Lucien’s Review: Hitman: Season One

hitmanWhen I first heard about this game, I was annoyed.  Here we have a AAA title that is being sold in episodes.  What’s more, in order to play this game, you have to be online.  I was not going to stand for that.  I refused to participate.  Just like how I refuse to participate in releasing Final Fantasy VII remake in episodes.  However, when I decided on a whim to get the disc release of the game, and holy shit, I was impressed.  The wonders of what depression can do for a man.  Here we have one of the most fantastic stealth games ever made, with a few flaws.  All things considered, I am eager to see what comes next, even though I won’t be buying the episodes.

Have you ever wanted a game where you could actually feel like a secret agent?  If so, this is your game.  This game is at its best when you play it that way.  Agent 47 is back in action.  After the insane excess that was Hitman: Absolution, this is such a breath of fresh air.  However, much like that game, one of the biggest flaws of this one is the story.  To be honest, this game would have been so much better served if it nixed the story altogether.  Just have Agent 47 doing missions to kill people.  Play it like a Bond movie and have it be bad criminals doing bad things.  Hell, the game even frames one mission where it’s rich clients who are hiring the IDA to get justice that the legal system cannot give them.  They didn’t need another convoluted conspiracy involving some supranational entity who secretly controls the world.  This trope is so overused that I am genuinely sick of it.

The plot goes that Agent 47 is hired by the IDA as their newest operative.  They are a clandestine organization who works in assassinations.  Rich people, corporations, and even national governments hire them to do wet-work operations against very dangerous people, along with some people who slipped through the legal cracks but have some very violent retribution coming their way.  However, over time, 47 and his handler realize that they are being used by a dangerous individual to attack an organization who secretly controls the world.  To what end?  Wouldn’t you like to know?

As I said, this game is basically making you a secret agent.  Each mission has you infiltrating an open level so that you can take out a series of targets and occasionally take on an adjacent task.  The goal is to go through the level and be invisible.  The IDA values no collateral damage.  You are to be ghost, who kills with perfect silence, and never leaves a trace.  And the game gives you a plethora of ways to get the job done.  Each level has dozens of routes to get to the target.  You can take the direct approach, but shooting your way through a crowd looks bad.  The levels give you a good deal of freedom when it comes to dealing with individual targets.  Some of them have little side-missions associated with them.  Sometimes you can be a ghost and sneak around without ever having to change outfits.  There are tons of disguises and hidden goodies to help you get your mission done.  No one can say that this game is unfair.  The difficulty can be whatever you want it to be, but you are still being given as much opportunities to make the kill as you like.

The best thing I can say about this game is the levels.  Not only are the visuals fucking gorgeous, I mean holy shit, but the vast open spaces let you play around with how you want to get the mission done.  Since I love to make a kill in a way where I don’t even leave anyone aware that I was there, it feels so good when I am strolling out of a place and everyone still thinks that all is well in their world.  My personal favorite was in Morocco, where I got to walk out of the Swedish Consulate and have a massive protest outside, with me not having a care in the world.  I had just killed a guy from inside a TV booth, then dragged his body into a closet where he can rot in peace until some poor cleaning person gets to find him and the knocked-out security guard that I left him in there with.

Everything in the levels of these games plays a part.  If you get made, but are able to disappear, people will be talking about what happened.  If you kill one person in an area, other people will start to notice.  Take actions and you can see the results.  My favorite was in Paris, where I dropped a massive light display on a target and had the entire procession run screaming from the show.  That was cool.  A bit more flashy than I had intended, but sometimes flashy works.  How I dropped the guy’s lover was pretty epic.

The other flaw in this game, aside from the story, is how short it is.  With five missions and the training mission, there isn’t a lot of meat.  This is a game that is meant to be replayed.  To find all the ways that you can ice your target.  You can play each mission a dozen times and still be finding new ways to play.  Whether you go from disguise to disguise, slowly working your way to your intended target, or find a tall tower with a high-powered rifle to blow your target’s head off without anyone ever even seeing you, it cannot be said that this game doesn’t let you play your way.  Reminded me of that line in Leon The Professional, where he says that the best killer can get right up next to their target, while amateurs kill from a distance.

All in all, this was worth the wait.  It sucks that Square Enix has gone this route, but I can’t fault them for the final product.  This was one hell of a game, and I will impatiently wait to see what the next season brings us.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Final Fantasy Summons

Having just gotten done with Final Fantasy XV, I am thinking about the summons in that game.  A pity that I can’t summon them on command, but they are cool all the same.  It got me to thinking about the whole concept of summons in this series.  It has been known for having some cool-as-fuck ones, some weird ones, and a fat Chocobo.  No joke, that is a real summon.  It falls from the sky and lands on the enemy.  That’s just weird.  Let’s get down to it.

titan10. Titan
I hadn’t played a game with this guy in it until XV, but man did he make an impression.  In every game that he has been in, Titan is a gigantic monstrosity that rips the land apart in order to do massive damage to his enemies.  While not the most flashy summon, it is pretty cool.  The fight against him in XV was fucking awesome.  I wish that I had a more interesting reason as to why he gets on the list, but a giant who can rip the land to pieces is all he needs to be.

knights-of-the-round9. Knights of the Round
The most difficult summon to get in VII, instead of getting to have one ally come into battle with you, you get 13.  After winning all the chocobo races and breeding a complete rainbow of chocobos, It is the ultimate weapon, able to defeat almost any enemy.  Each of them are knights who serve under King Arthur, who is the last to strike with the blade Excalibur.  XIV brought them back, only as enemies this time at the end of the Heavensward expansion.  I am hoping that they will be able to be used as an ally again in future games.  Assuming there are any.

alexander8. Alexander
Probably the most unique of the summons, Alexander is a giant fortress.  That’s right, you get the beat the shit out of your enemy with a living, mobile weapon.  In VIII, it encloses the enemy and them blows them to bits.  In XIII, the fortress first sends down a giant walking golem, but you can call down the rest of it, a series of interlocking walls that use lasers to carve up all enemies.  Such a pity that such a cool summon was in such a mediocre entry into the franchise.  I think my favorite version is in XIV, where it is everything the giant mechanized fortress is supposed to be.

ramuh7. Ramuh
The god of thunder, I hadn’t gotten much experience with this old man until XV.  In every game he has been in, his look hasn’t really changed.  Taking on the appearance of a bearded old man, he brings down the wrath of thunder.  Was hoping to see him in X, but he was replaced by Ixion, who is cool in his own right.  In XV, you have to activate all of his stones.  Once you do, he can only be used once, but that one time is epic as fuck.  When assaulting an imperial base, you call down his Judgment Bolt to destroy the magitech generator.  Watching that happen is just fantastic.  Worth every second.  Sucks that that is the only time you can use him.  Would have given anything to have more time with the guy.

leviathan6. Leviathan
My first run-in with this summon was in IV, when you have to fight the guy.  A being who controls the sea, he wasn’t a summon you could use for the first few games.  Then I got to have control of him in VII, where you can call down the ocean to drown your enemies.  But, of course, the most fantastic version of the character is in XV.  Lunafreya wants to make a deal with it to give its blessing to Noctis.  The ancient beast does NOT like this arrangement, and instead attacks Noctis and the Imperial fleet who comes in to kill it.  The battle that follows pretty much levels the city, but it is spectacular.  Leviathan controls the water to make dragons that lash out at you.  A fantastic battle, in the lesser half of the game.

shiva5. Shiva
Don’t let the delicate femininity of this summon fool you, Shiva is no slouch.  The absolute power of winter, she uses it to freeze and obliterate her enemies.  My favorite version of the character is in X, where you get her at a very pivotal part of the story.  It’s right after you get to the temple in Lake Macalania, and you find out the truth about Seymour being a monster.  He calls forth a monster who we’ll get to talk about pretty soon here, and you now have Shiva to call to your aid.  In XIII, she is in the form of twin sisters, who can combine their bodies to form a motorcycle.  A pity that the game she is in there is so mediocre.  That concept has a ton of potential.  In XV, you see her as Lady Lunafreya’s attendant, secretly hiding who she really is.  But just when everything is at its worst, she reveals who she is, and comes to join Noctis in battle.  As sexy as she is deadly, her Diamond Dust will freeze your bones and rip you up.

ifrit4. Ifrit
Probably the most well-known of the summons in this franchise, the beast of fire is modeled after a fire spirit called Djinn.  It has demonic horns in every iteration, and the chief attack it uses is Hellfire.  My favorite iteration of the character is also in X.  He is the second summon you get.  Yuna calls him forth, being launched up in the air and landing on his waiting shoulder.  In XV, he is the only cool part of the shitty-ass climax to the game.  It seems that he isn’t keen on keeping humanity alive, so he makes a deal with the villain to kill everyone.  In this game, he is much more of a man, using a flaming sword and his flaming powers to destroy Noctis and his allies.  Whatever form he is in, fire is your friend.

anima3. Anima
Exclusive to X, this summon is both badass and scary as fuck, when you think about it.  For starters, her back-story is depressing as fuck.  Originally Seymour’s mother, she wanted to give her son a way to fight Sin, so she turned herself into a fayth in order to stay with him.  But it clearly had some horrific side-effects.  You have to collect all of the hidden treasures in each temple.  Then you unlock her.  When you summon her into battle, a giant chain comes from the sky, reaching into the ground,  You are literally dragging her out of Hell to fight for you.  Her main attack is called Pain.  She charges energy into her eye, blasting it out at enemies, causing either massive damage or instant death.  It is aptly named, since it makes her eye bleed in pain.  But that is nothing.  Her overdrive sucks the enemy into Hell, where her true form pummels the shit out of them, causing massive damage.  A depressing and nightmarish summon, and probably the most powerful in the game.

yojimbo2. Yojimbo
Another summon unique to X, he is also the most unique of the game because of what is required to get him to fight.  You find him in the hidden temple in the Calm Lands.  He is the summon that killed the first summoner that Lulu was with.  Getting this summon lays some of her problems to rest.  A very subdued swordsman, in order to make him fight, he must be paid.  And how much you give him will affect what kind of attack he does.  Give him a couple hundred gil and he will either have his dog assist him, or he will throw knives at the enemies.  A few thousand gil and he will use his blade to attack either one or all of the enemies, virtually guaranteeing instant death.  However, if you pay him over 10,000 gil, when his overdrive gauge is full, and he will call forth the Zanmato blade from the dark abyss that Anima lives in.  This blade is so powerful that it will cause instant and immediate death to whatever enemy he attacks with it.  You actually see lesser enemies get cut in half, with blood spurting out.  This is one samurai that you do NOT want to fuck with.

Some of you may see the #1 pick coming from a mile away.

bahamut1. Bahamut
This summon is not only very powerful, but it is arguably the most iconic if the franchise.  A Final Fantasy game isn’t complete unless we get to see this dragon.  My favorite iteration of the summon is, as you may have guessed, in X.  It’s my favorite Final Fantasy game, so sue me.  But that doesn’t mean he isn’t badass in the others.  In some iterations, he is a being with two wings, four wings, or six.  Then there was the retardedness in XII where he is a giant airship.  Yeah, that was dumb.  The iteration of the character in XIII was kind of dumb too, but that’s par for the course with that game.  As I said, my favorite version is in X.  He is one of two summons with Break Damage Limit as part of his repertoire.  Because of this, his regular attacks are deadly all by themselves.  However, when he charges up the Mega Flare, it is understood that anything he is shooting at won’t be alive.  I will say that I don’t hate the version in XV.  He is a giant humanoid in dragon armor, who can call a massive storm of swords from the heavens.  Only available at the fight with Ifrit, he does make an impression.  The greatest dragon in the entire franchise, he is my favorite summon.

So, what are your favorite summons?  Let me know in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“Will you fight with us?” – Yuna, Final Fantasy X

Peace out,

Maverick

Final Fantasy Versus XIII vs. Final Fantasy XV

For the last two weeks, I have had my nose buried in Final Fantasy XV.  I just did my review, and let me tell you, my feelings were mixed.  I did that review after having just got done with the very end of the story, and throughout the entire final act, I was rolling my eyes and just wanting it to be done.  All of the plot momentum was gone.  All of the character development was dead.  Hell, almost the entire cast of villains was just gone, killed off-screen.  The main villain was boring and predictable.  As if I didn’t see what was coming from a mile away and just wanted the game to get the predictable plot over with.  It got me thinking back to the trailers for this game back when it was Final Fantasy versus XIII.  Take a look at this, and tell me what you think.

You see the opening to that trailer, and what is the first thing you see?  “This is a fantasy based on reality.”  Then you see Noctis, in a car, driving down a street that looks like it is part of a world that we could live in.  But in the distance, there are fantastical ships floating in the air.  A fantasy, based on reality.  This leads me to believe that it wasn’t just meant to be a game with a car in it.  It was a fantasy that was based on the real world.  So it wasn’t going to be another one of those stupid games where the goal is to save the world.  This was going to be something more close and intimate.  The characters in this world wear suits and ties, go to parties and drive in cars.  I loved that concept!  A fantasy-realism idea in a video game.  How I have ACHED for such a thing for so long.

It also had a neat little dichotomy playing.  Like they took Shakespearean ideas and applied them to a video game world.  You had King Regis squaring off against a king in another land, with the implication that he was being betrayed, perhaps from within?  Maybe some Hamlet ideas playing out?  There is also Stella Nox Fleuret, whom Noctis meets at the party celebrating the signing of the peace treaty.  Two star-crossed lovers, unable to truly reconcile the fact that they are on opposing nations, yet have feelings for each other.  Some Romeo and Juliet elements, then?  A fantasy based on reality.  Taking the fantastical and applying it to the real world.  So much endless potential, and as I watch that trailer, part of me can’t help but wonder what could have been.

But that wasn’t what we got, was it?  Nope.  What we got was something ENTIRELY different.  What we got was a game that I swear had two different development teams.  There was the one who did the open world sections.  I like those people.  They made this huge, gorgeous area that I could drive around in and do fun quests in.  There were also the occasions where you find a hidden dungeon.  Those were great!  If the entire game had just been Noctis and his pals just driving around on a road trip, this game easily would have won my favorite game of this year.

However, then there was the story part, which just crept its way back in.  Part of me is dying to know what the story if with Nomura, who was spear-heading the game originally.  There must have been some arguing with him.  The man initially had this as his baby.  There was talk of how insane his ambition was with this game.  Perhaps it makes sense that Square Enix pulled him back from it.  However, what replaced it was a story so by-the-numbers that I was looking at my watch as to when we get to the part where this or that happens.  Then, as if the game was in a rush to get done, we have the entire second half take place away from Lucis and be basically a linear corridor up until you get to the point where you can go back in time and go back.

Holy shit, I figured it out.  It’s the reverse of XIII!  Anyone remember how in Final Fantasy XIII the first 30 hours or so were all a linear corridor, with only the last third opening up into something more open?  Something a lot more fun, with side-quests and stuff?  In XV, we have the reverse happening.  We have this wonderful open segment that is really fun, with tons of side-quests and stuff, for the first 30 hours or so.  Then, the game suddenly becomes a linear corridor that is really boring.  I can’t believe it.  How did you manage to do this, Square Enix?!  It’s almost impressive how bad this is.  I don’t know what I expected from you, but certainly not this.

A lot of people think that I hate Final Fantasy XV, and I really don’t.  Take out the parts with the plot, and you have a fantastic game that could very well have been a fantasy based on reality.  The road trip parts of this game felt like just that.  But when you pair it up with a cookie-cutter plot with some of the most boring characters that act like they want the game to be over, it just makes me think that maybe Nomura’s ambition should have been allowed to run free.  I honestly wonder what he would have come up with.

It feels lately like games are kinda throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to long games with really intricate stories.  Kojima threw out his long cutscenes in places of boring tapes that you can find in Metal Gear Solid V.  He didn’t need to ditch his cutscenes entirely, just shave them down to something manageable.  Though, if Konami had let him run wild with his ambition, who knows what the final product of that game would have been.  Or what else could have been… (Silent Hills, anyone?)

Moving forward, here is what Square Enix needs to do – don’t make a cash-grab sequel to this game.  Start over with a new idea for the next one.  Make it one of the numbered games, with a whole different world and whole new ideas.  And flush out that world too.  I don’t know anything about the world of this game, outside of bits and pieces characters talk about.  I don’t know the story of Nifelheim’s rise to power, which probably was interesting.  I don’t know what the story is with the Emperor and what he wanted.  Or any of the knights in that room with him, since all but one of them was dead or mutated off-screen.  This game had good ideas.  Take some of those ideas and run with them.  Like how I could go to a restaurant and order food for boosts to my stats.  That was awesome!  I had a lot of fun with that.  It was very immersive.  But next time give us a world that I can dive into.  Don’t ask me to see a ton of peripheral material, like that god-awful movie that came with this game.  Don’t ask me to watch some anime.  Make the story be part of the actual game.  And for fuck’s sake, do NOT have major plot events happen off-screen!  That was so annoying!  There were so many times that a TON of stuff happened that I never got to see.  What the fuck, Square Enix?!

Until next time, a quote,

“You guys were the best.” – Noctis Lucis Caellum, Final Fantasy XV

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XVAfter ten years in development, the final product that is supposed to breathe new life into the franchise has been released.  Sorry this review took so long, but I was working to make it through as much content as I possibly could, in order to give the best review possible.  To that end, my initial verdict is that this game is many things.  Some of them very good, others pants-on-head retarded.  Was it worth the wait?  Did it live up to the hype?  There is a LOT to talk about with this game, so let’s get down to it.

This game begins with one of the problems.  It just throws you out into it.  There is NO lead-in to this game.  There is no world-building.  It expects you to have seen a lot of the extended content, which is a real shame, because I get the feeling that there is a lot of really interesting narrative to sink one’s teeth into.  Noctis and his three friends are sent out by King Regis to go meet with Lunafreya, in order to get married and cement an alliance that could help them save their country.  From there, the plot gets all kinds of ridiculously convoluted.

Originally, this game was said to be a fantasy based on reality.  I took that to heart.  I really did.  Back in the days when this was Final Fantasy Versus XIII, Tetsuya Nomura wanted this to be a game about a fantasy world that you could believe exists.  Part of me is DYING to see what the game that he envisioned would have been like.  The cruel reality is that the game that I saw in those old trailers looked 1000X better than what we got here.

Let me put it to you like this – I have the EXACT same opinion of this game as I do Metal Gear Solid V.  When you are playing, it is so much fun.  The elements of exploring the vast, open world and chilling with your buddies, going on the endless side-quests, that part of the game is more fun than I have had with an RPG in a long time.  However, there is this retarded story that keeps poking at me to do what it wants.  And you know what, I wish it didn’t exist.

This game was marketed as a road trip game with Noctis and his buddies going from place to place and getting into all kinds of crazy fantasy hijinks.  And you know what, when the game is doing that, I am in love.  Everything leading up to when you leave the country to basically go on a completely-linear second half is truly special.  Why couldn’t this game have stuck with the road trip?  I can’t help but think that Nomura’s original vision eschewed a lot of the grandiose bullshit, in favor of a game that is more of a story about fighting to reclaim the prince’s kingdom?  Like, have him going around, getting allies, making some pacts with summons and gaining allies by helping people in various places?  Then, the game wraps up with Noctis taking the fight to the Empire to reclaim his home.  Sure, it isn’t the most epic story, but since when does all fantasy have to be about saving the fucking world?

I suppose I should actually talk about elements of the game, but I needed to get all that out there for when I make my last point.  First thing to know – this game is beautiful.  There’s a reason that getting to wander the countryside is so fun.  The landscapes are nothing short of spectacular.  Getting to travel around in your car (which is mostly on rails) is a wonderfully immersive experience, just getting to take everything in and listen to your friends talk.  Then you get to camp out, and each time you do, it feels like a new experience, partly due to the unique animations you get to watch as you level up.

Then there is the combat system.  Here is where a lot of people’s mileage will vary.  I loved it.  This isn’t the kind of game where you just press attack and win.  There is a ton of real strategy that you have to use if you want to do well in this game, from knowing when to block, how to react quickly to parry strikes, and moving around enemies to get the perfect strike on their blind spot, which can sometimes be very difficult to hit.  The magic is a bit different from other games.  Instead of having magic powers you unlock, you craft magic in this game from elemental gems that you can charge up magical energy from.  When you combine magic with items, you can make casting spells also have curative powers.  The mixing and matching of magic to items feels a lot like alchemy, and it is very fun.

For those who saw the summons in the game’s trailer and thought that you will be getting to play around with them, don’t get your hopes up.  You don’t.  The only time that you are able to use summons is at VERY specific points in the story.  But they are still fucking epic, don’t get me wrong.

Which brings me to the characters.  The four main characters who the game is centered around are pretty awesome.  At least for the parts that you can travel around the countryside.  They play off each other brilliantly, and it feels like four friends out on a road trip.  Noctis is a bit broody, but not to the point that it’s annoying.  Ignis is my favorite of the bunch.  He’s kind of a Mother Hen for the group, and his dry sense of humor just makes my day, every time I hear it.  Gladiolous is something of a meat-head and is brash, but you enjoy his company like the lovable big brother.  Prompto is kind of the reverse.  He is the scrawny little brother, trying his best to be a good friend and fit in.  Those four are the driving force, and for that much the game is fantastic.  You even get these little bonding sessions with each character, and all of them are fun and shed light on how likeable they are.

And then there’s the villains.  They are the driest, must under-developed video game villains I think I’ve ever seen.  Their motivations are…well, you never really know.  They are all gone because plot reasons and you never see them again.  Hell, the entire empire that you’re fighting crumbles all the sudden and that’s it, all for a REALLY forced message about saving the world can happen.  It’s bad.  Really bad.  Like, the absolute worst.  Ties back in to what I was saying about some parts of this game being awesome, and others being bad.

The reality is that this is NOT the return to form that Square Enix was hoping for.  Wrapped up inside a very bad plot is a very good game that is a ton of fun to play, up until you have to leave Lucis and the whole thing devolves into bullshit.  It’s such a shame that such a fantastic concept and some truly amazing gameplay is wasted on a story that I was rolling my eyes at the whole time.  Again, it’s just like Metal Gear Solid V in that regard.  What a shame.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Rise of the Tomb Raider (PS4 Port)

Rise of the Tomb RaiderWell, after all the stupid bullshit with Square Enix, the sequel to the very fun reboot has finally come to a console that I can actually play it on.  Given how they screwed the pooch with this game, it’s pretty clear that this is going to be the last entry in the franchise.  Square Enix felt that the original game underperformed even though it was hugely popular.  This game will be the death knell for the franchise since it was so mucked up with the timed-exclusivity and the release at the same time as a ton of other games last year.  I’m honestly sad to see the franchise end.  It had a lot of potential for interesting sequels.  So how does the franchise go out?  Not too bad, actually.  It’s not great, but it’s pretty good.  Let’s get into it.

The plot goes that Lara is now stuck living in her father’s shadow, trying to clear his name.  After what she saw in the previous game, she is convinced that everything her father believed is true and she has to set things right.  Now it’s off to Siberia to go hunt for the missing truth of the “Divine Source” her father had been after, all the while crossing paths with an overused plot device in gaming – a secret organization that is insanely powerful and wants to rule the world. Yeah, not a fan of that.  Who wins in the end?  I think you know the answer.

When I reviewed the original game, I said that it was a game that had a lot of flaws.  It was overly gory for no good reason, had a plot that seemed to be at odds with the mechanics and had really bad stereotypes as characters.  But I could look past all that because the game itself is so fun.  Here there are also a bunch of problems, and while the game is fun, it isn’t as fun as the last one.  I am going to take a different approach this time and talk about the good stuff first before talking about the problems.  I want this to be constructive.

The good stuff is that the gameplay here is just as fun as in the last one.  The stealth has been tweaked a bit, and you have some new weapons to play around with.  But the reality is that it is still as awesome and fun as I remember.  There is one new toy they give you that I spammed to no end because it made some of the bigger fights a cake-walk.  However, you are given a choice in how you want to play.  Since I am all about stealth, you probably know how I did.  My version of Lara Croft is a hunter who stalks her prey and takes them out.  No one escape her arrows, single shots to the head, or blade.

Next up are the visuals.  This isn’t the greatest-looking game in the world.  Truth is, it honestly looks about the same as the PS3 game last year.  But it still looks good.  Setting it in an arctic part of the world was awesome because it allowed the devs to have some fun with how you use ice and other such mechanics.  Since everything in this game is about motion and staying in motion, you learn to use all your surroundings.  That’s another thing that the gameplay mechanics give you to play with.  Not the greatest-looking game on the system, but I do like the look all the same.

Another nice touch was the crafting mechanic.  This game also has an emphasis on Lara being a survivor who has to make the most of whatever she has on hand in order to stay alive.  Sure, it means that you are constantly scrounging for materials, but I was doing the same thing in the last game, so it was fine.  If anything, it made me feel more like I was in her shoes because we had to put things to use in order to make pretty much everything for your weapons.  You are given very little in this game.

Here’s the part where we get into some of my problems.  For starters, making Lara a more confident character actually made her boring.  So much of her personality from the last game was sucked into oblivion for this one. I kind of liked the angry desperation she had in the previous entry. Here, even when there is bad stuff happening, Lara always seems to be in control.  There are only a couple stand-out moments where she gets genuinely pissed.  One of them was pretty badass when she’s yelling at someone who betrayed her and puts a bullet in them.  Which brings me to my next problem.

The side-characters in this game was bland and forgettable.  They bring Jonah back from the previous entry.  That’s cool.  What happened to the others?  Like Sam and Reyes?  One of the stand-out points from the last game was that diary entry Jonah made about his fear about the island and what he would do if he was the last one standing.  The characters in the previous game were stereotypes, sure, but the game at least had fun with those stereotypes.  This time around, pretty much all the side characters are dull as dirt.  I found two of the characters in the logs that I was finding more interesting than pretty much anyone in the main game.  Hell, I wanted to know what their story was more than Lara’s.

And then there’s the villains.  This guy is as forgettable as possible.  So is the secret other villain who had a pretty decent reveal, I will admit.  I didn’t care about this dude.  The game wants you to hate him, but even the voice acting is trying too hard.  The game also did this weird thing where it would cut to the two villains.  All of the major cutscenes are connected with Lara seeing what’s happening.  Here, we just take a break from the game to see two villains talking and it isn’t especially interesting.  I didn’t get why and it broke the flow of what was happening.  There were also these weird cuts that I guess were supposed to show the passage of time, but they come out of nowhere and linger too long.

Overall, this game is good.  It isn’t great.  In comparison to the last game, this one is the lesser.  But it is still good.  If you are of a mind to, I do recommend checking out, but maybe wait for the price to drop.  Sorry you had to go out on this note, Lara.  But hey, Agent 47 is doing much the same, since Square Enix decided to shit where they eat with that one too.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

kingsglaiveFor those of you who know my thoughts on the film Final Fantasy VII: Adventure Children, you may see where I’m going with this.  Only this time, instead of a film that just assumes that we know all the characters and the struggles of the universe it is set in based on an established franchise, we get a film that assumes that we know all the characters and struggles of the universe of a franchise that hasn’t even been established yet.  If you went into this without knowing a single thing about Final Fantasy XV and the lore surrounding it, you will be VERY confused.  But it does looks pretty amazing.  Let’s talk about it.

The plot of the film is pretty much a prequel to the game, but this time with more extravagant outfits.  Okay.  We have King Regis, voiced by Sean Bean.  Make your “when does he die” jokes here.  This is weird, because as I understand it, he isn’t in the game.  Why have him in this movie?  Then we have Luna, voiced by Lena Headey.  This is also weird.  Partly because as I understand it, she is also not in the game, but then there is the fact that her voice does NOT go with this character.  She is clearly well into middle age, voicing a character who is supposed to be in her younger years.  It does NOT go well together.  You have Aaron Paul doing the voice of one of Regis’ soldiers, the Kingsglaive.  They are charged with fighting the invading Nifelheim army to hold them back.  It’s a useless battle, since the invading force is vastly more powerful.  Seeing defeat as inevitable, Regis is making an effort to sign a treaty.  However, this gets wrapped up in a very dull plot about betrayal and action.  Lots and lots and lots of action.

To this movie’s credit, the visuals are nothing short of incredible.  This film is a testament to the power of whatever visual software Square Enix is using.  It truly is incredible.  And this film is infinitely more colorful than the studio’s last work in Advent Children.  So the colors get more of a chance to pop.  When it isn’t so ridiculously over the top with fight sequences that never end, this movie can look pretty damn amazing.  Too bad I got so little chance to take any of it in.  Maybe because the film decided that it wants to be wall-to-wall action without end.

Now we get into my gripes.  For starters, why are they using voice actors that aren’t even in the game?  I know for a fact that neither Sean Bean nor Lena Heady are in this game.  Aaron Paul did his best to sell his performance.  Since none of the characters were particularly interesting, I enjoyed his role the most.  At least there I could tell that there was a genuine enthusiasm.  Sean Bean sounds bored.  As does Lena Heady.  The whole cast sounds like it couldn’t possibly care less about anything that was happening in the film.  There was this weirdly level thing about everything that everyone said.  Even when it was supposed to be very emotional, everyone is monotone.  Oh how I hope the game this is supposed to be a prequel for isn’t like that.  Otherwise it will get really old, really quick.

And that’s another thing – this movie took ZERO time to world-build.  They talk about refuges and parts of the world, none of which we get to see.  We don’t get why there is this huge intolerance of the refugees, or where their little catch-phrase comes into play.  I really would have liked it if we could have taken some time to get to know ANY of the world that Noctis and his chums get to explore in the game.  I mean, we are watching this movie to get a taste of the game, right?  Is the entire game just nothing but over-the-top action non-stop?  If so, then to be honest, I’m a little nervous.  But then I remember – Advent Children was much the same.  So hopefully I have nothing to worry about.

This film exemplifies everything that armchair film critics say about modern blockbusters.  There was hardly a quiet scene one.  In fact, the whole movie was basically just going from one crazy set-piece to another with only a minute or two of quiet time.  This film doesn’t give you time to breathe.  And since it wants you to care a great deal about these characters that we are stuck with, it would help if at least one of them was fun to be around, or if we knew them beyond a name.  The action went on WAY past the point where it should have ended.  There was this moment toward the end of the third act where I saw a perfect chance for the film to stop.  It was when King Regis died.  It was actually pretty emotional.  It had everything for a powerful and depressing climax.  We all knew that there wasn’t going to be a happy ending here.  So why not stop there?  Oh, right, we have an even bigger and even more insane battle sequence that never ends to go to.

All things considered, if you are able to completely turn off your brain and enjoy the pretty lights and watching things blow up (I mean more than with a Michael Bay film), or if you are the ultimate die-hard fan of the license, then I guess that this is the film for you.  For me, I was just really bored throughout most of it.  I was hoping to see some of these characters and get to know them better.  But nope.  It’s just endless explosions and fighting.  What’s more, they are hinting that the whole film is really just a story about an evil nation trying to take over the world.  So is that going to be the game?  I kind of hope not.  I mean, sure, I figure there will be some fantastic elements of world-saving, but I am also hoping that the central focus of the story is Noctis and his comrades fighting to reclaim his throne.  That was what I always thought it would be.  Am I wrong?  Let’s hope so.  This isn’t a bad movie.  It’s just boring.  Very, very boring.

Final Verdict
5 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: Collector’s Edition of Final Fantasy XV Doesn’t Include Season Pass

I’m honestly becoming at a loss for words about what a greedy bunch of pukestains Square Enix has become.  It’s growing more and more insulting by the day.  We saw what happened with making Rise of the Tomb Raider a timed exclusive.  I am almost certain that we’ll see how the new Hitman is a failure due to it being episodic and having always-online DRM.  There was also that fun campaign disaster with the pre-orders of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.  We then get to see that the insanely-awesome-looking remake for Final Fantasy VII is also going to be episodic (think that will have always-online DRM too?).  But today, I think that I’ve seen the most greedy thing yet.  This company seems to be on a mission to not have the latest greedy thing be ceiling.  They gotta bust on through to the other side.  This time, it’s with the game I have been so eager for for so long, Final Fantasy XV.

I’ve already talked about their stupid bullshit having to do with a Season Pass.  That’s retarded in its own right.  But now it seems that this company just can’t help itself from fucking over their customers.  Like how they are trying to milk people who have already given them $280 out of even more money.  That’s right, if you pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition of the game, with all that comes with it, Square Enix wants you to fork over even more to get their shitty DLC that should have already been included in the fucking game.

Unbelievable.  I just do not get the thought process behind this.  It’s like, “hey, let’s bilk people of as much cash as possible!  That’s sure to generate brand loyalty!”  These people are paying you almost $300, you fucking assholes!  The least you could do is not fuck them over in return and demand even more.  I can honestly see only two reasons behind this sort of decision-making.  First, they really are this greedy.  If so, then I honestly don’t want to keep supporting them.  Because we vote with our wallets.  When people give in to bullshit stunts like this, it tells these companies that they can keep doing this.  I’m poor.  I don’t have much disposable income.  Why should I pay extra for something that they refuse to put into their game already?  Second, they have no choice but to charge extra.  In which case, they should just stop making games.  If this is what it takes to keep the company financially-solvent, then they really should just leave the industry.  It can only get only get worse from here.

What is going on with this company?  They keep looking to be on the verge of finally coming back, but they seem to be doing everything they possibly can to shoot themselves in the foot.  It’s baffling.  If someone can explain this to me, I’m all ears.  No joke, I’d love a cogent explanation for all this madness.  From where I’m sitting, this company seems eager to self-destruct, and remind me of a character in Loony Tunes.  See if you can figure out which one it is.

Until next time, a quote,

“These blockbuster bombs don’t go off unless you hit them JUST right.” – Gremlin, Loony Tunes

Peace out,

Maverick