Doom

The early nineties were this place of exceptional and experimental games. There was this new type of immersion taking place where the games industry were trying to make games feel 3D and from your point of view. This was the future of gaming for kids like me and our minds were blown. Before Wolfenstein 3D (1992), we were playing the terrible Prince of Persia (1989) or games I fondly remember like Commander Keen (1990). To get the games running required a basic understanding of programming. But when Wolfenstein 3D booted up for the first time it felt like you were this character. Like you were shooting and being shot at. It was the first time I can recall having some form of gaming adrenaline. The drawbacks of Wolfenstein 3D were not even understood until Doom (1993) came out and gave us a fluid shooter in a complex and realized world.

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Doom was the game that became a showcase for how cool gaming could be. It was shared among everyone. At the time businesses were transitioning to computers in the workspace and Doom became popular in this space too. So Doom was getting a lot of attention. With that came a lot of bad press all throughout the news, which only gave it more popularity. It was a weird time when parents were trying to navigate whether or not the game was detrimental to their child’s health. For me, I was allowed to play it. It was always over at a friends place I played it and loved it. I can still remember playing on those big clunky keyboards, back before you played with a mouse. And the smell of the old CRT monitor with its eventual yellow glow.

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Doom is being talked about again for a few reasons. Firstly, the reboot in 2016 proved to be a massive success and its sequel is releasing later on in the year. Sure the reboot was good, yet I’m still not quite into it like I was the original. Luckily for me, the original Doom, Doom II, and even Doom 3 became available for purchase on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. After playing Doom (1993) again on the PlayStation 4, I find it still immerses me back into the Hellscape I came to love. The narrative finds you by the amazing world-building along with the classic enemy archetypes in this groundbreaking first-person shooter.

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The story of how Doom came to be is rather interesting and I highly recommend the book Masters of Doom by David Kushner. Not only is it an interesting look behind video games it’s a fantastic drama between the two men who shaped the video game industry. The book is currently being adapted into a television show, so more on that as it happens.

For now, forget Pong and play Doom.

Robert Ring

Fallout 76: So Far

Fallout 3 was my first foray into the wasteland. It’s a simple idea executed in a rather fun way. The heart of the series to me has always been the time capsule of the sixties marketing combined with the American dream now in decay. The mascot of Fallout is one of gaming’s most recognizable and compelling because he is a bit of an enigma. The Vault Boy is a complete contrast of the post-apocalyptic setting. The Vault Boy is always there, everywhere, mostly positive, and always with a smile. Fallout 4 continued the franchise after the Fallout: New Vegas spin-off with much of the same and graphically a little crisper (granted not much). Fallout 4 added the function to make a camp, a little finicky, albeit a nice addition.

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Fallout 76 is the later with less of a focused narrative, interactive NPC’s and a world that feels more desolate than ever before. Fallout 76 has been overly criticized and rightly so. The game was marketed terribly. For a franchise that is tongue in cheek of consumerism, it should have spent more time understanding how to market their own product. Fallout 76 is a game of the same ilk as Ark, Conan, Rust, and 7 Days to Die. These games were a blossoming niche genre a few years ago, but since then the genre has nearly become obsolete. They need to evolve in order to create a growing player base properly. These games were successful at launch by staying in Beta form for years as they continually fixed the bugs. Fallout 76 feels like a Beta that is at least six months from being consumer ready due to stuttering issues, a slew of bugs, and a lack of focus due to an uninspired narrative. Fallout is a franchise too big to be blundered with messy messaging of what the game is. Fallout 76 has become an expensive experiment that has hurt the Bethesda brand. Is it all bad? No. I like it quite a bit. It’s a Fallout game that feels like it is at the very end of the timeline when the remnants of humanity are left to the androids. Or if you look at it the other way (as I believe they intended) the very beginning of the post-apocalypse with only a few survivors beginning to leave the comfort of their vault for the risk and reward only available in the wasteland.

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There is a fine game in Bethesda’s Fallout 76, somewhere. For me, it is in the exploration, the other player encounters and the simple reward of slowly growing my skill sets and camp. Ark, Conan, and Rust have continued to become more refined gameplay experiences with each update, so if Bethesda continues to back Fallout 76, this game may be something exceptional in time. If you are limited to only buying a few games this year, there are some amazing ones you should spend your money on. If you are ok with riding this game through like a Beta, then, by all means, pick it up. At the end of the day the Fallout series has never been perfect, nor the Elder Scrolls, but Fallout 76 shows more imperfections then previous entries.

I played the PlayStation 4 version.

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Robert Ring

Disgaea 1 Complete – Review

Disgaea 1 Complete brings the original Disgaea game that started the beloved franchise to the PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. With it comes the addition of the Etna mode that was present in the PSP version, as well as improved visuals and sprites. Disgaea is a tactical turn-based RPG that lets you take control of Prince Laharl as he tries to claim his place as Overlord of the Netherworld, as his father was before him. However, the throne will not easily be taken as the Netherworld is full of demons that all want a shot at the title. Alongside Prince Laharl are a crew of allies that will help him in his quest, most notably the vassal Etna, Flonne the angel in training, and of course the delightfully cute peguinesque Prinny.

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I was first introduced to Disgaea on the PSP. It was something I download on a whim, and within moments I was enamored with it. It was the first over the top anime game I had ever played, but it has fun, and it has a heart. It’s over the top in a unique way that in essence parodies what a role-playing game is. For instance, you can reach level 9999, and every item has its own stages should you choose to strengthen the item’s properties. If you’re like me then at first glance it sounds daunting, but it’s speaking to the post-game, and to those who want to get into the minutia of it all. Even the gameplay and strategy can get quite involved as the levels progress, however, this is just giving you more tools at your disposal. Every map has its own set of rules that handicap you in some way or work to your advantage if you think of the stage as a puzzle.

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Each chapter has a world with its own stages. The first stage of each world was usually the hardest for me because you are meeting a new enemy or terrain condition that you need to work out. In addition to that, the first stages would see the enemy a lot stronger than previously, so I would grind a couple of previous stages to make it a little less taxing. It is ideal to have all your characters work as a team; otherwise, they will not all share in the experience from killing an enemy and become easy targets as the stages increase in difficulty.

You can create characters and promote them through exams to get an approval rating. This lets you do any number of things from getting better gear at merchants to extorting money from the judges or allowing your character to be reverted to level 0, while retaining your stats and some bonus attributes. The gameplay is fun, yet I was compelled to aptly get through the stages to see how the story progressed. The story will continually surprise you and have you chuckling at the humor throughout. I mean how can you not want to become the Overlord of the Netherworld, when most other games are churning out heroes.

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I recommend Disgaea 1 Complete to newcomers and series veterans unless you don’t like Japenese sensibilities or tactical role-playing games. Disgaea may be coming out in a packed month of games, but it’s different enough to scratch a different itch over all the big open world games. The gameplay is relaxing enough to jump in for a couple of stages and opt out daily too. I enjoy being able to play this game again, and I hope we may see similar editions for Disgaea 2-4 on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch eventually. Oh, and did I mention the PlayStation 4 version has trophies? Give it a go.

Robert Ring

Release Dates:
North America – 9th Oct
Europe – 12th Oct
Australia – 19th Oct

Disclaimer: NIS America sent me a review copy.