Holiday Gift Guide 1: Let’s Get Physical!

It’s been quite interesting living in an all-too digital world and seeing how gifting has changed for many folks who go that route with nearly every purchase. Me? I like giving and receiving actual product for the most part unless it’s a case where the only way to get something is via a code voucher of some sort. That said, I feel kind of bad for kids raised in this era where some parents or other tech-savvy adults seem to hate on the very idea of handing a kid something nicely wrapped that’s NOT another gift card that devalues over time if not used up for a place they’ll never visit in person. So, in the interest of getting you out of the house and offline for oh, maybe an hour or two, I’m tossing a few suggestions your way (which are also available in digital form if you like).

Lego Worlds PS4_NALEGO Worlds (PC/PS4/Xbox One/Switch)- Ever-busy developer TT Games pulls out all the stops in this great sandbox game that’s packed with content and a ton of freedom once you get past the tutorial and early story missions. This is one of those great family games that’s so much fun to play you’ll want to sneak in some time alone once that kid is asleep.

On the other hand, you’d very likely want to play this with your kid or at least have a second controller handy as the game supports up to 2 players in either online or offline modes. Hours will zip by when this is on, but at least you won’t need to worry about stepping on loose LEGO pieces or having the family pet making them disappear after they smack part of what you’ve built under the sofa.

 

Crash Bandicoot PS4_NACrash Bandicoot N. Sane Game & Sock Bundle Pack (PS4)- Can’t decide on getting games or socks for the holidays? Got a relative who auto-buys you socks because he or she has zero clue about games? Why not get BOTH with this bundle of completely remastered PS1 classics that include the first three games in the series lovingly reworked by Vicarious Visions with tons of new HD specific features?

Between the redone visuals, the ability to play as Coco Bandicoot in all three games and a bunch of great stuff only those true masters of unlocking will get to see (yes, the games are as challenging as ever)l you get SOCKS you’ll probably actually wear at some point. But don’t try and stuff those stockings on the box with the game, as that would make for weird gift to receive and probably stretch out one of those socks in the process.

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EDF 5 Truly Bugs Me (But That’s A Good Thing)

 

EDF_5Okay, at this point I’m hoping the planet doesn’t blow up just so I can get my grubby little paws on the three upcoming Earth Defense Force games coming from Japan where the earth is in danger of getting blown up after yet another massive alien invasion by what looks like everything great from a wide range of Japanese sci-fi flicks.

In addition to the absolutely insane-looking Earth Defense Force 5, Original developer Sandlot is teaming up with developers Clouds Inc. and Giga-Rensya for Earth Defense Force 4.1: Wing Diver The Shooter (set for a digital release on PSN) and veteran developer Yuke’s is handling the work on Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain, which is coming sometime in 2018.

Oh, here’s the same trailer but with English subtitles just because you might get why I’m so cuckoo about this long-running series:

 

 

For the record, the series has NOTHING to do with the old Super Nintendo shooter Super E.D.F., so that non-fact needs to disappear off the internet, stat. Anyway, EDF 5 is in Japan on 12/7 and I’m kind of in a mental bind trying to decide on whether or not to take the plunge and buy it soon or wait for the localized North American version. My Japanese is pretty terrible and even though I’ve played through previous games in the series and completed them, I kind of want to experience this entirely in English just so I don’t need to stop playing and look up a weapons guide or other gameplay tips.

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And nope, my decision isn’t at all bound by this gal and her seductive stretching (oh, Japan – you’re too much, but it’s all good):

 

 

Anyway, I’m leaning towards waiting it out, but man, is it going to be rough. I know of a few folks who will get the import, but I’ll avoid discussing anything with the because I want to go in totally cold and get my 100+ hours in and learn what’s what. Actually, I haven’t a clue as to who will be publishing this in North America, but a heads-up from a kindly PR person who wants to keep me calm might help out a little lot.

*Sigh* And so, the wait begins anew…

-GW

 

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus: Less Is More Or Less Better For Overall Overkill

I’ve been pretty quiet on Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus for a good reason. I’m ignoring the off-balance people with zero (or less) sense of actual history (not to mention actual videogame history) hating on Machine Games and publisher Bethesda Softworks (it’s all white noise to me, pun mostly intended) while also not poking around the internet for every bit of information because I like my games relatively unspoiled. One of the problems with modern game “journalism” is the need (that’s not needed) to ruin a game too early because some can’t not reveal spoilers or keep an embargo correctly.

Me, I want to go in ice cold with the windows open (brrrrr!) and be thrilled and surprised at what’s been cooked up. Nope, I’m not going to tell you that you should go out and grab yourself a copy of the game and a console or high-end PC to play this on (although you probably should if you have that disposable income and want to support the developer and publisher in this crazy year of too many solid games and not enough time to play them all). As always, it’s your move, folks.

-GW

Review: Mary Skelter: Nightmares

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MSN_bg_pcIdea Factory/Compile Heart games can be hit or miss affairs, but their latest, Mary Skelter: Nightmares is (for my money) one of their best games (and best dungeon crawlers) to date thanks to taking chances with a few tried and true formulas and smacking most them right in their sweet spots. It’s got the turn-based dungeon crawl aspects of the Wizardry series mixed in with real-time chase/combat scenarios, excellent production values and yep, a bit of M-rated fan service lightly sprinkled on top for good measure.

While parts of the plot can be somewhat pedestrian in their usage of familiar anime/manga tropes, things take a few interesting turns as the game goes on. The use of well-known mostly female characters from popular fairy tales works quite well provided your brain properly detaches them from any imagery you might recall (or: you need to re-imagine everyone as anime gals). Of course, the gameplay is where it’s at and what’s here will keep you hooked in to the very end (and then some).  If you’re a fan of the aforementioned Wizardry, Etrian Odyssey, Demon Gaze, and Dungeon Travelers 2 among other dungeon crawlers, this one’s a drop everything and go kiss your Vita if you own one event.

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Project CARS 2 Launch Trailer: Beep Beep Yeah

 

PC2_key-artWait, Project CARS 2 is out already? I still haven’t completed the first game! I guess I really need to pay more attention to this stuff, huh? Actually, I was very likely storing up a stack of free time for .hack//G.U. Last Recode and a few other games coming from Namco Bandai, so this great-looking sequel temporarily slipped my mind. Okay,  the ongoing medical stuff had something to to with my slower than usual posting, but it’s getting a lot better, folks.

Loads of improvements (those weather effects now include snow!), 180 cars (and more to come, I’ll bet), and yes, those lovely visuals all add up to what’s looking like a must-have sequel. I guess retiring that first version for this followup is the sensible thing to do at this point. Me doing something sensible? Well, that’s a welcome change of pace, right?

 

-GW

Review: Rock of Ages II: Bigger & Boulder (PS4)

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Warning: This review may be full of rock puns or something. Or not, as I’m writing this on the fly between campaign missions. Rock of Ages II: Bigger & Boulder is a must buy right out of the game if you love your games surreal, physics-based and packed with artistic genius that might roll over the heads of some gamers who won’t “get” the all-out insanity here at all. Granted, developer ACE Team has always gone out of its way to lace their games with stylistic influences that are far from the norm when it comes to pegging them with a particular style. But here, you get the kind of mind-bending overkill that’s constantly making you smile or burst out laughing because pulling off humor so well in a game like this makes it a total blast.

There’s a single player mode as well as co-op and online play for up to four. But at heart this is a spin on a few genres from racing to tower defense, to bowling with a dash of puzzle elements thrown in for good measure than can be fully enjoyed solo. Imagine if Rampart, Super Monkey Ball, and Marble Madness had a child raised on a steady diet of Monty Python animation while reading art history books for fun and you’re about a tenth of the way into what’s going on here. The game is also quite challenging and definitely not a cakewalk on the more difficult settings. That said, prepare to let the good times roll as you rock on with Atlas as he engages in rolling combat with assorted foes in not at all historically accurate settings.

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No Man’s Sky Atlas Rises Update: That Final Frontier Just Got A Whole Lot Bigger


 

 
I’m one of those folks who totally ignored all the negativity spewed towards Hello Games and No Man’s Sky because I knew something so huge would require at least a year’s worth of patches and content updates. Although I finally broke down and bought a discounted new/sealed copy and installed it a while back, I really didn’t get to play more than about 4 hours before I got really sick and ended up in the hospital for a month back from mid-May to mid-June. Well, it looks as if I’ll need to dive back into outer space soon as the latest update, Atlas Rises, adds a wealth on new content and changes to the game, making it an even better product in the process. PSN users can grab the base game at 60% off ($23.99!) and the update should auto-download once you’re all paid up.

30 hours of new story content brings a new context, quest system and branching narrative to the game, there are mysterious portals to discover that allow interstellar travel, the trading, crafting and other elements have been improved and even space combat has been overhauled to be more challenging. There’s a lot going on here and while I’m dying to try it all out soon, I’m not even picking up that PS4 controller until I knock out a few items from my burgeoning backlog. Yeah, I know me, kids – once I get onto something this huge, I tend to park myself and go in for the long haul. I’m gathering the usual suspects will still be spouting bile about the game’s initial launch woes, but here’s a case where redemption of an evergreen is something worth cheering.

-GW
 

 

 

 

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen Headed To PS4/Xbox One October 3rd


 

It’s about time Capcom ported over one of it’s biggest surprise sleepers from a few years back. I’m thinking the success of the PS version and all its tweaks plus a lot of fan bugging them helped compel this smart move. But hey, whatever. It looks as if the wait will be worth it. I’m gathering save data will NOT be transferable from any other versions of the game which means it’ll be a fresh start and all that exploration, fighting and leveling to do all over again. Yours truly won’t mind one bit as DD:DA is pretty compelling to dive into and has a lengthy campaign that doesn’t require playing with others to get your fill. I just need to find the time to sink into this gem, as I know my October is going to be packed with medical appointments (boo!). Then again, this seems like the perfect game to de-stress with for a while between visits to people poking and prodding at me and my assorted body fluids (yuck!).

-GW

Review: Valkyria Revolution (PS4)

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Valkyria Revolution PS4 (Custom)Well, veteran developer Media Vision gave it the old college try, but as a set in the past side story to the fan favorite Valkyria Chronicles series, Valkyria Revolution isn’t so thrilling as a game experience. Packed full of overlong exposition, mostly pretty visuals ruined by stiffly animated characters, and somewhat weak gameplay, this one manages to be somewhat lifeless despite trying very hard to appeal to longtime fans and players new to the series.

That said, the music is great, some of the timely political intrigue is interesting enough, as is the main storytelling device of a teacher and student discussing events that happened decades earlier. But the core gameplay never rises above mediocre thanks to somewhat loose controls and a “tactical” side that really doesn’t add much challenge. It’s not a “bad” game per se – it’s just one where you may feel too much time was spent on making a game packed with too much of some stuff and too little of everything else.

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A Little Victor Vran Does A Body Good

 

VVOE_PS4As I’m still in recovery mode after my hospitalization, I’ll be brief with this review/recommendation. In short, Haemimont Games has done an absolutely spectacular job in bringing over its action/RPG Victor Vran to consoles and yes, you should pick this one up if you’re a like-minded chase & chop fanatic. The game’s enhanced content gets it re-titled Victor Vran: Overkill Edition with good reason.

Between the lengthy main quest to save the cursed city of Zagoravia, the randomly generated Fractured Worlds and quirky as hell Motörhead Through the Ages expansions, there’s a LOT of game here for a mere $40. And that doesn’t include the 2-player local co-op, 4-player online co-op, PvP mode or (optional) daily challenges that extend the fun for those who want to dive into a bit of competitive action.

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