The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Zelda BotW 2

Score = 3/5

Game Type – Action/Adventure, RPG

Platform – Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo Switch

Developer – Nintendo

Publisher– Nintendo

ESRB – Everyone

 

Review by: Kisho Wolfe

Logline: – As the fan boy turns…  A bro love letter to Link.

Hello, my friend.  Hard to believe we’ve been best buds for over thirty years.  Ever since that old man told us ” it’s dangerous out there,” and put that wooden sword in our hands, things have never been the same.

We’ve traveled Hyrule hundreds of times over, in several time zones and dimensions.  Finding rupees in grass, moving statues twice our size, and finding countless treasures in our adventures.  More important than monetary wares, we found the treasure of friendship in our travels.  Gorons, Zoras, and of course the Rito have helped us progress forward to save your world.

Satiating my appetite for our next adventure, I happily revisited some of our most challenging and rewarding moments.  My favorite has always been when we finally obtained the master sword.  We felt like such bad asses after that, didn’t we?

On March the 3rd of this year you opened your eyes and recovered from a fatal blow dealt by Ganon. Thought you were a goner.  But you returned.  You always return.

For in death we are reborn.  A soul never dies.  And a man who fears death, is a soul who didn’t try.

As we run through recent Hyrule, I notice the vibe has shifted.  The scenery is breathtaking.  Ganon’s been out of control and yet there is still magic and wonder to be found.  But as we stand atop Mount Lanayru (It’s damn cold up here) and breathe in the scent of accomplishment after freeing Naydra, I suddenly feel… empty.  Freeing that dragon was not an easy feat, so we should FEEL accomplished, right?  Then why don’t I?

Why don’t I feel anything after successfully conquering my eighteenth shrine?  Why don’t I feel like pressing forward after unlocking a memory we’ve shared with Zelda from the past?  Why does our princesses’s exaggerated Australian / Irish sounding accent annoy the crap out of me? I love Aussies! Why am I so frustrated about the ridiculous amount of inventory micromanagement the game forces onto us with these weapons breaking EVERY, DAMN, FIGHT!? How can your guardians miss the elementary fact that game-play is significantly diminished if the menu has to be re-opened every ten seconds?  Especially in the MIDDLE of the fight.

This game was obviously meant for the Wii U, yet they opted to disable the much needed menu purposes built in for the Wii U gamepad.  (see in game Sheikah Slate for uncanny resemblance)  Map and inventory would have been perfect here as it was originally designed.  Nintendo’s reason for removing it was flat out B.S. and I believe they removed it because they didn’t want the Wii U to have any game-play advantage over the new Switch.  I see what you did there Nintendo.  I see it.  Gotta boost those sales for that new console, don’t cha?

And this dungeon situation…  Breaks my heart, Link.  Where are they?  We’ve ran around for fifteen hours and all we’ve found are these stupid shrines.  Rumor has it, there are about four true dungeons in the entire game.  But I won’t be with you when you find them, my brother in arms.  I realize the side quests were my decision, but that only helped me to formulate a stronger foundation about our newest adventure.  I think I’ve sipped my last glass of Lon Lon milk and the bar is closing.

Kind of bitter sweet that my first taste of RPG action started with you in the 8-bit era, and now is quite possibly closing the book on my Nintendo life in the HD era.  We had a good run, didn’t we?  You were the shining beacon of gaming that kept me glued to the digital world since I first picked up the controller.  This time around, had this not been about you and the princess, I believe this adventure would not have survived past the fifth hour.  The whole time spent traveling with you, all I could think about was Aloy and those robo-dinosaurs.  My heart’s just not in this one, buddy.

I know.  I know.  Zelda still needs us.  But she’s a strong princess.  Plus I know you’ll get to her in time and finish off Ganon as usual. *bro-hug*  You’ve never really needed me to get the job done.  But I’ve always relied on you to make it through this human world of mine. But it seems time.  I’ve cancelled my Nintendo identifications, sold off my systems and all of my games.  Even Bayonetta.  We must part ways for now.  I’m not sure what the future holds for either of us, but you’ll always be in my thoughts.

In death there is life.  Answers are not always born in light.

From the past, I’ll reminisce of you.  To let go is to begin anew.

Farewell, Link.  My digital brother.  I’ll miss you.

-Kisho

(seriously teared up a bit after writing this.  *ahem*  Fight on Link!  1-luv)

TOM CLANCY’S THE DIVISION (2016)

the division top

Score = 3/5

Game Type – Action, online third person shooter, RPG

Platform – PS4, Xbox One, PC

Developer – Ubisoft Massive

Publisher– Ubisoft

ESRB – Mature

 

Review by: Kisho Wolfe

Logline:Grind…and when you’re done with that…grind some more

Tom Clancy’s The Division is a massive multiplayer online role playing third person shooter. Whew…  A mouthful indeed.  If you want to really get technical, you can also throw in real life simulator, but thanks to the perk and skill system, we’re saved from the simulator part.

When I first cracked this game open, my first impulse was: “Damn, this looks polished!” The presentation of this game is nothing short of exceptional.  Everything from the opening screen with the large beacon ticking on the load screen to the character select is done with precision and fluidity.  When you get into it, this screen will show your character decked out in the latest gear you’ve equipped him/her with on your last visit to Hell’s Kitchen, or Manhattan.  The menu grids and navigation are smooth like butter, and at no point do you feel lost in the magnitude of things to select within them.  Not once in my week of playing this game did I get bogged down with menu fatigue.

The presentation and visuals of the overall game follow this polished feel as the level of detail to the little things is outstanding.  Before even getting into the game, the orange beacon somehow gives you the feeling of embarking on a mission of importance and the game reminds you of this when it zooms out from the beacon on the strap of your backpack and you see your avatar planted in the center of the city, ready to put in work.The Division bridge 900

The buildings, weather changes, everything all the way down to those famous rats skittering around the place, it’s here in high definition.  Almost everything in the world is collision susceptible as well.  See that car?  Shoot out the windows or tires.  That tower in the distance you can’t reach?  Hit it with a sticky bomb and it blackens in the aftermath of the blast. That flat screen?  Give it a good whack!  It doesn’t get as deep as putting bullet holes in everything you shoot, (shooting the screens simply moves them) but still pretty impressive for an always online shooter.

Speaking of collision, there are some parts of the game that need a bit of work.  For starters, when shooting an enemy, there’s about a 1 to 2 second delay until the point of impact.  I found myself wasting a good number of bullets due to this little flaw since, just like any other shooter, you keep shooting until the target is down. (no, it’s not my connection, as this problem doesn’t happen with Destiny or any other online shooting games) With this game, it’s pretty easy to run out of bullets if a group of significantly higher level enemies is coming at you and you’re hiding in cover for extended time periods.  You don’t really want to waste those last few rounds in the mag if you don’t have to.

More collision issues were discovered when searching for ntel throughout the map.  There were times when I managed to get my character stuck behind a dump truck or wall while looking for that phone that’s been ringing, only to get myself stuck behind a group of trash cans and not being able to simply push them over or climb over them.  I can scale a ten foot fence, but can’t climb over a four foot tall trash can?? Had to martyr myself or reboot the software to get out.

The controls and gameplay are fluid as well.  The slightest press of a button causes the action to be executed on screen.  Switching weapons, diving out of the way, it all works as it should.  Moving while behind cover, however, still leaves a bit to be tweaked, as this is where the controls feel clunky and forced.  I found myself having to do more jiggling or reentering control stick movements to finally get my character either out of cover or simply in a more advantageous position while in cover.

The Division does a great job in creating an atmosphere.  A really cold one.  The bio outbreak that’s hit New York has caused riots, famine, desertion, etc.  While running through the campaign, there will be small moments when you feel like you are there.  Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately, depending on how you look at it) those moments are far and few between.  Your mode of transportation is limited to the shoes on your feet.  Yes, you will be running…and running…and running, all over Manhattan.  Sure, you can unlock safe houses and fast travel to the locations you’ve unlocked, but of course, this will also limit your already limited enemy encounters and make leveling up a more slow and tedious process then it already is.  Speaking of tedious…

videoimageThis game felt like a MASSIVE (see what I did there) chore when I got to about the third day into it.  Activate satellites, rescue hostage, kill big baddy.  The side missions are wash, rinse, repeat, and have little payoff other than grinding up your experience points and giving you less than pocket change for the efforts.  If you’ve spent ANY time creating or flat out buying your own weapons in the houses and hubs, most of the loot drops will be best used for more crafting.  The main story missions give you better loot and nice cut scenes back at the base when you complete them, but don’t do much in the way of making you feel accomplished after you’ve taken down that big boss baddy.

About five days into Tom Clancy’s The Division, the game felt stale.  Was it the slow progression in campaign mode? Maybe.  Repetitive tasks that felt like a scaled down version of GTA, without the fun parts?  Probably.  How about the multiplayer Dark Zone gameplay?  Meh.  Spent about eight hours in there and didn’t really get the pulse induced thrill I get from other multiplayer shooters.

Maybe I’m more of the “dodge and dexterity” kind of game player rather than the hide behind cover for hours type.  I need more action and liveliness in my shooter gameplay to get the heart pumping and hands sweaty.  The adrenaline.  Unfortunately, this game doesn’t deliver that for me.  If you like grinding, this game will be perfect for you, because that’s its most time consuming quality.  For others, this game will start out shiny and new with potential, but most certainly feel like more of a waste of time once you get past the gorgeous graphics, and quite frankly, there are at least two other major franchises that come to mind in which you should spend your hard earned coin on… or maybe three if Overwatch turns out to be half as fun as it looks when it finally drops.

Tomb Raider (2013)

Tomb-Raider

Score = B+

Game Type – Action

Platform – Xbox 360

Developer – Crystal Dynamics

Publisher– Square Enix

ESRB – Mature

Review by: Kisho Wolfe

Logline – No one leaves the island

Reboots are fickle things.  They can take you through the clouds and guide you among the stars in an ever-lasting state of bliss, or they can frustrate you to the point where you’re not even sure you want to be a follower anymore.  Thankfully, Tomb Raider’s new gritty survival direction has us dancing on the moon.  Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have decided to dispense with the cheekiness this time around and take Lara Croft back to the cusp of being the bad-ass heroine we all know and love.  And quite the interesting decision it is.

Having a genius archeologist in the family, by way of her father, Lara proves the apple doesn’t fall far as she ends up being the persuading factor of her crew traveling into Japan’s Devil’s Triangle; and also into the heart of a battle centuries old in the making.   The course change is quickly regretted when the ship is suddenly swept up in a flash storm and becomes shipwrecked on an island filled with secrets and “other” life forms that don’t seem too happy about the intrusion.    The crash leaves everyone in disarray and some are even split off from the group, which is where our heroine’s instincts kick in to survival mode while being forced to save herself from captivity.

Tomb Raider wastes no time connecting the player with Lara.  Clever zooms and intimate first-person views put you right into her boots as you feel the trials experienced on-screen.  When Lara squeezes through a tight wedge of rock, her movements, coupled with a re-positioned “snug” camera, reflect this.  Get too close to a wall of flame or a windy cavern, and she’ll react in human fashion by putting up her arms for a face shield.  Even walking too close to the wall has a reaction of reaching out a hand for support.  The developers simply did a fascinating job with the human aspect of this game!

Combat is definitely an involved experience with the latest Tomb Raider.  In all the other iterations, Lara usually starts out with her two pistols cocked and ready to mow down anything in her path.  In this game, she starts out with nothing more than her wits and the torch she finds nearby.  This only leads to the anticipation of weapons that are sure to turn up later in the game.  A nice handful of weapons and makeshift versions of those weapons are present, but the one that seems to get the most usage would be the bow and arrow. Tomb-Raider 2 small There are a lot of necessary/forward progress uses for it, but the most satisfactory use is getting that headshot clear across the map.  Ahhh, there’s nothing like a pin-pointed arrow that hits home from a few hundred feet to get the blood boiling.  I kind of wish I was able to do it with something like, wait for it… a Wii nunchuk to enhance that feeling.

The upgrade system is a great enhancement to the Tomb Raider universe.  There are upgrades for your weapons and also survival tactics that come in pretty handy later in the game.  There’s even a brawler aspect to combat which may just have you sparing a few bullets and playing possum long enough to give your attacker a nice “slice” with your climbing axe.  Again, more satisfaction.  Whatever your style, the game’s got you covered.  The one thing that is missing during combat is the ability to hip-fire.  Pretty much any game dealing with shooting these days allows for a “spray-n-pray.”  It’s understandable when it comes to shooting arrows, but when you’re in survival mode with eight guys coming at you at once, trying to carefully aim at your target becomes a liability.   The last thing missing during the bulk of the campaign is Lara’s 2 gun salute; which is kind of bitter-sweet.  Sure it’s desirable to dual wield her signature pistols during the game, but the different approach to battle is fresh and exciting as it unfolds.

The last point in this exciting game is the un-exciting multiplayer aspect.  It has great potential with all the zip lining and such, that are still only seen in a few multiplayer shooters, but the jittery shooting aspect makes it a big fail in terms of fun.  When you finally manage to hit someone, there’s just no sense of accomplishment, which is most likely due to the lack of “umph” in bullet connection and animation upon the other guy’s demise.  It sort of reminds me of Shadowrun; and if you’ve played it, you know that ain’t good.

Overall, the reboot of Tomb Raider is an exceptional piece of work.  Finding all the maps, relics, and goodies are great side dishes to the main course.  We are certainly reminded of early Tomb Raiders by the way the tombs are connected throughout the island and of course having to figure out all the fun puzzles.  Small drawbacks like having no hip-fire and the quickly forgettable multiplayer experience are minor issues that won’t keep me from taking a second run through the game to get those Xbox achievements.   Even through a speed run, I’d say this game should keep your brain engaged while trying to get that 100% completion mark.

DMC: DEVIL MAY CRY

dmc

Score = C-

Game Type – Action

Platform – Xbox 360

Developer – Ninja Theory

Publisher– Capcom

ESRB – Mature

Review by: Kisho Wolfe

Logline – Ahhh Style…Where did you go?

The reboot of the Devil May Cry series has a great deal of inadequacies.   Sure it has a new look in its main character, which we humbly accept; however, the game seems to be drowning in adolescent attempts at engaging the player.   With that said, let’s dive in.

I waited about a week after finishing the game before writing this review because I wanted to remove the emotional aspects from the writing; which is kind of ironic since the game itself has less than a drop of emotion to it…  The opening sequences treat the player to a little debauchery by way of an almost full frontal view of our hero after a night of partying with a few girls.  Note to Ninja Theory: Unless your target audience is a bunch of pre-teens whose last tweet probably involved the name Bieber in it (and who knows, maybe this was the plan), this is a very bad way to kick-start an aging franchise.  Generation X, the people already vested in the franchise and for the most part, NOT interested in seeing Dante’s junk (or the implied) , are halfway looking at the return policy on the receipt at this point.

Something else the game has going backwards for it is the dialogue.  Aside from the plot being lack luster, there is a great deal of unnecessary and at times misplaced vulgar language to the game from a seemingly obligatory standpoint.  But why?  Is this for supposed shock value?  Could we not get a half-decent writer to pen better dialogue for our hero to at least match the sub-average plot driving this vehicle?  Moving through the story, we quickly run into a familiar “memory-loss” scenario outlined with an over-arching theme of a power-hungry villain.  It’s mostly drab content involving Dante and his brother Virgil (that he doesn’t remember until the second chapter or so), but things get comedic later in the game when the news-caster becomes a major focus in Limbo.  And speaking of Limbo…

A gigantic thorn in the thumb about this game is the over-involved flipping in and out of this hyper lava-shaded version of whatever area you happen to be in at the moment; and with a world full of “baddies,” this is something like ninety percent of the game.  With five percent cinematic, this leaves the last five percent for actual normal shaded imagery.  I don’t know, but if I was a level shader on this project, I’d be a tad pissed at the countless hours spent shading a world that was only flashed on-screen for a few seconds around the burnt orange “Tang” frequenting the place.  Another annoyance in the game is the lack of back tracking by way of random thorns, and what have you, that pop up once you cross a certain threshold.  There are also unreachable areas and locations that you won’t be able to get to without breaking a thumb from button mashing, getting that certain ability later in the game and replaying the level, or flat-out remembering you have to travel the “other” way so the path doesn’t close up on you.   It’s like they are forcing you to play the game more than once to really get the experience.  No thanks…

DMC is not all bad though.  I love that the developers finally put in an action worthy battle system that responds very well!  Weapons can be switched on the fly for some pretty sick combos to achieve that “SSS” style level during combat.  Angelic and demonic weapon wielding are pretty fluid and depending on the attack, can get you some nice air time as well.  The weapon upgrade system is a nice addition to Dante’s small arsenal.  He’s got your standard demon killing equipment (pistols, sword, shotgun, battle ax etc., but the secondary weapon with the most uses would be Aquila—a pair of tri-bladed shuriken.  Open doors at a distance, slice up surrounding baddies, bring separated bad guys into one space directly in front of Dante for easy slicing; these things are pretty sweet!

This new Devil May Cry is no doubt a reboot to the series, just like it was intended.  It has a re-imagined  cocky young lad with a bad attitude and a foul mouth; which, on paper, probably looks “cool,” but ends up just coming off as an annoying brat.  Playing through this game utterly has me craving the more experienced “essence of cool” Dante from the first couple of games and does nothing to make me want to sit through the motions a second time, 100% or not.  The worst part of the game is the lack of character development.  It really doesn’t make you give a damn about the characters (with the exception of Kat) or their involvement in the world; and in this aspect lies the game’s downfall.  If you don’t care about the characters, why continue to play it?  This game “borrowed” multiple elements from Bayonetta and a few other games, but neglected one important aspect; the emotion factor.

Asura’s Wrath

 

Score = C-

ASura’s Wrath

Game Type – Action

Platform – Xbox 360

Developer – CyberConnect2

Publisher– Capcom

ESRB – Teen

 

Review by: Kisho Wolfe

Logline – It’s movie time!  Wait…  This is supposed to be a video game…  Isn’t it?!?

Upon catching the first trailer for this game, (a year before its release) I felt a surge of excitement at the promise of great visuals, story and a luscious world to traverse through at my leisure.  At the very least, two out of three should prove entertaining, right?  I wish.

Asura’s Wrath is a mythology story of the eastern kind, blended nicely with a shot of science fiction to keep things interesting.  However, if you’ve ever watched anime involving robots, Gods and betrayal then this story will seem very familiar.  Demigods are the order of the day in this cinematic experience.  Asura is one of eight guardians sworn to protect planet Gaea.  His daughter, Mithra, possesses the ability to enhance Mantra (souls).  The demigods spend their time fighting off hordes of Gohma–mutated animals considered to be the will of the planet–to take out their source, Vlitra.  After the most recent successful effort to subdue Vlitra, the commander of the demigods, Deus, decides to launch an unethical plan to kidnap Mithra and harness her ability in attempts to completely destroy Vlitra and save the planet.  The rest of the story consists of the obvious as Asura rages out, (hence the title)battles his former allies to save his daughter and eventually the planet, which all culminates into a twisty ending.

The visuals are right where they should be and represent the strongest faction of the game.  From the first few moments of the game you can see exactly where the bulk of the funding was spent during production.  The cinematic presentation is right on par with any modern-day anime and is definitely a delight to watch.  Even the interludes and still cuts are exquisitely drawn as they represent the story’s progress through narration.  The in-game graphics are also done well as the game flows smoothly through each flashy sequence without a hitch.  In the midst of battle where bullets, beams and large foes fill most of the screen, I only witnessed a fraction of frame rate stutter.

Game play is where this title fails…miserably.  Level ups…none.  Exploration…extremely minimal.  Progression relies solely on your ability to mash the correct button at the correct time, through quick time events, (and dodge attacks) to best the enemy in front of you.  Where’s the shock?  Where’s the awe?  Where’s the friggin’ fun!?!  It pains me to believe that the direction of Asura’s Wrath was to produce a half-decent interactive anime movie under the guise of being a true video game.  Frustration is in abundance as those looking to actually “play” a video game will have their desires shortened to five or so minutes of actual game play per episode, which mostly consists of repetitive fighting or even worse, the aged Space Harrier-esque segments that continuously find themselves in Capcom action titles.  Familiar note to Capcom:  revamp the space shooter formula or scrap it!

Asura’s Wrath is a title with great promise but unfortunately, falls short on the delivery of that promise.  The great visuals and presentation just aren’t enough to consider this title recommendable by gamer’s standards.  Fans of anime will undoubtedly be intrigued at the premise of what’s in store, but quickly realize they can better spend the $40 wasted here on straight up anime DVD’s or one of the thousands of free anime websites and multiply their entertainment value many times over.