Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

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(Photo courtesy: http://www.slimgamer.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/metal-gear-rising-revengeance_s02.jpg)

 

 

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review

“This is the craziest f***ing game I have ever played”

Ayodeji ‘Vatsu’ Asagba

 

This is the craziest f***ing game I have ever played. I can never say that enough about this game. I have played Bayonetta, Vanquish, Mad World, Gears of War, Killer 7, No More Heroes and any other crazily brutal game you can think of, yet they all don’t hold a candle to this.  No matter how many times I play it, no matter how certain I am that nothing can top the level I just beat, the game surprises me with some new founded madness. MGRR is like the videogame manifestation of giving a child a shot of raw sugar and leaving him inside a bouncy house mounted on a trampoline with nothing to drink but Mountain Dew. It’s intense, wild, insane, nonsensical and reckless. However, when I was done playing it, I couldn’t help but want more.

 

MGR starts off a little bit after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4. Not to spoil MGS4, but as you can tell from the literal box of the game, Raiden has undergone some body augmentation and has become a cyborg: half man, half robot. As the world is settling into peace after MGS4, Raiden becomes a PMC (private military contractor) and enlists himself as a peacekeeper, going around and playing bodyguard to important people. As typical video game drama unfolds, something happens to the envoy holding the president of an African nation you were sent to protect, and you are sent off to rescue him. Yeah, the story is dry and nothing really to write home about, but that’s the kicker. You won’t care about it. In fact, you may find yourself skipping the cut scenes just to get back to the slashing.   

 

Unlike Snake, you are part ninja cyborg death machine, and have many tools available to you in order to complete your missions, but with a catch. You run on ‘electrolyte batteries’ that power your robotic abilities. Luckily for you, the many rogue cyborgs, enemies, robots and what not run on these very same electrolytes. In order to ‘appropriate’ these from your enemies, you must remove them (violently) from their bodies and absorb them into your own. This is done with the game’s ‘cutting’ mechanic (Zandatsu) wherein you can slow down time and precisely cut any person or object in your path. This one mechanic leads to hours of fun, as I guarantee you will never get tired of cutting your environment into literal origami figures. Likewis,e you can purchase new programs that enchance your abilities, or gain new ones by collecting the severed left hands of the enemies you meet. Cyborgs contain valuable data on their left hands that you can tr– you know what, just trust me on this. Left hands.

 

As stated above, you have many tools to do the job. You can go about running and slashing your way to the end, or use different approaches. You can walk around corners and scope out enemy positions with your cyber eye and take them out silently. Likewise, you can go find a vantage point off in the distance and rocket launcher them to death. The game does a good job of giving you choices in how to advance: whether to run up rooftops and skip the enemies, or take them out and collect the hands for some points. Or you can just run and slash everything in your path. (Hint: Pick the latter, for optimum laughs).

 

 

Bottom Line: I wanted to hate this game so much. I thought its premise was stupid, and I liked the stealthy Metal Gear games better. Within the first 5 min of playing I cut someone into a whole 194 pieces (yes, the game counts). Within the first 20 mins, I had also suplexed a giant building-sized robot, ran on a sea of missiles and fought on the top of a moving train. The only fault here is that the game is very short at around 5-6 hours, but there are loads of things to do that warrant replayability, including unlockable missions. If you are a fan of action or sheer ridiculousness ala Quentin Tarantino flicks, buy this. Now. 

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Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Review

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Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Review

“Hold on, laddie. It’s gonna be a wild ride yet!”

Ayodeji  ‘Vatsu’ Asagba

 

Do you remember the times when you were younger and more in touch with your imagination? When Saturday morning cartoons ended and suddenly the world around you transformed before your eyes? Boxes became fortresses, parking lots became baseball stadiums, and so on? Playing Ni no Kuni is like playing through a box filled with these old memories, and by the time you finish it, you will cherish your experience likewise.

Ni no Kuni, a PS3 exclusive, is a two part passion project between acclaimed game maker Factor 5 (makers of the cult PS2 Rogue Galaxy) and renowned movie producer Studio Ghibli (creators of Ponyo, Castle in the Sky and a personal favorite, Spirited Away). Made alongside its DS counterpart, the game was brought to the PS3 last year, upon which it was released internationally late last month.

The story focuses on Oliver, a young child no different from any other kid, and his mother. As they go about their day to day lives, a mysterious person known as the White Witch plots Oliver’s downfall from afar, as he is fated to be the savior of the two worlds, the regular world and the titular Ni no Kuni. One night, the witch executes her plan, and suddenly Oliver’s mother falls fatally ill. Days after her passing, one of his toys springs to life, claiming to be a fairy king named Drippy who was trapped there by the White Witch’s underling, the Dark Djinn. Informing Oliver that his mother may yet still be saved were he to awaken his wizardly powers and travel to Ni no Kuni to defeat the witch, the two set off on a lengthy adventure to save his mother and both worlds.

The world of Ni no Kuni is arguably the best feature of this title. It is rich, vast and booming with action. As you start the game as a fledgling wizard, the main story path has you going from location to location in search of more pages to add to your Wizard’s Companion spellbook, which you will need to defeat the White Witch. However, no matter where you go, there is always much more to do than just the main quest. As stated before, the towns are bustling with activity as people go about their daily lives, some with problems that need resolving. If you tire of that you can easily head to each town’s guild and look up fetch/monster quests, which you can complete for rewards. Once you’ve finished up with that, you can traverse the world in search of ingredients to create new items for use via alchemy. However, I guarantee what you will end up doing more often than not is just running around the over-world. Not because of a lack of things to do, but just because of the sheer beauty of how it all looks. Studio Ghibli hit it out of the park with this one in that every single element in this game looks jaw-dropping-ly phenomenal.  At times it really feels like you are playing a watercolor painting as everything juts out of the screen in crisp, clear fluidity. To top that off many of the cut scenes in the game are fully animated hand drawn animation, as if you are literally watching a movie, and boy does the quality show.

 

However, as with all RPGs, this would matter very little if the fighting mechanic in and of itself was boring. Thankfully this is not the case as it does something new by merging elements from games of old. Throughout the game you find little monsters called familiars that help you to fight rogue monsters in battle. While you can fight in battle yourself, it is seldom recommended as they are much more nimble and doing so leaves you greatly open to attack. Similar to Pokémon, throughout the battle you then issue commands to your familiar of choice (any three can be used per battle) and try to avoid your opponent’s countermoves. As you progress in the story you gain more abilities (like healing and the ability to capture and tame wild familiars) and also allies with their own familiars to help you on your quest.

 

Bottom Line: As you could probably tell with this review, there is so much to say about Ni no Kuni. The story is touching, the combat is engaging, the characters are real, the art is outstanding and the music, performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, is worthy of a listen just by itself. It is one of those rare games that I can sit down and just let the title screen loop as I reflect on how far games have evolved as a medium. The only bad thing I can think of this game is its exclusivity, as this is art you shouldn’t miss out on just because you have an Xbox. This is a game that both the young and old can enjoy for their own reasons, and still be captivated. Buy this, and live your childhood again. 

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Review

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This game is awesome. Believe it!

 

 Ayodeji ‘Vatsu’ Asagba

 

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (PS3/360) is finally here, and with a bang fierce enough to pierce the heavens.  With a slew of added bonuses and new features, this latest entry enters the fray baring all its teeth, hoping to entice new comers and seasoned fans alike with new modes, a bevy of new characters and just about everything but the kitchen sink. Is this the one anime game fighting game to rule them all, or just another cheap substitution? Find out below!

 

The story of NUNS 3 takes place throughout the entire Naruto Shippuden story arc thus far, with a few earlier moments (played through flashbacks and the like) peppered throughout the very lengthy campaign. In it you will play as one of the anime’s many heroes and villains, ranging from box art stars Naruto and Sasuke to lesser heroes like Choji and others. The story is told through interaction more so than narration, as it is played out sandbox style (think GTA) in that each of the major villages of the story are modeled for you to roam around in and enjoy. Want to forgo continuing the story in favor of helping young kids play hide and seek? Go ahead. The game does a good job in rewarding such actions in that no matter what you do, you gain ryo (currency) with which to buy new weapons or unlock new characters.

 

As for the graphics, you are in for a treat. Much like Journey, Legend of Zelda: Windwaker, and the DBZ Budokai series, this game is a cel-shaded romp, but the team at Namco-Bandai did an amazing job with the art. It looks as if the pages of the manga have been colored in and animated before your very eyes, like a fairy-tale of visual amusement. You’ve probably heard that line several times before for many other products (“this game x looks just like that show”) but trust me, this is like playing with a moving water-color painting: gorgeous, fluid, and above all fun.

 

And by fun, do I mean FUN. The combat utilizes by far the most enjoyable fighting mechanic I have experienced this console generation, because the combat is simple. There are only two attack buttons, one to throw kunai and the other to do melee attacks. However, similar to the Smash series, each of those two buttons can change what happens depending on the direction you press, how long you hold the button, if you charged the motion with chakra, and so on. With so few buttons, you can still recreate almost any fight from the show, in detail, because of the game’s best feature: its fluidity. There are so many things you can do in a match – teleports, transforms, grabs, combos, team attacks, ranged fights – that it gets daunting, yet you have the opportunity to change your tactics on a whim. As long as you can move your fingers to do it, it will happen on screen. I cannot stress enough how amazing it is to be able to do literally any combination of move in your head and watch it play it on screen, seamlessly. And with an roster of over 80 characters to choose from, plus DLC on the way, you will have your hands full.

 

Sadly, right before reaching that grand-line of awesome, a few slight kinks hold this game back from being as great as it strives to be. As stated before, there are many characters to choose from, but when you turn the game on there are only about a dozen or so for use. Unless you have a group of friends with whom to sit down for hours and fight the computer to unlock the others, it will take you quite some time to unlock them through story or side missions. Most importantly, if you have friends far away, playing online with them will be an issue as the online servers are somewhat iffy and lead to far too many bouts of frustration when lag takes over the match.

 

Bottom Line:  If you are a fan of fighting games, anime or just like awesome things, you’d be a psycho to pass this up. Amazing boss battles right from the show, endlessly open combat, awesome set pieces and art you’d have to be berserk to hate. Buy this, enjoy and give this bleach-blond ninja a try.