Fortnite Battle Royale Review

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It’s time to look at what could end up being known as the greatest shooting game of them all. The best part is that the game didn’t even need a huge budget or a AAA company backing it up. It’s a very simple shooter but one that adds in a very unique mechanic to separate it from the rest. Fortnite’s building gimmick is awesome. You’ll find yourself coming back to the game for another round constantly because you simply don’t want to stay away. That’s how you know that the game is rock solid.

There is no story here and no tutorial so you are thrown into the action right away. You fight against other players in 100 man free for alls, 50 teams of 2, 50 vs 50, and squads of 4. You can also form a solo squad to really test your mettle. The map is huge though so you will have plenty of time to practice at the start of each match as long as you aim for the edge of the map. Getting used to the mechanics will happen pretty quickly, mastering them is another bowl of potatoes entirely.

The gameplay is that of a 3rd person shooter with the Hunger Games backdrop. You land on the field with no gear besides your axe. As you traverse through the stage you can break just about anything for material and you will find a lot of weapons and ammo lying around. You definitely want to have a gun for later. The material will all be good for making forts, stairs, and other such constructs. You can use them as a shield or to give yourself the high ground in a fire fight. The possibilities are endless there but just be warned that what you build really stands out and may alert others to your position. The controls are customizable as you can mess with which button does what. The 2 main divisions are Builder Pro and Combat Pro. The main difference is in how you build objects with the former giving each type its own button while the latter has you shift through them. Both have their benefits.

To prevent players from simply hiding for the duration of the map, the stage slowly starts to cave in. You’ll see a large storm approaching from all sides and you have to stay in the safe part of the map. You can use the map to see where the storm is coming from and where it will stop. The storm will move for about a minute and then stop. The game always gives clear indicators of what the status of the storm is here so there is no guess work. It is still very easy to underestimate the storm though so be careful. As you run around you will also have to choose what your strategy is going to be here. Will you run to the circle and start fighting or head to the outskirts and only approach when necessary? I typically like doing the latter as you have time to pick up a great arsenal and are almost guaranteed to place in the top 30. The downsides to this strategy are the facts that you will likely get less kills this way and you will have given up control of the inner forts to other players. I think those are reasonable drawbacks so I stick to this plan but if that sounds bad then simply adopt a more aggressive approach.

It’s very satisfying to see a player approach and then snipe them from afar or jump over to them and start blasting. While playing the game you will quickly learn where everyone’s blindspots are. It’s also not like you’re fighting A.I. who will randomly know where you are. With other humans it’s just a lot more fun because they are actual players and will react as such. It’s all in real time so you have to try and put yourself in their position as you prepare to launch an attack. If the odds aren’t in your favor then you can also fall back and plan a retreat for a while. I can’t stress enough just how massive these levels are.

This also isn’t the kind of game that you can do justice to in a review. It’s just very well crafted. Even the fact that your characters will make a little noise if you step on the grass or run as opposed to crouching. If you crouch then you are basically silent but naturally the trek will last longer. As a result there is no soundtrack as that would make it difficult to hear these details. It does seem like you can use music as a weapon though or perhaps a taunt. Definitely a bold one since you are letting the world know where you are. On the flip side, you can also shoot in a random direction from time to time to keep the other players guessing. It can also work as a bluff if they think that you are in a firefight with someone. Getting the enemy to overthink everything will certainly help you in some way or another.

The graphics look pretty good. It’s fairly plain but looks weren’t the main focus of this title. Everything is quite clear though and that’s important for a game like this one. I like the animation for the terrain. At first it can be daunting to try and create a fort, but eventually you will get it down pat. The more you play the game the better you will get at it and the title never loses its charm. On average I always make top 20 in Solo and top 5 in Duo. It’s pretty nice, but at the end of the day you will want to grab the top spot. There’s just nothing like being able to say that out of 100 players you came in first.

Overall, Fortnite is a blast and has certainly earned its reputation of a legendary game. It’s taken the world by storm and rightfully so. It’s a rather basic game on the surface, but a creative one and that’s why it succeeds. As a result there isn’t much to say about it and yet you could talk for hours about why it is so fun. There is a deeper side to the game as well if you start analyzing the guns and memorizing the map. The more you think about the game the more you will want to play the game even more to test out your theories. The matches can be long or quick and you can leave at any time once you lose or watch through the eyes of another player to get more ideas. All the game is missing is a way to jump into a 100 man free for all with a friend but of course it’s easy to see how that might be exploited. It would be a blast though and I wonder if there is a way to do a 1 v 1.

Overall 9/10

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Blazblue Cross Tag Battle Review

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It’s time to take a look at one of the most eagerly awaited games of 2018! The instant that the first teaser trailer came out I knew that this was going to be an all star title. RWBY characters were finally getting a chance in the spotlight and I was also finally able to experience the Blazblue fighting style. Needless to say the game is a blast. Unfortunately while the game was expected to be relatively low budget, I still did expect a little more than what the game had to offer. It’s a great title, but perhaps one that I cannot call masterful.

The premise of the game’s story is that every character from 4 different worlds have been kidnapped. Each world gets 4-8 different fighters who compete in a big tournament to decide all of their fates. The champion must grab all 4 of the Keystones and make it to the end. Sounds simple enough, but will this mysterious cosmic being really let them go so easily? You typically can’t trust these mysterious characters. Most of the characters here just want to fight so don’t expect most confrontations to end calmly.

There are 4 stories, one for each of the various series in the game. The stories have 8 battles within them and a general story in the background. Blazblue is the only story with multiple endings though. The stories are fairly quick at around 70 minutes each and only around 10 if you skip cutscenes. The cutscenes are pretty long and have voice acting which is great but each character only has 1 stock pose. This means that characters look like they’re about to fight in every scene even when it’s a peaceful discussion. The most obvious example of this is the Persona character whose illustration shows her throwing out a kick. You see this same kick for every single scene she is in. Most games come with at least 3 illustrations for exactly this reason and it’s actually a little crazy that this game only uses one. I’ve seen mobile games with what looks like a higher budget.

Also, the story doesn’t even make much sense at all. The high above being needs energy from the combatants in order to take over their worlds. She even has a rule in place that prevents them from fighting unless it’s a tag battle so as not to waste her time. Yet, she loses control of the characters randomly at times. Sometimes she is eavesdropping on the heroes to know their plans and sometimes she just doesn’t. She does such a glorious job of messing everything up that it makes it tough for you to take the game seriously. Her power level is just very inconsistent and most of the characters act completely out of character as well. I just think the story could have been way better and honestly it is the weakest part of the game. I wouldn’t even call the game low budget at all if not for the story. The story is what makes it appear that way with the writers just phoning in the plot and not really doing much with it. If we ever do get a sequel or a full fledged RWBY game, I hope they put ore thought into it.

The gameplay is your standard 2D fighter. You attack other players with long combos and finals smashes as you attempt to get their life bars down to 0. The battles are all 2 on 2 so tagging in and out adds to the strategy of it all. There are easy auto combos that you can use while you start the game, but eventually you want to move onto more advanced techniques or you will be doomed against the stronger foes. I have no complaints with the gameplay as it flows very well and is just very well done.

There are quite a few different modes to play here aside from the story. Naturally there is the training mode which is pretty handy as well as Tactics mode. There you learn combos and complete tutorials about the game. The vast majority of the game’s replay value is through it’s online and local multiplayer mode of course. Knowing this, most of the trophies in the game are obtained through these features. You can even obtain the Platinum in around 3 hours if you are truly rushing. If you don’t have online then you want to play a lot of multiplayer matches locally. If you are just playing for single player content then you will be done very quickly.

The game got a lot of controversy for locking half of the characters behind a paywall and rightfully so. The developers are basically just reusing the characters from previous games so it hardly costs them anything. I do appreciate the price of the game being reduced to help justify this, but it’s still not a good look. As a result you fight some characters in the game that you can’t even play as. We’ll see how much each character is, but I don’t think I will be purchasing any of them. I just don’t play the game enough to make it worth it as opposed to something like Smash 4.

One of the big positives of the game is its rich soundtrack. Blazblue has always had a bunch of great themes and now we get to hear the RWBY ones alongside it. Persona and Under Night’s themes aren’t bad either so it’s just a very complete soundtrack. It’s nice to have voice acting for all of the characters as well since it makes the game look more polished. The graphics are certainly top of the line so the game’s developers spared no expense in this arena. The Astral Finish move that each of the characters have looks great and the gameplay is very bright and dynamic. Even if some aspects of the game were rushed, these certainly weren’t.

Overall, Cross Tag Battle is a great game. You just have to decide on if you want to look at it in a glass half full view where you’re just glad that the game actually got made and licensed or in a half empty view where there is so much more that could have been done with it. It’s not perfect, but it’s still a game that I had a blast playing even if it was a rather brief experience. I’ll at least go back to unlock some more trophies and if I ever buy a month of PS+ to get some online trophies maybe I’ll even go for the Platinum. Surely getting to Silver Rank online won’t be that tough right? I’d recommend checking this game out if you’re a big fan of fighters or just want to be able to play as Team RWBY. That alone makes the purchase worth it.

Overall 8/10

MotorStorm Stats and Records

Stats Time!

Total Points 530/2340

Ticket 1 60/60
Ticket 2 90/90
Ticket 3 90/120
Ticket 4 90/120
Ticket 5 60/60
Ticket 6 40/60
Ticket 7 –
Ticket 8 20/120
Ticket 9 50/90
Ticket 10 –
Ticket 11 30/90
Ticket 12 –
Ticket 13 –
Ticket 14 –
Ticket 15 –
Ticket 16 –
Ticket 17 –
Ticket 18 –
Ticket 19 –
Ticket 20 –
Ticket 21 –

MotorStorm Review

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It’s time to look at a racing game that I have had on the backburner for a very long time. I’ve always been a big fan of racing games although admittedly the one drawback to the genre is that the CPU racers can seem a little cheesy at times. On the other hand, it’s a little hard to see how to nerf that. It’s very hard to make the computers appear to be fair or they may seem too weak. Still, this one doesn’t do a bad job of it. I do think that the star requirements to unlock the various worlds are a little steep though so don’t count on unlocking all of the different tickets (worlds) unless you are prepared to play this game’s levels over quite a few times.

The gameplay is probably obvious from the cover but it’s a racing game. You try to drive to the goal as quickly as you can and lead the pack. Each race is 3 laps and the duration varies, but most levels are roughly 4-5 minutes. You have a boost which you can use quite regularly but give it a little time to recharge or it’ll overhear and effectively blow up. That’s really the only gimmick here as it’s a normal driving game otherwise. That definitely works for me. I don’t mind the boost and if anything it can be fun to have. Racing games with items have their place as well considering that Mario Kart Double Dash is probably still the best racing game. At the same time, sometimes it’s great to just hop in the car and use nothing but your skills to reach the end.

The main mode here is the campaign. There are a series of tickets which grant you access to a group of races ranging from 1-4. Winning each race will give you some points depending on if you placed in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Gain enough points and you unlock the next ticket. There are 21 tickets, but to unlock all of them you will need a significant amount of 1st place finishes. Most likely you may get around 10 tickets unlocked, but of course if you are willing to put in the time you can go farther. There are also free races and the like to play through.

Conquering all of the races will take a significant amount of time so the game has a lot of replay value. In general, I feel like racing games are often very good at this. You really get the value that you’d expect from a game like this one. The sequel looks pretty interesting as well, but at the same time I do think that the racing genre is often one that you don’t want to overstay your welcome in. Best to take it slow and simply enjoy the races that you’re in.

One thing that the game does to make itself stand out among the crowd is by having a full soundtrack. It has a wide range of lyrical songs and they are all loud, fast paced titles that really make you feel the intensity of the race. I can’t vouch for the lyrics of the songs, but at the very least the beats are pretty solid. The developers understood what kind of music would be really fitting for this genre. The graphics also look pretty good although there isn’t much to say about them. They look like what you would expect, but aren’t any better or worse than that. They are simply standard and I’d say that this is good enough.

Another area where the game did a good job was with making each vehicle feel different. You can play as a car, buggy, motorcycle, or a large truck. My favorite one is easily the motorcycle as you really zoom by there and the turns are really smooth. Of course it is sad to get completely knocked over if another vehicle so much as touches you. That’s the price for being light though and I’m used to it from playing Sheik in Super Smash Bros. It does make the campaign a little harder though since every other race has you switch styles so it is hard to get used to any one version. It’d be nice if they had separated them from the start so you could take your time and master each one.

The crashes are definitely a lot of fun in this game. Some racing titles certainly give more emphasis to the crashes than others and this is definitely one that had a lot of fun with the animations. You crash in slow motion and seeing the driver get slammed out of the car never gets old. Occasionally you do have to wonder why the cars are so weak though. Just going too fast on a muddy surface will cause you to tip over. The worst situations are where you don’t blow up though. At the very least you want to be eliminated right away so you can respawn. Sometimes you will simply be stuck upside down so then you have to try boosting to blow the car up intentionally. However, this takes so much time that you may as well give up the match at that point since you won’t really have a chance at first.

Finally, I enjoyed the level designs quite a bit. You have a lot of freedom to explore here. The levels are huge and there are many different paths to take. Part of the fun is picking a path and hoping that it is the optimal one. There is no way to find out except for trial and error so it encourages multiple playthroughs. I ultimately prefer linear tracks, but this makes it feel a lot more like a real outside race. I can certainly appreciate the attempt here since MotorStorm doesn’t exactly feel like a friendly Mario Kart kind of exhibition here based on how violently everyone crashes. It’s a bunch of races to the death for sure.

Overall, MotorStorm is pretty fun. The gameplay is really good and it’s just fundamentally a good game. There is nothing weak about it and there is a lot of content to stay busy with. A story mode would be nice, but I can’t say that it was expected. If you are a fan of the racing genre then there is certainly no good reason not to buy this game. It just has everything that you could possibly want with it. The game isn’t very forgiving though so prepare for a lot of tough competition from the computers. You may not win the races in one try, but find the fastest route and eventually you will be acing the competition. It’s all about practice, practice, and more practice.

Overall 7/10

Dark Angel Review

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It’s time to look at a PS2 movie tie-in to a TV series that I never actually got around to watching. It seems like a cool premise though. It’s basically Maximum Ride but taking place in a futuristic setting. I can get behind that. The actual game mixes stealth with the beat em up genre for interesting results. Honestly I think it would have certainly been sufficient to have just been a beat em up, but I suppose the stealth aspects make sense with the actual plot of the game.

So the story follows Max (You won’t be able to forget her name since it is mentioned a few times for every single level) as she wants to rescue the other people who was kidnapped by the I-Corporation and experimented on. Among those were her sisters. Max broke out (In the show I’m guessing) but now she must head back to face her fears once more. Logan helps her from the sidelines as he tries to shut off some security cameras here and there. He’s basically tech support and I suppose he does go into the field once in a while. Can Max really save her family?

One thing to note here is that in the future the government fell apart thanks to some kind of nuclear situation so now corporations run the world. I-Corp is one of those along with a second one that I’m forgetting. Both sides are evil and do experimentation so you have to decide who to root for. In this case we are going after I-Corp, but apparently Max destroyed a good chunk of the other side prior to the game so she has done a good job of taking out any corporation that stands against her.

The gameplay is very straight forward when it comes to combat. You can punch, kick, and throw. Jumping is also useful even if the jump isn’t very high. You can run and then jump+kick to unleash a devastating tackle that will knock any opponent over. This is really useful for when a bunch of enemies are after you as they have no real counter to this. If you don’t mind taking a little while you can bear all of the enemies this way. To prevent you from cheesing the game for each level though, some will have a time limit for which you can beat the enemies. Just keep mixing up your punches and kicks to resist enemy throws and you’ll be okay. Whenever possible I would ignore the stealth option and just barrel into groups of enemies. Some groups I just barely beat with 1 second left, but that’s the kind of intensity that you want to see. Also, I didn’t quite understand the stealth part for a little while since the game never explains it.

Basically if you crouch from behind an enemy and attempt to throw them it will result in a one hit KO. This is really useful if there are a bunch of enemies. You can take them all out one at a time this way. Otherwise if you just attack one then every enemy in the room will rush at you which can be around 6 and they can take a lot of health out of you if you aren’t careful. 2 of the last levels mix this formula up a bit though as stealth isn’t optional. If you are spotted then you are sent back to the very beginning. These levels can be a little on the long side so I can definitely confirm that it’s in your best interest to proceed with caution. A good technique for mixing the enemies up is just randomly jumping and then running off to hide. It will change their current pattern into one that may be easier. Of course it could get harder so proceed with caution.

To help in your stealth missions you are given some stealth gun ammo. This is a one hit KO to any opponent so it’s a good way to cheese these stealth missions. It is a tactical gamble though as you don’t get a whole lot of ammo. I believe you get around 20 shots for the duration of the game or something like that. Use your ammo wisely. I had already spent all of mine before the last big stealth mission, but I’d say that I did a good job of making it last when you consider how many levels there are. You also have other gadgets like a walkie talkie to lure the enemies closer and health packs which are self explanatory. As with many stealth games you just want to make these items really count.

As far as the characters go, we have a good cast here. Max is definitely a great main character. All of her dialogue is basically mocking all of the minions as she beats them up. She certainly isn’t above hitting someone who’s down as we even see that in a cutscene near the end so it isn’t just gameplay mechanics. She’s had a tough past but has definitely gotten past it and turned into a good hero. Logan is all right. I’m not a fan, but I guess he is useful. I can’t say much about the sisters as they don’t appear until near the end, but Beka was cool. She’s probably the best character after Max. She can certainly fight pretty well too.

The graphics look pretty sharp. A good amount of budget probably went into the cutscenes as they are full cinematics so no text cop outs. I mean, you get a text cutscene at the beginning of each level as well, but so long as you get both that isn’t an issue. The visuals are quite nice and I just wish we could have gotten more outdoor levels as towards the end they all feel a little cramped. The game had reasonable variety though. The soundtrack is definitely pretty solid. A little on the generic side, but nonetheless the combat themes were quite fast and really suck you into the moment. It makes the battles more fun.

There is no real replay value here though. There’s no level select and no collectibles to acquire. Basically once you complete the game that is it for your adventure. You have no more reason to play at all. With 22 levels I’d say that this game should last you around 4-5 hours. It will depend on how long some of the tougher levels take you as one took me around an hour before I finally had it beat. It’s no walk in the park and the game’s difficulty is pretty fair. It’s just enough to make you try but not too crazy either.

Overall, Dark Angel is definitely a fun game. The TV show definitely sounds pretty interesting if it’s like that. Max is basically a super soldier after all so that should make for some good action scenes. Hopefully the special effects were on point for that. Considering that I got the game for a few bucks I would say that this was a bargain. If you are looking for a quality action game to get for cheap then this is definitely the one for you. It’s just such a solid action game. Who knows, maybe it’ll get a sequel someday.

Overall 7/10

Little League World Series Baseball 2010 Review

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It’s time to look at a Little League game! Typically you expect to be playing with the pros so this was certainly a change of pace. As a result the gameplay is a little less realistic and aims to just be a lot of fun. I had a good time with the game even if it feels like there is a lot of luck at play when you are up to bat. There is an actual campaign so that is fun even if there isn’t much of a story. The goal is what you would expect, conquer the season and win the World Series. There are around 26 matches to go through so do your best to go all the way.

As I mentioned the gameplay can be a little suspect. It got better by the end though and I couldn’t tell if it was because I spent a lot of upgrades on batting or if I was doing a better job of aiming where I wanted to hit. From what I gathered, you typically want to aim up and start charging at the last second to hit the ball when the bat is blue. This still isn’t full proof but it seems to be your best bet. Aiming low never worked at all for me and I don’t recommend bunting either. When it comes to fielding you don’t need to worry because it’s basically automatic. The fielders will run and retrieve the ball for you. All you have to do is throw to the bases if it’s a clean hit. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is the kind of game you can play while reading a book. Of course you will want to take the last few games a little more seriously since if you lose it is all over.

One thing to make a note of is your original character has a special ability. Each team has one player called the Star Player. By using all 3 sections of his Talent Gauge the bat will turn blue and just hitting the ball will make it a home run. I recommend saving your gauge for this moment every time because the normal gauge hits barely change anything. At least this way you’ve got a guaranteed run which could be the difference between victory and defeat. There are also items in the game known as cards but I played without them so I can’t say that I know too much about how they work. Based on the card summaries they seem like they will certainly make the game more explosive.

There are also a few other modes like multiplayer exhibitions and even a training mode thrown in. The multiplayer mode helps the replay value at least along with all of the trophies you need to collect. They aren’t all that hard but they certainly are time consuming so I can’t say that I plan to grab all of them anytime soon. The main story is around 6 hours long which is fairly decent. All in all, there is a good amount of content to keep you busy here.

There are also a lot of advanced techniques you can use in the game which are sure to make you a better player. I played through all of the tutorials at the very end for the trophies and I definitely didn’t know about 80% of the techniques there. If you utilize them all then it’ll make the game feel even more complete and well rounded. Good luck pulling it all off against some of the trickier opponents, but it’s still nice to have.

Then we have the graphics. The game looks pretty good. The character designs are on point and I like how my original character Terry came out. The visual effects for the hits were solid as well and in general the game was just very clear. I can’t say that I had any complaints here. As with most sport games, the soundtrack was fairly bland. Aside from a catchy main menu theme, you won’t hear much music during the actual games. I do understand this as it probably would overshadow the commentary and the grunts, but more music is rarely ever a bad thing.

Overall, Little League will take a little while to grow on you. It may have a slow start, but once your team is upgraded you will be hitting like a champ. As always pitching is really the stressful part as sometimes the opposing team will suddenly go on a roll. I found it helpful to already do a low charged pitch to the side where the player is holding the bat. They seem to have a lot of trouble with that. If I get 2 strikes in a row like that, then I would throw a slow pitch which usually trips them up. Use my sips wisely and you too can be a champ. If you don’t own a whole lot of Baseball games or you simply want a change of pace then this is a good one to check out. Little League does a good job of differentiating itself from most others in the genre.

Overall 7/10

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 21h 48m
PS4 Trophies 18/47
Bounty Earned 732,850
Sub Quests Complete 2
Hunting Quests Complete 0
Unique Enemy Quests Complete 0
Treasure Quests Complete 0
Unique Attack Medals 4/6
Unique Support Medals 5/5
Unique Weapon Medals 16/27
Attack Medals 83
Support Medals 3455
Weapon Medals 332

Terry Stats

Strength 50
Vitality 44
Intelligence 12
Agility 56
Dexterity 27
Luck 32

Terry Weapon Proficiency

Handgun 145/1000
Shotgun 0/1000
Submachine Guns 18/1000
Assault Rifles 296/1000
Sniper Rifles 0/1000
Gatling Guns 1/1000
Launchers 0/1000
Swords 16/1000
Guns & Swords 0/1000

Character Levels

Terret 51
Terry 51
Kureha 51
Zeliska 56
Itsuki 63
Bazalt Joe 56
Kirito 58
Asuna 53
Sinon 58
Leafa 52
Lisbeth 51
Silica 51
Yuuki 52
Argo 51
Agil 52
Klein 52
Premiere 51
Strea 51
Philia 51
Rain 51

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet Review

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It’s time to look at the new Sword Art Online game that recently came out. Fatal Bullet was definitely a game that I was looking forward to from day 1 since it promised to be a title full of action and excitement. Sword Art Online has always been a franchise with a ton of raw potential as it could churn out a 9 star product no problem as long as it played its cards right. Lost Song had been a little disappointing as the hype of the gameplay was reduced by some questionable moments in the game. Fortunately, Fatal Bullet plays it straight as all of those iffy moments (If they exist in this game) are relegated to side quests so you don’t actually have to see any of them. The lower budget may have also helped since the game was forced to stay on target. Anyway, Fatal Bullet actually ended up being a great game.

The story follows a new kid on the block named Terry. He’s always wanted to play a VRMMO game so why not head to Gun Gale Online right? His childhood friend Kureha promises to show him the ropes. However, on their first mission Terry manages to obtain the treasure which is a legendary A.I. robot named Terret. Kureha is mad about this since she wanted to be its partner but Terry made eye contact first so now there is no way to split the partnership up. Iconic players Kirito and Asuna are also upset since they were hoping to clear the quest but too late for that now. Terry quickly catches the eye of top players Zeliska and Itsuki and before long he is known as one of the best in the whole game..maybe even The Best. Kureha is jealous of this and tries to undermine Terry throughout the game while everyone else follows his lead. Terry aims to clear the ultimate once in a life time event quest that has just opened and it will also allow Terret to be reunited with her Mom. They’ll have to be careful though since a guy known as Death Gun is skulking in the shadows as well. Taking him down a few pegs will not be easy!

It’s always an interesting game decision to have the main character be an OC instead of the actual main character of the series. I’m fine with it once I start playing since Terry is just generally hardcore, but otherwise I probably prefer when they just stick to the normal lead. Terry is a cool character throughout though as he makes the heroic decisions when needed. He can be a little slow on the uptake though like when he somehow forgot that Itsuki was basically threatening him for a while there. I guess it’s because he’s portrayed as a big optimist so he always takes things in a positive way. That’s good for Terry I suppose. His main gimmick in this game is that he has a grapple hook which you can use to get to higher areas. I like the concept, but the execution was admittedly not on point. You’ll find that you never really use this gadget in the game because the range is rather short. It should have been longer if you ask me as then it would be fun to zip around the place. I’m sure that it’s fun for PVP though.

Unlike most SAO games, this one is a third person shooter. You can also use a sword to go up and personal but it’s almost always one of the worst options. It’s just a lot more practical to have a gun as the damage it deals is around the same as a sword but you can also be dodging gunfire while using it. A sword is a high commitment option that will usually just get you punished right away. I personally stuck with a hand gun and an automatic gun. Those two were the perfect combo, but I dabbled around with missile launchers, machine guns, and even a sword for a while. They all naturally have their uses, but Hand Guns just seem like the best bang for your buck.

Most of the game consists of you going to various dungeons across the world. You beat all of the enemies in a room and then move on to the next one. The gameplay is handled flawlessly as you can quickly run out of the room to regroup if necessary or plunge into battle. You can give your partners general instructions so they know what to do during battle as well and you can change their instructions while fighting so you don’t have to worry about getting hit. Also, there is no pausing in the game which makes it even more interactive. I mean, you can press the pause button of course, but time goes on normally so whatever you have to do, it can wait until you hide behind the debris. While the A.I. of your allies is pretty bad (probably intentional) the villains are quite smart. They will lead you into ambushes, call for reinforcements, or just generally fight in a tactical way against you.

I can’t stress enough that this game really understands how to be a good third person shooter. The levels are huge and you can move quickly which makes the gameplay feel a lot more dynamic. If there are any problems with the gameplay, it’s just that the bosses may have a little too much health. One boss fight took me almost an hour to complete and the rest were all fairly long as well. The guns just aren’t too strong. It’s a tough balance of course since the game doesn’t want you to mow through the enemies either, but taking a little health out of the equation would have been nice. Beyond that, the difficulty is high but fair.

This is probably one of the hardest games that I’ve played in a very long time. It’ll have you on the edge of your seat as one wrong move can set you back quite a few rooms where the enemies will respawn again. The checkpoints are close enough where this isn’t too bad of course, but it does make you want to focus on playing your cards right. Get too aggressive and you’ll be gunned down by the snipers. There’s also a nice mechanic that lets you grow into a true player. You have an assist option with your gun that will help you hit a target but it is at the cost of accuracy. This may sound contradictory, but basically it widens your gun range by about 50x, but you’ll end up missing a great deal of shots and you also won’t hit the weak point. You can zoom in to take your own shots, but then you can’t move too quickly. If you take the assist off you can control where you shoot at normal speeds, but naturally this is very difficult. I usually just kept the assist on and used the zoom feature for when I was fighting bosses and needed to hit the weak spot. This game forces you to make a lot of tough choices throughout the game.

One big example of this is how the level up system works. As you level up you are given points which you can put into whichever attribute you want. Strength, Vitality, Intelligence, etc. Once you put the points in you can’t take them out without going through some elaborate hoops to get a specific item. I ended up putting the bulk of my points into Strength and Agility if I recall correctly. You need to strength to hold the better guns and Agility is just awesome for many reasons. One of which is that you can eventually outrun laser beams which is incredibly handy. It’s very close, but my speed was slightly faster than the blasts by the end which helped a lot. I also dumped a lot of points into luck which I would probably take back if I had a second chance, but it sounded good at the time. It increases your chances of landing a critical hit.

The story does take a long while to get started which isn’t good news for fans who are coming in expecting a game with stakes. This isn’t the game for you then. Out of the roughly 18 hours of the game, the first 15 are just the characters having fun and messing around. They’re just enjoying the game and trying to level up. The whole Death Gun story only takes about an hour and the climax will probably be another hour or maybe a little longer. This is really just a slice of life game with a big climax at the end which isn’t unheard of. Many games take a similar approach like Kirby games to an extent and the payoff works so it’s a decent strategy. I’ll be honest and say that it would have been nice if the whole game was epic as opposed to just the ending, but I guess this franchise just likes its day to day adventures a lot.

There isn’t much to say about all of the returning characters like Kirito and friends since they are epic as always so lets just talk about the new ones. I already talked about Terry and why he is a quality character. Zeliska is a top player who prefers to play solo, but doesn’t mind being in a team with Terry and the others. She is always very polite and courteous to everyone as even though she is a top player she never let it get to her head. Zeliska is portrayed as basically being a perfect character and it works well. How I see it, you don’t need to have a flaw to be a quality character and Zeliska definitely plays a pretty important role in the game. You will see her plot twist coming a mile away though.

Itsuki is the other top player and he is portrayed as the complete opposite of Zeliska. He doesn’t play well with others and is always being sarcastic. He’s quick to put others down and it becomes apparent that Terry is the only person he cares about. He’s rather dismissive of everyone else. He’s always lying and joking around throughout the game as well so it’s hard to know what he is thinking. He’s very suspicious throughout the game and a potential sequel or post game DLC should definitely not try to redeem him. He’s too far gone at this point and Terry needs to make it his mission to take him down. Terry almost seemed sympathetic at the end, but I think that would definitely be a mistake and would end up hurting his character.

There is also Bazalt Joe who is another top player who always tries to steal Terret away from you. He quickly learns that this will never work out but you get to beat him up 3 times before that. He never really becomes likable or fun at all so this is one new character that I definitely could have done without. He didn’t actually add anything to the game if you ask me.

Then of course we have the childhood friend Kureha. Unfortunately she starts out as a decent character and then turns into a pretty terrible one. She is always trying to undercut Terry throughout and never learns her lesson. Even by the end of the game she is still holding a grudge and basically pays a high price for it. During the climax of the game you are given an option on which character you are going to make it your priority to protect during the final battle. Depending on who you choose is who you will die. In one version naturally this is Kureha. I just couldn’t sympathize with her by the end of the game because she was just such a poor sport the whole time. She really didn’t even try to support Terry.

The graphics are also pretty solid as you’d expect. The energy effects are nice and the character designs are on point. Here’s where we transition to a bit of a negative though. The game just feels like it’s relatively low budget though and the story was slapped together. A lot of fights are off screen and scenes will cut and restart rather awkwardly. There aren’t too many cutscenes considering how long the game is and most of the still images from Lost Song seem to be gone as well. While the graphics are good, they aren’t quite as amazing as you’d expect and don’t seem to have really changed at all since Lost Song. There just wasn’t a lot of innovation here. It’s not as extreme as Sonic Forces where the story was really sabotaged but I would have appreciated more actual cutscenes or more vibrant animation. This was supposed to be the next big SAO game after all. Personally, I’m guessing that they just used most of the budget on the gameplay at the expense of everything else.

The soundtrack is pretty solid if a bit limited. There only seem to be a handful of themes in the game so you better get used to hearing them quite a bit. I do like the danger theme and the main menu song. The rest are rather generic, but I suppose they get the job done. They never actually got annoying so I’ll give the game some credit there. A nice insert song would have been cool though. Of course, the game had an opening movie song like Lost Song. It wasn’t quite as good as that one, but was still really solid.

The main story is around 15-18 hours long which is pretty decent. If you stick around to get bonds with all of the characters and try for the Platinum then it should be well over 60 hours with the estimate being around 90. I don’t have that much time to drop on most games so I won’t be aiming for it, but at least the Platinum seems mostly reasonable. The only one that sounds like an insane grind is beating the game on Super Hard difficulty, but hopefully they let you just go to the final boss and then change the difficulty or something. Considering how much there is to do in the game it’s certainly worth spending 60 bucks. I won’t stay and explain all of the different features here, but trust me when I say that the game has a ton of depth. There are many skills to learn, weapon styles to master, and a whole lot to consider while playing in general. My advice is to save your money and SP until later in the game when you are a little more sure of what it is that you want. Until then just enjoy the game and try to get to the end.

Overall, Fatal Bullet is a blast to play. The gameplay is absolutely excellent and while the game may falter on a technical level at times it still holds up well against many others. The story can be a little slow, but it picks up by the end. At this point, SAO isn’t really known for its epic video game stories and you are just playing to see the characters again and enjoy the gameplay. There is a lot to do here so that’ll give you a lot of time with them. I’d definitely recommend checking this game out. It’s a game that you won’t want to miss! Since the game ends with a cliffhanger we definitely need a sequel where Terry settles the score. This could end up being a bit of a revenge run so the game might be a bit darker. (Of course, I haven’t seen the true ending yet so depending on how that plays out Terry may not be too upset)

Overall 8/10

Secret of Mana Review

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The Secret of Mana is an RPG that I had heard of in passing but never focused on too much. It just got lost in the shuffle next to Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Well thanks to the HD PS4 remake I have finally gotten to play it. It’s definitely a great RPG as you would expect and the real time/turn based mix will remind you of the .hack series.

I renamed the main characters so bear with me here. Terry is the chosen hero who is finally able to wield the Mana Sword. Everyone is shocked and dismayed because once the sword is lifted the world is supposed to fall into ruin. Terry meets a girl named Terret who needs help in stopping a witch to rescue the hero named Dyluck. Unfortunately this is a dead end but she must continue on her quest and since Terry has nothing more pressing to do at the moment he agrees to join her. Finally, they run into a sprite known as Terry Jr. who was scamming people for money. We show her the error of her ways and add one more member to the party. Now we must attack the enemy fortress and save the planet!

The gameplay is a blend as I mentioned earlier. You have a number under your character. Once it rises to 100 you are free to attack again and deal some damage. While you can attack sooner than that, it will almost definitely miss and even if the attack lands it will be weaker. Furthermore, the count will go back to 0 so waiting it out is just the better option. Also, you should start leveling up your magic early on as it is incredibly useful. Level them all up if you can, but you should focus on 1 in particular to get it to a high level early on. The Gnome magic was really useful for me, but each boss is typically a different element which is why you want a lot of them.

Equipment is extremely handy in this game as well and is basically mandatory to clear the game. You want the top of the line stuff and if you think you can beat an area without purchasing some armor then wait til the next village. Each village gradually adds better equipment options so you save a lot of money by just waiting. Of course, earning money is actually pretty easy in this game so it’s not something that you have to worry about that much. It will come naturally. Likewise, the EXP grind here isn’t bad either. It will go very quickly. That’s why you just want to stay at the top of your game since the A.I. won’t help much. They tend to just get crushed very quickly throughout the game.

Terry is a reasonably solid main character. He does actually talk and everything so he has a real personality. His personality is that he’s a hero and while that may not be all that deep or anything, the character means well. We do get a random plot twist involving his Mom which was kind of out of left field, but Terry took it in stride. Terret is a solid heroine. Her whole adventure is about saving the legendary Dyluck which is a nice twist of events. You rarely see the heroine have to go and save the famous hero and I can definitely get behind this. Shockingly they don’t even try to get you into a contrived romance with her as Terret only has eyes for Dyluck the whole game. I can applaud the title’s restraint here. Terry Jr probably has the least time to get really good, but she’s not a bad character. I still don’t get why she is referred to in the plural sense, but I don’t want to assume that it’s a translation error. Either way, she helped to raise everyone’s spirits.

As far as the villains are concerned, I would have liked them to have had more screen time. The villain group shows up out of nowhere and half of them are defeated quite quickly and without a chance to really show off their personalities. The King who makes a deal with the main villain wasn’t very smart, but made for a decent antagonist. Thanatos is the main villain to watch out for and he is definitely pretty strong. I like the design and he made for a cool antagonist. Then we have the Team Rocket trio who felt really out of place. They weren’t quite as hype as the others.

One major plot point is that you have to choose a side. Destroy the Mana Beast or destroy the Fortress. I felt like the game couldn’t really decide which the right option was as the Fortress is evil from the start, but by the end of the game we decide to destroy the Beast instead to balance things. This was part of the main plot and it made no sense. Now, I know a lot of behind the scenes stuff happened with this game and that is probably what made the plot feel rather off at times. It’s unfortunate but that’s also part of why I consider this RPG’s plot to be one of the weakest RPG plots in a while. It takes a little bit to get going and then once it does it’s like we’re playing an abridged game. Not to the same extent as Sonic Forces fortunately, but enough that parts of the plot feel weird like with the Beast. Personally I would have helped the guy, but apparently he was going to destroy the planet in the process so I suppose that wasn’t a viable option. Then we have a guy named Genma who talks tough throughout the game, but never actually got to do anything. Ah well, at least he looks rally tough.

The graphics were switched from sprites to 3D character models which usually works pretty well, but perhaps not in this case. The boss designs looked a little more intimidating in the original version and the colors were nice and sharp. As far as the cutscenes go, the characters don’t actually move their mouths while talking half of the time. Not a big deal I suppose, but basically it had the art style of World of Final Fantasy without the detail. I guess if this allowed the game to come out a few years early then it was probably worth it. As far as the soundtrack goes we have quite a few tunes. Each area has a different theme and they all work pretty well. They are classic rpg style themes so they should remind you of the good ole days.

The length of the main campaign is roughly 20 hours give or take so it’s definitely a solid amount of time for the rpg. You will almost certainly need to grind by the end so I’ll give you a pro tip here. Max out your Dryad skill since you cannot defeat is he final boss without it. I made it to the final boss without leveling it up at all which meant I had to go back and grind it out. If you level it naturally then it won’t actually feel like a grind. You’ll probably end up shaving an hour or two off as well. For replay value you can probably nab most of the trophies to end up with the Platinum. Out of the 38 in the game, I think around 26 are obtained just for completing the game. That’s a pretty solid number if you ask me. If you want to get the Platinum then you need to make a backup save before you beat the Blue Dragon as there are some rare item drops that you can’t go back for. It’s probably a good idea to defeat every new enemy you see as well to register them. Getting the Platinum here isn’t hard at all but it does take a little time and nobody wants to replay a 20 hour game just to get one missed trophy.

Overall, Secret of Mana was a pretty fun game. As far as RPG stories go the plot was rather weak, but the gameplay was still enjoyable. I just love RPGs in general as leveling up and grinding can be a blast. I can see why they got so big back in the day. Many RPGs will end up being quite solid by the end since you get used to the characters as you shared so much time together. This one is no exception and there is certainly a lot to do. Even without replay value, the story length justifies the price that you paid for it. Maybe I’ll get to play some more Mana games in the future. Until then, I recommend checking out this game and seeing what the Secret of Mana has to offer you. It’ll test your mettle one way or the other.

Overall 8/10

Power Drome Stats and Records

Stats time!

Characters 8/12

Championship Stats Bronze, Silver, or Gold

San-Kei Open Pre-Season Qualifier Gold
Core Worlds Cup 2 Silver, 1 Gold
Imperial Diebak Silo Complex Speed Challenge Silver
Khalid’s Midnight Run Gold
Cholo Turbines Trophy 3 Gold
San-Kei Eliminator Gold
Soomis Speed Challenge Silver
Jannek Classic 1 Silver 2 Gold
Gabriel’s Ship Yard Challenge Gold
Mata Wai Eliminator Gold
San-Kei Speedway Exhibition 1 Bronze 2 Gold
Mata Wai Invitational Gold
Imperial Diebak Eliminator Gold
Empress Yei Memorial Trophy 1 Gold 1 Silver
Amran’s Raceway Challenge Gold
Mata Wai Speed Challenge Gold
Wirethrow Industrial Chips Shield 4 Gold
Gainward Prospect Festival Cup 1 Gold 3 null
Clanton’s Gutter Run Challenge Gold
Cayn Hughes Testimonial 3 Null
San-Kei Outfield Eliminator Gold
Imperial Diebak Speed Challenge Gold
Core Worlds Master Cup 1 Bronze 3 Null

Best Lap on each stage
San-Kei Spedway