Nex Machina – Review

Housemarque is at it again with another gem.

Normally I would start a review with a synopsis of the game’s story but this game doesn’t really have one. You jump right into the game with no set up or instruction. Immediately you are thrown into the top-down twin stick shooter with only a gun. Follow your instincts and start killing what you think are the enemies. If you get lucky you’ll get some drops that help you in the way of an upgraded dash or extra shield. The blood-thirsty of us will keep firing our gun at all times and if your luck continues you’ll find a hidden upgrade for your weapon or even a secondary weapon. Keep doing this until you get to the boss and be ready for the fight of your life.

The arcade roots Housemarque have laid in the past are no less than celebrated in this game. For those that have followed the studio, the best way to describe this game is as a cross between Dead Nation and Resogun. The top-down angle and the weapon upgrades are testaments to the former while the theme and particle effects are a give the game a familiarity. Much like Resogun, you are tasked with saving the humans from the alien invaders trying to end them. It is a simplistic and beautiful game that is more challenging than one would expect.

The game play is solid and fun. The action never seems to stop as the only moments you get to catch your breath are those you get while transitioning to the next level. The number and variety of enemies is impressive. The simple enemies are pawns that go down in a few shots while larger enemies can have cannons that take aim at you with sniper-like precision. To make survival a bit easier you’ll want to get a secondary weapon to compliment your gun. You can find anything from a rocket launcher that is as simple as aim, pull the trigger and it will explode when it hits something but there is also a detonator that will float off in the direction you are aiming but won’t explode until you press the fire button again. If you want to get up close and personal, the smart bomb will create a small explosion around you and for those that enjoy slice and dice action go get the sword.

This is where one must give the game one of its strikes. Much like its predecessors, not only does the difficulty increase in the later stages of the game, so do the number of objects on screen at any given point. Although this may be glorious in it own right it can lead to some serious issues trying to keep track of everything on the screen. At times there can be more enemies that you can count, lasers firing across the screen, projectiles that have been fired from the enemies, and the particles of the enemies you destroyed. It may be beautiful most of the time but it can become indiscernible as to  what objects are going to kill you if you run into them. Here is strike two, the dash mechanic. While dashing you teleport, so to speak, and this is how you get by some lasers and other objects. There are stages where this mechanic feels over used and draws the stage out unnecessarily because you can’t shoot to damage anything while you are dashing. The third strike is content. The game is short with only five levels in the arcade mode that can be completed in about an hour, maybe a little more.

Even though the game is short it is very enjoyable. There is replay value so don’t be too discouraged. Even playing on the lowest difficulty, rookie, is a challenge and if you like scaling things up there are three levels above that to help keep your stress up. Even playing through on rookie had its moments of “wow, I can’t believe I survived”. Beyond higher difficulties, there are other modes like arena. In this mode you try to hit a certain score and are rewarded with in game currency. With this currency you can then buy cosmetics for your character if you so choose. If you happen to have a couch buddy there is also local co-op.

For $20 this game was worth it. I had just hit a lull in my games and this was a hit. The little things I don’t like about the game are outweighed by the things I do. At the final boss fight I was down to one life which if I had to continue would have reset my progress. When I managed to defeat the boss without dying I felt a sense of accomplishment and triumph that I rarely feel in games. Much like Resogun, just jumping into a level every now and then to see what you can get your score up to is fun, so it has something that keeps me coming back.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Dude’s Chronicles 6-22-2017: It’s A Wet One

Image via wallpaperscraft.com

Don’t know about where you are but we have been getting an awful lot of rain. Somebody told me it is technically summer but I’m not too sure I believe them.

Entertainment

  • Shameless: Season 7 – Why didn’t somebody tell me this was on Netflix? Watched the first four episodes last night. I don’t think it will take me too long to finish the rest.
  • Giant Bomb – Did I not tell you that there is a reason Lang, Boyes, and Vignocchi are the closers? Those guys always make me laugh. Together they are like the Three Stooges equivalent for Giant Bomb. I rewatched the entire Nite 3 again, and their section a few more times on top of it.

Games

  • Marvel Heroes Omega Beta on PS4 – I finished it, reviewed, and now I’m done with it. It wasn’t a bad game but it wasn’t a good game either. Somehow it just feels like something was missing as well as something else just didn’t work right.
  • Nex Machina – If you like Dead Nation and/or Resogun go get this game. It’s only $20 and it’s great. More on that in the future.

News

  • Diablo 3: Rise of the Necromancer – Official release date 6/27, there you have it. Now you all have something new to play…sort of. As much as I like the game I don’t know if this will entice me back but I hope other people enjoy it.
  • Uncharted to continue as a series after The Lost Legacy – This falls into the “No $#!%” category. That is unless the game comes out and is horrible, then it might end the franchise(*coughs* Andromeda *coughs*).
  • Nintendo Switch firmware 3.00 – This one actually packs a few features, although the aren’t major it is good to see Nintendo doing the little things.
  • PS4 firmware update – System stability. Yawn.
  • IO Interactive officially independent and keeps Hitman – These feels like best case scenario for both the game and the studio. Shame that they did have to downsize a bit to do so but Hitman will continue much to the delight of many. Hopefully this means that Season 2 will be coming sooner rather than later.
  • Overwatch update – The new map is the big selling point but many are not happy about the changes to Reaper and Roadhog. Other characters have had balance changes in the past and it usually works out. Likely the same will happen here as Blizzard does a good job watching how the changes effect the game.
  • That Han Solo movie – Apparently now Ron Howard will direct which seems weird since the closest thing to a sci-fi space film I can think of him doing is Apollo 13.

Closing Arguments

I have no idea what I’m doing. That is a general statement about life and a specific one about this weekend. So far I plan on making pork and sauerkraut in a slow cooker. Maybe play some games???

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Marvel Heroes Omega Beta – Review

Image via marvel.com

It’s still a beta, that explains some of it.

The heroes of the Marvel Universe are working together to stop Doctor Doom. He is using unworldly powers to amass an army and stop all the heroes. All of heroes must criss-cross the world to stop Doctor Doom and his allies.

This MMO has been around for a few years but was on PC only.  There was a closed beta prior to the open beta which makes the quality of this game quite puzzling. Since it is still a beta I can forgive some of the technical issues like frame rates dropping and the game choking a bit when there a ton of effects happening on the screen. These are things that have fixes.

Things that are not so easily fixed are what worry me more about the game. The user interface is a near carbon copy of its PC original which can feel clunky at times when navigating with a controller. Along with the navigation is the readability of the game’s text. There is a fair amount of text in the menus, on items, in cutscenes, and so on, it can be difficult at times to read the text not only because of its size but also its font and color. Remember that most console players sit back from the screen, several feet away on a couch is normal, not within arms length of the screen as PC players do.

Marvel Heroes Omega_20170604165624

As for the game itself, it is a mixed bag of fun and frustration. The characters range from Black Widow with her guns and The Hulk with his smashing. This give variety and allows you to play any style you may choose. That’s nice but it also thins out the gameplay in a strange way since all the enemies are pretty vanilla and don’t take too much finesse or variation to dispatch. This takes away some of the games fun especially later in the game when most of the enemies effectively become bullet sponges. Late in the story mode of the game I felt like it was expecting me to be a higher level and have better gear than I had but that seems counter to what I wanted because I feel that I should not have to grind if I don’t want to.

The game is free to play but there are options to pay and you can pay a lot if you so choose. There are options to pay anything from $5 to $100. Most of these are characters packs and are completely optional. One thing that I did find annoying at least and downright outrageous was the inventory system. Not only was it extremely limited, causing tot leave stuff or go back to base to store something, you could only expand it with in game currency that you have to buy and cannot earn. That is not a fair thing to do in my mind, make someone pay to fix an annoyance in a game that there is no other way to address, to my knowledge.

Not being a fan of MMO’s made me want to leave the game sooner than I did. In fact I had played the game on PC over a year ago and playing through now shows me that I didn’t make it as far as I thought I had. After finishing the story mode, there isn’t much interest left however. I went through and played a few of the legendary events that open up but they all felt like more of them. Making me replay a story mission just making the enemies harder to kill only to get a mediocre reward at the end offered no interest to me. If you’re are looking for a free to play game that you can endlessly sink time into than maybe Marvel Heroes Omega is for you. I think with a few improvements, particularly the inventory system, the fun factor  could raise this game up a level and be more fun.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Dude’s Chronicles 6-15-2017: As E3 Winds Down

Image via giantbomb.com

E3 2017 is probably already over if you reading this. Hope you found things to your liking.

Entertainment

  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 3 – I went back and watched a few of these and there are moments that it is funny but I just get the sense the the character progression just wasn’t there.
  • Marvel’s The Iron Fist – It feels like I missed something because nothing connected to me in this series. Things felt weird and unnatural throughout its entirety. The main character was probably the one I liked the least to the point I found myself almost rooting for the bad guys.
  • Giant Bomb at E3 – The nightly shows they do have become my favorite part of the event. From hilarious conversation, to in-depth discussion with developers, to the gif’s the fans generate from them these shows never seem to miss. The night two interview with Phil Spencer has taken over as the best moment of E3 in my mind, surpassing Nintendo’s direct. Spencer can be so mechanical and inhuman during the press conference and public events but every time he does an individual or group interview he comes across as that guy that will tell you what you need to hear in the realest way. His candor during this particular interview in regards to Sony’s unwillingness to enable cross-console play was perfect. Without being negative against Sony or whom made the comments about security, he let it be known how he personally felt and how he is willing to do anything to help make this thing happen. Bravo Mr. Spencer, bravo.

Games

  • Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite demo – I don’t like fighting games. With that said, this demo was a compelling slice of what they can do with the story mode of this game. It feels like it is either a set up to or the first level of the game since it quickly sets up some events and many of the characters that will be there. But with that said, I’ll probably never play the full game just because I’m not into fighting games. Worth checking out.
  • Marvel Heroes Omega Beta on PS4 – Story mode finished, review liking getting done this weekend.(There, since I put it in writing now I have to do it.)

News

  • Take Two takes down mods – They served a cease and desist  order to mod-tool OpenIV. I think this is bad because the mod community brings a lot of life to games and keeps things fresh. The idea that it was somehow interfering with online play is, while possible, but still preposterous because there didn’t seem to be any reports of it and even if there was should it be the developers responsibility to remedy the situation?

Closing Arguments

 

I’ll be watching the last night of the Giant Bomb coverage to see my favorite boys John Vignocchi, Adam Boyes, and Dave Lang. There is a reason they are the closers.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

E3 2017 – Passing Thoughts

Image via e3expo.com

This year’s E3 conferences felt mild if not dull with the exception of a few moments.

Microsoft’s conference in particular was low key if not boring. The leading punch going on and on about the poorly named Xbox One X was almost enough to put one to sleep.  For reasons that may never been known, there was an uncomfortable about of time “announcing” the console especially the overly long rattling of technical specifications. This part of the show should have taken about two minutes and summed up with “it ships on November 7th and it costs $499”. I think the price point is right on target but I don’t know that it is going to be a big seller. Hardware hasn’t been much of a driver since this generation of consoles launched and Microsoft would have been better off focusing on games. Don’t get me wrong, they did talk about a lot of games, over forty in fact but there wasn’t much to get excited about. The console exclusivity of PlayerUnknown’s Battleground felt like a fore-drawn conclusion and the biggest cheer of the night seemed to be when they announced backwards compatibility for original Xbox games. This conference lack much enthusiasm and was poorly pace.

Sony doesn’t get a pass either in my book. If there were a way to walk the safe path, tow the line, and use any other cliche about playing it safe it was this press conference. To open with Uncharted The Lost Legacy was pretty limp-wristed since it is an existing IP, we already knew it was coming, and it’s not very innovative given that it is just Uncharted but with chicks instead of dudes. Then there is Days Gone that looks less interesting every time they show it. One high point was the Monster Hunter reveal even tough I’ll likely never play it. The VR section was a mis-mash of stuff but good on Sony to keep supporting it. The Destiny 2 exclusive content wasn’t a surprise, just like the Spiderman gameplay wasn’t.

All the other conferences were just as middling with one stand out. I didn’t even watch the Bethesda event since it was on at midnight in my timezone. The only take away I noticed was the confirmation of another Wolfenstein game(which I didn’t play the previous). The EA conference was the standard fair of Madden and FIFA. Ubisoft didn’t really announce much but I enjoyed the enthusiasm they had during the show, maybe the pending Vivendi takeover has them stepping up their game. To me the Nintendo event was the best overall. It was a typical Nintendo direct and was paced as such but they did the one thing that every company should have done – showcase the games. The talking point were quick and mostly succinct even though there were a few stumbles. In 25 minutes Nintendo showed a ton of games, almost none of which I care about, and got me more excited than any of the other events. That closing number with Super Mario Odyssey was like a mind trip but in a good way.

Surely this is a ton of stuff that I didn’t even touch on. E3 itself is still ongoing but most of the major announcements have been made. I’ll be interested to take a look back at the end of the week and try to tally everything up.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 3 – Review

Room for growth.

Kimmy and her crew are back at their silly adventures. Still trying to out live her mole-woman past, she finds herself trying to help others and even going to college. All the while Titus is trying to find love, Lillian does find love, and Jacqueline finds purpose.

Things are good and things are not so good with this season. The comedy is well written and delivered, as one would expect from a Tina Fey show, but there is a general lack of direction in this season. Plot lines are all over the place from Kimmy going to collge to Jacqueline getting the Washington Redskins renamed. Jacqueline’s story line felt like the most unnatural part of the show. There were stretches of the season that her story line was happening almost completely separate from Kimmy’s. This made the show feel disjointed and sloppy.

The parts that make me laugh the most usually involve Titus. He’s still my favorite character even though he might be one the the worst people from an humanity standpoint. His heart may have gold in the center but he packs a lot of self-centered attitude around it. There is an entire episode that involves him stealing a bathroom key that demonstrates the best and worst parts of him.

The show is funny and worthwhile but could have done better. Some of the characters did more growing and developing than others. Oddly the title character is the one that seemed to have the least amount of personal growth by the time the season ended. This resulted in some disappointment on my part but I do love the antics of the show and would watch this season as well as any others all over again.

 

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Dude’s Chronicles 6-8-2017: There’s a Calm Before the E3

Image via neogaf.com

It’s a slow news week leading into E3 so that section will be pretty light so lets talk about other things instead.

Entertainment

  • Breaking Bad – I’ve watched the finale several more times and watched some fan theories on Youtube. As much as I love the show I need to move on. The desire to watch it all over again is strong but the want to see other things is stronger.  On that note…
  • The Flash: Season 3 – Watching this show was like taking a hard left without braking from watching Breaking Bad.  All the things I liked about Breaking Bad are absent in this show but it has its own charm. The campy and cartoony-ness of the show are at odds with the moments when it tries to be heartfelt and serious. The show is fun to watch, although I don’t think that it is a very good show when it comes down to it.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 3 – I watched the entire season but I want to go back to a few episode before I divulge any thoughts on it.
  • Marvel’s The Iron Fist – I started watching this when it first came out and gave up after four episodes. Picking up on it now didn’t help but I don’t think it hurt. Again, I want to revisit a few episodes and then I’ll give more thoughts on it.

Games

  • Destiny –  Yep, wall confirmed. I played enough Destiny to test my controllers(more on that later) and that was all I wanted to play.
  • Marvel Heroes Omega Beta on PS4 -I’ve almost finished the story of the game and I want to play just passed that to get a fuller sense of the game. So far it is fun but I feel like I’m hitting a point where I am slightly outmatched by some enemies and the game expects me to grind for levels and loot but I don’t want to grind.

News

  • Death Stranding won’t be at E3 – cancel all of those predictions.
  • How Mass Effect: Andromeda came to be – I started reading an article that made me scratch my head. I’m planning on reading the rest of it.

Closing Arguments

As mentioned previously, I had to test my PS4 controllers. That is because my thumbsticks needed replaced, again. Having gone through this once already it was easy to do but really made me upset about one of the two things I hate about the DS4 controller. These are the same controllers I have had since the console launched in 2013 and they are my preferred controller. There is some favoritism since the original PlayStation was my first console with analog sticks and I never played the original Xbox. I never had the reverence for the Xbox 360 controller that others do and I don’t care for the Xbox One controller at all. Not to speak against them, they are all fine controllers and the favorites of many, it is just that my preference is the DS4. One of the main reason I like the PlayStation controllers is because the symmetry feels more natural to me rather than the offset stick Xbox and other consoles employ.

You can see  that even my replacement thumbsticks wore out, almost identically to the originals I might add. In the picture above, notice where the rubber broke on the two thumbsticks that were on the left of each controller. That area was on the one o’clock position, towards the top but slightly towards the center of the controller. These replacement sticks were actually Xbox One sticks, not DS4. That was because many recommendations on the Internet stated doing so was an improvement and I was very happy with the results until these also tore up on me last week.

Back to Amazon I went to order yet another set of replacement sticks. This time I made sure there was no rubber involved. I looked at the factory sticks for the Xbox One controller and several others. In the end I went with aluminum thumbsticks in the mold of the Xbox One controller. If you are worried about the lack of grip of a metal thumbstick let me speak in its favor. I had the same concern but after about an hour of play time in Destiny I found it actually works for me. Apparently I move my thumbs around on the sticks enough that the smoothness of the top surface has actually made some of my movements more fluid. The lip leading from the top to the grooved rim gives me an oddly fantastic grip as I play. As my thumb works to the rim, it feels almost glued to it until I need to move it again. It may not be the feel everybody is looking for admittedly but for me it seems to work.

What is the other gripe about the DS4??? The battery of course. I was ok with the battery life of the DS4 and never thought much of having to switch controllers while I was playing until I went back and played an entire Metal Gear game on the PS3 without changing or recharging a controller.

On to the weekend from here and it’s another long one. I work Friday but took Monday off. As The Iron Sheik says “F@*& the Monday Forever”. Last long weekend for a while as the work schedule will have me pinned down a bit. Enjoy yours as much as I will mine.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.