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Apex Legends Review – Flavor of The Month

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Oh, don’t give me that look, you know I’m right.

 

It’s been a year since Fortnite blew up, two years since PUBG did the same, and three years since I last felt happiness, and in that time, we’ve seen pale imitators merely grasp the prize of being “The Game A Majority Pays Attention To For A Week Or So”. Last TideRings of ElysiumTotally Accurate Battlegrounds, so on and so forth, and now it’s Apex Legends’ turn to grab the cup for a little while.

 

This is what Respawn have been working on since both Titanfall titles crashed and burned, which seemed impossible since the entire journalism circuit was ready to give it a thumbs up and a happy ending. Nevertheless, both games tanked, and with more Titanfall implied to be on the way, Respawn has a busy year ahead of them with both this and Jedi: Fallen Order confirmed to release.

 

A screenshot of Apex Legends, showcasing the respawn beacon, which you can use to resurrect dead teammates.

 

Right, the gist is that instead of 100, or 88, or 69, or 420 people dropping into a small island, instead it’s 60, with it being sectioned into 20 squads of 3. The island is a claustrophobic mish-mash of jungles, swamps and deserts, and you all fight to the death with Titanfall weaponry, but with the face value gameplay of Titanfall, sans the wall-running, actual titans, and an interesting aesthetic.

 

Instead of having you control some faceless berk, it instead takes a page from Overwatch‘s book, and lets you choose from 8 characters, with 2 of them being locked away by optional micro-transaction nonsense. All of them exhibit different skills and talents you can use to gain the advantage in battle, including ultimate abilities that range from passive to kinda-passive-but-they-can-kill-if-you’re-really-lucky.

 

Balancing-wise, I’d say the heroes of Apex Legends play well off of each others abilities, and the only one who could even be remotely considered OP is Gibraltar. Aside from having two different shield abilities– one that’s temporary but invincible, and a breakable one that you gain from simply aiming down sights– His ultimate is a straight-up mortar strike bombardment on one small part of the map, which can practically win matches in the final circles. No other soldier has this kind of benefit with their ultimate, with the character Caustic possibly having an equal advantage with his wide-reaching Gas Grenade. It’s tough to gauge.

 

A screenshot of Apex Legends map, which shows off its jungle and desert biomes.

 

Combat is Titanfall without wings. You can’t wall-run, you can’t double-jump, you can’t manipulate the towering environments to your advantage– Y’know, all the things that gave Titanfall that life and brevity the FPS industry so desperately needed? The best you can do is slide down hills at extravagant speeds, which is only advantageous in rare occasions. Zip-lining also plays a heavy part, although it suffers from the same problems mentioned above.

 

All of the weapons are fan-favorites from Titanfall, but if there’s anything that needs a fat nerf or removal, it’s the Peacekeeper. There is genuinely nothing else in the game that compares to the sheer amount of tactical opportunities this shotgun can grant you. It’s the highest damaging weapon in the game, the range is better than most SMGs, and the “Hop-Up” you can apply …

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ERROR 206 – CONTINUE Review

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You’ll often hear critics talk about mediocre games and use the word “potential” as if the game just didn’t quite have all the pieces of something great. “There’s something, but it needed a little more to hit the transformation.” For a while, I considered this as a great descriptor of Pixel Pinecone’s CONTINUE, but I came to find out that the game actually suffers from the exact opposite problem.

 

In more ways than one (or even two or three for that matter), a rich experience thrives from within the game’s core and makes for a challenging and enjoyable adventure, but, in the same way that you need more than just a couple of three-point shots to win in basketball, a video game can’t look and feel sharp in just a few areas to justify inattention in others. However, briefly sticking with the sports metaphor, we know that sometimes a losing team has all the right players but not the proper management of them. If the team isn’t conducted in a fitting manner to best utilize its recourses, then the quality of its players has little bearing on the team’s success. Similarly, CONTINUE has tons of great components that are mismanaged, making for an unbalanced playthrough.

 

In this game, every Batman has its Joker, and we can find this most clearly in the design of the enemies. One of the game’s strongest points is the large variety of enemies that all behave differently and come with their own challenges. At the same time, arguably the game’s steepest drop comes when you realize that the enemies come in large groups that require an unjustifiable amount of luck. Most fights with waves of enemies come down to whether or not you happen to be standing in a specific spot where enemies aren’t attacking. After a couple hours of playing, you find that you’re really not getting any better at the game. Often, the only determining factors to your survival are the algorithms used to develop the AI. Again, this is a shame considering how unique each enemy is. The developer got so caught up in making the game challenging that it’s difficult to appreciate the work that they put into it.

 

Dying in CONTINUE

 

CONTINUE suffers from this problem across the board. As another example, you receive a diverse skillset throughout the game that you can experiment with over and over again until you find the right ways to defeat certain enemies. However, very few of your abilities help you in ranged combat. In other words, the game requires you to almost exclusively engage in close-range combat. I would see very little wrong with this if the game didn’t punish you for doing just that. If you stay in one spot too long, you’ll get shot by one of the ranged enemies. If you try to charge an attack, then you’ll get speared or slashed by one of the medium-range melee enemies. The game tries to counteract this with a crucial ability that allows you to dash around the map. The idea is that you’re able to dash away from enemies to avoid attacks and then quickly dash back in to land a couple of hits on them. At the end …

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Tangledeep Switch Review: Platonic Ideal

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Tangledeep sure is a roguelike. It does roguelike things and does them pretty well. It looks nice (for the most part), sounds nice, and makes sure every replay is a completely new experience while also making sure the early sections you’ve played repeatedly aren’t an annoying grind. If you like roguelikes, you’ll probably like Tangledeep, and if you don’t, you probably won’t, and I’m giving this game a solid 7.5/10.

This review of Tangledeep was based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game, and a review code was provided.

all screenshots courtesy of gamespress

 

In all seriousness, I found Tangledeep to do everything right in somehow the most ambivalent way possible. I should love this game, I like roguelikes, I like fantasy, I like the soundtrack, I like class-based RPGs, I like having progression between runs, but Tangledeep feels like it’s missing something, and the worst part is I don’t have any idea what. Let’s look further, maybe we’ll figure it out.

At the start of the game, you can pick from a number of classes, each with different abilities and playstyles, and you can unlock more as you progress through the game. You can also pick from different game modes: adventure, heroic, and hardcore. Heroic mode is the standard game mode: if you unlock a class during the game, you can play as them after your next death, and that character will be allowed access to any money or items stored in the bank. In adventure mode, permadeath mechanics are turned off and you maintain all your items and level, losing your experience towards the next level, your JP to buy new abilities, and half your money. In hardcore mode, death is the absolute end, and you have to start over entirely, with no progress carrying over. On top of all that, you can pick additional gameplay modifiers to make the game easier or harder, customizing the experience to be just how you like it. This is all great, making Tangledeep both a nice intro to roguelike newcomers and a challenge for veterans.

Outside of the main dungeon, there’s a campsite-esque area for you to stock up before going in. Here you can buy and make food, get items, heal up, change your class, and learn new techniques. You can return here from most points in the dungeon and then return to the floor you left off on, so you’re always able to heal up, refresh your inventory, or put your money away so you don’t lose it when you die. Going south leads you to another area, which has some other important amenities. One is a tree farm, where you can plant seeds you find within Tangledeep. These will drop food and cooking items as you adventure, and you can chop them down for exp and jp. This is a great way to get yourself caught up to where you left off after death, and it’s a good idea to plant a few in the early game and let them grow a lot before the late game. Another is a monster pen. You can tame monsters you find in the dungeons, and keep them in the pen until you want to take one of …

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Monster Energy Supercross 2 Review – Punk Weight

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Motorcross is an alien sport to a Brit like me.

 

Aside from the fact that dirt-bikes are received in England about as well as a referendum about leaving the EU, the sports relating to dirt-bikes are met with some confusion as something like NASCAR. I mean, yeah, we get that they’re popular… but why? Then again, we can’t talk ill about it when we have “sports” like Darts and Snooker, but nevertheless, maybe Monster Energy Supercross 2 can answer my questions.

 

This is the latest title from Italian developers Milestone S.r.l, a studio known for creating pretty much every single dirt-bike racing game, along with every other title relating to bikes and rally cars. They have a few WRC games under their belt, but their most popular games are anything to do with motorbikes or their dirt counterparts. The Ride series, the MXGP series, and a few manufacturer/figure games like Valentino Rossi: The Game, and Sébastien Loeb Rally Evo. All of these are met with the mild positive acclaim you’d expect, but is Monster Energy Supercross 2 any different?

 

A screenshot of Monster Energy Supercross 2's track editor, showcasing several tight turns and hairpins.

 

The plot? You’re Bucky McGee, the fastest man in Texas, and your dad, Chuck Norris, gives you a Honda CRF250 for your 3rd birthday. Given that you come from a pure-blooded American family, you ride the bike flawlessly despite your infantile presence, but tragedy soon strikes as Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister, kills Norris. Not to be deterred, you find out that Brown is currently hosting the Monster Energy Supercross Championship, and you must rise up the ranks to face your foe.

 

Okay, obviously I’m joking about the plot, but truth be told I only have a thread-bare understanding about the world of Motocross, but I do have sources. I sat down with a friend of mine who eats, breathes and sleeps with the sport of Motocross. After her input and discussion about it, I have come to the conclusion that Monster Energy Supercross 2 isn’t just a good Motocross game, but might be the game to get you into the sport with ease.

 

Even though I was joking around about the story, there does seem to be more of a story angle than previously let on. The Career Mode will be the game mode most people will begin with, and it starts off with your creating your character and working your way up the measly three leagues of Motocross: 250cc bikes with tracks in the East of America, 250cc bikes with tracks in the West of America, and finally, 450cc bikes with tracks all across America.

 

The helmet cam of Monster Energy Supercross 2 shown here, with the driver ready to fly over the ramp.

 

Before you can ride anything properly, you’re given the chance to create your own character, and if anywhere fails it’s here, as the selection of pasty white boys you’re given are pitiful. It’s bad enough you can’t even switch genders if you wanted to, but the small handful of face and hair options on display are either clean or slightly rugged. Then again, I suppose it shouldn’t matter since that beautiful head is always going to be crammed underneath a helmet, so moving on.

 

First, you plan out your week. The life of a Motocross rider is a busy one, with …

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AWAY: Journey to The Unexpected Review – 2-D In 3-D, But 1-D

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This is where I start drinking heavily.

 

At the beginning of January, we posted our Indie Game Lookout, showcasing the finest indie games that were surely going to set the world afire with their creativity, styles, and flair. Of all the games featured on the list, today’s title– AWAY: Journey to The Unexpected, was going to be the first released out of the 20. Let’s find out whether I have a good judgment call or not.

 

This is the latest title from Aurelien Regard, a Frenchman responsible for having his hand in a handful of projects. There’s the fun Arkanoid tribute of Nervous Brickdown, and the visual onslaught that was Hell Yeah! Wrath of The Dead Rabbit— Both of which he made with the dev team he co-founded, Arkedo Studio. After Arkedo closed down in 2013, he went in own way and released The Last Penelope in 2015, a sizzling and inventive tribute to F-Zero, and now we have another sizzling and inventive title in the form of an FPS.

 

One of the various NPCs of AWAY talking to the main character, ensuring him that everything will be fine.

 

You play as a small child, sheltered from the world and its dangers, with even his parents not disclosing their occupation to him. Living with his grandparents while his parents are out on another job, he is awoken by the sound of earthquake-like shaking all around his house, and discovers the evil corporation Labiworks are causing caustic liquids to erupt from the grounds and infect the local wildlife and ruin local buildings. Effectively useless against the dangers present, it’s all okay because he has the power of friendship on his side. Yes, I’m serious.

 

Look, truth be told, you take one look at AWAY, and you think “oh yeah, that’s a winner”. The lovely anime-inspired artwork, the concept of using a varied and robust team to fight alongside you and help face the enemies looking to defeat you– It looked great, alright? Well, after playing it and finishing it in less than four hours, I only have one question.

 

What the hell happened?

 

The main character of AWAY is greeted by his paranoid grandparents, wondering why there's noises coming from the basement.

 

Everything about AWAY, every promising feature, the cutesy nature, the vibe bought forth by the cheesy J-rock and anime intro reminiscent of a Toonami original; It all falls apart mere moments after you begin your adventures into the lands available to you. It’s only February and already, a contender for The Most Disappointing Game of The Year is visible, but regardless, let’s dig deeper.

 

AWAY’s formula is a grotesque mutation of different genres, but none of them are fused into each other beyond face value. The first thing you’ll come across is the FPS flavor, but for brevity’s sake, we’ll talk about the negotiation aspect first. The gist is that because the character you control is unbelievably useless– Actually, truth be told, he isn’t.

 

The reason why he isn’t is that the enemy variety is pitifully small.  While your character can only do set damage of 1HP on every monster, which can lead him to be easily overwhelmed in some instances, but if our best friend Kiting has our back, then you won’t have a problem with all 9 enemies… Well, until the perspective comes into play.

 

A massive spider intends to eat the main character of AWAY.

 

Thus …

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Metro Exodus Review

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We live in a world obsessed with post-apocalyptic stories, to the point where the genre is a bit crowded (especially in games and film). That doesn’t mean there aren’t any stories left to tell but that they have to work harder to stand apart. How does 4A Games deal with their trek into the genre?

Metro Exodus is the third game in the Metro series, with Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light originally releasing on PlayStation 3, and then as a collection on PlayStation 4. You are Artyom, a soldier who, for some unexplained reason, doesn’t talk. You are supported by your wife, Anna, and a crew of special forces soldiers who admire you. Metro Exodus is definitely heavy on the story it’s telling but is it worth spending your time on? Let’s get into what makes the game tick.

 

Endgame

 

Metro Exodus Review

Metro Exodus is set in Russia, with events beginning near Moscow. A civilization of survivors have created a home underground, in the metro. It’s believed that there are no other survivors outside of the underground metro. This game follows the events of Metro: Last Light. Even if you haven’t played the first two entries in the series, Metro Exodus does a good job of catching you up with significant events.

You play as Artyom, a seemingly mute scout searching for life on the surface. Based on other characters’ observations, Artyom keeps risking his life due to his dream of finding a habitable place to live on the surface.

The biggest flaw in the story is the fact that Arytom isn’t voiced. He’s portrayed as a passionate, strong character, but that doesn’t come across when other characters constantly speak for him. “Artyom wants this,” and “Artyom wants that” has much less impact than if he spoke for himself. It’s weird because, during longer loading screens, Arytom is given voiced recaps of his thoughts on events that just took place. It’s really awkward to see him motioning (throughout the game) with his hands in reply to the other characters but not saying anything.

The reason this doesn’t work is that Artyom IS actually talking but his lines don’t show up in text or voice. Supporting characters put words in Artyom’s mouth, and a strong character is made to look like a puppet, more than anything else.

Metro Exodus Review

Main character’s unexplained muteness aside, Metro Exodus does have an interesting enough story. You’ll find a train, which serves as your main transportation and also a base of operations. The train serves as the connector between areas on the surface world. When you’re not on missions, you’ll be traveling to the next destination by train.

The relationships between the characters and seeing them interact with each other during downtime are my favorite parts of the story. Later in the game, there’s a particular moment that really touched my ice-cold heart. I won’t go into it for spoiler reasons, but I wish the game had more moments like that one.

Unfortunately, Metro Exodus has only a few highlights during the story. Many of the supporting cast feel like throwaway characters. Anna and Miller are really the only other strongly written characters. The game tries to get you to feel for some of the

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HackyZack Review — A Footbag Life

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There’s something to be said for the unassuming charm of a slightly obtuse puzzle platformer, where traversal can be slowed to a crawl and each and every move takes consideration. Perhaps we take progression for granted in the typical platformer, where often a test of reflexes prevails over anything else. When the knowledge of how we traverse forward is removed from the fold and the player is instead forced to define it, you get an experience that compels cerebrally rather than through obligatory bells and whistles.

 

HackyZack is a puzzle platformer that could be roughly broken down into two cups of the former and one of the latter. Holding true to the titular pun, your character is a mere peripheral to the feats of flight each level relies on. Whatever projectile rests at your feet at the start of the level must be volleyed to the finish line, obstacles be damned. It sounds simple, and at its core, it is. I was immediately reminded of the supplementary snail shell punting in the Fancy Pants Adventure titles and there’s an inherent limit to the game’s scope that aligns it with the ethos of Flash engine puzzlers. Nonetheless, this is hardly to the game’s detriment as it allows puzzle design alone to be the title’s focus, and leaves minimal room for padding to get in the way.

 

HackyZack’s arrangement is no more impenetrable than a puzzle book, each brain-tweezer stands alone and occupies a single fixed-screen. Nonetheless, it distinguishes itself and poses a persistent challenge to players by orienting gameplay around a constant juggling act. Players must account for both the projectile’s trajectory and their own 24/7. If either darts off-screen the level must be repeated. This is introduced through a few softball levels in the first world but quickly proves uniquely demanding.

Hacky sack becomes one-man soccer with an American Gladiator twist quickly

Controlling the ball’s kickoff trajectory with the same analog stick as your player’s movement can result in some minor frustration, but nuance between player movement and projectile aim can quickly be understood. Additionally, levels only run about thirty-seconds apiece once you’ve figured them out, making the inevitable need to repeat them an easy pill to swallow. The difficulty curve can be a bit all over the place, but each piece of the puzzle is fully-defined in its purpose, never making a sequence misleading or unfair. The game is also a bit generous with level unlocks rarely restricting players to a single puzzle that requires immediate completion.

 

Each of the six worlds introduces a new gameplay mechanic and applies it to stages of varying difficulty that nonetheless gradually complicate matters. My favorite was World 3, the “Self-Destruction” level set that positions layers of Arkanoid style bricks ahead of your projectile’s destination. This is a double-edged sword by design, as the same projectile can do you in by knocking platforms out from under you.

 

The panicked multitasking that ensues level-to-level is subject to minimal diminishing returns. Different types of projectiles and even multiple projectiles at once are introduced additionally and pose unique threats to players. I never quite hit a wall in my playthrough, but levels are always clever and will gladly outpace player reflexes. …

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