Here at Power Up Gaming, the higher-ups allow us to play any games we like. Most of the time we choose to play Leisure Suit Larry exclusively, but occasionally a new disc will find it’s way into the drive somehow. Here is what we’ve been playing this week.
I’ve been bouncing between a few popcorn games of late.
The week began with Mortal Kombat X embedding a kunai in my face and bellowing “GET OVER HERE!” Though everything faction-related is still blocked off due to a widespread error that nobody seems bothered to fix, the core game is as solid as ever. And once I found out I could modify my Kombat Kard from the Extras menu, I was in tinkering heaven. For three days. Now the brightly burning candle has been reduced to a pool of smelly wax, as I’ve quickly tired of the flashy gore. But I’ll be back again in a month or so; my job isn’t done until the Krypt lies bare!
On a whim I reinstalled punishing settlement simulator Banished to see if mods make it any easier. As it turns out, they do… perhaps a little too well. Where before it was a constant juggling act to produce enough food, clothes, tools, firewood, etc just to prevent half my population from dropping like flies, now there seems little I can do to upset the once-delicate balance. Perhaps 23 mods was too many.
The Dark Souls III journey continues again this week, but I feel as though I’ve really turned a corner in this game. In Souls games past I have eventually resigned myself to the fact that I may not be very good at these games. However, this time around I feel as though I am improving, with some of the mid-to-late game bosses causing me fewer problems than the earlier ones. I also finally understand the weapon system, and why Raw weapons aren’t necessarily great in the long term. So far I think this is my favourite of the series, and I can’t wait to push through to the end. Expect a review shortly.
In order to blow off steam from the trauma that Dark Souls inflicts, I’ve decided to live the totally stress-free life of a Football Manager in Football Manager 2016. I’m not even a big football fan, but there’s something appealing about the strategy side that somehow chimes with me. Perhaps I’m enjoying the illusion of tactical thinking, when all I’m really doing is screaming at eleven millionaires until they finally manage to guide a bag of air into a net. I’ve started with Manchester United and so far we’re on course to win the league, so make of that what you will. Perhaps I’ll send Ed Woodward my CV for when Van Gaal gets sacked at the end of the season, which is definitely going to happen. Right?
I’ve always found it difficult to stay committed to one game for a certain amount of time and this last week has been no exception. I’ve finished the campaign of Quantum Break, which provided a mixed experience. It’s an example of what can be achieved when there’s a great cast anchoring the plot of a video game, even if cutscenes and real-time sequences are shamelessly bombarded with Microsoft products. I mean, does anyone in the world actually have a Windows phone anymore!? With that said, for a video game released in 720p, it looks bloody fantastic and has no doubt allowed Remedy Entertainment to focus on other minute details.
In-between my Quantum Break sessions, Tron Run/r kept me occupied. In short, the visuals are really, really nice but actual content is the main downside. In excess of forty levels for only two game modes created an imbalance and made Tron Run/r a pretty polarising experience for me.
I’ve also started playing Life is Strange after a mate relentlessly recommended it throughout the whole of last year. After purchasing it from an end-of-year sale on the Xbox Store in 2015, I must say I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s a more enjoyable and laid-back experience than any Telltale game, due to no countdown timer for your decisions. It’s a pretty cool concept, too, and the soundtrack is just really inviting and hooked me in straight away.
A bit of a boring week for myself here as I haven’t been able to game as much as I would like. I’ve poured some more hours into Enter the Gungeon and although the game is still something I would recommend to just about anyone, it’s beginning to show its cracks. More on that in my review that should be published within the next week.
I did put some time this past weekend into the betas for both Doom and Battleborn. For Doom, I’ll simply say that the game’s multiplayer appears as though it is trying to have its cake and eat it too. It’s trying to appease both old-school FPS fans by including environmental pick-ups and quicker player movement while also implementing newer facets of the genre such as loadouts and XP. I basically echo nearly every sentiment our own Adam Lloyd discusses in his recent impressions on the game, which led me to disappointment. I actually found the Battleborn beta much more satisfying. The game looks gorgeous and has incredible style. Although it is clearly influenced by MOBAs, it seemed to have a more fluid, action-oriented system that I enjoyed. As a fan of first-person-shooters that has dabbled into MOBAs a bit, it’s something I could see myself trying out upon release as it meets my more action-heavy desires while also including some deeper strategic components.
Otherwise, the only game I’ve put time into is good ol’ Rocket League. It’s just as fun as it was when I first started playing. Although I still mainly play for the social aspect since I have a group of dedicated friends, I’ve been putting a lot of time into learning more advanced maneuvers such as chip-shot aerials and wall shots. Also, have you seen the “Hoops” trailer? We’re talking basketball in Rocket League. Genius!
I finished playing the PC version of Final Fantasy IX this week, including getting some of the more difficult achievements. If you haven’t tried the new version of this classic PS1 RPG yet, then you’re missing out!
After wrapping up with FFIX, I turned my attention solely to Bravely Second: End Layer, the sequel to the surprisingly good 2012 RPG, Bravely Default. I won’t spoil too much, as I have a review in the works right now, but I do want to mention something that surprised me.
The backbone of the Bravely series is the ability to change job classes to customize your party team, much like Final Fantasy V or X-2. To gain new job classes, you must defeat a boss enemy of that class. After defeating them, you take their asterisk, which allows you to then use that job. Simple, right? In Bravely Default, most of the game’s jobs were handed right to you, and only a few of them required any major sidequesting.
But in Bravely Second, a new and very interesting mechanic has been introduced. Instead of receiving every single job that the game has to offer, you are often put in a situation where you must decide which of two jobs you want. For example, early on in the game, a boss with the Red Mage job and a boss with the Thief job both seek the same mystical object, and you decide which of the two to side with. If you side with the Thief, then you fight the Red Mage and take his asterisk, and vice versa. And, as far as I can tell, there is no obtaining the job you miss out on at any other point in the game. I’m not sure if I love or hate this yet, but one thing is for sure: The forced choosing of jobs will warrant multiple playthroughs to see what each class has to offer.
This week I’ve finally been sinking my feet into The Last of Us, and have been pleasantly surprised by how much I’m enjoying it. This is my first venture into a Naughty Dog title, and I’ve been instantly struck by how well they develop their characters, and how easy I became attached to them. The relationship between protagonist Joel and his daughter Sarah is brief, but realistic, powerful, and tear-inducing.
The world around them plummets into an apocalypse, and seeing events from their point of view is something I found truly terrifying. What’s particularly impressive is that, even in poignant moments like this, the controls are still largely with you; it always feels like a game. Currently, I’m making my way through the post-apocalyptic world, which is beautifully detailed.
I also just picked up Star Fox Zero, which will be my first Star Fox game. I’m not particularly excited for it. I should have my review up on the site at some point soon.