Lucien’s Review: God of War (2018)

Holy shit.  I just went through an experience.  It was a pretty damn awesome experience.  Sony is showing that it does single-person games like nobody else.  Both my favorite and second-favorite games of last year (Persona 5 and Horizon: Zero Dawn, respectively) were Playstation exclusive.  In the age when you have companies like EA saying that single player isn’t what people want anymore, Sony is showing them just how wrong they are.  It’s pretty great stuff.  And thus we get a game that isn’t a reboot, but an actual sequel to one of the greatest franchises of all time.  But this is a game all its own, and while it isn’t perfect, it is so fucking awesome.  Let’s talk about it.

The first things to know about this game is that it is NOT for the uninvested in this franchise.  If you aren’t aware of what happened in the previous entries of the game, you are going to be SO lost.  Everything from where Kratos gets his unbelievable strength to why he is so dead-set on not telling his son the truth about what he is and where he comes from will fly right over your head if you don’t know what happened.  And the game doesn’t exactly help that.  There is no true exposition dump, but given how the game is set up with one of the most marketed mechanics, maybe that’s for the best.

Next, a lot of people have said that this game is riffing pretty hard on The Last of Us, and I would be lying if I said that I can’t see the influence.  But there are some pretty clear places where it differs from the other game.  Lastly, this game controls VERY differently than any God of War game up to this point, so if that’s a deal-breaker for you, then you’d best give this a pass.  The older entries were all about fast-pacing and combo build-up.  This game is about strategic combat and good use of power-ups.  There are even moments where you have some Dark Souls peek in.  But it also fits with how this game is designed.

The plot of this game is where you have Old Man Kratos (yeah, it feels like an Old Man Logan kinda story) in Norse mythology land.  After the events of the previous game (which they never really say what happened.  Like, how did Kratos get there?  How did he survive stabbing himself with the Blade of Olympus?  Who is Atreus’ mother?), he has fled Greece and the utter destruction he left in his wake and started a family in this new land.  Having met a woman, fallen in love, and had a child, some unknown event happened and the mother died.  The plot of this game is pretty simple.  Kratos and his son Atreus are taking the mother’s ashes to the highest peak in all of the Nine Realms.  But as with anything associated with Kratos, what stars as something simple becomes something very complicated.

What do I love about this game?  There are a lot of things.  For starters, while I wasn’t expecting the slower pace in combat, I got into step and began to see things more strategically.  You start with the Leviathan Axe, shield, and your bare fists.  But over time, you gain a new weapon.  One that should be familiar to everyone who played the previous entries.  The moment when it revealed that you get your old standard back, I was giddy as a school girl.  The nostalgia factor was palpable.

Which brings me to the next thing I love.  This game knows what franchise it’s in.  There are moments, a lot of moments where Atreus is talking about the crazy things that his father is doing and making it sound like this is such a crazy thing, and you’re thinking “oh kiddo, I’ve faced worse.  A lot worse.”  This game does a good job putting you in the seat of being Old Man Kratos, partly because of how this story is told.

They did change the voice actor for Kratos, and it isn’t the worst pick.  This guy is actually what I think of when I imagine Kratos as an old man.  The deeper voice is pretty alright.  Which made it annoying when there is a scene in Hel and you have this other guy doing the voice of a younger Kratos who appears in flashback.  Why?  It totally would have worked to have this dude be the person who voiced Kratos as an old man.  Why not have the older version for a scene referencing what happened in Greece before?  Kind of an homage.  They had the same voiceover for Zeus, so I just don’t get it.

Next up, I love the characters.  Everyone you meet in this game has so much personality.  What’s more, it’s pretty great to see Atreus being all youthful and nice with people, while his father is still the ultimate prick.  Part of why the voice change works is because this guy is still such an asshole!  He got the Kratos character down to a fault!  It’s pretty great stuff.  Which brings me to Atreus.  I like this kid.  For the most part.  For the first two thirds of the game, this character is a nice contrast to the cold, dark, violent mannerisms of his father.  His kindness and optimism, and the way he talks about how his mother was a lot like that, makes me really come to care for him.  It makes a scene later when he is horribly sick and potentially dying that much more impactful.  That being said, in the last third of this game, they give this kid a HUGE character shift after the truth about his existence gets known that just bugs me.  He does eventually come around, but for a while there the little bastard was downright insufferable.  Props to the voice acting for Atreus.  The kid they got for this was on point.

But don’t go thinking that Kratos is just a stick in the mud the whole time.  This guy has some real character development.  It is pretty awesome seeing how his character grows over the course of the narrative from a stern asshole, to a loving father who genuinely does care for his son and wants to do right by him.  I feel his compassion there as he talks with Atreus and more and more becomes a loving and outgoing father.  At least as much as his Spartan nature allows him to be.

I’ve spent a lot of this talking about the story stuff, but for those who read my site, you know that the story is the thing I care for most.  If that sucks, it doesn’t matter how the rest of the game is.  Let’s talk about some of the other stuff.

This game is GORGEOUS!  I have a basic bitch PS4, and it looks absolutely stunning.  The visuals are a cut above.  It’s not Uncharted 4 levels of detail, but it is still downright fantastic.  I love this game’s visual design so much.  Some of the Nine Realms aren’t especially interesting, but when this game shines, it really blows me away.

One thing that I am surprised they didn’t get very well was the sound design.  The soundtrack for this game is really…forgettable.  It doesn’t stick with me the way any of the other games have.  I can still hum some of the tunes from God of War III pretty clearly, but not this game.  In fact, there is a very large amount of quiet time where you are just listening to the environment.  It’s kinda nice.  But then the music that does kick in, it lacks a certain amount of punch.

All in all, this game is damn-near a masterpiece.  It’s one of the most engaging narratives I’ve played in a VERY long time.  A lot like Uncharted 4, it feels like a logical extent of the story, and while there are a few things holding it back, it’s pretty damn great all the same.  And this is the FIRST of the PS4 exclusive games this year.  Sony is really coming out swinging this year, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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Lucien’s First Take: Venom – Official Teaser Trailer

This sucked!  This is the worst trailer I have ever seen, in the history of trailers that are meant to get people’s hype up.  What the fuck was this?!  I have never seen a trailer so bereft of essential material to what they are trying to market in the history of movie trailers.  This trailer could be for anything and I don’t think that anyone would see the difference.  This could be for any retarded action movie and people would not be able to tell the difference.  I hate this trailer, and it is making my expectations for a film that I am GENUINELY hoping is awesome fall to the fucking floor.  Can Sony PLEASE sign over the rights to everything in the Spider-Man film to Disney already?!  They can’t fuck it up worse than they have.  I could go on and on about it, but let’s show the trailer so you can see what I mean.

Do you see what I’m talking about?!  What did we learn in this trailer?  That Tom Hardy’s accent is odd?  I know that Hardy is an amazing actor.  I’ve loved him in everything I have seen him in.  Even in movies that I think are horribly flawed, like the last Star Trek film that he starred in as a young Picard, his role was still fantastic.  So what is up with his accent?  You know what, never mind.  Hugh Laurie’s accent wasn’t great either but I still loved House.

Where is the titular character?!  I get that this is an origin story, but only showing a brief little tidbit of a symbiote is not going to get me excited for this film.  They are talking about fucking Carnage being here.  They are saying it is going to be a violent R-rated film.  Why are they not leading with that?!  Let’s see some of the violence!  I get that it’s smart to keep the full reveal of the character for the film itself.  Too many films play their hand too early.  I do want to be surprised.  But you can still do that and have a trailer that doesn’t cheat everyone of at least a glimpse of what they are supposed to get excited about.

Let’s see some of Carnage’s violence?  He rips and tears people to pieces.  Let’s see some dismembered bodies!  Let’s see some of the twisted death in his wake.  That’s a neat idea!  Have a flash where we get to see him, or how about the titular fucking character?  Maybe have Tom Hardy finding the symbiote?  Why not that?  There are so many better things they could have done, and not one of them was done in this fucking trailer!

What blows my mind is how many positive votes it has.  Did we watch the same trailer?!  I don’t think so, because all I saw was meaningless voiceover that could be for anything, shots that could be for anything, without a single semblance of rhyme or reason.  This was actually worse than the Solo trailer.  By the way, that looks like shit too.  The pretty boy they got for the role looks NOTHING like the character.  That film will suck.  But back to this movie, this trailer was shit and it has set the bar incredibly low for a movie that I want to see and genuinely hope is good.

Fuck…

Initial Verdict
3 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Marvel’s Spider-Man 2017 E3 Gameplay

I meant to talk about this months ago, but I am finally getting around to it, because there is a lot to unpack.  Here’s the thing about probably 95% of superhero games – they suck, or are really mediocre.  Especially the ones licensed to films.  Licensed games are the worst thing under the sun.  After the SNES and Sega Genesis, they were all nothing but crap.  So when I heard that Insomniac is making a Spider-Man game that is officially licensed by Marvel, I was groaning.  I mean, Insomniac games are awesome.  They made the Ratchet and Clank games, which are awesome.  But a superhero game to come directly from Marvel?  This has bad idea written all over it.  This year at E3, however, they released a gameplay trailer that has taken all my skepticism and destroyed it.  It looks awesome, so let’s take a look at it now.

Right out of the game, the visuals for this game are amazing.  The level of detail is just perfect.  It’s pretty standard, for a modern console game, but you know what, it’s great.  Definitely hoping we can either customize or get new suits for the web-slinger, but I do like this suit.  Not too worried about that.  Switchable suits has been a standard for Spider-Man games since their inception, so it’s all good.

The control scheme for this game looks pretty simple.  I can clearly tell that almost all of it will be about staying above your targets.  The stealth elements look absolutely phenomenal.  One of the things I always thought was kinda dumb about Spider-Man games is that they don’t take advantage of the elements of getting enemies from above.  Sure, his suit ain’t exactly made to sneak, but you can still hit an enemy from above without them seeing you coming.  Since Spider-Man never kills his foes, we don’t have to worry about non-lethal runs of the game.  Exciting stuff.  The controls for getting back up to beams or on top of objects are taken right out of the Arkham games.  No problem with that whatsoever.  It’s totally fitting for our friendly neighborhood hero.

We also get to see some potential gadget stuff in this game.  Another thing I am digging that seems to have come straight out of the Arkham games.  Desperately hoping that they don’t just copy that formula beat-for-beat though and give you some freedom to customize the stuff you use and be able to craft specialty stuff.  Really wondering how the leveling up system is going to work.  You also can use the environment to fuck up enemies!  That’s awesome!  I love it.  Later on we get to see that done even in combat scenarios.  Manipulating the environment in active combat and not just for stealth is a break from the mold they clearly are going off of, and I think that’s a great one.  But the stealth aspect of this game is really something.  Not gonna lie, the more potential I have to be stealthy, the happier I’ll be.  It’s my favorite way to play a game, and it looks like I get to scratch my itch here.

Then we get our first peek into the combat.  Now here’s something where I want to elaborate on how this game is using the Arkham formula.  A lot of people are saying that that’s unoriginal, but you know what, I think it’s goddamn brilliant.  There’s a reason why.  When you fight, it’s clear that you are using the same kind of system they used in Arkham to dodge enemy attacks before they happen.  To me, this formula makes even more sense for Spider-Man than it did for Batman.  Why?  Because of the Spider Sense.  That talent gives him the ability to see what’s about to happen when danger is close.  He gets an almost perfect ability to perceive incoming problems and react to them.  So the indicator system from the aforementioned series is perfect for that!  It also lets you dodge machine gun fire, which, for those who read the comics, is something that Spider-Man could do when he’s at his best.  Since this game isn’t attached to any film or thing like that, keeping it true to the comics is kind of awesome.

From there we get some stuff with a helicopter that shows this game is also taking cues from the old God of War games with quicktime events.  Not gonna complain about that either.  Clearly they are doing the concept right.  Kinda curious to see what all this “HEX” stuff in that clearly is some kind of energy.  This should be interesting.

This game went from being something I figured wouldn’t be worth my time, to one of my most-anticipated games of 2018.  That’s pretty awesome.  Let me know what you all think down below.

Initial Verdict:
Hyped!

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Observer

I find myself in a very strange position – having a game where there is nothing wrong with it in terms of appearance, gameplay, or performance, and yet I was totally and completely bored by.  This is a game that has nothing fundamentally wrong with it.  I just got so bored playing it.  How is that possible?  Maybe it’s just not the kind of game for me?  I honestly don’t know.  There could be a lot of self-reflection in my future as I think about this game and what it represents to me.  This review may end up with me just stroking my own dick as I think about why I didn’t really enjoy this game as much as the Steam community seems to, but so be it.  I do want to talk about it.

The story goes that you’re in a 1980’s style dystopian future horror movie.  Everything about the aesthetic screams old school horror films.  This game seems to have taken some cues from Alien: Isolation in that regard.  You play as Daniel Lazarski, voiced very well by Rutger Hauer.  I like the voice acting from this character.  Rutger isn’t known for being able to boom.  He plays the broken down old man very well.  He is an Observer.  They’re a new kind of law enforcement who can go into people’s minds and take information that they don’t want to give up out of their heads.  It’s a dark concept, that admittedly has a lot of potential.  Now he’s on the trail to find his son, with whom he is estranged, and gets involved in a plot of murder and deception, all inside the heads of the dead or dying.

This game has a very unique look.  I liked the retro feel of the tech in this game.  You have all these holgraphic displays, mixed in with computers that look like they were coughed up from the 80’s.  It’s cool stuff.  Seeing games willing to eschew the modern film convention of making all the technology super advanced is really refreshing.  A pity Hollywood can’t seem to do that.  The problem here is that since the game really doesn’t take a large amount of time building the world it inhabits, I didn’t find myself getting into this beyond the most basic “that’s kinda cool” sorta way.  Which is really unfortunate because there was a lot of loving detail put into the environments.

Hacking into people’s minds brought me to another game that this one clearly took a lot of cues from.  Well, not really a game so much as what could have been a game – P.T.  After the death of Silent Hills, a TON of games have been trying to take that concept and run with it.  To extremely varying degrees of success.  In my opinion, this game didn’t seem to rise to the ambitious goals Hideo Kojima was trying to do the way others appear to be.  All the intricacies of P.T.’s environmental puzzles connected to being in a single hallway are lost on this game.

Then we get the sections that it’s clear they took from a previous work, Outlast – the moving around and hiding sections from a monster that you can’t kill.  These sections got very tedious, very quickly.  It was so easy to predict where the monster would be, so all the tension that could have come from hiding from the creature was lost in a nano-second.  I found myself wishing that they could have just ditched those entirely for maybe more creative environmental puzzles in the world of people’s minds.  For all the potential the idea of jacking into people’s heads has, they really seemed to not want to take any crazy chances with it.  I can think of 100 ways to make it a surreal nightmare all off the top of my head that they didn’t even try.  I kind of want to see this idea done again by a studio that is a little more ambitious.  Maybe Kojima can take a crack at it after he is done with Death Stranding?  Just a good idea.

Which brings me to the fear element – this game isn’t scary.  At all.  They really should have ditched the fear side.  I guess the fear is supposed to come from the idea of what it means to get into people’s heads and how that is violating their minds.  But here’s the thing – 99% of everyone you jack into is dead.  This concept could have been made immediately more disturbing if you had living people who are desperately fighting you in their minds from getting to their secrets.  Like maybe have an investigation where the Observer is so desperate to get to the answer that he’ll do all sorts of crazy shit in people’s head.  As I said, this is a really neat concept, that I want to see done better.

I guess my biggest problem here is that this game feels like a ton of potential that wasn’t wasted, per se, just not taken far enough.  If they wanted to make a game where the implication of what you’re doing is supposed to be the scary thing (which I like on a VERY large level), then why not go all the way with it?  I mean REALLY fuck with the player.  Make it so that the player feels like they are partly to blame.  Have them also so eager to get to the answer that they are pushing the main character to do all these things.  Maybe some Fourth Wall moments where you put on the player that what they’re doing is wrong.  So much potential in this thought process.

This is not a bad game.  I just got very bored by it.  To me it feels like a game that is riffing off other games and doesn’t go out of its way to be its own thing.  Which is a bummer, because the kind of game I described above, I can see Rutger Hauer being an amazing addition to.  Hopefully this isn’t his last foray into video games before he passes.  He is quite old.  It will be a shame when he goes.  He’s a great actor, and has the chops for great voice acting too.  But that’s just my thoughts.  Let me know what yours are below.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Official Trailer

I saw the new Spider-Man today.  Awesome movie.  Just did a review on it.  But before that I had to suffer through a TON of ads for films that look just…awful.  Sony REALLY needs to get out of the movie industry, because they are producing some of the biggest shit imaginable.  I had heard that there was a sequel to Jumanji being done.  The classic film with Robin Williams, practical effects that still hold up, and CG that has aged terrible.  I had heard that it was going to involve The Rock and be set in a school.  So, some kids find the game and then it ends up having animal hijinks all around the school?  Okay, this sounds like it has potential.  Not much, mind you, but potential.

Oh, if only it had been that.  When the trailer for this film began, I was in awe, in absolute awe of how utterly stupid it is.  Let’s take a look.

So we have the breakfast club, circa 2017 being put in detention.  Glad to see the film wasted no time ripping off infinitely better films (something you’re going to learn that this film does a lot of).  So they find the game board down in that room?  You know, that iconic game board with all the really trippy effects and riddles telling our hapless characters what sorts of nightmares they unleashed?  This should be fun!

Oh, right we don’t have that.  Instead, we get their version of a Super Nintendo where it’s a video game now!  Because…modern?  Oh god, this film wastes no time trying to pander to the millenials who are NEVER going to like it anyway.  I just don’t get why they chose to do this.  Part of the charm of the original film was the understanding that it is retro.  Even for the 90’s, board games were passe.  But this game called to you.  It played drums and creeped you out.  There was real presence to that creepy board.  But now we have it just some game console that they found.  Were there even drums?  I didn’t hear anything, so I guess not.  Groj is this stupid.  This is so fucking stupid.

They start up the game, pick their characters, and then are sucked into the game.  Wait, really?  So all that stuff about the animals from the game fucking around in the real world?  That’s just, what, gone now?  Once they end up in the game’s reality, we see them all as different characters.  The really germophobic nerd is in The Rock’s body.  So, is this film ripping off Heavy Metal now?  That’s a weird choice.  Does that mean he’s going to bone some naked babes?  I bet that would make this film more interesting.  The black guy is in Kevin Hart’s body.  Oh boy, I can’t wait to see what unfunny comedy comes out of him.  The nerdy girl is a hot girl’s body now.  Okay.  But the thing which made me grown the loudest was seeing the hot girl now in Jack Black’s body.  Did this film really rip of The Hot Chick?!  You know, that film where Rob Schneider is put in the body of a hot girl?!  That film which fucking sucked?!  Unbelievable.  The premise just gets stupider and stupider.

Does anyone remember the way Robin Williams described the jungle world in the original film?  It sounded like a terrifying place, didn’t it?  A world where every day is a constant fear of if you will be eaten.  Where it’s full of darkness and nightmarish monsters that you can’t begin to comprehend.  And even the humans are killers who hunt other human beings.  That description really fucked with me as a kid.  But I guess in this film it’s a bright and colorful place, full of mirth and laughter and hilarious hijinks!  The montage that follows seems to suggest as much.

I’m just gonna cut to the quick on this, because talking about this trailer is pissing me off – this movie looks fucking retarded.  It’s not being faithful to the original.  It’s desperately trying to cash in on the hipster millennial crowd while also trying to be a family film.  Though, I guess these idiots are now old enough to have children, so maybe that works.  It’s ripping off other movies, and in the process looks even more pathetic.  Especially when the films it is ripping off starred the cinematic abortion known as Rob Schneider!  Fuck this movie right up its asshole!  Yet-another reboot that we can add to the pile of reboots that just fucking suck.  And, thankfully, the consensus on this seems to be pretty solid, so I hope this film bombs to the point that Sony can finally get the picture about how badly they need to get out of the movie industry.

Initial Verdict
3 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Persona 5

First things first – fuck Atlus for their stupid policies about people live-streaming this game.  It’s bullshit, and I guess they don’t like free publicity.  Nintendo should tell them how well that is working out for them.  That being said, hopefully this company’s asinine decision doesn’t ruin your drive to play this game, because this is one HELL of a JRPG.  I haven’t played a JRPG this fun in years.  With how this genre has scaled down to the point that it seems like it’s on life support, for a game this good to come out is truly a marvel.  This is my first game in the Persona series, and hot shit.  This game is nigh flawless.  There is one major thing that just eats away at me, but we’ll get there when we do.

Never has the idea that delaying a game until they get it right hold more weight than it did here.  I am so glad this game got delayed.  The polish on this final product is fantastic.  This game is incredible, and I cannot recommend it enough.  Sony really is putting their best foot forward lately.  Seems they are aware of how they are not doing so well, but they have come back swinging this year with two exclusives that are beyond the pale.  And if this is a sign of things to come, I am so stoked for the other exclusives of theirs that I am waiting for.

This game has you playing as the Phantom Thieves, a little band of high school kids (of course they are) who are going into a parallel universe to steal the hearts of people twisted by their own desires.  This game has a lot of REALLY dark themes, and not once do they shy away from it.  In fact, the way this game tackles the dark subject matter head on is actually pretty impressive.  I expected them to get kind of antsy about going this deep into the scary stuff.  But nope!  Not once do they shy away from the twisted shit that is in this game’s villains hearts.  Not to mention some of the darker implications of what you are doing to these people stealing their heart’s treasure.  The moral implications of some of what you do can get a little disturbing.

Which brings me to the acting.  A game this twisted can only be sold with great performances.  Every role in this game is fantastic.  Your character is a silent protagonist, which admittedly isn’t as fun as I would like, but I can overlook that with a superb cast of supporting characters, all of which have their own personalities and quirks that they bring to the table.  Not to mention the relationships that you build up over time and how your actions with each character can change all sorts of variables in the game.

So let’s talk about the visuals.  Oh my Groj!  This game looks amazing!  The use of color is fantastic.  The punk aesthetic that they were going for is all over this game, and bless it for that.  I love every second of the visual candy that I see.  The real world is even pretty nice, with every area having a lot of personality.  But the Palaces are where the game shines the most.  Each one is unique and has a design that will blow you away.

The thing which will make or break this game for a lot of people is the combat system.  If you don’t like turn-based strategic combat, you are going to hate this game.  It’s that simple.  Fighting in this game took me back to Final Fantasy X.  Every move is a carefully planned decision, paying attention to your enemies, your stats, and what Personas you have equipped.  Which brings me to the primary way you will be fighting.  Each of the side characters can only have one Persona, which is fine.  The idea of micro-managing an entire team of interchangeable Personas gives me a headache just thinking about.

You have a TON of customization options in this game.  Whether it be the skills you teach your Personas, the Persona crafting system which has some dark implications on its own, or the customization of your characters and the sheer amount of items there are to collect, you will never find yourself in a position where you don’t have options to play with.  The sheer amount of stuff to do in this game is incredible.  Which brings me to my one and only beef with it.

For coming so close to a perfect score and crashing on this, it is a little frustrating.  This game has a time based system, and here’s the problem with it – the game will often fight with you about it.  Instead of allowing you to make use of your time as you see fit, there are so many points where the game will fight you.  Why can’t I spend a little time at the gym and a little time at the baseball cages?  Why can’t I do a little studying and then catch a movie?  This game’s limiting factor in what you can do is so frustrating.  This is made all the worse because leveling up your personality traits is a HUGE part of this game, and you don’t get the time to really do a lot with it.  I don’t like when this game fights me, and it does that a lot.  To some this might seem nit-picky, but when I have the option to eat ramen and then chill at a bathhouse, I don’t want to have to choose between the two when I could so easily do both!  It is so frustrating at times.

This is not a game for everyone.  The pace is slow, and you will find yourself wishing you could get more side-tracked with stuff.  It doesn’t help that leveling up your personality traits is so fucking inconsistent.  If only I had more time to do the stuff necessary!  But if you love JRPGs, then you owe it to yourself to play this game.  It is a cut above its contemporaries, in every way.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Horizon Zero Dawn

As a best foot forward goes, Sony has done a bang-up job.  Sorry this review took so long, but I wanted to get as far into this game as I possibly could before I talked about it.  This is a game that is fun as fuck, and challenging.  It’s a game that eschews all conventions about action shooters in favor of an open world that is beautiful, a world that is a little dry but still fun, and characters who are at the very least fun to talk to.  And the main character voiced by the same actress who did my favorite character from my favorite game of 2015.  Let’s talk about it.

The plot goes that it has been 1,000 years since a cataclysm of unknown origins wiped humanity out.  Now what remains of civilization is bands of tribal societies.  And surrounding all of this is a robotic horde who also has unknown origins.  Our story follows a girl whose origins are also shrouded in mystery.  Hated by the tribe and unsure of where she belongs, her quest begins with a simple mission – find out who her mother is.  It’s a really grim narrative, but one that keeps you enraptured from beginning to end.

First things first – this game is beautiful.  Absolutely gorgeous.  The surprisingly-small open world is incredible to look at.  Making everything pretty compact was a smart decision on the devs part.  So many open world games have a bad habit of there being nothing to do.  In this game, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  There is a ton of stuff to do.  And all of it hinges on how you like to play.

This game has two facets – stealth and action.  Stealth is my preferred method.  I love stealth games.  The next game I am stoked for is just that.  The game gives you tall grass to hide in and ways to sneak around.  In addition to killing robots you have human enemies to fight.  And when you up the difficulty, they are some attentive fuckers.  Once you have the bounty missions, things get a lot more fun.  Then there is action.  This is the harder one.  Weapons in this game are primitive.  You have to be smart when shooting your targets.  You can craft your own ammunition, which you will be doing a lot.  Even the most typical gun-like weapons will suck up your resources.  Add to that the fact that the robots are tough customers and playing loud is a dangerous gambit.

Loot-mining is the biggest thing you will be doing in this game.  Every robot you kill drops a ton of loot.  You craft your own ammo, which I guarantee you will be a LOT of.  Every potion you drink, trap you lay, or specialized arrow you make will be done with stuff you find on every single enemy, in the environment, and what you buy.  In addition, you can buy better weapons and outfits.  However, sometimes you don’t need the best outfit, as all you need is to add mods to your weapons and outfits to make them better.  If there is one thing that this game cannot be accused of, it’s limiting how you play.  Especially because of all the robots.

Speaking of, this game was marketed primarily on having giant robots.  It’s both this game’s best aspect, and sometimes not all of its best.  When it’s at its best is when you are using the tools you have, including the ability to hack the robots, to fight machines who are massive and powerful.  When its at its worst is when you have enemies who have a bad habit of being just like each other, just a little bigger.  There are five robots shaped like pack animals that you can ride.  There are three shaped like giant cats, and two shaped like dinosaurs.  A little variety would have gone a very long way.  As would some more boss fights.  Having specialized machines who you only face once.  This was a fun part of the game, but the tedium of how regular certain enemies got can’t be ignored.  When you are able to use robots against each other and play stealthy, these things are awesome.  When you are forced into a stand-up fight against machines who can easily kick the shit out of you, it kind of sucks.

The other thing about this game is that the missions can get a little repetitive.  My favorites are the ones where you use this fantastic plot-device called the Focus to basically turn into Batman and examine crime scenes and know what everything is.  I would call it an easy out for the game to have the main character be a super genius, but you know what, it’s still fun.  And to the game’s credit, when you are able to put the device to good use, it does feel like being a detective.  Now if only they could have had more effort put into the crime-solving as opposed to the robot-killing.

Make no mistake, there are no shortage of missions.  Whether it being going into the vaults where the machines are coming from, learning bits and pieces about the forces at work in the world which is keeping the mechanical monsters coming, or examining a crime scene to learn what happened, or going into a bandit camp to kill the worst bandit of them all.  There is a TON of stuff to do in this game.  For completionists like me, it’s a dream come true.  But for the casual player, you may find yourself getting bored.

Which brings me to the acting in this game.  Bless the girl who voiced the main character’s heart.  She clearly put her all into this.  However, for as hard as she tries, the rest of the acting in this game ranges from wooden to overacting.  I can’t be nice about this.  The cruel reality is that not one of these character aside from Aloy sounds even remotely realistic.  A couple do pretty well, but I could almost see the rest of the cast reading from a script.  That is a very unfortunate deal.  The roles who do stand out truly do.  No joke, a couple performances actually made me get invested.  But for the rest this was a paycheck.  Still, main character was great.  This woman clearly has a talent for this, and I hope she is in more games to come.

All in all, Sony definitely brought their a-game to the table.  While everyone is all about Nintendo’s latest under-powered console, I still have a ton of stuff to do in this game, and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick