Quick Takes: Some Good Games To Catch Up On (In A Year Of Too Many Great Ones), Part 1


 

Yep, the backlog has been officially backloggier thanks to stuff being stuff in the real world. But things are getting played bit by bit here despite incessantly annoying diversions. Hey, one needs something FUN to do between bouts of eyebrow lifts, sighing into adult beverages and trying not to trip over the assorted stacks of THINGS TO GET DONE lined carefully in strategic spots around the office. Okay, it’s not anywhere near that terrible, but I love to melodrama my issues a bit much. Anyway, here’s part one of a series of capsule reviews, or a brief rundown on things that have been tackled, games division.
 


 

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing Extended Edition (PS4): If you’re a big Diablo III or other isometric ARPG fan and want another game of the chase and chop variety, a mere $20 will be well spent on NeoCore Games’ more amusing and in some areas, harder game. While it goes for a more Steampunk Victorian visual aesthetic and uses a good deal more in the way of humor in its storytelling, the quest and side-quest 1-2 punch holds things together quite nicely. Granted, you have fewer classes to play around with, but the skills system for your Van Helsing and his ghostly aide Katerina ends up being pretty complex with many passive skills that boost combat to some often grand destructive levels. There’s no defensive roll like the console versions of DIII, but you’ll get used to dealing with huge packs of foes by taking it slower and picking off smaller groups one by one.

The game is generally solid overall and features online co-op play (no split-screen here, sorry!), a very fun “tower defense” mode that pops up a few times as a diversion from the main plot, and about 30 or so hours of gameplay if you’re determined to get everywhere you can on one run. The ending is somewhat of a ‘To Be Continued’ deal, but having played the other parts on PC, it’s worth the wait for the sequel to hit PS4 at some point. In fact, as this is only the first of three chapters, it would be great to see the other two arrive on PSN as soon as humanly possible and perhaps later, the entire trilogy out on a disc via a small print publisher like Limited Run Games or SOEDESCO. As always, we shall see. But for the money there’s a load of great fun to be had and had again.
 


 

Mantis Burn Racing (PC/PS4/Xbox One): While it’s initially short on tracks and content compared to other arcade racers, the difficulty curve in developer VooFoo Studios racer makes the game supremely challenging right from the get-go. A blazing fast proprietary engine showcases gorgeous 60fps racing where the slightest mistake will leave you in back of the pack and eating the digital dust of your opponents blowing past you. Practice makes perfect, but expect the game to not let you breathe much against AI that gets better as you do. Against live players the competition is far fiercer with expert players constantly making short work of anyone popping online for the friendliest of matches. You’re going to get smoked like a country ham if you’re not ready for the tracks in this one for sure.

That said, once you get the handling and have matches where you’re in the zone and nail those tricky turns, not bashing into other cars and generally having a zen-like experience racking up wins, the game is so hard to put down that you may need an alarm set to remind you to do important stuff. I haven’t tried out the new Snowbound DLC yet, but if this video is any indication, this 100% FREE update is going to suck me in all over again to the point where I’ll need to get a dog or cat or some other pet to remind me with a paw to the face to get up and go for a stroll, play with or feed them. A service animal for gamers? Who knew!
 

More quickies below he jump! Continue reading

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PC Review: Yooka-Laylee

While playing Yooka-Laylee,
the words, they kinda fail me
it all feels so nineteen-ninety nine.

That’s really not a bad thing
Fact: parts of it indeed sing
But others have me screaming half the time.

The camera’s got the jitters
This game’s not made for quitters
But still, it takes some patience to align.

The game world’s quite expansive
with infinite life chances
But tumbling off those ledges? Not sublime.

To give Playtonic their due
when stuff works well, it feels true
and older fans will find a lot of shine.

But games have come a long way
Those mascots, they’ve had their day
And newer work has fixed what was a “crime.”

The old school’s kinda backwards
One time it won most placards
But now, it’s seen more classical than prime.

The Ratchets, Slys, and others
Are the more modern druthers
So, is this vintage style worth your dime?

Provided you mind its quirks
You’ll find quite a few good perks
Collectibles galore? Tough to decline!

Those flaws, the dev can fix them
And make this game a true gem
bringing those bugs to heel as benign.

For Rare fans reminiscing
There’s fun here, but lots missing
But there’s no need to yell a lot or whine.

Whether pre-bought or now still sold
I’d say bad reviews will seem old
But only if the update redesigns!

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A PlayStation Store Flash Sale To Rule Them All, It Seems

Yep, this month’s Flash Sale is pretty awesome.

Got a PS4, PS3, Vita or PSP? Well, Sony’s got your numbers and wants your money, folks. Kindly please do click on that banner above, get thy wallet in hand and prepare to buy at least one game or film or TV program. Or all of them if you have that kind of money to buy, a ton of free space on a portable drive (now that they can be officially used with a PS4) and a load of time to spare.

There are some pretty hefty discounts, a small handful of PS4 games are cross-buy with the Vita and overall, there are some decent digital deals here that make a lot of these games worth the up to 80% you’ll be saving. You’re welcome and sure, feel free to note if you take advantage of these deals over the weekend. – I’m going to pick up The Magic Circle- Gold Edition just because it looks pretty darn unique… and I like pretty darn unique.


 

-GW

Plantronics RIG 4VR: PlayStation VR Gets A Big Aural Plus

RIG Surround Package

One key element to a great Virtual Reality experience is immersive sound quality and out of the box, Sony’s PlayStation VR is somewhat lacking thanks to the budget-minded earbuds packed in with the unit. While far from terrible, it’s hard to feel fully dialed in with those teeny buds tickling your eardrums. Fortunately, the fine folks at Plantronics got on the case and have come up with a great solution with their great RIG 4VR headset (MSRP $69.99). Officially licensed, they match the PS VR perfectly, fit over the big headset with an adjustable headband, connect to your PS4 in one of a few ways and yes, sound absolutely great for the price point. Continue reading

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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The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: Extended Edition, PS4 Bound Soon

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Finally! PS4 and PS4 Pro owners looking for another solid isometric action/RPG can put down Diablo III: Reaper of Souls for a spell and pick up NeoCore Games’ fast-paced, fun and often funny The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: Extended Edition on February 28 (March 1 in EU territories) for $14.99. This deal includes the first part of the trilogy and in addition to its single player campaign mode, you’ll get the ability to play co-op and PvP multiplayer modes. This is the second console port for the game, as the hatted monster slayer has previously appeared on the Xbox One. Yes, next week is incredibly busy for Playstation fans. But if you’re not grabbing the big AAA games dropping next week, a little Van Helsing is more than enough to keep you busy.

-GW

Gravity Cat: A Royal Wedding of Tech As Advertisment


 

Yep. Japan still has the coolest game promos. This one’s for Gravity Daze 2, aka Gravity Rush 2 here in the US, which is set to land on the PS4 on January 20. You don’t see TV ads this lengthy for games in North America at all outside of trade shows and media events. But I’d take a few of these fun promo clips any day over another garbage infomercial or medicine ad selling snake oil with deadly side effects followed by a legal ad asking if you’ve taken one of those drugs and suffered from side effects, ugh.

Anyway, the recent demo was great overall – check out my somewhat rushed play through below:


 

-GW

Diablo III 2.4.3 Update: Party Like It’s 1996 (Or, To Hell & Back, Grinning)


 

Well, oooh. I wasn’t expecting to be this surprised by an update, but yep, Blizzard did just what I was thinking they were going to do with a bit more throwback action, albeit it short-lived. The update also popped up on PSN (as the 1.15 patch), which is the version I played through last night and messed around with into this morning. Other than it not having the retro UI, it’s exactly the same content. I was more surprised that the team had not a lot of info from the original Diablo and had to piece things together using fan wikis, but hey – most fans are helpful when they’re not fighting with each other.

(Hey! Subscribe to my boring YouTube channel, already!)
 

The throwback maps made me grin like a loon as I took a newly created Monk through those hellish stages. I went through on Normal the first time, which is why The Butcher went down without killing my holy fist punching dame. Actually, in my original Diablo play back in ’96, I didn’t die against that brute until my second time through because I got overconfident, his room was on a new spot on the map with a dead end outside I got trapped in and the exploding barrels I hit took off a wee but too much health when he rushed up with that axe. Ow. Actually, I had a run later through the PlayStation version in 1998 where I got stuck dying on the 7th floor thanks to a lightning fast lightning magic blasting mob parked right at the stairway. I think I still have that save data on an old memory card here.


 

In any event, if you’ve a PC, PS4 or Xbox One, remember spending too much time in digital Hell and want a quick trip back to 20 years ago… yeah, go grab Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition, but do it soon. The Darkening of Tristram event only lasts until the end of January and you might not want to miss the oddball gifts you get when completing the run.

-GW

Diablo Turns 20: Blizzard, What Are You Up To?


 

Twenty years is a long time for any form of interactive entertainment to be around and still have an active fan base. Blizzard seems to know its classic PC game Diablo has a rather dedicated and somewhat vocal legion of players that have stayed with the franchise through three games, numerous patches and a few expansion packs. Granted, the love for the first two games meant Diablo III was going to be heavily criticized for both its long development time and any huge changes to what longtime fans expected. Let’s just say the fans didn’t disappoint in letting themselves be heard.


 

But of course, Diablo III was a mess at and post launch, but tons of patches, the removal of that horrid Auction House and surprisingly, mostly superb console ports that actually improved upon the foundation laid made it a far better game for everyone save last-gen system (PS3/Xbox 360) owners who didn’t get the great 2.4.0 update. I’d already sunk a few hundred hours into the PS3 version and planned to transfer my save files over to the PS4 when I finally made the move to that console. Of course, that didn’t happen thanks to Phill Katz stealing my PS3 after I sent it to him for repair. NO, I haven’t forgotten you, asshole.


 

So, yeah. I’ve had to restart from scratch with Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition on the PS4 and so far, I’m quite pleased with my progress. I’m working on a Demon Hunter build and blazing through Adventure Mode after completing the Campaign once just to build up a ton of Paragon points so I’ll have a huge pool to use when creating other characters later. The 2.4.0 content surprised me with a dark and grim new map that added a few new enemy variants, crashing waves, rain and… freakin’ gigantic sea snakes popping up if you ran too close to the edge of some spots on the map.


 

Anyway, this post has no point other than me reminiscing and wondering just what the hell Blizzard is up to. Yes, I know about the Necromancer class coming as well as the upcoming “remake” of the first game using the DIII engine. But I’m hotly curious as to what else is planned. Other games get re-releases, HD upgrades or flat out remakes, so it only makes sense that this one would at some point soon. Unless Blizzard is just messing with us fans. Those old cinematics sure cleaned up well, huh?

-GW

Yooka-Laylee Capital Cashino Trailer: Playtonic’s Platforming Playhouse Arrives In 2017


Well, the really good news is this Rare-inspired platformer now has a release date and more great-looking screens to go with that trailer above. The sort of bad news is the Wii U version has been sent to the glue factory, but the silver lining is it’s headed to Nintendo Switch at some point. Screens you want, screens you get thanks to my handy YouTube channel you should probably subscribe to now that I’ve figured out how to use the darn thing. I don’t monetize, so fear not – you’ll get no spam or even a slice of stale bread to have that spam on.

Press release perusal? Jump down, watch for spikes.

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