One Piece Zou Arc Review

April 13, 2016 no comments Posted in Animation & Anime, Film

I was going to write a “Beginners guide to Anime” but due to time constraints I wouldn’t be able to get it out in time, but worry not that should be out in a couple of weeks.

The Zou arc had been built up for literal years in One Piece, first being mention at the beginning of Dressrosa. After the finale of the Dressrosa arc we soon began our story on Zou.

One-Piece-805-Zou

Zou for those who don’t know is an island on the back of a giant 1000 year old elephant. It is home to the mink tribe, a race of anthropomorphic animals, for example, Bepo for Law’s crew is a mink from Zou. And it was commented by Luffy that it was like a race of Choppers.

The arc starts off rather slow, with a lot of it being to do with what has happened to the crew members that were already there. tl;dr: Kaido’s right hand man, Jack (super badass) comes to Zou and wrecks everything. He then releases a gas that is releavled to have been previously created by Caesar Clown, who is still in captivity. The Straw Hats release him to help with the gas and him and Chopper save everyone. The reason Jack showed up was because he was searching for Raizou, the ninja Kine’emon and Kanjuro and looking for, along with the samurai themselves.

I felt that while this story line was good it wasn’t as good as Dressrosa. In Zou they really dragged the ass out of where Sanji was. Because he wasn’t with the other crew members. I’ll try and keep this review spoiler free and so I won’t talk about the specifics of what was up with Sanji.

But once that Sanji stuff starts to wrap up is when we start getting to the greatness of Zou. The last couple of chapters sky rocketed this arc to one of the best in the entire series. We begin to learn end-game level stuff, for example more clues to where Raftel is, along with the reintroduction of some fan favourite characters such as Marko the Phoenix. This arc is hard to talk about without spoiling thing so I can’t go into much detail. I highly recommend that you catch up on the manga if you haven’t already.

 

In summary, Zou was great. Jack was badass, Zunisha was better. Momonosuke stepped up. My mind was blown on several occasions. That fight at the end of the arc was the hypest shit I’ve seen since Gear Fourth and Carrot is mai furry waifu all years.

 

 

-Ratchet Deadlocked- Review

April 1, 2016 no comments Posted in Playstation & Sony, Video Games

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, in every franchise there comes a time of trial. At this point Ratchet and Clank started the trend of spewing out a game every year and a half or so. Now the previous games were of unquestionable quality. However, we have in our hands what may be the first outlier.

 

Ratchet OwTheEdgelocked was released for the PS2 in 2005. Europe once again got a title alteration in the form of Ratchet Gladiator, although I haven’t bothered to check what innuendo or inappropriate phrase “deadlocked” is. Strangely enough when searching for development info on the game next to nothing turned up. Probably appropriate because to a lot of people this game just…”exists”. It apparently got enough attention to garner a digital only HD remaster but we’ll get to THAT later. The game got some positive reviews from critics overall not as much as the previous games though. Although this is a little early to mention, the lack of Clank as a playable character was apparently a point of contention….WHY? I’ve barely mentioned his sections in previous reviews for a reason, I didn’t find them entertaining when they bothered to show up. Enough review stretching though, this isn’t going to take very long.

-ALL HAIL RATCHET, HEROES RISE AGAIN-

I kid, people make complaints about the darker plot but it isn’t REALLY “dark”, it doesn’t come close to feeling like it has edge shoved down your throat in the actual game in fact this is probably one of my favourites when it comes to Ratchet and Clank humour. Let’s begin.

Ratchet, Clank and a mechanic named Al (that I never mentioned in previous reviews) have been given command of the Starship Phoenix. The crew get warned by Sasha that Dreadzone; a show broadcasts gladiatorial combat in lawless regions of the galaxy, have been kidnapping heroes and forcing them to kill. Soon after Ratchet and his friends get boarded and kidnapped by Dreadzone thugs. Ratchet wakes up later finding that he’s been forced into some cool looking combat armour with no hole for his tail, and I’m not kidding about that he nearly flat out fucking says where it’s been stuffed. Soon after being forced into completing a “qualification course” he meets Gleeman Vox, the creator of Dreadzone. Long story short Ratchet is forced to compete in DreadZone, and is fitted with a Deadlock Collar which will explode if he becomes uncooperative or boring. If you’re wondering how Dreadzone is able to broadcast such “sport” on intergalactic television then you’re not running with the joke and somehow manage to not get why the station’s name is “Vox”.

Look I could get into more detail with some of the smaller scenarios but I don’t really NEED to. By the end the team compete long enough to find a means of shutting down the entire hero containment station as well as defeating Vox. The in between stuff is the great humor, most of the cutscenes don’t have much relevance to the plot but are fucking hilarious either way. Special mention goes to the news crew that comes up with creatively outlandish tales of Ratchet and Clank’s “true” nature, which includes Ratchet being a crime boss, selling cigars to children, getting drunk and crashing a oil tanker onto a bunch of baby alien equivalent of seals. Sure the game gets dark on occasions but overall don’t serve much of a purpose than to justify the change in direction. There’s this character named Ace Hardlight who is Dreadzone’s current major star who is losing popularity and appears on occasion to play up how much of a big deal your battle with him will be but once he gets defeated he brings up how he was corrupted by Vox before passing on for good from the plot and that’s it. Look I’d be complaining a lot more about the lacking of any major plot changes if the writing wasn’t so great. With that out of the way let’s get into what was really altered: the Gameplay.

-OBLITERATING EVERYTHING THAT’S NOT YOUR FRIEND-

Ratchet controls similar to how he used to with some changes. He automatically strafes when a weapon is equipped and now fires at whatever that camera is aimed at meaning aiming is more of a active thing now. Ratchet is now accompanied by two combat bots that fight with him and can be commanded to do things whenever the game forces you to make them to progress. They suck, they die a lot and getting upgrades for them only serve to delay the inevitable: they die and you need to command them to…rebuild themselves. There are only 10 guns in the game, a good deal fewer than usual but the weapon system has been altered a tad. Weapons can go up to Lv. 10 and can now be fitted with mods:

Omega Mods- Purchased through the Weapons store, these can add secondary effects if the weapon is compatible. Examples include Shock, Napalm, Acid and Morph mods.

Alpha Mods- Gained through leveling a weapon up which increases the amount of Alpha Mods it can hold and adds a new one. These I don’t generally mess with since the once the game puts on for you work with the weapon well enough, but in Challenge Mode the Weapons Vendor starts selling these along with XP Mods which help immensely in getting weapons and health to max.

The game is now set around completed missions in campaigns to unlock new campaigns on new planets. Most missions revolve around straight up shooting with platforming, vehicle missions and boss fights thrown in sometimes. Hence the game has quite some repetition and often times I hear people compare the game to what if the arena missions from previous games were turned into a whole game. I disagree with that comparison, I feel the game does change things up enough to make you forget the amount of combat there actually is and the fact that there are different visuals in the form of new planets help though a lot of the places have very little color due to fake edge. Plus this game isn’t as long as the others in the series so things don’t drag for long at all. From the start you can now select what difficulty you wish to play in which can be changed at any time and only affects what character skins you can buy with Difficulty Stars you get when completing missions.

Like Ratchet and Clank 3 the in-game economy is extremely lenient, especially since you get cash for completing missions and getting skill points in this game. You can blow through this game rather easily, the only major challenges being the final gauntlet followed by the final boss. For some reason though there’s no armor system in this game. Challenge Mode returns, and with it comes more powerful versions of your weapons that let you go to LV. 100 but its easy as hell to rack up levels and the power boosts when leveling up are smaller. Hey, at least when you reach Lv. 100 the weapon’s projectiles become rainbow powered.

-More multiplayer!?-

The online multiplayer returns with a couple of new modes. It met the same fate as the R&C3 multiplayer but when I tried to play some matches on the HD version on PSN NOBODY CAME UP. Apparently nobody cares about it as much as the one in R&C3 where I actually did get some matches. I suppose the online multiplayer is dead so let’s talk about LOCAL CO-OPS. 2 players killing everything in sight. You both share the same weapons and ammo meaning both of you cant hold the same weapon but it’s still fun to break the game with “teamwork” since when a player dies as long as one is alive the dead one will respawn. Too bad the co-ops is only local multiplayer though.

 

-What did I mention earlier about a HD version?-

I did mention a HD version. And it’s amazingly terrible. All of the cutscenes that aren’t prerendred have glitches galore which you can easily find on Youtube. Some are funny but most are not and its fucking unbelievable how messed up this port is. Thankfully the actual gameplay is free of glicthes…most of the time. In fact my most recent playthrough had a glitch where I got a skill point from a planet I wasn’t on yet. Special mention goes to the fucking slowdown when a lot of things are moving on the screen which happens more times than it should. Basically if you can find a PS2 copy that’s cheaper than the already cheap HD version then you should get that unless you want to see a poor excuse for a remaster.

-So does this game have quality?-

Might be nostalgia talking but I still find this game to deliver in the Ratchet and Clank fun I look for despite the repetition. The soundtrack isn’t memorable at all though and I can go outright and call some tracks just crap for trying to fit with the game’s fake edge. Same goes for the aesthetics although there are a couple of exceptions but I noticed a few reused assets from R&C3 on occasion. One thing that really gets on my nerves is the in-game commentary by the news crew that gets repeated REALLY DAMN FAST. Overall, the game is completely skippable but it’s not a long game. Its something I can at least still have some good fun with and not take a lot of my time doing so.

ratchet_deadlocked_large_verge_medium_landscape

-TheAceAlucard

 

Batman v Superman: Really THAT Bad?

March 30, 2016 no comments Posted in Film, Movies

So Batman v Superman just came out and I’m going to talk about it, but to get the full picture we have to go back and look at

 

THE HISTORY

 

Chances are, you already know a good deal of this, but bear with me while I take you through the history of the two ever-youthful grandfathers of modern superheroes. Superman’s first published appearance was in a prose story in a science fiction magazine called Reign of the Superman in 1933, but he did not get his big break until 1938 when, after 5 years of failing to pitch the Superman character elsewhere Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster sold the character to Detective Comics Inc, who then made the character the cover star of Action Comics #1. Other notable appearances in this issue were Zatara, father of prominent DC Comics character Zatanna and Tex Thompson…err, Mr America, who, despite appearing 3 whole years before the Captain of the same name has not quite had the same lasting appeal. Superman himself in this issue was quite a different beast from the one appearing in this film. There is no mention of Krypton, he has only been sent from a non-descript planet. He is turned in to an orphanage, rather than being raised by Jon and Martha Kent. He could not fly and was only indestructible to “anything less than a bursting shell”. The character we know today did not truly appear until Summer 1939’s Superman #1 where those absent elements were added. The characters’ on-screen presence began with George Reeves’ TV stint as the character in the 1951 series Adventures of Superman. It planted the character in the public consciousness before the character who defined the superhero comic book defined the superhero movie in 1978 with Superman: The Movie, directed by Richard Donner and starring Christopher Reeve (no relation to George Reeves). The film captured imaginations worldwide with its revolutionary (at the time) special effects that “made you believe a man could fly” and of course the oh-so-iconic John Williams score. The series then took several….questionable turns after Superman II before making a true return in 2013’s Man of Steel starring Henry Cavill as the man himself. The movie had a few things rough around the edges but showed true promise for the future. While questioning that future Zack Snyder and DC thought of something to add to the sequel. That something, or rather someone was…

 

Batman. The caped crusader first appeared in Detective Comics #27, where he wore purple gloves and killed without remorse. He led to a huge spike in the comics’ sales and was given his own book, the first issue of which included several things that define the dark knight to this day. His adversaries The Joker and Catwoman, as well as his origin story that you have doubtlessly seen countless times in film, television and even other comic books. Batman first came to screens in 1943 with Lewis Wilson and Douglas Croft portraying the dynamic duo in the film serial, which had them face off against the villainous…Dr Daka? Not really an abundance of reference material there. Grant Morrison wasn’t even going there. The film had a sequel but we will now move on to one of the more iconic Batmen of the screen, 1966’s Batman TV show and movie (released shortly after the first series’ ending) was for a good time the most famous rendition of Batman and one that was somewhat unfairly maligned for not being a fair representation of the character.. The character went through several rebirths in the comics and finally, in 1989 a film came out to somewhat reflect this. TIm Burton’s Batman gave the character a darker edge while still being reasonably silly, this carried on to Batman Returns with the most perfect casting in the history of film, I am of course talking about Danny DeVito as the Penguin. And frankly, he’d still be perfect so get on that Mr. Affleck. We know you’re making that film. Just make it with this lovely little goblin man as The Penguin. Batman Forever…continued? the series with a new director and man in the cowl. Joel Schumacher is a pretty good director, but these are not pretty good films. I can take Forever for its campiness, Jim Carrey and Seal, but Batman and Robin is a step too far. The movie-going public seemed to agree, and the series vanished for several years. WB tried to bring it back with a variety of projects that were ultimately cancelled, like the earlier Ivan Reitman film starring Bill Murray as Batman and David Bowie as the Joker which was cancelled way back in 1985. These newer attempts included Joel Schumacher’s The Dark Knight Returns, which would’ve been entertaining at the very least, a Batman Beyond adaptation, Darren Aronofsky’s bizarre Batman: Year One pitch which involved a poverty-stricken Bruce Wayne taken in by a mechanic named Big Al. This project, which Frank Miller thought went over the line, was dropped for Batman vs Superman. Don’t worry, we didn’t skip anything. The 2004 project would’ve revolved around a loose continuation of the Burton/Schumacher films where the Joker kills Batman’s bride to be in the middle of their wedding. This resulted in Superman having to hold back Batman and being blamed for her death by Batman, which lead to their confrontation. In this film, Superman would have been played by Josh Hartnett, while Batman would’ve been played by Christian Bale, a descision that carried over into Christopher Nolan’s 2006 film Batman Begins. In my opinion the best Batman film as of March 24th 2016 but we’ll see how that goes. Nolan’s trilogy is the definitive take on the character for many. Just not me. Ok now hear me out please I’m so sorry. I feel the series takes the realism a bit too far, losing a lot of what makes Batman great. He’s not a man walking among gods, he’s a man walking above other men. He’s not the world’s greatest detective, he’s got people for that. To me, Nolan’s take on the character is a bit too grounded. I rarely get the sense that Bale’s Batman is the smartest man in the room and he solves his problems with punches too much. I think they’re fine films, I just can’t get behind that aspect. The series is (almost) universally loved and set high standards for the next cinematic appearance of the caped crusader after the trilogy ended with 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises

 

The two characters have been intrinsically linked since their inception. Batman was created in direct response to Superman, to give the Detective Comics book its own similar figurehead to the Man of Tomorrow. The characters have shared many books together, from World’s Finest Comics and Justice Society of America in the Golden Age to Batman/Superman and Justice League today. The two are amazing friends, wait, that’s the other guy. Super friends, that’s the one I guess. Superman, in most adaptations is perhaps one of the only people Batman really trusts. Ignore the Kryptonite in his basement, that’s for when the mind controllers come knocking. I do just wish they could’ve met on screen under these terms…

 

SO HOW IS IT

 

Batman v Superman is a very strange film. The film is perhaps best described with its parallels to the performance of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor within the film. It’s offbeat and a little disjointed and just different enough some people will absolutely hate it. I didn’t though. Batman v Superman has problems with pacing, with scenes flashing up seemingly at random with no rhyme or reason to their order. The film takes a solid few minutes in the middle to show you a few Justice League teasers with no relation to the story. It is incredibly lazy filmmaking the way this was done but I took the bait hook line and sinker. It was on par with the scene in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 where all of the Spider-Man villains’ equipment is in a basement in Oscorp for some reason but I liked this. As lazily inserted as the teasers are I think they’re very well done and it did get me, somewhat more cautiously, excited for Justice League next year. The film’s cast is almost impeccable. Ben Affleck finally plays the superhero he has had in him since 2003. He perfectly captured Bruce Wayne, regardless of his direction or script. I cannot wait to see what he does under his own direction and script. Gal Gadot embodies Wonder Woman perfectly in her admittedly short screen time, the character is a highlight of every scene she is in and her theme is top class, letting JunkieXL stretch his Mad Max muscle a little. Jeremy Irons plays what I think is without a doubt the best on-screen Alfred. It is played somewhat differently to how those Nolanites out there came to expect from Michael Caine but I feel it is much closer to the somewhat sassier Alfred of the comics and animated shows. Henry Cavill still shows promise of a Superman to surpass Reeve, but I feel direction holds him back. Those who thought Man of Steel was “not my Superman” will have less problems than they did there with this film, though some scenes may still leave them asking questions. Amy Adams as Lois Lane continues to be somewhat wasted, it is still a mystery whether it’s down to acting, directing or no-one at Warner seeming to be able to write the character properly. As mentioned before I believe Eisenberg as Luthor will be a very divisive element. He plays a very new take on the character and many seem to find it irritating. Personally, I think that was the point. At times I was reminded of Thomas Middleditch’s performance as Richard Hendricks in Silicon Valley, bratty, compulsive and calculating, he is an evolved Lex Luthor representing today’s not quite as big men at the top. Your mileage may vary.

 

The film looks very nice. The opening scene takes a scene that has been done countless times before and gives us without a doubt the best version yet. The team of Zack Snyder and Larry Fong can do nothing if not make films that look fantastic. It is a welcome change of pace from the constant big budget TV movie stylings of Marvel Studios’ regular outputs. The pieces of a fantastic film are all there. Though perhaps it may be a few too many. There was a “leaked” image last year that suggested the film would be split into two parts and we all scoffed at it, correctly assuming it to be fake but would it have been so bad? The film does already feel like a few films jammed into one. A sequel to Man of Steel, a Batman movie and a Justice League prequel. It functions decently as all of those but you have to wonder if they’d have been better served on their own.

 

My biggest question going into this movie after reading the reviews was not “Who will Win?”, it was “Could it possibly be THAT bad?”. The answer, I think, is no. Is it perfect? No, but only two films are. Is it fantastic? No, but it does have some great parts. Is it awful? No, but there’s plenty wrong with it. Who is to blame? Zack Snyder? Chris Terrio? Ben Affleck? Devin Faraci? Christopher Nolan? Joel Schumacher? Richard Pryor? Frank Miller? JJ Abrams? Kevin Feige? Mark Millar? The Estate of Bob Kane?  Warner Bros Executives? That crafty old rapscallion David S Goyer? Who really knows?

 

In the end, I enjoyed the film a great deal but recognised enough problems that I’m not sure how easy it will be for others to enjoy it. Do I think you should see it? Maybe. Do you like DC Comics and don’t hate Zack Snyder? Then totally. Are you bored, want to go see a movie but you’ve already seen Zootopia 4 times? Yeah, go ahead. Do you have a furry friend who keeps asking you to see Zootopia with him? See this instead to annoy them, that’s what I’m doing.

-Ratchet and Clank 3- Review

March 28, 2016 no comments Posted in Playstation & Sony, Video Games

 

….what? I don’t have anything better to do.

As you know from my last review Ratchet and Clank 2 was great. So a sequel came out a year later in 2004, with development being heavily revolved around rigorous testing and fan input on what problems could be fixed. The game would be known in the US as Ratchet and Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal while once again Europe were not able to handle the disgustingness of such a subtitle and just left the game without it. Now let’s see how the 3rd entry in the series changes what the first two games established.

-Plot….what? I ran out of ideas-

Ratchet and Clank are playing intergalactic chess in their apartment (as all great stories generally start). They also watch some Secret Agent Clank, a show Clank managed to get for himself with Ratchet as the chauffer. Afterwards they turn on a newscast showing Solanna (R&C1 galaxy) being caught in a massive war against tyrannoid invasions commanded by one robotic Dr. Nefarious. This includes Ratchet’s home planet so he immediately drags Clank onto his ship and the two make their way back to Solanna. Upon arrival Ratchet is reluctantly put in the position of sergeant of the Galactic Rangers; who mostly consist of rather pathetic and humorous robots who need Ratchet to constantly bail them out of trouble. I’m taking this as the reason they didn’t show up to fight Drek in the first game or they were on sabbatical the entire time.

Ratchet and Clank are greeted with a transmission from the Solanna President after taking out the tyrannoids on Veldin, who (while giving credit to Clank thanks to being a fan of his show) tells them to go after the man who defeated Nefarious once before…Captain Qwark. Qwark incidentally managed to escape his “employment” at Megacorp and made his way to the Florana jungles. By the time the heroes catch up with him he is completely feral and has about as much coherent thought as his new monkey friend Skrunch. Ratchet takes him to the Starship Phoenix under command of Sasha, the president’s daughter. After having a orgasm over all the Starship’s features (you will too) Ratchet begins his fight against the tyrannoids. After Ratchet gets Qwark’s memory restored via playing one of his “historically accurate” videogames in front of him, Qwark creates the “Q-Force”, a team of “elite” soldiers working against Dr. Nefarious, and assigns Ratchet a new mission to infiltrate Nefarious’ base and acquire as much information on Nefarious’ plans as possible.

Wondering why someone like Qwark is given command? Its played for laughs mainly, the guy isn’t the asshole he was in the last two games with his new character playing off humor similar to the Behind the Hero videos about him. It’s a great change, one that later games would continue to play off in different but similar ways.

Ratchet and Clank eventually arrive at Planet Daxx and learn about something called a Biobliterator, but not what it does. They also find a music video by Courtney Gears (har har), which tells robots to destroy organic lifeforms. Courtney Gears kidnaps and hands over Clank to Nefarious after the heroes make a attempt into investigating Nefarious through her. Nefarious present Clank a ultimatum: Help him conquer organic lifeforms or be a disgrace to his robotic brethren. Unbeknownst to the player and Ratchet, Clank refused causing Nefarious to replace him with a evil twin named Klunk while holding Clank as prisoner. Ratchet and Klunk. Ratchet, with Klunk, then follows up on the Bioblierator on the Obani Moons. While helping them access the third of the moons, Skidd, another member of the Q-Force, is kidnapped by Courtney Gears. Ratchet enters the third moon to save him, but is too late as Skidd gets transformed into a robot. Ratchet defeats Courtney Gears and later infiltrates Nefarious’ Star Cruiser with Qwark.

When Ratchet arrives, however, he discovers that Dr. Nefarous lured them to the ship as a trap, and he activates the self-destruct system before teleporting out. Qwark says he may have found intel and, much to Ratchet’s dismay, Klunk asserts that they must leave him behind. The duo escape as Qwark is left to die in the exploding cruiser. After a humorous funeral scene, Ratchet is fighting off yet another Tyhrranoid invasion in the city of Metropolis. Nefarious uses the Biobliterator to turn the helpless citizens and Tyhrranoid invaders alike into robots. Before Ratchet can attack him, Dr. Nefarious escapes the city and Klunk attacks Ratchet. After defeating Klunk, Ratchet and Clank are reunited. They discover via looking into the star cruiser’s crash site and playing a blacklisted “historically accurate” Qwark videogame, that Captain Qwark is still alive and is hiding at his secret hideout after he survived the self-destruct via escape pod.

I haven’t been mentioning the backstory between Qwark and Nefarious shown in the Qwark videogame segments. The two used to be in the same biology class (with Qwark being 26 at the time) and years after Qwark stops Nefarious’ amoeboid attack he accidently knocks him into robotizicing machinery which turned him into the robotic doctor he is today.

Back in the present day Qwark refusing to fight because he doesn’t want to die and Ratchet and Clank begin their final assaults on Nefarious. They destroy the Biobliterator only to find it to be the first of two and the weakest one, with the final one being held at Nefarious main command centre. Ratchet and Clank arrive at the command center and confront Nefarious, but before they can defeat him he teleports inside the Biobliterator, which transforms into a giant, heavily armed robot. Having regained his bravery, Captain Qwark flies in to fight alongside them and they engage in aerial combat against Nefarious and the Biobliterator and defeat it. The Biobliterator self-destructs, and Nefarious and Lawrence (his butler) are left stranded on an asteroid after attempting to teleport away from the explosion. The ending fades to the Q-Force and their allies watching the premiere of the latest Secret Agent Clank holofilm.

The story, despite having some more meat, is about as good as R&C2’s. The humourous and quirky dialogue is back and better than ever, with Dr. Nefarious being so good at his job he returns as a villain and later a protagonist in 2 more games.

 

 

 

-How to use a Ratchet again because this one is different to the other ones-

Sort of. Ratchet can do everything he could before so we’re solely focusing on the gameplay changes made to 3. What your XP gets you in this game is a bit different. Ratchet starts with 10HP which can go to 100 (200 in Challenge Mode). His weapons can now be levelled up from V1 to V5, gaining mods and powerful additions each time, with V5 giving them the most destructive upgrades. Because of this, Ratchet’s weapons can get extremely powerful, so much so you can beat the game without buying more than a couple of guns. The guns in this game are probably some of the best in the series in terms of power and even if they seem weak, all of their V5 states cause utter destruction and the last two planets in the game give out large XP amounts. The Starship Phoenix allows you to test weapons before purchase so you can determine whether or not you think it’s worth buying but if you know what you’re doing in this game you can buy just about everything. There are 2 bonus crates you can come across also; the Jackpot crate which temporarily doubles XP and bolts and the Inferno crate which makes Ratchet temporarily immune to damage and make all of his melee attacks kill in one hit.

The in-game economy is the least strict in the series, rivalling only Crack in Time. You get a LOT of bolts in this game, particularly when doing optional things and there is no more bolt paywalls. There’s no Hoverbike races or Ship Battles; there’s just Arena Challenges, Sewer Crystal Hunts and Ranger Missions. Arena Challenges work like they should with some platforming challenges thrown in to have something else to do there as well. Sewer Hunts are…something else. On Planet Aquatos you can go into the large system of pipes filled with Amoeboids and get Crystals for 2,000 bolts each. There are 101 Crystals in there. However you can’t fully explore the place without the Gravity Boots and Treasure Mapper (just to see where the fucking Crystals are on the map of the huge place). Not to mention there’s extreme fucking slowdown in the place. I don’t know whether or not it’s the enemies that cause it or why its in the PS3 version but jesus christ the place is nigh unplayable to go through with the speed it runs at the deeper you go in. The Ranger Missions are a set of missions that generally involve defeating enemies or using vehicles that come up on certain planets. Some are mandatory, some are optional that get you new items, but they all give you cash payouts and that is good. Something to mention is that Arena and Ranger stuff all refill your ammo after starting a mission which is great for saving cash.

The Quick Select now has 2 rings for storing weapons and gadgets. Also you can now change between that last 2 weapons you’ve use by tapping triangle instead of just the last weapon you used. A new series staple is the Swingshot (or Hypershot) activating automatically when you jump towards a target so there isnt a reason to keep it in the Quick Select anymore. Also Gadgets are rather barely used in this game with one gadget only being used in ONE PLANET. Items in this game to give Ratchet some need tricks; like a spare health refill in case he runs out or two of the items from R&C2 being combined into the Bolt Grabber V2 which can get loads of free cash from breakable objects extremely fast because of what it powers up.

Clank sections are back, working as he used to now guiding a monkey with a banana shooting gun as well as the Gadgebots. He’s controlled 3 times so it’s not worth talking about. Same goes for the Qwark Vid-Comics where you get to play…functional (I guess) 2D platformer sections. There are 5 and they’re all mandatory. They’re decent enough and you get a good deal of cash for doing well. They can even be skipped in Challenge Mode. Overall the differences this game brings are enough to justify itself as a sequel. The only time you should ever fail is when the enemy manages to get the better of you and not due to lack of power. The last couple of areas final boss are good challenges though even when you’ve been breaking the game in two with all your V5 weapons and equipment. It’s a great example of R&C gameplay and has obvious input from people’s complaints from the first two games, if a little lacking in the pure platforming department (Qwark Vid-Comics aside) with some planets just being a battle fest.

-Um, what? Multiplayer? Fucking hell-

Yep this game has ONLINE PS2 MULTIPLAYER. Predictably due to the set-up required you wouldn’t be using this for much more than local until the Playstation Network allowed use of the online multiplayer in the HD port. Its decent enough, with some Deathmatch, Capture The Flag and Siege modes. It’s nothing worth explaining in detail, I don’t tend to play it too often but it isn’t a ghost town in terms of people that are using its online these days. At least I think so from the little matches I played. Just don’t expect too many original assets, there isnt even any new music for this mode from what I recall besides the menu music. I imagine something like this paved way for a lot of what we know as today’s console online multiplayer with a number of features you’d be surprised for a PS2 game to have, that and I never played too many PS2 games WITH online capabilities. Might look into that sometime.

-Sooooooo…-

Presentation wise the game is good but I much prefer the aesthetics of R&C1 and 2. This game doesn’t have as much colour then the others and its soundtrack isn’t the best in the series. It’s not bad by any means and still works well but it’s not terribly good either. Maybe it’s just the kind of tone they were focusing on but it is very hard for me to remember music from 3. A few planets make a return from R&C1 with completely different aesthetics and level design but, with the exception of Aridia, have the same tracks from R&C1 although in Aridia’s case the planet looks NOTHING like the original so there wasn’t a reason to even use the same name.

Overall the game is about as good as its predecessor in my book although I can see why the changes it has have people call it the better game. It’s just rather easy for me to blow through at times but the humour is great stuff and its probably the most accessible R&C game. Pick it up along with its predecessor for your PS2 or PS3 although the graphical oddities in 2‘s HD version make reappearances in 3‘s HD version.

531591

-TheAceAlucard

The Non-Comissioned IT Specialist’s Guide to gaming hardware: Desktop vs Laptop

March 23, 2016 no comments Posted in Video Games

My target audience for this are the grandchildren, children, siblings and friends that are often abused as free tech support. A Non-Commisioned IT Specialist, or NonCommisioned Computer Officer(NCO) is a person who rises through the social ranks as “The computer guy/girl” through nothing but knowledge and exceptional google-fu; without any professional training. Despite this, they are under as much pressure to do their elected job right when their company needs them most, and as much flak when they do not, all without the respect or salary of your standard Computer Officer(CO), who can earn their position without even any experience on the metaphorical battlefield.

 

coming-out-1
Coming out to your parents as computer literate

After coming out as a person
Learning the Generals of Binary Technology(LGBT) you may be approached for buying advise. It is important you give sound advise here; you could be disowned and unfriended if your approachers regret their purchase, and if you don’t advise them at all, you could still be blamed.

The upshot of this is that we LGBT need to work together, as aposed to the vitrolic exchanges that frequently take place on Disqus and YouTube.
My contribution is to make a series of posts to target all those objectively wrong opinions that plague the world of “computer people”, you know, the ones which aren’t mine. Jokes aside, I will try to make these as unbiased as possible, I encourage anyone to speak up if they disagree with me.

The thing about opinions is that they are built on top of values, and values differ between people and their situations. So when you try to apply an opinion formed in someone with different values in a different situation, it could be like stuffing a square peg through a round hole(square pegs master race!); the round hole will yell at you.
Because of this, it is essential you base your advise around your enslaver’s situation and values.

 

Desktop gaming vs Laptop gaming

I see a lot of people upgrading to gaming laptops without considering a desktop simply because they already have a laptop and it’s familar territory. In terms of value for money, this is a very bad choice — the fact that Alienware exists at such a popularity proves this.
The only real benefit laptops have over Desktops is that they are portable, and I think people over value this benefit. I prefer my expensive, delicate computer hardware kept in an immobile, well ventilated case, behind a locked door.Can you easily imagine yourself spending a significant amount of time gaming outside the house where a portable console, or phone would not suffice? If you can, great. But I’d imagine there are a lot of gaming laptop owners who rarely use it where a Desktop would not work better.

Time to find a laptop to enter the ring. I generally don’t spend much time in the world of laptop hardware , and I find the majority of tech sites that show up on google to consist of speculation, weak opinion and weird values, so I will probably use Reddit. I find it neccessary to present the first paragraph after a laptop intro where there is a graph detailing a 15% difference in average keyboard temperature on the top google result for “budget gaming laptop” while being a pretty minor point, he makes out as if a warmer keyboard is a bad thing, which it isn’t really. As the source of all love and life always says: “Better out than in.”[video(reinactment)]

So to find a good, budget gaming laptop to compare with, I instead took to reddit.
Hmm
Hillarious mis-use of less-than and greater-than aside, my gaming laptop of choice is the
Sager NP8657s, from here and here(I gave up on the whole low budget thing)

Now for a desktop, I have picked this. I recently built a desktop using all of those parts(except for the case and monitor/keyboard), and I can assure you the parts aren’t just good on paper.

Fight!

 Component

 Custom Desktop

Sager NP8647s

 CPU  FX 6300(6 core, 3.6GHz, 3x 2mb l2, 8mb l3)  i7 Skylake 6700HQ(4 core, 2.6GHz, 4x 256kb l2, 6mb l3)
 GPU  Radeon R9 390(8GB VRAM, 1GHz clock rate)  GeForce GTX 970M(3GB VRAM, 1~GHz clock rate)
 RAM  16GB DDR3  16GB DDR4*
 Battery  🙁  60WH
OS Windows 10  If you pay more :L

It appears the desktop beat the Sager by a good bit. Let’s see the full story though. Here are some things to take into consideration(Uncategorized to avoid bias)

  • *For the desktop to upgrade to DDR4 RAM as fast as the laptop’s, I’d use this, which is currently $8 cheaper, and slower. It’s worth noting that the mother board I picked can’t support DDR4 though.
  • Looking at Benchmarks(FX 6300, i7 6700HQ) the laptop’s processor is a bit better, Megahertz Myth
    • Both CPUs should work fine with virtually all the AAA games out there, GPUs are way more important nowadays.
    • I will be testing this for myself later, I don’t trust these benchmarks fully utilized the 6300’s 6 cores
  • The desktop is currently $219 cheaper(Please correct me if you find anything for less)
    • This is not including the price of a sound system
  • Desktops are highly modularized, so parts can be upgraded, replaced and borrowed.
    • Someone who won’t be named for his own safety in public argued that “You have to replace desktop hardware”. Desktop hardware doesn’t age differently than any other hardware, you CAN replace Desktop hardware — but you don’t have to.
  • Building a desktop is like following lego intrusctions, but you have to be competent enough to appreciate that things can be delicate.
  • While you may rarely need to use your laptop on the move, the only alternative when you are on the move is one of those fandangled smart phones.
  • Desktops are more ergonomic; the optimal monitor/keyboard relationship is impossible
    • Desktops CAN be more egonomic, but that doesn’t mean they are.
  • 80% better and  cheaper(minus the price of a sound system/pair of headphones)
  • I spent weeks compiling that list of parts because I actually bought the parts. I spent very little time in comparison finding a good laptop, there could be better value ones out there.
  • Because they are being moved around all the time, laptops can suffer a lot more wear-and-tear depending on how careful you are.

 

Conclusion

Laptops if you need something portable, Desktops otherwise.
This is pretty obvious, but Desktops are perhaps up to twice the value for money, so it is very important those apes hounding you for advise leave their likely comfort zone in portable technology and get a REAL computer. It is also important it is home built, which is something that could take some persuading(you’ll probably also end up doing this yourself)

-Ratchet and Clank 2- Review

March 17, 2016 no comments Posted in Playstation & Sony, Video Games

 

Got some things to explain. Why the second game? Because the first game is aged shit. I COULD NOT play it again for the review and it only sets the basis for this game, while this game sets the basis for the ENTIRE SERIES. I’ve decided to skip ahead to 2, and I’ll explicitly explain to you exactly why soon.

-How the series went from decent to awesome, R&C1to R&C2 –

Ratchet and Clank was released in 2002 by Insomniac Games for the PS2. It was a action-platformer that had a large focus on using ludicrous weapons and gadgets to get through various sci-fi planets. However its design choices were detrimental in it being as aged as it is compared to the other games. Combat could get clunky, you could only get a max of 8 hit points, you needed to be a absolute hoarder of cash to get anywhere, difficulty could get obnoxious and weapons were EXTREMELY situational most of the time. There was a weapon named the Taunter that did nothing but make noise to, as the game puts it; “lead foes into traps”. Basically you either wasted your money on it or spent more money to get a mine weapon that complements it in only certain situations. Worst of all for a good chunk of the game the two main characters were the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you’d want out of partners. Ratchet acted like a typical teen who sounds like a surfer “dude” who’d use worse like “tubular” whilst Clank was just a textbook nerd who was prudish and stuffy as all hell. The two had no chemistry for most of the game and were not enjoyable heroes to be stuck with which is one of the worst things you can do. The game isn’t terrible or even all that bad, it has some good things about it that I do love but I can find those in ANY other Ratchet and Clank game.

Luckily the game managed to get enough praise to have a sequel start its development 5 months after the first game’s release. And HOLY FUCK did they fix EVERYTHING.

-NOW THE AMAZING PART-

Ratchet and Clank 2: Going Commando (Locked and Loaded in Europe, apparently we can’t handle nudity jokes) was released in 2003 and is one of the best examples of a sequel overtaking its predecessor in every way. Everything about the game’s development says they wanted to fix criticisms of the first game and add a few “big ideas”, things that would add to the game’s “Wow-factor”. And they did for the most part. Mention must be given to them specifically fixed the personality of Ratchet before I begin the plot synopsis. He’s grown up more or less, now able to take charge in stressful situations without being impetuous and cocky. As well he’s less of a dick and is more friendly to Clank.

So without further ado, LETS FUCKING DO THIS.

The story starts off nearly a year after the first game where Ratchet and Clank are having a interview on the TV show Behind the Hero. The two state that after all the praise and festivities they’ve started living a uneventful life again, with Ratchet explicitly saying “No one needs a hero right now”. A corporation head watching from a entirely different galaxy disagrees and teleports the duo to a space carrier. The man introduces himself as Mr. Fizwidget, founder of the Megacorp company an extremely powerful corporation that manufactures every product in the Bogon Galaxy. He requests Ratchet’s aid in retrieving a biological experiment that was stolen from the megacorperation by a mysterious thief. Ratchet almost immediately accepts with Clank being hesitant…that is until Fizwidget tells them the rewards of the job; a penthouse suite, a job as Megacorp accountant and a robotic masseuse. Clank agrees immediately after . Ratchet is then given combat training and a new body armour (complete with helmet) on the 2 week trip over to the new galaxy. After failing to stop the thief’s escape from his flying lab Ratchet begins his journey after him during which Clank gets kidnapped from his apartment and held as hostage by the thief. Ratchet rescues him and the two eventually manage to track down and recover the experiment as the thief makes his escape. After heading to the rendezvous point on a abandoned mining planet, Fizwidget accidently lands on Ratchets ship thinking it was “a little debris on the landing pad”. The old man waves it off stating that “Its insured!”. He retrieves the Experiment and offers the two a ride on his ship but accidently ejects them out after attempting to turn on the radio. The two fall into the inner abandoned mine, Clank assumes Fizwidget kicked them out on purpose but Ratchet decides to give him the benefit of doubt as a easily distracted old man. They make their way out of the mine but are held up by the thief. The thief unintentionally knocks off his own mask (by humorously slipping off the top of his ship), and it is revealed that “he” is actually a female Lombax named Angela Cross. Ratchet states he doesn’t have the experiment, which she states has put the galaxy in danger.After finding a way to repair their ship, Ratchet and Clank discover on a couple of Megacorp research and development facilities and that Angela’s claims are true, as the Experiment is revealed to be a dangerous predator that Megacorp intends to market as a pet.

They try to persuade Fizzwidget to destroy the experiment on a number of occasions but fail due to the man’s convenient incompetence. The experiment now dubbed the “Protopet” is now being cloned and shipped across the galaxy. The team decides to head to Megacorp Headquarters to halt the cloning of the experiment where Qwark happens. They discover that Captain Qwark, the disgraced superhero from Ratchet & Clank, had disguised himself as Fizzwidget and planned to release the protopet from the beginning in spite of its hostility, so he could save the galaxy from his own threat and restore his reputation.

To be fair to the game this isnt what you’d call a left field end as videos appear in the game explaining what happened to Qwark after Ratchet and Clank stopped him from assisting the main villain by taking him out. Qwark was arrested after selling fake gadgets to people under a false identity and was charged with paying a extremely high sum to the recipients of the defected products. He attempted to flee custody, got arrested and escaped by flushing himself down the prison toilet. He attempts to use a “Helix-o-morph”, a gadget Angela designed to repair the genetic flaw in the Protopets that causes their aggression, and zaps the original Protopet, but it malfunctions, mutating the protopet into a gigantic, vicious monster that swallows Qwark whole. After Ratchet defeats the giant Protopet, Angela and the real Fizzwidget arrive on the scene, with Angela explaining that Fizzwidget had been tied up in a closet the whole time. After spitting Qwark back out, the giant Protopet is changed back to normal once Angela retrieves the Helix-o-morph and fixes it by putting the batteries in the right way. With this the device is hooked up to Megacorps TV transponders allowing it to fix all of the Protopet clones, ending the game with Qwark being forcibly signed on as a test subject for Megacorp products including the…crotchitizer.

Well as you can probably tell this series goes about things with a generally humorous and quirky narrative (I sadly cant sit here listing examples so I cant really do it justice) which is much more enjoyable thanks to the better character in the main protags and well as, for the most part, good characters in general. And trust me I did cut a lot out of the synopsis including all the Thugs-4-Less scenarios which I love. Fun fact: despite Angela being a female of Ratchet’s species absolutely NOTHING happens between them and it’s great because she has a good deal of personality which is why they never used her again. It’s what it needs to be for a Ratchet and Clank plot, I’m not expecting anything deep and intricate from a series that loves having fun doing ridiculous things with its weaponry. Voice acting is good, with James Arnold Taylor taking on the role of Ratchet…for good, even up to this year’s game and film. It’s a bit odd hearing his first go at the role though he sort of fluctuates, sometimes making Ratchet sound different on occasion at the beginning.

 

-How to use a Ratchet (lololololololololol)-

Let’s start with what the original game introduced. Ratchet can run, crouch, jump, double jump and do a combo with his wrench on the ground. He can do a overhead swing with the wrench and toss it while crouching. Weapons and Gadgets are selected by holding triangle to bring up the Quick Select. Here you can choose which weapons or gadgets you wish to equip without having to go into the Weapons menu to equip them. The game doesn’t pause in the Quick Select menu, and you need to pick which ones that are in it in the pause menu. Firing the weapon is done with circle and double tapping triangle swaps to the last weapon you held. Ratchet can also glide with Clank (in the original he needs to upgrade him first) and perform a long jump forward and up with him. Bolts that drop from breakable objects or enemies can be used to purchase weapons or get past paywalls the game throws your way sometimes. Gadgets are used to manipulate specific things when needed, like a Swingshot for the swingshot targets. They sound situational and they REALLY ARE, especially the last gadget which you only use 2 and a half times since you get it near the end of the game. What’s worse is that there are two items that conceptually do the exact same thing: Infiltrator hacks stuff with a minigame and the Electrolizer activates stuff with a minigame, not to mention the access points for each look similar enough.  Clank sections return…in two areas where you perform a decent platform challenge whilst commanding robots to do shit for you. Nothing worth mentioning really, Clank sections sort of stay like this until Crack In Time so meh.

Now the new things and get into the problems afterwards. The game adds XP meters for both your weapons and health. Every time your heath XP is maxed your heath increases. Including Nanotech Increases you can find your health can go all the way up to 80 HP just from 4 HP. This is not only better than the original game its also important since enemies can start doing more than 1 HP of damage. Luckily you can now buy armour in this game, decreasing the damage you take. Sadly the armour system is introduced right after you repair Ratchet’s ship which is about nearly a third into the game which is rather late. The weapon’s XP allows it to permanently transform into a stronger version of that weapon when filled. The amount of things your quick select can hold has been increased. A very useful addition is strafing with L2, which allows you to aim MUCH EASIER than the last game. You can even lock on to enemies with weapon mods (which is rather stupid). In the first game you had to pray the weapon had some kind of target indicator which would angle the shots because you have to move Ratchet to aim. Additional means of acquiring money has been added, there’s now Arena Challenges, Hoverbike Racing, Crytal Searches, and Space Combat Missions as well as optional boss fights. The mods I mentioned earlier can be bought with Platinum Bolts which you might find looking around the planets, they don’t do too much so you don’t have to get them but they’re nice enough to have like a Acid or Shock Mod. There is even a weapon shop that lets you get back R&C1 weapons for no cost if you purchased them on a R&C1 save file, meaning you get free weapons if you have. This game also introduces the Charge Boots as a means of moving faster, which you get after finding the Hoverbike Race track on the Megacorp Games planet.

The New Game + that lets you replay the game with all your stuff and stats has been tweeked into Challenge Mode. Here you have a bolt multiplier that increases each time you kill a enemy and decreases when you take a hit, letting you get insane amounts of cash very fast. This lets you buy the million bolt arm or the RYNO II; a insanely powerful rocket launcher that breaks everything. Any weapons that have their XP maxed out can be repurchased in their MEGA state, which also comes with ANOTHER XP bar to fill making it even more powerful after its full.

Introduced in this game is the Insomniac Museum which unlocks after getting EVERYTHING in the game. Or you can do this quite deliberate and easy to pull off glitch put in by the developers to get there from a secret teleporter Silver City. The Museum showcases a bunch of cut content, gives you immense amounts of behind the scenes and game info as well as letting you mess around with all kind of cut stuff or developer tools. It’s one of my favourite parts of the game just for the pure fun of messing around and learning neat stuff from people who had a fun time their game.

 

-Issues may include…-

OK I’ve blabbered about good things long enough let’s get into the reviewer clickbait: THE PROBLEMS. Firstly the Space Missions are crap design-wise. The controls are simple enough however you’re in a spaceship with full 360 degree movement instead of only need to worry about turning, rising and descending. The ships you’re against go everywhere and are much more accurate than you are, in the time it’ll take for you to find them you’re already taking a bunch of potshots. You’ll be mashing R2 to straighten the ship constantly to get a good idea of where you reside in the area. Basically look up one of the missions on Youtube (I can’t be bothered, no good examples came up on my first search) and see for yourself how clunky things are. Luckily there are only 4 mandatory missions but 2 of them REQUIRE upgrades in order to accomplish the mission without failure, which means getting Raritanium from earlier space missions and buying better shields and weapons at Slim Cognito’s later in the first third of the game. They do give great payoffs and a few of them arent combat orientated.

One of my main issues with the game is the tad unbalanced in-game economy. It means that if your not hoarding things can get troublesome. Let me explain. There are a lot of weapons in this game that, while good for taking different approaches, only serve to waste a lot of your cash when it comes to boss fights where dealing damage is everything. The game has QUITE a number of weapons that are useless in terms of damage as well as throwing good weapons in the vendor right after a few crap ones. With the occasional money paywalls and armour that you’ll need to buy, don’t be surprised that you’re going to have to grind if you bought whatever came up in the shop, not knowing how ineffective it is. R&C1 had this problem too but in that game enemies didn’t take “damage” as much as they took “hits” so many non-situational weapons were still effective from beginning to end. Here the stats matter and weapons like the Lancer or Heavy Lancer lose their use before you get halfway into the game. GET the Mini-Rocket Launcher and Bouncer weapons before deciding on anything over 20,000 bolts.

Speaking of boss fights, special mention goes to the fucking one against the giant robot piloted by the Thugs-4-Less leader. Something HAS to be wrong with this fight design-wise, it takes way too fucking long to finish, your weapons do piss damage to his incredibly large HP so your only option is these turrets…that also do piss damage and get destroyed by the giant robot very easily. It’s a fucking mess.

-Presentation-

The game looks great for 2003 PS2 standards and the aesthetics of each area are generally overwhelmingly pleasing. Ratchet’s new armours make him more cool looking than the…”outfit” he had in the first game. Graphical quirks occur left right and centre in the HD version, particularly with cutscenes that happen in a ship, but usually aren’t enough to diminish the quality of them overall (we’re not at Ratchet Deadlocked HD yet). The humour is great and I cannot do it justice, with only a few jokes that lost touch over time. Music is fucking awesome, its bombastic, its funky, its atmospheric, it has so much variety with different instruments. Its everything it needs to be and more and I recommend a listen to it. The only problem is, the game has no credits music. Why? I don’t know, it just plays the Final Boss music during the credits instead for some reason and there’s no credits music in the soundtrack. Also why is there only ONE track for Hoverbike Races? The Ship Missions have multiple music tracks I’m sure they could squeeze out one more.

-So is the fucking amazing game a fucking amazing game?-

Yep. The in-game economy is one of the few worst in the series and certain sections I fucking tire of but overall it’s a fantastic game and a major improvement over what was, allowing the series to continue to the point nearly running out of ideas and then getting a reboot and a film next month. Recommended for any PS2 owners or anyone with a PS3 can get it as part of the HD collection, where you can get it with its meh predecessor and its equally good sequel.

4

On a humour note, look up japanese Ratchet and Clank box arts if you have time to waste. They’re…weird and sometimes inaccurate. For Ratchet and Clank 2 the cover shows a oddly drawn Ratchet in his original design, something that’s only present in the first cutscene in the game.

-TheAceAlucard

Gravity Falls Review

March 11, 2016 no comments Posted in Animation & Anime, Film

It’s no real secret that what the Disney Channel does to it’s actors is sleazy to say the least. They take in mostly teens who have dreams of becoming big in acting and they reuse them in a bunch of different show’s then discarding them when not needed. So it’s a wonder that the Disney Channel got Gravity Falls.

 

Having just ended 2 weeks ago I feel as though this is the perfect time to reflect on Gravity Falls as a series while it’s still fresh in our memory.

Gravity Falls stars Dipper and Mabel Pines, two twins who go to live with their Great-Uncle (Gruncle) Stan at his Mystery Shack in the small town Gravity Falls. They soon meet the two other people who work at the Shack. Soos, the handy-man who functions as the twin’s sidekicks and Wendy who acts a a love-interest for Dipper for the first part of the series.

You might be thinking “Does Soos function as one for Mabel”. The answer to that is no. As Mabel is always on the prowl. Looking for anyone and everyone who will be her boyfriend.

For the first part of season 1 it would be very simple to write Gravity Falls off as just another “Random” show with an above average art budget and is in general pretty funny. But they they started creeping in more plot. Namely with the introduction of Lil’ Gideon and later on Bill Cipher. Gideon could have easily been a one off character who was in love with Mabel.  But his little involvement in the story throughout the series and his small appearances make him into a bigger and more fleshed out character which makes his redemption all the more gratifying at the end of the series.

Bill Cipher the antagonist of the series was also slowly built up in the series’ ciphers and his appearances, so by the end he’s a fully fleshed out antagonist with motivations and reasons for his actions.

Getting back to the cipher’s that another big thing about this series. Lots of codes and ciphers have been hidden in the series. Some of which reveal nothing important but some of the reveal useful information in theorising and putting together information about the series and its story.

Verdict

Gravity Falls is a fun series with great comedy, plot and visual. It is a must see for any animation fan and will likely be remembered as a masterpiece if it isn’t already.

 

Dungeons and Dragons review by person who has never played it or knows anything about it

March 4, 2016 no comments Posted in Video Games

Dungeons and Dragons is a popular board game lovingly developed in 1986 by Hasbro and has since adopted new versions with tailored game-play, more characters and better weapons through DLC. The aim of the game is to be the one who defeats the “Dungeon Master” — a sort of last boss, if you will  — without dying. A quest often angrily complained about by DnD players (D@Ds, pronounced ‘datdders’) as impossible, before frustratingly announcing that I’m talking crap.

D’D is very unforgiving, Players will have a hard time winning on their own without partnering up with another player or NPC companion, and they must remain vigilant as both have the opportunity to stab you in the back for a lovely profit(And in a large majority of rounds, they take that opportunity). Because of this, it is recommended newbies play with the ‘easier’ settings  on their first run, and make a gentleman’s agreement not to attack each other.

As the name suggests, a major element of DandD are dragons. Dragons in D,D are similar to those in pokémon, you collect them, fight them, and level them up to unlock new features and aesthetics. Players can introduce these dragons into combat scenarios to fight for them(And of course, risk losing them to Death, or more charismatic players).

Combat in DnD is refreshingly simple compared to most board games — whoever rolls the highest number in an encounter wins — with a few basic modifiers thrown in such as your weapon of choice. Combat occurs when a player arrives on the same tile as an opponent, be it another player or one of the many malicious monsters contained in D.D. Combat is encouraged, but not ultimately necessary if you team with another player.

In summary, DD provides skillful, amusing and tactical gameplay while being attractive to a wide audience, easy to pickup and helpfully short-lived, making it well worth your time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Final Fantasy Explorers- Review

February 22, 2016 no comments Posted in Nintendo, Video Games

What a first, huh? A review that of a recent game rather than a SNES RPG

I have rather little to talk about before getting into the main portion of the review which is the gameplay. Explorers was released late 2014 in Japan, taking until January 2016 to be released in the US and Europe. All I could garner for development info was the director Atsushi Hashimoto making the game based off the concept of a multiplayer Final Fantasy adventure with a job system being incorporated. Soon after the game came out my drive to purchase this immediately was rather flustered by reviews generally not going higher than 7 out of 10 (Fun fact IGN indeed rated the game 6.8/10. I presume too much Final Fantasy) but after purchase has my fears been unfounded? Well first off the game isn’t being sold for the general 50 or above euro Nintendo games get as price tags for no fucking reason so scrounging 40 euro for the game wasn’t as much of a problem.

The story? Please. This game can be summed up as a Final Fantasy version of Monster Hunter, a series that does not bother with plot as far as I’m aware. The basic premise is there for the sake of it, people who hunt for powerful life and technology powering giving crystals are known as Explorers. YOU are a Explorer heading to the island of Amostra, which is newly discovered as a vast source of crystals but on the way there your airship gets blasted by fucking Bahamut. After booking it you (I’m getting fed up with this already) get to the town of Libertas to began questing around for questing’s sake in search of the island’s Grand Crystal. After about 20 hours of doing stuff and having a rather pointless lesson in what the search for crystals do to the world you get to the Grand Crystal, the story stops pretending it’s a thing and most of the game’s quests start opening up. Now let’s get to the REAL review.

First off the avatar customisation is rather shit with a very limited number of options, though I don’t mind not spending hours increasing the size and shape of every part of my character’s face. I do mind having to shorten my character’s name to Chris due to character limits that shouldn’t be there. Like usual you start off in your Freelancer Job, to get more you need to unlock them. You unlock a bunch early after completing one of the tutorial quests but you unlock most of them by finishing the Job Test quests that you’ll get along the game. Other Jobs are unlocked by specific means such as learning Firaga, Curaga, and Blizzaga to get the Red Mage Job or killing 500 monsters to get the Dark Knight job. You shouldn’t have any trouble with the requirements except the “Make 20 Monsters” one but we’ll get to that later. Jobs as you’d expect change your stats, the abilities you can use, weapons you equip and so on and so forth.

You get equipment mainly through the shop in Liberta using the materials you get from defeated monsters to either make more stuff or upgrade your equipments’ stats until the piece reaches its stat limits (haven’t reached the Buster Sword’s one yet so I don’t plan on replacing it). You don’t level up for killing things Liberta serves as the main hub, you select your quests there and after each quest you get sent back although you can choose to explore the island but certain areas are blocked off till you get a quest telling you can pass through and then the area is unlocked for good. These area barriers get rather annoying to see and I can’t think of a reason for them to really be there. You can select main areas you’ve discovered via the airship outside of quests but the in between areas leading to the main ones like mountain passages or forests have to be travelled through during quests and they’re much more repetitive since its basically 3 similar areas till you reach the next main area.

After a certain point you can also select a number of subquests to be done during quests for rewards like killing monsters or delivering a item. Regardless all quests cost a bit of money to actually start for some reason, it’s not like you’ll ever run out of gil in this game. Quests you unlock come in set difficulties which determines the monsters’ strength and exploring Amostra is always done on the highest quest difficulty available to you but Lv. 2 and Lv.3 item drops don’t happen unless you’re above a certain difficulty whilst Lv. 1 drops are always guaranteed. If you want to make finding new materials easier use LibertaExplorer, it’s a site opened by a bunch of fans at the start of February that contains a enormous deal of Explorers info that players should definitely check out, it’s really convenient. No matter what however you will get annoyed at how enemies tend to not appear in areas that they should like the humble Chocobo which you can kill but only if it decides to show up.

Let’s get into mechanics now. Explorers can all do a normal attack and sprint. Your AP meter is the fuel for your abilities and sprinting, it fills as you attack, use a ether or stand still. For the love of god don’t overuse it and run out unless you want to be left walking after your teammates as they sprint away. You can lock on to nearby enemies by tapping R and have the camera move to in front of you by tapping L, holding L or R opens the ability lists allowing you to use what you have on them. Abilities also have a charge time after use but usually you should always have at least one ability to use if you spam all of them. Holding both L and R opens the Crystal Surge menu when the game tells you have one available. The controls do have a hefty use on the shoulder buttons but it’s easy to get used to, my main issue is how the lock-on always locks on to any boss monsters if they are in the vicinity and not the small fries unless you press “Track Small” on the touch screen.

You learn all your abilities from the Main Crystal in Liberta and they all cost CP. CP is what you get from killing things and is multiplied heavily after a quest. CP is also used during equipment upgrades and monster fusions. The Main Crystal also lets you learn any mutated abilities you’ve found. What are those? Let me explain that with Crystal Surge. You have a count of your Crystal Resonance on the top left that you raise by using abilities, when it gets over 100 a Crystal Surge can occur. The Crystal Surge menu then can be opened allowing you to choose a temporary status change for example all of your attacks are Critcal Hits or all of your attacks are Fire Elemental , but the 4 that appear are random and you won’t know what they do unless you look them up in the game or just try them out. Anyway when a Crystal Surge is active some of your abilities may turn yellow. Use them and you unlock a ability mutation which is a extra add on for the ability you have and all mutations can be stacked and added with whatever other mutation the ability is compatible with. For example:

  1. I have a ability called Sonic Steel
  2. I activate the Fire Crystal Surge that makes my attacks all do fire damage
  3. Sonic Steel turns yellow and I use it during the surge, the game prompts me that I’ve gotten the Fire Mutation
  4. I purchase Sonic Steel1 (which has the fire mutation) from the Main Crystal and replace it with the normal Sonic Steel.
  5. I get a poison mutation for Sonic Steel1 allowing me to purchase Sonic Steel2 which now has a chance of poisoning and burning a enemy.

I can increase the power and chance of success of abilities by repeatedly mutating the same Surge. If you don’t want to use any of the Crystal Surges that appear in the list you can change it by using abilities a couple of times. If you want to get the most of your abilities, GET EVERY MUTATION YOU CAN.

Now there’s Magicite (no not the Final Fantasy VI stuff) which you unlock after you Encase your first Eidolon during the quest where you learn how to. Eidolons are the series’ summons that fight you in specific areas and can be defeated for items but when they are at low HP the Encase Crystal Surge can appear allowing you to capture the Eidolon and use their magicite. It is REALLY annoying trying to capture a Eidolon for the first time so here are some tips that you should keep in mind every time you attempt it:

-Use abilities or Crystal Shards that don’t damage the Eidolon to raise your Crystal Resonance

-Use the Oracle item to change the Surge list

-When playing in a team you all have individual Crystal Surges at around the same time and raising Resonance is much faster. Having 4 people with Surges increase the chances of one of them having Encase.

When you Encase an Eidolon, you unlock its Trance for permanent use and can sell the Magicite as a Eidolon. Your Trance meter fills as you attack and use abilities. When its full you can go into Trance which fills your HP and AP. It also lets you use a Trance Surge when you get another Crystal Surge which is a really strong special but what it does depends on the Eidolon you have equipped. Now WHO WANTS TO TRANSFORM INTO LIGHTNING FROM THE POPULAR FINAL FANTASY XIII!?!?!?!? Like unlocking Jobs, you can unlock Magicite from the Libertas Moogles after completing certain requirements that let you transform into veteran Final Fantasy characters in Trance and use their Trance Surge. No Final Fantasy IX characters sadly. You can also unlock and forge Final Fantasy outfits but they’re generally overshadowed in terms of protection and convenience.

Now Monster Creation. This thing mainly exists so that people playing solo can have some semblance of “team”. When a monster dies they have a chance of dropping their Atmalith…it’s their soul so to speak. You use this to create monsters to fight with you and they can…level up even though you can’t. I split Monster Creation into two catagories: Either they’re shit or they’re broken damage dealers. My personal favs are the Black Knight, Cactuar and Magic Pot who deal really high magic damage.

So people like playing with other people right? This is self explanatory, you can play with up to 3 others in different quests, the difficulty is raised depending on how many people are there so good job synergy and teamwork is necessary. This can be done with friends or people you find online that may or may not be cunts and run off whilst you try to get materials. Can’t do much in profanities though, you have a set list of things to inform the team of.

I think I’ve covered more than enough. The game is rather clunky but still great fun as it serves its purpose well. Like some other games (BRAVELY DEFAULT) I think it would’ve benefitted greatly from some more time, attention and additions to make things more convenient. The music is…decent but with a game like this you’re probably listening to music or a podcast (wink wink nudge nudge) when playing. It’s worth the price that its going for and fans of the series have already bought the game because of all the beautiful fanservice. I wish Gilgamesh and Omega Weapon weren’t the only non-summon boss fights though, some more fanservice in optional boss department pls.

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Anyone want to see what review comes up next? I’m leaving that up to you.

-TheAceAlucard