Lucien’s Review: Kingdom Hearts II.8: The Final Chapter Prologue

Kingdom Hearts 2.8Alright, time to dole out some tough love.  Because this is a game that has some good parts, but some horrific and glaring flaws that REALLY need to be pointed out and analyzed.  It’s nice to have a final act to the plot as it’s understood now, however, the cruel truth is that for all the positive elements in this game there are some truly unpleasant realities about this three-pack that I think need to be accepted.  Let’s get down into this.

As with all the other culmination packs, this game is three games wrapped up into one.  Well, two games, really.  Actually, not even that.  One game, a piece of what should have been free demo DLC, and a long-ass cutscene.  That what it is.  Let’s break them down, one-by-one.

For anyone who says that Hideo Kojima has written some convoluted narratives, you don’t know what Kingdom Hearts’ story has become.  The first game is Dream Drop Distance.  In it, we have Sora and Riku taking a mastery exam to become true Keyblade masters.  They enter a dream world where they have to open seven keys that will unlock seven sleeping worlds.  In doing so, they will somehow prove that they are masters of the keyblade or some shit.  Yeah, the narrative is bunk.  This was a cash-grab game.  And as cash-grabs so…it’s pretty standard.

We have our two iconic characters reprising their roles.  We even have a ton of the extra case reprising their roles from the other games.  Really hoping that we get to have Axel’s iconic voice and tagline in Kingdom Hearts III.  Got it memorized?  Though, it seems that Hayden Penettiere didn’t want to reprise her role as Kairi.  Bummer.  I was really hoping that would work out.  Jesse Carter comes back as Roxas, which I love.  Dying to see him come back as Ventus in the last game.

Which brings us to the gameplay.  Anyone who has played Birth By Sleep will get this combat sequence pretty quick.  It’s not hard to follow.  We get these little spirit creatures that you can create who mix things up, but it really isn’t any different from Birth By Sleep.  Add to that more worlds that are so damn empty.  Why are all the worlds in these games devoid of npcs?  It’s so weird to me that in 2017, with limited level space, we have so little happening.  If that’s the case in the third game, I’m strangling a bitch.  This game widened out the areas a lot more, which just made it that much more noticeable how there is no one in these places but the main characters and villains.  Weird to watch Quasimodo at the center of the Festival of Fools and have it be nothing but empty space.

However, when the plot of this game rears its ugly head, it drags its ass so hard.  Granted, I am happy to see old chums from previous games coming together to kick ass.  Seeing Axel fighting against his old comrades is pretty sweet.  However, it’s not worth the painful exposition-dumping that this game has all over itself.  But the worst offense – the parts that shine of brilliance and go nowhere.

For example – anyone remember what I said would make for an awesome Kingdom Hearts III?  I said that there should be a world like Fantasia, where it’s nothing but music, without dialogue, and you get to just take in the visuals and gameplay with it.  They did it!  They fucking did it!  And I was in love!  Each of the areas themed after the areas in Fantasia were awesome!  For those scenes, I was enraptured.  But it’s so short!  Give me some Rite of Spring!  Give me some stuff from Fantasia 2000!  Go nuts!  Or even worse, you go to the world of Tron Legacy.  And they have one of the most fun segments in any of these games – light-cycle fights!  You alternate from the awesome energy ribbons to laser guns.  That was amazing!  More of that!  But then it’s done, and you can’t even play it like a racing game later!  What the hell?!

This game had a ton of potential, and there are a few moments that truly do realize it.  Then others that go fucking nowhere.  It’s such a shame.

Speaking of, let’s talk about Birth By Sleep 0.2, the second “game” in this collection.  Although, I am going to come right out with it – this isn’t a game.  It’s just not.  It’s a tech demo for how the third game will play.  And just on those merits, it is actually a lot of fun.  No joke, I had a hell of a time just going around and getting a wow out of the crazy awesome visuals in the game.

The plot goes that Aqua has been wandering the Realm of Darkness ever since Terra was taken over and Ventus’ heart was lost to the darkness.  Now she is trying to find her way to her friends, but time has no meaning in this place.  She’s been wandering for almost ten years, and it’s worn her down.  You can clearly see that she is tired of this endless drifting through shadow, and wants to go back home with her friends.  However, when the darkness beckons, and destiny comes into play, we get to see Aqua do random shit that goes nowhere.

As I said, it’s a tech demo.  A very pretty tech demo.  On visual and gameplay merits, it actually is a lot of fun.  If this is what to expect in the third game, then color me impressed.  However, the cruel reality is that this game clocks in at under 3 hours long, and the plot is weak as fuck.  This game should have been DLC for $5, or a free demo for the third game.

Which brings us to the final part of this game – Back Cover.  A cutscene that decides to fill us in on the events which led up to the original destruction of the world and the Keyblade War.  As well-voiced and beautiful as this digital film is, the cruel and honest truth is that it isn’t a game, and I could have watched this shit on YouTube.  Hell, most people will do that.

I am trying to be nice here.  I really wanted to like this.  However, the unfortunate truth is that this collection was INSANELY over-priced and not even remotely worth what they are asking for.  If you want, wait for the price to go down if you are truly a die-hard Kingdom Hearts fan.  For the rest of you, just skip it.  A YouTube synopsis will get you caught up the rest of the way if you have gotten this far.

Final Verdict
5 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Most Anticipated Games of 2017

While 2016 was a bit of a slow year, 2017 is looking to be trying some new stuff.  This is a year full of IPs, sequels to games that weren’t super successful, and games that haven’t been confirmed for 2017, but I am reasonably confident will be coming out this coming year.  Call it gut instinct.  Wish I could put The Last of Us: Part 2 or Death Stranding on this list, but I know for a fact that they aren’t coming out this year.  Some of these are games that were pushed back from last year, and some of them are games that nobody saw coming.  I am excited to see what happens this year, so let’s not waste any time.

What Remains of Edith Finch10. What Remains of Edith Finch
Yes, we’re about to have your moment where you groan – I am a fan of Indie games.  That’s right, I like games that are typically not liked by the normal gaming scene.  The company who made this game, Giant Sparrow, made one of my Indie games – The Unfinished Swan.  A game about a fairytale telling a tragic story about a boy who loses his mother.  This game is keeping a similar storybook style, but this time telling the story of Edith Finch, who is returning to her family home to unravel the mystery of why the family always dies in their enormous house.  Gameplay segments have shown flying a kite, playing as a baby in a bathtub, and even a cat climbing a tree.  This game will have a dark edge, and I can’t wait to see more.

Yooka-Laylee9. Yooka-Laylee
After a year with things being pretty quiet, we finally got to see some gameplay that isn’t alpha stuff.  This little Kickstarter-funded passion project by the dejected devs who worked on Banjo Kazooie just looks better and better.  Like an homage to past games, they even have the cute little language that they used in the original games.  I am so excited to see what stages they come up with.  If it’s anything like that casino in the newest trailer, then this game will be a call-back to the best that the medium has to offer.

Kingdom Hearts 2.88. Kingdom Hearts 2.8: The Final Chapter Prologue
The final piece of the plot before the final game is revealed, this game brings forth the remastered version of Dream Drop Distance, which I have been DYING to play.  We also get a very cool intro to the gameplay style of Kingdom Hearts III with a segment where you play as Aqua, traveling the Realm of Darkness.  Of course, there is also a third segment that is literally nothing but cutscenes.  That will undoubtedly bug me, but it’s all going to be worth it for the first two.  The newest trailer has my mouth watering at the worlds you will explore with Aqua.  If that’s the kind of visuals that we can expect in the newest game, you cannot begin to understand how excited I am.  We desperately need a new trailer for the final game, along with an intro into some of the worlds.

persona-57. Persona 5
A game that was supposed to come out in 2016, it got pushed back.  Unlike some people, I am all for that.  I am glad when they have games pushed back, in order to get everything right.  New gameplay has shown that this game is all about using spirit creatures as proxies to fight.  Reminds me Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch in that regard.  Fine by me.  The game has a colorful style, beautiful character design, a world that looks fun to explore, and on top of that, combat that looks active and vibrant.  There has been a woeful gap in truly stand-out JRPGs in the last couple years, and I want that to change.  Hopefully this game will be leading the charge!

styx-shards-of-darkness6. Styx: Shards of Darkness
You know what I miss?  Stealth games?  You know I also miss? Stealth games with a protagonist who is fun, unlike all the gruff heroes who can do the stealth thing, but got no problem killing everyone when that doesn’t work.  When I played Styx: Master of Shadows, I thought two things.  First, this game’s loading screens are bugging the fuck out of me.  For a game that is all about trial and error, having to sit through those loading screens was more than a little frustrating.  Second, finally, a stealth game that is true to the name!  So many people were bitching that you couldn’t fight.  Well yeah!  You play as a little goblin-man!  He’s half the size of everyone else.  Of course he is kind of fucked if he gets busted.  But it wasn’t just that.  Styx was a fun character.  He was foul-mouthed, vulgar, and actually enjoyed being a thief.  Plus, the world had such interesting lore.  The original game wasn’t perfect, but with the stealth genre dead, I am so glad that we have a series coming up to bring it back to its roots.  Can’t wait to see what happens next.

nioh5. Nioh
What do you get when you combine the difficulty of Dark Souls with the weapons and aesthetic of the Samurai and monsters that take from Japanese mythology?  You get one badass-looking game!  Everything about this game screams that it will fit right in in the pantheon of games loved for their brutal combat and their rich lore.  I will say that the fact that the protagonist looks so much like Geralt is a little weird, but I am willing to give it a chance.  This is a game that seems to be flying under the radar with people, and I’m not sure why.  Maybe because of the people who say that it’s a Dark Souls knock-off?  They don’t know what they’re talking about.  However, the proof will be when we get to see the game for ourselves.

uncharted-the-lost-legacy4: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
After the end of Uncharted 3, part of me was kind of wondering what Chloe was up to.  You see in the newest game that she invites Nate out on a treasure hunt, but he says “no way.”  In what is probably the most gorgeous reveal I have ever seen, we see our girl is back in form.  This time, she has teamed up from the rather affable mercenary from the last game.  Sure, we wanted to kick Nadine’s ass, but she wasn’t all bad.  Just a merc trying to get by.  Now that her whole endeavor has fallen apart, she’s out to get rich quick.  The two girls are now out to find their own fortune.  Is this a DLC or a full-blown game?  Not sure, but either way, I am excited to see what Naughty Dog is going to tide us over with until The Last of Us: Part 2.

Horizon Zero Dawn3. Horizon: Zero Dawn
It got delayed quite a bit, but you know what, if the goal is to make the game as complete as possible, I am all there!  Originally debuted a couple years ago, we finally have a release date for it.  Won’t have to wait long.  I am all about this game.  A post-apocalyptic game about a redheaded huntress who is stalking the wastelands for parts by the mechanical beasts who roam the world.  There is a story behind all of this madness, and it’s clear from the trailers that this girl is out on a mission to go figure out that story and get the truth behind her ancestry.  With the same girl who did the voice of Chloe Price in Life is Strange, I am so excited to see what happens with the narrative of this game.  The gameplay has been pretty flushed out, so now I want to know where the story goes.  Traveling around, scavenging parts from robots is fun and all, but I want to get to know this world, and the people in it.  We’ve seen that conversation options are a thing, a la Mass Effect, but I’m not complaining.  There is also the fact that there are ancient machines with untold dark powers and dark purpose.  What does it all mean?  Where did the people go?  So many questions, few answers.  Can’t wait.

god-of-war2. God of War
This game was just announced, and I have no reason to expect that it will be released this year, but call it a hunch.  Something about the reveal and how far they are into it gave me the impression that the game isn’t that far down the rabbit hole.  A soft reboot of the God of War franchise, this game is a continuation of the story.  I am dying to know what happened to Kratos after the end of the third game.  How did he get into a land of Norse mythology?  Who is this kid who is clearly not his biological son, but whom he is treating with all the love and compassion that a Spartan would his son?  They make it sound like he had been fighting in this land for some time.  Why?  What purpose guides Kratos?  He says that the boy and him are going to be fighting together against the Gods.  What new gods has our favorite god-killer gone and pissed off this time?  Lots of questions, few answers.  As I said, no confirmation, but a gut instinct that the game is coming out this year.

And the game I am most excited for this year is…

detroit-become-human1. Detroit: Become Human
Another game that I have no confirmation that it will be coming out this year, but call it a decent hunch.  Announced two years ago, we first got to see the breath-taking spectacle of the world of this game.  Centered in the city of Detroit, it seems to follow the stories of a series of androids living in a world where they are treated as second-class citizens.  The first trailer showed an android who has learned how to hide what she is.  The newest one shows an android created specifically to be used in hostage negotiations.  At first, his mission is an outright failure, but the trailer shows that you can go about it other ways.  By taking in clues, you can tailor your negotiation to best deal with the deranged android.  It also shows that there are plenty of ways to save the little girl’s life.  The very best way shows that even when you do everything right and she is saved, the police still kill the android.  He calls you a traitor.  The last game by Quantic Dream was my second-favorite game of 2013.  I have nothing but high hopes for this one.  Let’s see what it’s got.

What about you?  What games are you most excited for?  Let me know in the comments

Until next time, a quote,

“It’s up to you how this story ends.” – Connor, Detroit: Become Human

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Most Anticipated Games of 2016

2015 has been a wonderful year for me in the world of gaming.  The PS4 (the current console that I have.  Whatever to you PC master race people) has come into its own in a big way.  It had some truly amazing exclusives, like Until Dawn, and one of the best games that I have gotten to play in a long time – Bloodborne.  There was also an episodic game that has consumed my life in a big way.  Another game where, if it weren’t for crashing and burning right at the end, would be high on my list of favorite games.  This has been a fantastic year (save Arkham Knight.  Fuck that game) for gaming, and next year is looking to be even better.  So many great games, this was actually a hard list to pick out.  Kills me how little save space the PS4 has.  If it didn’t, then this would be a lot easier.  I wouldn’t have to wonder which game I’m going to have to uninstall to make room for new ones.  Frustrating.  But it’s always something, isn’t it?  The list was hard to make, but I think that we did it.  Here are my picks.  For those who have read this site for a long time, my top pick might already be known to you.  Let’s do this.

Kingdom Hearts 2.810. Kingdom Hearts 2.8: The Final Chapter Prologue
With Kingdom Hearts III in development and looking better and better with each new trailer, I am so stoked to finally get my hands on this.  Part of the problem with what will be the final game has been the fact that the plot of this series has grown so big that trying to summarize it would be a disaster.  With roughly six games between II and III, there’s a lot of plot to fill in.  The HD collections have been really great for that.  I’ve been able to catch up, and get some new stuff.  II.5 ReMIX is one of the best games I’ve ever played, packed to the brim with content.  Here, I get to finally see what happens in Dream Drop Distance, and there is some new material that shows us what happens after the events of Birth by Sleep, where Aqua is wandering in the realm of darkness.  III can’t come soon enough, but this will tide me over until then.

The Witness9. The Witness
A game that was nearly declared vaporware by people, the creator of Braid has been teasing this first-person puzzle game for years.  Now, we get to see what it was all leading to.  I, for one, am stoked.  This game looks absolutely fantastic.  The puzzle mechanics also look really cool.  Reminds me of an app game on my phone – Free Flow.  But the environments are the thing that sells me.  This is a quiet and contemplative game, that clearly is going to make a lot of use of just the environmental noise and peaceful imagery.  It’s not a bombastic game, but that is fine with me.  A puzzle game on a vibrant island will do me fine.  I don’t know much about the plot of this game yet, but I am itching to find out.

Mirror's Edge Catalyst8. Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst
It is so cool that a cult classic game is going to be getting a new entry into the series.  Though, it seems that this isn’t a sequel or a prequel.  It’s being marketed as a reboot.  This game would be a lot closer to the top, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s being made by EA and DICE.  Two companies that are known for their skull-duggary of gamers.  Look at what happened with Star Wars: Battlefield.  However, this game looks absolutely amazing, and while I will be waiting to see what the reviews say, if it does measure up, I am on it like stink on cheese!  The parkour awesomeness of this franchise has needed this for ages.  Maybe not a reboot, but at least some more entries into it.  Guess we’ll see what happens.

What Remains of Edith Finch7. What Remains of Edith Finch
Okay, how did I not hear about this game until recently?!  Made by the same people who made the fascinating and beautiful The Unfinished Swan, this game no longer has us throwing paint, but instead going through a series of short stories where we learn about the family, life, and emotional undoing of a girl named Edith Finch.  The visuals of this game looks AMAZING!  What’s more, there are clues that the gameplay will be all over the place.  Whether it be the girl, a baby, or even a cat climbing a tree.  A lot of this game is hidden, but you know what, I am stoked to see where it goes.  This game can only impress, because this studio has shown their chops.  Let’s see where things go next.  Another of the exclusive games that Sony is coming out with that is a cut above.

Yooka-Laylee6. Yooka-Laylee
You know what I miss – the cartoon-y and brilliant platforming of Banjo Kazooie.  Don’t tell me about Nuts and Bolts.  That never happened.  Fuck that game.  Several Rare developers left the studio and came together, wanting to go back to their roots.  After going to Kickstarter, showing off a game that was in form of Banjo Kazooie.  The visuals are cute and cuddly.  The gameplay looks familiar and fun.  The world looks like it will be really enjoyable to explore.  The gaming crowd spoke, and we are clearly getting what we paid for.  With so many ho-hum or outright-terrible Kickstarter games being made, it will be nice to see a success story.  Everything shown of this game makes it clear that these devs have put their heart and soul into this.  I can’t wait to finally get my hands on it.

Uncharted 45. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
After the ending of Uncharted 3, I was pretty cool with where they left things.  It was on a positive note, having gone through a story where we see Drake learn a lot about himself and what kind of man he is.  There didn’t seem to be a need for a sequel.  But after seeing the gameplay footage for this game, and learning more about the story, it’s clear that this final chapter in Nate’s story is gonna be up to the standards that Naughty Dog is known for.  Add to that the fun mechanics, and the branching areas like how you can choose where to go when you’re in the driving sections, and there is so much potential here.  This game looks to be nine kinds of fun, and I can’t wait to see how Nate will end his life as an insatiable thief and archaeological grave-robber.

Rise of the Tomb Raider4. Rise of the Tomb Raider
Why is it on this list?  Because fuck Microsoft, that’s why.  I have heard nothing but good things about this game, and you have no idea how frustrating it is that I have to wait until the holiday season of 2016 to get it.  Hopefully Sony will find some way to improve upon the game, just to stick it to Microsoft for their greed.  Kills me that the cruel reality is that even though this game has everything going for it, because of what has happened with Microsoft, it is likely never going to get a sequel.  That just pisses me off.  I want to see this franchise build upon the new life it was given.  When I do finally get my hands on this game, and review it, I’ll tell you all about it, and hopefully I can be one of a chorus of voices who tells Square Enix not to abandon this franchise just because of their stupid business decision.

Hitman3. Hitman
You know what’s awesome?  Hitman.  The last entry in the franchise was definitely more action over substance.  Not to mention a story that is pants-on-the-head retarded.  This game is going back to form.  The latest trailer shows off the game’s world, where we get to see how awesome it looks.  There are beautiful locales, a ton of ways to kill a target, and outfits that you can wear to sneak into a place.  Everything about this game looks better.  As reboots go, they want to go back to where this game was.  Hopefully they capture the difficulty that the old games have.  Where one mistake could end up costing you everything.  After how ho-hum the previous game was, Square Enix has learned their lesson, and they are showing that they want to make the most of this new game.  Can’t wait.

Horizon Zero Dawn2. Horizon: Zero Dawn
You know what else is awesome?  Robo-dinosaurs!  Oh, and a post-apocalyptic world where you hunt them, with action-RPG mechanics.  This game looks fucking amazing!  Since E3, this game has just been looking more and more amazing.  The more we see and the more we learn, the more I want this game to be out right now.  From the people who made the Killzone franchise, we are in a third-person perspective following a time period from what seems like centuries after humanity is dead.  The world is now ruled by robo-dinosaurs, and you have to survive in it.  The devs have talked about how there are mechanics of building relationships and interacting with the various societies in the game.  Everything about this has me on the edge of my seat.  Sony is bringing the house down with their exclusives, and this game would be at the top, were it not for the fact that something I have been longing for for so long will finally be here…

As I said, some of you might have seen this coming.  It’s been too fucking long…

Final Fantasy XV1. Final Fantasy XV
Finally!  About fucking time!  A release date has been set – sometime in 2016.  It will have been ten years, since this game was announced.  Ten years, and unlike the last game that had that reputation, this one appears to have made the most of its time.  It’s traded hands from one big developer at Square Enix, to another, but that appears to have worked in its favor.  Telling a bro-tastic story about bros on a road trip, with hints of Hamlet and political power games like in Game of Thrones, this game will set a place as the most ambitious of the games in the Final Fantasy series.  This IP has gotten more than a little stale in the last few years.  This game is either going to bring it back, or bury it.  No pressure or anything.  But everything I’ve seen tells me that it will be worth it.  The amazing visuals.  The awesome combat.  The epic boss fights.  The fun bro characters and their bromancing.  I haven’t seen an RPG like this game, and I cannot WAIT to finally get my hands on it.  I may be annoyed at Square for making us wait this long, but it will happen.  Most likely around the holidays, because of course.  It’s Square Enix, after all.  Gotta fuck with us.  Hopefully all of you are as excited as me.

So, what games are the ones that you are most looking forward to?  Let me know in the Comments.  Maybe we can have us some discussion.  If it’s something obscure, attach a trailer.  Maybe it will get my attention.

Until next time, a quote,

“Who can say?  We mustn’t rush to conclusions.”  – Ignis Scientia, Final Fantasy XV

Peace out,

Maverick