Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Review


Hyrule Warriors was one of the best games I played on the Wii U back in the day. The game had a whole lot of awesome gameplay mechanics at its disposal and the levels were intense. To date I consider it to be one of the best beat em ups I’ve ever played. The whole thing was just so seamless and I do love me a good crossover plot. This one is a very worthy sequel though setting us in the Breath of the Wild continuity. Finally we can have a big story with these characters. The story is a pretty solid length at over 10 hours. It took me around 14.5 although I did a lot of the side missions and bonus content because the game was so fun.

The story picks up right before the actual Calamity started. Link is a chosen knight of Hyrule whose mission is to protect Princess Zelda. He does so magnificently as he saves her from an enemy energy blast. Zelda needs to awaken her abilities foretold by prophecy in order to stop Calamity Ganon from wiping out the world. Her best bet in the meantime is to find the 4 guardians and have them awaken their machines of power. If they use these then the prophecy says they will win but has Ganon already accounted for them? We know that in Breath of the Wild the heroes lose so what can tip the scales here? We have a time travelling robot from the future who shows up in the first level so perhaps he will come in clutch.

There are quite a few twists and turns here as the game goes on so the story is always adapting. It’s a very engaging one and we have a lot of cutscenes here. As always Link proves himself to be an excellent main character. It’s hard not to like the guy because he really does have an incredible amount of skill and is always ready to jump into the fray. With Link by your side you can’t help but feel that everything is going to be all right. He’ll step up to the plate each time we need him to do so. Zelda is also a solid heroine. Her voice will take a little getting used to but as a character she is brave and does what she needs to as Princess. She can also fight on the battlefield alongside the others which I’d say is crucial. You’ve always gotta be able to fight, especially in a ruined world like this one. Otherwise you may just hold the others back.

Her father, the King actually gets a good role here as well. It’s rare to see him step up, but he does and it turns out that the guy can fight really well with a sword. I liked him quite a bit throughout the game. I can see why some may find him to be a bit harsh with Zelda but I don’t think he ever crosses any kind of line and had some good points. Zelda was quite nervous at that point and seemed to be dodging her duty. I wouldn’t say it was intentional and I don’t think he thought so either. He just wanted to get her back on track and the stakes were quite high because if they failed then that would be game over.

As for the villains, we have 3 main ones aside from good ole Calamity Ganon. The first is Master Kogha. He’s definitely trying for a charismatic comic relief kind of role here. He can fight decently well but doesn’t take things seriously a whole lot. He didn’t grow on me but I wouldn’t say he was bad. He may make you crack a smile once in a while but he’s not as funny as you need to be for this style of villain to truly work. Fortunately his sidekick Sooga is great and really holds up the villain side here. He’s a talented fighter who even gives Link a run for his money. The guy is incredibly loyal as well so Kohga is lucky to have him by his side.

The main villain here would be Astor though. It’s almost odd to call him the main villain because it feels like the guy doesn’t appear a whole lot here but he is the central focus. He wants to awaken Ganon and end the world. He doesn’t have much personality beyond that but he’s okay. I’ll definitely take most of the other evil Legend of Zelda mages over him. I did like his ability to conjure up shadow versions of the heroes to fight though. That’s a pretty handy trick especially if they are close to as strong as the real deals. Meanwhile Ganon doesn’t do much but it’s always fun to see the blight versions and the final boss has a pretty great design. I do look forward to having more of a sentient Ganon make his return at some point though. He’s just such an interesting villain when he can talk.

Meanwhile the graphics here are naturally top notch. The energy effects all look really good and you can feel the power behind each attack. It makes you have a blast while you’re running around each level. The cutscenes also look really good. In particular there is one cutscene where Link is in a 4 on 1 battle that is great fun to watch. It’s definitely as intense as it gets. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which is also excellent. The soundtrack has a lot of different themes with a good range of action themes to emotional ones as well. In particular there’s one action theme I like a lot which tends to show up when the villains appear. It builds up the suspense quite nicely.

As for the gameplay, it’s sort of like the first game but a bit different. The game adds a new mechanic to the usual beat em up style which is the ability to use 4 skills mid-battle. Stasis, which freezes an opponent; Magnetism, which can manipulate metal; Freeze, which is pretty self explanatory but if you use it on the water it gets to be super effective; and Bombs, which blow stuff up. I really just used the bombs and stasis but both are incredibly useful. Bombs allow you to instantly chip away at an enemy’s stagger meter without having to worry about perfect dodges. Stasis freezes an opponent for a few seconds and you can use it every 10-15 seconds so I recommend spamming that one. It is useful in every different fight so not using it would just be a waste. This new mechanic is quite powerful though to the point where you will be using it incredibly frequently.

The game puts a bigger emphasis on this than your actual final smash which is probably why this is the first warriors game where it can be very hard to replenish your meter at times. I think they’re hoping you use the new mechanic a lot. Well, it’s definitely a fun one so no complaints here. All of the characters have very unique gameplay styles although that is the one area where I would say the game does falter compared to the first one next to the story. While it’s great that the characters have their own unique styles, some feel very difficult to use for battle. Zelda is the biggest character who’s like this. It’s hard to make heads or tails of what her attacks are actually doing in gameplay. Half the time it would be faster for me to just have Link cross the entire field to go and make a last second save rather than letting Zelda or any of the other characters fight in his place. I did like Goruk’s fighting style for example, but Link’s was easily the best.

As mentioned the game’s length is over 10 hours but there’s a lot of replay value that will extend this length. For starters there are over 100 quests to fulfill by gathering ingredients and rupees. Outside of that you will unlock shops where you can level everyone up and upgrade your weapons. These quests even boost all of your characters with more combos and hearts so I highly recommend doing some of these quests. They will help a whole lot when doing the campaign. I did just enough where I was able to go through the main story without dying but I came very close in the final level. If I hadn’t completed 100+ quests I am quite sure I would have died there. Not to mention that completing challenges also helps with increasing your level. There are a wide range of challenges to beat which are separated into categories for every 10 levels. I beat all of them for the first 2 sections and then randomly beat some in the next two. There are still a lot left for if I were to ever go back to these.

Overall, Age of Calamity is a fantastic game. There is a wealth of content here to play through and that’s always good to see. It’s clear that there was a lot of effort put into this game. The story is engaging and the characters are fun. The gameplay is top notch and the same is true of the graphics and soundtrack. When you have a game this balanced there just isn’t anything to bring it down. I do hope they continue making more Nintendo Warrior games because so far they have all been quite excellent. It’s a formula that you can’t go wrong with. If you haven’t bought this game yet then you should definitely change that.

Overall 9/10

Fairy Tail Review


It’s time to look at a fairly recent RPG that came out. Fairy Tail is a game that I was looking forward to for quite a long while. It’s one of those franchises that has an amazing story, top tier art, excellent fights, etc. It’s pretty close to a perfect game and I dare you to find a smoother one. There are a small handful of things that keep me from giving it the 10 star value of course like frame drops and such but overall you are bound to have a blast with this one.

The game starts you off with the big battle against Hades. It’s an interesting starting point but I’m cool with skipping a lot of the early stuff. This way you get right to the heart of things without any kind of delay. That’s how it should be right? After you defeat Hades then it’s time for the big tournament. Fairy Tail has really not been doing well for the last few years after Natsu and friends were wiped off the planet for a few years. It’s going to take some time to get Fairy Tail back to being the #1 ranked guild on the planet but time is definitely one thing that they have a lot of. It may take some time but nothing’s going to stop these guys.

One of the aspects of the game that really works so well is how smooth the gameplay is. It’s a lot of fun just running around the hub world and completing the side quests. Two reasons for this are the convenience of movement in this game and how easy it is to collect resources. There are a lot of different areas to travel to, but you do have quick move points across all of the different hub worlds which is great. You are also told where the resources are so even though it is RNG on where they will appear in the level, you have a good direction of where to go. The instructions are very clear so you’ll never get lost here. There are also options you can use to streamline the game further by cutting out effects. Usually I do that after a while but this game was so much fun I opted to keep them on.

The gameplay is a classic turn based style. It uses turns based on speed so it’s similar to Megaman X Command Mission in that sense. I always thought incorporating speed was a good idea so it’s not just literally going play by play. It gives you more of a reason to actually use status effect abilities as opposed to just launching away at the enemy the whole time. Typically that’s still what I did though. In the hub world you can run around and interact with just about anything. You can also jump a bit but I’m not sure why to be honest as it doesn’t seem like you can ever jump anywhere. I guess they just wanted you to have the ability which is fun enough.

The story is dynamite of course as you tackle a lot of the big Fairy Tail moments and take down all of the opponents who would dare get in your way. Fairy Tail has always had an incredible story but it was held back by the consistent fanservice in the series. The game largely gets away from that. You do have two obligatory beach/pool scenes though so it’s not perfect. Additionally Lucy’s special ability to amplify your team’s speed is about doing a pose and some of the costumes can be tricky. The good part is most of this stuff is optional though so it doesn’t really get in the way of the game as much as it could have. That’s definitely a good thing because it’d be a shame for all of the positives to be overwhelmed like that.

There’s also quite a lot to do in this game. Going through the main story and the epilogue which is surprisingly long should take you around 21-22 hours. There’s a lot of grinding to be done if you want to get through the story easy enough. I went out of my way to upgrade all facilities and do as many side missions and bonding events as possible. I cleared all of the quests for B rank and lower as well as most of the A ones. Even with all of that, I was barely able to beat the final boss of the epilogue. That guy was Level 70 while my team was still in the 50s so his durability was crazy. I definitely recommend having your team a little higher leveled before trying to take down a guy like that. He’s definitely not going to go down very easily that’s for sure.

Leveling up isn’t that bad in this game though. For starters, even when a character is not in your party they get EXP. That includes characters you haven’t recruited yet. They don’t get 100% of the EXP your starters get, but it starts at 50% and by upgrading your facilities that number goes up to 80%. It’s why I recommend upgrading early because you get a ton of passive effects that all add up during gameplay. There are other areas to explore that I never even tried like the Pool which increases bonding and the Laboratory where you can synthesize new items. I got this game on the Switch so there’s no trophies but I do feel like I came pretty close to 100% clearing the game. It would probably still take another 5-6 hours I imagine to clean up all the side missions and character events but I definitely made a lot of good progress and it was definitely fun.

The graphics here are really nice. I would have liked to have had a few more of the big budget cutscenes show up but the fact that we get full voice acting throughout is very good. I always feel like that helps you get to the next level. The in game graphics are quite solid as well. The soundtrack is a little limited but there are some really solid themes in there. I just wish my favorite theme had shown up a little more often. It only appears briefly for some of the big fight moments. Still, With 48 tunes I suppose I shouldn’t say it’s that limited. It’s certainly a lot more varied than a great number of other games I’ve played.

Overall, Fairy Tail really focuses on being a very enjoyable game to play and that’s why it succeeds. The RPG format is one of the greatest formats in gaming because the longer the game is the more time you have to focus on liking the characters and getting used to everything. It’s really a fun journey and the game gets you hyped for the sequel. I certainly got nostalgic for Fairy Tail after this and have been watching some fun reactions to the manga’s big moments. Whether you’re a Fairy Tail fan or not I think you can get a lot out of this. That’s because it’s just an excellent game that was crafted really well. Context or not, you’ll understand what’s going on the same way you understand when starting out a brand new RPG that offers up a lot of questions. This is definitely a game of the year contender and has a ton of replay value which just strengthens the argument.

Overall 9/10

Dynasty Warriors 7 Review


It’s time to look at the next Dynasty Warriors title. It’s been fun going through all the installments from 2-now in this prolonged marathon. The series has come a very long way. I feel like the biggest gap was probably between 4-5 and then from 6-7. 7 is definitely the definitive Dynasty Warriors in my eyes. I’m still working on 8 so it’s not like I’m caught up with the series but at least right now 7 is going to be really hard to beat. It takes every mechanic of the series to the absolute height of where it’s ever been.

As always the story is basically the same and you get to pick from 3 different factions. I always pick the red team which I believe is Wu and so I get to really compare the stories. That said, I’ll be switching for 8. So to make things a little different here this game has a lot of cutscenes and cinematics. There is full voice acting on all of the lines. This ranges from the cinematic cutscenes to even just talking with the guards. It adds a whole new layer of immersion that you just didn’t have in the older games. We get a lot of character development and the story is also more in depth than the others. Some battles are so famous like the war of Chibi that you’ll recognize it while other side battles are finally given more screen time.

Now, none of this would be quite as powerful without some great gameplay behind it and 7 delivers on this front as well. The gameplay is the most explosive that it has been yet. There is now a dual wielding mechanic where you can switch weapons and keep your combos going. It helps keep things dynamic quite well while also working as a combo breaker. It also feels like this is the point where the series begins to feel a lot more like the other spinoffs such as Hyrule Warriors or Fire Emblem Warriors. Gone are the days where you had to watch out for minions. Now you’ll be taking them out by the hundreds. There was one level where I took down over 1000 warriors. It’s all just great and the gameplay is incredibly smooth. It’s hard to see the others improving upon it just because of how responsive it is.

I guess the flip side of this is that the game becomes easier as a result. That’s not really a big deal because you can increase the difficulty if you really need too. It’s also not like it’s a walk in the park either. You still need to make sure you follow the plan and don’t just do your own thing. Otherwise you may beat the enemies but your captain will die which will still result in a game over. So you want to keep a lookout. I didn’t notice any morale system here which would be a big change since the rest of the games had it. I always felt like the system never really helped you out though so I don’t mind losing it if that’s the case.

The graphics are pretty top notch. The attacks are all very flashy and really stand out. The levels have a great amount of detail within them as well which all works out pretty well. The cutscenes are excellent as I mentioned as well. The soundtrack is also great. That’s no surprise though as this series has always been particularly great with this. There are constant rock themes running around to pump you up and get you ready for the action that’s about to unfold.

The campaign should take you a few hours at least. There are 15 levels and assuming you beat each level in around 20 minutes then that’s about 5 hours give or take a bit. Since there are 3 campaigns you’ve got a 15 hour game then and there’s a ton of replay value. You can work to max out your characters or engage in a bunch of bonus levels. As long as you do that then you’ll be pretty much set. The game’s also very cheap at the moment so it’s not like you’ll have to be shelling out a lot to get it. For such a low price it’s absolutely worth it.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors 7 blew me away with how much of an improvement it is over the last few games. Now this feels like a true PS3 experience and Kemco really outdid themselves here. No matter which faction you choose you are in for a great time. Fans of the beat em up genre need to get this game even if it may raise the expectations to an almost unfair level for other games. This is how you do a beat em up and it reminds me of how great this genre can be. I’ve played many beat em ups in my day and while this one won’t be able to climb to the top due to the story not being as strong as others, in pure gameplay it definitely holds its own with them.

Overall 9/10

Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Review


It’s time to look at another Dynasty Warriors game. It hasn’t been so long since I beat the last main title so now it’s time for a spinoff. I’ve owned the Gundam game for a very long time and did complete two of the Arcade modes a while back. I never actually reviewed it though so I went in and did another one for the review. It definitely still holds up as an excellent game and there’s a world of difference to me compared to the mainline Dynasty Warriors games. Even the gameplay itself just feels a lot better which I’m not sure is because of the character models or for Gundam they had a higher budget.

So there are two different story modes for the characters. One is the classic story which is based on events from the TV show. Then you have the original story which is the crossover epic. The crossover story involves a planet that is heading towards Earth. If it lands that will naturally result in the destruction of both planets so Amuro is ready to put a stop to this. Char has arrived and is asking for help. Can Amuro really trust Char to help him save the world or is this all an elaborate double cross? Either way the stakes are high and so Amuro really doesn’t have time to worry about this. At the end of the day he has a world to save.

The story is pretty basic outside of the main premise. You see all of the characters from the other series but we don’t have any big interactions with them or any of that. I haven’t seen the Gundam shows yet but you do at least get the general feel of their personalities. It’s sort of like a tribute to the fans but I would have liked some more bantering. Part of the fun with crossover games like Marvel vs Capcom is seeing these little interactions/potshots at each other. It’s hard to say who my favorite Gundam character is at the moment but I did like Heero here. He was all about attacking and attacking until the enemy goes down which is a pretty good plan if you ask me. You can’t win by playing defense so he made some really powerful points here. All the characters look pretty fun as expected though.

The gameplay as I’ve already hinted at here is a classic 3D Beat em Up. The idea is to take over portions of the map to weaken the opposing army. After a while their general will come out and the goal is to defeat him. I recommend taking over as many parts of the map as possible, but you do want to be careful not to overextend yourself. In Co-Op this becomes pretty easy because you can split up and each take over half of the map. When you’re on your own you just have to remember that a lot of your allies are fairly weak and will be destroyed pretty quick. Fortunately you don’t typically lose the mission on account of that. If someone specific has to live the game will tell you in the victory conditions page. I recommend looking at this page before every mission. It’s always good to know exactly how the fight must go to win or lose so you know who to prioritize.

At its core I think that’s why I really love beat em up games. On the surface it looks like you’re just an overpowered fighter taking down armies, but when you drill in to the specifics it’s really about learning how to strategize. Unless you lower the difficulty to easy you’re not going to have time to help everyone. In these games you’re highly encouraged to follow the plan of attack. If you deviate then you’ll probably lose a lot of allies. A lot of time you have to keep zipping around which will even mean retreating at times because the bosses take quite a bit of time to defeat. If you make the wrong choice you may end up losing. Your character is a lot more formidable than in Dynasty Warriors which helps you deal more damage to the army, but even here I did have to retreat and regroup a few times. I also appreciated the fact that the A.I. here is a lot better than in Dynasty Warriors. They actually assist you in a meaningful way which I was happy about.

As for the graphics, they are definitely high end as you would expect. The robots all look good and the explosions are definitely pretty intense as well. The level designs are also really great to look at. I particularly like how they incorporated space into this as one level in particular actually has to fighting in the vast unknown. That’s certainly not something you would see in a normal Dynasty Warriors game for sure. There are also some full cinematics that play through the game which all look very good. The various Gundam designs are all pretty unique and it’s fun to see them engaging in battle. The soundtrack is fairly large and works well. Admittedly you won’t hear it a whole lot as you’re blasting through everyone but it’s there all the same. The themes are suitably intense for the big moments and will give you the energy needed to clear these levels.

For replay value the game has quite a lot of it. Each story mode should take you a little over 2 hours. You can multiply that X2 for the characters who have both stories and then there are around 20 characters or so which makes for a lot of levels. You can also work on maxing out every character to improve their stats and gathering the items. All of this will take quite some time so you really won’t be running out of content anytime soon. There’s simply way too much to do and it’s part of what makes this game the complete package. The company clearly put quite a lot of time and effort into this one which keeps on holding it up as one of the best beat em ups.

Overall, If you like a good beat em up game then you’ll love this title. The gameplay is very smooth and there is a whole lot of content to absorb here. Each of the character attacks are different enough where you’ll see the benefit of switching things up. I can definitely say that the sequels are higher on my list although right now they seem a bit overpriced so I’ll hold off on that for a bit. Playing as a Gundam is just a lot of fun because of how many attack options they have as well as the stage backgrounds. It all feels very high tech and sci-fi which has really held up over the years.

Overall 9/10

Final Fantasy VII Remake Review


It’s time to take a look at 2020’s Game of the Year title. I’ve been waiting many years for Final Fantasy VII Remake to come out and it was all worth it. You can feel the polish and development time that went into this title. It’s easily the most theatrical game I’ve played since FF XIII-2 and it is fair to say that this one is even higher budget. You could make a case for this being the best Square game yet. I would have to ultimately have it top FF XIII-2 and Kingdom Hearts 2 as the best RPG. It’s really just a definitive title and one that has a ton of content. After beating the game which took around 24 hours, that’s just the tip of the content here.

So the story starts by introducing us to Avalanche. They are a group of terrorists who are trying to blow up various Mako reactors across the planet. The reactors are controlled by a company known as Shinra which basically owns the planet. While this does make life a lot better for many, Shinra excludes the poor who have to live under a dome. Avalanche intends to bring the world back to how it used to be by blowing everything up. There will be a lot of casualties but the idea is that it will ultimately make the planet a better place. To this end, the group has hired a mercenary named Cloud. The guy’s an Ex-SOLDIER which means that he is pretty tough. SOLDIERS in this universe are people who were bathed in Mako and trained by Shinra to be ultimate fighting warriors. Cloud’s just in it for the money but sooner or later he’s going to have to make a decision. Keep on helping Avalanche and fighting Shinra or going his own way.

The plot is ever changing in just about every RPG but especially in something like Final Fantasy. That plot really describes the first few hours and then things change quite a lot. Part of the fun is seeing all of those story details so I won’t go much farther than that. As it adapts the content you’re used to, you will notice one new subplot involving some ghosts that keep flying around and messing with people. It’s a pretty interesting plot and the game gives you a lot of foreshadowing that this will be important. The game goes in some pretty interesting directions by the end. I can’t say much more than that, but what I will say is that I’m not even more hyped for the sequel. It’s really a superb ending in every way.

The climax is pretty great. You certainly have a lot of boss fights to sift through and great visuals. It’s also pretty challenging so make sure you’re ready. I lost the fight the first time so I had to regroup and barely clutched it out the second time. That’s one of the fun parts about the game. There are a lot of times where you will be at the edge of your seat throughout a boss because you’re so low on health and it feels good to get the win. A lot of the battles came down to a last hit situation. It’s a tough game that doesn’t feel unfair. You can always polish up your fundamentals in order to have an easier fight. I didn’t notice many locations for grinding EXP but you could also do that if needed. This is probably the first RPG in a while where I didn’t do any grinding this time. There just wasn’t a need to do so for me.

Some bosses did take around 30-40 minutes as a result though. It’s the price of being low level but it was worth it. I admit that if I had lost any of those fights that would have been unfortunate though. I came really close so many times. My advice is to always make sure you have a bunch of Phoenix Downs and potions. Keep in mind that you can’t use any items unless you have an ATB gauge loaded up so you may also want to equip Revival earrings as well just in case. Those activate automatically so you don’t need to worry about not using the item in time by mistake.

As expected the graphics here are absolutely top tier and same for the audio. It feels like a full movie experience and this game could easily pass itself off as a movie if needed. You could stitch these cutscenes together and just add a few new ones for fights and it could be ready for theaters right away. In particular a game like this always needs a great opening and FF VII delivers absolutely. Then we’ve got the soundtrack which is over 6 hours long according to Youtube’s playlist. That’s pretty crazy. I love to see all the variety here and the various remixes of the classic themes are intense. One of them even seemed to borrow from Advent Children which was a really nice touch.

I haven’t really talked about the gameplay but it is naturally pretty great. It’s a real time 3D hack and slash as you try to destroy the opponents in front of you. One change here that makes it a bit more like an RPG is that you can’t use any items unless you have enough meter which effectively makes it “your turn” to do an action. It makes the battles more intense because you can always choose to use a super attack, use a summon, use an item, or use a spell. Each one costs a spell bar and the only way to build it back up is to attack an enemy with normal attacks. What this means is that if you’re on low health and you just used a bar on an attack, it’ll be a little bit before you can use a potion. Keep this in mind when planning what you will do.

In most battles there will be 3 of you in the party so you can switch to them at any point. You can also just give them orders like which attack to use. For the most part they will never use any super attacks or spells unless you tell them to so when you switch over to them they will probably have a full bar. I recommend telling them to do something whenever they charge up. Also if you have it, give one of them the auto cure spell as soon as possible because that’s a spell they can use on their own whenever you’re low on health. The parry technique is also very handy here. Try to block and counter as often as possible because it builds up the opponent’s stagger meter pretty quickly and can put them in a pressured state. There are a lot of nuances to the gameplay but you’ll pick it up pretty quickly.

There is also the occasional level that uses different gameplay. I always think it’s pretty impressive when a game adds a new gameplay style even if it will only be used for a level or two. A good example of this is the motorcycle levels. There are only two of them in the game but they’re both a ton of fun. It’s a nice change of pace and as I also love racing games what beats mixing the two up like this right? In Advent Children Cloud was definitely a really good expert on a bike so it’s good to see him get to use those skills again here.

As mentioned, the length here is pretty good. It took me around 24 hours to beat the main campaign and that’s considering that I didn’t really do any side quests. The closest to that was when I decided to quickly take a ride on the slide at the park. Beyond that I just played the game straight through and never looked back. I can also see the Platinum Trophy for this game being pretty difficult so that’ll take time too. Even without a post game this would be worth the 60 bucks and with all of the extra content it goes without saying. It’ll be very difficult for any game to take this one down even in the next few years unless they suddenly announce the next Super Smash. Final Fantasy VII Remake did what all Final Fantasy games tend to achieve, it has once again set the bar higher for all AAA titles.

The game has a ton of highs and no real lows so what was the best part? Well, the best part of the game to me would actually be the opening act. Everything up til they destroyed the first Mako Reactor was my absolute favorite part of the game. In part I think it’s because it was the intro so I was still absorbing everything as this really fun movie. It’s all incredibly impressive and while the game never lets up, it’s hard to forget such a beginning. I also liked Cloud’s personality quite a lot in the intro with how direct he can be. The guy was pretty fed up with everything at that point so it made for a lot of great banter between him and Barret. Of course, they had a lot of great scenes after that as well like running up the stairs to the top floor. That segment is great so I hope you don’t choose the elevator there. In general the first act just feels like a really solid mystery thriller. I also liked Cloud’s first confrontation with Reno and Rude. Considering how terrible they looked in Advent Children it’s nice to see how they used to be fairly powerful.

There aren’t a lot of boss fights against human type opponents so enjoy them when they show up. From fighting another SOLDIER to taking on a Shinra boss, it’s always hype fighting another human. These battles really test your knowledge of the parry system as well as your pure fundamentals. You’ll need them if you’re going to take them out. In particular the fight on the roof against the gun wielder was a lot of fun. The fight against Rude was also a lot of fun with the various hand to hand techniques he would use against you.

The cast is also pretty great as expected. Cloud’s basically a perfect lead who does whatever he can to help his friends out. It’s also pretty nice to see his character arc here now that you know the events of Crisis Core and Advent Children so you’ve already got a pretty broad scope of what he’s been through/will go through. Tifa is also a lot of fun as always and tries to be a moral compass for the group. Barret’s probably been helped the most by this remake as I didn’t really notice the guy so much in the original but here he is one of the starring characters. He gets a lot of great moments throughout the game and I really like all of his enthusiasm for the cause. This guy definitely believes in saving the planet whole heartedly even if Cloud thinks he is crazy.

Aerith is more of a mixed bag for me though. She keeps a lot of secrets throughout the game and is intentionally not helpful. Talking a little more early on would have helped out quite a bit. I’m sure she has her own reasons for doing all of this of course, but until we see what those are she can be more annoying than helpful. It doesn’t help that in a fight she’s my least favorite ally to have. She’s good for aerial enemies but beyond that give me Tifa and Barret any day.

The other fighters from Avalanche are cool as well. I’m not a fan of Wedge and he’s mostly there just to give the group more of an unguarded fellow. Biggs is a solid member who seems like your average soldier. He’s got a sense of humor and is a nice guy. I liked having him around. Then you have Jesse who gets a big role here. She’s fun and charismatic although based on some dialogue from the other members she does like stringing people along. Cloud doesn’t fall for it, but this is a bit dubious so it’ll keep her from passing Biggs here. There are a bunch of other supporting characters of course but those are the main ones.

For the villains, well Sephiroth is awesome as always whenever he shows up to mess with Cloud. A lot of the time you have to decide if he is really there or if it’s just Cloud’s head messing with him. Get ready for a lot of seizures. Cloud had a lot of those in Advent Children but he usually didn’t get them quite so much in the OG timeline so you have to wonder what’s affecting him so much. The SHINRA vice president Rufus is a lot of fun here. I didn’t care for him much in AC, but here he seems like a pretty tough boss and in general just a guy that you don’t want to mess with. The other SHINRA leads are less memroable but serve their purpose as good villains. The mad scientist is more on the iffy side. He’d be my least favorite villain if not for the Don also being around. That guy was definitely the weakest one.

Reno and Rude are solid villains as well. Despite all their tough talk and how they act like they have morals they still do everything their boss tells them to do so I still see them as villains. There’s also another SOLDIER who shows up at one point which was interesting. I thought all of the SOLDIERS were already dead by this point outside of Cloud so I wonder how he will play into the sequels or if other SOLDIERS will show up. I guess it makes sense there would be more, we just usually don’t show them. Assuming they are all First Class level that will make for some pretty fun boss fights soon. Somehow I doubt any of them would be quite as strong as Sephiroth, Genesis, or Zack so Cloud should be okay though.

Overall, Final Fantasy VII Remake is a superb game. It is excellent in all aspects and there is not a single weak point to be found in the game. The gameplay is stellar, the cutscenes are out of this world, and the soundtrack is quite dynamic. When you mix all of this together then what you have is an amazing package that ism’t likely going to be defeated anytime soon. I’m hoping the wait for the next installment isn’t too long though. Now that we have all of the character models and assets (Aside from new characters who need to show up) I like to think that we could have part 2 by late 2021 but most likely I guess it would be late 2022. That sounds like ages away though. Ah well, in the meantime it’ll let us discuss the ending a lot more. I’m looking forward to reading the Reddit theories and watching the Youtube ones.

Overall 9/10

Pokemon Black Review


It’s time to take a look at one of the most iconic Pokemon games of all time. Pokemon Black/White got a whole lot of hype and recognition when it first came out. It had one of the biggest stories back in the day and a massive postgame. Well, it’s all deserved. After playing the game I can definitely see why it is known as one of the all time greats. This game really had everything you could ask for and then some. The main campaign does feel a bit short though. In terms of play time it is the shortest Pokemon game I ever played with only 14 hours before being completed. Yes, that’s even counting Pokemon Ranger and Mystery Dungeon.

The game starts with Terry getting ready to be a Pokemon Trainer. He has two rivals in this game, Bianca and Cheren. Both of them want to be the best as well but of course the best they can hope for is second place at this point. Terry won’t let go of the 1st spot. One obstacle in his path though is Team Plasma. They are an organization that believes Pokemon battling is wrong and intends to separate all of the Pokemon from their trainers. While most of the members are radical and downright evil, it is a very interesting premise. The idea of Pokemon battling in any setting other than the Utopia Pokemon exists in would be quite sinister. I’d actually be on Team Plasma’s team to an extent but of course in this game they are the villains so don’t expect them to be too reasonable.

The most neutral character within the team is N. He really believes in the cause and tries to do things the right way. He takes down the Pokemon League including the Champion just to prove that he is the best. He’s not running around committing crimes or anything like that. At the same time he is helping Plasma though so you do have to acknowledge that he is at least complicit in what is going on. He’s effectively acting as an accomplice the whole time. He’s one of the best villains that I’ve seen in a Pokemon game though. The whole climax of the story is also great with a lot of difficult battles and they’re all back to back. I can’t think of another time where I actually felt such a sense of danger and tension while playing through a Pokemon game. It was really quite impressive.

I actually lost to the first few gym leaders a few times. Then when I hit the Elite Four I got slammed by the first member. Granted in part it’s because it takes forever and a day to get the two EXP shares in this game though. Once I obtained them grinding was a lot more efficient. It was fun to actually see wild Pokemon who were stronger than all of my characters except for the main one though. Even when I finally got Reshiram he was stronger than 5 of my Pokemon which was pretty crazy. The game doesn’t hold back in the difficulty and I rather enjoyed that. It made things fresh and kept you on the edge the whole time.

The gameplay is basically the same as always. It’s a classic turn based combat system where you assemble a team of 6 and work to defeat all of the other trainers. There are also caves and such to navigate around as you try to get to the end. Most of the HMs are gone in this game but you will still need Cut at some point. None of the others are mandatory for beating the game which is pretty cool. It’s always sad when you have to throw these moves on a Pokemon because they could have used the spots for something better. I do recommend using Fly once you get it though. It saves you a lot of the legwork. The game follows the usual formula for the most part as you obtain the 8 badges and then fight the Elite Four. The main difference is how you get to skip the Champion and having a real final showdown in the castle at the end. I don’t think Pokemon’s ever really changed things up at the last second like this before so it was pretty awesome.

The graphics look great as always. The sprites are on point and we do get a few cutscenes here. The scene of Zekrom shattering the windows and showing up was pretty cool. It’s always nice to see Legendary Pokemon actually looking legendary. This guy got a lot of hype and it was all pretty deserved. Meanwhile the soundtrack is one of the best that I’ve seen. Pretty much every theme is amazing and I even liked the Team Plasma jingle for whenever you fight one of their minions. This game felt really high budget and was probably around GameFreak’s peak. It takes the best out of the past Pokemon elements while ditching the unnecessary ones. Mix that in with a bigger plot than usual as well as extra rivals and you have a winning formula.

As I mentioned the story is only around 14 hours but when you mix in the post game and catching all of the Pokemon I’m sure you will be here for at least 30 hours. There is a lot to explore and based on the difficulty for the main game I’m guessing that the postgame will be quite challenging as well. It’ll take a while to get your team geared up to deal with all of the threats left. Especially since all of the limited edition Gamestop Pokemon are long gone by now. You won’t be able to rely on them to win you the day.

Overall, Pokemon Black is an excellent game. If you like RPGs at all then I highly recommend checking it out. Pokemon Ruby is ultimately still my favorite Pokemon main game of all time but I would certainly put this in 2nd place. It’s just a ton of fun and delivers a complete experience. I’m definitely pretty hyped to get the sequel at some point. Black 2 and Heartgold are now the only two big Pokemon games that I don’t have yet. Once I have them then I will have finally gone through the entire series which is pretty cool. I do aim to play some more Pokemon games in the near future though so it’s going to be time to dust off the spinoffs.

Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories Review


It’s time to take a look at the second Disgaea game. After the first adventure I knew that it was time to jump into the second one. It’s a tad shorter than the first but by the end my playtime for both of them was basically on the same level. One big difference though is that the second game requires less grinding. At the same time, it’s also in part because I understood the mechanics better and had a more balanced team. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a mage on the team. I got one named Marcia in this title and she saved me more times than I can count.

The story starts by introducing us to a human town that has slowly been corrupted. Now all of the citizens are turning into monsters and it is the work of Overlord Zenon. Adell is the only human on the planet who has been unaffected and he takes this as a sign that he has to be the one to find Zenon. His Mom tries to summon Zenon but they accidentally summon his daughter Rozalin instead. As Rozalin is bound by the contract to stick with Adell for a while he promises to get her back to her father. This way they will both get what they want. Can he really trust this Princess though?

Along the way the duo meet quite a few allies to help in their quest. First up is Tink who is a demon frog with a split personality. He’s definitely a little on the crazy side and is easily the weakest character of the group. He never pitches in when it counts. Then you have Adell’s little siblings Hanako and Taro. Hanako is always calling Taro named and looks up to the demon lord Etna. She is a reasonable enough character I suppose and could be worse. Taro is too lacking in confidence and the fact that his goal in life is to be Razalin’s servant doesn’t really bode well for his character.

One character that shows up later in the game is Yukimaru. She is an assassin who wants to end Lord Zenon once and for all. Her ice abilities are pretty fun and her gimmick isn’t bad. Basically she says zam at the end of every sentence. Her brother also shows up on a similar quest although he isn’t nearly as heroic as she is. By the end of the game Yukimaru is one of the only characters who can keep up with the main two so I recommend keeping her in your party. As a character she is fun to have around as well.

One of the most enjoyable characters is Etna though. Since she was from the first game that made her appearances extra special. Initially she shows up as a guest star character who is at a crazy level 1000. She even takes down Zenon which is immensely impressive. I was glad to see the old characters get their hype since they didn’t get to be main characters this time. Etna is still as ruthless as ever though as she constantly destroys her minions. While she may be hanging out with the main characters for most of the game don’t mistake her for being some kind of hero. She’s definitely just in it to get more power and destroy Laharl once and for all.

Laharl gets a much smaller role as he only shows up for a quick boss fight. It’s still an amazing scene though and reminds you why he is the Overlord. Ultimately Laharl actually meets his match though. I would have liked to have seen him fight longer, but it was a decisive loss for him. Power isn’t everything and he probably could have used some of his old pals to help even the playing field a bit. Part of what makes Disgaea 2 so much fun is how epic these scenes are. It has the advantage of being a sequel to it can utilize the nostalgia of bringing the old characters back like this.

The amazing soundtrack is also handy for this. Etna gets a cool insert song whenever she appears as well and it fits with her amazing boss fight where you are completely helpless. It also builds the atmosphere as well. Axel gets a similar theme that’s really hype and of course Laharl brings in some of the themes from the first game. Despite just playing that one I can see how nostalgic that would be. The game also has a fully animated opening which is pretty awesome. You don’t really see those as often as you’d like. It’s got a little more shipping in it than you’d expect but the action is really hype and the lyrics are catchy. I’ve listened to that theme quite a few times.

Axel The Dark Hero is basically the replacement for the Dark Adonis. He’s another guy who thinks he is the rival to the main character. His story is a little tragic as he just wants to be rich and famous but things never tend to work out for him. When he finally does get his success everyone says he made the wrong choice. I think they were all just jealous to be honest. While I wasn’t a big fan of Axel at the start the game does a good job of developing him into a quality character. By the end he was quite enjoyable. I still prefer the Adonis but they were close.

As for Overlord Zenon, he’s a very unique villain. He takes a lot of losses throughout the game and gets beaten up so badly you keep wondering if the guy is really such a feared Overlord. It’s an interesting take because he clearly isn’t the strongest villain out there, but he’s just strong enough where people fear him. It’s a nice theme that Disgaea has done with the villains. Zenon makes up for this weaknesses with his near immortality and to be clear, he is still immensely powerful. He’d probably be top 10 for the fighters we’ve seen so far. His master plan is definitely twisted but really interesting. I don’t think I’ve quite seen such a plan before and his target’s reaction to it is also amazing. This fighter wasn’t phased in the slightest.

Adell is a great lead and one of the better main characters that I’ve seen in recent years. He’s just a guy who wants to protect his family and doesn’t need to have more of a backstory than that. He’s a very honorable main character who refuses to ever break a promise. While everyone doubts whether he is a human or not for the whole game he never has any doubts about it. His confidence is part of what makes him so solid and the game likely did subvert a lot of expectations with that. I was expecting some kind of twist by the end but Azell just didn’t need one.

Meanwhile Rozalin is a great heroine as well. At first she is constantly scheming to destroy Adell to protect her father but gradually realizes that he is not a bad guy. It’s a nice character arc for her and in particular she gets a pretty solid scene with Laharl. As royalty Rozalin refuses to back down to anyone. The only part that gets repetitive is the line “I’m a being of solitude” which gets old after the first 3 times. It gets spammed relentlessly in some games. That’s really the only thing I can say against the game though. This is pretty much a perfect adventure and the banter between Adell and Rozalin is a lot of fun. Disgaea 2 really does a superb job of balancing the hype scenes with more light hearted comedy/parody elements.

Wait a minute, did I skip the gameplay section? Well, the gameplay is basically the same as in the first one. You are in an overworld map view and your goal is to destroy all of the enemies on the square. You control up to 10 characters in a turn based combat system and use attacks and magic to defeat the enemies. You can gang up on an enemy or divide and conquer them. The tricky thing to keep in mind here is that only the opponent who actually destroys the enemy gets any XP. Everyone else does not so it can be very hard to keep a balanced party. I ended up having Laharl and Rozalin way higher leveled than the others. It takes too long to level everyone up so I just focused on having two. It’s rare where you’ll need more than 2 characters in a level if they’re strong enough.

A huge part of the game is the equipment you get though so make sure to buy the best of the best. It increases your stats way more than leveling up would. I also recommend focusing on attack power because it makes the grinding a lot faster. Also you should turn off the combat animations once you’ve seen them enough because it speeds the game up greatly as well. You’ll need to use the Dark Assembly to unlock higher enemies for the shop. If you want to pass any real bills though you’ll need to bribe them which can get expensive. It’s great for the post game though.

The main story is around 20 hours and then the post game is effectively endless. You can go up to level 1000 and there are so many things to do that it can get a bit intimidating. It’s nice to have though because if you really love the game then you can be here for quite a while. Disgaea never backs down from giving you quite a lot of content to deal with which is pretty awesome. The graphics are also quite sound and you can see how they’ve improved since the first game. It all looks quite clear and I look forward to seeing another upgrade in the third game.

Overall, Disgaea 2 is an excellent game and I would actually say that it surpassed the original. It’s very close in terms of characters but the story of the second game is just a lot more interesting and high stakes. I like the idea of every Overlord deciding to duke it out to see who the strongest one is. It’s a very complete story and one that doesn’t need a sequel but I’d like for these characters to show up again at some point. Perhaps the group would be seen as too powerful at this point but it would be perfect for a 2 on 2 fight, Adell & Rozalin vs Laharl and Etna. I’d definitely buy that. If you like a good RPG with tactical gameplay then I highly recommend checking this one out.

Overall 9/10

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review


It’s time to look at the DBZ game that came out recently. It definitely looked like a real game of the year contender from the instant that we got the first teasers. Interestingly the game kept focusing on the first two arcs so for a while there I was wondering if Arc 3 would be included at all. Fortunately it is here so the game ends up feeling pretty complete. The story took me around 20 hours which is pretty good for an action title. It’s quite rare for any to rank all the way up there. It’s an excellent game and one I definitely recommend.

The story follows the events of the DBZ show/manga. If you don’t know what that is, here’s a quick recap. Goku is a hero who has saved the planet many times. He ended up marrying Chi Chi prior to the game’s start and they had a kid named Gohan. That’s when an alien named Raditz arrives and kidnaps Goku’s son. Goku has to then team up with Piccolo to stop him. Along the way more aliens show up such as Vegeta and Frieza as well as androids like Cell and even mythical beings like Majin Buu. Goku will have to keep on training in order to keep up with these guys, but he believes that he will be up to the task. Goku’s never turned down a challenge before and he doesn’t intend to start now.

The gameplay is similar to the Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi series although styles in more of a single player fashion. You’re using less advanced combos here and more flashy moves to take the opponent down. It’s fun using all of the signature attacks from the show and you can learn new moves/upgrade old ones as you go through the game. I didn’t touch the upgrading part until deep in arc 2, but it’s a handy feature. You won’t be able to upgrade all that much without going through some Roshi training though. Once you beat the game you can unlock all of the training lessons and then you can make your characters really strong. If you want to beat a powerful enemy without leveling up then just buy a lot of health items. Those come in handy although of course it will make getting S ranks a little more difficult. I got an S rank on almost every level but I don’t believe there is much of a reward for doing so here so it’s not a big deal.

In combat you’ll be fine if you just go with your instincts. Typically I like to just stick to physical attacks and don’t use the special moves much unless the opponent is shooting a laser and I don’t want to wait for it to end. Sniping the enemy with a laser of your own is a really good way to counter such a technique. If the opponent is blocking your hits a lot then I would recommend landing a few hits, teleporting, and then attacking more. The opponent is forced to either drop his guard and get hit or let his shield be broken. Either way works out quite nicely for you. There is a good amount of depth to the gameplay so you have the liberty of finding what method of fighting works best for you. The toughest fights for me were the ones where you have to fight multiple opponents. The Cell Jrs that launched at you were no joke.

Meanwhile the graphics here are definitely top tier. There are a lot of animated cutscenes to watch where the characters duke it out and even the normal cutscenes look really good. The engine works really well for a game like DBZ and it feels like you are back in the TV show. The most impressive cutscene was probably Vegito’s battle against Super Buu. The animators definitely had a lot of fun with that one. The scene of Vegeta and Kid Buu punching each other was also styled really well. It keeps up with FighterZ as the two best looking DBZ games. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which is really great. You’ll recognize a lot of the themes from the anime which is a nice touch. We also get an insert song at the very end of the game which was pretty neat. There was certainly no corners being cut in this title.

The sheer amount of content here is also impressive. As I mentioned I beat the game in around 20 hours. That’s considering that I didn’t stop to do any side quests or things like that. I just plunged right through the story. If you consider the side quests, extra boss, and leveling up then you’ll be here for quite a while. The Platinum trophy in this game actually sounds pretty achievable so if I start trophy hunting again then this would be one of the first games that I would focus on. I’d estimate that the game should take you around 40 hours to complete everything. That’s a lot of time and really helps to justify your purchase. Even just wandering around the hub world driving your car and fishing can be a lot of fun. The game did a good job of adding a lot of different gameplay options to have fun with. The game even let you play Baseball for a second which was nice.

Kakarot is a reasonably challenging game, but not one where you will ever be stuck for long. It all feels pretty fair and balanced in part because there are always workarounds. If a boss is too difficult for you right now then you can go and train somewhere, unlock new attacks, re-position your stat medals, cook some food, buy potions, etc. There is no way you will actually be stuck for very long but at the same time you may enjoy just retrying the battle a few times when the opponent is hard to beat like this as it really helps you learn the fighting style. Before long you’ll be racking up S rank after S rank.

Overall, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a superb game. It’s easily one of the best DBZ games I’ve played. I’ve seen it compared to Attack of the Saiyans quite a lot. While that game is also very good, I would have to give this one the edge. I’d put it in third place right behind FighterZ and Budokai Tenkaichi 3. I hope we get a sequel to this game which adapts GT, the movies, and Super. I’m sure they could also do that through DLC as well, but a sequel would be ideal because then it could be a full 20+ hour experience with a lot of cutscenes. I feel like you are slightly more limited with what you can do when it’s DLC but that’s not necessarily true. If you haven’t gotten this game yet then I’d recommend changing that. It’s one of the most complete DBZ adaptions you’ll ever see. When you finish the story you’ll feel as though you just scratched the surface of what the title has in store for you.

Overall 9/10

Madden 19 Review


It’s time to look at one of the newest installments in Madden. It’s definitely been a fun series throughout the years and I’m proud to say that I own almost all of the installments in it. Madden 19 continues the series strong run into the modern era and it’s the kind of game that you could play for a very long time. It’s one of the only sport games where I end up playing through a full season before the review so I could really take in the smooth gameplay. There’s really not much to say against this game although there is a feature or two that take away from it being the perfect Madden title. (2004 will always be the best one)

First things first I jumped into Franchise mode. It’s really quite sad how this mode has gotten the shaft in favor of other titles over the years. You rarely hear people getting hyped about this one anymore, but to me it’ll always be the best mode. You just pick your team and play for as many years as you want. There is now the option to play the Franchise online which sounds interesting. I assume that means all 32 teams will be controller by someone online, but does that mean the matches have to be scheduled? I know there are also a lot of rage quitters so I wonder how the game handles that. Either way I don’t have PS+ so I had to play the franchise offline but that made it extra nostalgic.

As expected there are a few new bells and whistles here. For starters every player has XP as if this was an RPG and you’ve got missions for every game. Clearing them gives you more XP and you can use that to level up specific techniques or even the coach. I’m not sure if I’m 100% happy to have these extra things because I prefer to just play the game with my own playbook, but it doesn’t really harm things offline. Online it could mean that you end up being completely outclassed though if all of their players are maxed out. So I dove into the games and managed a 10-6 record. I managed to get a first round bye which was nice, but then I lost to the Eagles in the Divisional round 37-27. Considering I was playing as the Cowboys it was a pretty rough way to go. My backup quarterback fumbled twice and I also threw a pick. In the end we just couldn’t get past that. (And the random holding calls from my offensive line)

In a lot of ways the games have gotten even more realistic than they used to. A holding penalty suddenly showing up to wipe away my first down happened about as much as you see on TV for the team. Then there are also the constant injuries that would happen every game. Pretty much every important player on my team had to leave at least once during the game and several were out for weeks. I had to sign 3 more quarterbacks during the season to keep my team afloat until Dak arrived again in the final game of the regular season….only to get knocked out during the Eagles game. I’m really tempted to turn off injuries for the league next time I do a season.

Granted, I got a lot of mileage out of Dak. I ran for over 1300 yards as him and while my passing yards were only around 2800 or so, it worked out pretty well. My favorite play in the game is quick slants as there are a lot of options on the field and typically if they’re all covered well then you can run for it. Usually I would run for about 15-20 yards a piece. Of course I do recommend diving each time you run at the end because a direct hit would probably lead to a fumble. Running the ball normally was okay, but Zeke felt extremely slow so I usually wouldn’t get a lot of yards. I did go to Exhibition after the season to play as the Ravens real quick and their running back was so much faster. It just feels nice to blow past everyone.

On the defensive side it felt about the same as usual. You go after the quarterback or stay with the cornerbacks. It can be really tough to make any stops though and half the time it feels like you don’t have any real power here. I played defense for a little while and eventually turned it off. One of the best features here is the ability to skip one side of the ball. I would set it to Offense only so I would only take over at that point and the defensive side would be simulated. It was a pretty good balance if you ask me. Special teams is pretty good as well though and they tend to keep that one in. Field goal kicking has been greatly improved as it’s back to a “click x button twice” style as opposed to flicking the stick. It just feels a lot more natural now. Punting is also pretty good so these parts of the game are as good as can be.

The graphics and presentation are top notch as you’d expect. Madden has always been amazingly consistent in these areas and it shows how much effort the company puts into the game. Madden is a flagship title after all so you would expect it to always be this good. The players throw their clipboards away after a game and they’ve even got most of the celebration dances in. You can now choose how you celebrate after a play as well and the commentators really have a lot of good dialogue options so they typically know what they are talking about. It’s really rare for them to say something unrelated during the game.

Now lets talk about the only parts of the game that don’t work so well. First up, I like the concept of their Longshot mode which is where you get to start the game from college or high school and make your way to the championships. The problem is that the game has long cutscenes that cannot be skipped which is not something you want to see nowadays. I don’t think it was ever a good thing, but I understand that there may have been technical limitations at some points. Otherwise there is no excuse not to be able to skip cutscenes. That just hampers the mode quite a bit.

Meanwhile you’ve got the soundtrack which isn’t so good. EA’s always gone for very loud music which I guess ties into Football, but it can be a little obnoxious while you’re on the menus waiting for the next game. You’ll probably want to turn it off as soon as possible. Fortunately it is easy to do that. The final thing I have to mention here is that it’s still really tough to ever throw deep balls. One thing I liked about the older Maddens was that you could take shots down the field. Nowadays if you do that you’re going to get picked off. There are good receiver catching mechanics that have been added like the RAC option, but they don’t solve this issue. Typically the way to advance are short passes that go for 10-15 yards and that’s it. There are no long balls and that’s a shame.

Overall, Madden 19 is definitely a fantastic game. There is an endless amount of replay value to be found here as the game has tons and tons of different modes. It’ll take some time to master all of the mechanics since there are a lot of them and in general Madden has never been an easy game. You need to have great reaction times and to be able to scan the field right away since everyone’s positions will be constantly moving. Still, if you are able to do that you will find yourself dashing through the competition. Maybe you can even go for the Platinum while there are still enough people playing the game. Regardless Madden continues to be the greatest video game series out there right after Super Smash. I’ll definitely go after Madden 20 once the price has dropped to the 5-10 dollar level like this one did.

Overall 9/10

Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order Review


It’s time to look at a Star Wars game that I’ve been hyped for as soon as the first trailer came out. This looked like a really good return to the Force Unleashed games and it does deliver. It’s not quite able to match the complete masterpieces of that duology, but comes close and definitely solidifies itself as a great title. It’s one of the best Star Wars games of all time and I would definitely like to see a sequel.

Carl used to be a Jedi in training, but after some tragic events he now lives in hiding. It’s hard to stay out of view for long during such turbulent times though and he soon finds himself back in the fight. There exists a holocron with the names of every kid who currently has some force abilities. Naturally the Empire wants this, but so do some rebels to bring back the Jedi order. It’s now a race against time to get to the cube first. The journey will span several planets and Carl will have to face his own inner demons along the way.

The gameplay is that of a 3D platformer with a lot of combat. If you’ve played The Force Unleashed then imagine that with some Spider-Man type gameplay. You’ll have some quick time events, but the bulk of the combat gameplay revolves around precise swings and parries. This makes the game pretty difficult at some points, particularly the boss fights but it’s also why the game is so much fun. It never feels unfair or difficult due to bad level design. It’s all quite fair and helps you nail down the timing. If anything this game is probably really good for improving your reaction times. In particular the final boss is incredibly difficult and took me many tries, but it’s great to see your progress as you go through the attempts.

The gameplay also makes it so you can’t just ignore the minions. They’ll actually deal some considerable damage if you try to run past them and you can’t blindly attack either. You’re going to need to block and parry with them as well. The exception are the storm troopers who you can stop any which way. It is fun to perfect block their shots to reflect them though and this is where the upgrades come in handy. One upgrade allows you to block automatically while running which makes it feel even more like you’re a Jedi. Then there is the upgrade where you do a combo attack which allows you to break almost any minion’s guard. It is extremely handy and was even critical against the second to last boss.

I recommend going for the upgrades that increase your base stats first though like improving your health and force abilities. I don’t even need to explain why those are handy to have. In most games my first objective is always to increase stats and then I go for combo moves. I figure it’s best to have top notch fundamentals first and then you have fun with the flashy stuff. There are also upgrades that increase your health shots, health, and force in the wild so keep a lookout for those. I found enough to increase my health and shot once, but didn’t find the rest in time. They are very helpful as well.

The platforming gameplay was a little weaker for me even though it was pretty ambitious. I think my main issue here was the fact that the jumps didn’t always go very far so I would fall to my doom. Even when doing a normal jump from vine to vine I wouldn’t always make it. Then you can get locked in hit-stun when you’re attacked so you lose your double jump. I died quite a few times for things like this, but fortunately you have a very quick re-spawn system so you never really lose much time there.

The one real negative in the game are the very long loading screens. Whenever you turn on the game you have to sit through a bunch of unskippable company logos. Then when you go from planet to planet there are long periods of time you have to wait as everyone buckles in. Couple that with the long time it takes to respawn after a complete death or all the menus you have to get through to save and it adds up. It might be that the game added so much content the game has a hard time loading it up right away. If that’s the case then it’s a worthy trade off but it is very noticeable. We’re almost talking Sonic 2006 at times.

As for the story, Carl makes for a good main character. Keep in mind that he is no Starkiller so don’t expect this guy to be running around defeating Sith lords and knocking out Vader. Carl is more of an in-training Jedi so he is still getting used to his various Force abilities. Still he does come up with some good wins as the game progresses. He makes the right decision in the end even if it took him a while to get to that point. Then we have Cere who used to be a Jedi, but due to some stuff in her past has put away her Force abilities. You never truly lose them even if you hide from the Force, but you can’t use them without accepting it once again.

She’s not quite as good. For starters another character had some valid points about how this is all her fault. The heroic sacrifice move doesn’t work if you aren’t truly powerful. It would have been better for them all to have left together. Live or die, at least you’re together right? Cere does do her best to get back up from this in the climax where she looks good. It was one scene where I disagreed with Carl, but I can’t go into depth without spoilers. Needless to say it involves using the Dark side and depending on the situation that’s not something you should be opposed to using.

Many Star Wars characters in the expanded universe have shown that you can use the Dark side without turning evil. Ultimately the Force is just a power and it’s all in how you use it. Once again I point to Starkiller who mastered both sides of this ability. He was a prodigy, but that doesn’t mean that the others can’t do it as well. The Sith abilities are very powerful so if you can master them then it will be helpful for the heroes as well.

We’ve also got some supporting characters like Merrin who appears near the end. The fact that she has powers already set her off to a good start. She’s fun to have around, but appears quite late in the game. It makes for a fun tag team fight like Link and Zelda vs Ganondorf though. Then there is the mysterious stranger in one of the final planets. He ends up having a pretty big role. Between his hype design and strong abilities he was one of the best characters here. Obviously the guy is pretty shady and sort of insane, but he is the kind of character who spices things up. I like when a new antagonist shows up out of nowhere and changes everyone’s plans.

Of course the main villain is the Second Sister from all of the trailers. She has a lot of pretty great scenes and fights with us quite a few times. Between the fun design and her character I would say that she is one of the better villains. It helps that I have also always liked the Sisters group. They tend to be on the evil side, but it’s nice to have a third faction who aren’t necessarily Sith or Jedi. The third sister in the game gets the smallest role and doesn’t really do much though.

Finally I also like how some of the fights feel real before you actually realize that you can’t win. The health bar is going down slowly but the boss just feels so insanely powerful. Typically you have to actually get the boss down to 50% but when you don’t know that and you have them down to 60% while you’re at 1%…you wonder how you can make a comeback. It’s a good way to build up tension and the game handles it quite excellently. The game developers really did a great job here.

The graphics are definitely top notch as well. The cinematics are quite striking. It’s pretty much movie quality here and the graphics during normal gameplay are really good as well. It’s all very high level although I’d expect nothing less from EA. Even with the sport games they churn out every year the graphics are always incredibly impressive. I also enjoyed the soundtrack. It’s not super memorable, but it has that classic Star Wars vibe. You’ll feel pretty hyped during all of the boss fights.

The actual campaign here is pretty long. You should be busy for around 15 hours or so and then there is a lot of replay value. You can go back to all of the old planets to get the last transmission logs and max out your character level. Platinuming the game should take you an extra 20 hours if not a little more. There are a lot of collectibles out there and the planets are quite large. It’s one of those games that would be fun to Platinum though as none of the trophies are tedious or have forced grinding in them.

Overall, Fallen Order definitely lived up to the hype. It’s a very complete game with an engaging story and top notch gameplay. I really like the trend of cinematic style gameplay like this where you are in control the whole time, but do get treated to little cutscenes depending on how precise your movements are. All of the boss fights are excellent and while the platforming could get a bit iffy at times, it’s certainly the best we’ve gotten in the series. The Clone Wars Republic Heroes isn’t even close and that was really the last big platforming title. If you haven’t bought this game yet then you should definitely change that as soon as possible!

Overall 9/10