Trials Fusion

So, let me start off by saying I wanted my first post to be about XBox One, but every time I sit down to write about it, the whole article just reads “fanboy”.  Needless to say, putting that one on the back burner and bringing up my newest obsession over the past couple of weeks: Trials Fusion.

 

For those who don’t know what “Trials” is, think those great flash motorcycle games where you lean to land perfectly and finish a very linear pathway (My personal favorite being Max Dirt Bike.  Now takes those games, and mix them with amazing 3D visual effects and the we hate players attitude of Dark Souls, and you have yourself Trials.  These games have been around starting with Trials, Trials HD, Trials Evolution, and now Fusion.  One thing that all these games have in common is simple: you will Die (Fault) a lot.

 

To the casual gamer this is a quick pick up and put down game.  It takes a real masacist to continue to slog through the levels, over and over again.  It gets so bad that the only way to lose a level is A. Quiting or II. getting 500 faults.  Yes, you have to die 500 times before the game takes pitty on you and says… “try again buddy”.

 

The difficulty aside, Trials does try to help coach you to the final levels.  I went the first 3 stages (About 24 Levels) first time Gold medals after never playing a Trials game before.  That being said, the curve juts up sharply after those first couple of rounds, and soon you start the long slog, trying to bunny hop over gaps you never thought you could come close to early on.

 

New to this creation of Trials is the Track Challenges.  Each track comes with 3 challenges that boost the replay-ability of the game.  Challenges can be as simple as finding the squirrel in the level (The game has some weird Squirrel fetish I think), or as difficult as the “Unyielding” Challenges, where you cannot use your thumb sticks at all, only the gas and breaks.

 

This is a really short article because all I can really say is you need to try this game.  It is only 19.99 on consoles and that is a steal.  You can play this game for hours and not even realize it.  As an added bonus if you are a creative person, try your hand at the track editor, which gives you so many possibilities and unique track challenges that you will get lost in the game.  Even if you don’t want to play it, just go to youtube and look up some of the amazing things users and Trials fans have been making…  the fact that they have so much freedom, and can make so many unique playing experiences should be enough to win you over and try it.

 

So final verdict… I am not going to give rankings in my reviews, but I will tell you if I feel the game is worth your money.  This one definitely is, so if you have the time, and don’t mind dying 500 times in the expert levels, pick this one up… you wont regret it (Plus you will never be able to get that horribly bad/good theme song out of your head).

 

**Trials Fusion is available on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 4**

A Fantasy Fufilled… Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Let it be noted first and foremost that I am not a fanboy of the Final Fantasy series. In fact FFXIV:ARR is the first iteration of the Final Fantasy series I have had the opportunity to try out. In case you didn’t know tomorrow marks the beginning of the five-day long test for Phase 3 which after ending will mean that the games next testing phase will be an open beta for all to see. So I thought it would be appropriate to let the masses know what this game is all about. I will forewarn you that this may be a wordy preview or review whatever you want to consider it. But at least it is honest.

Before we begin it’s time for a little history lesson for the less informed or interested gamers out there. All the way back on September 30th of 2010 Square Enix released the original version of the game FFXIV, the version commonly referred to as 1.0. To many players dismay the game was extremely underwhelming in every sense of the word and needless to say was not what fans of the Final Fantasy franchise had expected. Its initial reception by gamers and critics alike leaned more towards the negative side and because of this Square Enix did what (as far as my knowledge) no MMO developer has done to date…. They apologized and asked for a do-over.  Personally this act alone earned them my respect  as a company and made me quite hopeful for the games rewritten future. After  Fast forward to today and as I said earlier we are here on the eve of the final test for FFXIV:A Realm Reborns’ third phase of beta and are even closer to its new release date of August 27th 2013.

Now lets begin, shall we? Combat is something that is important to me when it comes to MMO’s because it’s primarily what I enjoy doing to pass the time in-game. As far as FFXIV goes the combat is really your standard set up. You have tab targeting, you have a few of hotbars to outfit whatever your heart desires with, and you have a number of flashy effects when you use different abilities. Rather than focus on what makes the game the same as other MMO’s out there I would like to talk about what makes it different.  As far as solo combat I will admit that if you decided to grind your way up to max level and quest all by your lonesome you will not have the greatest time playing this game. Where this game really starts to shine is the group combat. I can not stress enough how much fun I have had grouping with friends and randoms alike, doing quests together, completing our hunting logs and just exploring the gorgeous landscapes of Eorzea. My personal throwing money at the screen saying I want I want moment had come from my various ventures into the dungeons of Eorzea with groups. And let me tell you there are A TON of dungeons out there and I’ve only gone through the first 20+ levels worth of content. One of the most refreshing things this game has are the simple details and mechanics they have in place throughout their dungeons. The boss fight mechanics are engaging and the little surprises around every corner just had me coming back for more and more time and time again. (I promise I won’t spoil anything)

The combat itself really changes depending on which of the 8 different classes Combat classes (not including the crafting/gathering classes)  you can choose to play. For the duration of the past few tests of phase three I have dedicated my time to trying out one of the tanking classes, the Marauder (MRD) and one of the dps classes, the Pugilist (PGL). As a person who primarily plays tanks in MMOs I found the style of gameplay with the MRD very refreshing. The MRD is a master of tanking and holding the Aggro of multiple enemies versus its tanking counterpart the Gladiator who excels at single target tanking. The cool thing about the MRD is that it’s not your typical sword and board tank which depends on mitigating damage through blocking and so on. Instead the MRD has a variety of skills that enable it to regenerate chunks of health, up its defenses for a duration, or just plain overpowering its opponents.  Aoe’s are the MRDs best friend when it comes to aggro management and makes for some interestingly engaging gameplay. The Pugilist is what I consider a “slow burn” dps class that requires relatively constant movement and repositioning while fighting, as well as solid management of the buffs and debuffs in its arsenal. I absolutely loved the combo mechanics, having to go in and out of different forms in order to perform to the best of my ability and maximize my damage. The combat was just so smooth and fluid that I couldn’t get enough of literally kicking the crap out of everything that dared to challenge me. When it came to soloing I couldn’t necessarily move around as much to hit my enemies weak points. But, during dungeon runs and group play my foes were utterly decimated by my fists.

One of the things that other gamers out there seem to dislike is the lack of abilities for classes. In todays MMO world we are so used to have an ability for just about everything, if you wanna sit criss-cross apple sauce there’s an ability for that, if you want the fire you spout to be blue there’s an ability for that. My point is that there is almost a oversaturation of abilities in MMO’s that you absolutely need to take advantage of every single slot of the ten hotbars at your disposal. FFXIV:ARR takes in my opinion, a simpler approach.  Traditionally in MMO’s when you obtain a higher level of an ability its essential the same ability with a little more boosted stats, like extra damage or maybe an increased slow duration. You get the Point. In FF a new level of an ability means a while different effect entirely. So for example Blizzard 1 hurls some ice at your opponent from afar, where as Blizzard 2 uses you as an epicenter of an ice attack, rooting your foes that have come into melee range around you. Another cool thing about FFXIV:ARR is that everyone is on a level playing field with abilities. There are no specific specs or talent points you need to set up in order to be the most effective at your job. You have your abilities and hopefully you are good with timing those abilities and play your class effectively. There is no compensating but building your character a certain way or speccing into a particular tree. You are only as good as your strive to be. Yes equipment helps with added stats and you can actually bring in the abilities of other classes and put them into your hot bar to be even more bad ass, but on the whole you are on equal footing from the get go with everyone else your level.

Crafting is something that many players out there love and completely enjoy and in all honesty no game out there has held my interest when it came to crafting…Until now. Crafting in FFXIV functions a lot like a mini game. You have a limited number of CP (which I assume stands for Crafting Points) that you can use to move your progress along in order to complete crafting an items, or you can use to increase the quality of your product. And that is what blows my mind about the crafting system. No longer do you just put ingredients into the proper slots to get the same result time and time again. YOU CAN ACTUALLY TAKE PRIDE IN YOUR WORK. You can actually differentiate yourself from other crafters out there by the quality of the product that you produce. And I am sure that one day someone will come up with the end all be all guide to get perfectly crafted items by following certain steps. But until that day comes you can make your mark on Eorzea by making a name for yourself by the product you produce.

One of my favorite things about FFXIV:ARR is that it eliminates the need for making alts. This is something that I have always had an issue with in MMO’s because one day I may start to get a little tired of playing my Tank or my Healer and so I decide to re roll a DPS. In FFXIV:ARR all I have to do in order to play another class is switch my mainhand weapon and BOOM I’ve gone from a sword and board carrying Tank, to an awesome spell slinging DPS Mage. Along with their nice little feature known as “Gear Sets” you can easily equip all of the correct gear of the class your switching to with the click of a button.  All that being said the game does allot  something called G allowances at a rate of 3 per every 12 hours. This is the only reason I can understand why people would make multiple characters if the specifically want to spend their allowances on combat Guildeves versus the crafting or gathering guildeves.

One note that I will add that seems to trouble some of the more frugal gamers out there is the $15 a month price tag for membership. In a world where there are free to play games left and right as well as buy to play games like Guild Wars 2. It seems like a bold move for Squar Enix to charge its patrons a monthly fee. I personally feel that if a game is providing me constant new content, and I am having a really good time overall with a game, it’s worth the $15. And in my honest opinion, I have never understood the “but I can’t afford $15 a month” excuse. If you don’t go out to a nice dinner once a month or if you decide not to go to a movie once a month. You’ve got your $15 dollars for the monthly sub AND you are going to get tenfold the times worth of entertainment you wouldn’t have received had you decided to the latest action flick/chick flick/comedy.

I don’t know what it is about this game but I had an instant connection with my character and the universe of which it inhabits. It could be the phenomenal score that comes along with it, it could be the gorgeous landscapes my character had crossed or it could be little touches here and there like npc’s eyes following you as you walk on by. Regardless of the reasoning behind it Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn has my stamp of approval. Whenever I look at an MMO or any game in general I ask myself before I buy it or subscribe to it: ” Will I have fun with this game, and can I see myself coming back to visit it time and time again?” And the answer for both of these questions is absolutely yes. It has been a VERY long time since I have been this excited for a video game release and I just can’t wait to start playing the game for real and making some fond memories. If you were on the fence before about getting this game, hopefully I tipped you onto my side of the fence. But if not,  feel free to try out the games upcoming open beta within the next few weeks and form your own conclusion.

If there are any of you out there that have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to voice them!

Dead Island Riptide Review

I must admit I am more than a little biased when it comes to anything zombie. I am a gigantic zombie fan. So no surprise that when they announced a follow up to the first Dead Island I was more than excited. So what do I think of Dead Island Riptide. Well here are my thoughts.

Dead Island:Riptide is a continuation of Dead Island,not so much a sequel but more so an expansion to the first game. Graphically speaking and technically speaking its been improved. Except for a few very noticeable areas where frame-rate drops to almost nothing,there are also areas where the zombies spawn non-stop which makes completing objectives in the area a pain,but all that should be fixed with any post-release patch. Also some nice new added features include more weapon mods, a nifty icon when in shops that shows what you currently have equipped( no more accidental weapon sales), Enemy AI has been overhauled.

There is much more to encounter on the new Island of Palanai, story however not being one of them. Story took a backseat yet again to deliver more playable content which doesn’t bother me much with all there is to do. Dead Zones are one of the more interesting features added to the game. Dead Zones consist of tougher enemies and a champion undead which equals good loot. Another added feature is the Siege in which you barricade and set up defenses against the oncoming horde.

Now all of this is able to be done solo. However Dead Island always shines in the Co-op. I got a chance to play cooperatively with a friend. You need clear cut communication in this game we were accidentally killing each other left and right with all the different types of grenades and explosives at our disposal.  Laughs were had , tears were shed , words were cursed. The joys of online play.

Final thoughts

It does have its issues that i hope will be addressed.Lack of story. Frame-rate needs to be improved, zombie spawns need to be fixed and the few inventory exploits you can do need to be taken care of. This game ramped everything up from the previous installment. More Blueprints, More Zombies,More Loot, More Fun. All in all good co-op fun and worth the 40-50 dollar investment based on what version you buy.

8.0/10

This review was written based on pre-release 360 Version.

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