play it if you stopped reading after the first paragraph and rushed out to your local video game retailer.

Avoid it if you kind of sympathize with the Orcs and even maybe wish you were one of Sauron's minions sometimes.

 

Before I popped the disc in, I guess I was in the dark as to what kind of game Sunset Overdrive actually was. I saw the previews and thought to myself "Yeah yeah, another open-world shooter. Been there, done that." But I was wrong as hell. In actuality, I had never been here, and I had never done this. At least, not all in one game, and it certainly never felt this damn good. Sunset Overdrive does what a lot of modern games inevitably do; borrows heavily from other successful franchises. Imagine a game like Crackdown, with its massive city full of collectibles and power ups, then multiply that by the grinding and combo system from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. Now add Rock Band's extensive character creator and the crazy weapons from Ratchet & Clank and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Long story short, it's completely bonkers and an absolute fucking blast from beginning to end.

Once I got a hang of the intuitive combo system, traversing around the city just clicked. It's sort of like {spoiler} when Neo realized he was the One and saw the Matrix for the first time {/spoiler}. The city transformed before my eyes. Cars, awnings and vents became launch pads. Power lines, ledges and rooftops became grindable surfaces. Walls became sidewalks. I never had to touch the ground. I would actually get excited when a mission would tell me I had to go to the other side of the city. It's almost hard to believe but I can count the number of times I used the quick travel feature on one finger, and that was an accident. Sometimes my character would say "I'm really glad I can quick travel!" and I'd be like "Shut your goddamn mouth." There are some who might feel like there are too many things to collect in this game, but I am not one of those people.

Besides flipping and flying around with ease, there's also a lot to shoot at in Sunset Overdrive. There are three factions of enemies - Scabs (humans), the OD (infected), and Fizzco Robots (yep, robots) - and each are weak to specific types weapons, which forces you to stay on your toes and swap often. This is great because there are a ton of weapons to choose from, and they can all be customized and leveled up. My aresenal changed all the time, save for a few favorites. The Roman Candle was just too freaking good! I should also mention that the character creator was a breath of fresh air. You are free to change your sex and body type whenever you want, and all clothing, hairstyles, and accesories work regardless. You can be a bearded lady. You can be a delicate beefcake. You can be a well-dressed, emo-gothic assassin with sugar skull face paint and an eye patch like me. Go nuts.

 

Play it if you've been waiting your whole life for a video game that ignores all the boring realistic bullshit and takes full advantage of the medium.

Avoid it if you really, really don't want to buy an Xbox One no matter how freaking cool this is.

 

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That's it, guys. Hope you enjoyed the glorious return of the Play it/Avoid it Report! The Cblog editor doesn't spell check (as far as I could tell) so just ignore any glaring spelling mistakes and I'll do my best to write another one before 2016. See ya next time.

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About Phoustone of us since 2:05 AM on 02.11.2010

(Banner crafted by the amazing COM 01)

My name is Eric. I'm 34.
Here are some random things I'm into:

























































The Buy it/Avoid it Report - back issues
#001 - Ilomilo, Uncharted 2, Infinity Blade, Pac-Man CE DX, Battlefield BC2: Vietnam, PixelJunk Shooter
#002 - Batman: Brave & Bold, DJ Hero 2, Dead Space 2, Bionic Commando Rearmed, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Bulletstorm
#003 - Pokemon Black/White, PixelJunk Shooter 2, Monster Tale, God of War III, BIT.TRIP RUNNER, Torchlight
#004 - Portal 2, Steel Diver, Sin & Punishment Star Successor, Pilotwings Resort, Crysis 2, Blocks That Matter
#005 - L.A. Noire, Alice Madness Returns, Resident Evil Mercenaries 3D, Shadows of the Damned
#006 - GoldenEye 007, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, AC: Brotherhood, Sword & Sworcery EP, Trenched
#007 - Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Jetpack Joyride, Gears of War 3, The Binding of Isaac, Renegade Ops
#008 - Dark Souls, League of Evil, Uncharted 3, Batman: Arkham City, Super Mario 3D Land
#009 - The Buy it/Avoid it Report's Awards - 2011
#010 - Spelunky, Max Payne 3, Trials Evolution, Mario Kart 7, Escape Goat
#011 - Super Hexagon, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Lollipop Chainsaw, Mark of the Ninja

The Play it/Avoid it Report - back issues
#001 - Bioshock Infinite, Darksiders II, Dead Space 3, Far Cry 3, Sleeping Dogs, Tomb Raider
#002 - Dishonored, DKC: Tropical Freeze, Grand Theft Auto V, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, Rogue Legacy
#003 - The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Mario Kart 8, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Sunset Overdrive

Secret Moon Base - episodes
Subscribe on iTunes - a podcast about video games and other stuff with my pals knutaf and Occam

Spelunky HD - blogs
Mega Guide - part one
Mega Guide - part two

The Binding of Isaac - blogs
Blood, Shit and Tears - a love letter
Instruction Manual - w/ tips and tricks for beginners
Unlocking Godhead - tips for playing as The Lost

Social Network(s) - ugh
Twitter - @corduroyturtle
Xbox LIVE:Corduroy Turtle
PSN ID:Corduroy_Turtle
Steam ID:17wizards
3DS Code:4639-8962-6190


 

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