Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – Review

Image via starwars.com

I had such high hopes but low expectations. This game comes in closer to the latter.

Cal Kestis is a former Jedi padawan that has been in hiding for several years after the execution of Order 66. He reveals his connection to the Force and subsequently  has to run for his life. He meets up with the crew of the Mantis and they team up to try to restore the Jedi Order. It won’t be easy since the Imperial group of Inquisitors will be chasing them trying to finish what they started… killing all of the Jedis.

Things I Liked…

The story and characters of the game are the key point of interest in this game. Everything they do to slowly reveal Cal’s background and how they tie that to relearning his connection to the Force was very good. The story was well paced and remained interesting and intriguing until the end. No spoilers but… the very end of the game took off in a direction that was somewhat unexpected but very pleasing.

Things I Disliked…

Then there are all the problems and boy howdy. I played the game on a launch Xbox One and it was not a good experience. However, it sounds like some of the problems I had weren”t unique. The most obvious problem was the frame rate issue. At any point, whether in combat or in a cut scene, the frame rate could nose dive into the single digits making the game not only unenjoyable but also unplayable. As pretty as the environment was it still looked washed out and the drawn-in of textures was annoyingly noticeable. Then there was the combat. Even after dumbing it down to the lowest level it was still broken and no fun. No matter what I tried I could not get a grasp on the parry and dodge techniques making the combat frustrating. Add to it the fact that you could get stuck in a stun-lock situation with one enemy effectively knocking you out of combat.

When It’s All Said and Done…

This was a game that had a legitimate chance to be a good Star Wars game and not just a good game. The fact that the game runs so poorly this late into the console generation dumbfounds me. What ruined this game was strictly technical in my mind. Would it have been great if it ran perfectly and the combat didn’t suck? No, it would have been much better but still not great.

In the end, I liked the story but wouldn’t recommend the game unless you can get it on the cheap. A full $60 is too much for the game but maybe the $25-ish area would be ok.

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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.

Gears 5 – Review

Image via news.xbox.com

It was a lot like Gears of War but it also wasn’t.

The follow up to Gears of War 4, Gears 5 picks back up with the same crew. This time they are trying to find answers about Kait’s past. Their quest takes them to many places many places but also leads to many more questions. The story takes Kait and the rest of the Gears to a battle that none of them were prepared for.

As a long time fan of the series I was looking forward to this game but tried to keep my expectations tempered. I expected the game to be much more like Gears of War 4 and much less like the original trilogy but not nearly as bad as Judgement. At least it accomplished that.

Things I Liked…

I played this game primarily on PC but my console heathen background meant I was playing with a controller and not keyboard and mouse. Even with that it was a beautiful game with rich looking environments. Even the Gears’ suit had an insane amount of detail. The game-play felt as good as ever. I had forgotten how satisfying it was to chainsaw an enemy in half. The guns still felt good and hit like you would expect them. There were many times I grabbed and used the boomshot just because it feels so satisfying when you can take out multiple enemies in one shot.

Things I Disliked…

For a chapter or two I switched to playing on my launch Xbox One there was a stark difference. On the PC version were there were intricate details there were now just muddy blurs. I didn’t expect near the same level of graphics but the drop off was far more dramatic than I thought it would be. Also, as lush and intricate as the environment was it was a brilliant back drop to a dull story. Not only did it  not feel like it did much, there were times when I felt like I was doing bust work. The skif was a neat idea and fun at first but then it became boring and over-used. As pretty as the scenes were you were just passing through them for the most part. I did some of the side stuff but it just felt like I was spending time spending time going from place to place to shoot bad guys for little or no reward.

When It’s All Said and Done…

I want to recommend the game but… I’m not sure I can. Since I have Game Pass Ultimate I had access to it, early even, so it felt like a zero cost. If I had not had Game Pass I was planning on buying it and when I think about that I think I might have been let down just a bit. There were times when I was having fun and truly enjoying it. That is balanced against the times were I felt like it was making me drive the skif all over hell’s creation for no good reason. The Horde mode was ok but didn’t pull me in like in the past. The Escape mode is a hot mess of three people going in three different directions, don’t recommend if you do not have a squad of three.

When the game had you doing Gears of War stuff like plowing through enemies it felt good. When it was trying to give you an open world experience like side missions and driving the skif it felt bad.

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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.

Wolfenstein: The New Order – Review

Image via wikipedia.org

I might be five years late to this game but damn was this good.

B.J. Blazkowicz is back and he’s at his old game of killing Nazis. In an alternate time line type of narrative, Blazkowicz is fighting for the Allies against the Nazis but things are not going well. He is part of a final assault to stop the Nazi war machine but things go poorly and Blazkowicz is gravely injured. Over the course of fourteen years, he has had time to heal but the Nazis have continued their campaign to take over the world. When Blazkowicz is ready to take action the world if very different from what he remembers but one thing remains the same… killing Nazis.

Things I Liked…

Playing on the Xbox One may not have been the ideal experience but I felt that overall the game ran well. I experienced zero technical issues but the game only looked okay, not great. The story was really what kept me playing. Seeing where they took the Blazkowicz character was interesting and made me invest my time in the game willingly. There are light puzzle elements that were a nice sidebar to the first-person bloodbath of the shooter side of the game.

Things I Disliked…

The biggest issue I had with the game was the combat and to say that for an FPS game is bad. It felt sloppy and over the top at times. The aiming was “not great” even after adjusting some of the controls. Some encounters in the game were more grueling than I was interested in dealing with. Scores of enemies come at you with a vengeance and ammo seemed more scare that it should have been. At times I was finding tons of health pack but I had no ammo to shoot with which was frustrating. At about 60% through the game I dumbed it down to easy just so I could get through it and finish the story.

When It’s All Said and Done…

The score I would give to this game is probably a three and a half out of five. The story was fun but the gameplay drug down the overall enjoyment of the game. Technically it was ok but it just didn’t do anything that stood out. The game’s story really “swung for the fence” at moments and I felt like it hit them well.

For me, the moment of the game came at the very end. When the credits started to roll and the music started I was floored. I picked up on the song about two lines into it and it felt like a perfect fit. How they turned a Chris Isaak song into a melancholy, downtrodden tune from a up-tempo  sad song was wonderful.

From the game – Melissa Hollick

From the album Forever Blue – Chris Isaak

 

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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.

Red Dead Redemption 2 – Review

Image via cnet.com

Let’s be honest, a lot of other people liked this game better than I did.

The sequel that is a prequel, Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place in the time line before the story of the much revered Red Dead Redemption. The main story is based around the adventures of Arthur Morgan as we works as the second hand man of Dutch van der Linde. The Van der Linde gang finds itself on hard times and running from an attempted score in the town of Blackwater that went awry. Living much as nomads, the gang must keep moving to avoid the law and Pinkertons. As they move they must also try to make a living by either doing good or bad things.

Having only played less than five hours of the original Red Dead Redemption and without a nostalgia for that game this game was a new experience to me for the most part. There were things about this game that I really loved and enjoyed. Conversely, the things I dislike about the game I came to loathe and those things truly tainted my thoughts and feelings about the overall game.

Things I Liked…

The game is beautiful on a technical level. I played on a launch edition of the Xbox One and there were issues of draw-in of objects but all-in-all the game is still gorgeous. Everywhere you look there is something detailed and amazing. Look up to the sky and you could see the sun shining bright through the clouds or the twinkle of stars through a night-time drizzly haze. The draw-in issues were so minimal that it barely mattered to me but that was because everything else looked fantastic. The level of detail that the characters and environment had was astounding. Looking at a character and seeing their freckles or looking at a banister and seeing the grain of the wood gave the game a weight of realism. Then there are all the sounds. The clop of the horses, patter of the rain, clack of a gun’s hammer… all made the game more immersive. Then layer the music on top of it all, marvelous.

Cinematic camera???

Things I Disliked…

Of all the things the game did, I’m left with feeling that it just didn’t respect my time. The game is wide and deep in that there are many things to do and are robustly built. That turns out to be a blessing and a curse. When I was trying to get through the story, I felt constantly inundated by side story material that I didn’t necessarily want to do. I’d be trying to get to a town to do what I thought was a story mission only to get interrupted by riders approaching me then opening fire for reasons I never understand. What I did to trigger this, other than being at a place at a certain time, still eludes me. It felt as though there were just too many things to do and manage. Hunting, which I did little of… trapping(?) which I did none of(not sure this was a thing you can do or not)… strangers, there were so many I just lost interest… robberies, that I avoided doing… and the list goes on. It is great that they had all these in the game and did them well but it became overwhelming and frustrating while just trying to progress in the game. The limited fast travel system meant ride your horse most of the time to go anywhere which felt like a further misuse of time. Then there is the gun play that is horrible, frankly. It had what I can only describe as a wonk and wobble that I could find no control adjustment to make it feel much better than barely playable much less ok.

When It’s All Said and Done…

If I were asked to rate this game… three out of five stars. Let me explain. The environment and story of this game made me want to keep playing. I loved seeing the world and going through it. There were times I wish I had the time just to go around and look. I wanted to explore but I just don’t have the time. That’s not a problem with the game but it became a problem with my experience with it. As well as they developed everything you can do in this game it felt like a burden at times just to move forward and disappointing to not be able to play out scenarios they present you.

What makes the game for me is the story. Again, I didn’t play the first game significantly and don’t have that as an attachment. I found Arthur Morgan to be one of the most empathetic characters I have ever played. Going through the game, I found myself making decisions based on the thought in my head of ‘I just want things to work out for this guy and it be good’. All the time knowing it would not because of the foreshadowing presented I knew what his outcome would be.

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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.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider – Review

Image via xbox.com

Unsurprising, that is about the best I can say for this game.

Lara Croft is once again on the trail of adventure. Trinity is still at large and trying to take over the world, again. This adventure takes Lara to South America to meet up with old and new friends and foes alike.

This is the third game in this reboot of the the series and unfortunately the story is just as mailed in as the first two. The setting may have changed but it is more of the same half-hearted and short-sheeted emotional misses that plagued the other games. Every attempt to make Lara empathetical falls short especially when she is then put into a scenario that the she must directly murder all in site.  Case in point, in the story a character close to Lara is reported dead and she then goes on a murderous rampage to avenge this person. Then when the person turns up alive the moment is summed up with a brief sigh and the game goes on. The emotional weight that should have been in this moment is poured onto the floor like water and trampled on giving no way to make Lara more relatable.

It is a shame that the story falls short when the game works well on a technical level. The environments are lush and beautiful even on an original PS4. Whether you are in the depths of the jungle or swimming underwater there is great detail in everything around you. The only issue on a technical level was that sometimes when trying to interact with an object as prompted it didn’t always work correctly. If you walk around a little bit and try again things would work.

The fact that this is the third entry of the series is what makes it disappointing. It seems that the first two games weren’t the building blocks they should have been. Shadow of the Tomb Raider comes off as a carbon copy of all the same issues that the first two games had. The aesthetics of the game do little to make up for the shortcomings of the characters. It’s fun to run around in the jungle and solve puzzles but in the end Lara Croft comes off a character that there is no reason to care about.  The attempts make a connection to Lara’s plight are poorly balanced against the moments when she mows down foes at will.

It’s an ok game but could have been much more. It was good enough that I got to over 80% completion but I also don’t feel any desire to replay this game again. This would be one of those games that if asked I would tell people it is worth playing but not buying, a great game to rent not to buy.

 

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tPaul 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’s Spider-Man – Review

Image via playstation.com

Like swinging? No, not the kind that involves other people. The kind that has you tethering yourself to buildings and flying through the air. Then there is a game you should play.

The story in Marvel’s Spider-Man is set in a stage where Spider-Man is already Spider-Man. The story doesn’t cover how or when he got his powers. In fact it is set in a time when he has already defeated several foes and incarcerated them in The Raft. It also picks up after Peter Parker and MJ Watson were a thing and they are currently separated. Parker finds himself in the employ of Otto Octavius and they a poised upon a true breakthrough in their research. Of course, as all hero stories go, things don’t go well.

The story portrayed in this game is possibly one of the best in a comic based video game or movie. Even if you are not familiar with the Spider-Man or DC comic lore, this story can be followed and enjoyed. There are the comic-like moments when you are fighting a twenty-foot mask but there are also the real-life moments when you have to make a terrible choice. Both of these moments had weight even though in different ways. The weave of heart, mayhem and resolution are well done. The struggle that Parker has with being himself, whether that be Peter or Spider-Man, is ever present but never over bearing.

Some of the best parts in the game, on a technical level, are the sights and sounds. Even running on an original PS4 this game plays and looks great. As you swing through the environment it never seems to lose detail. The game perhaps had frame rate issues less than five time throughout the entire play-through and most if not all of the drops came while transitioning into or out of a cut-scene. The sounds work both to compliment and add the game. When Spider-Man shoots a web it sounds good but on top of that all his quips have enough variety they don’t get old or over-used.

What doesn’t feel good in the game are some of the systems, mostly the combat and upgrade systems. The game borrows a lot from the Batman Arkham games but the combat doesn’t feel as good or precise. Batman is a bigger physically so his punches and kicks should have more weight but with Spider-Man’s enhanced strength it still felt like he was a light hitter. On top of that, punching and dodging felt to have a slip where they didn’t always work as intended. Perhaps more egregious is the fact that the equipment and suit upgrades are locked behind completing in world activities. What makes it so punishing is that certain upgrades require currency earned from different events, for example R&D quests reward Research Tokens but TaskMaster challenges  award Challenge Tokens. If the R&D quests have been completed but you want an upgrade that requires Challenge Tokens you simply don’t have access to them until you complete those challenges.

The game is very good but held back from being great. For myself the upgrade system being tied to activities was a huge negative. Many of the TaskMaster challenges were just ways to push the player’s skill at challenge that just aren’t useful in playing the game. Other tasks just felt like busy-time activities to stretch the game out. Add in the fact that many of the encounters lack any variance. It comes down to go to a place, beat up a bunch of guys, then beat a few more waves of guys. Enemy variety becomes cosmetic at times, for example a man in a business suit with blue whips versus a convict in a jump suit with red whips.

Even with that said, I did reach over 90% completion of this game just because it is so fun to play. My feeling is that the story and game play make the game but the systems and combat slips took away from enjoying the game more. Highly recommend the game but caution that it could have been better.

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tPaul 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.

God of War (2018) – Review

Image via playstation.com

In the year of our Lord, 2018, the last thing I ever imaged writing about was a God of War game… much less how much I enjoyed it.

An untold number of years have passed since Kratos left Sparta. His life away from the other Gods has been as quiet and unnoticeable as he could possibly keep it. A house in the woods, a wife, and a child have been his life. The story picks up after his wife has died and Kratos has reluctantly become a single father. Not only does he have to raise his son on his own but he has been charged with fulfilling his wife’s last wish, that is to have her ashes scattered from the highest peak in all the lands. This task will test the mettle of not only Kratos himself, but also his son and all of those he meets along the way.

The God of War Series is well known for taking Greek mythology and turning it on its ear. This game does all of that and adds in Norse mythology as a new focus. The blend is both seamless and intriguing. Even if one never played the previous God of War games there is no barrier to playing this game after coming in fresh. From the start, there are subtle hints and alludes to to Kratos’s past. Therefore no loss will be had in the story regardless of one’s past, or lack of, with the series. As the game progresses it continues to not only reveal Kratos’s past but that of what he has been part of since moving to the Norse-lands. The theme of Gods is not heavily-handed but rather delivered as something which Kratos wants nothing but distance from. This is balanced against what he must tell his son about his past and his nature.

On a technical level, this game is brilliant. Of the current generation of PS4 games, Horizon Zero Dawn set a new standard of graphics and this game only carries them forward. There seems to be something about Sony exclusives because God of War has taken the capabilities of the PS4 to a new level. Even playing the game on an original PS4 delivers a vibrant experience. The cinematics are rendered and delivered in a quality that is over-the-top for a console game. The single-cut delivery style keeps the player immersed in a strange but beautiful way. Once again, the idea of being seamless comes to play in marrying the graphics to the story. From lush forrest to frigid icelands the sights always match with the tone of the story. There were some points, particularly in combat with many enemies on the screen, that the framerate took a noticeable hit. Just be aware that this beauty my come at the price of performance at times even though these problem did occur minimally.

The game builds on it’s past but does something new. The combat system is nearly nothing like the games of old, however there are times it feels the same. Those familiar with parrying will know how to handle the combat. As someone new to this, it was a struggle to deal with and the learning curve was steep at times. However, after learning the cues for an opponent attack that can be parried versus an attack that must be dodged, the combat hits a new level. Those that want the button mashing combat of days old it is still there but one cannot survive on it alone.

Where the game is failing or lacking is in the crafting and upgrade systems. There is no explanation as to what, how, when, or why to upgrade. You’ll meet two individuals that will upgrade your weapons and armor for you but there is no explanation as to what you will need to have to get them to do so. By exploring through the environment you’ll gather supplies but given that different upgrades take different supplies you may not be able to do the enhancements you want. This is somewhat frustrating and leads to doing whatever upgrades you can. The same can happen with attack upgrades since there is no precursor to the fact that some equipped items can be upgraded with XP.

The one forgiving point about upgrading is that XP and other resources are given out in relatively useful amounts. Even if it is not clear what or why things should be upgraded, a player should have enough to do so. Players may not find the supplies for the upgrades they want but will get enough other resources to keep you going for other upgrades. Enough abilities and upgrades will unlock to help in combat regardless of what the player may or may not understand about the upgrades.

The semi-open world of the game works during the main story as well as after. Even when the story is complete there are things to do. If something was left undone or undiscovered during the story it is still there afterwards. There is nothing stopping a player, however, from doing as much as possible during the story other than meeting enemies that are just far too powerful without the proper equipment and upgrades.

The story is truly the best part of this game. The awe of the environments and cinematics never fades off but take a second seat to the tale that the player is being taken through. From the beginning, the inner struggle of Kratos is just as palatable as the resolution in him at the end. Twist and turns abound throughout the game but never are too far out of place. Even when part of the story takes a sharp turn it has already setup a plausible to reasonable explanation as to why or it will do so shortly thereafter. By the end of the game I found myself so entrenched I played for several hours and was wowed at the finish.

Having played only the original game and part of the first sequel, I didn’t know a lot of the lure and it turns out it didn’t matter. The game turned out to be an unexpected gem that did a tremendous job at doing something completely different than it was known for while still being true to what it was. This game was so far off of my radar that I didn’t decide to purchase it until days before its release. The combination of the overwhelming positivity about it and the fact that I had nothing else to play made me decide in favor of the purchase. Looking back I wish I had followed the game’s development over the last five years better and had been more aware of it. At the same time, I’m glad I found it at the last minute and can just enjoy it for what it is and not for what I ever thought it should be.

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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.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Review

A game that is far better than it had any reason to be.

Normally prequels, whether in games or in movies, aren’t welcomed or worthwhile. This game breaks that stigma. The story line of Life is Strange: Before the Storm takes place before the events of the original Life is Strange but after the plot point of Max leaving Arcadia Bay. This setup left many people upset because the main character of the original would not be in the game. Mentions by Chloe are the only ghosts of Max even existing. Fans were left with the idea of playing as Chloe, who was a beloved character, but not the main focus that they had been endeared to . This character shift made it hard for some to accept playing a game that covers material that has somewhat been detailed in a game they have already played.

As someone who had these exact concerns, it can be said that they were laid to rest almost immediately. Not long into the game that groove of walking around, inspecting things felt homey and familiar. Along with that, seeing sites and faces that you know made it feel like you were back in Life is Strange. Playing as Chloe became natural as her story started rolling out. That tough as nails on the outside but brittle as glass  on the inside persona played out in heartbreaking tones. If it can make a forty year-old man like myself feel empathy for a teenage girl then I have to say they did a fine job. As I played through the game, I forgot what happens to Chloe in the original game and fell into what was happening to her in Before the Storm. It was only after I had finished the game that I took time to process it and piece even more things together.

Of course, I’ll never be one to say a game is perfect. The gameplay was a bit flustering at times when you don’t get the prompt to inspect an item. Many times the solution was just to backup, walk around a bit, then walk back up to the object. This could have been me as much as anything as I am anything but a master with the keyboard and mouse when gaming. A few times throughout the game I felt like there were some gaps in the plot and it made jumps that I didn’t feel were quite right. The possibility exists that I just missed something and there were explanations I missed. What I had the most dislike of was the ‘backtalk’ system that was employed. It was supposed to be a way of Chloe using her wit to get her way but it turned into a word match game. Just listen to the last thing the other person says and pick the response that has one of the same words in it, instant win. It took away from playing the argument the way you felt it should have gone making it feel guided and somewhat pointless.

Whether you are new to Life is Strange or coming into it new this game is well worth the play time. Unfortunately it released amongst controversy that took away from how well the game was made. Not only was there the issue of being a prequel, the game was developed by a different studio and lacked Chloe’s original voice actress. The game should be recognized and enjoyed for its own merit, not any issues that surrounded it.

If the game had released its final episode earlier it would have earned a high place on my GOTY list for 2017.

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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.

Star Wars: Battlefront II – Review

Image via dualshockers.com

This is not the Star Wars game you are looking for.

Returning to the Star Wars universe with a new Battlefront game should have been a glorious occasion. However, that is by far not the case. The choices made by the developers and EA have tragically mired what could have been a great game into a state of failure that it is likely to never recover from. The talk will focus on the microtransactions but the problems are much deeper.

One of the main gripes of the previous game was the lack of a proper campaign. You can check that one off with this game but you can add a few strikes against the game for it as well. Some have called it “poorly written fan fiction” and I’m not sure that is inaccurate. The story starts out in a strange place and never steadies itself. In fact it becomes more confusing when not only does the main character switch alliances but you also end up playing as other characters several times. Even the task you are sent out to do in the story don’t fit together. There is the sense that the writing was split between groups that were not working together and nobody bothered to check the final product before shipping it. Then there is the last bit of the game that was like a fever dream and felt completely nonsensical. Not to mention the fact that where they left off on the story felt very incomplete and ripe for DLC that should have been part of the game to begin with and not an add on.

There is no need to finish the campaign before hitting the multiplayer but for those that venture in will find more frustration. The gameplay itself is not the issue but rather every system around it. Not only are you leveling your account you will be leveling each class, independently, as well as leveling cards that you assign to those classes. Even with removing the paid loot boxes this system is a mess. Credits can be earned to buy boxes or rewards are earned by hitting  certain marks such as number of kills or the like. Even after you get cards for a character you may not be able to equip them if the class you are playing as is not leveled up enough. Frequently you will see that other players that are doing well in a match are higher ranked than you may be and have three cards equipped. This is nothing less than a design flaw with the game to allow the gameplay balance to be ruined by add-on items that were originally to be sold for real world money.

What makes me sad about this game is that it could have and should have been better. The idea of a proper campaign was a big selling point to me. The fact that it is only a few hours long is not an issue but the fact that the story is bad is. I didn’t connect with any of the characters and jumping to other characters mid-story made it even less of an investment. The best thing that can be said for the game is the technical pieces of it but that is not enough to account for the bad parts. Graphically this is an awesome looking game. The PS4 version that I played is frankly one of the best looking games I’ve seen on my original PS4. Everything from the environments to faces have great detail and look realistic. Add to the looks the authentic sounds of Star Wars and this game had the potential to be immersive yet it fell short. The only complaint I had on the technical level was the rolling while using a starship. For whatever reason it really bothered me to the point of becoming nauseous and keeps me from playing much less enjoying those modes.

The saga that is this game is not over. I fully expect EA to comeback with the microtransactions. They didn’t build all the systems to support it just to abandon it and it is likely part of their financial reports so… yeah, plenty of motivation to put those back in. Not that people are going to be pleased with any manner of these but we will have to accept them nonetheless. With that said, the microtransactions are not the biggest problem in the game. To me, the biggest problem is the progression systems and how the cards can unbalance the game. Those issues are not likely to be patched in any manner and will probably keep me, and maybe others, from enjoying the game.

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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.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole – Review

Image via ubisoft.com

Of course I want more South Park.

Picking up where The Stick of Truth left off we find the lads of South Park still adventuring. This time they are playing super heroes and they must find the source of evil that is causing crime in their beloved town.

The Stick of Truth was a huge homage to the South Park universe and The Fractured But Whole is no different. Even though I haven’t seen much of the show over the last few years there are still familiar call-outs and references. There is a strong chance that I missed some of the humor since I haven’t watched the show in some time. That didn’t diminish my enjoyment of this game in any way.

From technical stand point the game is good but problematic. The graphics look just like the show and probably could easily be mistaken for an episode at any given point. Any sight or sound could have been straight out of the show. Problems with battles and actions popped up throughout the game however. At one point in the game I was trying to do an encounter versus a group of sixth graders but as soon as one of them went into a micro-aggression the battle broke. I would interrupt the micro-aggression so that I could get some free damage but after doing so the battle just stopped. Literally just stopped. I could take no turns with any of my characters nor would any of the sixth graders attack me. After quitting and reloading a save twice with the same results my only resolution was to go do something else then come back to this particular encounter. Later in the game when you have to use Fartkour, basically a jumping maneuver, it would not work at all. No matter when I pressed the button I was prompted for the event would fail and I would die. This then had to reload the game only to have it not work again. My fix for this was to quit the game, actually close it on my PS4, and reload it completely. First time it loaded back in I successfully completed the sequence.

The combat in the game is similar to the original game but slightly reworked. The turn based mechanic returns as well as a mix of near and ranged attacks to be used. The first change a player will notice is the introduction of lanes. You can move your character, within a certain amount of space, to direct your attacks or to avoid incoming attacks. This can also help you maximize the effectiveness of your team but you’ll need to be mindful of the capabilities of your chosen teammates. The other big change is the addition of artifacts, changeable items that add to your overall fighting power. You can craft of find these but be sure to keep your best equipped so that you are keeping up with the level of enemies you will be facing.

There are things, like crafting, that were added into the game that I’m not sure they were a good addition. It adds a level of complexity and management that is likely welcome to those that are familiar with these systems in other games but for players like myself it feels like a layer of confusing busy work that keeps me from enjoying the game more. This may just be a matter of personal preference.

As much as I enjoyed going down to South Park to have myself a time, again, I’m good with where this game left off. The predictability of the plot didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the game but at the end of it I just didn’t want any more of it.  Everything I got from my one play through was all I felt I needed. Most likely I will not be picking up any of the DLC for the game unless there is some reveal that shows a major reason to do so.

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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.