Review: Narcos: Rise of the Cartels (PS4)

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As long as the enemy doesn’t look up to read that word, he’ll be fine…

NARCOSIf you told me a game about a violent but long deceased Colombian drug lord could be a pretty well done turn-based strategy game in 2019, I’d have said that you were on something. I’m sure the late drug lord (in his previously bullet-free state) would also be smirking as well before setting you up for a nice tire necklace fitting for suggesting such a thing. Then again, publicity being what it is these days, he might be even crowdfunding his own game like this if he were still alive, now that I think about it. “¿Qué? Estás loco … pero eso me gusta.” or something like that (but with a lot more colorful and a lot less rusty use of the language).

So, here we have Narcos: Rise of the Cartels ($29.99), from Kuju Games and publisher Curve Digital, a game I knew I’d like as soon as I realized it was a much more polished version of the now forgotten Falling Skies: The Game, which itself borrows its best parts from the XCOM reboot from a few years ago. While it has that entry level thing going for it, the game checks a few boxes on its way to being a solid buy if you like the genre. The more gritty trash-filled and alien free realistically rendered maps help a lot here in delivering the goods, and while turn-based, the combat can often be tense, especially when surprise enemies appear and you’re outflanked.

Yes, the AI is sometimes careless, at least in that it has foes that may put themselves in harm’s way (I consider those cases where a you’d see a real life reckless thug [or reckless DEA agent on the flip side] let out a yell and bum rushes someone), but the game is quite addictive once you get the combat and tactical stuff down. For those who wanted a boring GTA clone, the game might be surprising to play with its M-rated language, blood. permadeath, and high body count, but it’s hard to guess other than to suggest those folks give this a try and see what happens.

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WRC 8 On Switch? Well, I’m Going to Need To Take It For A Spin, Then

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Time to make the Switch!

WRC_8 SwitchI’m so backlogged that I haven’t even gotten to requesting the PS4 version yet (oops!), but hearing that KT Racing and Bigben Interactive’s WRC 8 has come to Nintendo’s tiny powerhouse that could REALLY has me intrigued, especially with so many realistic racers and racers with licensed cars now popping up on the console. I remember when the Wii U got ONE licensed racer and how it was good enough, but too little, too late for that console. On the Switch, it’s as if they’re popping up like dandelions and mushrooms after a rainfall. This is good, for the most part, I say.

Now, I’m not expecting the game to look EXACTLY like the other versions, but I like the sport and have played and own too many rally games on older platforms to judge it as anything but how it plays at the end of the day (old, old article here if you want a read from too many years back). I definitely like that the Switch version is portable, so that’s a plus. If the game can capture the simulation aspect well, perfect visuals will be the last thing I’m going to consider.  The Switch version is out NOW. if you’d like to hop aboard for a test drive and are a like-minded fan. With 50 teams, 14 rallies and over 100 special stages in the 2019 season, I think I’ll be happy for a long time if all is well.

-GW

Review: Sparklite (PS4)

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“You bought your key, right?” Good thing it’s something you never drop, as it’s heck of a time to go back to your base.

sparklite ps4Call me crazy, but Sparklite ($24.99) does what it does so well that I thought I was playing an improved sequel to something. Granted, some bits are a tad maddening (such as using the fussy balloon powered bombs, some harsh difficulty spikes, the rogue-like structure can make some bad runs worse, and yes, a few things need patching), but despite these issues, it a fun game that comes recommended. It’s still a joyful game to play even with the flaws, with a chunk of the Legend of Zelda series as its main inspiration. Visually, I saw a tiny bit of a Beyond Oasis aesthetic, and a even little of Digital Sun’s fantastic Moonlighter (even though it’s a very different game, it feels like it shares some elements) but maybe I’m just Ancient (and know so many bad game-related puns most won’t get unless explained).

Anyway, it’s a game where exploring the sometimes daunting maps is really exciting once you upgrade the shops in town. As you acquire and improve better gear (shades of Kemco’s Asdivine Hearts games, item slots and gems of assorted sizes come into play), it’s thrilling to go back to each time. Playing as Ada, you’re tasked with restoring a world called Geodia were things are literally falling apart (thus, the random nature of its maps) when too much Sparklite gathering has put her planet in danger. That said, Sparklite is also the currency that drives the upgrading, as does finding and creating a number of cool tools Ada uses in her adventuring.

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