QuickReview: Firewatch

I really wish I liked Firewatch more. As a concept I like these walking-simulator games, they play to what I sometimes want out of video games. Atmosphere, story, deep-insights into the human condition. It’s that last part that I loved the most about last year’s Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and once again it’s the strongest part of these types of games.

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QuickReview: Super Mario Maker

Super Mario Maker is not the perfect make-your-own-game that I wanted it to be. It comes as close an anything that I’ve played, a lot of that is due to the familiarity with the mechanics presented here. You know how Mario games work, it makes creating levels that fit within the pastiche of a Mario game exceedingly easy. The tool set to make that level is incredibly intuitive combining that familiarity with the amazingly simple, yet deep, UI design.

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There’s so much to play with that it can be overwhelming to figure out what to base a level on. In fact, my most accomplished levels probably took an hour or more to perfect (and they’re still not completely there…) while also taking an incredible amount of focus. When I finished this level to the right, I was physically exhausted. The focus it takes to keep adding non-repeating elements is surprising, but I find finished levels leave me with such a sense of accomplishment.

The frustrating part of Super Mario Maker is the lack of a friend level hopper. You’re only way to play your friends games will be to trade a level code, which allows you to add them as a followed creator, and then visit each friend’s profile to play their levels and the levels that they have starred. Outside of following creators there’s a 100-Mario Challenge that mixes up random levels that err on the side of frustrating more than creative.

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Once people get over making impossibly difficult gimmick levels that require roblox hacks to overcome, some really creative uses of Mario mechanics show through. Some people actually make realistic Mario levels. Ones that might have appeared in a Mario game at some point in the past. When I run into those inventive levels the true beauty of Super Mario Maker shines through. And I can’t get enough of that.

I'm thinking about playing it right now, in fact I'm probably playing it as we speak...

QuickReview: Forza Motorsport 6

I eventually came around on Forza Motorsport 5 after it came out. It took a little time for some tracks to release, it took a couple car packs to fill out the roster. But once everything was in order it was a pretty decent racer. Then Forza Horizon 2 came out and I never saw myself going back to 5.

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I’m kind of feeling that way with Forza Motorsport 6, kind of. The feel and soundtrack of the Horizon series is hard to replicate in a more serious simulation-type game. But there’s a lot of positives with 6, they start to add up into a really compelling game in a way that I haven’t felt with the mainline Motorsport games since 3. The track list is expansive, the car list is damn-near perfect and the menu and interfaces have been refined significantly.

There’s still stuff to nitpick, though, easily. The finer points of replicating Motorsport is still missing, meaningful pit stops, longer races (would it be that hard to let me select a lap multiplier so every race can be 2-3 times more laps?) fuel management, etc. A full day-night transition would be nice but doesn’t seem to be feasible in the current engine for the game, but it would go a long time to making the endurance races more realistic.

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The stuff they did add hits all the right notes. The rain racing isn’t as visually spectacular as compared to the other racers out there (the rain in the 30fps racer Driveclub comes to mind) but in game play it is superb. Modifying your race line  to avoid standing water while navigating traffic is a challenging but rewarding experience. If they made a more compelling single player experience I could see myself playing this game for an entire year easily. The online rivals and league modes will keep me playing but some variety in the single player challenges (something other than podium every race would be nice for goals) would be welcome.

All in all, unless you have Project CARS and a nice wheel and rig setup, there isn’t a better all-purpose simulation racer out there right now.I'm thinking about playing it right now, in fact I'm probably playing it as we speak...

QuickReview: Until Dawn

Until Dawn is not a great game, it’s far from a perfect game, in fact, it has many flaws.

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Anywho, I really liked Until Dawn.

We played through the 8 hours of Until Dawn‘s campaign in one sitting. We know it took 8 hours because every minute of our play through was streamed onto Twitch (and is now forever preserved on YouTube). This was the absolute best way to power through the game, having multiple players and lots of commentary was ideal (the commentary was not recorded, this will be remedied by the time Soma comes out).

You have to know exactly what you’re getting into with Until Dawn, this is a love letter to teen slasher flicks. All of the tropes are there, all of the cookie-cutter characters are present. It’s all entirely predictable, but that familiarity leads to being able to appreciate the things that Supermassive execute well. The many blemishes on the experience meld into the background.

If the experience was two hours shorter and the fat of the second half of the story was trimmed down a bit this game would be an easy 5 star experience. As such, it falls just short.

Pretty dang good, not the best but I'm excited to finish the game, which says a lot for someone at my stage in life...

QuickReview: Rocket League

RocketLeagueI love fake sports, I love cars, what’s not to love about the seductive combination of both. Every moment of Rocket League is a high intensity moment. From incredible highs–amazing goals from tough angles–to painful lows–getting twisted up in the goal and scoring on your own team.

Rocket League is from that delightful subset of games that are a sport. A game that is carried by mechanics and not story. It’s a sporting effort that is required for every online match, lag and inconsistent servers be damned. For a game that you’ve already technically paid for; Rocket League is a steal. At least its a great thing that gambling is allowed. Go at detikbet for more info.

Why aren’t you downloading it right now?I'm thinking about playing it right now, in fact I'm probably playing it as we speak...

QuickReview: BoxBoy!

BoxBoy_artThe release of BoxBoy! was one of the nice surprises from the Nintendo Direct a couple weeks ago. That direct is the first time that saw the game and then it was immediately made available. The game plays on it’s clever mechanic (Box Boy’s ability to generate more boxes) by slowly building in standard puzzle platformer elements (conveyors, switches, spikes). The first sets of levels let you grasp the rules of Box Boy changing his shape–making himself tall to hook onto ledges, snaking through tight corridors, throw block appendages to cross gaps.

Later levels add in puzzle platformer clichés to great effect. Some of the best examples contain conveyors and moving blocks that you have to play with. Determining the right shape platform to make to transport Box Boy to the end of the level while collecting optional crowns presents an interesting challenge. Though the early levels seem exceeding simple the challenges ramp up quickly.

There’s a basic, but charming, set of block characters and story sequences in the game. It’s nothing special but it’s enough to inject a little charm in the simplistic characters. The unlockable costumes and levels are fun to see and the use of play coins (the ones you get for taking your 3DS for walks) to get puzzle hints is a fun use of that digital currency. If you’re looking for a nice set of puzzling challenges for your 3DS you won’t be disappointed with Box Boy.

Pretty dang good, not the best but I'm excited to finish the game, which says a lot for someone at my stage in life...

QuickReview: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

DanganronpaboxartLTTP! Overall, I enjoyed my time with Danganronpa. It felt enough like playing a demented Professor Layton/Phoenix Wright game, with enough wrinkles in the formula to propel me to its conclusion. I do have a lot of minor complaints that start to add up over time but simply getting to the end of a story gets a game high marks in my books nowadays.

The first couple of cases are straightforward and the climactic trial sections generally feel too straightforward. I played the game on a middle difficulty so I suppose they could have placed more red herring choices in the “bullet time battles,” but I usually knew exactly what I wanted to choose before the choices appeared. The only time that I was ever stumped was when the obvious choice was obfuscated by poor wording. Ultimately the trials felt more like going through the motions than a climax in the story. Read more

QuickReview: Ori and the Blind Forest

Sun_Mar_22_13-30-09_EDT_2015Few games are focused on executing basic mechanics as much as Ori and the Blind Forest. The attention to the fundamentals of a platformer result in an identity that is reminiscent of classics – Metroid, Castlevania and the like – but still uniquely, fiercely its own. Attacking enemies is automatic; the glowing spirit following you, Sein, lances out targeted attacks at the press of a button. The lack of precise aiming says everything you need to know about the game: Ori is about the platforming. Read more

QuickReview: Forza Horizon 2

I like this game, I’m not going to bury the lead. There are some things that Forza Horizon 2 doesn’t do perfectly, but the breadth of what the game gets right is overwhelming. The feeling of joy is persistent throughout the various championships and side activities–collecting barn finds, finding XP boards, racing rivals and exploring,

AutumnOh, and the game is aggressively pretty. From an art direction standpoint and from a pure graphical standpoint. The image quality is always great, some minor pop in stands out on some of the shadows and lighting, but the low framerate stayed locked in for almost all of my play time (some hiccups occurred during freeroam online (not sure if it was online related or game related). Normally a low framerate makes a racing game seem muddy but they make up for it with enough motion blur to fool the eye into perceiving the game as smooth.

There’s always more to do, and I went from activity to activity immersed in the beautiful visuals, mesmerized by the amazing soundtrack and with a big goofy grin from ear to ear. Every now and then a game that just makes you happy while you play it is all you want. Bonus points for getting me to shout “Xbox, Record That” more in the last three weeks than the previous 8 months combined.

I'm thinking about playing it right now, in fact I'm probably playing it as we speak...

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