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First Impression: Dragon Quest Builders 2 (Switch) ~ Illegal Building Is Fun!

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Official website

When I played Dragon Quest Builders on the Nintendo Switch, I was highly surprised by the quality of the game. Now, granted, not everybody enjoyed the game and some Dragon Quest fans even disliked the game quite a lot. Take for example my buddy Drakulus, who gave the game a 5/10. Another friend of mine, FalconGameReviews wrote a more lukewarm review of the game. And then you have me, giving the game the full marks. While I won’t deny that the original had some flaws like the lacking combat, I heavily enjoyed my time with the game. After I had beaten the original game, I certainly wanted to play more and when I saw the trailer for the sequel, I was extremely hyped. So, now that I was able to play the game for a while, I can give you my first impressions on it. So, what did I think of the game so far? Let’s take a look. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

Illegal Building Is Fun!

dragon-quest-builders-2-11The events of the original game took place in an alternative universe of the ending from the original Dragon Quest. Dragon Quest Builders 2 takes place a few years after Dragon Quest II. In the 2nd Dragon Quest game, the hero Erdirck takes on Hargon and Malroth. Their followers, the children of Hargon want revenge and make sure that nobody is allowed to create anything. But during the story, you teach the brainwashed citizens that building is still fun while trying to avoid being caught by the children of Hargon.

So, they paint builders as a sort of criminal. You start on a ship where you learn the ropes of the game and get a tutorial on the basic game mechanics. When the ship actually crashes, you wake up on an island together with a person named Malroth, that has no memories of his past.

The story so far has been quite enjoyable. The charm of an actual Dragon Quest game is still here. The humor and great writing is still here. Also, in this game the story is a bit more in depth. It takes some various turns and it’s more expansive than the original. Story-wise, I personally think that the story of the sequel is a lot better than the original. It plays more on the central theme of the story but it also has a lot of side stories and side quests to keep you occupied.

The only negative about the story is that the pacing is a bit slow. Personally, I don’t see this as a big deal but I think that this can be a turnoff to some people. Sadly enough there no way to skip the dialogue out right. Or there is no way to look at previous dialogue, like if you accidentally pressed a button and skipped a part of the dialogue while you were reading.

Now, while I was enjoying the story, I noticed something that worried me a bit. While I was playing the game, either in docked or in handheld mode, the Switch’s cooling fans kick into high gear. My Switch actually got extremely hot in the middle. Also, the Switch is blowing out hot air, which was an unwelcome thing while I was playing this game during a heatwave…

Expanded

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A ton of mechanics in this game got expanded to aid you in building the town or doing your quests.

First of all, you don’t need Chimera Wings anymore to fast travel back to your base. There is a new fast travel mechanic that makes live a lot easier. It’s a huge improvement over Dragon Quest Builders 1.

The gilder feature is a god send. I loved it in Breath of the Wild and I love it in this game. It’s an amazing feature that aids a lot with travelling and exploring the vast and open world in this game.

The Builderpedia feature is an extremely welcome feature as well, it’s a sort of mini wiki inside the game that can help you when you want to build a certain room in your base and you don’t know which items you need to have in your room in order for it to register as a certain room.

The new builder tools like the handy builder’s glove is also an extremely welcome feature. When you misplaced a block, you don’t have to mine it out anymore. You just pick it up again with the glove and place it where you want.

A big complaint of the original game was the camera. Now, the issue was that in tight spaces or in buildings with multiple floors, it was sometimes a struggle to center the camera on your character. In this game, they have a brilliant solution for that problem. With the simple press of a button, you can go into first person mode and more easily explore around.

Another great feature is the auto save. The game auto saves after a while of playing. Also, you don’t have a to go to the village center to save anymore. You can easily do that from the menu.

There are a ton of amazing other additions in this game that make this game even more enjoyable to play. From more easily creating rivers and lakes to changing walls into another block with the click of a button…. If I would be talking about all the new mechanics and how they improve this game, I would be here all day.

Now, there are a few things that got downgraded. First of all, the cooking. While it’s unique and somewhat fun that you need to cook your food on a campfire, you can’t cook in bulk anymore. Meaning that you are unable to easy get all of your food cooked.

While that is a negative, the new cooking system allows for more experimentation. Since in some cooking stations you are able to throw ingredients together to make something unique like in Breath of the Wild.

Something I also missed from the original game was the fact you could keep blueprints in your inventory after building a certain room. It would be so handy if I was able to just reuse a blueprint somewhere else. For example, when I wanted to rebuild a certain bar from the main story on the Isle of Awakening, I had to either take screenshots or reference the Builderpedia several times.

Complaining out of love

Dragon-Quest-Builders-2-Boy-Malroth-Windmill.jpgIt might seem that I’m complaining a lot about this game. That’s because I’m highly enjoying my time with this game while still being a bit frustrated at several mistakes that make this game less enjoyable. Now, if I would score the game, I would still give it full marks.

One of the reasons why this game gets full marks is the visual presentation. This game looks amazing. I’m so glad that there is photo mode and a screenshot button on the Switch so I can make screenshots of the amazing landscapes and gorgeous visual presentation of this game. Together with amazing animations, this game really comes to live. I especially like little details like when you move the camera from under weather to above weather, the camera appears wet and various water droplets roll off your screen.

Like every Dragon Quest game, the music in this game is fantastic. I haven’t played a Dragon Quest game where I didn’t like the music from. That said, I do have to ask the Dragon Quest fanbase a question. Does the soundtrack of this game have original songs or does it also reuse classics from the previous Dragon Quest games, like the original Dragon Quest Builders? I was unable to find more information on that.

Together with amazing sound effects, the audio visual presentation is excellent. In addition to that, the stable 60FPS framerate of this game is just a blessing. The game runs and plays extremely smooth. I can even say that I rarely had a slowdown. In some rare situations, I didn’t see the animation of a block breaking but that happened so rarely, I don’t think it’s a huge problem.

Now, let’s talk about the controls of this game. The controls are still excellent. While I played the original with the Nintendo Switch Joycons, I did play this game with a wired Pro Controller. And I have to say it’s great fun.

Even with great controls, the combat is still quite generic. Not a lot changed when you compare it to the original. Now, when I read other reviews, I see a lot of people complain about the basic combat. To be honest, personally I don’t see this as that big of a problem. The game isn’t focused on combat with enemies, the game is more focused on building and crafting a world and your town. So yeah, the basic combat doesn’t bother me that much.

Something that did bother me and got me in a lot of trouble was the fact that I was sometimes unable to eat my healing pots during combat. I’m under the impression that there is either some delay on it during combat or some sort of cool down. Quite often I had to walk away from a battle to eat a healing pot.

Now, a feature that I love quite a bit is that after scripted battles, your citizens actually repair your city. Yes, if monsters manage to destroy your city or parts of it, it gets fully repaired to the way you actually build it. This is an amazing tweak and one that saved me a lot of headaches. Since, one time I actually rage quited a boss in the original game simply because it destroyed around 75% of my town.

This might be just me, but I have the impression that this game is easier than the original. So far, I have fought several bosses in the game and quite rarely the gave me trouble.

A minor complaint that I have with this game is that there is only one save slot. Compared to Dragon Quest Builders 1, you had 5 slots per chapter. Granted, this game isn’t split up into chapters, but I really miss the 5 save slots. Since now I can’t really lend out my Switch to my girlfriend without me fearing that she saves over my save for example.

This game is an excellent sequel, it builds upon the original game quite a lot. From a central island where you bring all of your befriended villagers and build your own paradise to unlocking new blocks and various other things with the gratitude you receive. There are also monsters you can tame and ride, you can swim… You can quite easily change your look in game and let’s not forgot to mention the multiplayer functionality that this game has.

It’s no wonder that various people who are playing this game got addicted to this title. For me, it got to the point that I even put other games aside. Games like Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Fire Emblem – The Three Houses… While this game came out, I was lending my girlfriend’s PS4 since she has Uncharted, a game series I always wanted to play. And nope, I kept playing Dragon Quest Builders 2.

But to whom do I recommend this game? Well, easy. I highly recommend this game to anyone who enjoys open world games like Breath of the Wild or Skyrim. I also recommend this game to people who enjoy Minecraft, Terarria or games of that nature. If you have enjoyed the original Dragon Quest Builders, this game is for you as well. The biggest issue in my opinion is the overheating of the Switch. The other negatives don’t affected my enjoyment with this game that much.

So, yeah. I’m in love with this game. There are high chances that this game will be in my top 10 games I played in 2019 list. To be honest, so far it’s even on my list as contender for Game of the Year. But let’s just wait and see, the second part of 2019 has a lot of amazing titles that will come out. And also, the game will receive DLC later this year, so my opinion might change on that…

I may talk a bit more in depth about this game if I ever write a review on this game but for now, I think it’s about time that I end off this article right here. I thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

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Game Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PC) ~ Trinity Awaits You.

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The logo for this project is created by The Well Red Mage

This post is a part of the Tomb Raider – Writers Raid collabarative project. In this project various bloggers came together to take a critical look on the Tomb Raider series. Mixing nostalgia and a critical look on every game in the main series. You can read more in the hub article here.

SotTR_HERO-1-heroWikipedia entrySteam Store page

I remember the day that the picture leaked of the guy working on a powerpoint presentation of Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the metro. I was so hyped for the 3rd Tomb Raider game. I quite enjoyed the reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise and I wanted to see how the trilogy ends. I pre-ordered the game as soon as I could. Of course I pre-ordered the collector’s edition and I was able to play this game 48 hours before the official release. Now that I finished the game, it’s time to give my honest opinion on it. Is the game any good or should you skip it? Let’s find out. Also, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Trinity awaits you

20180912191126_1If you are planning to play this game, I highly recommend that you play Tomb Raider (2013) and Rise of the Tomb Raider before this game. The story in this game continues on the story of those two games. While you will be able to understand and follow the story in the game without much problems in this game, the impact of the story will be stronger if you played the first two games.

To avoid spoilers, I’ll keep some parts a bit vague in my plot description. So, in this game, Lara and Jonah are exploring Cozumel in Mexico for a piece of the artifact that Lara’s rival gang Trinity is after. It doesn’t take long before the duo finds Trinity and they discover something huge about Trinity. This leads Lara to a nearby temple where she finds a dagger that sets off a chain of events that might spell the end of the world but this might help Trinity to succeed with their plans. Now, will Lara be able to stop Trinity and save the world? Since Trinity awaits you in this game…

The story of this game is your typical adventure movie story. Personally, I enjoyed the story in this game quite a lot. The writing is pretty well done. I grew attached to the characters in this arc and it kept me engaged. While I was able to predict some plot points and twists from a mile away, I was entertained by it. The pacing of the plot is so good, I was less distracted by side quests than in the previous two titles.

The story takes you on various locations in Mexico and Peru. There is one section of the game that will put a huge smile on veteran Tomb Raider players, but I won’t spoil that one. While a lot of the game takes place in the jungle, the scenery never gets boring. I totally loved exploring the world after I had beaten the main story and I can’t wait for the additional content that they are going to release in the upcoming months.

Something I would love to talk about is that this game had two different epilogues. In this article, I want to focus on reviewing the game in its current form but if you want to know more, Kotaku has a great write-up with developer commentary.

The writing and pacing of this game is excellent, but something I really liked in this game was the voice acting. I really felt that the actors where giving it their all while creating this game. When Lara gets mad, she really sounds mad. Something I think is amazing is that the NPC’s can either speak English or speak in their native language. This setting in the option menu is such an amazing immersion feature. It really adds to the charm of the voice acting.

Now with the reboot plot wrapped up, I’m quite curious to where they are going to take Lara next. Which adventures will Lara have next? Will they create a new game when Lara is older or will they create a story that takes place right after this game? Only time will tell.

Take a jaw dropping picture

sotr.jpgWhen I saw the minimum requirements of this game, I became worried. In order to play this game, you need to have an i3-3220 Intel processor or something similar of AMD. You also need 8GB RAM and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 660/GTX 1050 or AMD Radeon HD 7770 at the minimum. My computer has a i7-4820K, 16GB of RAM and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 660. So, my computer fits the requirements of the recommend system requirements besides my graphics card. I was so afraid that I would be bottlenecked due to my graphics card. I was afraid that I had to put everything at the lowest settings to even get a playable framerate out of the game.

Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case.  I was able to play the game at medium visual settings at somewhere between 25FPS to 66FPS. The framerate was quite stable as well. While I was playing, I ran MSI Afterburner on my 2nd monitor to keep track of the temperatures of my GPU and the usage. Since that caused issues in Rise of the Tomb Raider for me. In this game, I only experienced three game crashes in that 48 hour pre-launch period but a quick restart of the game fixed the issue. And since the patch released on launch, I never had those crashes again.

25FPS might be too low in some people their opinion but I don’t mind it that much. 30FPS is still an acceptable frame rate for me and I don’t mind it that much, I understand that a lot of people prefer 60FPS, but I’m just glad that I have the game at a playable and stable frame rate.

I’m happy that my computer can run this game since this game takes you on an amazing journey. You come across gorgeous landscapes that are begging you to use the photography feature built in this game. This is even a small basic editor included. I only used the photography mode once, to test it out. If I ever replay this game, I have some spots that I totally want to use this feature on and create some amazing wallpapers.

While the visual presentation is amazing, I did experience some tearing issues and I saw some clipping. But, this happened so rarely and fixed themselves so fast, they weren’t a big issue. Most of the tearing issues were just for a few seconds here and there in a cutscene. I have to admit that updating my graphics card to the latest driver made me have even less tearing issues. So, if you are experiencing them too, check if your graphics card is up-to-date.

Visually, this game is jaw-dropping. While exploring the packed jungle, hidden cities and various tombs; you get even more eye candy with the animations in this game. From Lara jumping down to make a stealth kill to two characters speaking to each other in a cutscene, the animations are extremely well done. One minor complaint I have is that some death scenes felt a bit reused from the previous two games, but some look even better than before.

Yet, there are a few things about the visuals I thought weren’t the best they could be. The first problem with the visuals is that sometimes when the game reloaded after I died, the visuals went to a lower setting. This happened to me 5 times out of nowhere. Yet, after a patch, I didn’t experience this issue so I guess that might be fixed.

A 2nd complaint I have with the visuals is that the liquids in the death scenes became see through. It might be a nitpicky complaint, but I felt that it was rather awkward. It didn’t feel quite right. It would have looked a lot better if the camera zoomed out with Lara’s scream fading away as if she drowned.

Now, let’s talk gameplay. Since the reboot, the gameplay of the Tomb Raider series changed quite a lot. There are more action sequences in between puzzle segments and the exploration of tombs. Lara has a few new abilities compared to the previous two games. Outside of the expanded moves with the grapple axe and the stealth mechanics, all these mechanics are underused.

For example, some enemies have heat goggles. These enemies appear so frequent, it’s a gimmick. Another example are the underwater creatures, like eels and phirans. These can provide for some unique swimming puzzles but they are rarely used or are quite easy to avoid. Also, there are some tripwires that can activate traps. But, these traps are always the same trap and the same way of disabling them. It’s sad to see these mechanics under used so much.

Something that really annoyed me is that when you used the explorer sense, Lara almost always gave the solution of the puzzle away immediately. She spells out what you have to move to where. Even this sense sometimes provided the solution to the puzzle. This made some puzzles in this game too easy. I preferred it when Lara didn’t gave the solution right away. It was especially frustrating when she talked over dialogue. In one tomb, Lara and Jonah were exploring. While they were talking about the room they were in, I pressed the explorer sense button. While Lara and Jonah were having their chat, Lara spoils the solution of the puzzle. That way I didn’t hear what Lara and Jonah said. It would have been much more fun to solve the puzzles when Lara didn’t give away the solution away so quickly. It should work like those special mushrooms in the latest Mario games, that it appears when the player keeps failing to solve the puzzle or is stuck in the room for some time.

It’s a shame, since the puzzles are very fun to solve. They are well crafted and I enjoyed solving them. Thankfully, the issue of Lara spoiling the solution doesn’t happen with the platform sections. These were amazing to play through. I can’t wait to see what the new challenge tombs will bring in the upcoming months. On the 14th of November, a new tomb will release. I can’t wait to explore it.

Anyways, when I changed the puzzle difficulty to hard, Lara didn’t do this. I wish I knew this earlier, before I had beaten the game. Since, I had chosen the “Rite of passage” difficulty. It would have solved one of my major gripes with this game. I did have to set it to the hard setting, and that took away a lot of things in the explorer sense as well… So, I’ll stick to normal and just not use explorer sense only if I’m stuck.

Something I really love in this game as well is that you have more than one indicator on the map and in the explorer sense. You have the yellow marker that guides you to the next story point, the green one for the side quest you are doing and the blue one for the marker you set in the map mode. This is so handy and helped me to keep track of certain things. Great feature!

Orchestral exploration

20180912191114_1This game has an orchestral soundtrack. The soundtrack has been composed by Brian D’Oliveira and he created something amazing. The soundtrack adds so much power to the cutscenes and the game.

I also added the soundtrack to my music library. It’s a great soundtrack for when I’m writing various articles or when I’m playing other games like Minecraft or Europa Universalis IV.

It was especially tense during the stealth sections. I’m the type of player who usually goes all out and doesn’t use a lot of stealth. In this game, I highly recommend that you are careful while you have enemy encounters. They can quite easily overwhelm you if you go out of hiding too quickly. Also, in this game, the traps like flaming bottles and smoke bombs are way more useful than in the previous games. They helped me quite a lot. The music is a great help in these combat sections, since it’s your guide if there are still enemies around or if you have defeated them all.

Together with the great soundtrack, the sound effects and sound design of this game is extremely well done. I played this game with headphones. If you play this game, I highly recommend that you use a decent pair of headphones or speakers. The sound effects and the music add so much to the experience and the immersion, it’s essential in my opinion. It made my heart pound at certain moments and I felt so relieved when I was finally able to beat that section that gave me problems earlier.

The controls in the game are good. I do have one complaint and that is that I find the controls for the crafting system a bit awkward to use. I got used to it, but I preferred the crafting system in the previous game where you were able to map the crafting of (special) arrows or ammo to a single button. Now you need to use two for them. Then again, I see the benefits of the current system, so I think it’s a personal complaint.

I never had any major issues with the controls. Maybe once or twice that Lara didn’t grab a ledge, but these things happen in games all the time. The checkpoints in this game are frequent enough that you don’t lose a lot of progress. The game also has an autosave so you never have to worry that you lose progress.

Earlier, I talked about the extended mechanics or the grapple axe. The grapple axe is an essential tool in Lara’s arsenal in this game. She uses it as a sort of whip to swing across gaps, Indiana Jones style. She also uses is it for stealth killing, climbing almost vertical walls and using it as an anchor point when she needs to go down. There are certain moments when you hang on a wall right above the entrance of a tomb and Lara has to lower herself to either safe reach the ground or to swing back and forth to create enough momentum to jump to the platform that leads to the entrance of the tomb. Rappling down was always a great joy to do.

Now, there is one mechanic that actually returns from a previous Tomb Raider game. In Tomb Raider Anniversary, there are certain sections while you use your grapple you run on walls. This mechanic returns in this game. It’s used in combination with the lowering down mechanic I described in the previous paragraph.

These mechanics were fun to use. Slowing going down and seeing the big temple appear in the distance were my favorite moments in this game. It really made me feel like I was exploring the area. Paired with the amazing visuals and soundtrack, I enjoyed myself quite a lot. Speaking about those visuals, sometimes your path blended in with the environment so well, it was fun to explore. Trying to find the path you had to take to find your way back from a tomb. Also, in some platforming sections, especially when you are escaping from a crumbling building, the visuals make it even better to play through. You have rubble falling just past you or poles you bending the right way for you to continue. The adrenaline in these sections was amazing for me.

Now, this game took me 20 hours or so to beat. On Howlongtobeat.com, there are people who have beaten the story in 13 hours. I think I might complete this game, so I have a few additional hours in this game. The difficulty of this game really depends on the abilities and outfits you use. The fewer abilities you unlock and if you don’t use the benefits of your outfits, the game gets a lot harder. But, I found this game not that difficult. There were a few moments that I had to redo, sometimes more than 3 or 4 times but each time I learned the patterns of the enemies or where I needed to go. The game provides some challenge but once you get the mechanics down, you breeze through this power fantasy.

Now, about the difficulty. There are a few different options. Something I really like is that you can set the difficulty for combat, exploration and puzzle. So, if you find something too easy and you want more challenge, just change that in the gameplay section of the option menu. The only nitpick I have about the menu is that there should be a “confirm” button. Since it felt kind of strange that the changes happen right away to me. Then again, that might be just me.

Also, if you are quite nostalgic like myself, there are outfits that even remodel Lara’s character mode to look like in the earlier Tomb Raider games. I think that I’m going to use those outfits to complete the game now that I have beaten it.

Personally, I enjoyed the combat in this game quite a lot. Outsmarting your enemies and silently killing them before they can group up on you to overpower you was enjoyable. I felt my heart pounding when I was finally able to beat that one section I had to do over and over again. These sections made me consider playing other more stealth focused games in the future.

A big plus in this game is the in-game store. In the two previous titles, ammo could become a bit too rare to find in the post-game. This is solved by merchants in the villages you visit. There you can buy gear and ammo. You can also sell your materials for coins. This is a great mechanic since you really need to think on what you can sell if you want to complete this game.

The final fight in this game really took me back to the old school Tomb Raider boss fights. I only wish that it was a bit more challenging. I was able to beat the final fight with only dying twice. This time it felt like a proper final fight and not a gauntlet of enemies. It’s the best final fight in this trilogy.

So, that was everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s high time for the conclusion of my review.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Good story, pacing and voice acting.

+ Amazing visual presentation.

+ In game store.

+ Great soundtrack & sound design.

+ Great final boss.

+ Nostalgic outfits.

+ …

The bad:

-Some mechanics are underused.

-Sometimes some minor visual issues like tearing and clipping appear.

Final thoughts:

As a veteran Tomb Raider player, I wasn’t disappointed in this game. While I completely understand that this game isn’t for everybody, it did click with me. I enjoyed myself while playing this game and I think that this game turned out amazing. The biggest flaw of this game is that some fun mechanics go underused. Maybe these mechanics might be more used when I up the difficulty in my next playthrough.

I enjoyed playing through this game so much that I’m going to play through this game again for sure. The visuals are extremely well done, the animations, soundtrack, sound design… it all pulled me into this game. If you really enjoy playing adventure games like the 3D Indiana Jones games, Uncharted, Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider or games of that nature, you owe it to yourself to give this game a try.

In my opinion, this is one of the best Tomb Raider games I have played in recent years. It reminded me why I enjoy playing through this series so much. The adventure is just so much fun and it reminds me of watching Indiana Jones when I was younger.

I can’t recommend this game enough. If you can, buy the season pass. I know that this makes the game more expensive but the additional costumes and the additional challenge tombs that will be released in the upcoming months will be more than worth it.

Thank you Square Enix, Eidos Montreal and all the other companies who helped develop this trilogy. I hope you continue creating adventures for Lara Croft. The quality of this game is amazing and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Thank you for the journey and I hope this won’t be the last stop. You thanked your fans in the credits, allow me to thank you and your team for this amazing experience! Keep on creating those tombs and we shall keep raiding if it’s this amazing of a game.

Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care. Also, be sure to check out the hub article where you can read more articles on the Tomb Raider series. More information is at the start of this article.

Score: 90/100

First Impression: Dragon Quest VIII – Journey of the Cursed King (PS2) ~ Let’s Go Forward!

Dragon_Quest_VIII_Journey_of_the_Cursed_King

Wikipedia entry

So, I have something to admit, I actually wanted to talk about this game last summer. But, I wrote about other games and this game got on my “to review” list. Let’s fix that today. Let’s talk about the journey of the cursed king. A journey I own on two different systems. Yes, this game got a remake for the 3DS. But, I haven’t played a lot of the 3DS remake, so I’m going to look at the PS2 version. Oh, if you are wondering what the differences are between this version and the 3DS remake, RPGSite.net wrote a great piece about it. In any case, that’s enough rambling. Let’s get this first impression started since I haven’t beaten the whole game. For this review, I am give or take 25% through the story. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the article and/or the game.

Direct story

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In most RPG’s I played, the story mostly starts with a peaceful setting and then something big happens and the world needs to be saved. Yet, this story starts out a bit more “humble”.

You start looking for a jester that cursed the king and the princess into a monster and a horse. If you want to know what happened before that, you have to read the manual. So far, the story is very enjoyable. The writing is great and the voice acting is really great. But for a better analysis of the story, I think I have to get further into the game.

The gameplay of this game is a good but it has some flaws. In this game, there are random encounters. In some cases, there is an overkill of random encounters. I had several times where each 5 to 10 steps I took, got me in a random battle. Thankfully, the 3DS version fixes this with showing the enemies in the overworld so you can avoid them if you want.

Yet, it isn’t a great idea to avoid them at all, at least all the time. Since not only does the game keeps a counter with how many times you fled a battle, you will need all the experience you can get. This game can be quite hard and you will have to grind if you want to survive.

So, you will have to get yourself a lot of healing items before you can fight bosses and enter into caves. I recommend that you at least raise 2-3 levels before you venture into a new area. Also, explore each area as much as you can. Since there are a lot of side quests that might help you on your journey and make the grinding less repetitive.

Orchestral

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I want to touch upon a few things that could have improved the game. I seriously miss a run button. Sometimes, I feel that you walk so slow and getting somewhere takes a bit too long.

Another thing that I don’t really like about this game is the inventory system. For certain tasks, it takes too many steps to preform. Like moving an item from the central inventory to a characters inventory. At first, I wasn’t a big fan of the split inventories but after a while, I learned to appriciate it. It adds realism into the game, since you can give certain characters items to help them in battle, like your allies are carrying a bit of the resources on your journey. But it also adds a layer of strategy. To whom do you give healing items and such.

Something that didn’t need any improvement is the soundtrack. Why is the soundtrack in this game so good? I mean, running around the open fields exploring the world with an amazing orchestral soundtrack, what’s not to love. On top of that, visually, this game looks amazing. I had several times that I just stopped moving and looked around. This game looks amazing and still holds up today.

You venture through various locations that each have an unique feel. Not only that, in some cases, you can play as the pet mouse of the main character and let it run around in buildings to open locked doors or to get more information about a certain quest.

If you have forgotten what your main quest was, you can always ask your team mates when you press the “Start” button. With this, I think it’s a great time to talk about the controls. They are great, the only complaint I have is that the menu button isn’t the start button. But, this nitpick might be because my brain is hardwired by handheld games.

Spoiled by 3DS

Dragon-Quest-VIII-Screenshot-1

So far, I’m enjoying myself with this game a whole lot. Like I said, this game looks and sounds amazing. If you have any doubt, I also mean the animations too, they are great as well.

The only thing I lack sometimes is a sort of ingame map. Maybe I have looked over it, but there isn’t any map to speak off. I’m somebody who easily gets distracted and looses their way easily. So, I use the in-game map to navigate. Also, I’m bad in remembering names like street names, town names and things like that. It’s so bad sometimes that I forget the streetnames of the neighbouring streets of the street I live at. Yeah. So, an in-game map with names would be so lovely. That’s why I “cheat” sometimes and have an overworld map open on my tablet if I need to take a quick look at it. But only the overworld map.

Like I said various times in this first impression, I think that this game is great but the 3DS improved on a lot of things. It also added additional content. But, why don’t I play it on the 3DS then? Well, for two reasons. My first reason is that I owned this game on PS2 first and I gotten to far and didn’t want to restart. And my second reason is that I think this game looks a bit better on a bigger screen than the 3DS screen.

So far, this game has a high score in my book. But, due to the high random encounter rate, the need for griding and the sometimes slow flow of the game; I have to get in the right mindset but I can play this game. But if I do play the game, I have play sessions that clock in at 3 hours or more each time I boot this game up. That’s why I haven’t gotten too far in this game in over a year. According to some sources, you can get over 100 hours of gameplay out of this game, so I have a long away ahead of me if I want to complete this game.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. If I ever beat this game, I will write a review about it. But for now, I have to thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

First Impression: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS) ~ I’m An Angel!

dq_ix_esrb_dsLink to Wikipedia entry

Lately, I’m playing a lot on my old Nintendo DS. The game that I’m playing is Dragon Quest IX. I have played this game right when it came out, but then I stopped because other games got my interest. I played this game right around when I started playing Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. In any case, this article will contain mostly my current opinion of the game. I’m currently 10 hours into the game. But, enough stalling. It’s time to talk about this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment down below with your opinion on this game and/or the content of this article.

Slow start

Dragon Quest IX 2In this game, you play as a character you design and make yourself. Your character is a guardian angel of Angel Falls. At the start of the game, you get a small combat tutorial and introduction to the world.

Everything was peaceful until suddenly disaster strikes. Something happens in the sky palace and you fall down to the world and lose your halo and wings. You fall in the town of, you guessed it, Angel Falls.

After those events, a lot happens. The plot only thickens and gets quite interesting. Yet, the only negative is that the start is quite slow. I was 2-3 hours in before the main quest started.

The writing is very well done. The characters are memorable. While I noticed some minor spelling mistakes here and there, I didn’t mind them too much.

The story feels episodic. When you finish one quest, another path opens and you go to another village to go on a new quest. This works very well in this game. This game is pretty long. If you want to beat the main story, you will have to put in around 50 hours. So, I’m looking forward to the stories I still have to play.

In any case, enough talking about the story. The difficulty of this game is almost a negative in my opinion. If you have read my blog before, you might know that I don’t like grinding for levels that much. It gives the impression that the game is longer then it actually is. This game contains some grinding, but it isn’t too bad. But, the grinding gets old real fast for me.

Buy and wear this shield

dragonquest9_218826In this game, there is something that really every RPG should do. When you buy new equipment, you see your character visually change. Not only in battle, but also in the overworld. This is a great touch, since it gives you the feeling of progression and growth of your characters. I can understand that this could be annoying to some people, since they prefer everything to look a certain way. But I honestly like it.

Visually, the characters and enemies look very well designed. Sadly enough, this RPG suffers from what I call the “multiple paint bucket syndrome”. There are various recoloring of enemies to make new enemies.

While I can understand that it’s hard to always make new enemies for each new area, I believe there are other methods. If you give the recolored version some minor visual changes like make them longer, shorter, wider, bulkier… That would go a long way.

Or you use the same enemy, but you buff them up. Wait, scrap that. Game design wise, this wouldn’t be the best solution. Since that could confuse a lot of players.

So, we were talking about the visuals of this game. The world design is something that is deserves praise. Every area has charm and feels alive. The animation is stellar. In short, I really love the presentation of this game.

One thing to note is that in some battles, I experienced some frame drops. This happened mostly when there were a lot of graphic heavy attacks in a row. Outside of battles, I rarely got slowdowns or frame drops.

You have two options in the control department. You can either use the touch screen for everything or you can use the buttons. Both control schemes work every well. The only feature you miss in the touch screen controls is the ability to swing around the camera a little bit in the overworld. But I rarely use it, so I don’t mind it that much.

This game is a full blood RPG and it has a big world for you to explore and adventure in. A big plus in this game is that you can see the monsters running around on the overworld. This makes it a lot easier when you need a certain item drop or when you need to defeat a certain enemy to complete your monster index.

You can design your own party in this game. You can tweak your party to your heart’s and playstyle’s content. Take your perfect party in to battle!

I can only say one negative thing about the battles. If they would added a health bar for the enemies, that would be amazing. I found it very frustrating that I had to hope that a boss died when I was at low health. It would be very handy to change your tactics.

There is just too much

dragonquestIXIn this game, there are also side quests. I haven’t done many side quests, so I won’t go in-depth. But you can get a quest from a character when a blue speech bubble appears above their head. Most quests I encountered are fetch quests.

But that is just one thing of many things that can entertain you in this game. You can also do alchemy, complete your monster guide or collect party tricks. There is a lot to do in this game. According to some websites, to 100% complete this game, you would have to devote months to this game. According to various sources, you would have to spend over 770 hours. That’s overkill in my opinion. There is just too much to do in this game. But the positive about is that there is always something to do in this game. You shouldn’t get bored with this game if you love playing RPG’s.

The music and sound design in this game is good. It could have been better if there were two or three more tracks in-battle. Since always hearing the same battle music gets a bit old. It’s still a great track, but I wished I heard some other battle music in normal battles from time to time.

In this game, you can only save in churches. You can quick save, but the quick save gets deleted as soon as you restart the game. I don’t know what happens if you quick save and then don’t save. Honestly, I don’t feel like finding that out. One thing, there is only one save slot.

This game offers multiplayer. But, I’m not going to talk about that since I haven’t played this game in multiplayer. And without experience, it would be hardly fair to talk about it.

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Besides, if I forgot certain things, I will talk about those if I ever review this game. So, it’s time to wrap up this article.

This game is a very fun game. It’s one of the best RPG’s out there on the Nintendo DS. It does some things that every RPG should do but it also does some things that shouldn’t be in every RPG.

I highly recommend this game if you are looking for a challenge, a big adventure and/or an interesting story. But be prepared to put a lot of hours into this game.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope I can welcome you in another article on my blog. But until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

Review: Rise Of The Tomb Raider (PC) ~ Sequel of the Reboot

2000900263Steam store page

I have to talk about this game. It’s the sequel to the game I started this blog with. On the 20th of March 2013, I reviewed Tomb Raider. Now, three years later in 2016, the PC port of the sequel finally arrived. I would have reviewed this game sooner, but due to the patches, my performance was going down the drain. The weakest link in my PC is my graphics card. My CPU, RAM and all other parts of my PC are up to speed with this game, but my graphics card gave me issues. So, after experimenting and trying out different things, I was finally able to play this game with a fluent FPS. Thanks to windowed mode and normal graphic settings. In any case, that’s enough of the behind the scenes stuff! Time to rate this tomb, is it really worth the adventure or is this one better left forgotten? And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below. 

The divine source

Riseofthetombraider.jpgAt the center of the story, is the divine source.  Something that Lara wants to find to prove that her father wasn’t crazy. The story uses a lot of cliches this time around. Also, some people can see some plot twists coming from a mile away.

That’s why the story wasn’t all that interesting to me. It was enjoyable but bland. In my opinion, it could have done a lot more with the story. My biggest issue with the story is that some characters didn’t get any development. Thankfully, the writing is very well done which makes up for the middle of the road story.

Something that was truly lacking, in my opinion, was the ending. The ending didn’t convince me why Lara wanted to spend her life raiding tombs. Another thing I didn’t like about the story is that at the start, it jumped around. When I got used to the desert area, I was back in the snowy area. That was a let down for me. Mostly because I feel that I’m unable to go back to check the area out after I finished the chapter. (Just found out, you can fast travel there. Odd thing, when you play the chapter… You have unlimited ammo. When you fast travel there, you don’t have unlimited ammo. That’s a strange issue)

Something that’s even better is the voice acting. The voice acting made some characters come alive! Guys and girls, if you are ever to make a sequel to this game, more of this top notch voice acting, please.

Look at that!

rise-of-the-tomb-raider-pc-scr-image-4173.jpgI have explained in the introduction of this article that my graphics card wasn’t strong enough to run this game at it’s highest settings. But, at the normal settings… This game looks jaw-dropping.

The visuals have improved an awful lot from the previous game and drew me even more into the world the developers created. Yet, I do that to point out that I had some visual glitches with the hair and bow. Here are some screenshots I took of these visual glitches:

2 arrows and the bowSnow forgot to render/how it worksLet’s shoot that climbing axe

But I have to say, that in the latest version of the game, I rarely saw these odd things happening.

The design and the animations of this game are amazing. Yet, this game had issues with performance. Between the release of the PC port in late January and today (mid-May), there have been 6 big patches to the game, mostly all to improve performance. Strangely enough, each patch, my performance wasn’t improving. But, since then, I didn’t have any PC/game crash. Yes, this game crashed so badly that it shut down and rebooted my PC.

Anyways, I’m not going to let this become a long rant about performance. The game is visually stunning and looks great. The animations are amazing as well. Also, the game feels bigger and bigger than the reboot.

There is one thing I didn’t care about in this game and that is the card collecting thing. It bugged out on me several times and I stopped caring. Why do I bring this up now? Since it’s the only negative when it comes to menu design. Such a shame, since we got such a great menu system. I really like how the game reloads your textures while you are playing when you set the visual settings higher and/or lower. It’s fun to see in my opinion. Also, I have to applaud the fact that everything is explained on the side when you tweak your options.

More of the same?

tomb_raider_pc_8.jpg

In this game, most of Lara’s abilities return from the previous game. Apart from some differences, every weapon in this game is the same.

One huge difference is made in this game. And that’s the health system. You can speed up the regen. Well, you can heal yourself. This eliminates the waiting to heal up and makes the combat a bit more intense.

This game has a very similar gameplay to the reboot. Which is great, since I really loved the reboot. But in this game, there are side quests and challenge tombs. While I have beaten the main story, this game has still a lot to offer. The main game is around the 20-hour mark, but in my playthrough, I got 60% completion. So, it’s time to go looking for the things I missed.

Also, in this game, you can learn foreign languages. So, sometimes you can’t decipher a scroll since you aren’t strong enough in ancient Greek. This little mechanic makes the game even more fun.

This game can be pretty difficult from time to time. I remember one area, I had to redo a couple of times. I have to mention, that I didn’t play on the hardest difficulty. If you are looking for a challenge, this game can give you one.

Before I forget, this game has an additional story DLC. I haven’t beaten it yet, but from what I have already played, it’s very interesting and fun to play through.

The controls of this game are excellent. Lara controls fluently and I didn’t make many changes to the default control scheme. I only had minor issues in the menus, but after I got used to them, it didn’t bother me too much.

To close off this review, I have to talk about the music and sound design. In last week’s article, I have already talked and praised the music. The music in this game is amazing. It really sets the mood for the game. Also, the sound design is nice as well. I have nothing to complain.

I played this game with a headset and sometimes I felt like I was really there. The visuals and the sound design are that good in my opinion.

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Time for the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-Minor visual glitches

-Annoying performance issues with weaker graphic cards.

-Game crashes can cause a PC reboot.

-The story uses a lot of cliches this time around.

-The card game part. WHY?

The good:

+ Amazing visuals.

+ Great music and sound design.

+ The game is a good challenge. Both in combat, puzzle solving and feeding goodies.

+ …

Final thoughts:

This game is so close to being perfect. There are some parts of the game I haven’t reviewed. Like the 2nd game mode. The expeditions. That’s because I haven’t played enough of it to review it. So, that’s a surprise for you if you are interested in this game.

If the story was a bit more fleshed out, I would have given this game full marks. Most of the visual issues I had were fixed in the various patches this game got.

I recommend this game, but check before you buy since this game requires very high PC specs. And when you buy and play this game, be ready for a thrill ride from start to finish!

Score: 95/100

E3 Thoughts.

After seeing all the conferences of E3, these are my thoughts.

Triple-a games can suck it (except Fallout 4 and MGSV).

That is all. Thank you, I’m going home…

Rant: Tetris, mobile versions and the dreaded square block

Tetris is one of my favourite games ever. It’s a practically perfect game. You can play it for hours or just for ten minutes. It’s brilliant in its simplicity and simply brilliant. Everyone knows Tetris. Only mention the name, and the soundtrack will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Now you’d think a game like this would be great for mobile platforms. There’s a plethora of Tetris clones on the Google Play Store, but looking through all of them, I can’t seem to find a good one. I must’ve downloaded fifteen different versions. Either they take up 50 to 100MB (Seriously? For Tetris?) or they play horribly. Most of them use a poor algorithm that doesn’t randomise the blocks well enough and/or often give the same blocks three or four times in a row. That, or they speed up way to quickly.

Tetromino - screenshotThey often don’t show what block is next, have horrendous controls or just “feel” wrong. The “best” version I found so far is called Tetromino, but it’s a looooong way from perfect. Putting that aside and talking about the game itself right now, I abhor the square block. Some people hate the Z and S-shaped blocks, but I don’t. You can rarely actually use the square block and when you do, most of the other blocks can deliver the same effect. Often, when given the square block, you have no choice but to create holes. And I HATE holes.

First Impression: Bravely Default (3DS) ~ Featuring GamersHive

bravely-default-europe-box-artGamersHive Facebook

Official Site

Thanks for tuning in you guys. Today, I’m going to try something different. In the last few years, I met a guy on a garage sale with the same first name then mine. A few months ago, I found met him again through Dutch website, similar to eBay. After a few mails back and forth, I joined his Facebook group. Now, if you are a reader from Belgium and you’re interested in games… Don’t wait! Go take a look on that page. This is a group to my heart. They are collectors like myself. I might ask them to get the forums to work together. As a sort of apology to you guys and to them (because I haven’t mentioned them while I promised it) I asked their opinion on this game. Keep in mind, this isn’t a review since I haven’t finished the game myself. Yet, there are guys on GamersHive that finished it. So, I’ll be using their words to talk more about this game. The only “altering” I did to the quotes is translating them. So yeah, before we start, feel free to leave a comment on the article and or the game. 

Unexpected. 

a544b637e7bdbabf2abb0e823e5a80d3Honestly, I wasn’t planning to play this game. I got this game thanks to my forum. When a few members where hyped about this game, I kept the title in mind. A week later, I was looking on the shelves of a local game store for any potential great sales in the 2nd hand section. When I saw this game on the shelves, I decided to pick it up. To check if the hype was really worth it. I rode my bike home and popped the game in my 3DS.

Bravely Default is what the new Final Fantasy should have been.

– Ringo G. (GamersHive)

Now, my friend. That’s quite a big statement. I’m ashamed to admit this, but I haven’t played too many Final Fantasy games. Actually I have never beaten one. Yet, I do love the formula of the game. While I heard mixed reviews on the latest releases, I do think that there is some truth in the statement.

First of all, let’s talk about the story. I’ll be using now a lot of a mini-review Sam Stevens placed as a comment to my post in the group.

The story is really beautifully created. It gives you the feeling to continue playing to see the ending.

– Sam Stevens (GamersHive)

 I’m sorry Sam, but I have to disagree. The opening was truly unexpected. The introduction is done by using the AR features of the 3DS. It gives you a personal feel through the story. I haven’t beaten the game yet, so I don’t know how it ends but from what I have played… I don’t think the story is that good. You won’t hear me saying that the story is bad. That is totally not the case. Let me explain myself.

The main story is generic. It’s a basic story of “save the world with crystals”. But here the saying of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is very, very true. The execution of the story is what makes the story good. The dialogue, interaction with the characters and their backstories are all very well written. Sadly enough, some characters suffer from “tropes”. What I mean here is that they are your standard characters. To say it very crude, the characters don’t have a soul. I don’t see any change in their personalities. They stay way to close to what their what their trope is supposed to be.

Here the story looses a lot of it’s charm. Sadly enough, to experienced story tellers, the story becomes predictable. In summary, the story is good but not great. It has it’s moments here and there but there are so many missed opportunities.

Generic RPG or more?

brave6Let’s move on to the gameplay. And to save me some trouble, I will quote some very true things from Sam Stevens.

Norende Village and the StreetPass support really aid you in your quest.

– Sam Stevens (GamersHive)

Now this is very true. On the surface, the game looks to have a basic RPG-style gameplay. With turn based moves and random encounters. That’s only the surface. The game is deeper then that. Sam gave two examples how the gameplay is more then your standard RPG game. What they exactly are, well… that I leave as a surprise to you guys.

The feature of being able to set the amount of random encounters is just amazing.

– Sam Stevens (GamersHive)

Oh yes! Sam, you are totally right. This is one of the big selling points in my opinion. It’s really hidden but it’s so handy. This way you can explore early dungeons again without having to be interrupted by weak enemies. It’s just great. Also, the game warns you if you disable the random encounters! The game might become too difficult if you try to play this without them. Yeah, great move.

Now, the title of the game is pretty much the gameplay of this game. You can either “Brave” or “Default”. The “Default” is your basic “Blocking” / “Defending”  but with a twist. You earn a point when you “Default”. These points can be used to “Brave”. This way you can release multiple attacks at once. This adds a whole layer of strategy. Since if you “Brave” without saving points first, you will end up loosing turns with that character.

Negatives

gfs_373321_2_3Now, usually I would be about to wrap up my article. But since I mentioned some guys, I think I will continue this article for just a little bit. In this part, I will talk a bit about the negatives of the game. What didn’t I enjoy? I realize that I leave out a whole bunch of things that I haven’t talked about, but I save these for my review when I beat the game.

So, the first flaw I want to talk about is something that is a big shame. Minor spoiler here but at one point, you get an airship. It’s actually really early on. Now, you can go to every place on the map. And that’s amazing. The open world feeling is such a fun thing to play around in. Until you get a slap to the face.

When you try to enter a dungeon before you’re actually supposed to, the characters say that they shouldn’t go inside, since they haven’t business there yet. What? Like ProJared said in his “1 minute review”:

Let me experience my own mistakes.

– ProJared

This is very true.

Another mistake is how the game has micro-transactions. I don’t think I have to explain myself here. It’s just silly. I might talk more in-depth about it in the review. Although, I have already talked about it in my last rant. So yeah.

Another thing I dislike about this game is how grinding is such a thing. I actually stopped playing this game because of a part in the game where it’s a boss rush. And you will need to grind, a lot, in order to beat them. Either that, or I fail at understanding this game. It might be a combination of both. But I don’t the grinding in this game fun. Sorry.

Anyways, thanks for reading. I’ll talk more about the graphics, difficulty, music, controls and design in my review. I hope you enjoyed this article. Thanks to GamersHive for the amazing quotes. It was really fun to try out something different. Now, I have a game to beat to fully review it. Hopefully until then!

NekoJonez: Are digital downloads really a benefit for the market?

steamos_2_web-100055303-large_thumbAre platforms like Steam and Origin really a benefit for the games market? Must everything now go digital or is that something that might doom the market? Let’s think about it. I think that this movement is a double-edged sword. It’s good but there is a big “But”. Cap was intended. I can’t deny that platforms like Steam and other have many advantages. But clearly, I have also a blaming finger to raise. I talked and discussed with many of my friends about this. From people in ButtonSmashers, Arpegi and outside of both of them. And after many rewrites, I think it’s time to voice my view on this. Feel free to debate with me on this in the comments. Flame comments will be removed of course. 

My biggest problem

Many people see this as the way of the future. Everything needs to go digital. It makes things so much easier. Yet, there is a big issue that comes with this. Security. Think about this, that your account is hacked and you lost all your progress and games. Or worse, they got your bank information. I have no doubt in my mind that this is something hackers in the future will be able to achieve.

Another issue is the fact that privacy is gone. Some people want to hide that they game since for some companies that are a big no if you want to be hired. Gamers have a big reputation thanks to some events that the media blew out of proportion. So, you have to hide. In addition to that, you can’t really hide your “guilty pleasure” games anymore. You know, those games that make your reputation of “hardcore gamer” go poof as snow for the sun.

And don’t get me started about abusing the system. There are some many ways to cheat the system and make fake money that can be used to buy games then. I wouldn’t be surprised if a good percentage of the sales on those digital platforms are actually illegal purchases gone undetected.

Android market feel

 

Best-Free-Android-Games-Of-2013I’m not going to lie, I bought a ton of games on Steam the past month. But I really man, a lot of them. And my fear got actually confirmed. I felt like being in some online app store. Where you can easily download games and install them. And I kept playing a part of the game and when I got a bit bored of the game, I downloaded the next one.

Isn’t that a bit harsh? There can be boring moments in a game but when you wouldn’t have this Steam or Origin, it was your newest game and then your motivation was higher. At least in my case.

Also, as a retro gamer, I saw that nearly all the games I played in the past are on Steam as well. I’m afraid I won’t survive any sale if one happens of a game on my wishlist.

My point here is that it became too easy to find new games and you start to think less about your budget. It’s not new that I hear people say that they got a ton of games from a sale but if you really look to it, how many games are actually played and or finished from the ones they bought? Probably not all of them.

Big dogs smelled money.

Before I explain my next point, I want to talk about another thing. I’m a big-time collector. If I’m at a garage sale, my mood is like: “Buy all the games!”. If I had the money for it, I would. Yet, going to a garage sale and trying to hassle or look for a game. That feeling of going home with a new stack of games felt so rewarding. And that’s a feeling I have lost with Steam and Origin. You just push in some numbers and do one or two clicks. You can’t hassle or try to lower the price. And looking for a game is just a search away.

But this is actually a nightmare for collectors. Physical copies are a thing of the past. I love being able to hold a game in my hands and showing it off to my friends and being like: “Hey, look I got this new game.” That might be a bit bragging but hey, who doesn’t do that from time to time?

But what in the name of the good games are big companies like Atari and Square doing on Steam? Selling their big titles like Call of Duty, Final Fantasy and various other franchises. Honestly, I don’t think it’s good for that. If I would be Steam, I would have only allowed indie or start-up developers to make their big entree in the market.

Scary

I’m also afraid that the ease of DLC for developers on Steam might slowly be the new norm. The satire game DLC Quest might become the future reality one day. In this game, you can’t even go left at the start of the game. You have to buy the DLC for it when you have enough in-game coins. And I have this one game called Tomb Raider that has a big load of DLC and yeah, I bought it all. Just because I hate when I don’t have the complete package.

One of the final issues I can come up with is maybe one of the scariest things. The fact you and those developers become independent (Edit: Thanks for noticing my mistake here BloodCat.) from one company. Image how big of a catastrophe it would be if Steam went bankrupt. Or when they couldn’t handle the server load and much data is lost. Scary thought no? Or that they become so big that local game stores go out of business. Many jobs lost.

In conclusion

I can’t deny that platforms like Steam or Origin are great things. Many indie developers can show off their games. You can also buy games that your local game store might not offer. And if those stores are too far away, you can easily buy them on those platforms.

But if you look at it, there are big flaws in this system you can’t deny. I won’t go explaining them again since I talked about it in this article. I’m sure that I forgot some things in my article but I’m sure that I got the most crucial written down.

Maybe a good message is that you shouldn’t forget that there are retailers and various other things to get your games outside of Steam and Origin. It’s such a nice thing in our gaming culture so let’s not go to a culture where we sit in front of a computer and don’t much a muscle to get our games since you can easily get them on Steam.

Review #001: Tomb Raider – Survivor (PC) ~ Dark game about the sun.

Tomb Raider Survivor Box-Art.

Tomb Raider Survivor Box-Art.

Link to the official site. (For more details of this game).

“A famous explorer once said.” is the very first line that you hear in this game. The opening of this game is beautiful enough to keep your attention but is it good enough? This series got a reboot after the negative reception of Underworld, which is still in my eyes a darn good game. In this reboot you play as, who else, Lara Croft. Yeah, only younger this time around. I realize that I’m late with this review, and that many played this game already. But I have only recently gained interested again in reviewing. So, yeah. Messy introduction is messy.

“Not who we are.”

Hardcore Tomb Raider fans will actually feel right at home with this game. There are many tombs to explore and raid, all in a nice package of amazing graphics and the athletic Lara. But there is a difference this time around. You can’t go shooting all you want. Ammo isn’t unlimited.

Many call give this game the subtitle of “Survivor”. Since it’s a survival game. Well, partially. Okay, not at all. There is a mission to collect food, but that only gives XP. You can hunt on animals but all she does is slice them open. And before you tell me that it would be too “cruel” to animate her eating her prey; well, think again. This game is Dark, with a capital d. Some scenery isn’t for young eyes.  So I see a missed opportunity there.

The only survival part about this game is that you need to find ammo since in the battles where you need to survive, you’ll quickly run out. You don’t have a health bar. Nope, this is replaced with the “Call Of Duty” style of health bars. Where the screen becomes more red when you take hits. What’s nice in this game is that the screen becomes gray when you are one hit away from death.

“Adventure found me.”

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The most early design sketches that where posted featured a lot of content that didn’t made the final cut. So which adventure did Lara find? Like I said, the game looks amazing. The graphics are really neat. For the most part. Some area’s of the game will feel a bit unpolished. It could have been my graphics card but some pits their textures where too big.

And the water isn’t all that great. Since sometimes it stops caring. I had several times that in the game the water texture was glitched up and looked more like boiling mud. Or that a 9 year old discovered a distortion filter in Photoshop.

The game is said to have an open world. What an empty promise that is. The world is “open”. The game is extremely linear. And yes, even backtracking to old locations appears in this game. The level structure might be gone, or that is what you think at least. It’s simply replaced by area’s.

In each area you have several secrets, treasures, food plants… to find. This is lovely since it makes me coming back even after I finished the game. The replay value is high in this game. Sometimes you have even enemies who respawn so that you have something to shoot with your collected ammo.

The gameplay is pretty neat. Again, for the most part. Like many other reviewers will tell you, get a sturdy keyboard to play this game. Since there are a lot of quick time events. They break the pace of the game often and are in some cutscenes rather unwelcome. I even think that in some of the cutscenes the quick time events are responsive. And in some your timing needs to be better as in other cutscenes. Hrm, great to be consistent.

Bomberman Croft

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There is no area without an explosion. Really, the game is on a deserted island and there is sure a lot of bombs, explosive material and other stuff that can go boom around. The developers got a tad bit lazy and made the area’s where some cutscenes of the story is triggered unreachable after you passed it. Either by a ladder that broke down or a building that goes boom.

Even the very first puzzles require you to blow up parts of the cave where Lara is held. But why is she held there? Good question to introduce the part of the review where I talk about the story.

The story is mediocre at best but gets extremely “meh” at the end. The Tomb Raider games never really got me into the story. And this game is no different. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a unique story that I enjoyed but it didn’t left an impression on me. I skip the cutscenes in my 2nd playthrough since I didn’t wanted to be bothered by the story and just play. Some RPG or big story driven games can smell the plot twists from miles away.

But the disappointing story actually gave me hope of something else. Voice acting. I loved the voice acting in this game. It’s top notch. The sound in this game is amazing. I really advice playing this game with a good headset. I played this game with a headset and it makes the game way more intense then with speakers. The music is amazing. I truly enjoyed the music in this game. Although, I felt that the silentness of some area’s was a nice choice too.

Steam

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For a long time, I didn’t have steam. But thanks to this game, I got an account. I am glad that I di since I got easily access to the updates for the game.

In the game you can collect salvage to upgrade your weapons. It’s possible that you can finish the game without upgrading all your weapons.

You can also get new skills with skill points. You get a skill point when you have enough XP after killing enemies, emptying out tombs, being a meanie to a rabbit ….

The animation in this game of the characters is amazing and well done. Even with my weak laptop, I had to put this game on low settings, I really saw that a lot of work went into this game’s animation. Some death scenes may be disturbing, but it adds to the game.

Before we go to the overview, a quick rant. Why do the bodies of the enemies despawn so quickly?

Oh yeah, multiplayer. Didn’t care much for it. I’m not that good in multiplayer. Sorry guys.

Overview

The good:

+ Good length.

+ Replay this game, sign me up.

+ Great voice acting.

+ Strong animation.

+ Amazing music & sound.

+ Good gameplay.

+ Visually an eye-candy.

The bad:

– Mediocre story.

– Some graphic tweaks are needed.

– The enemies may respawn but too few to be of any danger.

– Framerate issues.

Conclusion:

Do you need to buy this game? Why are you asking me this question? Yes! Yes, you should. It’s a great game and I found this game very enjoyable. The flaws of the game might get a bit in the game, and the multiplayer is decent.

But for the great gameplay and the amazing visuals, the game is worth of a playthrough. Even if you have to sit through annoying quick time events.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 80 / 100