Archive for March, 2017

Mass Effect Andromeda – The Best Comedy Game?

Posted in Gaming these days ..., News with tags , on March 19, 2017 by Rabidgames

So, we’ve heard and read a lot about Mass Effect Andromeda, right? And after digesting all the bad face animations, the bugs and glitches and the bad dialogues, many are still on the fence. But perhaps we’re all looking at it the wrong way. Perhaps the game is comedy. Just watch the video, and you’ll see it could very well be true:

Seriously now, what the fuck? This is pure comedy gold! Andromeda might not work as a traditional Bioware game, but maybe it’ll work just fine as a Mass Effect parody!

Rabidgames has decided: Pre-ordered! For the laughs.


Ghost Recon: Wildlands or The Perfect Narcos Sandbox – With a Blight

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

After two betas, we can now finally roam all of Bolivia in Ghost Recon: Wildlands – and it is a massive country! And the beauty of it is not just the size and diversity of the map or the dozens of weapons and attachments, it’s the fact that Wildlands is a true, proper sandbox, probably one of the best in recent years!

Whether you want to play co-op or solo, whether you want to go in stealthy or very loud, whether you like long fire fights or sync shots, whether you want to even go in along or just rain mortar fire upon your enemies, whether you want a crisp challenge or just drive around to explore, whether you recon with a binocular, your drone or your weapon, all of this and more is entirely up to you.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands comes very, very close to great sandbox legends such as Just Cause 2 or the first Mercenaries, and the more Rabidgames plays, the more it feels like a mix of these two games. Add a pinch of Far Cry fuck-ups when things go wrong (enemy patrols can show up at very inopportune times), and perhaps there are also traces of pinch of Phantom Pain’s DNA in here (gathering resources or tagging enemies as well as how you should approach enemy bases).

A word of warning though – like in Just Cause 2, you pretty much do the same couple of missions over and over again, and approaching an occupied city, base or building changes only depending on the size and weaponry of your enemies. It’s entirely up to you and your creativity how to approach it. Even if you play the game solo, all the scenarios above and more are possible. Most missions allow various approaches. Even stopping an enemy convoy can be tackled in many ways – grab an armoured APC and let your guys fire away, ram the vehicles with a truck, or simply lay mines or C4 on the streets.

In a nutshell, Wildlands is a massive sandbox that gives you plenty of freedom to do things your way. For some, the mission variety might seem lacking – “go there, kill that, abduct him, destroy this” don’t vary too often, sure. But that’s not the point. The point of Wildlands is to write your own stories as you tackle your objectives.

So far, so good. But while Wildlands is great fun, it is blighted by one big issue – motherfucking micro-transaction! True, it might be mostly cosmetics, but what the flying fuck? Why is the only leather jacket hidden behind a fucking pay-wall? Couple that with the 30 quid season pass, and it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. Come on Ubisoft, for fuck’s sake! Look at Horizon Zero Dawn, or look at Nier: Automata: There are no fucking piece of shit pay-walls, folks! You buy the game, you get all of it! Please, for the love of gaming, stop this shite already!

Apart from that monetary blight, the single radio channel looping its 5 or so pieces too quickly and a few technical hick-ups, Wildlands is a fucking brilliant sandbox. So brilliant that it has been the biggest launch seller so far this year, beating both Horizon Zero Dawn and Zelda! It seems this is a sandbox for everyone. And while the game might be rough around the edges, it can also look amazing.


Rabidgames recons: If it wasn’t for the disgusting practices of locking away stuff behind a fucking pay-wall, Wildlands would leave only a sweet taste in the mouth of sandbox fans. But the sour taste of mindless monetisation is lingering on despite the many positives. It is a shame, but the shame there is entirely on Ubisoft!


Horizon Zero Dawn or Beauty close to Perfection

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , , , on March 8, 2017 by Rabidgames

Horizon Zero Dawn is a masterpiece. Without question. Rarely has a game looked so beautiful, has the gameplay been so addictive, or has the setting been so intriguing.

And even more importantly, Horizon Zero Dawn doesn’t only shine with the grand things like graphics or gameplay mechanics, the finer details like the vantage points that show doors to the past or the names of contemporary daily items like coins or watches highlight the attention to detail that has gone into the game.


Darkness and fog also look good in Horizon Zero Dawn.

Probably the only thing holding Horizon Zero Dawn back from GOTY awards aplenty might be the fact that is by no means a casual game – sneaking isn’t too hard, but fighting enemies openly is lethal even on normal – and that is a one-on-one fight against tough bosses, with conveniently forgetting there are also weaker enemies around! You cannot really fight casually often, but the mechanics open up once you realise there’s always another way to fight – the ropecaster might well be the unsung hero of Horizon Zero Dawn – binding enemies for a short time gives you exactly the room to breathe you need, and traps are always Aloy’s best friend.

When comparing Horizon Zero Dawn with other system sellers like Uncharted 4 or Zelda – Breath of the Wild, it becomes clear that the other two games pretty much combine elements from all over the gaming world and combine them to fun-filled experience. Broken down into the single parts, there don’t seem to be that special (except for the nature physics in Zelda – that sounds great). True, the same can be said for many things in Horizon Zero Dawn – stealth, crafting, climbing or fighting humans with a bow is nothing new.

But it is fighting robots where Horizon Zero Dawn requires a unique way of thinking – all the tools and traps at our disposal, only The Witcher 3 and Geralt’s arsenal of potions and venoms is comparable here, but both games handle things way differently; The Witcher’s mechanics are rather based on a (thankfully) easier Dark Souls system, while the clue to downing the massive beasts is tearing apart different components, especially the combustible ones first, or laying traps, or pinning them to the ground. Even breaking line of sight and then playing hide & seek works! Or why not hacking one robot and sending it to weaken the others? And then there are many different robots – from deer to birds to fire breathing monsters and the mostly invisible Stalkers, Horizon Zero Dawn doesn’t hold back in throwing various opponents at us, and eliminating them effectively requires creativity, a bit of patience and sometimes also luck.

And then the graphics … you don’t have to be a graphics whore to gaze in awe at the screen at times. Be it snow, desert, ruins or dense forests, it all looks amazing. And seeing the sun rise over ruins or snowy summits is truly a sight to behold! One thing is for sure, the photo mode in Horizon Zero Dawn is a great addition, as you can edit your screenshots easily. Especially dusk or dawn look breathtaking if you happen to be there at the right place (the right time is not needed, as you can forward or rewind time for your picture).


Dawn and the horizon.

But gameplay and graphics only complement the beauty of Horizon Zero Dawn; it’s the curiosity and individualism of the protagonist Aloy in a superstitious and fearful world, it’s the eerily overgrown ruins of civilisation, the contrast between nature and machine, and humans caught in the middle, the different tribes all lost in different way. All the while you only find fragments about the past, Aloy’s past is one of the biggest mysteries of the game. And the pacing is also almost perfect – from the start of Horizon Zero Dawn to the Proving, you’re introduced to the world from the eyes of an outsider (literally), making a good introduction into the world. And the plot only thickens from there on.

Horizon Zero Dawn also delivers the best sets of side quests since The Witcher 3 – while there are usually not many options to finish it, there’s often a bit of lore and a bit of drama included. Even taking over bandit camps comes with the help of a mysterious stranger …

Oh, don’t listen to the right-wing trolls claiming Horizon Zero Dawn has a feminist agenda and is a “SJW nightmare”, or whatever bullshits these morons are spouting. At least in the first 20 hours, neither men nor women are depicted as either good or evil; instead, everything is depicted in a darkish grey. So don’t listen to the alt-right political trolls poisoning gaming forums these day please!


A Tallneck in its habitat.

Rabidgames cannot stop playing: Horizon Zero Dawn is surely one of the best looking games ever – both in terms of aesthetics and pure graphical technical terms. But beyond visuals and the great gameplay, it also tells a fascinating story about a future full of mysteries and wonders. It is a very ambitious game, and it might well go down into history as one of the best games – unless the machines take over soon …

Tales of Berseria or Claiming the JRPG Crown!

Posted in The Latest on March 5, 2017 by Rabidgames

After 25 hours with Tales of Berseria, the verdict can already be delivered: The latest Tales game is surely the best JRPG of this generation so far. Hold on, you may ask now, better than Final Fantasy XV? Yes, it is!

Blasphemy!!! How dare someone claim this? (Let’s all breathe out and keep reading please.) How comes? Well, there are a few reasons. Let’s just have a look how Tales of Berseria compares with its RPG pals Final Fantasy XV and Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness (let’s agree to leave that annoying subtitle out please):

The battle system. In this regard, all three games come close. All of them boast real-time combat that can be easily paused for tactical breaks, all have at least 4 party members on-screen all the time, and all three are fun. But still, Tales of Berseria has the deepest system with the most options by far – you can freely create and mix from 4 different combo trees, you can change them quickly mid-battle to adapt to your opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, all 6 team members can be controlled in battles and they all have different uses. But there’s more to Berseria: In battle, you can also give basic orders to your team, and you can swap team mates quickly, enabling powerful attacks. Oh, and you can also trigger a massive attack via R2, and a super-massive attack via L2!

The micromanagment. Here, Tales of Berseria offers clearly more than FF XV, where you can only buy a handful of weapons, and you can upgrade even less of them, while that’s pretty much it. However, in Berseria, you can upgrade each and every piece of equipment, and all of them give you different bonuses depending on the upgrade level and the mastering of that piece of gear. Additionally, you can eat before battles (sounds familiar, right?), but here, it’s only good for one battle and for one team mate, so you need to be careful to see who eats what. Lastly, you can choose a title which comes close to the job system in Star Ocean, to give your team members even more bonuses.

The story. Well, Star Ocean’s story is nothing to write home about. It would actually be a surprise if anybody remembered any of it. Final Fantasy XV is more intriguing and yet strange – parts of the story is hidden in the background, but when you need to watch other media and it’s not all in the game to get everything, you’re witnessing bad writing. Yes, it will always be bad writing when the game itself is not enough to tell the whole story, simple as that. Berseria though tells the story of a band of outcasts on the quest to topple a theocratic regime. Yes, it’s almost a JRPG trope these days to bring down religios zealots, but hey, so is pretty much every game out there … Most importantly though, everyone in the group is likeable in a way, and everyone also follows their own agenda that is only revealed very, very slowly.

The pacing. While the backtracking in Star Ocean was almost unbearable and the story would progress too slow at times, we know it’s completely off in FF XV: Shit happens, but you still cruise around leisurely. Imagine you’re on your way to get married – would you rather stroll around chasing monsters or be on the way to your future spouse? Unless you like living your life as a bachelor and prefer living with a boy band, of course … And who knows, perhaps Noctis fancies a certain mechanic groupie … Or you’re on a very important mission but it’s fine to explore dungeons because that’s what we all do on our way to work, don’t we? Anyway, the pacing in Tales of Berseria is near-perfect. Even if you are exploring a dungeon, you get fed pieces of the story that do a good job to stop you from grinding, because you definitely want to progress the story.

The characters. Star Ocean … had some people in the party. The protagonist and his female side kick (this time natives to your usual fantasy world with science fiction here and there), that knight-like guy, that mage person, those two people from outer space, that mysterious little girl (actually the most interesting character of the group), we’ve seen them all before though. Final Fantasy XV has the so-called boy band, the villain, and then a cast of extras. The bond between the group is not really explained in the first 20 hours of the game (unless you’ve watched the anime, and sleeping in certain camps unlocks some scenes), making it a bit like a random road movie with random people on a random drive. Tales of Berseria though excels here – you have the grumpy protagonist Velvet, a demon who would sacrifice everyone to get closer to her goals. She is a great and slightly dark and twisted protagonist, and there are 5 more likeable characters (one paragraph could be written about each of them,). The witch Magilou definitely stands out – she’s pretty crazy and yet not too crazy. And the then you have the stereotypical kid character who is actually not that annoying for a change, believe it or not! And last but not least, the banter is simply hilarious. But beware, it’s stereotype galore!

The graphics. Okay, Final Fantasy XV wins here. Easily. Tales of Berseria look good enough, and the anime style suits the game well, but some levels and dungeons look merely like upgraded PS3 style.

With all of it combined, the three games fare differently in Rabidgames’ opinion: While Star Ocean had the battles and evolving the characters’ prowess as well as the serie’s staple crafting system to offer yet was lacking worthwhile stories and a good narrative, while Final Fantasy XV lived from the battles and the open world, yet the open world also slowed down the game a lot. Oh, and the magnificent summons were surely a sight to behold, it might be a problem to step an inch too far into the Western open worlds  Tales of Berseria has the deepest gameplay and upgrade systems while also managing to gives us the best story with the best written characters for a while. It simply feels fresher than the competition despite never leaving JRPG territories.

Rabidgames rejoices: It’s a good time for JRPGs. The PS4 gets quite a few of them, and soon there’ll be Nier Automata and Persona 5. And then, the eye-watering remakes of Final Fantasy XII and one of the best games ever, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time! Let’s see if Tales of Berseria can keep the crown, but one thing is for sure, there’s plenty of food for us hungry JRPG fans. Maybe we can even dream of another golden era again!

Nier: Automata or Do Robots Dream of Beauty and Tragedy?

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , on March 1, 2017 by Rabidgames

Sometimes, a game comes across as more than a “mere” game. Life is Strange comes to mind there, of course. And sometimes, a game plays with its own medium and then transcends it by tearing apart conventions and asking simple questions such as “what is life?”, both on the game level as well as on the meta level. Mind you, that question is simple, the answer isn’t. Not here. Nier: Automata is a game that has you “complete” the game twice before further advancing the story, and yet it is rarely boring as you explore new nuances. But let’s start from the beginning …

If you’ve played the demo, you know what to expect from Nier: Automata. At least when it comes to the gameplay part, and at least a bit of that. The story part gets really weird just a few minutes in, and that’s just the start of a fucking crazy (at times literal) roller-coaster experience! It starts epic, becomes more epic, and then everything comes crashing down on you and everyone in the game. Hard. Brutally hard.

But first things first – the first Nier, released years ago, was the post-apocalyptic story of a father/brother trying to find a cure for his sick daughter/sister (the relationship depended on the version, but that’s a whole different story). You got help by a speaking book (Gimoire Weiss) and fought another speaking book (Grimoire Noir). And that was before things went completely bonkers, culminating in an ending where you only found redemption by deleting your save file.

So it won’t really come as a surprise that the premise of Nier: Automata is as lunatic – after aliens invaded earth and humanity retreated to the moon, you are part of an android force that returns to earth to destroy robots made by aforementioned aliens. And again, that’s before things go really crazy in a mix of hope, betrayal, hatred and insanity. Of course, there are a few twists along the road, some of them changing your entire perception of the game. And at the very end, you literally shoot the credits!

You’ll find no crucial spoilers here for all the crazy shit happening (you need to experience the game yourself), but just one thing: the more you go towards the end, the sadder and bleaker Nier: Automata becomes. And we’re not talking regular gaming sad, where talking Aerith dying and the end of Red Dead Redemption sad here. Brutally sad. And Chuck Norris kick in the nuts brutal.

Gameplay-wise, Nier: Automata is also as strange as its predecessor – the style and core mechanics of a JRPG, a bit of an action.adventure, side-scrolling, top-down action and twin-shooter parts are all part of the experience, and more. But thanks to Platinum Games, the mechanics are now damn pretty solid and fighting is very precise and fluent, and once you get the hang of all the aspects, fighting a dozen of robots or a giant boss seems like a stroll in the park. It’s worth mentioning you control different androids throughout your journeys, and they also have different strengths and weaknesses.

But there’s one very important aspect to Nier: Automata that is briefly touched during the prologue – your chips. Throughout your journey, you’ll find more and more chips, and fusing (upgrading) and equipping them can make a major difference. You can also upgrade your melee weapons and your Pods (pretty much your guns and/or missiles).

After finishing the game, you can revisit each and every sequence via Chapter Select, which is almost necessary to get all the endings – and Nier: Automata has 26 endings in total; 5 major ones and 21 minor ones. There’s also a debug mode to play around with. It should take exploring players around 40 to 50 hours to finish Nier: Automata, and if you want to do everything, you can easily add another 20 hours to it.

There’s also some rather pricey arena-style DLC where you can test your skills. While each arena requires a different approach, there are mostly cosmetic rewards to get in each, except for items that lower your level … well, perhaps of interest for people who want to finish the game on level 1, who knows …

While story and gameplay go very well together most of the times, the Nier: Automata is not without its flaws: Not only is there lots of backtracking (it takes a while until you can fast-travel, and fast-traveling also only takes you that far), but you replay at least half of them game again. From a slightly different perspective, yes, but it’s still a lot of seeing the exact same things once more (story-wise, it’s fine, mind you).

Another problem is hacking: In Nier: Automata, hacking is a mini-game that goes from very easy at times to devilishly hard. And there are times when you have to solve 6 fucking tough hacking fucking puzzles in a row without even the option to conveniently save in-between! Ugh! Sure, it is not a deal breaker (rather a controller breaker), but mini-games that are in the way of fun are one thing – making them mandatory is just sadistic.

Anyway, these minor but at times annoying nitpickings aside, the main problem with describing Nier: Automata is that you can’t really talk about much, because any spoiler would take away the fun. But one thing is certain – not many games will deliver, or have delivered, such a philosophical story about what life actually is. As you might have guessed, AIs, pre-determination vs free will and self-consciousness are a central theme of Nier: Automata. It is a rewarding experience that needs to be experienced for yourself, as it goes from frantic action to insanely weird cutscenes, from deep sadness to incredible scenarios – and at the end of it all, it still all makes sense.

Rabidgames smiles: It is great to see Nier: Automata is selling well, as the game certainly deserves it. Once in a while, you get a game that asks questions and answers them in sometimes unexpected ways. Nier: Automata is such a gem. Buy it, and treasure it!