11 Reviews liked by steve520
Back 4 Blood
There's plenty of issues here- unmemorable characters in a non-existent story, a card system that never really clicked with me, some very unintuitive menus, long loading times- but I had plenty of fun playing through this with my friends over the course of a month anyway. Co-op zombie killing is back, baby!
I love the attempt to reinvigorate the point-and-click adventure game genre with a big budget and an interesting hook- you're trying to piece together a mystery involving your wife and a murderous home invader in a world that's constantly resetting itself every few minutes. Unfortunately even for such a short game there is just so much repetition and wasted time every time you want to try something new. Some effort to make this more user-friendly (more shortcuts? selectable branching paths? fast-forwarding?) really could have improved the experience, and the payoff is pretty disappointing too.
MLB The Show 21
A reimagining of the relatively bare-bones Metroid 2, all that this game seems to keep from that one is the game-length hunt for 40 Metroids to genocide, and the ability to journey deeper into levels via drained lava after eliminating all the available Metroids. Otherwise we’ve got a standard Metroid game with a few new twists- a melee counter-attack, a magic bar, and a greater emphasis on puzzles and combat versus the exploration the series is known for. It was enjoyable, but I wouldn’t stray much further from the formula than this- that’s when you enter Other M territory. Eager to see what we’ve got next in Dread, which appears to be much more stealth-focused.
MLB The Show 21
On one hand, I can understand that it's gotta be hard as hell to go from one dedicated platform to four within the same yearly cycle as the previous games, but man, the changes just aren't doing it for me. Road to the Show being based on loadouts more or less instead of game to game progression is a slog. Even NBA 2K is more giving of its microtransaction currency to build up your white beard tall dude. In fact, seeing that perks can be bought with the game's stubs, we can safely say there's some microtransaction fiddling here, too.
Moreover, next gen has some shaky performance, mainly on cutscenes and not during actual play, to be fair, but nothing that seems to suggest we're getting the next generation of a sports title. Stadium Creator is neat and once they basically make it functional, like adding search features that could let us report the edgelord racist ones, that'll be cool. Just kinda bummed that I even had so many nits to pick on a game I usually just love every year, man.
I respect the hell out of Nintendo for taking a swing as big as this, mostly blowing up the Zelda formula and giving us something that plays out more like a Western RPG. It wasn't quite my cup of tea- my favorite parts of Zelda games is how incredibly dense and meticulously planned Hyrule always feels, whereas Hyrule here felt a little bloated and repetitive. But Nintendo took the "try the temples in any order" from Link Between Worlds to its natural conclusion, adopting that philosophy even inside the non-linear temples themselves, with a final boss you can take on an hour into the game should you feel up to it. I really hope the upcoming sequel strikes a better balance between this open-world ethos and the classic Zelda formula.
Halo 5: Guardians
I'll say this for Fractured Minds- I can think of no better way to farm for Xbox achievements. 1000/1000 completed in about 20 minutes, and the game itself isn't terrible. 6 quick levels completely designed and programmed by Emily Mitchell, a young woman dealing with mental illness, trying to demonstrate how that feels. It pulls off a few neat tricks, my personal favorite coming after maybe 1 minute of play time. But there's just not enough here to make much of an impression unfortunately. I'm curious to see what Emily could pull off with some more resources at her disposal, as this almost feels like a first draft of what could be a much better game.
This is not going to be a popular opinion. I became a fan of Dragon Quest fairly recently after having a fantastic time with DQ3. Since then I've played 1, 2, 4, 5, and 8.
This game is often held up as the best of the series, and I just can't agree at all. Before I'm burned alive, let me start from the beginning and try to explain myself.
From the start of the game, I loved the opening premise. Escorting this particular caravan and trying to hunt down the magician responsible for their fates was a great initial hook for me. What I didn't realize at the time was that for the vast majority of the game I would be following this magician around the world from place to place a la Sephiroth in FF7. That's perfectly fine, just as it is in FF7, but that means the burden of sustaining the player's interest falls on different elements. FF7 has a few important ways of keeping things interesting. First, that section of the game is minimized somewhat by the fact that Midgar exists before it. Second, the places the party visits are fantastical, interesting locations all on their own, like the Gold Saucer, Junon, or Cosmo Canyon. Thirdly, FF7 has a large ensemble cast with both backstories and ongoing "front" stories. This means that most locations can be of personal significance to at least someone in the party. Corel prison isn't just a desert prison, it's the site of a whole story arc for Barrett, a character who the player is hopefully invested in.
Dragon Quest 8 does not have these things. DQ8 for the most part features plain fairy tale kingdoms with their own isolated stories that are largely detached from the main overarching plot or the personal affairs of the party. In my personal opinion, those town stories are not interesting enough.
Each party member has their own One Piece style recruitment arc, except Yangus... kind of. A big part of the problem is that "Each party member except Yangus" includes exactly two other people. All three of these party members are fine. They have likable enough personalities. Unfortunately their development as characters stops dead the second you leave "their town." I know there's a lot of love for these characters but if I measure them against the cast of any similar RPG I can't help but feel that they just come up short.
I enjoyed the gameplay until about 2/3rds of the way through, when I discovered that if I want to actually beat this game, I'm going to have use the tension system. More advanced Dragon Quest gameplay tends to involve setting up buffs and having the boss cleanse them off of you. Usually this is fine. However inflicting decent damage in DQ8 requires you to "tense" up for several turns in a row while praying to your god that the boss doesn't do his completely random buff cleanse that he does every few turns. Dragon Quest 8 does this for almost every boss in the latter portions of the game, and I found it absolutely maddening. Not maddening in a challenging and difficult sort of way, just in an incredibly, unnecessarily frustrating and unfun way.
At the end of the day I don't think either the gameplay or the narrative of DQ8 are anything to praise, and that saddens me as a huge fan of DQ3, 4, and 5.
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