F1 2019 or When More of the Same can be Just Good Enough

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , , on July 18, 2019 by Rabidgames

Sometimes, an annual game can still be worth getting when there are mostly just small changes to the formula. F1 2019 might well be such a game, especially seeing how fucking boring the real Formula 1 has become. Sure, F1 2019 has some questionable penalties from the stewards, but nothing as arbitrary as the real thing …

The first thing you notice in F1 2019 is the graphical upgrade – especially races at dusk (or dawn) look stunning now. And sure, part of it might be the XBox One X’s enhanced capabilities, but the game runs a bit smoother than last year’s, too. And the lighting looks great on all platforms, especially if you drive around a circuit at night!

Then, you can play either an entire season in the F2 or you can start your career there (for now, there’s the 2018 grid, but the updated drivers of this year will follow in a free update later this year). Well, as for your career, the game is still called F1 2019 so you only drive in that series for a couple of races before being promoted to Formula 1 together with a friend and a not so friendly rival. Another new feature there is that drivers actually swap seats. It’s rather unlikely you’ll see Hamilton in a Williams, Leclerc in a Mercedes or Vettel not crashing his car, but hey, it adds some dynamics to the game so we’ll take it.

Of course, F1 2019 comes with a ton of classic cars again, and as before, it’s great fun to try them and compare them to the modern-day DRS monsters. The official real-life F1 HUD makes the game look a little bit more authentic, which is of course welcome.If you like esports,  gives you a nice package, too: You can customise your driver and your car design pretty freely, there are weekly events and also leagues now. If that interests you, check it out. Also, it often ends in pure chaos, as one would expect.

Sadly, some of the problems from last year are still in F1 2019: the interviews are often more miss than hit, some penalties seem a bit harsh, the AI is braindead on easy but smells your overtaking strategies on higher difficulties from miles away to easily block you, he story is a bit too clichéd and voice overs don’t always deliver. It can be quite annoying, yes, but never ends up being game-changingly frustrating.

At the chequered flag, none of the small issues matter now: F1 2019 is the latest step of the evolution of the series. It sits comfortably on the arcade-side of simulations or the simulation-side of arcade-racing games, it gives you tons of options and settings and optimisations if you want them, and the often tiny tweaks and additions just elevate it a bit more – without raising it to a new level.

Rabidgames’ verdict: DO NOT BUY if you have no interest in Formula 1, racing games or a mix of arcade and simulation racing. Especially for arcade-racers, this game might quickly become too overwhelming and too hard to get into.

THINK ABOUT BUYING if you already have last year’s F1 game. If you have no interest in the tweaks or the F2 roster, you might want to wait until later.

GO BUY if you love or loved Formula 1 or if you like to micromanage your career step by step. Or get if you’re bored with the incredibly boring Mercedes dominance. Just be careful of Vettel’s Ferrari behind you …

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5 Reasons to Get an Xbox One (X) Now

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ... with tags , , , on July 2, 2019 by Rabidgames

We all know Microsoft royally fucked up the start of the Xbox One with their always-online bullshit, their Kinect idiocy and their general complacency of having overtaken Sony’s PS3 with the 360. So while the exclusives aren’t exactly shit, they still pale to the PS4 exclusives, that’s for sure, but there are now some reasons to get an Xbox One, or why not an X while you’re at it?

1. Backwards compatibility
Now, that’s a big thing if you own a massive 360 library. There are hundreds of games available there (and if you own around 50, you’ll spend some time there), and most of them look and play better than they did on the 360 (or the original Xbox). Obviously, all the Halo, Gears of War and Fable games are there, but you’ll also find gems such as Mercenaries, Knights of the Old Republic or BULLY(!!!) on there. Oh, and each and every DLC on your account will also be there, as will your save games from our 360 games if you upload them onto the cloud.

2. The X is the strongest console
Frankly, the PS4 is a bit old and frail now. The base model still runs the latest games, sure, but once you’ve accustomed to the much faster loading times as well as the better graphics and the smoother gameplay, it’s hard to return to the PS4. And if you compare the versions directly, you’ll notice massive differences at times, e.g. in newer games such as The Division 2 or Assassin’s Creed Origins, where especially the lighting alone makes a difference.

3. The One is quiet
Another problem with the PS4 is its insanely loud fan that can sound like a plane about to take off. The One on the other hand is very quiet even if running a brand-new AAA game with superb graphics and a million explosions on-screen.

4. Xbox One X Enhanced games get a nice boost
It doesn’t stop there; some games are “enhanced” for the X, which means even faster loading times, even smoother gameplay, and as a bonus, some games from the original Xbox now look amazing now, e.g. Knights of the Old Republic! The same goes for Red Dead Redemption, although weirdly enough, this game looks too clean now … And then you have a game like Just Cause 4, where the horrible motion blur, the massive pop-up issues and the weird screen tearing that are omnipresent on the PS4 are either minimised or simply not there.

5. Game Pass
Game Pass is generally seen as the Netflix of gaming, and it is pretty much that. It’ll take you years to play through all games on the list, that’s for sure. Game Pass Ultimate is also a reasonably priced option – especially with the £1 introductory offer you can combine with an active Gold subscription for up to 36 months – and having Game Pass access to future console “hits” such as Gears of War 5 (meh) or The Outer Worlds (fuck yeah!) without paying extra will hopefully make the program even better. It’s such a shame though some games will leave the system, so better play what you really want to play as quick as you can …

Bonus – You can have ALL Saints Row and Just Cause games on one console!
Sure, not everyone likes both series, but the One is the one chance to have ALL games on ONE console. Chances are you just end up playing Just Cause 2 and Saints Row 2 and 4, as they are simply the best of their respective franchises, but it’s still nice to have. Plus, the games run pretty well.

Disclaimer: Rabidgames did not get paid by Microsoft to promote the One X and Game Pass. Which in hindsight seems pretty damn stupid now.

A Plague Tale: Innocence or Uninspired Gameplay Plaguing A Great Story

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , , , on June 5, 2019 by Rabidgames

First impressions can be wrong. It may look like it, but thankfully, A Plague Tale: Innocence is neither a Telltale copy-paste game nor a walking simulator (nothing against those, mind you). Instead, the game with yet another weird title is a stealth/puzzle adventure with bits of fighting. And that’s good. Set in 14th century France, protagonist Amicia and her little brother Hugo, who has a mysterious illness in his blood, must escape the heinous inquisition and rats. Tons of supernatural rats.

Unfortunately, we also see the rare case where too much gameplay can hinder a good story. In A Plague Tale: Innocence, this happens once in a while. While the puzzle parts are fine, the stealth parts are usually dragged-out games of hide and seek. Which gets boring quickly. Couple that with the weird idea that Amicia early on learns to kill enemies by hitting baddies in the head, which shocks her at first. If that mechanic would be utilised once or twice, fine. But she’ll leave with a three-figure body count if you feel like handling stuff violently, which honestly feels out of place.

And there’s another issue. See, you’re usually out there with Amicia and Hugo in A Plague Tale: Innocence, and you meet some friends on your adventure. All can help you at times. That’s cool. Not so cool are at two rather long parts where you’re on your own, and all you do is evade or kill (depending on the level). Couple that with the fragile Amicia versus towering guards mechanics where being spotted means death, it’s a boring game of trial and error. Same goes for the quite frankly ridiculous final boss. Whenever A Plague Tale: Innocence turns into an action game, it feels wonky, weird and quite uncomfortable in its own skin.

Thankfully though, there are many sections where you solve puzzles with your friends, where you just walk around and talk (and look for crafting resources), and the cut scenes that show how Amicia and her once estranged brother truly become family are really well done. You also get to know some other kids along the way, and A Plague Tale: Innocence does a great job of bringing them closer to Amicia and you.

The star in A Plague Tale: Innocence is the atmosphere though. Regularly, there are two colour palettes: During the day, you often walk through a lush and colourful landscape, and at night, you long for some light, not only because it will keep you safe from the thousands and thousands of hungry rats you see on screen, but also because the game gives you the illusion of safety there.

fields

Sometimes bright and lush …

A Plague Tale: Innocence also has a nice flow most of the times: Some levels start with walking to the action, a bit of stealth is followed by the puzzles of “create a path of light so the rats won’t devour you”, and then you have some cutscenes. You also see everything from lush forests to battlefields with hundreds of corpses, caves and castles. A Plague Tale: Innocence brings you to many places. And the journey of the siblings also works as a narrative. The supernatural conclusion also works most of the time. It’s only at the final boss where it’s all just a bit too fucking ridiculous.

battlefield

… sometimes dead and dark.

In some ways, A Plague Tale: Innocence resembles the first Life is Strange. A tale of friendship coupled with supernatural events, the end of the world looms, and you have the key to solve the problem. Sure, there are no choices and the gameplay isn’t that unique, but A Plague Tale: Innocence is also the kind of game you might just like despite it being the kind of game you usually don’t like. And if you’re like Rabidgames, you can easily forgive the problems in the gameplay department because the narrative and the atmosphere in A Plague Tale: Innocence are just simply great!

Rabidgames’ verdict: DO NOT BUY the game if you don’t like linear experiences or handholding kids. Or if you like stealth games with tight and elaborate controls. If you’re afraid of rats, well, avoid the game at all costs.

GO BUY if you like a great narrative and a great atmosphere. This game offers both.

 

World War Z or A Mindless Average Arcade Gallery

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , on May 16, 2019 by Rabidgames

In terms of shooters, World War Z is the antithesis to The Division 2 – where Ubisoft’s game is a tactical cover shooter looter, World War Z is simply pulling the trigger until nothing rushes you any more. Which can work. But does it actually work? Sometimes. World War Z is a classic AA game – nothing is outstandingly good or bad, there is some charm to the game, but not enough to hide it lacks an identity.

The game is a 4 person co-op shooter – or you with 3 bots that do a basic job of shooting shit that moves, but fail to spread out or start a crossfire because you’re the pied piper leading them anywhere. And they neither heal themselves or each other nor do they man turrets or use heave guns. Anyway, if you play World War Z with others though, it can provide you with some hours of good, mindless fun. The gameplay cycle is what you’d expect: you shoot a lot. You can upgrade some stats. You shoot a lot. You do nothing but shooting, in fact The more you shoot with a weapon, the better the weapon gets. Sometimes, you set up defences. We’ve played it all before.

World War Z is quite a bit brutal – think exploding or hacked limbs – but not explicitly brutal as Mortal Kombat or Dead Island. Violence serves its purpose. The graphics and technical aspects are similar – okay but not great. As often comes with online-focussed games, especially those of the AA variety, World War Z is quite rough around the edges. Lags, buttons not working or inexplicable physics, it can all happen. It’s not game-breaking, but it’s also not exactly awesome, you know. To give the game some credit, things can be hilarious when it happens!

By the way, World War Z shares its name with the movie but barely has anything to do with it. It’s the kind of lazy name-dropping you can’t exactly explain. Same goes for the bare-bones plot and the locations: You play in Moscow, New York, Jerusalem, and Tokyo. It doesn’t really matter though, as doesn’t the story.

This kind of mediocrity can be seen in anything in World War Z; it’s a nice game to relax to while you mechanically shoot your way through hundreds and hundreds of zombies. There is no unique trick such as Dead Island’s precise analogue maiming and slashing or Left 4 Dead’s crisp gameplay. It’s not great but also not abysmally awful. Quite frankly, this is a game you should look for in the bargain bin. It’s seem wrong to shell out full price for World War Z, but if you want to relax with like-minded friends, it’s worth playing a round or two.

Rabidgames’ verdict: GO BUY the game if you need more zombies in your life, and if your friends feel the same.

DO NOT BUY the game if you expect something special. Or if you’re tired of zombies. Or if you prefer to play on your own.

Days Gone or An Idyllic Apocalypse Sandbox Adventure

Posted in Hands On, Played & Explained with tags , , , , on May 14, 2019 by Rabidgames

For many among us, the initial reactions to Days Gone probably were “another zombie game?” or perhaps “yet another open world game?” And true, at first glance, Days Gone is a bland mix of The Last of Us, Far Cry and maybe some hint of a Sons of Anarchy feeling. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, mind you.

But once you dive into the as beautiful as disturbing open world of Days Gone, once you start exploring Oregon, you’ll quickly notice it’s a bit different. For starters, there is no point in killing each zombie, pardon freaker, you’ll see. Just going from A to B would be a challenge if you tried, especially as you need some rather limited resources when stumbling upon too many of those post-humans. Oh, and you definitely want to be close to your trusted bike – not only can it outrun all threats easily, which you can’t on foot (not often at least) – but it’s also your means to save the game (almost) any time.

Unfortunately, combat is rather Days Gone’s weak point – melee feels weighty and powerful with the right tool, but also a bit cumbersome. Guns feel powerless and weightless at first (get the Focus skill ASAP so you can slow down time while aiming – a lifesaver), and stealth is as average as stealth can get. So try to avoid fights – not just because more than 3 freakers can mean death, but also because it’s more fun evading and exploring than actually fighting. That being said, the fighting isn’t unbearably bad at least, so you’ll make do when you have to fight.

But here’s the thing where Days Gone is different – imagine you’re close to an enemy camp, and your task is to take the camp out. You fire at the guys with a silenced rifle, the enemy fires back loudly, only to attract freakers that overrun the camp with a bit of luck … it’s these situations that stand out in Days Gone – and the game is barely scripted (except for some main missions, of course) so anything can happen anytime! It’s pretty much Far Cry on speed!

The gameplay and missions are fairly repetitive, sure, but the game gives you plenty of freedom to tackle many missions your way – stealth or loud, melee or guns, the choice is often yours in Days Gone. Main missions are better paced and often feel unique enough, and they also come with some flashbacks and one nice revelation or two. Side missions however mostly consist of “get a door open”, “kill baddies” or “find nests and destroy them”. Some of the latter are surprisingly hard to find though, and doing them by night or by day is a bit different, too. The presentation of the main story and side stories as different, often inter-connected stories is a bit odd at first, but once you get used to it, it starts to make sense.

Sadly, Days Gone’s lost world means a bit of problems on the technical side, too. While the game runs far more stable than at launch, sometimes there is a noticeable lag when riding too fast for the game’s liking, which can result in a crash into a tree (now that brings back memories of trees and horses in Red Dead Redemption 2, although the physics aren’t as great). There are also extremely long loading times to the start menu and then again from the start menu into the game. And if you die. Last but not least, once you progress to the second map, you can expect some pretty annoying slowdowns and frame rate drops riding around – come on guys!

One point many reviews touched – and failed to explain – is the presentation of the story and the main character in Days Gone: civilisation is gone, and your role is being an outlaw biker. That means fuck being the nice guy. Being the nice guy would most likely get you killed in a hostile post-apocalyptic world anyway. And honestly, the protagonist being a loathsome piece of shit was fine in Sons of Anarchy, it was fine in Breaking Bad, fuck, we all enjoyed Trevor Philips, so what? Deacon is a cliché, his best buddy is one, enemies and allies alike are clichés, and so are women. Well, except that the second important woman you meet the game is a hard-ass leader of a group of survivor who won’t take shit from anyone. Which makes you wonder if some reviewers ever progressed to that point of the story …

You may not like a game presenting many characters as clichés, which is fine, but there’s nothing wrong with the portrayal of it – it’s not that Days Gone presents Deacon as a role model after all. After all, have you been shouting at Walter White he’s an unlikeable bastard all the time? Probably not. So why is it criticised here then?

Anyway, Days Gone is a game that really shines when it comes to atmosphere – driving around in a thunderstorm, nervously looking out for gas because you’re low, and then you drive into a trap by some assholes, which results in a firefight, which again results in a horde of dozens of freakers closing in on you. Fingers crossed the humans are between you and the horde …

It’s those moments of sandbox gameplay, freedom to ride around as you want and the need to always make sure you’re never low on resources (be it med-kits, tools to repair your bike or fuel) that elevate Days Gone out of the murky waters of open world mediocrity. It’s the virtual wind in your hair while you ride along some open road, it’s the balance between exploring a bit more and risking an empty tank or returning to a safe place, it’s the need to always look for exit routes, and it’s the open-ended nature of Days Gone that keeps the game fresh despite being repetitive.

In fact, the mix of depending on the bike for survival, the necessity of always having a way out and the grim depiction of Days Gone’s world make the game a worthwhile addition to any PS4 games collection – unless you abhor open worlds or need to identify with a protagonist, of course. Days Gone is surely not a blockbuster game that is easy to digest both conceptually as well as gameplay-wise like Uncharted 4 or God of War, it is rather one of those games where you need to take some time for a bit of slow story exposition (The Last of Us comes to mind, yes, it is finally mentioned again), open a nice cold beer and then you ride into the sunset, knowing the night won’t be peaceful but interesting.

Rabidgames’ verdict: DO NOT BUY the game if you don’t like sandboxes, a slow story or clichéd characters. WAIT for another patch if you’re concerned about technical issues.

GO BUY the game if you want to travel a lot on a bike through an often beautiful wasteland where anything can happen around the next corner. And it will.

 

Zanki Zero or A Unique Japanese Survival Experience

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , , on April 29, 2019 by Rabidgames

Zanki Zero: Last Beginning is one hell of a weird game: Part graphic novel, part first-person survival JRPG, and a big part of “what the hell?” throughout. It is entirely different but comes close to the strange atmosphere of the great weird cousin Nier: Automata, but while that is true, it is also misleading.

Where to start explaining Zanki Zero (let’s cut the Last Beginning part, shall we)? Well, first, the less you get know about the story without having played the game the better. Let’s say you, a cloned character wake up at an island and you’re grouped with 7 other mid-20s – all wacky characters following your usual JRPG fashion – who are told by two demented TV show hosts, a horny dumb boy and a talking sheep wary of its ass, that they’re the only survivors of some kind of apocalypse. Well, technically, they’re rather clones than really alive, and now their job is to explore drifting islands and complete the arcade machine that clones them so they can “rebuild humanity” … Still there?

 

 

A core mechanic is also a rather peculiar one: if you die in Zanki Zero, you get to clone another clone of the dead character via an arcade machine – if you scored enough points. You get points by defeating enemies, at first mere goats and pigs, if you play on normal or below at least. And here’s the thing – you’ll actually want to die a whole damn lot (well, at least one character always MUST survive to carry the metal belly buttons of your team back to the arcade machine) because afterwards you can clone your characters with so-called Shigabane, which makes the character stronger. Yes, Zanki Zero actually asks you to kill off your characters to make them stronger many times! And even better, you need to kill them off in different ways to get more bonuses!

The story is told via anime-style graphic novel screens and TV show segments. You gradually uncover the dark pasts of the 8 protagonists of Zanki Zero, and 7 of the stories revolve around the 7 mortal sins. But trust Rabidgames: again -the less you know the better, because there are lots of great twists in the story that make you wonder what the fuck is going on in this demented world?

The gameplay centres around first-person hacking and slashing (a bit later on you also get ranged weapons) where you best attack, fall back and wait for your next turn, looting everything you can find to craft more and sturdier stuff, and some light puzzles to solve. It starts easy but becomes more challenging, and Zanki Zero does the old trick of telling you that you’ll get more loot the higher the difficulty. It’s best to experiment with the difficulty until you find your balance, and that may or may not include changing it depending on what’s happening on-screen.

You also get skill points to develop your characters in a confusingly convoluted skill menu. They range from better HP or defence to access to higher-level crafting. The survival aspect involves HP, stamina, stress and bladder. Yes, bladder! Eat or drink too much in Zanki Zero, and you’ll piss yourself, resulting in a maximum stress level and terrible stats as a result of it (look at that for realism!). But don’t worry, you often find empty bottles you can pee into. No one is judging. Right? Right?

Zanki Zero has a big problem though – you can only save at designated save points. If you’re in the middle of a dungeon but you have to be somewhere in 5 minutes, well, tough luck. You can teleport to your base but then you’ll have to start the dungeon all over again. And usually, save points are only to be found every 30 to 45 minutes or so, and auto-saves occur rather randomly. This can be quite frustrating. The cutscenes can also reach Metal Gear Solid length – a long conversation followed by a TV show segment followed by 5 minutes of talking isn’t too rare an occurrence in Zanki Zero.

If you are looking for a game that is entirely different from the stuff you usually play, Zanki Zero is your game! It’s incredibly weird and becomes quite challenging after a while (except on 1* difficulty, of course), but it reliably drags you in to just play for “one more cutscene” or “one more dungeon floor” … In its own way, it is quite similar to Nier: Automata; it creates a unique atomosphere by mixing up gameplay systems and genres as well as cranking the strangeness up to 11, and both games hide some philosophy behind the weirdness

Zanki Zero may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like oddness and a fair share of scantily clad females and a butt load of double entendres, it may very well your favourite fix for quite a while – there is also a New Game+ mode where you can get even more rewards.

 

Rabidgames’ verdict: DO NOT BUY if you have no patience for long and ever-present cutscenes or weird isn’t your thing. DOWNLOAD THE DEMO if you are unsure whether the game might too fucking weird for you. This game surely ain’t for everybody.

DO BUY if you like a twisted story full of mind fucks and a somewhat different survival experience. Zanki Zero offers a fresh breath of unique ideas you won’t find in many games.

 

Enjoy All the Extreme Violence of Mortal Kombat 11!

Posted in Commentary, News with tags , , , on April 24, 2019 by Rabidgames

We live in an age where everyone and their mother knows video games can be art, just like every other kind of entertainment. But sometimes it’s good to know there are still games out there that shamelessly glorify gratuitous violence. With gallons of blood and gore. Obviously, Mortal Kombat has always been on the forefront of glorifying violence for laughs.

But as graphics have evolved, the violence in Mortal Kombat games has, too. And Mortal Kombat 11 is a massive splatter fest of exploding limbs and gore, as this video of surgery and dismemberment proves.

Rabidgames grins: Ah, 30 minutes of mutilation and murder. Isn’t it great?

Outward or Unforgiving, Clunky and yet Fascinating – At Times

Posted in Hands On, Played & Explained with tags , , , on April 22, 2019 by Rabidgames

Imagine you get thrown into a game where you have exactly zero clue what’s going on. Imagine you can’t really die but you simply wake up somewhere. Imagine Piranha Bites (Gothic, Risen, Elex) create a world with their clunky combat system but take away each and every comfort; you can easily bleed or freeze to death, and fights can be over almost as quickly and as mercilessly as in Kingdom Come: Deliverance. That’s Outward in a nutshell.

But let’s start from the beginning. Your ship wrecks somehow, you’re on an island, you roam around … and quickly you notice how fucking ugly everything looks. Really, Outward is often an ugly game on the PS4 (seems to be a bug, but hasn’t been fixed yet)! It sometimes rather looks like a PS2 game, truth be told. Some levels look nice in the right light, sure, but that won’t happen too often. Speaking of light, what good is a torch or a lantern if it doesn’t illuminate your way properly at night? Good luck falling from a cliff because you can’t see it …

Anyway, once you die or sleep in the prologue part, you wake up in your house and you get sent on a quest to get some money or your house is gone. Skill-wise, you’re a nobody in Outward. You can’t really fight, no one likes you (well, not enough to pay your debts at least) etc. Well, thing is, you partially can’t fight because of the narrative, but for the most part, the fighting system is just awful or below average at the best of times. It’s like Gothic or Risen, just worse, more tedious, and even less fun. Outward rarely lets you feel comfortable, simply because it wants to be a survival RPG. Especially the first 5 hours are a big pain, which is rarely ever a good sign for a game.

 

Another problem Outward has is that its world is incredibly bland. From its landscapes (greenery, snow, desert, name it) to its systems to its enemies, you’ve seen it all before. And often better implemented with better lore. Speaking of lore, it also doesn’t help that the English subtitles often don’t match the audio. Sometimes, the audio is shortened, sometimes it’s entirely different. So it’s hard to immerse in the world from a story perspective when the fighting system is clunky and stuff such as crafting and skills are also just there, because they have to be there in a game like Outward.

Technically, the game also has issues. Graphics and audio issues aside, you sometimes happen to lose your inventory. Yes, the one thing that can outright kill you – or “only” ruin you in Outward – can happen here. It may get fixed soon, but who cares after having lost 5 hours of progress? Also, whenever you go to sleep in Outward, it makes you sleepy in real life, too. why? Because the loading screen is on-screen forever – for no apparent reason. And here’s the thing – you’ll sleep a lot to heal or to pass some time until the quest giver or target shows up. That’ll add up to a lot of time spent watching loading screens.

So, does Outward have any redeeming qualities? Well, it tells you the story of a nobody from a perspective of a nobody. It’s not entirely new, but still rather rare. The backpack system is also interesting: the bigger the backpack, the more you can carry – but the bigger the penalties, too. This gives Outward a somewhat strategic layer to balance loot and manoeuvrability. Same goes for the magic systems: you have runes you can combine for different effects. It’s a nice system once you get used to it, even if it feels a bit clunky, too.

Also, the map is just a map in Outward. No other indication on it related to your position. No hand-holding or icons. If you want to know where you are after waking up, well, consult the map, take a good look around and good luck. Hope you have some skills navigating your way around. It’s a nice little feature of Outward that enhances the adventure feeling, and this is actually a feature that more games should have.

At the end of the day, Outward is a game of missed chances: The bugs should have been fixed, the fighting system should have been fun and the game should have presented itself as a game that’s worth playing. At the current stage, Outward lacks too many things, especially in the bland beginning. There’s some fun to be had for those who can see past all of this, but there may not be many who feel that way if better games are released left and right.

Rabidgames’ verdict: GO BUY if you’re itching for a hardcore survival game where you are on your own without a friendly UI and if you don’t mind the rather generic and way too clunky nature of the game. WAIT if you want some bugs to be ironed out first.

DO NOT BUY if you want a flawless and  unique experience. This game lacks an identity of its own in many aspects, features terrible melee fights and it has quite a few technical issues on top of it. Close to full price seems a bit much for this experience.

 

Netflix announces a Dragon’s Dogma Anime!!!

Posted in News with tags , , on March 12, 2019 by Rabidgames

Now if that isn’t a pleasant surprise! A Dragon’s Dogma anime! As reported by many sites, including Eurogamer, the story of that Netflix show seems a bit different from what we would have expected knowing the game:

Based on a world-famous action RPG set in an open world, Dragon’s Dogma from Capcom will be brought to life as a Netflix original anime series. The story follows a man’s journey seeking revenge on a dragon who stole his heart. On his way, the man is brought back to life as an ‘Arisen’. An action adventure about a man challenged by demons who represent the seven deadly sins of humans.

Erm, demons? Seven deadly sins? Wait, what? Anyway, here’s hoping we will hear many, many, many Pawn quotes in the Dragon’s Dogma anime, after all, because here’s the thing with Pawn quotes: “They’re masterworks all, you can’t go wrong!”

Whatever the quality of the anime, the fact Capcom does this – and the release of Dragon’s Dogma on the Switch – give us plenty of hope that the one game we’ve been craving for years finally will see the light of day soon-ish: Dragon’s Dogma 2.

Rabidgames can’t wait: More Dragon’s Dogma is always good. Always. Period.

Anthem vs The Division 2: Open Beta Face-Off

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , , , , on March 9, 2019 by Rabidgames

We don’t often see two massive, open-world(ish) titles pushing out open betas to try to convince people just before their respective launches in such a short time. While Anthem is more of a sci-fi game with futuristic tech and rather fantastic enemies, The Division 2 is a slightly futuristic-ish game with human enemies. And well, both are always-online loot shooters with a “games as a service system” so lets compare the shit out of them!

One thing – let’s not pretend an open beta is more than just a demo. If you really have to test your servers or your game that late in development, you’re fucked anyway.

It’s been a few days to let the open beta experience of The Division 2 sink in, so let’s get going now and see how both open betas fared!

Technical stuff

GRAPHICS: Anthem looked nice and impressive, whereas TD2 (let’s be lazy, shall we?) looked a step down from its predecessor. Both betas were plagued by pop-ups and other problems, but this point goes to Anthem because the world actually looks stunning at times.
Anthem-Division 1:0

SOUND: This is a tough one. Both games weren’t too convincing in the sound department, and both betas showed signs that there is still some work to do in both cases. However, TD2 had some serious issues with the weapon sounds. giving Anthem the edge here.
Anthem-Division 2:0

STABILITY: TD2 had issues in the closed beta, but so had Anthem. In Anthem’s open beta however, it was very common to either not be able to connect or to get thrown out of the game when connected, which happened on a very regular basis, making the game unplayable for tens of minutes at times. TD2 on the other hand, ran fine with very few connection issues and very few hiccups.
Anthem-Division 2:1

STARTING OUT: Anthem was cumbersome – Going from the hub veeeery slowly to the hangar area took a while, and going back to report and get the next objective was the same drag. Matchmaking was also rather weird and sometimes resulted with no results, wasting’everybody’s time. TD2 was more fluid from the get-go, and running inside hubs can help. Sadly, neither beta offered an easy drop in/drop out service, which seems odd in this day and age.
Anthem-Division 2:2

Beta Content

CUSTOMISATION: Both betas show not much in terms of character customisation. Anthem let us lightly customise the Javelin and our loadout, TD2 let us lightly customise our agent and the loadout, too. However, it felt easier to try out different builds in TD2 as you could do so on the spot instead of collecting orbs that were sent to the hub. All the cosmetic stuff you found to individualise your character was also more accessible than the convoluted way to change the colour of the Javelin (which also was lost when rebooting the Anthem beta the next time).
Anthem-Division 2:3

THE WORLD: We got to see most of the world of Anthem. It looked nice, yes, but also devoid of many landmarks or points of interest. You also had to actively look for activity beyond angering wildlife because it was pretty empty. TD2’s overgrown and green Washington DC was full of life, be it animals, friendly or hostile humans – there could be danger just around the corner all the time, so it’s easy to see who wins here.
Anthem-Division 2:4

WORLD BUILDING: The hub in Anthem felt static and sterile, filled with static NPCs, pointless dialogue choices and “not available in beta” signs instead of actual dialogues in most cases. Just like the rest of the world, it felt empty, even a bit trivial After you did missions, you came back and it was all the same. TD2 showed a world you rebuild and actively change. After all, you literally re-build the world in TD2.
Anthem-Division 2:5

MISSIONS: Anthem had some missions and one end-game mission. And free roam. TD2 had some main missions, lots of repeatable side missions, free roam was part of the world anyway, and also one end-game mission. While both are mostly go from A to B to kill C, Anthem was quite boring as it felt pretty generic, whereas TD2 offered more interesting levels that required some tactical planning. Being able to explore and discover seamlessly between missions and free roam is an easy win for TD2.
Anthem-Division 2:6

Gameplay

MOVEMENT: Obviously, flying around in a vertical world is cooler than walking and running around. You can fucking FLY!!!
Anthem-Division 3:6

SHOOTING: Technically, that’s a point for Destiny here. Shooting isn’t too great in either Anthem or TD2 compared to Destiny’s only strength. But between those two, TD2 actually had a more diverse cast of weapons at its disposal and shooting them felt slightly more “real” and satisfying.
Anthem-Division 3:7

ABILITIES: To be fair, Rabidgames has a weakness for the primer/detonator combat of Mass Effect that is also built into Anthem so that’s a strong point for the Bioware game. The abilities in TD2 felt a bit nerfed, making it harder to use them to our advantage. They’re not useless, but not as fun as the combos in Anthem.
Anthem-Division 4:7

GAMEPLAY VARIETY: Well, both are shooters. You aim, you shoot, boom, splash, splatter. But while enemies in Anthem are either weak or bullet sponges – and could be easily copied over from DestinyTD2 offer variety with its human and robot opponents. Firefights in Anthem’s open beta all played out the same in the categories grunts and bosses. You shoot until they fall, and sure, bosses eat 10,000 bullets for breakfast, resulting in extremely boring circle and shoot orgies while occasionally escaping super attacks. TD2’s fights were a bit harder – you needed to cover your flanks or you were wiped out. Also, a screen full of enemies, drones and remote-controlled bomb-cars in a narrow room was an intense feeling, and bosses there had visual armour you can shoot off to finish off the boss quicker.
Anthem-Division 4:8

THE LOOT: We got weapons and other goodies only after missions in Anthem, which didn’t felt satisfying. At all. And the selection was even less interesting than in Destiny! In TD2, you can play with new loot on the spot, which made playing around with builds and mods more fun. Of course, the endgames in both games will show how good loot really is, but for now, it seems you can do more with it in TD2 – from crafting weapons to donating it to friendly settlements, you shouldn’t sell all you have.
Anthem-Division 4:9

THE SYSTEMS: Now, this is a tough one judging from the beta. Both are RPGs that let you build, craft and customise the gear you like. Anthem pretty much has the mission -> rewards -> customisation loop, while TD2 has more – you upgrade your base and settlements, you open up checkpoints to control districts (where you then open up a door with loot). Plus, you get to see your changes in TD2’s world. In RPG terms, both are pretty light though – the dialogue choice in Anthem are a joke though, if you think who did it!
Anthem-Division 4:10

THE FINAL RESULT: Anthem 4, The Division 10

Rabidgames thinks: It is inexplicable why Bioware/EA chose an outdated version that was a technical nightmare to proudly show off Anthem. It also didn’t do much to tell anything worthwhile about what’s going on. The Division 2 however showed us how the game starts, what’s going on and how many of its systems work together. Substance over style sums it up nicely – Anthem had a nice world with cool flying, but that’s about it. The Division 2 offered lots of content to be experimented with.

It’s no surprise The Division 2 beats Anthem in the beta contest because of those factors, which shows EA either doesn’t get what a beta is these days or that Ubisoft is more confident enough to show us what they got up their sleeves. Or both.

That being said, expect Rabidgames to get Washington D.C. up and running in The Division 2 soon. Anthem must wait, also because the “final” game itself is far from final …

8 Reasons Why New Dawn Is Better Than Far Cry 5

Posted in Commentary, Hands On with tags , , , on March 4, 2019 by Rabidgames

You know, if it’s easy to see a game improving on its predecessor within just hours, it’s a good sign. And yes, Far Cry New Dawn might rather resemble an add-on than a stand-alone game, but it beats Far Cry 5 in many ways. Here are 8 reasons summed up quickly:

  1. No more abductions: Honestly, this bullshit was the biggest reason why Far Cry 5 sucked. The abductions were pointless, too often and how on earth the kidnappers could then, and only then, detect you everywhere on a map is beyond the laws of, well, everything. This shit is gone now. Thank fuck!
  2. More gameplay diversity: Far Cry 5 had quite some things to do, but it was mostly the same pace. New Dawn mixes this up quite a bit: Sure, there’s still stealth and shooting, but now there’s also racing to an extraction point when everyone is homing in on you at the end of the new Expeditions, and there are packages you need to race to to get some goodies.
  3. Crazier than ever: Yeah, Far Cry 5 had a bear and a cougar as guns for hire. Well, New Dawn has a boar and a sniper granny who’s “like a 1000 years old but can shoot a dick off a mosquito”. And all guns for hire now have more useful perks. Speaking of guns, guns are also crazier now. The ricocheting Saw Launcher clearly is a highlight!
  4. The landscape is more diverse: Sounds bizarre, but the downfall of civilisation has brought more greenery and colours to Hope County, and seeing the changes for yourself is a nice thing. And sad at times. And once more, Expeditions: They bring you to completely new areas.
  5. Exploration is spelt with a capital E: You can find lots of things in the world, and many loot is hidden behind an – often quite simplistic – puzzle. Some are a bit more elaborate and require some steps or just a bit of platforming though. One of the key innovations of New Dawn are the Expeditions; exploring gets you more loot, but you don’t want to alarm everyone before you grab the package you’re there for.
  6. The RPG elements add depth: Sure, there are just very light RPG elements, but they add some level of strategy to it – should you take out the one elite enemy first? How? You can use a perk for a Takedown. Or you level up your weapons. Should you even take him out? (Of course.) Sadly, once you’re in the late game, all of this doesn’t matter any more, but for a while, the danger posed by over-levelled human and especially animal enemies shrugging your bullets away before tearing you to pieces makes up for some entertainment new to Far Cry.
  7.  Crazy powers: Not to go to deep into spoiler territory, but at a certain point of New Dawn you’ll get new powers. It might not make much sense but who cares – all you need is a leap of faith! If you do crazy, you gotta do crazy right after all …
  8.  Proper end-game content: You can scrap and take over Outposts on the hardest setting as many times as you want. Same goes for Expeditions. As a reward, you can upgrade perks and guns virtually infinitely … If you’re the kind of guy who likes a challenge or wants to have a handgun that nukes everyone, New Dawn offers this kind of entertainment for you.

Rabidgames muses: Far Cry 5 went into a dark and twisted direction, which only partially worked. New Dawn chooses the Saints Row way out instead, and that makes for a better game.

Activision And Capitalism’s Ugly Face

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ..., News with tags , , , on February 15, 2019 by Rabidgames

You might have read that Activision Blizzard is firing people, right? You might have also read they’re firing people despite making hefty profits, in fact Activion’s boss talks about “record revenue” …

Here’s the thing – that shouldn’t surprise us. For years now, the gaming industry has been exactly that – an industry. Those who craft, develop and enjoy games still work there, but usually just as low-level employees. The ones ruling the shots are fucking assholes in suits who treat games like they’d treat cars, materials, or even worse than games, food or medicine: as means to generate shitloads of money so they and their fucking shareholders get richer and richer. At the same time, they don’t give a shit about the company, why would they, after all? After bleeding out one company, they can go bleeding the next one dry. The word enough simply does not exist in the capitalist dictionary.

This kind of shit is regarded as normal in our capitalist world; workers getting fed bread crumbs while parasitic shareholders and their managers in suits feast on golden cakes. And you know, the absurd thing is that those managers in suits primarily answer to those fucking shareholders. If 800 people get fired, lose their jobs, potentially their homes, they don’t give a fuck. But if one shareholder feels 5% profit isn’t enough for the platinum cake he wants to buy, the next “logical” thing will be firing 800 more workers.

This is the fucked up world we live in. If you want games made by gamers for gamers for enjoyment and for the game makers to make a living, indie games are your only choice. With every AAA game you buy, you make sure the artists, developers and other workers get fed, sure. But for each pound they might get, 2 pounds (probably more) go the fucking shareholders.

Rabidgames wonders: What to do? Well, we can buy less AAA games and more indie games. But would that really help? There’s talk about a gaming union in the UK, which would greatly help things, of course. But at the end of the day, it’s simple: Gaming is just as fucked as the rest of the world. It’s not different, it’s just another means for corporations to make money for themselves.

Mass Effect + Destiny + A Hot Mess – Bioware Writing = Anthem

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , , , on February 3, 2019 by Rabidgames

First of all, Anthem is better than Rabidgames expected. The flying is pretty cool, and the good old Mass Effect primer/detonator combos are back. In its best moments, when there is some flow and your team works together well, it really feels like Mass Effect plus jetpack. And some guy split in three is interesting, well, unless you know Kingdom Hearts where one guy splits himself into 13.

Anyway, sometimes better than expected does not mean anywhere above the line of average. Anthem has some good sides, but the bad sides prevail. By a mile. Shooting bullet sponges has been bad since Destiny (and that was even worse in The Division, where seemingly human bosses survive 5 magazines of lead in their head), and Anthem is as just not food enough here. While you can mix and match flying/gliding and shooting after a bit of practice, it doesn’t make up for the shooting being two leagues below Destiny. You don’t have to like Destiny to admit that they absolutely nailed the shooting …

Furthermore, the gameplay loop is boring: Go there, shoot baddies, upload something, go somewhere else, rinse and repeat, oh look, a boss. Even if the shooting was top-notch (nope), and even if combos were as fluent and intuitive as in Mass Effect (again, nope), it would just be en par with Destiny … at most. But when you end up flying through a mostly empty world for 3 minutes, you get bored quicker than in other games where you walk for ten seconds between shoot-outs. Even worse, the cringe-worthy story told by NPCs that looked ancient 5 years ago … There is no excuse for something that bad from fucking Bioware! Dude gets artefact, smashes it, gets split into three, his worst and dumbest third escapes the city, you get him back, only for the game to freeze in the cutscene that explains it … well done, Bioware.

Speaking of freezing, lags, crashes, connection issues, frame-rate problems and the loss of sound – yes, Anthem has all of this and more. Guys, this is a demo, isn’t it? You want people to convince to buy the game. Instead, hardly anything works as intended. Even worse, Friday was kind of stable, Saturday was less, and hardly anything worked on Sunday. That’s quite poor.

Also, the story. Anthem is like Destiny there – some mysterious stranger, sorry, energy source that can somehow alter reality … Sure, we don’t need all the details now, but after Destiny, mysterious hints are suspicious of a shit show in the story department. Bad dialogues and boring mission design don’t help there either. Absolutely nothing of interest except the guy made threefold happens – so where’s the catch?

Given the utterly idiotic way PS4 gamers will be the last to see the game – and thereby maybe the luckier ones as they’ll know what they’re getting into – we might know soon if the final version of Anthem is indeed ready. But here’s the thing: if, and that’s a big IF, hell, a couple of big IFs, if the game fixes its technical issues, if the story develops into something decent and if Anthem ends up with good content, then it might be a game worth looking at. But the demo does not help – if you judge Anthem by it, it’s a broken mess that is nowhere near Destiny or Warframe.

Rabdigames shakes his weary head: A demo should make people buy the game. In this case, that won’t happen. An unfinished mess with barely any identity is not good enough even though the core gameplay looks somewhat promising. Any hope for Bioware is long gone anyway, but Anthem could be their swansong – after a long decline, it might be soon time EA takes Bioware out into the desert to an unmarked grave full of bodies. If the demo is a sign, Bioware better savours its sorry life as long as it lasts …

Fuck The Fear of Offending Some Fuckers!

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ... with tags , , , , on February 2, 2019 by Rabidgames

So, it seems Ubisoft uses some – honestly only semi-funny and admittedly rather poorly timed – joke PR  for The Division 2 mentioning the US government shutdown – and then melts down over it. Wait, what?

come-see-what-a-real-government-shutdown-looks-like-in-41350320

So that’s offensive?

Remember when Ubisoft was insisting it’s not their intention to make “overtly” political games? That might why Far Cry 5 was devoid of any controversy except killing white christian extremists … well, with the help of slightly less radical mostly white christians … And of course there were still some obvious Trump jokes in there …

Anyway. Ubisoft, you’re making a game in Washington. With the name “Tom Clancy” in it. And it’s a post-apocalyptic game. That’s a politics hattrick, for fuck’s sake! But it wasn’t even overtly political nor was it directed at anyone. It was just an edgy joke, nothing more.

But you know what? Fuck your apology and fuck of phobia of being offensive. Fuck being scared of offending someone somewhere on this planet. And fuck you for being offended by anything that is not even directed at you personally.

And from a business perspective – ride out the shitstorm. It’s better PR than seeming to be a bunch of scared headless chicken.That’s just stupid.

Besides, where does it stop? The next person will be offended that Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a right-wing militarist wet dream. Another guy will then claim that Watch Dogs 2 glorifies hacking and godless life in godless San Francisco. And remember that you can slaughter innocent pixanimals in Far Cry 5! And what about all that terribly unchristian fucking everybody and their goats in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (and then taking all choices away at the end of a DLC)?

Rabidgames wonders: What the fuck happened to us? Since when is one guy somewhere always offended about anything, or even worse, thinks that someone else might be offended? Why are we so afraid the shit we say could offend anyone? Except when we do it all the time on social media of course …

One Week with Red Dead Redemption 2’s Great World and Flawed Gameplay

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , , , on November 3, 2018 by Rabidgames

We’ve been waiting a mighty long time for Red Dead Redemption 2, haven’t we? And sure enough, the wait was worth it. The world is breathtakingly amazing, supported by easily the most impressive graphics and lightning you can see on consoles. Many corners of the world hold sometimes dark, sometimes pretty bizarre secrets, and being in camp with the gang is pure magic. Play poker or joke around, get drunk and listen to obscene songs, get to know the quirks of each member and find the Reverend’s rather special bible, it’s those scenes together with the amazing voice overs that make Red Dead Redemption 2 stand out from the rest of the gaming world by miles. Many characters are fleshed out and feel almost properly human, everyone probably finds their favourite, and upgrading the camp makes folks happier (and contributing more to it) … and then you think “fuck, those are the guys I’ve killed in Red Dead Redemption” all those years ago …

And the world … fuck, the world is incredibly huge and diverse. From deep snow to arid deserts, from the wilderness to a big town heralding the end of the wilderness and the Wild West (though it is in the Eastern section of the map), Red Dead Redemption 2 is a master class in world building. You can go hunting wildlife all day if you feel like it, or just ride around the rolling hills of New Hanover and feel the virtual wind in your hair. Who knows what we’ll find – maybe even Bigfoot?

The greatest strength of Red Dead Redemption 2 is the underappreciated art of deceleration though. When relaxing in the camp or on horseback under the stars, it’s fine to just trot around slowly, or maybe to sit down and have a beer at the camp fire. There’s no rush to do the next mission, no immediate need to go anywhere in a hurry, it’s fine to just sit there for some minutes. Just like Life is Strange did so superbly, Red Dead Redemption 2 invites you to just waste time. Take in your surroundings, relax. Just ride into the sunset before making camp, because why on earth would an outlaw feel the need to be dictated by the fucking clock like modern men?

We’ve certainly heard all the praises in the last week. And it’s true, it’s all true. Well, most of it is. Because you see, Red Dead Redemption 2 is not perfect. In fact, when it comes to gameplay, there are quite some flaws. And no, we’re not talking about Arthur’s slow movement, that’s a design choice you may like or you may not like, but the game is suppsoed to be slower. But there are problems. The issues Red Dead Redemption 2 has are twofold: First, some mechanics are simply broken; some gang members, among them a certain John Marston and his family, will never(?) show up in your camp. At least you won’t see them for a mighty long time. that’s just wrong, but well, shit happens. A game of that scale is bound to have some technical hiccups.

But way worse, you can get wanted (and hunted) for some dumb idiot bumping into your horse. That’s called assault for whatever reason and you get shot to pieces if you’re unlucky. At other times, you have a bounty on your head but you talk to the sheriff who doesn’t care at all. It doesn’t even make sense. How on earth this fucking massive glitch could make it past QA is incredible. You see, the thing is not just that you’re hunted, the thing is you have to pay your fucking bounty at some point, and in the early stages of the game, even a rather meagre amount like $200 can break the bank easily.

And then, there are too many cumbersome and at times weirdly gameplay mechanics and systems that let Red Dead Redemption 2 down a bit; if you want to craft nice outfits, inventory upgrades or talismans, you need perfect pelts. Which means you need to find a certain animal and kill it with a headshot – with the appropriate weapon nonetheless. Problem is, if you’re in bad luck , a 3-star rated perfect animal simply won’t spawn. Tough luck, cowboy, keep on waiting.

Another problem of Rockstar in pretty much all of their game has been the mission design: And as you might expect by now, Red Dead Redemption 2 has too many linear and tightly scripted missions, which is simply bad for an open world game. Remember that stupid subway bike chase mission in GTA IV with the invincible enemy? You have to follow one path, there is one way to do the mission, no options, no choices, that’s it. Now, if you disguise this type of missions cleverly, no problem. But … Red Dead Redemption 2 isn’t even trying to sugar coat it; when you have some dude riding EXACTLY as fast as you are and you have to follow him on EXACTLY the same path for exactly 4 minutes (or about 4 minutes) with scripted events happening during the chase until yet another scripted scene happens – that’s just bad design. And lazy as fuck and boring as hell. And not fun at all.

And then we have fast travel. Yes, you can take a stage coach or a train in Red Dead Redemption 2, but that will leave your horse behind – and with that most of your weapons. So, you can do it for sightseeing, but gameplay-wise, meh. There is some fast travel hidden behind two pretty expensive camp updates, but this fast travel sucks big time, too. Why? Because you can only travel FROM your camp, but not back TO it. It’s beyond stupid. Sure, you can ride to a waypoint with the cinematic camera, which means you just watch, but come on!

And then there are the things that clash with Rockstar’s self-proclaimed sense of realism in the game (stuff like food, cleanliness, appropriate clothing and the like). Why the hell does Arthur have a Witcher/Assassin/Batman sense to highlight things around him or to follow tracks? No clue. Why does every vendor in Red Dead Redemption 2 sell you exactly the same stuff, no matter where? Not exactly realistic today, even less so for a game set in 1899. And worst of all, why the fuck do enemies spawn out of nowhere next to us? Come on, Rockstar, it’s 2018!

Now, that sure is a lot of complaints, ain’t it? Don’t get Rabidgames wrong though, Red Dead Redemption 2 is definitely an amazing game that nails some things like no other game out there does or ever has, but it’s not a perfect specimen. In fact, it is quite a problem when the major issues are basic gameplay mechanics or mundane things. Maybe it’s because of all the hype surrounding the game that we expected a perfect game, a master piece, gaming’s Citizen Kane, a step into the next generation. Anything less, just a good game, won’t cut it. We might be victims of our own expectations at times, true. Maybe the hype that makes reviewers hype certain games straight into the stratosphere is the thing that makes them overlook flaws and give virtually perfect scores to games like Red Dead Redemption 2, Skyrim (game-breaking bugs on the PS3, flat combat) or Breath of the Wild (glass weapons, empty world, no noteworthy narrative). Remember the amazingly good scores GTA IV got, a game that got ridiculed as bowling simulator for all the fucking times you had to meet your fucking cousin? Hype has the tendency to make us expect the best shit ever.

But when it comes to Red Dead Redemption 2, here’s the thing: Looking at the narrative, the characters, the world and all the interactions, Red Dead Redemption 2 might very well REALLY be gaming’s Citizen Kane, they might really be the best shit ever. The gameplay flaws might not even matter that much in the great scheme of things – when we talk about art, we talk about the vision after all. But that doesn’t mean we should fail to see the flaws in the execution. That doesn’t mean that Red Dead Redemption 2 should be seen as horrible or bad, but we should acknowledge that it can be great in some aspects and still lacking in others.

All of that being said, Red Dead Redemption 2 is still enjoyable, sure. But it is rather enjoyable when you minimise the gameplay experiences – if you just roam through the morning fog, if you sit down in camp, or if you’re exploring and find something, or someone very strange. The missions themselves are often rather a means to and end (progression) and ticking the boxes than something that feels as hand-crafted and detailed as the backdrop. It is still fun, but you always wonder what Red Dead Redemption 2 could have been with slicker gameplay and more creative missions.

Rabidgames appeases: Now hold on with the lynching, let’s make one thing clear: Red Dead Redemption 2 is an amazing game. It definitely is. There is a certain magic to many things in the game, including the organic way you receive quests and especially all the sick shit you find when just roaming and exploring the vast, beautiful world. If only the missions felt as organic …

Yes, Rockstar should be praised for the amazing effort to create a world that feels incredibly alive. But Rockstar also needs to be reminded that it’s one thing to nail the art aspect, but it still can make for an unsatisfying experience if the basic craftsmanship is lacking.

Fire Pro Wrestling World or Now This is Wrestling!

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Played & Explained with tags , , , on October 23, 2018 by Rabidgames

Tired of the annual WWE games? Tired of decade-old animations and terrible hair? Tired of the heroes of yesteryears shitting on everybody else? Don’t fret! Finally, Fire Pro Wrestling has come to the PS4!

Fire Pro Wrestling World is completely different from the WWE 2K games in pretty much every aspect though. It starts with the 2D graphics, continues with the emphasis on position and timing and ends with an emphasis on match ratings. There is also a very looong career mode called “Fighting Road” (after 5 hours, you might just be around 5-8% in) where you learn the ropes and meet all the famous NJPW greats. And yes, it can get quite whacky.

There are quite a few modes available, from single to tag team to battle royal matches, and there’s also weirder ones such as barbed wire, landmine matches and even MMA style clashes, including one kind where you can only strike. Of course, you can also create your own wrestler in Fire Pro Wrestling World. Yes, it looks and feels weird at first, but you can build incredibly crazy wrestlers and add them to your rosters. The move list is also huge, and each move can be assigned as a finisher. Sadly though, the title creation option is pretty basic.

Another unique thing to Fire Pro is the AI. You can manipulate the logic of a wrestler so that he/she behaves like you want him/her to, or, if you create a CM Punk, that he behaves exactly like CM Punk would. Understanding and then applying the logic system is, as is everything in Fire Pro, a long process though.

But, and here’s the main difference to Yukes’ WWE 2K games, Fire Pro is a series where it is fun to just watch the matches. Thanks to the logic system, watching Ric Flair fight Sting looks pretty similar to their classic fights, provided their logic is correctly applied. And that’s where the emphasis on match ratings comes into play. The more varied the match, the more the momentum changes, the more dramatic kick-outs, the better the rating will be.

One thing should be noted though – Fire Pro Wrestling World has a huge learning cliff once you start out. It goes without saying that you should start with the tutorial if you’re new to the series. Because if you don’t you’ll feel utterly lost. Previous wrestling game or beat ’em up knowledge is essentially useless.

Even a simple thing as a grapple will be mystery. Why? Well, in Fire Pro, you grapple automatically and press the button at a very specific time. Otherwise, your move will be countered. If you hit the strong grapple button while your opponent is fit, you’ll get countered. Actually, there are many tutorials out there like the following one that explain the game mechanics nicely.

So, where does that leave us? Fire Pro Wrestling World is a game that rewards patience and those who see wrestling as a form of art. It doesn’t always matter if you win or lose, what matters is that you do it in style. Fire Pro has been known to go down a different route when it comes to wrestling, in World is not different in this regard. Even better, once the Promoter DLC is out, you will be able to book and simulate, or promote, your very own wrestling league, compete with others and put all the things you’ve learnt to test. Until then, Fire Pro Wrestling World is still a game that can be immensely fun to learn and master.

Rabidgames’ verdict: DO NOT BUY the game when you have no interest or patience to learn a new way to wrestle from scratch. Or any interest in wrestling.

GO BUY the game when you love wrestling, a challenge and eventually very rewarding gameplay.

Ni Nu Kuni 2 or Unadulterated JPRG Fun

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , on October 14, 2018 by Rabidgames

Yes, Ni Nu Kuni 2 Revenant Kingdom is your typical JRPG with at times rather incoherent story-telling – and a strange subtitle added for whatever reason No, you are NOT a revenant. In the beginning of Ni Nu Kuni 2, the president of the United States – in this case a human, not a fucking orange ape – gets teleported away during a nuclear attack. Teleported to a fantasy realm where he naturally saves a young king who’s half kid, half cat. After 10 seconds of “where am I?”, the president forgets being a president for 99% of the game. If you can stomach that, we can go ahead, shall we?

That being said, Ni Nu Kuni 2 is also a game of almost childish naivety. Pretty much every villain you meet isn’t evil per se, just corrupted by a villain who turns out to be, well, kinda misguided after all. Eventually, the game tells a decent enough story of how we can all live together peacefully. Sure, there are some sub-stories about greed, destroying the environment or racism, but while Ni Nu Kuni 2 has some sombre moments, most of it plays and ends pretty light-hearted, albeit with a foreseen and sometimes even an unforeseen twist or two. But once in a while, that’s okay. Between all the dark, brutal and cynical games full of sarcastic world views, a bit of naivety and positive thinking can’t do any harm, can they?

Besides, you’ll play this game for the gameplay anyway, right? The gameplay in Ni Nu Kuni 2 is actually divided into three – you have your vastly improved fighting, now real time fighting with up to 3 characters (you get new party members one story chapter at a time, and they have different strengths and weaknesses) and cute little monsters called Higgledies who assist you in battle and can be upgraded to … well, help you more. Battles are fast-paced and generally on the easy side, save for one strange difficulty spike in the middle and the JRPG-style tough post-game content. It’s fun to experiment and try to beat strong enemies (that start repeating themselves rather sooner than later, but that’s also JRPGs for you).

Then you have big real-time strategy lite events – a handful during the campaign, but most are optional. They can be fun, especially if you ignore the rock-paper-scissor system and just go for shield and magic/ranged attacks – way easier. 😉 They are a fun distraction from the other elements of Ni Nu Kuni 2, and they seem less out of turn than for instance in Brütal Legend, where they appeared out of nowhere – and were devilishly hard! That being said, they are not super easy in Ni Nu Kuni 2 either – but with a bit of preparation, they aren’t that hard either.

And third, there’s the kingdom building. Think of it as a Dark Cloud 2/Dark Chronicles (same game, but different name) lite – you need a special currency to build and research, and you recruit characters via quests or just by finding them. In Ni Nu Kuni 2, you’ll need the characters to progress your building and researching. It is very simple yet pretty addictive. Just one upgrade more …

At the end of the bright and happy day, Ni Nu Kuni 2 is a nice not so little game with a perhaps a tad too sweet and naive story but pretty thought-through gameplay that’ll keep you busy for 50-100 hours – or more if you feel like tackling the hardest post-game dungeon and the level 99 free update quest.

Oh, if you feel tainted by childish innocence and naivety, here’s Yahtzee’s review of Ni Nu Kuni 2:

Rabidgames’ Verdict: Do buy if you like JRPGs in its purest form – naive and full of wonder. There’s plenty of content in this game.

Don’t buy if you fucking hate childish shit. Or JRPGs.

Dakar 18 or Dude, Where Do We Go Again?

Posted in Hands On with tags , on October 11, 2018 by Rabidgames

It doesn’t happen often that pretty much the only thing you want to write about a game is “what the hell is this?”, but Dakar 18 is such a game. It is geared towards such a niche group that even the tutorial is an obstacle designed to tell everyone else to fuck off.

Theoretically, Dakar 18 should be Rabidgames’ cup of tea though – a Rally Cross racing game where you roam the wilds and mostly sand dunes and deserts of South America. You need to pay attention to sand, mud, you can help fellow drivers, you can leave the car to strut around and wear a cowboy hat, you can repair your damaged car … you’ll lose precious time if you do any of the above, of course, but you can do it all.

But who in their right mind uses a non-skippable tutorial with very vague directions and poorly explained mechanics? Who thought that’d be a good idea? But … Dakar 18 is a pain in many ways. It gives you a strange tutorial where you will fail pressing the correct buttons as shown on-screen. It gives you an overload of information, sends you on the way in a non-skippable tutorial, and then leaves you alone in the tutorial. You’re in the desert, good luck finding anything. Oh, and if you reach the chequered flag too early, you get disqualified – only it wasn’t even clear where the finish line is!

So, after you’ve done the tutorial, the game asks you to do some more training. Phew. Seriously? So yeah, it’s safe to say Rabidgames isn’t hardcore enough for the Rally Dakar (set not in Dakar but in South America but that’s a story for another day). Also, you are driving a big massive truck, and if you hit a makeshift fence out of wood you withdraw because THIS causes too much damage? Come on, for fuck’s sake!

There are quite a few disciplines in Dakar 18 – cars, trucks, bikes, quads … And bikes and quads come without a co-driver to give you directions, so good luck. Speaking of directions, if you get lost, so does your co-driver. Not exactly useful that fellow after all, eh? Another weird thing is that the game feels rather arcadey for a simulation – there isn’t that much weight to the cars, and the physics feel a bit off as well (again, makeshift wooden fences). There might be a target group for this kind of game, but it might be as small as the amount of people caring much about the Rally Dakar …

Rabidgames’ Verdict: Do buy if you love hardcore rally games without useful instructions and you have a perfect sense of digital directions.

Don’t buy if you are not a rally pro. Or if you don’t have a perfect digital sense of directions. Otherwise, the game will leave frustrated. It is not aimed to casually cruise around sadly.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – From Ancient Greece to the American Revolution and Back with One Season Pass

Posted in Gaming these days ..., News with tags , , , , , on September 26, 2018 by Rabidgames

First of all – the fuck? Whenever Rabidgames buys the ultimate or whatever version of a game to enjoy the complete version with all DLCs or just because it is dead cheap and the 360 version is in a box, boom, a remaster appears out of thin air. Dragon’s Dogma, boom! Far Cry 3, boom! Red Faction Guerilla, boom! And now, Assassin’s Creed 3, boom! How about Oblivion Remastered then? Or New Vegas, you know, the Fallout people fucking want?

Anyway, what were we talking about, oh, Assassin’s Creed 3, right. As you might have heard, the Remastered version will be part of the Season Pass of the soon coming Greek tragedy Assassin’s Creed Odyssey! Or you can buy the game separately if you don’t like Greek culture and food, or if you’ve had one too many ouzos once or twice …

So yeah. There are some reasons to question Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – it is set before the Assassins were formed, it is set only in Greece (which feels a bit sad after the diverse climates and the pyramids of Egypt), people there don’t revere cats as much, and then there’s a focus on naval combat no one has really asked for because let’s face it, naval combat in Black Flag – aye, naval combat in Origins – nay.

But it could still be a great game – there are also tons of good news – exploration mode for isntance. No more “follow the main quest” … well, still a bit, but Odyssey allows you to explore Greece at your leisure even more than Origins did with Egypt. One could say you can have your own open-ended Odyssey …

Choices also appear to be meaningful in this seemingly deep action RPG, at least if we believe Ubi’s PR machine. In many ways, Odyssey sounds like the Bioware game fucking EA has denied us this generation. True, Inquisition was decent enough, although it paled and withered once The Witcher 3 claimed the RPG throne. But Odyssey could have what it takes to best at least Bioware’s efforts. At the very least, we can decide if we support Athens or Sparta, and it seems we can do a whole lot more dirty mercenary work, including recruiting a crew again (there’ll also be a trophy for having recruited an all-female crew) …

And then, all the stuff after release. Sure, it would be nice to have all at once – but have you read the details of Odyssey’s Season Pass? Two expansions, one about Atlantis! The episodic content sucks, sure, but Atlantis!

Here’s the thing. Ubisoft does questionable, very questionable things at times, like still having games with fucking loot boxes, or always-online for The Crew or The Division. And fucking loot boxes! But when it comes to value for money, Odyssey looks like a big fucking deal! Procided you like Assassin’s Creed, you pay 80 to 100 quid (depending on the version) for a 100 hour game. Plus the massive Assassin’s Creed 3 (hopefully a bit streamlined) plus its great tyrannic alternate history, plus the smaller bonus of Liberation!

And then, there’s the free stuff. We’ll get another Discovery tour and more free weekly and daily DLC in the form of mini quests! So, that’s plenty of bang for your bucks. But … well, there’s also a big concern. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey could very well have an expiration date, similar to pretty much every fucking game this year if you own a PS4 or a One. Let’s face it, Red Dead Redemption 2 is already raring to go, and unless Rockstar does a massive, massive fuck-up, it looks like a goddamn serious Game of the Decade contender. But pretty much every game this year has that red dead problem …

Time to Say: Fuck Nintendo!

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ... with tags , , , , on September 20, 2018 by Rabidgames

Remember how Nintendo always pretends to guise the clothes of the only consumer-friendly company in a world of sharks? Well FUCK THAT!

First of all, yes. Nintendo sometimes pulls of good shit such as the Xenoblade Chronicle games or the Zelda games – although quite often you feel they would get -10% points were they released on more advanced systems. Take Breath of the Wild – great phyiscs and a big open world, something unseen on a Nintendo system. But not exactly innovative in any way. We’ve seen physics before, we’ve seen open worlds before, we’ve seen a stamina system before. And we’ve sure as hell seen breakable weapons before, although hardly ever that ridiculously.

But – apart from that, Nintendo is an incredibly backwards company (just look at their 50s style family presentations in their games) and above all, they rip off their blind sheepish fans wherever they can – and always get a way with it!

How, you ask? Well, imagine Sony games would never get cheaper. Look on Amazon for the price of Breath of the Wild – 50 quid. For a game that was releases way over a year ago! Imagine Sony selling controllers for 60 quid – and that’s the “Joy-Cons” (imagine frustrated folks buying them thinking they bought a dildo …). But the motherfucking icing on the shit cake is this, quoting Eurogamer’s slightly rose-tinted article about the terrible Switch online service (more on that below):

the gall to present those £49.99 NES controllers – which only work with the NES app and not with other games – as a privilege, something that Sony or Microsoft would surely never have the gall to attempt

Funny, isn’t it? Imagine Microsoft designing a retro Xbox controller that ONLY works with original Xbox games. Sounds fucking stupid now, doesn’t it?

And then that shambolic online service. First, you need a phone app for voice chat. If only a console could handle that … Second, you can back up some of your saves now that you have to pay to play online, but as soon as you don’t feel like paying, Nintendo fucking deletes all your cloud saves straight away! How fucked up is that?

But let’s be clear – Microsoft and Sony and their paid online is as fucked. We’ve become used to pay for a service that is often still utter shit. And Nintendo joining them doesn’t make Nintendo worse (in this regard). But – Nintendo isn’t better. Nintendo isn’t the motherfucking knight in shining armour rescuing gamers in distress from the evil dragons Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo is just the same, and when it comes to online, Nintendo is incompetent as fuck on top of the shit cake they’re all eating together.

But couple this with ridiculously overpriced pricing for peripheral devices, couple that with the always extremely high prices to buy their games, and we see the combined result: A greedy company leeching its devout fan base on a level only EA and Activision reach, while pretending to be completely different wearing the family friendly colourful disguise of someone who almost credibly cares. So here it is: Fuck Nintendo!

 

Shenmue or Why some Glitches Should Stay …

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ... with tags , , on September 13, 2018 by Rabidgames

You’ve probably heard about the Shenmue remaster, that transports a game to this generation that is stuff of legends. Back then, the open world of Shenmue wasn’t famous for its size but for its continuity. No markers, you had to follow signs or what people told you. You couldn’t even fast-forward time all the time, so you had to find things to do to pass the time. And sadly, Shenmue also introduced, or at least popularised, a prime scourge of gaming. No, not micro-transactions, those came way, way later. Quick time events. Those fucking excuses for gameplay.

And these days, Shenmue is a sometimes burdensome but mostly wonderful anachronism. And more. It feels like the blueprint for Yakuza, yes. And yeah, sadly quick time events. Urgh. Anyway, the main thing about Shenmue is its deceleration. In this, it is pretty similar to Life is Strange. Why be in a rush? Sometimes, you just take your time. And sit back to look at things. Just breathe.

Oh, and the remaster isn’t without glitches though, which is a shame. But, Shenmue also offers an amazing audio glitch. Or perhaps this street really is haunted …

Let’s find out by playing the game, shall we?

Destiny 2 Stealthes to PSN Plus: Panic or PR?

Posted in Gaming these days ... with tags , on September 10, 2018 by Rabidgames

What the fuck? Out of nowhere, and just in time for its next expansion, Destiny 2 arrived on PSN Plus in a rather stealthy manner.

But is it PR? Goodwill? Panic? Or a mix of all of it?

Who knows. Fact is, the player feedback for Activion’s cash trap has been quite negative, no wonder if you take shit out of the base game to re-package it as DLC … There hardly was anything new or worthwhile when Destiny 2 was released, Activision did some idiotic amateur mistakes, and so it’s no wonder the free-to-play competitor Warframe is rumoured to be the best Destiny experience these days (sure, the shooting ain’t as crisp, but there’s already more story and character in its first 10 hours than there has ever been in all of Destiny 1).

To be fair to Activision (even though we probably shouldn’t), it seems they listened at least to some of the complaints and changed quite a few things in Destiny 2. There’s more mix and match possible now with weapons in the fabled update 2.0, for instance.

But after 5 hours in, it’s still the same old and Destiny … yeah, gunplay is great, but fighting the same waves of enemies all over again? Boring. The story now features more cutscenes, but there’s still not much of a story there. The gameplay is still “go there, shoot shit, go there again to shoot shit again”. No tactics, no cinematic stuff after the first couple of missions. There’s a bit of atmosphere when walking through the derelict ruins of the old world, but with enemies and other guardians spawning left and right, the atmosphere is quickly swallowed by the umpteenth meaningless shoot-out. Chances are if you finished Destiny 1 and were already bored, Destiny 2 will bore you to death.

Rabidgames wonders: One thing is for sure – Activision doesn’t give away Destiny 2 out of the goodness of their rotten, microtransaction-infested hearts. But if the aim is to lure in players by presenting an overhauled base game, fine. If the aim is a cry for attention, also fine. It’s a chance to look at the game again, and it might suit some. But if you look for more than great gunplay (solo, co-op or multiplayer), Destiny 2 doesn’t offer it.

F1 2018 or A Micro-Evolutionary Status Quo

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , on August 22, 2018 by Rabidgames

To be honest, most of F1 2018 could be summed up with one sentence. “An evolution of last year’s games with minor changes and improvements”. That wouldn’t be wrong for the most part. If you liked last year’s game, you will like this game. If you didn’t, chances are you won’t unless halo and interviews with the press are massive improvements in your mind.

First halo … It is dead-ugly in real life, and it is dead-ugly in the game. This is not the place to justify its mere existence or not, but aesthetically, it’s disgusting. But we’re stuck with it now, so what can we do?

The other big “new” addition (quotes because it’s technically just an old feature introduced again) to F1 2018 is interviews; in-between sessions, you can answer questions from the press. This can change the attitude of your team to you a little bit – but if you role-play Maldonado and crash your car left and right, it won’t do much anyway. Sadly, F1 2018 only goes baby steps there – you can’t be a total jerk or doodle on your mobile during interviews, and you can’t put the blame on the stewards and tell them to fuck off with their fucking arbitrary bullshit either. It’s all very tame and civil.

So yeah, the main thing of course is on the track. And on the track … well, F1 2018 is pretty much a lightly improved F1 2017 there. Sure, you can race in Hockenheim this year and there are more classic cars, but all in all, the pretty decent driving action and the relatively slick presentation (yes, looking at you, PES!) has remained the same. You can play the game as arcade or as simulation, you can play around with a million settings and sliders as much as you like, and F1 2018 will be responsive to all your changes. Oh, and if you like online racing against humans, the game will now pool you with racers with similar abilities. We’ll see how that works. It might have some merits, but imagine a full of grid of Maldonados and Grosjeans …

Sadly, the AI is also still hit and miss in F1 2018 – sometimes, it feels realistic, but sometimes, half the grid gets disqualified in a Monaco race. Sometimes, the AI drives hard but fair, but sometimes, they just hit you in the back in practice sessions because they expect a slower car to give way in a hairpin turn! It’s insane. But good news, you can enjoy quite some Destruction Derby fun in F1 2018 if you like … Have we mentioned Maldonado before?

Another odd thing in F1 2018 is that you can test out the tracks in time trial and your first “task” so to speak is to beat a “Default Ghost” … thing is, those ghosts are easily beatable in the dry, but if you choose wet conditions, you have to be perfect – they drive flawlessly in poring rain, which seems pretty odd considering how slow they are in dry conditions …

Sure, those small issues aside, F1 2018 is an optimised game in many regards, but as it often is with annual games, the optimisation doesn’t bring much change. It’s still the number one game for Formula 1 fans, and for both the hardcore simulation folks as well as the casual racing driver who wants to unwind or maybe learn the lay of the land ahead of the next F1 Grand Prix. But if you’re looking at real innovation, you’re looking at the wrong racing game.

Rabidgames’ verdict: Don’t buy if you prefer simple arcade racing or you still enjoy last year’s game, and you’re not looking for a game with only a few updates (and if you couldn’t care less about interviews).

Do buy if you’re a big massive F1 fan or if you want an up-to-date racing game with plenty of customization possibilities and an even deeper career mode. If you don’t mind the small updates.

The Crew 2 Open Beta or The Structureless and the Aimless

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , on June 26, 2018 by Rabidgames

The Crew 2 is going to be a strange game … sure, the first The Crew hardly had any memorable story, but this game has you driving to get followers while mysteriously being able to transform your vehicle to car/boat/plane instantly without any explanation ever except for “it’s for a TV show”. Seriously? Sure, the premise might be too much suspension for disbelief from the get-go for some, but let’s try to talk about the game, shall we? After all, fuck it, it’s a game!

Well, first, the world. It is a 1:1 rehash of the first game. Still there’s no Memphis, no Portland, no Boston … and no one knows why. Shame. The map looks better though. No surprise since you can fly, right? Speaking about flying in The Crew 2 … it feels weird. It is arcadey, sure, but sometimes you bounce back from hitting a tree! Ouch. Hitting a bigger obstacle will reset the plane, as will leaving the map. Flying itself is fun if you want to discover the landscape, but if you want to do that, you can also zoom into the map to see everything without having to change camera angles constantly. If you want to grind, you can constantly gain followers by flying around and doing stunts, too.

Boat racing … sorry, it is shitawfully boring. It’s a pretty much useless addition to The Crew 2 … for navigating the map, it’s useless as you can’t traverse much, and you can see the same and more via plane. The racing is also very boring. It’s just not fun. Car racing is mostly the same from the original The Crew. It is split up more, sure, but it doesn’t look or feel differently.

Progression works with followers won and ranks unlocked. You also earn money to buy new vehicles in new disciplines, which in turn need to be unlocked by progressing in ranks. And cars cost a lot of money. Sounds not exactly fun? You’re right, it’s not exactly fun. The Crew 2 seems to be an eternal grindfest.

Yes, the story in original game was rather on the shit side of things, but hey, there was some structure to the game at least. The only structure in The Crew 2 is that if you start a discipline, you get introduced to some future boss. And then you randomly choose races or challenges and win them. Over and over again. Oh, you can also search for live packs that give you random upgrades for your car (you can also get upgrades by winning certain races or challenges). A welcome change from racing are photo opportunities, where you are tasked to make a photo of some wildlife. Interestingly enough, you can get lots of followers and cash for making a photo.

Oh, and the voice-acting and the dialogues are atrocious. Utterly atrocious. You know when you hear someone is looking for “badassdom” in racers … The Crew 2 is a sandbox game in a very pure form – here are your tools, now play. No story, no explanation, no meaning, just racing. On the same map it shares with its predecessor. Sure, there is some addictive element to progress just a bit more, and if you’re inclined to play with others, this always-online game might be your cup of tea.

At the end of the day, the verdict is very negative. And yet, there are some addictive elements to The Crew 2, and the easy-going racing against others, against time are quite entertaining. And the good thing about the lack of structure is that you gain followers, money and parts by not even doing some serious racing, just by wasting some time. Which can be a nice thing after a long working day, you know … but it’s also an experience that can wait for a price reduction.

Rabidgames is bored: 30 minutes in, the game gets boring already. Races all feel to similar at the beginning, and there is no urgency to anything, or incentive to do something just now. Sorry, recycling a map and adding some half-implentend and unexplained features isn’t enough to justify a full-price purchase. Not this time, Ubi!

E3 2018 – Rabidgames’ Winners & Losers

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ..., The Latest with tags , , , , on June 20, 2018 by Rabidgames

This year’s E3 was better than expected. Game-wise. Let’s forget about the presentations, especially Nintendo’s Smash wank fest and Sony’s weird time-planning  though … Anyway, in terms of games, there’s some good shit coming our ways – and some not so great crap as well, unfortunately …

WINNERS

Cyberpunk 2077

THE obvious winner of this year’s E3, and we haven’t even seen much of the game! But what we’ve seen, read and heard, is very promising. Even if it is just Deus Ex in a GTA world, we’d take it, right?

The Last of Us 2

Well, what can you say? The game looks great, the animations look great, and it’s quite funny how a bit of girl-on-girl action can lead to morons foaming from their mouths …

Just Cause 4

When it was announced, Rabidgames was rather “meh”. Just Cause 3 was 2 leagues below the great Just Cause2, and it had some plain idiotic design choices (locking cool things behind boring challenges being the worst). And it also will feature different climate zones again – jungle, plains, desert and snowy mountains are confirmed – yay! But judging from this fooling around, Just Cause 4 might focus on the one thing that made the second game so awesome – fun.

THE MIDFIELD CONTENDERS

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

While the game looks nice, and the infos sound promising, there are two things that don’t feel too great: Why call a game Origins – and then go back in time??? And while Greece with its plenty of city states might be interesting, how could it ever compare with the pyramids, the deserts and the clash of 3 cultures in Egypt? Odyssey might become a good game, sure, but will it be a good Assassin’s Creed?

Rage 2

It looks pretty crazy, sure. But – it looks exactly like a mix of the shooting of Doom and then the worlds of Borderlands and Mad Max, and perhaps some Saints Row (all that pink!) thrown in-between. So far, we haven’t seen too much of an identity. Let’s just hope all the nice gadgets from the original Rage will make it into the game …

LOSERS

Fallout 76

Awful, awful, awful. A fucking MMO light without any NPCs or any useful single-player. Fuck this Destiny clone shit! If Bethesda doesn’t improve this thing a lot, it’ll be nothing but a fucking turd! And they know it, why else would they announce The Elder Scrolls VI when it’s still years away?

Anthem

Well, pretty much the same. Yet another Destiny clone, probably also as unfinished and shallow, and probably Bioware’s demise, although this one will have NPCs! Hooray? Fuck no!

WHAT’S STILL MISSING …

Dragon’s Dogma 2

Honestly, it is about time for a sequel. And please, no online crap! Give us a refined Pawn system, bigger and badder spells and a new world to discover as yet another Arisen already!

Half-Life 3

Just kidding …

Rabdigames’ verdict: A few surprises and a few nice reveals notwithstanding, there wasn’t THAT much to get excited about. It may be that a new console generation is already lurking in the background, it might be that the big hits (CYBERPUNK!!!) are still miles away, or it might be that Rockstar is still not willing to reveal Red Dead Redemptions 2 …

Vampyr or Undeath is Strange

Posted in Hands On, The Latest with tags , , , on June 15, 2018 by Rabidgames

After Life is Strange, the expectations were high.Would Dontnod’s take on vampires follow Max’ and Chloe’s adventures, or would it rather be like Remember Me, a game with good intentions and great design, but ultimately remembered for being a bit mediocre because of the weird combat and some strange puzzles? Long story short, Vampyr is a bit of both. And there are some nice easter-eggs and trophies in there as well to remind you of the developer’s heritage …

Vampyr has the long yet intriguing dialogues of Life is Strange, and it also has a similar yet considerably darker atmosphere. But the fighting also feels a bit disjointed from the rest of the game sadly. More on that later, but let’s just making the fighting optional certainly wouldn’t have Vampyr a worse game. Anyway, most of the time, you’ll talk to people and try to find clues that serve two purposes: First, you unlock hints that might be useful later, and second, the more hints you unlock and the healthier a NPC is, the more XP you get for drinking their crimson wine. Each NPC has a story to tell, and it is interesting to get to know more about them – if they survive long enough.

But the consequences … fuck. They are brutal. Let’s just say one decision can doom an entire district. For good. And worst, Rabidgames meant well! Vampyr doesn’t bother to give you any indication how to achieve a good or bad outcome, so prepare to restart the game and playing up to 10 hours if you mess this up and you can’t live with the consequences. Or save the game on a USB stick frequently … just asking for a friend, you know … Like said before, Vampyr is not shy to kill off everyone in a district if you don’t keep everyone, especially the so-called “pillars”, important NPCs in an area, alive. Alive and healthy, so you’ll spend time talking to them and keeping them healthy by brewing medicine – a lot!

Vampyr is a game that can be played fundamentally different. The main thing is that you get lots of XP and thereby an easy game if you “embrace” NPCs – embracing being the best euphemism for drinking their blood like Russians devour alcohol! If you do this, you quickly unlock the powerful skills of Vampyr – but it comes at a steep price – every living person gone brings a district closer to chaos.

Now, let’s talk about combat. While there are some fights you sadly have to fight, you can evade many. Now, the combat in Vampyr isn’t necessarily bad, but it takes up too much room in a game about choices. Way too much room. So, you can mix and match your weapons and abilities, which works for different playstyles. You can stun and suck blood, you can shoot your guns (although you don’t have many bullets at your disposal), you can use blood or shadow “magic”, there’s plenty of choice to be had. If only the fighting was fun … It feels a bit like Dark Souls though – more a chore on the way to your target than something to enjoy.

And then, there are boss battles. If you choose to be a “good vampire”, well, you’re fucked. There is a special boss fight around the middle of the game where you can easily get killed with 2 hits in this case. It’s fucking stupid. This is a case of Deus Ex: Human Revolution all over again – why bother playing non-violently when it boils down to brute force after all?

Even worse, the loading times. Vampyr takes forever to load, and if you die, prepare to watch the screen for at least a minute, at least on the base PS4. And you wonder why – the graphics are nice, but not spectacular. The physics also don’t justify it, and neither does the size of this Victorian London. So why does it take so long? Oh, and once every full moon, the game also crashes during fights.

So, where does this take us? Well, Vampyr is unfortunately a hybrid of great adventure moments and tedious combat, the latter heavily weighing down the former. And if you choose to be a good doctor, well fuck you very much, Vampyr becomes ten, okay, five times harder. The idea is alright, but especially the addition of way too many sub-bosses takes away from the great atmosphere. Another issue is the backtracking – there is no fast-travel so you’ll walk back and forth (with optional fighting, of course) quite a lot, often a couple of times the same way in a given chapter.

But despite all the shortcomings, Vampyr is a fascinating game. It is not as captivating as Life is Strange was, but it can mesmerise you when you investigate a scene or listen to all the dialogues and come to your conclusion, and if you get a decision wrong, you feel the same kind of pain you felt when you made that agonising last decision in Life is Strange. The game definitely has a soul. Whether that’s enough for you, well, that depends how thirsty you are for a vampire game.

Rabidgames ponders in the dark: It’s not that Vampyr does a great many things wrong. A few technical hiccups aside, it’s only the tedious combat that keeps the game, and the fun, down. And yet, it is hard to put the controller down once the story continues, once you’ve found out another secret of a NPC – and once you got over the fact you doomed 12 people because you meant well!

Cyberpunk 2077 Has Just Reached Hype Level 2077

Posted in Gaming these days ..., News, The Latest with tags , , , on June 13, 2018 by Rabidgames

Let’s start with something easy: You’ve watched the trailer for Cyberpunk 2077, haven’t you? If not, here you go. Expect to get excited though.

Looks good, right? But if that looks good to you, this piece from Eurogamer will be visual orgasm! Here are some of Rabidgames’ personal highlights:

We saw V’s apartment. Is that your home base you can return to?

Patrick Mills: That is your home base at the beginning of the game. Across the course of the game you will be able to purchase additional locations you can use as your home base. It’s too early to talk about too many details about that system, but we do plan on having that.

We got a glimpse at what you’re able to do in your apartment.

Patrick Mills: You can suit up, check your computer. In the demo the quest log up in the corner says, get your gun, get your katana, check your email.

Finally, a game with proper safe houses. And more than just a balmy one (or a meagre two in Franklin’s and Trevor’s cases) like in GTA V

But it gets better:

Is Cyberpunk 2077 a purely single-player game?

Patrick Mills: Yes, it is.

So there’s no multiplayer whatsoever?

Patrick Mills: We have multiplayer in R&D, but the game we’re shipping to you, the game you’re going to buy is the single-player experience. That’s really what we’re concentrating on now, the single-player RPG experience. That’s what we want to nail down before we start looking at any of these other things.

Hell yeah! This is how you do it! After the launch of a single-player game, do whatever you want, but focus development on just the campaign.

The quest structure also seems to be varied and “alive”. Hopefully, we won’t see many fetch quests in Cyberpunk 2077 though:

Will you get phone calls from people offering you quests?

Patrick Mills: You can expect a variety of things. In the Cyberpunk world there are these people called Fixers. The thing about Fixers is they’re the brokers of the mercenary life. They’re the ones who arrange for mercenaries to be brought in to solve problems. You’re going to get some of those jobs from talking to Fixers.

Sometimes you’ll see things on the street that you want to get involved in. We’ve got a variety of different ways to draw you into quests. We don’t want it to just be, drive to this location or just call this guy and get a quest. We want it to feel alive and immerse you in the world.

 

But … there’s a potential thing, a little bit of a problem, we should talk about. Read this:

What platforms will Cyberpunk come out on?

Patrick Mills: The game will be coming out on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. At the moment.

Have you guys settled on a year you want to release the game?

Patrick Mills: Not that I could give you. When it’s done!

Now, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but “at the moment” reads as if it will become a launch title for the PS5 and the Xbox, erm, Two X … not the best news, but Cyberpunk 2077 sounds too good to be true for this console generation anyway, doesn’t it?

Rabidgames is hyped: Before E3, this game was on the radar. Now, it is a clear case of “shut up, take my money!” Sadly, chances are it seems it might not even be released this decade. But good things come to those who wait, don’t they? And sometimes, those things turn out to be the best.

Dear Rockstar: A Friendly Intervention

Posted in Gaming these days ... with tags , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2018 by Rabidgames

We have been good friends for a long time, haven’t we?

Remember how our good times started? Remember the fun we had with the original Grand Theft Auto, GTA London, GTA 2 … Oh yes, we’ve had good times on the PS1. Although back then, it was still well-behaved and tame, wasn’t it?

But then we became best buddies, man. And times got wilder. You know how GTA III happened? Boom, that open 3-D world, us getting lost there, getting drunk, crashing cars? Man, we loved that shit back then! But you gave us even more with Vice City and the awesome 80s feeling, and EVEN MORE with the massive world of San Andreas. Holy crap, it felt like re-inventing the rules! But we share more fond PS2 memories, don’t we? The Warriors, Red Dead Revolver, Max motherfucking Payne, and of course the very awesome yet underrated memory of the amazing Bully (man, what a nice small world!). Sure, you were a bit weird with manhunt but still, good times, buddy, good times.

Sure, GTA IV was a bit of a drag because of the annoying relatives and the return to only a single city, and oh, Max Payne 3, well, we all mistakes, so you’re forgiven. But hey, we had fun with simply the best Western game ever, Red Dead Redemption, with the detective novel L.A. Noire and with the sprawling world and of course Trevor’s erratic behaviours in GTA V.

And man, we’ve loooved your stories. Your caricatures, your satire, your humour, you have made these things work on quite some levels. From the Wild West to urban centres, from small towns to Brazilian favelas, storytelling was your damn strength, dude! You’ve mixed fiction and the real world like no other, and you managed to simply piss everyone off! Like South Park, just more interactive.

But then, something happened … Let’s be honest here, okay? Let’s talk straight! You lost sight of our goals, buddy. In recent years, you’ve lost it, bud. Was it the money? The fame? The temptation of another quick fix? Whatever it was, how to put this, but man, you need to get a grip. We really miss your stories! Recently, you went AWOL on us to spend time in that modern online world. But dude, we’re still here. We’ve thought you’d care more about us than the fucking jocks from EA and Activision, you know. But lately, and please, don’t get this the wrong way, but lately you’ve behaved just like those dorks!

See, let me give you some examples here. We’re not dissing you, we’re telling you. You know, making GTA Online a grind, luring us in there with free money (come on, half a million is fuck nothing in your overpriced economy and you know it), ditching all plans for any campaign story add-ons after making promises … man, that one has hurt the most! Have you really forgotten your roots, man? Your roots, and the good times we’ve shared?

And now, man, we want to play Red Dead Redemption 2, we really, really, really want to buy the game. And we want to like it and look forward to it. Really, really! But DUDE! What the fuck are you doing? Why does it have to be shitloads of different editions? Even with “exclusive” missions? Fuck that shit, man! Why should we pre-order to get some fucking online cash for another fucking game? Come on man, stop partying with the frat boys from EA!!! Stop believing the sweet yet treacherous words from that Activision dude!

But let’s calm down for now, okay? After all, we’ve been friends for a long, long time. Shit, you could say decades! So see, because it’s you, we want to give you a last chance. Please, please prove you still care. Please show us you still can tell great stories, and you still have it in you to tell a long, meaningful story. But hey, look away from your phone! No exclusive crap! No more DLC shit! No fucking micro-transactions! Can you try to do that for us pretty please? Can you?

And make no mistake, Rockstar. This is your last chance. If you disappoint us again and you feel like treating the story just as a tutorial for your oh-so-beloved new online hobby, we’re done. Because frankly, right now, we don’t believe you and your talks anymore. It’s time for action. So comes October, we’ll see. So please, old friend, please don’t disappoint us! Or it’s farewell. Forever.

Agony or Gameplay from Hell

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , on June 5, 2018 by Rabidgames

First of all, DO NOT watch any gameplay from Agony at work. Even if you sometimes watch video game videos there. Just don’t. Unless you want to explain the sight of strangely shaped heads with teeth above bloodied breasts to you co-workers of course – and that’s one of the more harmless visuals …

 Agony. A horror survival game in hell. A developer that promised to make no compromises. Sounds good. But then, there were compromises. Developer Madmind Studio self-censored the game, even more than they said they would, and then miraculously released a video containing exactly the deleted scenes, which involve pornography and a demon dick raping a succubus. Yes, very fucking explicit scenes. Honestly, fuck discussing if that’s art or not, this kind of click-bait and “look how edgy we are” marketing is gross or pathetic. Or both, depending on your point of view. Oddly enough, apples with a “hole” have made it into the game …

It surely should not create a shitstorm among gamers, because talking about censoring bits of a game where there is still shitloads of violence, gore and sex on your screen is moot when it is a miracle all the content that is in is actually allowed on-screen in puritanical countries like the US or in countries like Germany, where even a ridiculously harmless game like Syphon Filter once had to have enemies bleeding green blood …

So controversy and violent porn scenes aside, how does Agony fare? Ugh. First, what happened to the graphics? You know, the trailers and past presentations showed a nice-looking game. Now, hell looks like a game released 5 years ago, and flesh rather looks like plastic in many areas. It’s also pretty dark – so dark that you sometimes can’t even stare at the wonders of hell because it is too damn dark! And yes, animations and NPC would look odd next to Skyrim! Then, there are problems with screen tearing and FPS slowdowns, as well as demons teleporting 2 meters next to you. Or you can’t progress for some reason until you restart the game …

But hey, maybe the gameplay can save Agony? Nope. The controls are not as responsive as they should, the character moves too slow, the puzzles are merely “find a heart and bring it there”, the stealth is similar but worse than Alien: Isolation, and the fighting small enemies but run away from big ones is also frustrating because of the technical issues or boring because the demons that quickly dismember you can appear everywhere (see above). It can also happen that you can be stuck in a hiding spot because the demon next to you keeps running into a wall … Or random stuff like this glitch or whatever it may be:

But there’s one good gameplay idea at least: If you die, you have a bit of time to fly (in spirit form) into another body, possess it and continue your journey. However, if you fail to do so, you’re dead. And here comes the idiotic save system of Agony into play: You have to use a mirror-thing to be able to save there, which in turn means you’ll return there (up to three times only though). And the game does an awful shitty job with placing them smartly. Sometimes, there are two within two minutes, and sometimes, you can’t find a single fucking mirror-thing for 30 minutes – until you get killed. But it’s fun to lose 30 minutes of progress over and over, isn’t it? Then again, the demon sometimes stands literally next to you kneeling and walks away again. Huh?

All of these factors combined turn Agony from a promising survival game to a game where you wonder if the game engine can even survive the game. Sadly though, the tiresome gameplay and the irksome bugs are so annoying, progressing is such a pain, that it is easy to overlook that the designers actually did quite a good job with their portrayal of hell in Agony. Some areas feel like hell, and you’re slowly crouching along when a demon is close by while you hear damned babies or mad adults cry. Some scenes also leave that slightly curious yet definitely uncomfortable feeling in your stomach, which is a sign a horror game does something right.

So no, it’s not that Agony couldn’t get anything right at all. Maybe it’s for masochists who loved to die a million times in Dark Souls, and now don’t mind terrible controls. Maybe it will be better once it’s patched properly. But while one can say this road to hell was paved with good intentions, the lacklustre execution means you grow tired of this incarnation of hell very quickly.

Rabidgames laments: Shame. Great potential, but the self-inflicted controversy about censorship, the unfinished state and the incredibly boring gameplay ruin this vacation to the depths of hell. A hell where you suffer the shortcomings of the game more than you suffer hell itself. Or to sum it up: The name says it all.

Conan Exiles or Of Gore, Chore and Freedom for Dicks

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , , , on June 1, 2018 by Rabidgames

First things first – yes, you can have your character run and bounce around naked in Conan Exiles. You can have a dick blowing in the wind, or some (rather artificial looking) tits hanging out, both in the size of your choosing. Why? Fuck knows (Conan lore might be good answer if someone asks you). After a few minutes of watching dick and balls flying about every time your dude jumps, you’ll be happy to put on some trousers though. Imagine a sandstorm rubbing against your genitals – that’s some rather unwelcome immersion … Or maybe not, if you’re an advocator of nudism.

Okay, with the genitals out of the way, yes, Conan Exiles is much more than that. It’s a rather classic survival game with tons of blood and gore, and you will also spend a considerable time of your gaming time in menus, building and crafting stuff. And breaking the will of people you deem worthy of enslaving is another thing to do in your spare time in the Hyborian age.

You can play Conan Exiles online in a PvP setting, in a PvE setting, with just a friend or, if you prefer to be the only king, alone. There are plenty of options to choose from to find the perfect way you want to play the game. Customisation isn’t the deepest but the mix of races, religion and appearance is also not the worst. And well, whether you want to allow the world to see your character in all your glory …

Let’s start with the story. Easy. You are hanging on a cross and not doing too well, the one and only Conan saves you, the sandbox is yours. And it’s a big, nice sandbox. Different terrains, different climates you need to be prepared for, and enemies all over the world. At first though, you have no clue what’s going on in Conan Exiles, what you can do or what you should do. As soon as you arrive at the first oasis with water and food aplenty after a few minutes, you will start experimenting to find your favourite way how to survive.

And it’ll take some time – you have a skill tree that gives you bonuses every 10 or so ability points you in turn get for pretty much every action you perform for the first time, you have a massive crafting tree that lets you unlock different things to craft, and you definitely have to start gathering plant materials, wood, food, pelts, meat, human flesh … well, the last one is optional (but useful if you worship certain gods).

Now – there’s lots of content in Conan Exiles, but how good is it? Well, it’s a mixed bag honestly. Exploring is always fun and one of the main strengths, making sure to have only the right stuff equipped (how much food and water, clothing, weapons) so you can go on a haul is important, and that is where Conan Exiles works best. Fighting is okay. Like many other games, it feels like a simplified version of Dark Soul’s combat, but it’s a bit clunky and it can feel boring quickly – like in Skyrim. But hey, you can brutally dismember your enemies in various ways, so there’s that!

Weirdly enough, crafting is not the strong point of Conan Exiles. Or maybe it is to survival experts or Minecraft fans, but building a house is a very cumbersome task – you need to prepare each and every part starting from the foundation individually, and then you need to put it all together, which takes some time. And once that’s done, you sometimes need a tool or a contraption to build a tool to build something else …

So, is Conan Exiles the game for you? Hard to say. Do you like to run around naked? Do you like to explore, and can you stand combat that is a bit rough around the edges? And the most important question – do you have a degree in architecture and do you enjoy building that much you don’t mind the complex and a bit convoluted systems? If you scream yes to all of the above, welcome to the primeval and brutal lands of Conan Exiles. This mix of Ark and Minecraft for adults might be right up your alley!

Rabidgames is doubtful: That being said, if you’re not a fan of at least 50% of the above, you’ll get lost in Conan Exiles. There are games that feel more work than play, and this one is surely one of them; beneath the genitals and the gore, there’s plenty of work waiting. More work than fun at times. It still has plenty to offer, but when crafting turns into a chore, settlements and sometimes games shall remain unfinished.

God of War or A Divine Tale of Gore and Boy

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Played & Explained with tags , on May 13, 2018 by Rabidgames

As someone who has never liked the previous God of War games, mostly because they were too linear and too fucking full of fucking quick time fucking events, the worst ever sorry excuse for actual gameplay mechanics, Rabidgames is pleasantly surprised how incredibly awesome the new God of War is.

god-of-war-1101287

Kratos and WWE’s Triple H – twins from alternate realities?

But make no mistake, the new God of War still is linear for most parts, it’s just rather well designed so you don’t feel the linearity that much. There are some branches that lead to some goodies, some paths that merge again, and some puzzles ask for a close observation of your surroundings. There’s also a big open area for you to relax and listen to Kratos’ stories, although his stories are not to everyone’s liking. But don’t worry, you’ll meat a better storyteller soon.

The combat system in this God of War feels slower but meatier – and seeing your thrown axe sink into an enemy’s flesh feels pretty satisfying, too. There will also be a second weapons later on, which will speed up combat a bit (no spoilers though). There is less gore in general, but the finishing moves still include Kratos ripping apart bodies, limbs and fountains of blood. But while the combat system is fun – and gets upgraded quickly with runic attacks from your axe and the boy’s bow attacks, enemy variety is a bit underwhelming. There are a handful of enemies that appear over and over throughout God of War, and only reappear with new skins later. The same goes for boss fights – there are only a few real boss fights, most are fighting the same set of mini bosses over and over again.

That being said though, it doesn’t have that much of an impact because the pacing in God of War is well-rounded for most parts – story, exploration, fights, puzzles and the odd “what the fuck?” moment work well together – pretty close to the pacing of Uncharted 4 (although the puzzles in God of War are more diverse and sometimes involve more thinking – although never THAT much more). The only time that wasn’t the case was towards the end when there were mini boss battles after virtually each step – honestly, that was the point where Rabidgames said “fuck this shit!” and went to finish the game on Easy – because once you figured certain enemies out, it was nothing but a war of attrition, which can become boring if it happens 3 times within 10 minutes …

Now, the story … without a doubt, this is where God of War really, really shines. What starts as a journey to spread the ashes of Kratos’ wife turns into more. Honestly, the less is said here the better but Kratos in the north works remarkably well, his interactions with others do, too. And virtually everyone you meet, from a stranger coming to your house (starting the first epic boss fight) to a mysterious witch, plays a part in this cosmic Norse play – it’s a bit of a bonus if you know a bit about Norse mythology, sure, but obviously, Sony’s Santa Monica Studio has taken some liberties there (which don’t feel terribly out of place).

As with the Greek mythology, the Norse gods were also pretty much giant (no pun intended) assholes. Don’t expect God of War to be a Viking Metal fairytale where the heroic deeds of Odin and Thor are praised. On the contrary, the gods are depicted as big jerks. Which makes sense, because if you read your Edda, they actually were. Or well, as actually as fictional characters can become …

You also get to travel a few of the legendary 9 realms in God of War. Starting in Midgard, you travel to some during the story, but there are also 2 realms that sadly only exist as glorified arenas. It’s a shame to do that, as it would have been awesome to explore these realms a bit more. A few are also locked permanently – sorry, we don’t get to see Asgard and Valhalla this time.

GOW

Black breath can’t be healthy.

And then, Atreus, or “Boy” – forget Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite, forget Ellie from The Last of Us (who was utterly useless in combat anyway), Atreus now officially is the new best juvenile sidekick in gaming. Not only is he a very, very integral part to God of War’s story, he changes from a weak little boy to a competent fighter – and more. In fact, he is a bit overpowered when fully levelled, which means all you need to do is evade and block and have Boy fire his arrows at enemies.

The writing also manages to portrait the relationship between Atreus and Kratos without it being tacky or soap operesque (is this even a word? Whatever). You can sense the bond between them growing because of the events in God of War, because of Atreus learning more and more about the world he’s growing up in, and you can feel it by how Kratos addresses his son. What exactly happens and what the implications of the revelation towards the end are, well, let’s say it makes more sense to not talk about it here, because, let’s face it, you should go and play God of War to see it for yourself. Speaking about implications, yes, there is a massive motherfucking cliffhanger! But in this case, it even makes sense. Let’s just say that Kratos’ bloody actions start a series of events that would probably have not fit into one game, hell, that would have been too epic for one game!

While this God of War might not appeal to all of the old-school fans of the series, the new mainstream approach has worked perfectly well in terms of metascore ranking and sales – and for a reason. Just like Uncharted 4, God of War is a masterpiece of storytelling and combining different gameplay elements together into a narrative machine that does a great job. And like Uncharted 4, God of War also is a very polished experience. Who would have thought that it pays off to publish a COMPLETE polished narrative masterpiece and make money with a SINGLE PLAYER game in this age of “games as a service”? Because fuck you, turns gamers actually like to play games like reading books – a complete experience you can wrap up in one sitting. And sure, there’s a cliffhanger, but that ain’t different with certain books. Right, George R.R. Martin?

Rabidgames bathes in the blood of Kratos’ enemies: First, Monster Hunter World has emerged as a GOTY contender, and now God of War throws its axe into the ring. And with Red Dead Redemption 2 on the horizon, there might be more to come … But one thing is clear – it will be hard to beat the story of this journey to Hel and back!

 

Agents of Mayhem or No Saints No Flow

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , on May 10, 2018 by Rabidgames

It’s a shame. Agents of Mayhem could be great, but it’s not. It could be fun, but it’s not. It’s just mediocre at times at best. Story missions, gameplay and other activities are way too repetitive, the humour is way worse than in the Saints Row series (the good joke ratio is probably 1:10), and everything you do feels like a chore. And it doesn’t help open-world Seoul is soulless and devoid of anything meaningful. It looks nice but there is no depth.

In a way, Agents of Mayhem can be described as Saints Row with 95% less fun, and it would be accurate. Sure, the gameplay can be engaging at times, but then again, it’s hardly ever truly awesome. The missions, split into sub-missions (some of the ever-boring category of “go there, shoot 5 guys”), are … there. The dialogues are there, the gameplay is there, and sometimes it can be alright, but never great, and after a few hours, mixing and matching the different agents is all that keeps you engaged. The agents are pretty much Overwatch as a single player. They are relatively fleshed out and sometimes have an interesting back story, and they also play differently. They also have some missions of their own. Sadly, 95% of the missions are EXACTLY the same missions with other skins. Imagine Saints Row The Third but even more repetitive.

And then, bugs. Missions in Agents of Mayhem are pointlessly long, involve too much of the same, and if you’re in the last phase of a boss fight but then you’re buttons become unresponsive and you have to quit the game to come back to 20 minutes before, well, that screams fuck you! If you’re lucky, you just have to reload a checkpoint because your task is to kill everyone in a room – but one enemy is in the next room, and the door will only open if everyone in this room is dead. Oh yeah, the game counts the guy in the next room as one who is in this room … Fuck.

And then there are DLC characters – having Johnny Gat as DLC in Agents of Mayhem was a good move – and an asshole move as well at the same time. Why have THE best Saint only as physical version pre-order? Why even as pre-order? Come on! Then there’s Lazarus, who is mildly entertaining with her shooting insects around, and Kinzie, the cool FBI hacker, who is pretty much the same character in this universe. Kinzie is worth getting as her playstyle is pretty cool, but well, what does it say in a mediocre game?

So yeah, Agents of Mayhem is a game that should only be grabbed from the bargain bin, because not only is it repetitive, it is also partially broken. Its only saving grace are some of the Agents that suit your playstyle, and the camouflages from the Saints Row games. The rest is, well, there. But just being there doesn’t get the agents a gaming participation medal. And while they are the best Agents of Mayhem has to offer, the rest is just too bland, lazy and uninspired to justify more time in Seoul. Let’s hope we can book another vacation in Stilwater or Steelport soon.

Rabidgames is sad: Shame. What could have been great is just mediocre. No one asked for this, no one will ask for it ever again. Volition, we want another proper Saints Row, not some cheap bargain bin AAA game that is put to shame by most indie games.

Monster Hunter World or World-Class Hunting and Gaming

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , on April 27, 2018 by Rabidgames

Remember Capcom? Last generation, they came up with failures like Resident Evil 6 and countless fighting games with even more countless rip-off DLCs, and then, out of the blue, they gave birth to the cutest dragon ever and named it Dragon’s Dogma. This generation Capcom has fared a bit better; Resident Evil 7 actually was a decent effort rather than an absurdity. But Monster Hunter World is this generation’s gem – a rich game that defies many conventions and attracts lots of fans, in this case old and new.

So why is Monster Hunter World that big a hit, when it’s just all about a world where you hunt monsters. Ecologically speaking, you are actually doing to Monster Hunter’s new world what white settlers did to the ecosystems of North America – decimate it first and then wonder why species go instinct … And let’s be honest here: the rather half-baked story that talks about the need to hunt predators because they have appeared in greater numbers than ever is pretty much the game’s manifest destiny.

The story about old monsters in a new world surely wins no literature nobel prizes yet somehow still works though – a few cutscenes here and there and new monsters showing up keeps players motivated – although the main motivation is the hunt. In Monster Hunter World, there are plenty of monsters to hunt (although less than in previous games of the series), and combine that with the dozen of different weapons to choose from, and you have a game to sink hundreds of hours into. Because a new weapon opens up a new world of combos, stances and getting hit a damn lot until you’ve learnt how the weapon works. Don’t even bother finding out about all of them, you won’t have the time. Pro tip: Learn a melee and a ranged weapon so you can switch between them when fighting monsters. Otherwise, you might waste time fighting that one monster that is a long, slow, death-filled toil because your current weapon can barely scratch its shell …

There are also countless items to help you battle monsters in Monster Hunter World – you can lay traps to capture them (giving you some special rewards) or put up barrel bombs, you can blind them, stun them or literally throw shit at them to make unwanted monsters go wash their shitty hide, you can set up boosters to help out your team … and more.

And then there’s the events introducing new and pretty tough monsters, or new skins like Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn or the MegaMan skin for the feline Palico friend or some Devil May Cry themed stuff soon. And you know what- all of this shit is FREE! Sure, some cosmetic stuff isn’t free but who cares about cosmetic stuff … Turns out the awfully named boardroom trend “games as a service” does not necessarily mean you HAVE TO rip off gamers with micro-DLC, micro-transactions or fucking lootboxes!

Speaking of Palicos – not only are they just awesome – okay, cats are always awesome, they help you a bit in battle, help you communicate with other creatures that can also help you in battle, and if you help them train Palico tools, they can be super useful in fights, too. Just don’t expect them to do all the work for you though. Here are some of the coolest Palico outfits, and some Brüno (if you ask who that is, your loss. Seriously! Google him! Now!) impression as a bonus:

And then there are the different dynamics of solo vs multiplayer. If you’re new to Monster Hunter World or you’re training a new weapon, you need to practice on your own if you don’t want to be a burden to your team and cart three times (aka dying three times which ends the mission). But for farming, multiplayer is incredibly quicker, and even if you don’t deal much damage, you can specialise in healing and buffing your team. Just … some random players are stupid as fuck. From dying because of immense stupidity (why heal yourself? why not get hit 3 times in a row by the same attack?) to prematurely attacking a sleeping monster while your team mate place some fucking bombs, there will be scenes of stupidity and frustration. But then again, if you’re lucky enough, you can actually join a hunt where everyone is quickly killing off 5 different and tough monsters in 10 minutes, so it’s a bit of a gamble.

Surely, Monster Hunter World is a game you either get our don’t get it at all. Spending dozens, perhaps hundreds of hours hunting the same 30 or so monsters over and over again, grinding some to get the best gear, and then changing the gameplay and trying to master a new weapon – it’s a virtual dream for some, a snorefest for others. But that’s fine. After all, not everyone gets the boring grindfest that is Dark Souls or the mindless explosionfest of Just Cause either …

But one thing is for sure, compared to previous games, Monster Hunter World is definitely an easy access into the genre of hunting monsters, although it is still not easy by any means – hitboxes, avoiding getting hit or learning how and when to attack are different from other games, so there is some learning curve involved. But once you have defeated your first massive opponent, once you have witnessed two alpha monsters battling themselves – a sight to behold – then it becomes hard to put away the gamepad. Because you can surely do just one more hunt before 11pm … or well, 2am.

Rabidgames sharpens the blade: Monster Hunter World is to Monster Hunter what Final Fantasy VII was to Final Fantasy more than 20 years ago – it catapults the franchise from J-obscurity to general gaming popularity. Sure, releasing the game on proper consoles with a big enough fan base might have played a part, but making the game more accessible definitely played the biggest part. 

Once a generation, Capcom pulls off something unexpected – in a positive way. This generation, Capcom has made hunting monsters accessible for the Western world. Kudos!

 

 

TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge or Falling over the Edge?

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2018 by Rabidgames

Hold on, what is this? Okay, quick introduction: The International Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Race is an annual race on the Isle of Man where pretty crazy bikers race themselves around the island. There have been hundreds of fatalities and many more injuries over the years, and well, you can read more about the real-world event here.

So, the game, let’s call TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge … a bit long, that one, let’s call it TT IoM RotE from here on for simplicity’s sake, so TT (come on, let’s just go with that, shall we?) is a motor bike racing game with the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race as its centre stage. And it is a pretty hardcore game – no rewind (a mistake made is a mistake that stays), not too that many options to customise your bike (there are some, and tweaks are quickly felt), and the tutorial is pretty much just a short introduction to the controls. After that, you’re free to go online and race others, race the AI or try out the different tracks in Time Attack. And … that’s all there is to do. Nothing to unlock. Only the career to complete. No extras.

There are also 9 additional tracks across the United Kingdom, but most are rather short. In the career as well as for your progress, they serve as stepping stones for the big race – and if you start out, they are hard as stone (sorry not sorry). Speaking of the career of TT, it is very, very bare-bones. Hardly any presentation, you read a mail, choose a race, you start the race. That’s pretty much it. Oh, and in order to make money in the career, you have to win races. Second place gets you nothing. Couple that with the lacklustre presentation and the high difficulty that TT offers, and if you’re not an expert in racing games, you can easily spend hours no earning virtual money at all …

But the racing itself … fucking hell, this is where TT really delivers! This is a game where you actually feel the wind in your face when you rush down a straight, a game where you need to learn the tracks because every little bump can send you into the walls … And this will happen. You will crash. A lot. The drivers don’t mind – they can crash at 250 km/h, dust themselves off and magically sit on the bike again. Thankfully, otherwise the frustration levels would be on Dark Souls level!

But here you will notice the subtitle “Ride on the Edge” actually applies. You have to ride on the edge, otherwise you won’t win. For most of us, that also means we will go over the edge a whole damn lot of times … The following video shows both the great feeling of speed you can enjoy in TT and what happens when you fly beyond the edge. And sure enough, the crash physics are rather funny than realistic …

At the end of the day, TT is a game with nice enough graphics and a decent racing core, but everything else, which isn’t that much anyway, isn’t too great. Unless you’re a die-hard motor bike racing fan, TT doesn’t have much to offer. But if you are, this game could be your personal ride to heaven.

Rabidgames hits the wall: It is frustrating to play for results for someone who’s more a racing games casual. Then again, just riding as fast as hell and thinking to use a blow-dryer or fan just for some cool effects and actually managing the next corner without the umpteenth faceplant feels pretty good. But you definitely need a laid back approach to racing games, or your driver and your bike won’t be the only things flying around uncontrollably …

Gravel or Accessible Arcade Action – Light

Posted in Hands On, Played & Explained with tags , , , , on March 13, 2018 by Rabidgames

What exactly is Gravel? In short, it’s an extremely accessible arcade racer with an okay-ish selection of cars and tracks (you need to unlock basically everything) by Italian developer Milestone who’s mostly focused on racing games with 2 and 4 wheels. Gravel features cars that mostly go off-road (including gravel, of course), and the career mode “Off-Road Masters” is presented as a TV show.

When you first boot up Gravel and have a look at the options, you’ll notice quite a few settings. You can set your braking and stability helps, brakes, whether you want the ideal trajectory (aka the racing line) to be shown, and more. The thing is – the more help you turn off, the more bonus points you get! The same system applies to difficulty – the harder the more points. Sadly, the whole system gets offset by how very easy the game is on, well, very easy, so a victory there nets you by far more points than the +5% for 4th place on Medium.

But Gravel doesn’t stop there – you can also play around with your front and rear suspensions, transmission, differential, brakes and alignment (in a completely different menu just before the start of a race that you might actually overlook). If you’re into that kind of thing, you can get a bit of time out of it, but unless you’re really struggling with your chosen car on a course, it’s not really needed to be honest. Besides, there are only minor differences with the handling, or the speed, of the cars anyway.

Then again, the problem is you need to unlock virtually everything in Gravel, so feel free to win races (unlocking cars, liveries and tracks) to earn points (to unlock more cars and liveries). You do that via career which is presented as a couple of races and championships, followed by a face-off with the allegedly best driver in a category you then have to beat a few times. Each race won/finished in a set position/finished nets you a certain number of stars, and a certain amount of stars unlocks more races. It’s a neat little system where it’s alright to jump into the game once in a while to get in a few laps even when you don’t have the time to simulate an entire one hour race. The highlight of Gravel’s career mode are the races against the “masters” of a discipline (and you also get a promo clip introducing their personality). In reality, it is just 3 more or less difficult 1-on-1 races – but you have to win all of them!

Now, for the arcade-ness of Gravel, most races only take 2 to 4 minutes, and the A.I. is pretty foreseeable. On higher difficulties, your opponents are just a bit quicker and tend to be more in our face, but don’t expect tactics or team play. Rubber-banding is also there, although if you’re quick, you can have a comfortable lead anyway, it’s more the case that the A.I. doesn’t get away when you’re behind.

But then again, the game gets considerably hard sometimes out of the blue (because you won’t expect it); time-trials have times that are not that easy to beat in Gravel, and the outright idiotic “Smash-up” events where you have to hit the correct signs in your way are pretty hard and, most crucially, the opposite of fun. You have to get out of your way to hit some of them, and the whole joke is a chore to be best ignored.

The discrepancies in Gravel are stark – with A.I. on easy, you can easily win with 20 or more seconds to spare in races against cars, but the same result gets you 3rd in Time-Attacks and last in Smash-Ups … something absolutely doesn’t add up there. Furthermore, it is a bit too arcadey that the weather and surface hardly have any effect – asphalt, mud or grass don’t make much difference in terms of handling, and rain and snow should feel way more different.

But at its heart, that only emphasises the fun factor of Gravel’s arcade approach – everyone can jump in for a quick race – sadly, there is no split-screen, which is a massive oversight for this kind of game. There are a few online multiplayer modes, some of them probably fun for those who are into multiplayer – Capture the Flag with cars is certainly more Destruction Derby than racing. And while crashes might not see the cars falling apart, at least you can have some car-flipping fun:

But for all the fun, there isn’t too much substance in Gravel. Mind you, it is a full-price game, and when you compare it to DiRT or GRID, Gravel falls flat on its bumper. Yes, it is accessible, but the main target groups, arcade-racing fans and casuals, probably don’t care too much about a racing game like Gravel where you get instant fun for a premium price. Besides, the graphics aren’t too great either (sometimes it feels like a late PS3 game) so you can clearly see the AA charm of the game. Couple that with the fact that most stadium or race tracks are samey, and you only have a few shining tracks like the wilderness of Alaska, the coast and desert of Namibia and the snow-covered Mont-Blanc, and the at times contradicting design decisions, and you end up with cheap popcorn fun for the price of a full-on experience.

Rabidgames parks the car: For half the price, Gravel would be a nice and smooth ride. For full price, it’s the equivalent of buying tickets to a Formula 1 race but then seeing Formula E instead – it might still be enjoyable, but a bit of pace, quality and glamour is amiss. But if you’re actually looking for a racing game to just jump in for 10 or 20 minutes after a labouring day, this might be your pick. For those who prefer to sink their teeth into a game, Gravel doesn’t offer enough substance for a hearty meal though.

 

How to Get a Head Start in Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Posted in Hands On, Played & Explained with tags , , on February 23, 2018 by Rabidgames

As you might know by now, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a devilishly hard game. You start out as a poor peasant with hardly any money, skills or knowledge, and the world is hostile to you. But don’t fret, Rabidgames has a few tips for you:

  1. Finish the tutorial quickly if you want to get to the really open world. There is no need to hang around. Well, you can get some gear and earn some groschen, but you can do so as well in the open world later.
  2. Focus only on fleeing when you have to flee at a certain point in the tutorial. And whistle strategically to help out a damsel in distress if you decide to play as a decent Henry!
  3. You learn by doing. Like in Skyrim, the more you do something, the faster you learn it. This goes for pretty much everything, including speech. So talk to every named character.
  4. Advance in the main story. This is the quickest way to get better gear and eventually a horse so you can explore at good pace, and you can store more stuff. You don’t have to, but it makes medieval life considerably easier.
  5. Take your time. Enjoy the game at its slow pace between story missions, side missions and fighting. Be careful with accepting quests as some are time-sensitive. If you can, enjoy the atmosphere once you have some spare time, and remember, you will still learn by doing things, even if you just collect flowers, walk or ride around or you go on leisurely hunts (don’t get caught poaching though).
  6. Collect flowers. Sounds boring, is pretty boring, true. But you do level up herbalism, which means you can collect more flowers with each one you pick, which means you can sell them to make quite a bit of money early on. And, at level 10 of herbalism, you can choose a perk that lets you level up your strength with each herb you pick. Sounds cool, doesn’t it? And as a bonus, pick a perk that gives you +2 Charisma when you carry around scented herbs. As an super extra bonus, you get +2 Vitality if you collect many poisonous herbs …
  7. As soon as you can practice fighting, do it. The more you practice, the more you level up your various fighting skills, and more. Attack, block, move around all the time.
  8. Archery is tricky. Pretty early on, you can find some bows (don’t waste your groschen on buying them, they appear early on in the game). Do so if you plan to use bows (attacking enemies before they can reach you is worthwhile in Kingdom Come: Deliverance). It takes a while until Henry gets half-decent with bows, but later on, bows become fun. The first 5 levels are definitely a pain though.
  9. Picking locks takes practice, too. And it sucks. But eventually, it’ll get easier. It still sucks though. The same goes for pick-pocketing.
  10. Pay attention to your clothes. Social standing depends on them – people will react differently, and sometimes even prices will change as well. Don’t explore with heavy armor – you won’t be able to store anything. Don’t steal while dressed in white clothes, and don’t fight with a cloak. Oh, and repairing your own stuff instead of having it repaired is cheaper – and again, you get experience for it.
  11. A balanced diet helps Henry and your wallet. A balanced diet is important, we all know it (and often ignore it). Even in this game. But there are a few things to keep in mind; whenever there is free food, grab it and eat it (be careful not to steal it unless you’re sure though). Some mushrooms are edible, apples are sometimes lying around – a great source of energy for Henry although they spoil pretty fast. Dried food keeps forever however. Or at least a very, very long time, so stock up on them whenever you can afford them. And when you see a big pot with delicious whatever-it-is-in-there, one portion is usually free, so enjoy!
  12. Make sure the game saves! Never just assume it did, always check out the Load option before leaving a session. The game will fail tos save when you sleep. Always have at least 2 Savior Schnapps at the ready, you never know when you need them.

The First 10 Hours in Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , , , on February 15, 2018 by Rabidgames

After a long wait, some changes, the reveal of strange ideas such as drinking schnapps to quicksave and a political discussion or two, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is finally out and about, and we can jump into a world previously described as Skyrim/Witcher without magic but some hardcore gameplay set in the European Middle Ages.

But before you play, there’s a whopping 23 GB day one patch waiting to be downloaded, and afterwards, prepare yourself to wait for almost a minute until you see the main menu. The first time it happens, you might be inclined listen to some narration about the historical events prior to the events in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, but after the tenth time of the booting the game, this starts testing your patience. Oh, and from the main menu to the game is usually another minute of waiting time.

The first thing that comes to mind once you can finally start playing Kingdom Come: Deliverance is the odd choice of using English names in the middle of Bohemia – it can be doubted the blacksmith’s son was really called Henry – for a game that takes pride in portraying medieval life accurately, anglicising names, and anglicising the name of the protagonist above all – seems an odd choice, especially when most characters around Henry actually DO have proper Bohemian sounding names …

Anyway, Kingdom Come: Deliverance starts out pretty relaxed: Our boy Henry wakes up after a long boozy night out (see, teenagers haven’t changed at all) and gets sent by his father to do stuff. Said stuff can be done in quite a few ways, although if you fail spectacularly, you might just end up rotting in jail and see a game over screen before the hour mark has passed …

Graphically, the game has its ups and downs; while foliage and water look amazing up close, forests look dead-ugly with almost PS2 textures from afar. Cutscenes generally look stunning, but in-game, it’s not that great. Mind you, you wouldn’t realise it that much if the cutscenes weren’t so nice looking. Speaking of cutscenes, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is full of them. Even talking to a trader involves a cutscene – and loading times. Then again, some dialogue outside cutscenes involves lips no moving or characters staring in Bethesda manner, so one could argue that cutscenes would have been better there in the first place.

The world in Kingdom Come: Deliverance is pretty big and those who live in rural Central Europe might actually feel at home (if that home was devoid of technology), but also relatively empty of things to do. There are flowers to collect and animals to shoot and at times, a little spot near or in villages where you can find useful things. Most houses and sheds are accessible but there’s not much in there. And yet, there’s a certain magic by just casually walking around in Kingdom Come: Deliverance. You can almost smell the fresh air, the scents of the forest and you can almost feel the sun on your skin … It is easy to get lost by wandering around.

The first 5 or so hours in Kingdom Come: Deliverance are pretty much a tutorial introducing you to some gameplay mechanics and the lore- or rather history-heavy story of the game. Unfortunately, on one rather strange occurrence, you might get teleported to the next part of a quest, even if you wandered off into the opposite direction … which is a heavy offender in terms of breaking immersion because it just happens suddenly without any indication or explanation. In general though, the tutorial tells you some things you feel overwhelmed with, but at the same time, it is very linear, a tad too linear actually. But don’t worry, freedom will be yours soon!

So, about those comparisons … well, forget them. Yes, like in Skyrim, you gain experience by doing things – from fighting, stealing to collecting flowers (which can net you some money early on if you feel like doing it), but as opposed to Skyrim, you don’t find enemies hidden behind every corner in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and then fighting itself is a more complicated matter of five-directional attacks and the choice of stab vs slice, plus combos and blocks. And then some, from taking into account armor and the type of weapon to checking your stamina … Kingdom Come: Deliverance boasts a very complex fighting system that rather resembles Dark Souls than Skyrim. Thankfully, you get proper training a few hours in to explain things to you, and from then on, fighting becomes a thing – if you want. And if you get it. And if the game happens to be responsive, which it is not at all times. At any rate, it is a long and steep learning experience, so no, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is rather the opposite of Skyrim.

Now what about the comparisons to The Witcher 3? Well, you have a medieval looking open world torn by war and greed, an already pre-defined protagonist – although Henry is a peasant with hardly any knowledge so the RPG aspect and learning is way stronger in Kingdom Come: Deliverance – and a strong focus on story (no spoilers about it in here, but it starts out like an episode of Game of Thrones without dragons in Bohemia, and following the main quest stays interesting throughout the first 10 hours) so there’s that – and it works well. There are also consequences, some quickly leading to death or the game over screen …

Furthermore, Kingdom Come: Deliverance also puts some emphasis on alchemy (think of the potions in Witcher to give you buffs). However, as almost everything in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, it comes with obstacles: First, you need to be able to read. Otherwise, you actually cannot read books. Actually, you see letters but they make no sense, which is a nice touch. Sure, it’s realistic for those times and there’s a quest tied to it, but it also feels like an unnecessary extra step to prevent you from cheaply acquiring your quicksave schnapps. And believe Rabidgames, you WANT that good shit as soon as possible!

Why? Well, saving in Kingdom Come: Deliverance is unnecessarily complicated. Sleep in your bed and the game sometimes let you save – sometimes you can’t (this might be patched later, fingers crossed), leaving you without the ability to save for potentially a looooooong time, or you drink some schnapps, which can make you addicted and also uses up that bottle of very expensive alcohol. Ouch! Sure, you also save when you begin a quest (rather pointless if you’re far away from the next step of it) and sometimes, the game autosaves, too. Rarely. If you’re in the middle of a quest and the guy you need to talk to becomes unresponsive – you’re fucked. Go back to that save from an hour ago, thank you very much.

Now, saving is just one of the things that makes you realise Kingdom Come: Deliverance makes things considerably more complicated and user-unfriendly than it would have needed to. Same goes for archery – before level 5, you tend to injure yourself. If you want to know what archery looks like inKingdom Come: Deliverance and how awful it is at first, look here:

So, many things can summed up like this: Realistic, yes. Fun, fuck no! Same goes for fast-travel – you get tired and hungry when fast-traveling, so long ways are rather … difficult at first. Yes, this was also in the hardcore mode of Fallout New Vegas, but there was a reason it was called hardcore mode. An optional mode.

Long story short: Kingdom Come: Deliverance turns out to be a promising game. Wandering around in the lush and vibrant countryside is a joy, walking around in towns and villages and watching medieval folks is also fun, and you get to learn a lot if you’re interested in history. But as a game, Kingdom Come: Deliverance has some way to go. Making everything abstruse and overly complicated might be what the devs had in mind, fair enough but it also sucks out the fun in the beginning and the save system is nothing but frustrating, and not all of this shit is intended!

Warhorse needs to fix the save system, and coming up with a Story Mode with the ability to save whenever you want, or making the need to eat, sleep and bandage your wounds optional as well as simplifying the stupid and almost impossible lockpick and pickpocket systems – all of this would make Kingdom Come: Deliverance way more accessible and also commercially appealing to the masses who like the simplicity of Bethesda games.

As it stands, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a hardcore game for the hardcore niche. But below the hardcore surface and the manyfold technical issues (intended or not intended) lies a game that has the potential to enthral almost every gamer – without the need for magic! At this stage however, be prepared you’re about to go onto a journey that is not always comfortable, and that will be very demanding – in terms of focus, time and nerves. You will be nicely rewarded, sure, but the journey is all but smooth.

Rabidgames saddles his horse: 10 hours in, Kingdom Come: Deliverance slowly starts to shine. After the linear start, you are now free to explore and get to know the world at your own leisure. If the technical issues and design choices have not put you off yet. So yes, the game needs some patches and some polishing, but it might just take a few smart steps to change a rough diamond into a shining gem.

 

Monster Hunter: World Beta or From “What The Fuck?” to “Nice!”

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , , on December 11, 2017 by Rabidgames

So, imagine you’re a total noob from Noobsville, and you happily start playing the Beta of a complex and deep game like Monster Hunter: World. Oh, there is only a less than bare-bones tutorial. What could go wrong here?

The start was easy enough – creating a character, creating one’s Palico (a feline companion, isn’t THIS what we’ve always wanted, guys), a few explanations, choosing a weapon (bow, not the best of ideas, but more about that later), starting the quest … the first monster of the Monster Hunter: World Beta could easily be beaten by just randomly shooting at it, so fair enough. Now onto the second monster … well, it ended in epic fails and big monster hunter tears to say the least. The idiotic 20 minutes time limit did not help at all, and the limited explanations of the different weapons, controls or functions neither. With no clue what was happening and why, rage quitting was the safer option given that controllers are so fucking expensive these days.

The next day then, Rabidgames tried some Monster Hunter: World again – this time, choosing the Insect Glaive but kinda neglecting the insect part. Why? Well, you can use the glaive as a pole and then jump onto monster to attack them while riding them – sounds great. Soon after, the second hunt was done. The third hunt however proved to be a challenge, but after diving into the multiplayer – it took too many tries to get a stable team together (not because of the players, because of the awful connections) – the last hunt was quickly dealt with, too.

It seems perfectly fine to go solo in the game – or take your feline friend with you, who fights, has tips and heals if necessary, but multiplayer might be a good option if you want to watch, participate a bit and learn how to attack the bigger hunts in Monster Hunter: World. If Capcom actually monitored the Beta, they better prepare more servers though, otherwise there won’t be much fun in multiplayer …

Just to show how others do it and what happens when you “git gud” (Disclaimer: it is only used to provide this example and not as judgment, as everyone knows folks who use this expressions are usually douches and assholes), here’s a video of some lunatic going crazy in Monster Hunter: World’s demo, pardon Beta:

Interestingly enough, it really makes sense to compare the beloved Dragon’s Dogma to Monster Hunter – not only because of riding monsters and a completely different feeling depending on the weapon you use, both share that awkward and strange gameplay as well as controls that feel a bit clunky at first, but when you keep playing them, you can use them to your advantage. In Monster Hunter’s case, it means knowing your attacks and the attacks of the monster, and knowing when to evade and when to attack.

Now, once has to wonder why the fuck Capcom has been actively trying to make the series more appealing to a wider audience, but then delivers with a Beta that is a haven only for Monster Hunter experts, while telling noob to piss themselves and then go crying or try some more. It doesn’t make any sense and might have lost them sales, too. So, did the Beta do a good job of highlighting Monster Hunter: World’s strengths once you overcome its weaknesses? For those who persevered and learned a few things, definitely. Here’s to hoping the final game will include more tutorials to really understand how weapons and the dozens of gadgets work – from slingshots with different ammunition, bombs and traps to gillies and more. Of course, the main motivations will break parts off monsters and kill them, loot them, craft better stuff, take on more dangerous fiends, rinse and repeat, etc.

Now, will that be enough in the long run? The Beta showed a promising game, but we’ll see. After all, the gameplay could be very, very repetitive, and it might become boring after a few weeks. Like Dark Souls, for instance. Then again, if you get Monster Hunter: World for PS4, you can (more or less) play as Aloy, and you even can have a feline robot companion!

AloyMH

Fuck, how can one resist now?

Rabidgames waits for now: Well, let’s see. So far, Monster Hunter: World looks promising. But so did Shadows of War or Battlefront 2 until loot boxes destroyed their reputation. So for the time being, knowing how Capcom can be especially with their murky DLC politics, why not do what a hunter does best – lie in wait?

 

Rubgy 18 or What Is Going On?

Posted in Hands On with tags , on October 31, 2017 by Rabidgames

So imagine you like watching Rugby. And now there’s a rugby game, so why not get it? So you go out and buy Rugby 18 only to realise there is only a bares-bone tutorial explaining a few things and then you can read about rugby. No videos, no audio, just text. Ouch.

But come on, how hard can it be? Well, perhaps Rabidgames is lacking talent or any kind of understanding for rugby. But after 3 matches of Rugby 18, the score was 0-0. Yep, 0-0! Defending comes relatively natural, so no, defending isn’t a big issue. But going forward only works at snail’s pace, if at all, so what to do? You keep on playing, you try new things, but not much really happens until you finally score a try. Mind you, that’s on the easiest difficulty setting of Rugby 18. You get the ball, you pass, you get tackled, you get the ball, you pass, you get tackled, rinse and repeat. Rucks and scrums are presented by mini-games, and if that’s better thought out then the core gameplay of passing and running, you know what you need to now about the sorry state of the game.

There also a career mode, but there is hardly any presentation whatsoever but a few extra menus where you can loan players or check your finances, making the career even more boring than the rest of the game. The rather boring menus in PES look like fucking Oxford Street a week before christmas compared to Rugby 18

The commentary in Rugby 18 is also, well, it seems random. And when the teams are introduced, there are even audible pauses, that you can hear during matches at times, too.

What can one say about Rugby 18? You know some games include grinding, but if grinding is part of the gameplay itself, you’re in for an awful treat. And that is exactly what Rugby 18 is – an awful game plagued by boring gameplay, and even more boring presentation and then some technical issues. But hey, at least the graphics look nice!

Rabidgames needs an energy drink: Hands down, Rugby 18 is one of the most boring games ever. If you’re a big massive fan of rugby or an insomniac, you might want to give it a try. Everyone else should just avoid it.

 

 

Assassin’s Creed’s Timeline or Full Circle

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2017 by Rabidgames

With Assassin’s Creed Origins just out, why not take a look at the history of the series? For this purpose, we’ll only look at the main games (Liberations not included as it is considerably smaller), and if they’re worth visiting again. For this purpose, Rabidgames has played each game for at least 5 hours.

Assassin’s Creed

The Setting: Medieval Middle East during the Third Crusade. We can explore three cities, Jerusalem, Acre, Damascus, as well as the hub and assassin hub of Masyaf. And we meet a real life Templar leader …

The Story: Pretty much just killing Templars to obtain the Apple of Eden, a powerful artifact (it’s a long story). In present times, we are introduced to Desmond, Lucy and Abstergo, the modern-day Templars.

The Gameplay: Repetitive. The first Assassin’s Creed is 9 assassinations – the good thing is you can do them however you please (to a degree), the bad news is you have to repeat the very same steps leading towards the assassination 9 times. Oh, and you better enjoy gathering a million flags …

The Verdict: Hard to get into now. Essentially a tech demo.

 

Assassin’s Creed 2

The Setting: Renaissance Venice, Florence, the family hub of Monteriggioni and a few more locations. You get to meet folk such as Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolò Machiavelli, Caterina Sforza, Bartolomeo d’Alviano, Lorenzo de Medici, the villainous Borgia and uncle Mario.

The Story: Experience how Ezio turns from spoilt playboy to feared Assassin leader who takes on the corrupt pope and meets members of the first civilisation (who created the Apple from AC1 and lived on earth before humanity). In present day, Desmond meets a few more Assassins.

The Gameplay: More varied, more counters, more tools. If you’re into puzzles, you can explore caverns and tombs, or you can solve glyph puzzles that give you some insight into the world of Assassin’s Creed.

The Verdict: The story is still great, the gameplay feels a bit bare-bone now though. Still worth experiencing though.

 

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood

The Setting: Renaissance Rome, including all points of interests and the outskirts. Also, you can explore present-day Monteriggioni. Most of the cast from AC2 appear again. Desmond gets a bit stabby at the end of the game.

The Story: Monteriggioni is attacked. A wounded Ezio arrives in Rome to take revenge. And take revenge he does …

The Gameplay: Well, mostly a refined version of AC2. Plus you can now recruit and command assassins and send them on missions. We learn more of the perennial bad girl Juno. For whatever idiotic reason, multiplayer gets introduced. Who asked for this?

The Verdict: Commanding your brotherhood never gets old. Still fun to mess around with.

 

Assassin’s Creed Revelations

The Setting: Istanbul/Constantinople. The city looks and feels different from the previous games.

The Story: Ezio travels to Istanbul/Constantinople to discover an important secret. Also, we get to know more about Altair. Desmond is stuck in the Animus.

The Gameplay: More of the same, but with bombs and more mobility. Sadly, no more glyphs but a poor Tower Defense mini-game. Unfortunately, multiplayer is still in.

The Verdict: This game has a same old, same old feeling sadly. Lots of extra stuff not worth your while.

 

Assassin’s Creed III

The Setting: The American Revolution. Set in the wilderness, protagonist Connor’s homestead and rather rural looking Boston and New York. A stellar cast, including Franklin, Washington, Jefferson and many more.

The Story: The American Revolution. However, the game deviates from its predecessors by telling the story in different shades of grey. We also get a bit of a Vader/Luke situation. Also, the end of Desmond’s story and Juno’s release.

The Gameplay: A few changes, but mostly just redefined from previous games. A hint of naval battles and trekking through the wilderness – a highlight in deep snow – as well as hunting gave AC3 a different feeling though. There are also quite a few segments in present day with Desmond. Unfortunately, multiplayer is still in.

The Verdict: Tough one. The story is great, the gameplay can be fun, but it is a few chapters too long and the crafting and economic system are mostly useless. Still, Ubisoft dared to touch this sensitive topic and delivered a game neither neglecting the will for freedom nor how the freedom was exploited quickly.

 

Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag

The Setting: The Caribbean. Pirates. Ships. Your ship. Three major cities; Kingston, Havana and Nassau, a multitude of little islands and your very own hideout island. You meet quite a few famous pirates, including the infamous Blackbeard.

The Story: A pirate (father/grandfather of the protagonists of AC3) turns Templar turns Assassin (and stays there). The story actually spans 3 different times, and present day is narrated from the eyes of an Abstergo employee. Juno says hello, and the Sages are introduced.

The Gameplay: On land, not much changed. Except for awful tailing missions, the low point of Black Flag. The naval battles are an absolute highlight though. You are an Abstergo employee in present day – anonymous and clueless. Unfortunately, multiplayer is still in.

The Verdict: Great and different. Sailing the seas and sinking ships never gets old.

 

Assassin’s Creed Rogue

The Setting: The Atlantic Ocean near the Northern American coast, a smaller map with more islands, New York. And your ship. Not much happens in present day.

The Story: You play as an Assassin turned Templar! Nice change, eh?

The Gameplay: Same as Black Flag, plus a few extras here or there. Thankfully, minus multiplayer.

The Verdict: The story ties together the American saga ACs (although the beginning of Unity is related, too). It’s a bit short in terms of story, but again – sailing and sinking. Oh, and fighting Assassins, of course.

 

Assassin’s Creed Unity

The Setting: Paris during the revolution (the French one in case you’re wondering). A very lively and nicely looking Paris full of details and atmosphere. You get to meet characters including Napoleon, Marquis de Sade and Robespierre.

The Story: Entirely forgettable. Not much happens in present day either.

The Gameplay: A few new systems, but fighting was way too clumsy and not intuitive. Co-op missions are in for whatever reason, another thing no one ever asked for. Speaking of shit no one ever asked for – locked chests you could only open with a companion app – a low point.

The Verdict: Broken at release, now Paris is a joy to explore, but a chore to play through. Boring protagonist and the revolution just happens around you.

 

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

The Setting: London in Victorian times, including the Buckingham Palace, the Tower and Big Ben. And a bit of London during World War 1. Your base is a moving train. You get to meet the likes of Marx, Dickens, Darwin, Florence Nightingale, a young Arthur Conan Doyle and Winston Churchill.

The Story: Two twins take over gangs and take down a Templar conspiracy in London while London oozes Victorian and proto-capitalist (poisonous) air. Something very important happens in present day. And the Assassins save the queen. Obviously.

The Gameplay: Sleek and refined. There are also Hitman-style assassinations and you can develop both characters differently. Diverse and rewarding side missions make sure there’s always something to do in London. Oh, and no more fucking mutiplayer, yay!

The Verdict: The best gameplay, hands down. And a great protagonist (Evie, not Jacob) make the game a joy to play and mess around with gangsters and cops.

 

To sum it up, while Unity can very easily be called the weakest game due to its forgettable story and nothing important really happening (even if we forget about the technical issues at start), it’s difficult to name ONE game to be the best Assassin’s Creed game – story-wise, Assassin’s Creed 2 wins. Brotherhood has the best feeling of being an Assassin leader, while Black Flag’s offer to be a pirate is hard to refuse. And then we have Syndicate with the most fluent and refined gameplay.

Rabidgames ponders: Perhaps Origins really is the best game in the series. That would decide it easily without thinking too hard about the best Assassin’s Creed …

An Obituary for Visceral Games

Posted in Gaming these days ..., The Latest with tags , , , on October 18, 2017 by Rabidgames

FUCK YOU, EA!

That pretty much sums it up now, doesn’t it? The biggest fucking assholes of the gaming world, Electronic Ass, did it again. They fuckers closed yet another studio. Westwood, Origin, Bullfrog, Pandemic and countless others are dead, Bioware is dying, and now the cunts shot Visceral Games in the back – while still developing a mysterious Star Wars game! Fuck EA!

Why did EA close the studio? Fuck knows. Could be that EA’s Frostbyte engine seems to shitty as fuck – rumours are one of the reasons Andromeda is what it is because the engine simply is ill-suited for RPGs but works better with online shooters, could be that EA needs a “new direction” for the game – knowing the shitheads, it probably means loot boxes, always-online and shooting shit on  galleries, or it could be something entirely different. Who cares? Fuck EA!

Bastards! Anyway, in case you don’t know, Visceral worked on games such as Dante’s Inferno, the Dead Space series, some Lord of the Rings games, some Battlefield games, and most notably, for Rabidgames at least, they developed the widely underestimated Godfather games. But see for yourself:

Yes, as was the case with Saboteur and Mercenaries, the controls and animations are clunky, and by today’s standards, the games feel hard to play. But hey, that’s the charm of the lost art of AA games, isn’t it?

The first Godfather was a tough RPG where you ended up dead quickly in the beginning, and had you rising to the top of the Corleone family, with all the famous faces around – except for Michael, because he needed a different face for some reasons. Taking over the city with stealth, shoot-outs and satisfyingly brutal executions was always fun, and you had to be careful not to start a mob war.

Godfather 2 expanded the story from New York to Miami and Havana, and also introduced a crew running around with you as well as a tactical map where you needed to defend your businesses or attack others’. To no one’s surprise, part 2 also introduced a mostly useless multiplayer, and after that, the Godfather disappeared into nothingness.

Rabidgames shakes an angry fist: Again, fuck EA! Fuck off! Their rotten business policy seems to be buy and burn! And to make matters worse, we can safely assume Bioware will be next to rot in an unmarked grave in the desert of EA’s cemetery of the forsaken.

 

5 Reasons Why Dragon’s Dogma Is Still One of the Best Games Ever

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , on October 17, 2017 by Rabidgames

Do you think this sounds a bit much? Well, it doesn’t. No one knows hoe Capcom of all people ended up producing such an innovative, deep and lovingly created gem such as Dragon’s Dogma, but they did.

And console gamers can now play Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen – all DLCs included – for 20 quid in a better version than last gen. Sure, the 60 FPS support from PC didn’t make it over for some reason, but the game now runs like it should have been years ago. But in case you wonder what makes this game so great, well, you’ll find 5 solid reasons below:

 

5. The night is dark and full of terrors

The first night out is not a great experience for most in Dragon’s Dogma – at night, there are more and deadlier enemies about, and if you are foolish enough to forget your lantern and some oil, you won’t even see them coming. Bear in mind though that the lantern only shines light on your immediate surroundings – many an Arisen have fallen prey to dragon attacks from out of the sky in certain parts of Gransys. And then there’s the ever dark dungeon from Dark Arisen, where Death haunts you – literally.

 

4. The sheer depth of customisation

For many, GTA or Saints Row are the holy grail of customisation, but Dragon’s Dogma has lots to offer in this regard – and since you’re creating both your Arisen AND your Pawn, you’ll have twice the fun. From hobbits to lumbering giants, from Danny Trejo’s Machete or Gandalf to Sandor Clegane or Lara Croft, you can create them all. And even more, height and weight also have an effect on your stamina, and rumour has it that there are some holes only very tiny Arisen can enter …

Oh, and equipment? The fact there is a trophy for having obtained 350 pieces of weapons and armour says all about that – and that trophy hails from pre-Dark Arisen days …

 

3. The diversity of the vocations

Speaking of equipment – it makes sense there’s lots of them as your Arisen can choose from 9 different vocations (the classes in Dragon’s Dogma) while your Pawn chooses from 6; do you like fighting with sword and shield or a twohanded hammer? Or do you prefer nimble attacks with daggers? What about sneak attacks with bow and arrow from afar? Or are you a sorcerer at heart who prefers to have comets rain down from the skies or a massive whirlwind tearing through enemies? Well, you can do all of the above, and you can also mix arrows and magic!

While you don’t have to invest into each and every vocation on the road to level 200, you still should play each one for a bit as you unlock useful augments (passive skills) that can afterwards be bought and equipped regardless of your vocation. Oh, and of course, you and your Pawn level up both so you can decide on a completely different path for your Pawn.

 

2. Epic battles

Remember when you confront Alduin, the World Eater (not to be confused with the wrestler Bray Wyatt, the Eater of Worlds), in Skyrim? Man, that battle turned out to be lame. Dragon’s Dogma is one hell of a different story here! Remember dragons attacking out of the blue? This can happen. Or a Chimera is lurking behind the corner and you think “uh-oh” before lightning hits you! How epic battles can be? Well, that’s entirely up to you. There’s a fine line between being underleveled and shredded to bits and having a challenging, long fight, but when you hit the sweet spot in Dragon’s Dogma, you can have epic battles! Imagine fighting that damn dragon from before for 90 long minutes, including reviving your Pawns, frantically searching the surrounding area for healing items because you’re knocking at death’s door, before you manage to bring the beast down! And that is just an ordinary dragon, not the final boss or the Ur Dragon, a massive and dangerous super boss that all players worldwide tackle together, everyone helping to bring its hitpoints down.

And that’s not the end of the epicness! How about you crawl onto the dragon while it takes flight, knowing falling will kill you so you punch it in the heart until it crashes back down to earth? Or how about conjuring the right spell at the right time, bringing down half a health bar in seconds?

 

1. Pawns

Your trusty A.I. comrades should be hailed a revolution in gaming, but it seems no one who hasn’t played Dragon’s Dogma even noticed how the great the system can be – if properly understood. You see, the thing with Pawns is you have to raise them properly – they learn in many ways – by mirroring your behaviour, by following commands, by being rented by others and gaining knowledge there and by drinking potions that change their inclination (the name for their character traits in Dragon’s Dogma). So if you start playing the game with your Pawn being pretty useless, and if the two Pawns you rent are useless as well (there can be numerous reasons for it), the game will suck. But if you get the party combination right, sometimes all you need to do is watch your Pawns tear apart the opposition.

Knowledge plays a major role for Pawns in Dragon’s Dogma as Pawns can learn how to fight enemies – sure, you can burn an enemy who’s weak to fire, but if he is doused in oil, he’ll burn more. And guess what, show it to your Pawns, and they will remember! If you’re stuck on a quest, rented Pawns or maybe your Pawn have done the quest before, and they will give you often useful advice on how to proceed.

And of course, there’s Pawn banter: From useful tips such as “wolves hunt in packs” or “to tis weak to fire”, and quips such as “even in numbers, a weakling is a weakling still” or the kind of contradictory “strength in numbers, Arisen”, to unforgettable lines like “it bears the head of a cock” or “it seems all roads lead to Gran Soren” (sometimes said when in the middle of nowhere with no road in sight), there are plenty of funny one-liners. You want to hear less? Tell your Pawn.

Rabidgames goes back to Gransys: What’s more to say? Dragon’s Dogma is one of those precious games that is so much more than its parts, it is unique and fun once you’ve really understood how the systems work together.So without further ado, go play it! See you on the perilous roads of Gransys!

Of Lootboxes, Micro-Transactions and Ads Telling the Truth for Once

Posted in Gaming these days ..., The Latest with tags , , , , on October 12, 2017 by Rabidgames

Oh boy, we’ve come a long way. It started with the now oh-so-innocent Oblivion horse armour, continued with  pre-order DLC, season passes and micro-transactions, and now we’ve come full circle with lootbox micro-transactions and an ad telling the truth for once about pre-order shit. Ironic.

So, first, lootboxes and micro-transactions. Middle-Earth: Shadow of War uses them in its fourth act Shadow Wars (how playful, eh?), a series of 20 attacks on 4 fortresses – without story or anything else attached to the grind fest it seems. And the enemies WILL be stronger than your Orcs, pardon, Uruk army so you will have to grind. And grind. And grind more. And keep grinding. To see the “real” ending of the game. Or you buy lootboxes with real money to make it considerably quicker and easier. Well, that is simply fucked up. For Rabidgames, that move alone moves (how playful, eh?) Shadow of War from must-have to probably-later-when-cheaper, although that disgusting behaviour where WB pretends to be oh-so-charitable has also played a part in this decision to be honest. And how a spider “bloated and grown fat with endless brooding on her feasts” can become a hot chick … well, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

And now this; here’s the story of an ad for Assassin’s Creed Origins from Gamestop (US) that might have gone wrong:

This is really unfuckingbelievable. In a fucking ad, they tell you that the “bonus mission” is “blocked”. Probably by accident, we hear the truth about pre-order “bonuses” – that they are cut out of the game because some fucking asshole in a fucking suit decided that’s the way to go fucking forward. It’s nothing new publishers and retailers feast together on the bloody chunks cut out of embryonic games, but wow is it weird to see it ADVERTISED! It might be coincidence AC Origins is the game where a retailer slipped up, but it tells you a lot about the disdain those fucking suits have for us.

Sure, a pre-order mission locked away mostly and merely equals the missions locked away but unlockable once you buy the game new, but this strike against the second hand market is still fucking stupid behaviour. We’ll see what happens now after Gamestop inadvertently told us the truth about this shit. Just don’t expect any of the shit to change.

Oh, you know what? Let’s talk about micro-transactions while we’re at it. There are two kinds: Games like Assassin’s Creed or Ghost Recon: Wildlands come with “time-saving” unlockables (for things you can easily get in the game), you know also known as fucking shit for lazy bums, and then some cosmetic stuff – not great but you can enjoy the games without it entirely, no problem. Other games though, like Shadow of War and most notoriously GTA Online, design the game with tons of grinding on purpose so they can grind you down to make you buy the shit. Fuck, try to buy something in GTA Online and you can imagine how long earning money to purchase it will take naturally. And yet, Rockstar gets away with this shit (and let’s better not think about what this might mean for Red Dead Redemption 2) while Shadow of War is getting attacked by layers of carpet bombing metacritic user reviews – rightfully so, mind you. But it is interesting, isn’t it?

Let’s face it: This is what gaming has become – a fucking predatory capitalist bullshitting industry where there are too many fucking rich idiots around who buy time-consuming games and then buy time-savers so they don’t have to play them … seriously, think about this for a second. WHAT THE FUCK? And by doing so, these morons fuck up games for the rest of us, too.

Rabidgames sighs: At the end of the day, who is to blame: The greed publishers or the stupid consumers? Spoilers: It’s consumers. Without hordes of braindead drones buying all the shitty micro-transactions, this fucking trend would stop quickly. But don’t get your hopes up – after all, we live in an age where even Idiocracy begins to look like an utopia …

A Word About nazis in Gaming, Please!

Posted in Gaming these days ..., The Latest on October 6, 2017 by Rabidgames

Remember the time when we grew up? Back in the day, there was a time when everyone agreed that nazis and racists were scum. Despicable scum, vile shit to be flushed down the sewage pipes of history. It was simple. Nazis and racists were bad. But at some point, things changed.

It doesn’t matter when. Or if it was precisely Trump, Brexit or Syrian refugees opening the floodgates for the nightmares of the past to haunt us again. Here and now, we have woken up to a world where racism – and even fucking assholes parading around waving around fucking nazi flags are tolerated. Fuck, not just tolerated, they’re being endorsed by the fucking president of the supposedly free world!

(Disclaimer: Sure, in the US, they are legally allowed to parade around waving nazi flags under the freedom of speech, and that is fine. But remember, it is also fine to despise this scum and to speak out against them.)

So it is no wonder gaming is also infected by the viral disease that is racism, that gaming sites and forums are also full of fucking right-wing trolls and true believers of this shit. We’ve heard it all when a certain youtube toddler celebrity with probably a lower IQ than your usual church mouse yelled “nigger” at someone, and then tried using the incredibly idiotic “I tried to come up with the worst word” defense. We’ve heard it all when an old World of Warcraft sign that got “hijacked” by nazis was defended as “inconsequential evidence” and that there are zero similarities to nazi flags. We’ve heard excuses, tales of relativism and tons of apologetic bullshit before!

And now, this:

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And this for good measure:

So, what the fuck is wrong with these brainless fucking idiots? What on earth? Do they not even know what kind of disgusting ideology they are defending? Do they even know what the flying fuck Wolfenstein is all about? It shouldn’t be a surprise really, but oh well, human stupidity IS truly infinite …

But hey, what’s the point you ask? Well, the point fucking is that we have come to a fucking point where racists are tolerated and nazis, motherfucking nazis, are on the verge of being tolerated again as well! And fucking hell, we can’t fucking have that! Think about it for a minute.

We need to step out of our gaming bubble, we need to leave escapism behind for a few minutes, and we need to tell the fucking racist shitheads and the fucking nazi scum to fuck off! We need to let them know we don’t want them, we don’t tolerate them and that we are sick of them. Say it loud clear: Fuck nazis! Fuck racists! Fuck supremacists! Fuck ’em all!

Rabidgames sighs: It really seems we’re slipping back in time. All the talk about “never again” and “lesson learnt” – bullshit! Reality is proving we have learnt nothing. We – each and everyone one of us – is responsible for voicing our disgust and disapproval towards that scum to make sure they fuck off. Or do we want another time, another place, another scenario when we look at each other and say “had we paid attention, we could have seen it coming”?

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana or How About A JRPG Holiday?

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , , on September 18, 2017 by Rabidgames

First of all, what the fuck is wrong with Japanese companies and their otherworldly game titles? Dissidia Duodecim or Star Ocean’s nonsensical Integrity and Faithlessness were weird enough, but using the game title, the number and a subtitle all makes together is weird – and with Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana it’s not even easy to abbreviate it – YsLoD sounds pretty bad now, doesn’t it?

So anyway, YsDan8 (okay, that doesn’t work either) is a different kind of JRPG – not as epic as Final Fantasy XV, not as snarky as Tales of Berseria, and not as weird as Nier Automata. Instead, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana feels more like an old-fashioned JRPG with traditional storytelling, engaging but light-hearted dialogues and music (from calm village tracks to fast-paced rock tracks) and the real-time action RPG battles fans of the series will be familiar with. And of course, the quirky and somewhat cutesy atmosphere JPRGs have been known for.

But the premise is a different one this time – after a short introduction to the characters and the systems, you’re stranded on an island and your first tasks are finding more survivors and fortifying your hideout that slowly turns into a village. By means of being able to open blocked paths once you’ve found enough people, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana opens up the secrets of its big but not massive world slowly but surely. So in a way, there is a certain Lost feeling as you gather the castaways trying to build and strengthen your village.

But it also feels strangely directionless for a JRPG at times. It can happen that you will need to scour everywhere you’ve been to before because you missed an essential conversation in the corner of the map, or that you didn’t spot another area with a NPC waiting for you. That’s not necessarily bad as Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana gives you plenty of experience to level up and plenty of ingredients to craft new, better stuff, and let’s face it, exploring should mean you have to explore thoroughly.

The fighting system of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is very action-oriented and rewards timing and accuracy, but if it’s more your thing, you can hack away, too, at least on lower difficulties. To be fair though, the fighting is fun but not really a highlight of the game as there is less suspense and more forgiveness than in Nier Automata and there is less tactical thinking required than in Tales of Berseria. But on the plus side, it’s a more accessible system so you can just walk around and casually kill monsters if you feel like it – isn’t that we all usually do during our holidays after all?

Apart from fighting, exploring and all the while gathering stuff you can go back to your base, trade or craft your gathered materials, do some side quest to make everyone like you better or play some kind of village defence mini-game where you kill of waves of enemies until you get goodies, and of course, everyone likes you more. Here, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana doesn’t go the extra mile, but you won’t miss more as the exploration part keeps you busy anyway. Besides getting that fucking call to defend the village while you’re knee-deep in a dungeon is just plain annoying! And there’s fishing. Well. Fishing. It nets you items and you can feed a bird with your fishes, but well, fishing just isn’t that exciting. For most of us at least.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana’s story can be split into the daily survival and exploration of the Seiren Islands, and then there are the nocturnal dreams where we follow the story of the eponymous Dana, a mysterious destined for mysterious greatness. Both are bound to combine at some point, but for the first 30 hours played, they are only connected by dreams (more on that later). For whatever reason the two big nations in the game are called Romun Empire and

But in one department, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is simply too Japanese – the gender stereotypes and generally the clichés are just a bit too much. Sure, it is just a JRPG and we kind of expect it, but after Tales of Berseria gave us interesting characters and a sarcastic heroine, Ys VIII (better, but still not a great abbreviation) pretty much just gives a box of talking stereotypes. It seems like a wasted opportunity, but oh well.

And then, there’s the DLC problem – do we really need goddessdamn 25 pieces of minor, “unfree” DLC at launch (and that’s just the PS4 version, the PS Vita one has different DLC!)? No, we don’t. The Witcher 3 and Yakuza Kiwami actually prove we don’t! So for fuck’s sake, publishers, stop this shit already!

Oh yeah, Dana might be the heroine who gives Ys LacriDana (okay, no) the title, but you won’t see much of her for the first 20 or 30 hours of the game, but be warned the beginning chapters of the game take that long, too. So it will take a while until you get to see what the story is really about. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is a long, mostly entertaining and also forgiving game that you can always pop in during a rainy autumn day. If you have become a bit weary of all the angst and impending doom (or of the bro-talk) in FF 15, Tales of Berseria or Nier: Automata, you can always pop in Ys Dana (there we go!), sit back and start playing without philosophy or despair wearing your adventures down if you want to enjoy an interesting but not too thought-provoking story.

Rabidgames reminiscences: In some ways, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana reminds one of the simple times of JRPGs; you need a simple story, simple characters (aka stereotypes), simple battles of the easy to learn, hard to master type, and then you go ahead and simply grind.

 

Yakuza Kiwami or Majima’s Paradise in the Far East

Posted in Hands On with tags , , on September 6, 2017 by Rabidgames

If you happen to be a Yakuza fan, Sony has kinda spoilt you recently, right? Yakuza 4 and 5 on PSN+, Yakuza 0 a few months ago, and now the first game is remastered as Yakuza Kiwami (kiwami meaning ultimate or extreme, which makes sense as you’ll see).

And what a remaster it is! It looks considerably better (well, obviously), the UI and the gameplay mechanics have been updated (you can now save whenever and wherever you want for instance), the story of Yakuza has been enhanced and smoothed, and you can now choose between 4 different fighting styles, from balanced to lightning-quick but relatively weak to slow but strong. Plus, there’s going to be 4 different DLC packs to be released in the weeks following the launch of the game.

The fighting in Yakuza Kiwami is ironically the biggest strength as well as the biggest weakness of the game – it is fun, but boy, does it get repetitive! The fun part is combining fighting styles and showing of brutal finishers, expanding your repertoire, grabbing weapons – either lying around or from your inventory, and generally punishing assholes standing in your way.

But there’s also a downside to fighting …

When you just want or need to get from A to B, but enemies C to Z are in your way, it can become a bit tiresome. Plus boss fights … they are a chore. Not only can’t you grab most of them (meaning no grappling finishers), some will never fall down (again, no finishers), they have absurd amounts of health and enjoy regenerating their health for an extra measure of annoyance. Most of the time, you just attack a boss with the same attack pattern while you defend his attacks with the same pattern – and that can go on for up to 5 minutes. Provided you carry plenty of healing items – and in Yakuza Kiwami, you should ALWAYS carry of healing items around – there is hardly any challenge in boss fights, it’s just battles of attrition.

And then Majima … oh yes, he’s one of the coolest characters in Yakuza, and sure, it makes sense to give such a cool character a bigger role, but THAT big and omnipresent? Remember the random battles – well, random goons go down quickly, but imagine you fight Majima, a pretty tough boss battle, 3 times within 5 minutes, completely randomly. He packs a punch, and he has tons of health, too, obviously. The only thing making those fights bearable in Yakuza Kiwami is the fact that the more you beat him, the more you unlock of your legendary and devastating dragon style.

So, lots of fighting to do, eh? But don’t worry, there are countless mini-games to distract you or waste some time, something the Yakuza series is famous for, and the remake of the first game obviously is no exception; you can play a very strange card game with women dressed as bugs (don’t ask), you can race toy cars, play golf or bowling, sing karaoke (if you insist, it is boring as always), you can gamble in a secret casino, and you also can play mah-jong. And more.

And last but definitely not least, there is the excellent and dark crime story about murder, revenge, betrayal, stolen money and a little girl, with quite a few twists and turns and broken bones and friendships along the bumpy road. It’s best to experience it yourselves, so the less said here, the better. The dialogues is now also entirely in Japanese audio, to immerse you deeper into the world of Yakuza, so be warned you need to read. A lot. Sadly, not all dialogues are voiced, which alongside some archaic UI systems makes you aware of the age of Yakuza Kiwami.

So, how great is it? Objectively speaking, Yakuza Kiwami is a good, maybe even a very good game (if we take the age of the game into account). But … there is tiny bit too much of Majima in the game, and while it is always fun in small games, the repetitive, random and constant fighting around every corner can become a bit too much after an hour. On the other hand, Yakuza can also be described as a mix of Shenmue and GTA, and this remake does a great job of serving as a great way to get introduced to the series and to the sometimes weird world of Japanese daily living – and dying in its underworld, of course!

Rabidgames fights: Yakuza Kiwami can best be described as a fight – with the enemies, with the system to throw Majima in your way way too often or fighting the random thugs who become an annoying waste of time after 10 hours, but then again, it’s a price worth paying to jump into the twisted world of Yakuza – and there’s no shame playing on easy if you want to bring the story forwards instead of breaking your thumbs fighting the not so good fight!

F1 2017 or More Real Than the Real Thing?

Posted in Hands On, The Latest with tags , , on August 29, 2017 by Rabidgames

In a nutshell, F1 2017 takes all the good stuff from last year’s F1 2016, gives us a bit more of it and then adds some stuff. The game boasts of being the most complete F1 game to date, and for once, that PR statement is actually true.

Not only is the career mode of F1 2017 deeper and more detailed than last year – you can now develop your driver and your car over 10 seasons, and grid penalties for engine failures are sadly also included (this being of the dumbest FIA ideas ever), but generally speaking, you’ll need to put more work into it. But there are more rewards than merely becoming world champion; you’ll get invited to some events where you can race classic F1 cars from the past, including Ayrton Senna’s iconic McLaren from 1988 (sadly it’s pre-order only for now, which is obviously a dick move), and then some more McLarens, Ferraris, Renaults and Red Bulls from over 2 decades.

What’s kinda odd is that the older cars in F1 2017 tend to fall apart quicker and easier – maybe not too unrealistic one might think, but still it seems to be a weird design decision. Then again, let’s face it – crashing cars in racing games has always been fun!

Obviously, the cars have no DRS and the cockpits look pretty different as well, but they also drive and sound differently (one could say they sound like any damn F1 car should sound). Besides the invitational events in the career, you can play any race with the classic car. It’s a shame though that F1 2017 doesn’t give us classic drivers as well. You race random names when sitting in a classic car, which seems a missed opportunity.

And F1 2017 doesn’t stop here – you can also find a variety of diverse championships in the new championships mode, where you can race shorter or linger seasons, either a full weekend with training, qualifying and race, just the race, or some other combinations, e.g. a sprint race followed by a normal race. Additionally, there is an Event mode where Codemasters asks us to complete a challenging race, e.g. winning a race with a broken front wing.

The amount of detail in F1 2017 is definitely breath taking – each car seems to have been rebuilt to look like the real-life cars, the tracks look stunning – especially in the rain or the newly added Monaco night-race are something to behold (although you should probably rather focus on the track in wet conditions). Oh, and there are also 4 shorter versions of the circuits there for your entertainment, too …

So far, everything sounds great. Well, the devil is a bit in the detail with F1 2017: Sometimes, the first corner is quite chaotic, and then you get hit out of nowhere. And then, you get a penalty for getting hit! Sure, this has only happened a few times, and it might be a realistic portrayal of the arbitrary penalties the FIA dishes out in the real F1, but it can be quite annoying. At the same time, there is no apparent logic to the penalties – from a caution to a +3 second penalty to nothing, everything can happen if you hit a car – sometimes you get even different results after rewinding and hitting the car again …

And then, there’s last year’s dilemma, too – the game is pretty much a simulation for rather casual racers like yours truly, while simulation racers might think it is lacking a bit in that respect. But even if an entire championship seems to much for you, F1 2017 is pretty much worth it for every F1 fan who happens to at least like racing games – you can either relive the full weekend, you can enjoy a shorter campaign with sprint races without the hassle of a career, or you can just get to know the track of the weekend via Time Trial – F1 2017 has lots to offer for every kind of racer.

Rabidgames : For two years in a row now, Codemasters delivers a strong racing game. It might be somewhat in the middle between casual racing and unforgiving simulation, but for F1 fans who like to hear that nice old sound while also trying their hands on different cars from different eras, it’s perfect. 

Dear EA, Sincerely Fuck You!

Posted in Gaming these days ..., News, The Latest with tags , , , , on August 26, 2017 by Rabidgames

You might have heard EA is essentially pulling the plug on Mass Effect Andromeda, which means no more DLC and especially no more patches for the single player part of the game. You know, the part that was consciously released unfinished. It pretty much tells us EA doesn’t give a shit about releasing alpha versions of games, and when challenged as to why an unfinished game such as Andromeda is released, EA abandons the product. Classy.

But wait! It wouldn’t be EA to just kick a an innocent being. Oh no, they rather gut shoot it and leave it out bleed dry just because they are EA! So no more single player hist, right? But hold on, the bastards instead keep serving the micro-transactions wielding MP of Andromeda (which is considerably worse than Mass Effect 3’s MP anyway), but that isn’t the end of that, oh no, just when they said to pull the lug on Andromeda these wankers release some fucking multiplayer DLC packs!

It’s been said before, after the Andromeda disaster, it’s time to say R.I.P. Bioware. EA might be dragging your carcass along for a ride, hell, you might be even end up as a trophy on some asshole-in-a-suit’s living room, but Bioware is dead.

Rabidgames says this: Fuck you EA! And fuck off!

What the Fuck is Purrfect Date?

Posted in Gaming these days ..., The Latest with tags , on August 17, 2017 by Rabidgames

Imagine you’re dating cats while also solving a mystery on some island somewhere. “Hold on, what?” you might ask. Yes, that’s the summary of a weird upcoming game called “Purrfect date”. And it doesn’t stop there.

Imagine a trailer that announces “come for the pussy, stay for the tale” …

Seriously though, “tale”, not “tail”? What a missed opurrtunity there.

Rabidgames is speechless : Sorry, no more puns. Just plain and simple WHAT THE FUCK!?! again.

Dragons Dogma Will Arise on 3 October!

Posted in News, The Latest with tags , on August 10, 2017 by Rabidgames

Finally, we have an official release date for one of the most-awaited remasters of one of the best games ever. Objectively speaking, of course.

Anyway, we will finally be able to delve into the world of Gransys on our next-gen systems on 3 October, when Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen finally returns!

If you can’t wait like yours truly, here’s a new little Dragon’s Dogma video to watch – it helps just a bit, but better than naught:

Rabidgames looks anxiously at the calendar: So many days, too many days left till we will explore the world of Dragon’s Dogma once more! So let’s not forget there’s “strength in numbers, Arisen”!