Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (PS4) -Game Review-

Dark Souls II is an action-RPG released on the 11th March 2014, developed by From Software and published by Bandai Namco Games. It is the third instalment in the Souls games, following the first, Demon Souls and the second, Dark Souls. The original Dark Souls II was made for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. However, today I will review a variant of this game released in April of 2015 known as Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, a remastered version made for next gen consoles that included the original game with a few minor changes, and all its downloadable content.

-Gameplay-

The Souls Games, as they’re known, all have similar mechanics and are known for their difficulty. The player’s journey throughout the game world is filled with unforgiving and relentless enemies, bosses, puzzles, areas, and traps, all of which can easily kill you and are often hard to beat. Playing badly is met with severe punishment from the game, where you can lose hours of progress and hard work just by slipping up once. Enemies respawn once you leave the area, and only stop respawning if you kill them dozens upon dozens of times.

Limited opportunities for recovery of health mean you need to play with care, coordination and skill in order to lose as little health as possible. The less health you have, the more vulnerable you become. Every time you do die, your maximum health decreases, meaning that dying multiple times only makes the game harder. The only way to reverse this effect is by consuming rare, limited items you find throughout the game. You can recover a portion of your health using replenishable flasks known as ‘Estus Flasks’, a small amount gradually using ‘Lifegems’, or all of your health using a rare item called a ‘Human Effigy’.

The game uses a currency known as souls, which you collect by defeating enemies. The more difficult the enemy, the more souls the player receives. Souls are used to both level up stats, such as vigour, endurance and vitality, and to purchase equipment, weapons and other items from the multiple NPC vendors you find in the game. Upon your character’s death, all the souls you are holding at the time are dropped where you died. You can retrieve these lost souls if you return to that spot. However, if you die again before you can get them, then you lose them forever.

Probably the games’ most iconic features are its save spots known as bonfires. These bonfires can be recognised by the coiled sword planted in a flame, and are located at specific places throughout an area. They allow you to rest and relax from the dangerous enemies, recover all your lost health and Estus, and teleport to any other bonfires you have visited while playing through the game. They can only be activated by going up to them and physically lighting them, and you can only rest at them if there are no immediate threats nearby.


-Control-

Combat in Dark Souls is unique. Not only does every different type of enemy behave differently, so does every single weapon and spell. I have only used melee weapons, sometimes accompanied by a shield, so I will only be discussing my experience using this playstyle.

For me, the controls are fine and aren’t too complicated. You find markings on the floor at the beginning of the game that tell you what button does what. It’s how you use the controls that matter. A major part of the combat system revolves around your ability to read an enemy’s movements to judge and prepare for an attack. This is usually followed by dodging the attack, and then counterattacking. Timing, coordination and reading your enemy is everything. If you screw up, you’ll most likely end up losing a sizable chunk of health and possibly dying.. The thing is, that’s just how I play. I taught myself, through trial and error, how to face an enemy. The game didn’t teach me that. It just gave me the mechanics to let me teach myself. Another person could come up with a completely different playstyle that works for them, and it may be just as effective. That’s one of the great things about the game. When you beat an enemy or finally defeat that boss after countless times, the sense of accomplishment and relief you feel are astounding. It feels really good to know that it was completely up to your ability and skill as the player that you won after so many defeats. I’ll talk more about how that is a major reason why the game is held to such a high standard. For this and gameplay, both 9/10.

-Fun Factor-

Ask any Dark Souls enthusiast, and they will tell you that they hold a sort of “love-hate” relationship with it. As stated, the game is known for being difficult. Right off the bat, it doesn’t let you know what the deal is. It gives you a brief story introduction, tells you the basic controls, and then sends you on your way. Yes, that is a pretty mainstream thing you see in most games. However, it’s after this moment that the game becomes unique.

Most games give you the controls, give you a waypoint so you know where to go, and continue just guiding you along throughout the entire game, holding your hand like you’re a baby. In Dark Souls, they just give you the controls. That’s it. No mention on what to do, where to go, how to progress. When I first started playing, it was such an unusual experience playing a game that truly let you lead the way. Some people aren’t a fan of the way Souls games handle this. And I’ll admit, I too was frustrated in the beginning because I didn’t know what to do. I was constantly asking myself questions because it was up to me and me alone to answer them. But I learnt to know that that’s what makes Dark Souls so good. Yes, most situations throughout Dark Souls are challenging and confusing because it isn’t always clear cut what you need to do or what the next step is. Yet as you play it and progress past those challenges, you build a sense of confidence within yourself. When faced with a new, different enemy or area or puzzle, you learn to trust in your ability to overcome it, because there have been so many situations where you felt the same way, yet still managed to struggle past them.

My point is, although the game is very frustrating and very challenging, it is also so very rewarding, and that is where the fun is found.  And for that, I would have to give the fun factor a 9/10.

-Replayability-

Replayabilty is a core part of the Dark Souls experience, and revolves around you replaying the game on a game mode known as New Game Plus. Starting with the initial replay of NG+, it then goes on to NG++ after that, and so on all the way up to NG+7. Only after that will you have truly beat the game in the eyes of many Souls players. With each replay, you retain their levels, souls and most items. However, all enemies and bosses get harder per replay, dealing more damage and having increased health with every playthrough. This means that even if you know and understand how to deal with every enemy and boss in the game, they will always stay a difficult and rewarding challenge to beat. Replayabilty stands at 8/10

-Sound/Music-

The music score in Dark Souls is brilliant. The way they use the musical orchestra to compliment the various areas and add the mystery and unknowing that comes with finding one of these areas or facing a boss is unlike any other. Here’s a video made by Game Theory that discusses the music of Dark Souls and how it influences the battles against the bosses in the game. It’s really interesting, and I thought it did an excellent job of showing just how much effort the creators of the game put into its music. Although I should warn you, it’s quite cringey to begin with. Also, this video is talking about Dark Souls III, but it still is an accurate portrayal of the type of music in Dark Souls II.

 

The in-game sounds are also great. Swinging an ultra-greatsword around and smashing it through an enemy, and hearing it crush into the ground, is really satisfying. The enemies sound like they should too. None of them speak, they only moan and groan quietly, as if in constant pain. The voice acting of the NPCs is good as well. They do a good job of putting on an Old English accent, saying words similar to Shakespeare’s or something. So overall, I’d put the sound/music at an 8/10.

All in all, Dark Souls II, like all the others, is an astounding game. It is one of those games that doesn’t try to be perfect, although many argue that it is. It just tries to be provide an experience that most gamers have never had before, and to push those boundaries. I never realised just how good a game could be until I played Dark Souls, and let me tell you that no other game has been anything like it. It will always have a lasting effect on me and many other players. It is challenging, interesting, unique and rewarding, and for that and much more I am going to have to give it a 9.5/10. I would place it as a 10, but damn can Dark Souls be frustrating sometimes.

By Jackson Alexanderson

Resident Evil PacMan

Resident Evil Pac-Man is a top-down maze type game where the objective is to escape from the multiple monsters that will follow the player around. I got inspiration from a recent Resident Evil game I played, and thought making it in a Pac-Man style way would be achievable with my current level of game-making skills.

In the game you find yourself alone in some sort of hallway with no lighting anywhere, except a small aura surrounding the player. One word is written on the floor in front of you – “ESCAPE”. Your only source of navigation is to move along the silhouette of the walls, in search the of an exit. However, zombie-like creatures prowl in the dark with you, and relentlessly harass you in your attempt to escape. You succeed by escaping, and you lose if you are trapped and killed by the monsters.

I’m pretty proud of my game, even though I never figured out how to get the enemy to face the player when chasing them. But I tried and I still thinks it’s a good game.

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Super Mario Odyssey: Review

Super Mario Odyssey is a 3D platformer mixed up with open world sandbox elements. It was released worldwide for the Nintendo Switch on October the 27, 2017. Its development started in late 2013 following the release of Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U.

The game consists of many different worlds that can be deeply explored for a lot of different collectables. These collectables can do a range of different things, and collecting them is one of the main goals of Super Mario Odyssey. These collectables are:

  • Power moons which serve as the main collectables in the game allowing Mario to go to new locations and unlock new costumes.
  • Purple coins which are used as premium currency that allows for more new costumes that may unlock more power moons and also allow you to add sticker and figurines for your ship.
  • Regular coins which are used as regular currency allowing you to buy basic costumes and some power ups.

The worlds in Super Mario Odyssey are quite diverse, from lush jungles to dune-filled deserts. This allows for many different game mechanics. Each of these worlds can have up to 60 or more moons to collect. The shear amount of moons allows the player to always keep finding something new to do, from jumping over a giant pit to helping a skull man herd his sheep. Although many of the moons are placed in easily accessible locations in early levels, they become a lot rarer in later levels, only serving as a marker to keep you on the right track for the story.

The game also supports a new mechanic called CAPture. This ability allows Mario to throw his living cap, named Cappy, at entities and enemies in the game, enabling Mario to become them. This ability broadens the scope of the game, turning the game from just a 3D platformer to a 3D sandbox platformer. Despite this, I was disappointed a little because of the promise of turning into a t-rex. This happens in the game, but only in one world and only allows you to be the t-rex for a few minutes. This is the only time-limited CAPturable entity in the game. This wouldn’t be as bad if they hadn’t shown it in the trailer as much as they did. However the ability is a fun and exciting new way for Mario to get around.

Super Mario Odyssey comes with a new costume system enabling you to customise Mario and Cappy a bit, making them feel more in tune with the areas they are exploring. The different costumes can range from a cowboy costume for the desert or a business man costume for the city.

In conclusion, Super Mario Odyssey is a great game for any age. It’s easy enough for younger players but complex enough for older, more experienced gamers. The game is very long and will give the player a lot to do. 8.8/10

MassEffect: Andromeda

Mass Effect: Andromeda is a third-person action role playing game and is the fourth game in the Mass Effect series. The game was released by BioWare in March 2017, five years after the release of Mass Effect 3. There was a lot of hype around this release as many fans of the game wanted to know what happened to Commander Sheppard and his crew. Unfortunately Mass Effect: Andromeda disappointed many players as it didn’t continue Sheppard’s story and didn’t meet many people’s expectations as the game lacked a depth of story, had poor animations, and many bugs.

GAME PLAY

It’s a third-person action roleplaying game that allows you to do a lot of exploring in the massively open world universe. With many missions, interactions and activities to do, there will always be something to do. Exploring the many planets is easily done with the new Mako land rover, which is suitable for most terrains with its improved features, such as 4×4 and 6×6 driving modes as well as the ability to jump and boost forwards.

When loading a new game you can choose to be either Scott or Sarah Ryder, pick a custom template to work with and go ‘all out’ with editing the look of your character.

CONTROLS

While the controls are an improvement over the other Mass Effect games, they feel like they could have used either a different approach or had a bit more work done on them. There is an auto covering feature where as approaching a corner or an obstacle the player will move into a cover formation while in combat.

GRAPHICS

I think the graphics are a bit poor compared to today’s level of technology on PC, the Xbox One and the PS4. It uses the Frostbite 3 engine which performs well, but it doesn’t feel like it was the right engine, loading pretty much any part of the game on console is long and will vary on PC.

CONCLUSION

The game is fun to play and offers many of the aspects of Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3, but it lacks many others as well. With the lack of support for the game as well as pretty much no DLCs being made, it just feels like it died quickly and I’m honestly disappointed in the finished product.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III – Game Review

Call of Duty: Black Ops III is a first-person shooter video game, developed by Treyarch and published by Activision. It is the twelfth entry in the Call of Duty series and the sequel to Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Black Ops III is a single player and multiplayer game. With most of its players residing in the online portion of the game; where players compete with each other in various different game modes.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III, in my opinion, is the best Call of Duty to date, with a polished campaign, multiplayer and zombies mode. The multiplayer once again including the controversial “improved movement” which was first introduced in Advanced Warfare. In my opinion the improved movement adds a new aspect to the game improving it, however many players demanding we return to classic “boots on ground” Call of Duty. Infinity Warfare saw large backlash after releasing the third game in a row to include improved movement. I don’t believe the community will ever be 100% happy, as before that, The Call of Duty franchise were dealing with constant complaints that their games were all too similar to each other. Despite all this, I believe Black Ops III is one of, if not the most, enjoyable CoD to date.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III is available on PlayStation, Xbox and PC. Each console providing a slightly different experience. Xbox and PlayStation of course being more similar. Playing on PC is arguably the better experience, with improved graphics and a keyboard and mouse, which many claim to be more tailored to precision games. Personally however I prefer to play CoD the classic way, on console. I play it on Xbox One. However the largest community, including the professional one belongs to PlayStation. Modified controllers can be used to improve the gameplay, boosting skill and ability in the online portion of the game. There are multiple brands producing controllers like this, with Xbox even bringing out their own authentic version, the “elite” controller.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III when released had the best graphics we’d seen from any CoD. With vibrant colours, high detail, high frame rate and an HD resolution. Black Ops III still remains as one of the nicest looking Call of Duties so far.

Call of Duty has always received a bad rap when it comes to the originality of their games, with all of them being more or less the same. However with that said, their player base is still steadily growing with no signs of stopping soon. The fact is, CoD is a very enjoyable game. Which ascends the need to be constantly changed to keep interest. I rate Call of Duty: Blacks Ops III along with the whole franchise very highly. I have spent over 800 hours on the game, and hundreds of hours on others such as Black Ops II, Modern Warfare etc.

SuperClashBruh Trilogy

The SuperClashBruh trilogy is a completely unique, never been done before, one of a kind multiplayer game in which both players choose one of the three characters and fight to the death.

Each of the three games is not like the last being completely unique with new characters, backgrounds, blocks and names.

The trilogy Contains:

  • SuperClashBruh
  • SuperClashBruh 2, FlIp
  • SuperClashBruh Origins, The Prequel

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Batman Arkham Knight Game review

Batman Arkham Knight presents itself as the final in a series of Batman games with “This is how the Batman dies” as its moral of the game. While Arkham Knight has a polished setup offered to the table it however disappoints with its hit and miss story, gameplay and general experience. If you are buying this as a newcomer to the Batman: Arkham series you won’t be too disappointed with its setup, but as a fan of the series you might not appreciate its forced use of the new batmoblie.

Arkham Knight’s combat is unique and makes you feel like a warrior in combo fighting simplified on a 3D scale. Arkham Knight’s combat is faster than ever compared to all other Batman games, checking all marks in playability for the main character Batman. Unfortunately, the rest of the characters miss abilities that flaw combat heavily.  There are also some odd issues with characters such as Red Hood and Batgirl, that are offered as additional content.

Arkham Knight offers environmental takedowns and the ability to pick up weapons and objects. Those are the two additional features of Arkham Knight, however these two additional features are good with a twist. Certain weapons that you are able to pick up are in one specific mission for one fight. Which just removes that feature in the rest of the game. The other feature environmental takedowns are scarce in the game and offer some instant kills.  Although they’re awesome and make combat feel far more fluid, the ability to perform the environmental takedowns, are like the weapons scarce in the game and only in certain areas.

The area where this game shines is in the stealth section. It’s super fluid in ways unseen in the previous games. The ability to take down enemies from certain angles lacked in other Batman Arkham games but in Arkham Knight it’s far more versatile. Arkham Knight offers a new takedown feature called “Fear Takedowns” allowing you to consecutively takedown enemies quickly in a matter of seconds. It reduces enemies quicker and is an extremely polished feature bringing more fluidity to the combat in stealth and front assault. Fear takedowns are offered at hidden angles from the enemies.

Driving the batmoblie is okay, but it doesn’t offer an “Oh my gosh I’m in the batmoblie” experience. The very floaty Batmobile eats most of the game; forced upon you the whole game in a linear way. Driving in is far more exciting than Arkham Knight. The driving isn’t the problem. The combat in the batmoblie is awful. Its combat is to simply dodge the lasers. It doesn’t offer anything special. It has a simple array of weapons but it felt like playing a mobile game. With Batman’s no killing morals, it feels unlike Batman to blow up other tanks, despite the excuse that the tanks are remotely controlled.

Arkham Knight’s player controls are some of the best controls I’ve ever played with. They are easy to pick up and understand, and displayed in the user interface in such a beautiful format. Learning advanced controls just feels so easy.

The graphics sets new standards. The way that the city of Gotham is presented is well done, including muddy tracks from dirt, soaring skyscrapers and red, green and blue neon night lights in China Town. Batman looks more badass then ever with his cape looking like the caped crusader he is.

Though checking all marks, Arkham Knight in my experience had some odd texture pop in issues leaving me with awful textures at points. Additionally, Arkham Knight’s PC port is the absolute worst I’ve ever seen, lacking graphical fidelity and featuring seriously bad performance across the board.

Sound work is nothing to fall head over heels for, but the general atmosphere of the game is bass boosted, which is just a simple way of impressing an audience. It would have been nice if Arkham Knight had more detailed sounds for Gotham City and more voice actors for general enemies. There is too much repetition with the lines spoken.

The enemies in the Arkham Knight’s Map are just too easy.. If you’re just looking to fly down onto ground and punch up, you can. The problem is that there’s just no challenge. It’s just one strike after another. To fill another gap, there are missions separate of Gotham and the story, however they aren’t very versatile and they very quickly leave you with a very developer driven experience. Typically they all had odd ways of scoring, leaving you more confused.

Driving through to the finish with the batmobile in this game just isn’t possible. Putting besides the great stealth, the combat is brilliant and so fluid it just lacks that actually ability to replay it in an awesome way. Every corner of this game I was asking for a little bit more. Its great combat and stealth really hold it there with its fantastic graphics; it just wasn’t a game I would be hyping over and over for. I will leave it on my shelf for a while before I pick it up again and give it a good shot.

6/10 Great game just lacks the ability to really play its great features.

 

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