Kakarot

It’s hard for people to expect new things from a series that has been remade countless times before. What they did this time was give us a definitive remake that tailors almost identically to the anime. The difference with Kakarot is that it has a real soft spot for the original Dragon Ball series and you get to meet countless characters from that series and see what they’re up to in Dragon Ball Z. Being a fan of the original series I loved seeing the likes of Nam, Emperor Pilaf, Android Eight and Launch just kicking about in the world.

In my fifty-five hours with Kakarot, I was able to complete the game to completion, which included the PlayStation Platinum trophy. To put this into perspective that’s almost exactly half the amount of time it would take to watch every episode of Dragon Ball Z. The game covers the four main sagas of the series from the Saiyans, to Freezer, to Cell, and finally to Buu. Notably absent is the Garlic Jr. Saga, but was that really a loss? With a season pass in the works, it will be interesting to find out what additional content gets added, my guess is that they will cover the movies.

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The gameplay of Kakarot is similar to the fighting style and movement in Dragon Ball Xenoverse. The world is a segmented open world full of Z Orbs to collect, side missions and battles throughout. These can be completed between the main missions, although some side missions will lock you out of them if you progress too far in the story making them irrelevant. While the game’s title is called Kakarot, you will play through the story as Gohan, Vegeta, Piccolo, and Trunks as well. Depending on where the story goes will determine who you play for the most part until the post-game. There are multiple RPG elements that involve you levelling up your main character, while you can also level up bonus stats by using Soul Emblems.

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The post-game doesn’t have a lot to offer for someone like myself that completed every side quest as they appeared, minus one that I was locked out of. It does let you summon the dragon when you collect the dragon balls to bring back old enemies. There is a Villainous questline that has you tackle very strong enemies that upon finishing lets you tackle a secret boss.

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Every other Dragon Ball Z game has let you relive the epic fights throughout the series in quick succession, but Kakarot allows you to relive the emotion you get gearing up for those epic moments. That difference had me playing this game non-stop. I enjoyed my time with Kakarot and I’m a little sad it’s over. I’ll be sure to check back in when the DLC content releases.

For fans of Dragon Ball Z, this is a must-play, for newcomers, maybe check out some videos of the gameplay first.   

Robert Ring

Available on PS4, XboxOne, and PC

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Yakuza All Day and All Night

Sometimes you hear of a critically acclaimed series that is up to like the third or fourth sequel and it puts you off. There is just too much history to go through and the earlier titles tend to be unplayable on the latest console. Yakuza was one of those series for me. I obtained Yakuza 4 and 5 on PlayStation 3 through PlayStation Plus, but why would I start there? A few more years passed and Yakuza 0 was a critical darling on the Playstation 4, which I found out was the prequel to the series. So I jumped in and played it for a couple of hours. It was fine and I put it down for a few months. When I came back to it everything started to click in place. The story was so grounded and cinematic in scope. I was all in. Then I started doing some side quests and things went completely bonkers. Somehow the game juggles the dramatic with the absurd and it works perfectly.

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The Yakuza story center around Kazuma Kiryu. The series is one big grand story so it’s been hard to appreciate when only selected titles are available on the current console. To date, on Playstation 4 we had Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami, Yakuza Kiwami 2, and Yakuza 6. The Kiwami titles are remakes of the first two titles that were originally released on the Playstation 2. The Yakuza Remastered Collection has just been announced this week at Gamescom. This makes me really happy because now the entire Yakuza series will be available to play on the Playstation 4. That’s seven titles. If you’ve never played them you should start with Yakuza 0 as I did.

The series is a third-person action-adventure where you will brawl your way through clans to do the right thing. Every game takes place in the same city, which you see evolve over time. The side quests contain some of the most humorous side quests of any game ever and there are even in-game arcades that let you play some of Sega’s older titles. Each game is lengthy and could take around 30-40 hours to finish the main story, and double that to complete everything the game has to offer.

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You can watch videos on YouTube to see if you’ll enjoy the game, but I think you should give one a go and see if it’s for you. There are demos for the Yakuza Kiwami 2, and Yakuza 6 on the PlayStation Store if you want to get a feel for the combat. And if it is for you, well, welcome to what might be your favorite video game series.

Robert Ring

Monster Hunter World

I was not completely sold on the look of this game. I’ve never played a Monster Hunter game, so I had my reservations. I expected it to be a challenging game to learn and one that would have me opt out early on. However, I checked my gameplay time, and I had played for over eighty hours. I love this game. I think a lot of new western gamers experienced this franchise for the first time just like me.

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Monster Hunter World is set on a new land where hunters have come to tackle new monsters and series favorites. The story is rather minimal and entices you to tackle a new monster, usually bigger than the one before with each mission. There are also these large monsters almost the size of an island that you can traverse as you battle them. These fights are quite epic and open your eyes to the scope Monster Hunter World aims for. Even after the story is finished you are still given more and more challenging bosses in the post-game. The continuous challenges make the gameplay loop rewarding.

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The gameplay involves you tracking a monster in a large open area with multiple paths. You fight the monster before they flee. You then rinse and repeat until the monster is finally slain and you can reap the rewards from the monster’s carcass. The gameplay is a bit repetitive after a while, but then something new is thrown at you. Maybe that’s a new monster or a new weapon you’re working towards. They always fill the game with constant content throughout the year too. I have an Alloy character skin and a Dante armor set, and I know there have been a ton of others available.

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The new expansion is coming out next month and with it a new area. The expansion sounds like it could be as big as the main game, and it even includes its own platinum trophy set for PlayStation players out there. So if you haven’t given Monster Hunter World a try now would be a good time to before all of us return for more monster-slaying when the Iceborne expansion is released. Otherwise, it should be bundled together when the expansion releases.

Sink your teeth into Monster Hunter World. I think I would even say it was my favorite game of 2018.

Available now on PS4, XboxOne, and PC.

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Robert Ring

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

Spider-Man PS4 – Review

After Superman, Spider-Man is my favorite superhero. And if I’m honest, these were the only two I ever cared about. In recent years I’ve begun to enjoy Batman as well. This is in part due to the storytelling portrayed in a game much similar to Spider-Man, which is the Batman Arkham series by Rocksteady Games.

Playing Spider-Man, I couldn’t help, but compare this game to the Batman games. I think that it’s the same way we distinguish the Nolan Batman films as the high point of the superhero movies. It’s almost silly to compare those films to the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. That was my own prejudice on my part during my first half of the Spider-Man playthrough.

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Alright, let’s get on with it.

Spider-Man is an intellectual property that people are starting to grow weary of. It’s only the origin story. People don’t want to see Uncle Ben die yet again, likewise with Batman and the death of the Waynes. Spider-Man on PlayStation 4 by Insomniac decided to skip that part and put the player into the shoes of Spider-Man roughly a year into his powers. This allows for Insomniac to litter the game full of easter eggs that have taken place beforehand, and still be early enough into the lore to watch the origins of some villains. Most notably, Doctor Octavius who we meet in this game as our mentor and an esteemed scientist. Peter isn’t at the Daily Bugle; instead, he is working with Doctor Octavius to work on robotic engineering to help advance those with missing limbs with robotic replacements. That’s where Peter Parker spends most of his time. Parker has also been involved with Mary Jane, although we are not entirely sure what split them apart. As the story progresses, we learn of a villain named Mister Negative. Mister Negative is the overarching villain that is mysterious and unlike anything Parker has faced before. Mister Negative is after revenge against Norman Osborne and will do anything to get his revenge. There are plenty of villains sprinkled throughout the game. Most of them are humanized amid all the usual comic troupes.

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Initially, I may have been burned out by the nature of open world games, and therefore didn’t truly become enamored with the world at first. Sure, it looked good. I just wanted the open world to be revolutionized in this game. The side quests and challenges found all over the map were tedious to me and held me up from continuing the story. Maybe halfway through the game, the pacing got better between story missions and exploration. Once the story gets rolling it’s a roller coaster ride. I wish there had been more story towards the universally known Spider-Man villains like Green Goblin, but the villains appeared in a mostly boss fight manner. The sequel I suspect will do a better job at giving us more backstory into the Sinister Six.

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The gameplay takes the Batman Arkham combat and gives it a shot of adrenaline. This was mandatory for Spider-Man. The combat is buttery smooth when you’re in the thick of it and you quickly get a feel for the controls. Most of the game lets you choose to take down enemies silently. I tended to get the first couple down like so before swinging in. There are also tons of gadgets to help you strategically aid you in combat. There are tons of costumes to collect that are usually rewarded with level progression. I unlocked everything, completed the entire game and even got the platinum trophy. Overall, this game has a lot of bang for your buck.

Spider-Man is a good game, not amazing. I think it’s been a little overhyped, but good nevertheless. I would say it’s a mixture of Horizon Zero Dawn and the Batman Arkham series. So if you like those games or even just Spider-Man, you’ll love this.

Robert Ring

Red Dead Redemption 2: A Western Rebirth?

The western genre is one of my favorites. When I start watching anything western I’m in for a slew of them. It’s hard to stop when they’re so goddamn good. They are not as prevalent as they were, but the genre has begun bleeding into dystopian films, so I take my fill wherever I can. That’s where Rockstar Games comes in and makes what looks to be the greatest western game ever imagined.

I would love to see Red Dead Redemption sweep into the psyche in a way that has Hollywood recommit to making some great westerns. The Magnificent Seven (2016), and Cowboys and Aliens (2011) are the last two big-budget westerns I can think of; however, they were not well received. Quentin Tarantino has been the closest filmmaker for the western of late with a portion of Django Unchained (2012), fulfilling us with hope and then The Hateful Eight (2015), which I thought was too much of whodunnit over a western. Rockstar Games has created a fantastic canvas for anyone to play out the role of a gunslinger, and I suspect will inspire a new generation to revel in the history.

Check out Rockstar’s Gameplay Video below:

I never played much of the first Red Dead Redemption because I was late to the party, and the mechanics never felt quite right to me. Mechanically and graphically this game is on a level above the previous entry and perhaps setting a new standard for games in general. This one looks to evolve player choice to a new height so we can choose how we want our gunslinger to be seen in the eyes of others. I want to be the hero and save the damsel, roughen up the vermin in the whore houses, and ride my horse into the sunset. By Red Dead Redemption 3 I expect to be able to play the entire game in virtual reality, wearing a hostel, a hat, and everything.

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For now, the game is set for October 26 on PS4 and Xbox One.

Are you excited for the new Red Dead, and what’s your favorite western?

Robert Ring

Batman: Under the Arkham Knight

Batman is busy these days with Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad in the pipeline for 2016 and the recent release of the critically received Batman: Arkham Knight game out now. It is unlikely that games will be mentioned much on this site, but it’s hard to pass up with the fine cinematic storytelling presented within the concluding chapter of Rocksteady’s Arkham Knight. The title of this post’s play on words is used because of the parallels towards the game and the animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood. Below is both a review of the game and the animated film.


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Batman: Arkham Knight

The game begins with the cremation of the Joker, and yes, the Joker is dead in this version of the Batman mythology. Instead, filling the shoes of the villain in this game is the Scarecrow and the mysterious villain the Arkham Knight. The Scarecrow with his fear inducing toxins unleashes chaos throughout Gotham City. Naturally Batman is exposed to the toxins which brings his greatest fear to life, the Joker. Seeing the Joker pop up and ridicule Batman from time to time is in fact is one of the most rewarding parts of the game. The Scarecrow makes each encounter filled with tension as the lines of reality become blurred. This game presents you with twist after twist and the revelation that comes with discovering the origins of the Arkham Knight is one of the best. The combat is perfect and this one allows you to take control of the Batmobile, which I found to be entirely satisfying from start to finish. Rocksteady knew this was their concluding chapter going in and they gave it everything they’ve got, so think again if you think every character is safe from death.

Batman: Arkham Knight does everything right from the scope of a cinematic film to experincing all Gotham City has to offer and story arcs that involve all your favourite villains as well.
4.5/5 – Stars

Batman Under the Red Hood
Batman: Under the Red Hood

This animated film from the beginning starts with the Joker hitting Jason Todd, the second iteration of Robin with a crowbar. Robin is beat senseless before he is blown up by a bomb killing him just as Batman approaches the scene. The start of this film alone is the darkest opening to an animated film I’ve ever seen. Five years pass and Batman is still haunted by the memory of the event. Batman is more withheld and unwilling to take on help from Nightwing because of the loss of Robin against his new foes the Red Hood and Black Mask. The Red Hood is another mysterious figure that brings to light some twists in the Batman mythology. The Red Hood is a key figure and watching this film as a companion to Batman: Arkham Knight will be a treat.

Without spoiling any more on an animated feature with a runtime of 75 minutes, Batman: Under the Red Hood is a great Batman one shot and the best DC animated film I’ve seen to date.

3.5/5 – Stars

Check out these two Batman stories while you wait for the feature films coming to theatres next year.

Robert Ring