.hack//G.U. Last Recode – Launch Trailer: Time to Deep Dive Back In

 

Good gravy, veteran developer CyberConnect2 is made of of some incredibly busy and possibly crazy (in the best possible manner) people. Those power-packed Naruto games they’ve been doing great work on have set and raised a few bars in the anime to games scene and now, it’s .hack//G.U. Last Recode getting a superb-looking and super-polished remaster, now available on PS4 and PC.  I’ll need to grab this one when I have actual free time as I’ve been a big (but silent) fan of the .hack series since the PS2 days and while I was hoping the originals would get full remakes with new assets and features, this update of the second series will do more than nicely.  So, yeah – go add this one to your want list as it sure is coming in hot and pack to the gills with new stuff.

 

-GW

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WRC 6 Slides Onto Console, PC

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Rally fans looking for another fun spin around assorted twisty tracks now have another entry in the genre as Bandai Namco, Bigben Interactive and developer Kylotonn present WRC 6 for your approval. PC (via Steam), Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions are out NOW, so I’m gathering you know what to do, right? Granted, Codemasters has the edge with its own rally games. But it’s always great to see other options available to fans who don’t mind playing as many rally games as possible. This one’s going to be more than welcome around here.

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-GW

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Ni no Kuni II: RENEVANT KINGDOM – Level-5, At The Top of Their Game


 

Feh, who needs Final Fantasy and its overly complex kitchen sink boy band kettle-pot plot latest entry when Level-5 is simply making some of the best, if not THE best pure JRPGs out there today? Don’t get me wrong, folks. I don’t hate FF at all. It’s just moved so far into being too hip/ster and modern for my tastes with each installment. The first Ni no Kuni was fantastic, albeit a wee bit too epic in length if one wanted to see and do it all. Sadly, my PS3 was stolen before I got to complete the game (over 90 hours was put into those save files), but this sequel got me pumped to dive in for more and more stunning visuals now that it’s a PS4 game. Just ogle the hand-drawn and painted magnificence (oh, alright, it’s all digital, but still!) and hear that solid voice acting knowing you’re in good hands with this upcoming console exclusive. Lovely work here, just beautiful and I can’t wait to dive in.

-GW

Lost Reavers Beta Hands-On: Fun, But Needs Some Old West Tweaking

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LOSTREAVERS_keyartWhile it hasn’t sold in the numbers Nintendo has liked to have seen, the Wii U isn’t dead just yet. Bandai Namco’s online-only action shooter/RPG-lite exclusive Lost Reavers popped up last Friday as a public beta until April 26 (the final version goes live a day later) and after some extensive playtime, the jury is in on the gameplay (solid and accessible fun), but out on the lack of certain features that make these online games hugely popular and more enjoyable to western audiences. Let’s start with what works before commencing with the constructive criticism, as some things can and should be ironed out once the final release is out.


 

While the “plot” is thinner than a sheet of rice paper on a recently paved road run over by a dozen brand new steamrollers, it’s not *why* you’ll be playing at all. The game is a throwback to a simpler arcade style of play: Run through maps killing monsters and picking up drops before making to a relic room where that prize is retrieved by a single player and carried to an exit warp while the others protect hm or her. Most maps are relatively short and can be completed in less than five minutes to closer to ten minutes each with a good set of teammates. The Unreal-powered visuals are okay and occasional lag and bug issues (that will hopefully be squashed before launch) aside, the game runs at what looks like 30fps most of the time. While it’s a third-person game, each of the four classes plays differently and the heavy gunner guy has the only optional first-person view. My own preferences are the third person furthest view camera because it allows for seeing more of what’s around you, but there’s also a second third-person view that adds a targeting cursor as well as a lock-on function that should help casual players get used to things quickly.

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Lost Reavers Killed My Productivity Today (Thanks, Bandai Namco!)


 

So yeah. I only planned to give that Lost Reavers beta a try for oh, about an hour or two. I got online at noon (after a few attempts at logging in after midnight failed because the beta wasn’t ready for its close up), and the next thing I know it was 6:47 and anything else I had planned earlier was toast. More in-depth impressions to come tomorrow. It’s fun and really easy to get into but REALLY needs an offline solo and up to 4-player co-op mode so even MORE people can play it.

Back in a bit. My eyeballs need a break, I’m at level 16 and there’s a big, bad boss that needs to be dealt with (later this evening, perhaps?)

Dark Souls III “True Colors” Trailer: Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun


 

So, yep. Using the Cyndi Lauper version would have made this bleak gameplay video a wee less gloomy, but this new-ish version works beautifully. It’s great to see Bandai Namco and veteran developer FromSoftware not only making sure Dark Souls III is the best entry in the series to date, but making sure veteran players know that the new game isn’t going to make it any easier on those stepping into its deadly world for the first time. All that dying badly does come with the reward of finally figuring out how to clear areas without taking much damage as you lay low foes that previously gave you problems.

Of course, clearing one area out just means those new enemies with completely different challenges await. But hey – one set of problems at a time, right? Once you dive into Dark Souls III, you’re not coming up for air any time soon. Unless you try and escape in order to go try and do something else. The game won’t like that one bit, by the way.

Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth Arrives on PS4, Vita


 

Bandai Namco’s Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth (now available on PS4 and PS Vita) should do well among North American fans of the Digimon games who’ve been starved for content for a few years. The game is a quite decent mix of action-based “dungeon” crawling and yes, features plenty of creatures to digivolve. The game skews older than previous entries with more mature looking main characters and a darker overall tone. But it’s still a pretty family friendly game at heart, so no worries about picking this one up for the kids if they ask.

My eye is set on the Vita version as it’s supposed to have bonus pre-order content if you buy it this month. That and this seems like the perfect game to take on the road to kill a few hours when traveling. I’ll probably play it most at home, however. Anyway, enough babbling on this end – you have a city to save (and Tokyo always seems to be in trouble in games like this, right?)

And remember, folks: You can peek over Bandai Namco’s digital shoulder anytime you like. Just follow Bandai Namco Entertainment at one or more of the links below. They won’t mind, really!

Er, unless it’s after work hours and you’re trying to follow them home:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BandaiNamcoUS
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BandaiNamcoUS/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bandainamcous/
Tumblr: http://bandainamcous.tumblr.com/
Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/bandainamcous

Attractio: Great Gravity Game’s a Gas


 

Sure, it’s got a serious case of Portal envy, but Attractio is also quite a lot of fun to play because it adds a bit of freshness to the gravity puzzle game formula made user-friendly fun by Valve a bunch of years back. Actually, back when I tried the PS4 demo out at a Bandai Namco event last year the game reminded me of a cross between Portal, The Running Man and a teeny-tiny bit of the old Amiga game The Killing Game Show (aka Fatal Rewind, for you Sega Genesis owners who recall that truncated version of the Amiga game). IF none of those ring a bell, let’s just say that the game is all about trying to think your way out of a series of increasingly deadly puzzles and traps for “fun” and some sort of profit (survival and prizes do go together, right?)

Anyway, the game is out NOW digitally on PC via Steam or PS4/Vita via PSN for $19.99, so if puzzles, gravity and trying not to have your avatar die horribly from embarrassment when he or she gets stuck (or get bumped off by a high fall into some hot lava-like liquid) are your cup of tea, this one’s a recommendation of the most absolute order.

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: 

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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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Tales of Zestiria Launches: Your Royal Time-Killer Hath Arrived


 

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No, I haven’t even started Tales of Zestiria yet. But that’s only because my review copy hasn’t arrived. This is actually a good thing because once I start the game (yes, I’m going to be playing the PS3 version just to keep my ancient launch day console happy), I’m not coming up for air any time soon. I’m already buried under backlog stuff from all sides, but a Tales game demands to be played in huge chunks of time so that players become fully immersed in the story and world Tales Studio has so carefully crafted.

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That said, based on my hands-on time a little while ago, it’s safe to say that PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Steam/PC users are the very lucky recipients of one of the best games in the long-running franchise to date. I know that some Steam users are already reporting some mild performance issues (which is what happens when you port a game to be played on consoles to machines with millions of different user and factory configurations), but no one is screaming for their money back.

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If you’re thinking of grabbing the game for yourself or as a gift, listen up. Bandai Namco is giving away a free DLC pack for the first 30 days after the release of the game. Players will be able to download the epilogue chapter “Alisha’s Conviction” free of charge on the PlayStation Network store (for PS3 and PS4) or through Steam if they own the PC version. According to the press release:

the epilogue follows Alisha and Rose with hours of additional story elements and gameplay taking place after the events of Tales of Zestiria. The “Alisha’s Conviction” downloadable content will be priced at $9.99 after the 30 day promotion ends.

Tales of Zestiria is rated T for TEEN by the ESRB and is available for purchase at video game retailers today in North America and Latin America for the PlayStation 4 (MSRP $59.99) and PS3 system (MSRP $39.99). The PC version (available now on Steam) is $49.99.