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 BrĂźtal 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.

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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 ÂŁ49.99 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 BrĂźno (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, ÂŻ\_(ツ)_/ÂŻ

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 clichĂŠs 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.

The Welcome Onslaught of Strategy Games on Consoles

Posted in Gaming these days ..., The Latest with tags , , , , , on August 13, 2017 by Rabidgames

Now, strategy game ain’t usually something one associates with consoles, but it’s nothing unheard of – after all, there were quite a few great games such as Supreme Commander series (the spiritual successors of the best RTS game ever, Total Annihilation), a few well-ported Command & Conquer or the underrated R.U.S.E. on last generation’s consoles, and this generation has already seen a few.

After all, a game like Tropico 5 has been out for a while if you feel like a revolutionary, we could manage entire kingdoms in the likes of Grand Ages:Medieval or Nobunaga’s Ambition, or we could fight aliens in XCOM, and the ingeniously evil Plague Inc. has enabled us to eradicate mankind for a while now. Ah, the fun in that …

But in 2017, things have sped up: there’s the ob simulation Constructor, the alien world explorer and manager Aven Colony, there’s Shadow Tactics: Blades of Shogun, that wonderfully reminds one of Commandos, and if you’ve played hundreds of hours of Transport Tycoon Deluxe, a game such as Industry Giant 2 looks very familiar …

Chocobo INC., 4. Jan 2004

Final Fantasy VII’s Midgard in Transport Tycoon Deluxe.

But that’s not all, the two arguably biggest strategy hits are yet about to come onto consoles: Sudden Strike, the renowned real-time strategy series, has just returned with Sudden Strike 4, and the game one could call Sim City without the EA bullshit, Cities: Skyline is soon to follow.

Sure, some of these games are not exactly new, and traditionally, strategy games have led a rather quiet and overlooked life on consoles, but with a bit of luck, that’s about to change now.

Rabidgames sighs: So many games, never enough time. First world gaming problems, true. But if there’s a genre that eats time (even more so than RPGs), it’s strategy games. It’s going to be tough to pick the best ones, that’s for sure.

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”!

Diablo 3’s Necromancer – Overpriced Body-Stripping or Bone-ripping Fun?

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Played & Explained, The Latest with tags , , on July 30, 2017 by Rabidgames

Well, if the Necromancer has just been the class you’ve been waiting for in Diablo 3 and you enjoy nothing more than tearing a screen full of enemies to shreds with exploding bodies, it’s hard to answer that question objectively of course.

Sure, 15€/12ÂŁ for one character sounds fucking expensive, but it’s nothing unheard of – look at all the fighting games or shooters where you shell out 10 quid for a map or two. Just as an example, there are DLC characters in Injustice 2, each costing 5 quid. Any outrage there? But to be fair to Blizzard, it’s not just the Necromancer, his character models and animation, balancing and voice overs being implemented into Diablo 3, it’s also the unique sets and set dungeons that come into play.

Besides, Blizzard has been very generous since abandoning their failed auction house and always-online shenanigans of the failed launch of Diablo 3 – from the PS4’s launch onwards, there have been quite a few free updates giving us bonus dungeons, Greater Rifts and now Challenge Rifts, the Horadric artefact Kanai’s Cube, seasons and more. Always for free.

Plus, the Necromancer is one of the best classes to quickly rise through levels and to quickly raze enemy hordes. It is deadly early on and you can easily switch to Torment from level 50 onwards. It is also one of the most versatile classes in Diablo 3; you can play it as the lord of the undead, telling your minions who to attack – and here’s the big difference to the Witch Doctor, who cannot order his minions around – you walk around dressed in a Bone Armour throwing around Bone Spears or you spend your own life force to create deadly explosions while you replenish your HP by devouring corpses (every slain enemy leaves a corpse). Oh, and you can also temporarily raise up to 10 Skeleton Mages attacking enemies …

But the real beauty is what you do with corpses (not THAT, you perv!) – will you devour them or revive them? Or detonate them? You can. But the most fun is having sharp bones ripped out of corpses flying and destroying everything on screen in a heartbeat! Corpse Lance is surely one of the best skills in Diablo 3 – if there wasn’t a problem on higher difficulties: Sometimes, there are no corpses lying around, and they’re never enough. Until you get skills that create corpses for you or an item that makes sure your golem shits a corpse each second … well, it doesn’t say it literally …

So, is the Necromancer worth it? Let’s have a look at it from this angle: For speed-runs, be it in a season or (Greater) Rifts, they’re very viable characters with the right skill set and items. Even without that, reaching level 70 is a breeze as especially the first 40 or so levels can be slow grinding with other classes, e.g. monks, whereas the Necromancer can summon an army early on. So objectively, the Necromancer is a decent addition to Diablo 3. Subjectively though, well, who knows? Read about the class or watch some videos. Some classes might not be for you, others are perfect for you. But hell, who doesn’t like exploding bodies across the screen, right?

Rabidgames raises his thumb: Right off the bat, the Necromancer is now Rabidgames’ 2nd favourite class. Wizard is still running supreme, especially after finding that awesome Firedbird’s Finery set that makes everything burn within seconds, especially bosses! Oh, anyway, Necromancer is already a close second though! At least here, it was 12 pounds well spent for .

Why the Success of GTA Online is Actually Bad News

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

First of all, this is the perspective of a disgruntled long-term Rockstar fanboy. GTA Online is fun for many, sure. It can be fun, and that’s all fair and square if it’s your cup of tea. But unfortunately, it’s also a giant money machine. Which is also the biggest problem if you don’t give a flying fuck about it. Because post-launch, GTA Online is all there is while once the campaign is completed, there is nothing but a few consolation outfits, weapons or vehicles.

For GTA Online however, we have heists, stunt tracks (to be fair, these are really cool), businesses to make you some money, property to buy, and so on. For some inexplicable reason though, everything is that absurdly overpriced so you have to grind for a decade to be able to afford the good shit … or you just give Rockstar some cash and you’re set. Great, eh?

Somehow however, Rockstar forgot its roots. The company forgot about the GTA V singleplayer part of the game, the part that used to be the meat and the reason to play Grand Theft Auto. What happened to it? Blinded by the easy cash of GTA Online? Too lazy to come up with a story and/or characters for a DLC campaign? To be fair, the GTA V campaign has its moments, but it has been missing something, as if the developers decided to start there and then focussed on something else rather than flesh it out completely with … you know, aliens or post-story heists. Something else meaning a certain online component …

Whatever the reasons for the decay of the campaign, it is bad news for us old-school single-player Grand Theft Auto fans. And not just that – can you imagine the focus will now NOT be on the multiplayer of Red Dead Redemption 2? Sure, Rockstar has made a shitload of money with GTA Online, but who gives a fuck? Apart from JRPGs and the glory of The Witcher, where are the big open worlds with compelling stories and satire (we can always go back to Just Cause, Saints Row (after 2) or Wildlands, but well, their stories are not their strong suits)? Where is the stuff that once made Rockstar great, where has their DNA been in recent years? Has Rockstar smelled easy money and lost its ways? Well, Red Dead Redemption 2 will soon tell us if Rockstar still follows their legacy or if they sell out for quick cash. Fingers crossed!

Rabidgames sighs: Let’s hope Rockstar won’t be remembered as yet another company that shits on their past and instead delivers soulless chunks of game that might look pretty but is devoid of substance. Looking at you, Dragon Age 2 and Destiny …

 

 

Destiny 2 Beta … More of the Same, Less Story

Posted in Hands On, The Latest with tags , , on July 22, 2017 by Rabidgames

Remember the original Destiny Beta? Great gunplay, a bit to explore, a nice teaser for a story. Shame 99% of the story was in the beta though …

With the Destiny 2 Beta, we get even less story: The tower and the traveller are being attacked, you flee, you die. That’s it. Everything’s also very linear and it is exactly Destiny – not more, not less – the same three classes, great gunplay, alien bullet sponges, a few tweaks, but that’s it. No interesting cliffhanger at the end of the Beta, no really new elements, no exploration. Destiny 2 is playing its Beta safe – you get what you expect, but nothing more. Actually, it’s even a bit less without even a bit of exploration, without finding new loot and without levelling.

Sure, there’s also a Strike in a more open environment that has a cool boss encounter where you fall through the floor repeatedly. Well, that’s the interesting part, as the boss requires nothing but emptying magazine after magazine while you try to stay alive.

But story-wise, it seems Destiny 2 is either hiding a great story or there isn’t one. Judging from the first game, one should be rather cautious than expect an epic narrative. This bare-bones Beta with a bare-bones story string won’t convince anyone who got disappointed by the first game. Bungie wasted a good opportunity here, that’s for sure.

Rabidgames yawns: This Beta only shows that Destiny is still the same old – if that means good or bad, that’s for us to decide. Pre-ordering the game on the merit of the gameplay alone might work for fans, but Rabidgames rather waits for the reviews to see if Destiny 2 is more than endlessly running through the same environments slaughtering the same alien sponges without anything really happening – again.