Saint Seiya: Soldier’s Soul Review

There’s something “magical” about old shows, which is often a result of their nostalgic value. It’s a truly engrossing experience to rediscover something you enjoyed as a kid, or to revisit a franchise you haven’t touched in a long time. I love old-school shows that belonged solely to the era in which they were made, while feeling out-of-place when brought into a modern setting. One such show that fits the bill is the long-running anime “Saint Seiya”.

Originally made in the 80s, Saint Seiya was a show that revolved around a group of armored teenage boys who fought other armored warriors. They fought in service of the goddess of war, “Athena”, who had taken on the form of a young woman named “Saori”. Each of the boys had an armor based off a constellation, and their leader was “Seiya”. Wearing his “Pegasus Bronze Cloth”, Seiya would beat the crap out of gods and warriors in order to save Athena from the villain of the week.

While the anime itself was pretty formulaic; it managed to spawn several sequels, spin-offs, and adaptations. One such adaptation was the 2015 video-game, “Saint Seiya: Soldier’s Soul”. It was a sequel to a previous game, “Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers”, which had come out earlier in 2013.

Soldier’s Soul is an arena-based fighting game; a genre which isn’t uncommon for games based off anime. The version of the game I’ll be playing is the PC one, since I was able to easily snag it during a Steam sale. Soldier’s Soul is your typical fighting game, revolving around 2 characters fighting it out in 3-dimensional arenas.

Each character has their own special attacks and move-sets, some of which favor weapons and/or magical abilities. It’s a pretty simplistic system, but it’s still effective in what it’s trying to do. The game boasts a roster of over 70 characters, featuring characters from all of the anime’s story arcs.

You can fight as the Bronze Saints, The Gold Saints, or even the God Warriors from the Asgard arc. The game also boasts a story mode that encompasses all 4 major arcs, though with some liberties taken. For example, the game skips the anime’s earlier introductory arcs and dives straight into the “Sanctuary Arc”.

This normally wouldn’t be a problem, but the game does a really poor job in fleshing out the show’s backstory. You’ll dive right into a new arc, while only being a given a fraction of the info needed to understand what’s happening. What’s worse is that all the cut-scenes are just in-game models awkwardly talking to each other, which takes away a lot of the imagination and creativity from these retellings.

The game also has another mode, one which is loosely based off the “Soul of Gold” spin-off anime. It features all the Gold Saints in their “God Cloths” from said anime, fighting it out with the important people in their lives. While it’s a fun mode, it doesn’t really do a lot to set itself apart from the main story. It’s cool that the mode lets you make use of “Assist Phrases”, which are cool little stat bonuses; it’s just a shame that there’s not all that much to said mode.

Each of the 12 Gold Saints gets a few fights each, but that’s about it. Still, this mode is only a small part of the game. The crux of the game is its combat, which is surprisingly fun. You have your basic combo strings, as well as having several special attacks. All of the special attacks in the game are based off actual moves from the anime. There are also “Big Bang Attacks”, which are powerful super moves that each character has access to. These attacks are spectacular displays of power, and allow for some epic finishing moves.

As awesome as these moves are, they make certain characters way better. For example, Syd’s special attacks are just downright disgusting. He has two versions of the “Shadow Viking Tiger Claw”, which both do an insane amount of damage and near-perfect tracking. Despite the severe unbalanced nature of the game’s roster, it’s still quite a fun game.

The final thing I’d like to touch of is the game’s graphics and sound. The game is pretty nice to look at, featuring varied designs and a pleasant cell-shaded art-style. Unfortunately, facial animations tend to be stiff and the models look very dated. It lacks the kind of polish you’d see in something like “Dragon Ball FighterZ”. Still, it’s not terrible and the graphics do help the designs pop quite a bit.

The game’s music and voice-acting are probably the best parts of the whole package. The game boasts a soundtrack that would feel right at home in any given episode of the anime. It also reunites most of the anime’s original voice-cast, resulting in vocal performances on par with the 80s classic. In fact, the voice-acting is one of the few reasons I didn’t skip the cut-scenes. Sure, they were still flat and boring, but at least the voice-acting gave them a bit more flare.

With all that being said, I think Soldier’s Soul is a decent game. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either. It’s a middle-of-the-road anime game, one that a person could find quite a bit of enjoyment in. It’s obvious the game was made primarily with fans of the original show in mind, though I’m sure a lot of anime fans could find enjoyment in the game. If you’re looking for a fighting game with strong gameplay and an interesting hook, then it’s probably best you look somewhere else.

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Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition Review

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Good to see that 2002 is still alive and well!

Dungeons & Dragons is a game that is powered by the imagination and creativity of those who play it. It’s a board-game that has stood the test of time and continued to get many new iterations, while inventing the whole “RPG” genre. As you can tell, I am a huge fan of “D&D”, despite not playing much of the game myself. I never really had the patience to sit down and play a complex board-game, but I was always up for partaking in various adaptations of the game!

I loved that silly and weird Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, that overtly campy live-action film, and those downright hilarious D&D parodies made by the “Deadale Wives”. While those are all great, I prefer video-game adaptations of D&D the most! D&D has had many game adaptations, such as the extremely popular “Baldur’s Gate” series.

Set in the “Forgotten Realms” world of D&D, Baldur’s Gate was an attempt to bring the popular board-game to life in a whole new way. It was an RPG based heavily upon old-school D&D, drawing upon its many rules and mechanics to help build the experience. As a result, Baldur’s Gate felt like a worthwhile adaptation of both classic D&D and The Forgotten Realms.

Baldur’s Gate was made by Bioware, who was a brand new company at the time. They’re work on Baldur’s Gate propelled them into the limelight, making them a household name in the process. Baldur’s Gate did so well that they cranked out a fantastic sequel, right before following it up with an amazing expansion pack. Naturally, people loved the Baldur’s Gate games and wanted more.

Bioware was eventually handed the D&D license once more, but decided to make a completely different game this time around. Instead of doing a third Baldur’s Gate game, they ended up creating a spiritual successor to an older D&D game. Before Baldur’s Gate was released, there was a game called “Neverwinter Nights”. The game was unique in that it was the first ever “MMORPG”, paving the way for similar games like “EverQuest” and “Ultima Online”.

While the game itself shut down its servers in 97, Bioware decided to revive it in a way that nobody was expecting. Bioware brought us a new “Neverwinter Nights” game in 2002; one that was completely unrelated to the original. This game was unique and touted by trailers as a “Multiplayer Revolution”.

Neverwinter Nights 2002 set itself apart from the original by being a game with a single-player campaign, which could also be played entirely with friends. The new Neverwinter Nights was originally built to be another MMORPG like its predecessor, but Bioware had run out of time during development. They decided to make a rather formulaic story mode instead, while also adding in multiplayer and releasing the development tools to the players.

The game was a head of its time, as it was one of the first to embrace player-made content. In fact, the game was mostly known for its fan-made content. It was revolutionary in helping develop the game-modding scene, and really broke ground when it came to how such content was made. It also helps that the community who helped make these great mods were allowed to work on “Premium Modules”, which were essentially miniature expansions you had to pay for.

The system worked, and Neverwinter Nights enjoyed success for several years. However, this didn’t stop the server list from getting removed, or support for the game being discontinued. This all changed in 2018, when the game studio known as “Beamdog” decided to release a newer version of the game that runs better on modern computers. This version of the game was called “Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition”.

This is the first version of the game I ever played, due to having never found the game in stores. It also doesn’t help that most of the older versions of the game are incompatible with modern computers. Thanks to Beamdog, I was able to properly experience this game for the first time!

So, what is this game like? Well, it’s certainly a grand experiment in game design, that’s for certain! While the game’s story mode is lacking, its endless amount of user-based content and premium modules make up for it. The Enhanced Edition comes with “Steam Workshop” support, which allows for the easy usage of various mods. Using mods with Steam Workship is as easy as a simple click of the mouse, making the installation of said mods a simple task.

On top of this, all mods and modules are treated as separate “campaigns”. What this means is that since almost every mod is its own thing, so you don’t have to worry about installing too many mods and causing the game to break. The game itself plays like your typical MMORPG, CRPG, or Dungeons & Dragons game. You click the enemy to attack, can use potions or abilities in battle, and can level up at your leisure.

It’s a pretty basic system, but the wide array of skills and abilities available make up for the simplicity. There are several classes and races to choose from, some of which have an impact on how you interact with NPCs. For example, choosing a “Half-Orc” as your playable character will give you “dumb” dialogue choices. On top of this, various characters in the game will often react in hilarious ways to your unintelligent dialogue.

I really wish modern games had this level of creativity when it comes to creating interesting characters. Speaking of modern games and how they do things; Neverwinter Nights is certainly lacking in some areas. I don’t just mean the horribly dated graphics, which I still find to be rather awesome after all these years! I’m talking about how the game’s mechanics are handled.

One such mechanic is the “Teleport Stone”, a magical stone that’ll warp you back to the temple. Once you’re back in the temple you can heal up, sell some stuff, and then teleport back to where you left off. The problem? The stone can be easily abused, so you can warp in and out of combat with no consequence!

The cost to teleport back to your starting location is a measly 50 gold, so most combat situations quickly become trivial. That’s not to say the game is easy, since there are certainly some tough battles here or there. On the subject of toughness, let’s talk about that story I keep harping on.

You play as a graduate of “Neverwinter Academy”, which is a school for would-be warriors and adventurers. After an attack by an evil cult, you are given the task of hunting down a bunch of creatures in order to cure a plague. From there, the game extents into a much grander quest and its up to you to set things right.

It’s the same story we’ve seen in most fantasy games, though it does benefit a fair bit from being set in a D&D universe. The setting allows for some great monsters and encounters, as well as some interesting characters. In spite of its lackluster story, it does at least provide an engaging world to explore.

Thankfully, the expansion packs and Premium Modules make up for the lackluster story mode. They include many interesting stories and activities, such as entering a jousting tournament, becoming a pirate, or even escaping from the underworld itself! Couple this with a cavalcade of interesting party members and you have a game that elevates its quality with each new addition.

The main goal of Neverwinter Nights was pushing the envelope of what the engine was capable of. This is why all of these expansions and modules are so ambitious, it’s because they wanted to see what could do with the tools they had. The “Aurora” game engine used to power the game is old, but is variable enough in nature that it allows for some amazing things to be made.

The last thing I want to touch on is the multiplayer servers, which are the real draw of the game. There are so many custom servers made by fans, all of which allow for some fun and epic adventures. Most of said servers are essentially miniature MMORPGs, and allow the players to interact with each other and have adventures. While the game’s expansions and main quest all allow for multiplayer; it’s the MMO servers are the true pull of this game.

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Gary Gygax: Gone but never forgotten.

One such server I’ve spent a lot of time is “World of Intiquity”, which is an awesome MMO-like world. It had a ton of quests to do, items to collect, and adventures to go on. The drop rate for rare, unique, or magical items was also pretty high. This meant that I would often be rewarded with something nice and shiny after playing for a measly 10 minutes. The way Intiquity doled out rewards kept me engaged, even if I found myself dying quite a bit.

I know this gets said a lot about many games, but Neverwinter Nights feel less like a game and more like an “experience”. While its main story isn’t all that good, all of its supplementary content is truly interesting and engaging. The base game has hundreds of hours worth of content, while the player-made content helps expand that greatly.

There’s just so much to love about this slightly updated version of Neverwinter Nights, in spite of how old and outdated the game feels at times. I highly recommend this game to those that want to try a unique take on the MMO genre, or those who want to experience one of the first games to thrive on community-made content. It’s not a revolutionary game, and its certainly past its prime. Regardless of this, it’s still a fun time for those with the time to invest into it!

One Drip: The Best Sandwich Shop In Saskatoon

If there’s something I’ve always had mixed feelings on, it would have to be sandwiches. I like sandwiches, but I never really went out of my way to eat them at home. It’s different if I’m at a restaurant, which is one of the few times I’ll actually have a sandwich. I’m the kind of food connoisseur who always appreciates the varied and unique sandwiches a restaurant can offer.

That’s why I really dig a great sandwich shop located around my part of the city. The aforementioned restaurant is “One Drip”, and it has some of the best sandwiches in the city! From the “Yellow-Belly” to the “Rubenesque” each sandwich is packed with a ton of meat and goodness. Not only that, but they’re affordable! Ranging usually from between 8-12 bucks, all of the sandwiches are easily worth the price.

One Drip doesn’t just offer sandwiches, but rather a whole host of things. The place is part grocery store, part restaurant, and part antique store! There’s tons of neat knickknacks and books to check out, which makes it great for people who are looking for more than just a sandwich.

Something to keep in mind is that I’m not being paid to promote One Drip in any capacity; I’m just a fan of the sandwiches and the nice people who run it. It truly is a fantastic place to go for lunch, or just chill and read some books. In my humble opinion, One Drip has some of the best sandwiches in the city!

Happy Early New Years, Everyone!

With the end of the year being just a mere 2 days away, I thought it was a good time to wish everyone a Happy New Years! It’s been a great year, one with both ups and downs. Regardless, it was a year that saw a lot of growth in my life, and it’s something I’m truly grateful for. I hope you all had an equally good year, and I hope to see all of you in the New Year. So long 2018, and 2019 here we come!

P.S. I  got a couple of surprises that are going to be cropping up in this blog in the next couple days, I hope you guys keep your eyes peeled for them!

Kingdoms of Amalur: Nearly 7 Years Later

I often hear the word “underrated” used quite a lot when describing older video-games. To be fair, many games get made on a yearly basis and a lot of them end up forgotten. We live in a day and age where hundreds of video-games are released into the market, with many of them ending up quickly forgotten. One such game was the semi-obscure classic known as “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning”.

Amalur had an arduous past, as it was a passion project being worked on by former baseball pro “Curt Schilling”. You see, Curt wanted to create a truly epic RPG and decided to put his vast fortune into game development. After retiring from baseball, Schilling founded “38 Studios” and started putting together a talent pool for a new game called “Project Copernicus”.

Eventually, it was decided to make a prequel to Project Copernicus in order to test the waters. After all, MMOs aren’t cheap to make, so it’s always best to build a fan-base first. Curt and his team got to work on what would become “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning”, and received funding from Rhode Island in the process.

Most of you know the rest of the story, which involves the game under-performing and sinking two game studios. Curt ended up losing his vast fortune, the state of Rhode Island nearly ended up financially bankrupt, and over 300 people lost their jobs. Overall, Amalur’s failure hurt the lives of many.

In spite of this, the finished product was actually a pretty solid and fun game. The game had a fast and exciting combat system, great character customization, a ton of content and things to do, and a world bursting to the brim with secrets. Kingdoms of Amalur took place in a well-constructed fantasy world and revolved around you playing as a nameless resurrected warrior. Brought back to life and with the ability to alter fate itself, you set out on a mission to destroy generic fantasy villains and save the realm.

The game’s story is alright, but lacks a lot of the nuance that other fantasy games possess. If you’ve ever read a standard fantasy novel, then you’ve probably experienced something identical to this game’s plot. Regardless of how by-the-books the plot is, it managed to have one thing most RPGs don’t: A really good combat system.

Amalur’s combat system relied on chaining combos together in order to maximize one’s damage, while also giving the player access to a ton of different abilities and skills. This combination often made the game feel like a fusion between an RPG, a fighting game, and a beat-em-up.

The combat combines fast actions with strategies, allowing you to think on the fly. Amalur’s combat system is truly its best aspect! If there’s any major complaint about the combat is that its too easy, especially with how overpowered the player can become early on. Regardless of how easy the game can be, the world it offers is certainly interesting. It was cool to run around a colorful fantasy world and fight various monsters in insanely fun combat encounters, or to just partake in one of the game’s many side-quests.

In many ways, Amalur felt like a single-player MMO, and served as good preview for Project Copernicus. Sadly, the death of 38 Studios resulted in this game’s future being rather rocky. The rights to the game were eventually purchased by THQ Nordic, who plan on reviving the series in some form. Of course, they’ll have to get permission from Electronic Arts before they could do anything. After all, EA is the publisher of the original game.

I’m sure EA will give them the go-ahead to do stuff with the license, since it’s not like they are going to ever do anything with it themselves. I honestly wouldn’t mind a full-on HD remaster, as well as having new expansion packs. A sequel would also be great, but I doubt it would be as good as the original After all, the original had some of the greatest talent in all of pop-culture working on it. You had award-winning talent like R.A. Salvatore, Todd MacFarlane, and Mark Nelson all contributing to this project after all!

I feel like this is a game that deserves to make a return and be known once more! That’s why I’m pumped to see what THQ Nordic will do with the license. They have a good track record of rescuing old properties and giving them new life, so I have high hopes for seeing what they do here! Here’s hoping we can get new Amalur content soon!

 

Spiderman: Into The Spider-Verse Review

Yes, I’m talking about Spider-Man yet again! I mean, let’s be real with ourselves and admit that this was one of the best years for Spidey fans. We got Spider-Man’s awesome (and heartbreaking) appearance in Infinity Wars, that fantastic PS4 Spider-Man game, and now a truly transcendent Spider-Man movie in the form of “Into The Spider-Verse”. No joke, Spider-Verse was one of the few films that I had been really excited for in a long time.

Infinity War got me excited, but not to the same level as Spider-Verse. The concept behind Spider-Verse is simple, yet has some complexity to it. It takes place in an alternate universe separate from the “main” Spider-Man continuity. A young African-American boy named Miles Morales is bitten by a radioactive spider in classic Spider-Man fashion, which results in him becoming superhuman. However, Miles is far different from Peter Parker and doesn’t wish to be Spider-Man.

This all changes after a traumatic experience, leaving Miles to become the new Spidey. However, Miles isn’t alone, since he eventually meets 5 different Spider-People from alternate universes. During all of this, classic Spider-Man (and Daredevil) villain “Kingpin” is having a device built that could mean the end of all things.

Our team of inter-dimensional heroes have to unite against the Kingpin, as well as a cavalcade of re-imagined Spider-Man villains. Spider-Verse sets itself apart from every other Spider-Man movie by not only being animated, but also being the first Spider-Man movie to go beyond the typical tropes of a superhero film. While I found Spider-Man 1, 2, and Homecoming to be exceptional films, they still lacked “uniqueness” at times.

While all 3 films were great superhero films with great well-written characters and villains, they still fell into the mold of archetypal comic-book movies. Spider-Man 1 and 2 were a lot more forgivable, as they came out right when the genre was becoming a big thing. By the time we got to Homecoming, the classic Spider-Man “formula” had gotten pretty stale. Regardless of how awesome and well-done that film was, it still felt way too familiar.

Thankfully, Spider-Verse manages to avoid a lot of trappings of previous Spider-Man movies and becomes something wholly unique. The film plays to its strengths by simply focusing on these multiple Spider-People and their collective struggles. Seeing all these colorful characters and how they interact with Miles is truly a sight to behold!

The amazing animation in this film really helps bring the characters and their worlds to life. I’ve never seen an animated film this gorgeous in my entire life, which is insane considering how many of them I’ve seen. The animation also helps bring to life all these Spider-People from alternate universes, most of whom have their own unique art-style. For example, the pig known as Spider-Ham uses a cartoonish art-style, while Peni Parker is drawn like an anime character.

These various art-styles really help sell the characters and the worlds they come from, which is something I felt helped add to the film. I also really liked the film’s soundtrack, or at least most of it. I’m not a huge fan of some of the rap and pop songs featured here, but I feel that they do help add a lot of personality to the film in spite of that. “Sunflower” stands as one of my favorite songs in the film, which is good since it’s used multiple times throughout it.

Not only that, but the film also has a “Christmas Album”. Yes, they basically turned a joke in the film into an actual 11 minute mini-album. They didn’t do have to do this, but I’m so glad they did! So, that covers the music and animation, but what about the story and characters?

Well, the story leaves a lot to be desired. While the story is entertaining and easy to follow, it’s been done quite a bit in other superhero films. In fact, it’s one of the only things in this entire film that’s “formulaic” in any way. To be fair, I feel the story gets much better once all the other Spider-People are brought into the film. Up until that point, I felt like the film’s story was dragging its heels.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of how we never really got to see much of the alternate universes, with the film choosing instead to focus entirely on Miles’ universe. I do enjoy Miles’ universe though, but I still wanted to see more of these other worlds. You know, for a film called “Into The Spider-Verse”, they never actually go into the Spider-Verse! Still, I’m glad they at least touched on this concept, while setting it up more for future films.

The characters themselves are truly the best part of this film. Seeing different versions of Spider-Man interacting with each other is pretty great, plus it’s fun to see all this amazing talent in one place. Each character oozes with personality and is played by a talented voice actor, giving each of them their own unique quirks.

It helps that the film has some rather unique and interesting takes on classic characters, re-imagining older villains in a new light. It’s also cool to see Kingpin finally be the villain in a Spider-Man movie, something I’ve wanted since I was a kid! To me, this is the Spider-Man film that I’ve always dreamed of and wanted.

Despite the somewhat lacking story and a few out-of-place music choices, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a fantastic film. It’s amazing animation and likable characters make it a great watch, while also making it stand out from the competition. If you’re a Spider-Man fan in any capacity, then you owe it to yourself to check out this film!

The Outer Worlds: Obsidian’s Masterstroke

Anyone ever play Chess? Chess is a game of strategy, that requires quick-thinking and solid planning. On the outside, it looks simplistic and dull. It’s not until you sit down and actually play it that you realize how intense of a game it actually is. Why did I bring up Chess? Well, it’s a game about outwitting your opponent. Believe it or not, everyone plays Chess every day, even if it’s not the game itself.

We’re always thinking of ways we can get on top, or play the system against itself. We may not always be successful, but we as humans keep trying. This is demonstrated best with Obsidian Entertainment, and how they utterly obliterated Bethesda Softworks with a single game announcement.

Let’s backtrack a bit here, and talk about what happened in November. Halfway through the month, Bethesda released “Fallout 76”. This game is a multiplayer survival RPG that the company had been hyping up ever since its announcement in June. The game came out, and shocked the world… By being absolutely terrible.

The game was buggy, broken, and borderline unplayable. The game barely functioned as advertised, and resulted in Bethesda pulling a lot of shady tactics. They falsely advertised the collector’s edition, flip-flopped about refunds, and even LEAKED THEIR CUSTOMER’S PERSONAL INFO. All of this controversy resulted in them getting investigated by a law firm, and they may end up facing a lawsuit as a result of this.

Enter Obsidian Entertainment, another game-development company that focuses mostly on RPGs. Obsidian was acquired by Microsoft that very same month, becoming a part of the massive conglomerate in the process. A few weeks later, Obsidian announced a countdown for the reveal of a new game. It was said that the game would be announced at the “Game Awards”.

The announcement got a bit of attention, mostly from Obsidian’s small pre-existing fanbase. However, this all changed once The Game Awards started running. Fans old and new got to see the game announced on this massive stage, and were immediately blown away. by it The game is called “The Outer Worlds”, and is basically Fallout in space.

Why is this so special? It’s mostly due to the fact that Obsidian made “Fallout: New Vegas”, which most people proclaim to be the best game in the series. New Vegas has the highest rating out of any Fallout game on Steam, and has one of the most dedicated modding fanbases in all of gaming. It also helps that several people that made New Vegas also made the first 2 Fallout games, which are considered classics by today’s standards.

The trailer itself even acknowledges this, rubbing it in the faces of Bethesda. In fact, the whole trailer felt like a dig at Bethesda. The game’s message about corporate greed, the messages about how Fallout’s creators are working on this game, and the “Don’t break it” statement seem to be taking shots at Bethesda and gaming media in general.

Outer Worlds itself looks like an awesome game, with some good humor and a pleasant art-style. It feels like a marriage of Fallout, Borderlands, and Bioshock. The combat looks a bit stiff, which reminds me quite a bit of Skyrim. I’m used to stiff combat by now, so this isn’t really a deal-breaker for me.

I’m definitely pumped about this game, which is a rarity for me. I almost never get excited about any game in this modern age, yet this game has entranced me with just one trailer. Despite this, the game could still turn out to be terrible. I have faith in the project all the same, and hope that they can make this game into a great spiritual successor to Fallout: New Vegas.

Regardless of the game’s quality, Obsidian still managed to make Bethesda look like fools. Having a trailer throwing shade at them, and showcasing a Fallout-esque game just weeks after Bethesda’s giant flop are icing on the cake. It just goes to show that you should always strive to treat your audience with respect and never scorn them, because they’ll always end up running to the next best thing as a result of it. This is certainly one game of chess Bethesda has lost.

Risen 3 Review

Europe is a great country, I must say. I mean, they brought us Danger Mouse, obscure Olympics mascots, and plenty of awesome forgotten French comics. I’m not here to talk about any of that though, I have something far more interesting to talk about instead. Today, I’m going to review the German-made game known as “Risen 3”.

The Risen series is an interesting series, that’s for sure. The Risen games are a trilogy of pirate-centric action RPGs, made by game studio known as “Piranha Bytes”. The first Risen game was originally supposed to be the fourth game in Piranha Bytes’ popular “Gothic” game series. However, they ended up temporarily losing the rights to the franchise.

Due to this, their version of Gothic IV was altered and rechristened as “Risen”. The game ended up getting two sequels: The forgettable and bland Risen 2: Dark Waters, and the fairly entertaining Risen 3: Titan Lords. Titan Lords is an oddball in the franchise, that’s for sure.

It features a different protagonist than the first two games, instead choosing to focus on a brand new character. You play as the brother of series regular “Patty Steelbeard”, the pirate daughter of Captain Steelbeard. As Steelbeard’s never-before-seen son, you travel with your sister to a pirate island. Your goal is to dig up some sweet treasure, but you stumble upon something dark and insidious.

After getting killed by a “Shadow Lord”, your character is brought back to life by a shaman named “Bones”. Now missing a soul, you find yourself going on a quest to reacquire it. Along the way, you have to unite the game’s factions, close several evil “Crystal Portals”, fight giant sea monsters, and find out more about the world you’ve been thrust into.

I found the story to be interesting, at least after the opening portions. The first hour or so of the game didn’t captivate me that all much, but that changed once I got involved with the various factions. Their interactions added a lot of lore and development to the world, which was much appreciated.

The characters were also pretty good. You have the boisterous and silly Bones, the badass demon hunter Edward, and the main character’s sister Patty. The thing about Patty is that she was redesigned for this game, and was given a rather… Unflattering design. Patty spends all of the game walking around in very revealing clothing, leaving little of her provocative design to the imagination. It’s especially weird considering how her design in previous games was far less revealing.

Moving on from the characters and their designs, let’s talk about the game-play. First up is combat, which is a giant mixed-bag. Combat revolves around a lot of flailing, getting struck repeatedly by annoying enemies, and getting easily beaten up by overpowered bosses. The combat lacks finesse, and is fairly clunky at times.

Small enemies tend to be super fast in the game and hit you too quick and hard, making them extremely annoying. I eventually discovered that the reason I was having a bad time with the combat was due to how I playing. I wasn’t dodging or blocking, which resulted in me getting my ass kicked repeatedly. Once I got dodging down, the combat became much more bearable.

That being said, combat never really evolved to the point where I found myself thoroughly entertained by it. It simply went from being mediocre to serviceable. Combat wasn’t really the draw of the game for me though, as it was the side-quests and the highly explorable world that kept bringing me back. The game had multiple islands, each with their own unique look and diverse side-quests.

Some side-quests are very lame and easy to complete, while others are fairly fun and interesting. I especially liked the “Voodoo Master” quests, since it gave me a chance to use my character’s new shamanistic abilities. It also helps that each island boasts its own faction, three of which the player can join. Each faction comes with its own benefits, unique gears, and diverse abilities. Unlike most RPGs, choosing a faction feels like a much larger ordeal. On top of this, you can only join one faction per play-through, giving the game lots of replayability.

Now that I’ve discussed the meat of the game-play, let’s get into the potatoes. The game is graphically impressive, at least in some areas. Character designs and backgrounds are nice, but the character models themselves lacked polish. The voice-acting was decent, even if a few actors sounded pretty rough at times.

I didn’t like the main character’s voice actor at first, since it felt like he was trying too hard to sound “edgy”. I got used to his voice after a while though, mostly due to the actor’s ability to deliver dry sarcastic dialogue in an entertaining way. The game performs well enough on my PC most of the time, but there is a bit of screen-jittering on rare occasions.

There was also a point in the game where I fought a boss, only for the game to bug out and not let me progress past it. I had to reload a save and try again, just so I could attempt to continue past that point. Regardless of the issues I had with the game, I still had a good time.

There’s lots of content here to enjoy, even if a bit of it is fairly forgettable. The combat is annoying and cumbersome, but makes up for it by being slightly strategic. I also liked the game’s pirate motif, even though I felt that it doesn’t make good use of its setting. Heck, you can’t even plunder villages in this game!

With all that being said, it was a fun experience. I enjoyed the game, but I know not everyone will. Risen 3 was made with Pirahna Bytes’ fan-base in mind, fans who are used to games that require a fair bit of grinding and patience. Being a part of that fan-base, I find myself really digging what the game had on offer.

If you’re on the fence about this game, I recommend getting it on sale. A really good friend actually bought me the game while it was on sale, and I’ve been digging it ever since! It may not be the best game, but it has a lot of heart to it. For a game made in this modern gaming climate, that’s a fantastic thing to have!

A Year of Positive Change For Me

It’s hard to believe that the year is almost over, it flew by so fast! With 2019 being just a month away, I thought it was a good time to reflect on how this year has been. I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot this year. I got a 2 day training course, which helped clue me into how accounting software works. This definitely helped my knowledge base, even if it was only a 2 day course.

I also got back into practicing driving, which felt very fulfilling for me. One of the biggest things that happened to me though was getting published. Having my “Living With Asperger’s” article published in the local “Star Phoenix” newspaper was one of the biggest successes of my life. Sure, some may argue that the newspaper is a dying medium. Still, the fact that I wrote something good enough to qualify for publication was a huge boost to my self-confidence.

The positive messages from my friends, family, and co-workers made what I write feel truly special. I also felt far more comfortable with having Asperger’s, and more comfortable with talking about it in general. On top of this, the great feedback I was getting on my writing resulted in me finally creating a Facebook page. I now link almost all of the posts I make on this blog to Facebook, which has really inspired me to write more than I ever had before.

In fact, this year has been the most active one for my blog. I’ve put out more posts consistently this year than I have in 2015, 2016, or even 2017. While my views haven’t been as high as they were last year, it’s still great being able to put out my work. In general, I feel that both my work and the output of said work has improved vastly. I’m glad people enjoy what I write, since my main goal with writing is to entertain people.

I’ve always been a wordy guy, so writing down all of this stuff that circulates in my noggin is a great pastime for me. Probably the biggest positive thing from this year was just my interactions with people around me, and how I feel I’ve gotten to better understand people in general. I talk more, mingle more, and found that I’ve generally gotten better at interacting with people.

I’ve gone to more parties this year than I have in previous years, and I’ve engaged more in social media than I have have in the past. I feel like this year I’ve evolved as a person, and I’ve grown. I want to keep evolving and trying to become both a better person and writer. I hope you guys continue to read what I write, since I have no plans in stopping any time soon!

Thanks once again for all your support!

Signed, James.

Destiny 2: Better Late Than Never Review

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Stupid shoulder-pads: The Video-Game

What happens when titans fall? They create an earthquake when they hit the ground! This is what happened nearly three weeks ago when the development studio known as “Blizzard Activision” bombed their convention presentation. Blizzard shot themselves in the foot at their event, (known as Blizzcon) by announcing a phone game based off their popular Diablo franchise.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal. However, they announced this rather small game on the stage usually reserved for big announcements. It also doesn’t help that they belittled the audience when they got booed, or that they acted like this little phone game would be some kind of “big seller”. Regardless, people were understandably annoyed with how Blizzard handled the situation.

This little stunt cost them billions of dollars, and made many investors lose faith in them. I bring all this up for one specific reason: Blizzard and Activision are trying really hard to do as much damage control as they can. This resulted in them purposefully leaking Diabo 4, a sequel to a game that most PC gamers would actually want.

However, one of the biggest things they did was make Destiny 2 free for a couple of weeks. Destiny 2 is a game that I would classify as “interesting”. Destiny 2 was a sequel to the first Destiny game, one of the most over-hyped games in the history of gaming. After it came out and underwhelmed audiences, while its developer “Bungie” kept trying to fix and improve the game.

However, these fixes were both good and bad. They fixed some of the more glaring issues, which included adding new PVP modes, new items and side-content, and actually like-able NPCs. However, it took forever for a lot of these fixes to be implemented. With each new expansion came new changes, which helped improve the game greatly. However, most people were understandably irked by the fact that they had to pay so much for a game that wasn’t even really finished.

To actually play what most fans considered to be the “good parts” of the story, you had to buy these expansions. Otherwise, you’re stuck with a very unsatisfying and incomprehensible story-line, one that only lasts a few hours at best. After releasing several expansions, Bungie and Activision decided to release a sequel. This sequel came a mere three years after the first game, and was met with a slightly higher reception than the first game.

That brings us to today’s subject, the controversial Destiny 2. I was never really interested in the Destiny franchise, but I finally decided to give this game a chance. After all, they just gave it out to everyone for free. So, why not dive into it and see what I was missing? Allow me to preface this by saying that I never actually played the first game, so this review is coming from a fresh and new perspective.

Destiny 2 takes place in a fictional sci-fi universe, revolving around a group of space heroes called “The Guardians”. The Guardians are magical immortals, given their powers by a giant floating planet-like thing called “The Traveler”. An evil alien named “Ghaul” has attacked earth and killed countless beings, all in an attempt to capture The Traveler. With The Traveler in his clutches, he steals “The Light” from The Guardians, which is effectively their power source. With their powers gone, Ghaul’s forces easily defeatsThe Guardians and takes control of the earth.

You play as a customizable Guardian who sets out to regain his Light, stop Ghaul, and collect a ton of rare and shiny items along the way. It’s a very basic plot, but it’s presented in a very poor way. The game does a terrible job of explaining who the characters are, how the universe works, or what The Traveler even is. I know this is a sequel, but I still found it hard to follow the plot. There’s also no in-game codex, so it’s hard to look up info on what happened in the previous game while playing.

There’s so much that goes unexplained through much of the game, to the point where it’s almost hilarious. The story is the weakest part of the game, that’s for sure. What about the game-play itself? Well, the game itself is fun to play, at least for the most part. The game is a First-Person Shooter/ Role-Playing Game hybrid. The game focuses primarily on gun-play, fighting various enemies, and gaining shiny new pieces of equipment.

Let’s start with the game’s gun-play and combat, which is its main focus. It’s pretty good, and features very responsive controls. There’s nothing “unique” or “revolutionary” about the combat, but it gets the job done. Shooting giant alien monsters is satisfying, even if the enemy AI isn’t very smart. Enemies will often just stand there and shoot at you, or occasionally charge at you.

The few times the combat becomes challenging is when you are forced to face a near infinite amount of enemies at once, or when you’re facing a boss with a ton of health. As long as you’re constantly changing out your equipment for new stuff, you’ll never really bump into a challenge that’s too much for you. Even the final boss was kind of a joke, as I was able to take him out fairly easily.

The biggest draw of this game is its “loot”, the gear you obtain by fighting the aforementioned enemies. You’ll constantly be fighting tons of nameless monsters in order to get these items, only to find that they look terrible. The problem with a lot of gear is that you’ll often find stuff with better stats, but it’ll make you look ugly as sin. I can’t tell you how many stupid-looking shoulder-pads I found, or how often I had to wear them just to get their stat benefits.

Sure, you can “Infuse” your weaker gear with something of higher stats. This allows you to wear something that both looks cool and is sufficiently powerful. The problem is that you need several different items to be able to infuse your gear, with the items changing depending on the rarity of said items. This means you’ll need to farm a ton of useless items to infuse your gear, some of which you may never have any real use for.

Defeating enemies isn’t the only way to obtain gear and items, there are plenty of activities in the game that can reward you such items. There are “Public Events”, which are basically special trials that happen somewhere on the map. Any player on the map can engage in them, resulting in most nearby players working together to complete them. Upon completion, you’ll receive a smattering of random items as a reward.

Unfortunately, Public Events are lacking in variety. There’s only a few on each map, and most of them are copied and pasted from the previous planets you visited. There are also “Adventures” and “Quests”, which tend to be fairly boring side-quests that don’t offer much in terms of world-building. There are also Strikes, which are large missions that require 3 players. These are surprisingly tough, and require you to have a lot of good gear in order to properly beat them.

And your reward for wearing more powerful gear to complete these missions is… Even more powerful gear. This is one of Destiny 2’s biggest problems, it’s constant need to shower you in gear. I’ve complained a lot about the loot system and how it functions in the game, but that’s because collecting loot is the game’s biggest draw.

The story is lackluster, most side-quests are forgettable, and most of the cast is fairly bland. Destiny 2 is an undeniably fun game, but it relies too much on gimmicks in order to pad out its run-time. When 90% of your game’s content is superfluous and forgettable, then maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

The last thing I want to touch on is the games “Micro-transactions”, which involving nickle-and-diming the fans for everything their worth. You see, there is an in-game store called “Eververse”. In order to buy some of the rare items from said store, you’ll need a fake currency called “Silver”. As typical with a lot of modern games, you can only get Silver by buying it with in-game cash.

Thankfully, most of the Eververse stuff is cosmetic. It’s still annoying that so much of the cooler-looking things are gated behind paywalls, which is pretty annoying if you’re one of the people who have already paid full-price for the game itself. Sure, it’s superfluous content, but it’s also content you have to shell out a ton of money for.

To sum up my opinions, Destiny 2 is alright. It’s a game that focuses more on drowning its player-base in forgettable side-content, rather than making an experience everyone can enjoy. The story is bland, despite its stellar cinematics. On top of this, the game lacks any uniqueness in its structure. I know a lot of what I’ve said has already been echoed by a lot of other players.

However, I’d be doing a disservice to my audience by just glancing over the game’s many faults. To me, this is a “middle-of-the-road” game. The game is fun, but gets extremely boring fast. This is due to its lack of variety and its boring missions. Destiny 2 left very little impact on me, resulting in me uninstalling the game shortly after beating it.

I don’t hate what I played, but I can’t say I found it enthralling either. Destiny 2 is a middling game, one that I wouldn’t normally have played. The fact that I got it for free is what got me playing it, but the game’s mediocre nature kept me from continuing past that. The amazing graphics and sound did little to win me over. I suggest only getting this game if it’s on sale, or if they offer it for free again. I’d say it’s not a game worth paying full price for, or engaging in its shady micro-transactions.