7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Sephirothic Stories Review


It’s time to look at a recent RPG for the PS4. These guys made the Asdivine Games and it really shows in some areas. The music and menus are grabbed straight from those titles. The original Asdivine was a masterpiece. The sequel may not have been as good but it was still a solid RPG. That’s where this game lies as well. It’s a pretty solid game but what holds it back is really the length as opposed to the characters holding the other one back. You’ll have this game completed in under 5 hours which is pretty unheard for an RPG. I have a theory on this but more on that in a bit. Either way if you like RPGs you should enjoy this one as it’s very smooth.

The game begins by explaining the story which is a bit out there so bear with me. Sephiroth is a giant tree that powers 3 planets. It drops fruits which then snatch up some vessels which allow them to become human. They will eventually be poisoned by the murk that appears on the planet. At that point they have to either find a new vessel or get erased. Sephiroth himself has to keep being replaced as the old one dies. It’s basically a cycle of death and rebirth that happens all the time. So the game follows a fruit named Harold and his best friend the lizard monster Izzy who try to find some apples for Harold’s sister. She is quite ill and won’t last very long. The village’s heroes are sent out to find the cure for her but only one of them returns. It would seem that they were ambushed by monsters.

Harold is afraid of monsters but he agrees to help them out. He was born with the ability to sense monsters which should help in avoiding them. That’s the idea at least. After obtaining the cure, the Grandma informs them that things aren’t right with the world. Harold needs to find the lost hero quick and also see why the planet is falling into ruin. Monsters are even gaining intelligence which shouldn’t be possible. Harold will get to the bottom of this one way or the other but is it already too late for the planet? Things get pretty cosmic towards the end.

One thing you may be wondering from the start is, was using the name “Sephiroth” a coincidence? I personally doubt it since there are too many similarities to the Materia and the whole lifestream of the planet stuff from the original game. Still, it’s a good way to get people interested. The idea of Sephiroth becoming a tree is pretty interesting but there’s more to it than that. Despite the short length there are a ton of plot twists so I won’t talk about the story much. Needless to say, there is quite a lot to tackle here and nothing is quite as it appears to be.

The gameplay is a turn based combat system although it uses speed as a factor so it’s more like Mega Man X Command Mission than Pokemon. You can attack when it’s your turn but the villains can use abilities to slow that down. You then have your normal attacks or skills to use. Interestingly general magic and physical skills are both merged into the same icon for this game. You’ve also got Fusion which is a combined attack you can use later on in the game. It deals a ton of damage so save it for bosses since it can pretty much 1 hit KO just about all of them. Don’t even think about wasting it on a minion.

The graphics are pretty nice. I miss the sprite style but the 3D models look good. At most it can just be a bit clunky as characters start to walk around aimlessly during cutscenes or open their mouths for a bit before talking happens. Seems to me like some opening hiccups with the style but I’m sure they’ll have it down before long. The soundtrack is excellent though. It’s very nostalgic hearing the classic Asdivine Heart themes in there as those never get old. They’re all so fast that it really builds up your excitement for the whole thing. Then we’ve also got the quality menus that those games had. Just about everything is customizable which is fantastic.

One thing against the game though is it looks like it wasn’t tested/balanced very well. You’re simply given too many options in the game which makes it a piece of cake. For example, you start the game with a ton of premium coins so you’re able to buy one weapon of your choice. I bought the Sephiroth Sword which made Harold the ultimate glass cannon. He could take down any non boss throughout the whole game in one hit. Even bosses didn’t last much longer than that. You won’t have enough premium coins to buy anything else for the rest of the game but you don’t need too anyway. Then there are plants which you raise to enhance all of your stats and weapons you can keep on merging. Really, what this boils down to is that it makes it very easy for you to blast through the game. Part of why it was so short is you could take down bosses in a matter of seconds. I love the speed but I think they probably could have given you less options.

It does make you feel in total control though which is always good. As for the characters, they’re not bad. Harold isn’t my favorite lead since he’s so scared of things though. I prefer my main characters to be a bit more confident and just blast aside anyone foolish enough to stand in their way. Harold’s a lot more timid than that despite everyone saying how awesome he is. Clarice is the main heroine and she’s decent. Not quite as strong as most but she talks tough. She always makes sure Harold doesn’t get the wrong idea about things. Izzy’s a pal though. He’s always here to encourage Harold and make sure that he stays on the right track. The main cast may not be the most interesting but none of them are bad which is always important.

Overall, Sephirothic Stories is a fun RPG. I would have liked for it to have been a little longer though. As it is, it almost feels like you’re playing a preview to the real game. As a result the pacing is tight though as you jump from one event to the next. It also could have been more difficult but I’ll never fault a game for being too easy. After all, there are many ways to make a game more difficult for yourself. One of those ways would naturally be to just turn the game’s difficulty setting over to Hard. That’s a pretty simple way or going about things right? I’d be game for a sequel to this or maybe some kind of crossover at some point. One thing’s for sure, the developers have really mastered the menus at this point. All RPGs should have some of the quality of life bonuses this one has like turning battle effects off and speeding up the turns. Auto battle would be amazing for helping with grinding in other games. Since your characters can only use the standard attack when in auto mode it also ensures that you don’t use it as a crutch. If you’re always wondered about going into the RPG genre but was unsure about them because of the length, this is a good one to start out with so see how you enjoy it all.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Wargroove Review


It’s time to look at a game I had never heard of prior to buying it. Still, the price was really good at Gamestop and I needed a third game for the buy 2 get 1 free sale so it made a lot of sense. It’s definitely a pretty fun game and definitely the most tactical one I’ve ever seen before. Before now I’d say that honor would have gone to Disgaea but this one has even more moving pieces. At a time you can have around 80 guys running around the board and if you forget about any of them it can spell big trouble down the line. This is also a pure tactical game so there are no level ups. That means there’s no way to train, you just have to come up with new strategies. One level in particular had me stumped for a while (6-2) to the point where I had to see what strategies people would use to conquer it. Seems like you have to move in very specific ways to beat that level. I don’t know how long it would have taken me to figure that out.

The game starts with a vampire appearing and murdering the king of a kingdom. His daughter finds out about this, but by then the kingdom has been overrun by the enemy and she is forced to flee with her trusted advisor. The two of them need to find some allies so they get ready to approach the other kingdoms for help. The only tricky part with this is that not all of the kingdoms get along and there are also a number of bandits who are around and ready to score some quick money. Mercia will have to keep her guard up, but she will not rest or relent until she has avenges her father and saved the Kingdom.

It’s a pretty direct plot and one that is filled with a lot of fun characters. It actually has a very Shantae type feel to me with the character designs and level layouts. At least that’s the vibe I got from it. Maybe it’s all the boats or the fact that one of our main allies is an undead veggie monster. Ragna, one of the main villains also looks a bit like Risky Boots. It’s a good ensemble cast and there are a lot of twists and turns. The vampire who murdered the King definitely gets a solid role and I would say that she is definitely the best villain. Prepare for a lot of infighting among the different groups though until they all come to an understanding.

There are 7 chapters in the game. Each chapter only has 2-3 levels but they can be quite hard in part because of how many characters and turns there are. Don’t expect to be breezing through this game. Interestingly though the game actually starts you off on hard mode by default. I highly recommend lowing it to standard unless you are very experienced in the genre. Otherwise it feels like you’re just making things more difficult on yourself for no real reason. Trust me, standard will still be a pretty big challenge for you right from the start. I like to say I’m pretty good at these strategy type games and some of these levels still had me stumped.

I didn’t really go into detail on the gameplay so here’s a brief description. The goal is to either take down the enemy commander or break their base. Sometimes your goal is also simply to escape rather than fighting at all. In each turn you can move your current units and have them attack enemies or capture bases. You obtain 100 gold coins every turn for every base you currently have occupied. The same goes for the opponent so one of the strategies here is to slowly weaken their forces while strengthening your own. Ultimately you want to press the attack and then you win. Each type of character you can summon has a different type and attack range. Some also have special abilities like healing. You want to have a few good anti air types to fend off the aerial assaults in later levels. Then you’ve also got water creatures and air fighters. All in all there are probably close to 300 different summons so budget your gold accordingly as you take them all on.

The gameplay is a lot more complex than that, but I think it gives you a good gist of what to expect. Personally I usually would focus on capturing a ton of bases and that would ultimately lead to a win. In some of the later levels though the best play is to completely ignore them and then just go for the base. On 6-2 which is the crazy level, the only way to beat it was to ultimately just skip most of the enemies and bases and just take the castle down directly. If you try to go for a skip strategy like that I highly recommend equipping a lot of dragons. I also like the golems, but they are super pricey so it takes a while to get them ready.

The graphics are pretty smooth. The art style is nice and it helps with the level designs as well. It’s all pretty clear and also helps make the gameplay more enjoyable. Believe it or not, graphics can make quite the difference there. The sound effects and ost are also solid. I think it would have been nice if we could have gotten full voice acting in this day and age though. Only a few sound bites here and there feels like something more from the GBA era than PS4. It’s also not like there were a ton of lines to go through here. Since each character did already have a voice, why not just give them a few more lines right? It’s a small thing, but I think it would have helped the experience as well.

Overall, Wargroove is definitely a pretty fun game and one that I would recommend. It takes tactics to a whole other level. The characters are good and the plot is enjoyable as well. The campaign is a decent length and there is a lot of replay value. You can work on getting all of the PS4 trophies as well as the epilogue. The game ends on a huge cliffhanger but since there is an epilogue to unlock I’m assuming that it will probably tie things over. That said, it would be really cool if we did get a sequel. I’d certainly keep a lookout for it. I need more experience with these strategy games so that would be the perfect way for me to get back into the mix. As long as you’re in the mood to really test yourself this is a brilliant game to check out!

Overall 7/10

Game Records

Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 Stats and Records

Stats time!

PS4 Trophies 11/19
Tutorial 100%
Adventure 11% Total Stars 25

Stage Stats

Championship II

Single Train B
Regular A
Extreme N/A

Jumping

Single Train B
Regular A
Extreme N/A

Hexagon

Single Train B
Regular B
Extreme N/A

Highway

Single Train N/A
Regular B
Extreme N/A

Dungeon

Single Train N/A
Regular B
Extreme N/A

Mountain

Single Train N/A
Regular B
Extreme N/A

Manhattan

Single Train B
Regular B
Extreme N/A

Junction

Single Train N/A
Regular A
Extreme N/A

Championship I

Single Train N/A
Regular A
Extreme A

Spiral

Single Train N/A
Regular B
Extreme N/A

9 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

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

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King Game Review


It’s time to look at a recent HD collection which brought two Disney games from a while back. I’m sure you know these two games or at least heard of them when they first came out. They were not very accessible until this remake came out though so you had to hope that you had one of the older consoles. Otherwise you would need to settle for online videos of the game. Aladdin was a lot of fun back in the day so it was nostalgic to play it again. I can definitely see how I got stuck in the fire level because that one is still pretty insane. This is a quality collection to check out.

First let’s talk about the Aladdin game since that’s the one I have nostalgia for. It follows the movie’s plot naturally and the gameplay is that of a 2D platformer. You run and jump across obstacles as you slay enemies and reach the finish line. The gameplay is pretty smooth so you don’t have to worry about glitches. If anything the difficult part is that you move very fast so a lot of the time you may run into enemies. It can also be hard to defeat them without taking damage so as the level goes on you may end up dying a lot.

It’s a pretty short game so you should have it beat in around an hour or so. The toughest level is definitely still the fire cave. In that level you ride the carpet and have to move up and down to avoid obstacles. The tough part here is aside from how fast the obstacles show up after the warning, towards the end there are one or two obstacles that don’t have a warning. It doesn’t really feel like you have much of a chance outside of luck to beat the level on your first shot. Eventually you can memorize where the obstacles will be though but without the handy save feature that we have in this collection it would still be incredibly difficult to clear this level. Ultimately you could do it with practice and determination, but it would not be a cake walk.

Then you’ve got the Lion King which is also pretty difficult. In this game the platforming is what will take some time to get used to. There is a lot of climbing and jumping across enemies involved which has to be done quite precisely or you are out of luck. The second level took me the longest to beat because I just kept dying before I would make it past all of the jumps. The other really tough level is the maze near the end of the game where there are a bunch of tunnels and you have to pick the right one. Each time you choose the wrong one the enemies all re-spawn and you have to take them all down win order to win.

The final boss is definitely a lot of fun as Mufasa really gets a lot of props. You’ve got a thunderstorm in the background for dramatic effect and the background is even on fire. Mufasa also puts up a really good fight. I was landing blows on him for a long time before I realized that there had to be some kind of trick to this. After button mashing for a bit I found out you could flip Mufasa so the trick is to jump him over the cliff. If you do that then you end the fight and claim ultimate victory.

Both of the games are pretty short when it comes to length. Each one is about an hour or two so you should have the collection done in about 4 hours I’d say. It’ll depend on if you use the new features or not. The game added a new save feature that you can use after each level which is definitely handy. Alternatively you now have a rewind feature which you can use whenever you die. With this feature there is no challenge too difficult to overcome since you can just keep redoing your actions until you pick the right one. It’s a nice quality of life upgrade and I’m always game for this feature to be around.

In terms of replay value there isn’t much inside of the actual games but the collection does give you other methods for playing them. You can play different versions of the game like the console port, game boy port, arcade edition, etc. both games have several versions to choose from which is pretty cool. It may not be extra levels but it should make the experience a little different so you have more reason to replay the game. You can also aim to get all of the PS4 trophies in the game as well.

The graphics for both of the games are pretty solid. It’s nostalgic to see the old sprites and the artwork does a good job of resembling the actual backgrounds of the movies, there was certainly a lot of effort put into this part. The cutscenes also used illustrations to get the story across. As for the soundtrack, both games went for music that would be fitting in the setting. Neither ost is super memorable or anything like that, but they work well during gameplay.

Overall, This is a fun double pack for all to enjoy. It’s a pretty difficult pair of games to try and complete if you don’t use the new features in game. I at least recommend the save feature between levels even if you don’t want to use the rewind button. The difficulty also helps to extend the overall game length since it is unlikely you will be able to beat the levels on your first shot. Perhaps if you go really slowly but I always like just charging into the fray and taking names. Now that they’ve been remade it’s time for a AAA sequel to one of these. I’d vote for Aladdin since there’s a lot you can do with a 3D adventure through Agrabah.

Overall 7/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Jak X: Combat Racing Review


It’s been a long while since I played a Jak game so it was good to see the franchise once more. The racing game always looked like a lot of fun back in the PS2 era so it’s about time that I got to give it a spin. It’s a racing game that’s really worth a purchase because it has the best racing plot I’ve ever seen as well as the best soundtrack. It’s a blast and a half while also being a little longer than the average racing game. That’s a winning combination if I’ve ever seen one.

The game takes place after Jak II and the main characters are all invited to hear Krew’s final will and testament. Since the characters were all involved with his demise in one way or another they decide to attend. Everyone pours a drink and while Jak refuses at first, he decides to drink anyway when he sees that Krew’s daughter drank as well. Unfortunately his initial suspicions were correct as Krew explains in his recording that he has poisoned them all. The only way to get the antidote is to win the world grand prix on Krew’s team. The heroes don’t want to help this guy even if he is dread, but now their lives are riding on this outcome. The heroes swallow their pride and get ready to race.

There are quite a few subplots here in the meantime. On one hand you’ve got the TV announcer who is enjoying the races because he is earning a ton of money. They had all been fixed for many years so with the addition of Jak and friends it is adding some extra spice to the whole event. The gangsters are also watching the races closely since the winner of the tournament will have a very strong standing in the community. It should be noted that most of the people entering these races are gangsters and crime lords.

The actual gameplay is like a typical racing game but with an extra big emphasis on combat mechanics. You obtain many weapons as you go through the course which range from machine guns to rockets. You can also get defensive weapons like land mines and little turrets you can leave behind to blast away at enemies. Then there are boosters to power up your boost meter and little health packs. Usually you will have to choose what to go for as when you get to the item points in the race there will be an option to grab either a weapon or a booster for example. The items are pretty frequent so you can always just alternate or something like that. The best weapon in the game is the satelite as everyone in front of you instantly crashes. It’s an amazing item but one you won’t likely see very often.

My recommendation is if you’re in first place then always go for the defensive item or the booster. You can use any defensive item to block a rocket which is very handy and boosters help you stay in first. If you’re not in the lead then always go for the attack item since you want to be back up there as soon as possible. The races are about 4-5 minutes at times so you don’t want to lose since you’ll need to start it again. In each world you need to collect 50 points to play the Grand Prix. 1st place is worth 3 points, 2nd is 2, and 3rd is 1. SO if you get a lot of 1st places it’ll help you get through the game a little quicker. I never lost a Grand Prix so I don’t know if you’d have to replay the whole thing or not, but each Grand Prix is 3 races so that would be a lot to replay.

Not all stages are typical races though. You’ve got 4-5 other kinds of gameplay. You’ve got time trials where you run into clocks to keep your time up and you try to complete the stage as quickly as possible. Then you have Death Races where you have to blow up a number of cars before time runs out. There’s Traffic where cars will run at you and you have to run through them as you get to the end. Death Matches have you try to earn 10 points in eliminating other players. Then there’s Artifacts Race where you scramble to grab them before the other players and capture the flag where you try to get an orb into your base. There’s also booster mode where you’re at top speed and have to power up as many orbs as you can.

There’s a lot of variety here so the game has quite a lot to offer. It’s clear that this racing game had a lot of effort behind it. The graphics are top notch and I’m glad that they went to the trouble of adding so many cutscenes. It has more of them than the average platformer game which is pretty cool. Then you have the soundtrack which is great as there are a lot of rock themes. Every time you unlock a car you get a great tune and the stage themes are excellent as well. It really fits in with the game’s atmosphere.

The main story mode should take you around 7-8 hours I’d say. After that the main replay value will be trying to get all of the stars and maxing out each car. There’s not much reason to do the latter but I’m assuming you get something for doing all cars. Ironically powering up a car can backfire at times as it’ll go too fast and you’ll crash so my advice is to be careful with it. I did a lot of upgrades in the final world and it nearly cost me everything.

The writing here is top notch so all of the characters are entertaining. There are a lot of twists in the stories and a fun cast of characters. It’s nice to see all of Jak’s friends show up. Not all of them were the nicest to Daxter, but it’s hard to be when he’s always lying and you can’t tell if he’s on your side or not. The opening cutscene of the game is a good example of this as Daxter starts on one of his crazy adventures again. Jak’s appearance ends up hurting Daxter’s credibility, but it was already shot. You really have to experience the story to see why it’s so great. Jak’s the standout, but the reporter and Jak’s friends are also pretty entertaining. They all don’t tend to get along very well but in their defense, being poisoned does spoil the mood.

Overall, Jak X is a terrific game and it reminds me of why Jak is such a great character. He’s the best Naughty Dog lead for sure. Pretty much every line he gets in this game is terrific. He’s really not about to get intimidated the way a lot of others characters do when the villain shows up. Now that’s what I call talent. If you don’t have this game yet then you need to change that. It’s a lot of fun and really changes the way you think about racing games.

Overall 8/10