Tuesday, December 9, 2014

4th Quarter burnout, Warframe can suck it, and Fantasy Life is fantasy fun  


Welcome back! It’s been a while!

First up, a mention of my wife’s game-oriented craft site, where she has pics of the shirts and coffee sleeves she’s made for folks, BUT she also takes custom orders. If there’s a character or logo or anything like that you’d like to have on a shirt or whatnot, hit her up! Her stuff is all handmade and tip-top quality!

Next, here’s a roundup of some recent reviews @Gamecritics has published…

Dragon Age: Inquisition by @RichardNaik

Road Not Taken by Paul Stuart

Spirits of Spring by @SparkyClarkson

Escape Dead Island by…. Me!

Volgarr the Viking by @GC_Danny

Whew! Now, let’s move on the the usual Coffeecola chatter…

SO, this is been a really crazy 4th quarter, and like most Decembers past, I'm now reaching the burnout point where I just can't put up with the rapid-fire reviewing that the holiday release schedule demands anymore. My brain and my body are telling me "enough" and I want to get back to a more reasonable pace. As such, I took a break from the grind to try to catch up on some stuff that I haven't had time for recently, but… it didn't really go too well.

I've heard many people say that Wolfenstein: The New Order was one of their favorites this year, but I jumped into it and played until the third or fourth level... It seems fine, but I don't really derive a lot of pleasure from straightforward shooting, and I’m at a point in my life where walking around blasting Nazis doesn't do much for me. Nothing wrong with it at all, it just didn't grab me and I can't see myself putting any more time into it.

Later on, I had the wild idea that I would give Warframe another chance. I tried it when the PS4 launched, but it was just too rough at the time -- I figured I’d come back to it once it had been more polished. I heard it got a big update so I restarted a couple of months ago, but got distracted with something else and didn't even finish the tutorial. I came back tonight and wanted to delete my character and start fresh, only to find that… You can't.

I didn't remember what the controls were, I didn't remember anything about my character, I didn’t remember anything about the systems, I couldn’t re-do the tutorial… I find it totally unbelievable that the developers never foresaw a circumstance in which a person would want to delete an old character or start a new one.

I tried to remember where I left off, but too much time had passed and the game is a mess of too many menus, too much information and too much weird terminology all over the place. I found the whole thing incredibly unfriendly, and as much as I like the weird bio-organic visual aesthetic, these developers really don't have any frigging clue how to make it more approachable. I’m not sure they even care. I just deleted the thing and said to hell with it… I'm not going to work hard to get into something if the devs aren’t going to meet me halfway.

While those two things were fails, I’ve been more than a little surprised to find that I've actually been enjoying Fantasy Life on 3DS quite a bit.

Although it popped up on my radar a while ago, I didn't have any plans to play it for two reasons. First, I'm not a big fan of level-5. I think their visuals are phenomenal, but their game designs always feel tired and grind-heavy to me. Apart from Professor Layton, it's been years and years since I've enjoyed any of their work. The other reason is that quite a few reviewers took a dump all over this game, calling it repetitive and shallow. That fit right in with what I expected from Level-5, so I bagged it.

So what made me change my mind and give it a shot? Well, I’m a superfan of the @Gaymebar podcast, and I really respect what those guys have to say. Although I don't always agree with them, everybody on that show is whip-smart and they made an incredibly convincing case for it over the last few episodes. If not for Toups and Jeremiah, there's no way I would have given Fantasy Life a shot, but they really won me over and I'm glad that they did.

So, what about it? Basically, the player starts off with a generic character and the game offers 12 different jobs for them to learn. They break down into a few major groups: combat, crafting, and gathering. Outside of mastering each of these jobs (or really, only as many as you want to) there's also a main storyline and a metric ton of sidequests for people who want more to do.

Basically, pick a job and start mastering it. If you're a combat class, then your sensei will have you going out to kill certain animals in order to increase your skill. If you're crafter, then you need to seek out ingredients in order to practice making the things that you make. If you're a gatherer, then you'll have a list of things to go out in the world and find, and then those resources can be used to make things or can be sold.

One of the strongest aspects of Fantasy Life is that there are just so many different things to do. I started off as a Hunter and began killing things, but once I got tired of that I became a Miner and started gathering things. Once I got tired of that, I became a Chef and started cooking things… It's all very simple and open, and the game is all about letting players jump back and forth between activities anytime they feel like it. You're never locked into doing something that you don't want to do, and there's always something else to try if the thing you're doing isn't fun anymore.

The game also goes above and beyond when it comes to keeping organized lists of all the different quests and pointing a player in the right direction. There are lots of reminders about what can be done and how to do it, and there's never really any question about what you should be doing next… There's always a wealth of things to do, and clear instruction on how.

Ironically, a game like this can easily be seen as busywork, but it really captured my attention because I've had such limited free time and no real ability to sit down and focus on anything for marathon sessions, so the simplicity and approachability of the game has been a perfect fit for me. It also helps that it's cute as hell, and there's something very appealing about being set loose in this small-scale world and learning the lay of the land… At some point you'll need to go into a forest to kill an animal, but later on you'll come back to find minerals, or to chop trees. Giving each area multiple uses lends the world a greater degree of depth -- being able to learn the area and see it from different angles is something that few games can pull off easily.

I have to say, something like Animal Crossing doesn't have a fraction of the depth that Fantasy Life does, not to mention AC feels much more limited and repetitive, so I'm not quite sure why so many people were quick to embrace AC while writing FL off as a grindfest. I mean, it’s certainly not a grand-scale RPG with a sweeping narrative and a vast world to explore… It’s a series of small jobs that people can do in small bites, but it does it well and it's all very nice and neat. Maybe those reviewers were expecting something else, but I think Fantasy Life is really great at what it does, and at this point in my life, I am definitely a customer for what it's selling.


Far off in the mountains, the small village Aslarga becomes a hub for adventurers looking for fame and fortune from the Mystery Dungeons. But dire challenges await even the most stalwart adventurers in Etrian Mystery Dungeon, the upcoming turn-based action RPG roguelike from Atlus U.S.A. Inc., and developed by ATLUS and Spike Chunsoft. Exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS™, Etrian Mystery Dungeon mixes Etrian Odyssey's vast RPG party and skill customization aspects, and Mystery Dungeon's infinitely random dungeon adventures. Etrian Mystery Dungeon will be available in spring 2015 in stores and on the Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS for $39.99. Game details and updates will be posted on the official website: www.atlus.com/etrianmd

There's no hand-holding in Etrian Mystery Dungeon. The action/turn based combat means that battling monsters is not just about using the right skills, but becomes an elegant Pas de Quatre of strategic positioning. Players form their parties with familiar Etrian Odyssey classes, such as Landsknecht and Runemaster, customize individuals using Etrian-style skill trees, and then take up to four members into the dungeons. Always randomized with various levels and paths, the dungeons require plenty of exploration, not to mention the incredible loot rewards -- just be wary of what waits among the deepest depths... 

Main features in Etrian Mystery Dungeon include:
·  Infinite Dungeons to Explore - Etrian Mystery Dungeon incorporates the random map feature, which changes the floor terrain each time a player enters the dungeon. This core mechanic, inherited from theMystery Dungeon series, challenges the players with a new maze and stronger monsters every time, offering them unlimited replayability! 
·  Attention to Detail - The Etrian Odyssey tradition of party customization is in full effect for Etrian Mystery Dungeon. After the first journey as a Landsknecht, players can freely choose their party of 4 from up to 10 different class types. While each class has a unique skill set of its own, characters can also unlock new skills through skill trees.
·  Not Your Grandfather's Combat - The unique perspective in Etrian Mystery Dungeon means that special care will have to be given when selecting party members and upgrading their abilities. With dungeons chock full of enemies and all the loot and money collected at stake, being 100 percent certain in your party's abilities is crucial for making it out alive.
Etrian Mystery Dungeon will be available in North America in Spring 2015. The game will be available exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS and is rated E10+ by the ESRB. For more information, visit the official website www.atlus.com/etrianmd


Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. today announced the digital release debut of METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS via the PlayStation®Network for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system on December 16, 2014, for an SRP of $19.99. The release marks the first time the acclaimed tactical espionage game has been made available as a digital download.

METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS is set in a battle-scarred future where huge conglomerates fight for supremacy using armies of handpicked mercenaries. This devastated world is seen through the battle-weary eyes of an older Solid Snake who is tasked with infiltrating a number of key locations across the globe, including the Middle East and South America. Snake’s story delivers a deep and involved campaign, filled with eclectic characters that push the aged hero to his limits.

Originally released in 2008, the groundbreaking METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS was the series’ first exploration of non-linear stages, heralded the addition of a remote-controlled ‘Metal Gear Mk. II’ droid -- the revolutionary OctoCamo suit that allows Snake to blend in with his surroundings -- and introduced an enhanced Close Quarters Combat (CQC) system. All of these elements have been carried forward and are being implemented on a larger scale for the upcoming, highly-anticipated METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN.

METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS for the PlayStation Network will be a 30 GB download.


He’s back! Fan favorite and classic S.T.A.R.S. member Barry Burton will be returning in Resident Evil Revelations 2.  The man himself can be seen in the brand new reveal trailer and new batch of screenshots just released. Headed for the remote prison island in search of his missing daughter, Moira Burton, Barry meets brand new character Natalia Korda, a little girl who has a strange power that allows her to sense enemies and hidden items. Using this skill alongside Barry’s proven combat abilities, players will need to alternate between the two to survive the mysterious island and find Moira.

Each episode in Resident Evil Revelations 2 includes Raid mode content and two full playable scenarios focused on the previously announced Claire and Moira campaign and the newly confirmed Barry and Natalia storyline. Barry and Natalia will need to uncover clues as they fight to survive and their journey will lead them to terrifying encounters with two brand new enemies:  The Rotten and The Revenant. The Rotten have bones that are visible through their bodies and stop at nothing to hunt down the living, and the horrific Revenant are formed from parts of human beings sewn together.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 will release as weekly digital episodes at $5.99/£4.99/€5.99 each on the following dates next year:  

PlayStation Store North America
PlayStation Store EMEA territories
Xbox Live Global
Steam Global
Episode 1
17th February
18th February
18th February
18th February
Episode 2
24th February
25th February
25th February
25th February
Episode 3
3rd March
4th March
4th March
4th March
Episode 4
10th March
11th March
11th March
11th March

We’re also pleased to confirm that the following content is included in the Complete Season, available to purchase for $24.99/£19.99/€24.99:  
- All four main episodes plus:
     o   Two additional spin-off episodes that focus on telling the side stories of each of the two new Resident Evil characters:  Moira Burton and Natalia Korda*
     o   Additional Raid mode character:  Hunk*

A full retail box set will be available March 10, 2015 across North America for $39.99 MSRP and will feature all of the below content:
- All Complete Season content:
     o   All four main episodes
     o   Two additional spin-off episodes that focus on telling the side stories of each of the two new Resident Evil characters:  Moira Burton and Natalia Korda*
     o   Additional Raid mode character:  Hunk*
     o   Additional Raid mode character:  Albert Wesker*
     o   Four alternative costumes (one for each of the main characters):  Claire, Moira, Barry and Natalia*
     o   Raid mode “Throwback Stage Pack” featuring four stages from recent Resident Evil titles*

*All additional content will also be available to purchase as separate downloadable content on each platform’s respective online marketplace.

For a deeper look into the Barry and Natalia storyline, head over to 
Capcom-Unity now. 


Arc System Works, developer of world-class fighting games such as the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series, brings its brand new action RPG to the West. Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy releases today in the United States for PlayStation Vita as a digital download on the PlayStation Network, followed internationally in Q1 2015.

Choose one of four heroes -- a justice-obsessed swordsman, a mysterious Crow with a penchant for guns, an inventress with a giant robot and a bone to pick, or a well-muscled luchador -- to fight the Decoders and save the world!


Capcom, a leading worldwide developer and publisher of video games, today announced Street Fighter V exclusively for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and for PC. Through a strategic partnership between Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. and Capcom, the next game in the legendary series will offer cross-platform play that will uniteStreet Fighter® fans into a centralized player base for the first time ever. More game details on Street Fighter V, including release timing, will be coming soon.


During its keynote address at the PlayStation Experience community event in Las Vegas, Sony Computer Entertainment America announced a partnership with SEGA® of America, Inc. and SEGA® Europe Ltd. to release Yakuza 5, the much awaited fifth installment in the critically acclaimed main Yakuza™ series, on PlayStation®Network for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system in 2015. Yakuza 5 will make its Western debut as one of the most requested titles from the #Buildingthelist campaign, Gio Corsi, Director of Third Party Production at SCEA, announced at the event. Both companies also revealed that Yakuza™ 4 and Yakuza™: Dead Souls are available on PlayStation®Network today.

A direct sequel to Yakuza 4™, the game continues the epic story of Kazuma Kiryu<
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazuma_Kiryu> alongside four other protagonists, following their struggles and conflicts in the seedy underbelly of Japan’s Yakuza underworld. Featuring a new graphics engine versus its predecessor, Yakuza 5 takes players to five major Japanese cities to venture through a life of crime and power.

Yakuza 5 features more mini-games than previous titles, a modified battle system as well as enhanced customizations and interactions in the signature hostess bars of the franchise. In addition to these features, Yakuza 5 also introduces “Another Drama” which is a series of side stories that focus on each protagonist in-depth and are separate from the main story of the game.

“The world of the Yakuza series has fascinated gamers in Japan and the West for many years,” said John Cheng, COO and President of SEGA of America. “We know fans have been eagerly awaiting a release of Yakuza 5 here and we are thrilled to finally launch this spectacular entry in the series in North America and Europe.”

Yakuza 5 will launch in 2015 on PlayStation®Network for PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system.



Persona 5. PS3 + PS4. 2015. 


Atlus U.S.A., is confirming the news from the PlayStation Experience keynote that development of Persona 5 for North America will include the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system in addition to the originally announced PlayStation®3. 


Enter The Gungeon - Reveal Trailer


As the rules that govern our civilization crumble, a new order of things is bound to emerge. In the latest trailer for Dying Light, Techland for the first time ever give a sneak peek into the storyline of their open-world, action survival game.
Looking for inspirations for Dying Light, we delved into classics of international literature, such as Albert Camus’s The Plague and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness” – explains Rafał Orkan, a novelist and co-author of  Dying Light’s story. “With our game,  we wanted  to evoke similar emotions and offer players an insight into how people react to the extreme.”  
Roaming a city devastated by a mysterious epidemic that turns people into zombies, players will assume the role of Kyle Crane, an undercover operative sent to infiltrate the quarantine zone. Sheer chaos, warring factions and a suspicious mission all tug at Crane’s decisions for what he has been told is “the greater good”. Yet who decides when greater good turns into necessary evil?
Dying Light Story Trailer


Blood Bowl 2 announcement trailer


Project Root announcement trailer


What next?

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