Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen Gallery (PS3): Not Pixel-Proof, But Perfected on PC

Dragon's Dogma_ Dark Arisen Screenshot_48

Before (well, 1280 x 720 looks a LOT better on a HD set in 1080i)…

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After! PC version, *much* prettier PNG image.

Ah, the terrible JPG format and how it degrades over the shortest periods of time. Foo. I’d wanted to post a bunch of screens from the PlayStation 3 version of Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen over the last few weeks up to the game’s PC release on Steam shortly (January 15), but when I finally got around to looking at the over 300 screenshots I’d taken over time, they all looked terrible. Normally, I go back and save jpeg images as .png files, but I got busy with too many things just didn’t have the time. Yet another reason to hate digital art, I guess. Still, a promise is a promise, but instead of a daily gallery of ugly imagery, you’re getting most of the shots I liked in one easy to peruse (but hard on the eyeballs) set of screens below the jump.

That said, before I commence with the eye torture, ogle that lovely trailer above and then go read this post, as here are more screens from the PC version along with more info about what the updated version of the game will have in store for those picking it up again or for the first time. There’s a lot of info there (thanks, Capcom!), but it’s all worth checking out because I know it’ll get got by fantasy RPG fans looking for a nicely-sized game world and plenty of pissed off mythical beasts coming at them with now even more gleaming teeth and claws. By the way, pre-ordering the game on Steam gets you its soundtrack and a digital art book. So there’s some incentive for those who want it.

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Capsule Reviews 2: A Few More Games? Okay, Let’s Go

More bite-sized review bits? Sure, why not?

Onechanbara Z2 gals 

Onechanbara ZII Chaos (PS4, $49.99) – Budget game developer Tamsoft gets its sexy ladies onto the PS4 in a game that’s going to be loved and hated by gamers for a few reasons. While it has a super smooth 60fps frame rate, the cheesy music rocks somewhat firecely and the action is nearly non-stop (and supremely gory), it’s easy to see the easily ticked off whiny westerners losing their minds over the skimpy costumes and all-out fan service on display. Bikini, schoolgirl outfit and other fantasy femme tropes get trotted out (and that optional Banana Split pack bonus costume is too racy to show here), but the ladies are far from the helpless princess stereotype at all. Aya, Saki and the rest of the crew have been zombie killing for about a decade since their introduction on the PlayStation 2 and later Xbox 360 and Wii Onechanbara titles, so this one’s just their best looking adventure to date. While the game seems a tad on the short side, the reply value comes from unlocking outfits and having at stages again so you can better your score jut like arcade games of old. Then again, every Onechanbara game is pretty much the same: kill plenty of zombies before they kill your gal of choice and have a BIG grin on your face while doing so. Score: B (80%) 

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Capsule Reviews 1: Some Games You May Have Missed (Me Yak About)

Well, 2015 zipped by too quickly (he typed, knowing that the year isn’t quite over but hey, everyone else seems to be doing year-end articles) and I while didn’t get to write as many reviews as I’d have liked to, I took a ton of notes on things so I could sit down and catch up a some point. The best laid plans of mice and men (and Bemis!) often go wildly astray, so instead of long form full reviews, I’m going to do a bunch of capsule commentary on games, films and books over the next few days just so you have a little something to read when you pop by. Anyway, some quickie game impressions to get started: 

Tales of Zestiria Cast 

Tales of Zestiria (PS4/PS3/PC, $59.99/$49.99 respectively) – Namco’s Tales Studio pulls out all the stops in this latest installment in the long running JRPG franchise (15 Tales to date!) with a game that’s part throwback and homage to the first Tales (of Phantasia) back on the Super Famicom while bringing in an all-new cast, storyline and for the first time, an open world map to explore. Although PS4 owners get the better visual end of the deal on console, the PC version should more than please those fans who pick it up looking for something to play and show off to friends. The game is consistently entertaining from the fast-paced combat to the usual humor found in character interaction and dialog choices. Yes, the use of classic literary references, myth and other tropes is piled on thicker than your mom ever spread mayonnaise, but it works well enough to keep the game fun. I’m actually still playing this one because there’s an extraordinary amount of things to do, stuff to collect and some 93 hours in, I’m close to the endgame but will probably dive in again at some point to revisit a few save files. There are enough divergent paths and interesting encounters (make friends with the Normin you meet!) to keep this one in the play stack for a while. Score: A- (90%)
 
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Like Freedom, “Free” to Play Isn’t Free At All

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See that screenshot above? That’s the otherwise fun Fat Princess: Piece of Cake locking up on my poor Vita for the fourth time in the middle of a tough board (Mission 42, to be exact). A big fat BOO to that nonsense. As a free to play game I haven’t yet spent a dime on, it’s not bad at all (random freezes during play aside). On the other hand, as I refuse to buy into the micro-transaction model and complete online connectivity to receive daily rewards the game has been designed around, I’ve hit a huge roadblock in my progress that shows the failings of the F2P model in nearly any game it’s implemented in. If you’ve played the game, you know that it’s around the Happy Hills map (Mission 54, to be more precise) where the game comes to a complete stop for anyone not willing to shell out for additional content or able to connect online for certain random bonus items.

Yeah, yeah. “Everyone “should” have an always online connection these days!”, right? Wrong, and even if thy did, the fact that far too many games, free or not, are linked to this model means there’s less common sense among game developers and publishers who aren’t paying attention to that “small”amount of their potential audience they’re not getting a dime from thank to the shady business model that’s taken over the industry. South Park nailed it perfectly:

(thanks, macyosos8!) 

Now, are there any decent “free” to play titles? Yes indeed. I’d recommend Rubicon’s spectacular and completely FREE Combat Monsters in a heartbeat, although the persistent online connection needed makes it not attractive at all if you live in an area with spotty connections or simply don’t want your data tracked. That said, the developer does F2P right because you can indeed play the game for ages and not drop a dime on anything. Stuff that does cost money is priced fairly, makes sense (as in there’s NO pay to win content) and the dev team has polished it all up with a pretty addictive and thrilling game experience.

That said, It seems that the days of buying a retail or online product, registering it and never having to hear a peep ever again about your purchase or have your gaming life poked into are gone for good… but they aren’t. As long as you can grab an older not connected to the internet console or handheld and play games you like without being prodded in the pocket for payment, you’re good to go. Of course, you’ll be missing out on the shiny, shiny draw of somehow spending money on something that was advertised as “free” to play. But that’s one of those things that probably needs to to a high court to decide what the heck that word actually means in this day and age.

Review: Earth Defense Force 2 – Invaders From Planet Space

EDF 2 VitaPlatform: PlayStation Vita

Developer: SANDLOT

Publisher: Xseed Games

MSRP: $29.99

# of Players: 1 – 4

ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Official Site

Score: A- (90%)

As a longtime Earth Defense Force fan (since 2003’s Simple 2000 Series Vol. 31: The Chikyuu Boueigun, or Monster Attack in the UK), finally getting the chance to see the best game in the series finally arrive stateside and in its best incarnation to date is a great thing indeed. Granted, Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space may not convince some skeptics of how much of a must-buy title it is because at first glance it’s going to seem like less of a game than it actually turns out to be. But those of you who know the series who have yet to play this entry will be pleased to know that not only does it deliver the goods, it still holds up today as a stellar (and incredibly lengthy) game that packs in more action for $29.99 than bigger budgeted AAA titles that cost double the price. Continue reading

Assault Suit Leynos: Target Worth (But So Far, Not US-Bound)

As you can see above, Dracue Software has taken the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis classic Assault Suit Leynos (or Target Earth to American gamers), polished it up while keeping the gameplay and visuals nicely nostalgic. Even better, the music is the same as in the original game but sounds suitably beefy (yes, I was grinning like a madman while this trailer was playing). So far, the game will only be available for Japanese PlayStation 4 owners and most likely other Asian territories.

Given that the intro screen text crawl is in English, it’s a safe bet that the game may be considered for localization by a smart US publisher. My money is on Xseed Games, Atlus or maybe Rising Star Games as a longshot. Anyway, it’s a darn good thing I’m not home at the moment or else I’d have stopped writing this post, dug out the Genesis or MD from under the TV and started playing the original version just to relive he days of beating it on on sitting on the hardest level. Granted, my reflexes are probably a lot lousier than they were way back in the day and it would take a few plays to recapture that old glory and put a notch in the gaming belt. Hell, I probably won’t make it past the first stage until I remember how to quickly take down that end-level boss ship before it reaches my base and blows it to space dust.

Eh, we’ll see. Now, someone get on getting his game out in English, please. I’ll start holding my breath in 3… 2… 1… (inhale!).

A Friendly Reminder Or Two From Xseed Games…

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair ($49.99) is out NOW on the PlayStation 4.

Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space ($29.99) is out NOW on the Playstation Vita. Both are available at retail in physical packages at a game emporium near you or digitally via PSN if the outside world freaks you out.

That is all. You may now resume your otherwise mundane Friday, but remember – those gigantic bugs and massive alien invasion force aren’t going to stop themselves. The EDF needs YOU to fight the good fight. Er, unless you like living in a hole somewhere (that’s probably going to have a massive spider nest on top of it at some point sooner than later…

Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders: Kill Some Time With Poirot in February

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packshot%20illustration_SMALLFrench game publisher Microïds and developers Artefacts Studio are putting the final touches on what’s looking to be a fine mystery/adventure game, Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders, set for release on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Mac February 4th, 2016 in Europe and February 23 in the U.S. on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Mac. Microïds obviously knows the universal appeal of Christie’s work as the game is going to be dubbed in English and French and subtitled in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish and Russian. As you’ll see below he jump, the development team is really going above and beyond the call to make Mr. Poirot look and play excellently to a wide variety of gamers interested in the character and story (which happens to be one of Christie’s greats)… Continue reading

Earth Defense Force 4.1 Livestream: Bigger, Badder, Buggier (But That’s A Compliment)

EDF 4.1 home imageA little fun from Xseed Games as tomorrow is the BIG day PS4 owners in North America and EDF fans have been waiting for as Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair hits retail and digital (via PSN).

I’ll shut up now and let you watch the video before you bust down your own door in order to run to your favorite game emporium and snap up a copy of the game. And a PS4 because you should have one already. That recent price drop seems to be making Sony pretty happy as more folks make the move from PS3 to PS4 or just grab one for the first time for their entertainment purposes.

And if you’re a Vita owner, guess what? Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space is out tomorrow as well. Retail and digital, just like the above. Yeah, you need this game. Trust me – it’s a complete time eater and a solid action game in its own right. While different in tone (thus the campier titling), it’s a pretty hardcore game on the higher difficulty levels that should test the skills of the best gamers on the planet.  Inferno Mode will school you in the many ways of getting chomped on by big bugs, stomped on by giant robots and otherwise probed by assorted spaceships and other enemies is all I’ll say.

Land Of A Thousand Gransys II: Daily Dragon’s Dogma: DA Gallery? Sure, Why Not?

Dragon's Dogma_ Dark Arisen Screenshot_14 

While I’m waiting for a few important things to iron themselves out (tech and otherwise), I’ve been killing time going back to some older game saves just to see how certain titles have held up over time. Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is one of those games that keeps on giving since it’s 2012 release, much to the surprise of Capcom I’d bet. Anyway, as the game is finally hitting PC next year, I figured I’d poke through a bunch of screenshots I’d taken while playing the PlayStation 3 version and post one a day until the new version launches. So, here you go. It’ll be a mostly random set of screens taken with the game’s Photo feature with the occasional caption when I find something amusing to say.

Um… that’s it for now. Oh yeah, it’s DECEMBER already. Yikes. If my poor brain doesn’t blow up from having so much to do, I’m going to have quite a busy rest of the year. Back in a bit.