Archive for the The Latest Category

Wildlands’ DLC Narco Road is a Potholed Scam … With a Llama Bike!

Posted in Hands On, The Latest with tags , , , , on April 24, 2017 by Rabidgames

As you know, Rabidgames thinks Ghost Recon Wildlands is a great game with tons of stuff to do; it is entirely possible to only have completed 2 out of 21 provinces after playing the game for 23 hours. So you might think more can only be good, right?

Not in this case! The first DLC, Narco Road, is outright crap. It’s shit. You know, Wildlands has two weaknesses: The driving and flying mechanics. So what could go wrong if you base a DLC on both? Yep, pretty much everything.

Narco Road introduces you to driving around with monster trucks destroying shit in your way, and even some racing. Besides, you can drift or jump monster trucks or muscle cars, and you get a nice boost … But well, those driving mechanics, that were good enough for casually driving from A to B, or maybe hunting down cartel member C, now ask for precision and timing, without having been improved for Narco Road. It’s still doable, but it’s not fun. At all.

And then the flying … you have to fly around a lot in choppers or planes, including a set of side missions to dust coca plants, and there are even more SAM sites than before, making these side missions incredibly annoying. And again, they’re not fun at all.

What else is there? Some more bland side stuff, drifting, jumping or climbing mountains (yawn), side stuff where you race to a caged wild animal, kill enemies and secure the package by tagging it. Sounds pointless, is pointless. The best new side activity in Narco Road is finding a lost car somewhere on the map, using a photo to find its whereabouts. And it’s not even that great.

Even worse, Narco Road takes place in a few re-drawn and not exactly remarkable Western provinces, you have to start with a fresh level 20 character, you have less weapons at your disposal, and everything you can gather is just re-skinned weapons from Wildlands. Oh, and the strange story puts you undercover into Santa Blanca where you fight a rival cartel that doesn’t seem to exist in the main game …

Even worse, you’re on your own. No squad to help you, making fighting enemies tedious. Each damn mission takes much longer now, and once you’re dead, no AI revives you (weirdly enough, coop still works). Narco Road really does a damn impressive job to take the strengths of Wildlands – the massive, diverse map, the squad fighting, the weapon customisation – and then remove them.

Its only saving grace could well be the “Lorenzo Bike”, a llama bike shooting rainbow farts and making weird noises, but that’s surely not worth the price, right? In case you got Narco Road anyway (most likely because you bought the season pass as Narco Road sounded good on paper, didn’t it?), here’s how to find the llama bike around 2 miles south-east of the Sueno Mausoleum :

So unless you bought the season pass, avoid this pathetic DLC like the plague! It seems Ubisoft said “hey folks, what about some more outlandish stuff? You know, like Saints Row or GTA? Let’s just make sure to get it out quickly, and let’s re-use everything instead of making something new! Oh, and please, please let’s not integrate anything into the main game!” The result … Narco Road. Half-baked ideas and terrible execution will make sure this is a broken road not much travelled.

Rabidgames swears: Fucking hell! Ubisoft, we thought you’ve learned from your past DLC mistakes! But Narco Road is an awful piece of pointless DLC not worth the time or the money. What the fuck were you thinking publishing this mess?

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!

Ghost Recon: Wildlands or Of Just Causes, Mercenaries and Narcos

Posted in The Latest on February 6, 2017 by Rabidgames

After Rabidgames was still a bit sceptical about Ghost Recon: Wildlands, the invitation to the Closed Beta was very welcome indeed. And after just a few minutes in, it’s already clear that Wildlands might not be the deepest tactical Ghost Recon game, but that it is still a decent open world game, and a big one at that.

If asked how to describe Wildlands, the easiest way would be to say we have a massive world with different climates (e.g. desert, farmlands and snow, the latter sadly not in the beta) just like in the Just Cause series, the recon and stealth approach closer to Phantom Pain than to Ghost Recon games of old, gathering resources and the structure of the cartel both remind one of Mercenaries and especially the pack of cards of the first Mercenaries, and finally, the story seems quite heavily “inspired” by the TV show Narcos. Oh, and you should totally watch Narcos!

Well, change Colombia to Bolivia, or a rather fictional version of Bolivia, as the town names and province names cannot really be found on a map of real world Bolivia, which feels kind of odd. Anyway, the world of Wildlands is nicely diverse and pretty massive – next to the 11 different climate zones, there are animals roaming the countryside (no non-human predators so far though), and the world looks pretty and graphically very impressive when it rains. At night, flying high over Bolivia summons thoughts of Just Cause once more when marvelling at the lights in the distance. While some buildings are a bit copy/pastey, it’s not as bad as Mass Effect 1 felt thankfully with the same Ikea base across the entire galaxy. Exploring the map is always worth it because you can find weapons or weapon parts, resources to upgrade your skills, skill points themselves, information about the region and the cartel bosses there, or if you’re lazy, you quickly go find intel which reveals all of the above.

Anyway, what should you expect gameplay-wise? If you expect a Ghost Recon experience with detailed planning, extensive scouting and perfect stealth, well, it is still there, but this time, if things go wrong, you can now perfectly shoot your way out of the situation. Don’t be disappointed by the low difficulty though – we’ve only seen the “tutorial province” of Wildlands so far, and it is safe to assume things will get harder soon. Then again, you can die quickly in fire fights (dying after two shots happens on Normal), and while you can get revived once per battle, you still need to be careful.

So, while Wildlands does not seem to be tactically as deep as expected, it still offers the pretty cool sync shot feature where your A.I. or human squad takes aim at up to 3 targets and they either fire if you tell them to or if you shoot another enemy. Just don’t shoot at an already tagged enemy. You can also give a few basic controls to your squad – which is important though. If you’re discovered by the sicarios and you hesitate, they won’t be of much help, but send them in and they do a decent job of cleaning up the mess you created. … There are also a few options to call for rebel support – from providing a car or fighters to mortar fire to liven up the experience!

So, who exactly is Ghost Recon: Wildlands for now? Sure, certainly not for those who think open worlds are too much for them, and also not for those who think Ubisoft makes the same game over and over again (how Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Watch Dogs 2 can be the same game is beyond Rabidgames though). Wildlands might not even be a game for Ghost Recon fans, as there is less focus on the tactical approach, and some have already called it dumbed down (then again, everything is called dumbed down these days). If you can’t see past Skyrim-like bad, stiff character movement or past bad and partially unresponsive vehicle controls, Wildland might also not be your game.

No, Wildlands is for fans of Just Cause or Metal Gear Solid who like a bit more tactical approach. It also follows the Ubisoft formula in the way that you have many options to choose from. You can tackle most situations in Wildlands with different means, and the open world helps here with the chance to scout around the perimeter or perhaps to go find all the weapons and skills points before starting the next mission. Plus, you get quickly drawn in if you’ve just watched Narcos!

Rabdigames is counting the cash: While Wildlands might not be a perfect game, it still could well be a hidden gem of a game with dozens of hours of fun to be had in its playground. After the beta, it is now a guaranteed day 1 purchase! Mind you, not every game must be perfect, sometimes the sum of all parts just comes together to create a great experience. No one would say Just Cause 2 was perfect in the way it handled shooting or driving, but many still get lost in Panau to this day. Also, it’s a shame Bolo Santosi and the Reapers won’t make it to Bolivia …

 

 

 

A New Year’s Rant: Is gaming DOOMed?

Posted in Gaming these days ..., The Latest with tags on January 4, 2017 by Rabidgames

It might be a bit unfair to take this rant out on DOOM. It is a great, fast-paced, brutal and no-nonsense shooter which doesn’t gives a Demon’s rancid ass about story or any kind of correctness. But DOOM also highlights everything wrong with the gaming industry and this generation especially. And post-2016, we now know life ain’t fair anyway, right?

First, the game itself comes with whopping 50GB on the disc. Make that 70 or something as the PS4 always needs more space on your hard drive. Okay, okay, space cleaned up, let’s install the game now. Oh, what’s that? More space? For more than fucking 30GB of updates? Yeah, you read that right, DOOM needs a demonfucking 30GB update!

How comes? Well, it seems that DOOM’s 3 MP add-ons are all patched into the game. Yep, you read that correctly, you HAVE to download them even if you don’t care about the multiplayer … Who fucking thought that would be a bloody damn great idea?

So in total, DOOM takes up almost 80GB – pretty bad on a 500GB hard drive, right? And where the hell does the space even go? Mind you, Grand Theft Auto V takes up 60GB, and you can see where that’s coming from, the massive open world and the countless patches updating the world especially for GTA Online and such. But DOOM? We’re most likely talking poor optimisation here, folks.

Anyway, DOOM is still a fucking great game – more on that later. And yet, the future of gaming looks annoying, to say the least. Let’s see how it is these days – first we install the game itself on our hard drive (or make space beforehand), then we get to watch the in-game installation (DOOM takes 10 minutes here as well), and then we wait for 5-10GB (if we’re lucky) updates to be downloaded, while Sony still hasn’t done shit to improve the snail’s speed on their notoriously fucked servers.

But imagine gaming in 5 or 10 years – we’ll probably need massive hard drives, patience, a good internet connection to download the small 100GB day-one patches, and oh, more patience. How hard can it be to ship a finished game, how hard can it be to make optional multiplayer content not part of mandatory patches?

Mind you, DOOM isn’t the only culprit – look at Mafia 3 (adding outfits and races via patches), Dishonored 2 (new game+ and level select), or Final Fantasy XV (patching the story itself!). That’s just the few last months! This is a trend that fucking sucks!

Rabidgames wonders: Why bothering with consoles again? What happened to “buy, put the disc into the console and play”? There’s hardly any difference between PC and consoles any more, except that PCs offer the best gameplay experience. Give us finished games, MS and Sony, otherwise consoles will become pretty useless soon.

Nintendo can’t find the On-Switch

Posted in The Latest on January 3, 2017 by Rabidgames

True, Rabidgames isn’t the greatest Nintendo fan, but the presentation of a new console and new games can be interesting nonetheless. It can be. This was a failure though, and actually cringe-worthy at times.

First of all, the Switch is a total failure in terms of power. Competing with the PS4 or the Xbox One was out of question, sure, we’ve known that and expected it, but from the looks of it, it’s hardly improved compared to the WiiU, which had already been outdated at its inception. And that’s just the TV screen part of the console, not the hand-held version. It’s 2017, and the games look from the mid-360 generation. There is no excuse for this.

Where else to continue? With the steep price for the console – to be sold without even a single bundle? With the fact that Zelda might cost up to 60 pounds? 60!!! Or with the absurdly overpriced accessories? Or with the amazing number of 5, yes five games available at launch, most of them rather shovel ware?

Or should we talk about paid online services, following Microsoft’s and Sony’s questionable path? Similar to there, you get a “free” game a month – but only a NES or SNES game (sounds a bit like PSN+, doesn’t it?). But there’s a catch – you can only play the game for “free” in the given month, afterwards you have to shell out money to play it again. Makes total sense now, right? Or maybe Nintendo just messed up the communication, who knows? Speaking of communication, paying for an online chat that will take place on your phone must be something that has been lost in translation! No one can be that fucking daft!

Sure, the loyal Nintendo fan base will buy it. And there might be a good line-up and decent bundles coming down the line. But for the time being, the console is in the middle of nowhere – too expensive for casuals, too expensive for families, and not enough power and games on offer for hardcore gamers. Who exactly is supposed to buy the console in the first place? It was rather marketed as a home console, which was a massive mistake, as it can’t compete with its rivals, while the thought of a hand-held that can also be played on a TV would have certainly made more sense, especially when it comes to the substantial lack of power.

And last but not least, by the time the software reinforcements arrive, it could be too little, too late. The lacklustre PS Pro is out, and you might fancy PSVR. Let’s not forget Scorpio is waiting, too! Plus a strong line-up this year, from Horizon Zero Dawn, South Park Mass Effect Andromeda or Persona 5 to the GOTY contender Red Dead Redemption 2 – it seems unlikely any of these games will make it to the Switch, and many will no doubt rather think about buying these games – and more – than buying one expensive console for just one expensive game to look forward to.

Rabidgames thinks: It’s a miracle how this disaster was allowed to happen. Did anyone involved really think what’s on offer is great? Or do they live in a time bubble and think it’s still 2011? Whatever the reason, Nintendo will have to do tons of hard work to convince the gaming masses to buy and switch on their hybrid.

Mod support for Skyrim on PS4?

Posted in The Latest on October 5, 2016 by Rabidgames

According to an article on Bethesda’s website, Sony caved in and seems to be allowing mods for Skyrim and later also for Fallout 4 now. Hoo-fucking-ray!!!

But so far, there is no tornado sweeping through the net with this news, there is no rapture echoing through gaming forums, there is no collective fist-pumping of PS4 gamers to be seen, so it should be taken carefully and without too much enthusiasm, but either it’s true, it’s a hoax by hackers or Bethesda is trolling us – well, the latter would probably be a pretty dumb thing to do …

Rabidgames is waiting: What’s true? We’ll see … Fingers crossed Sony has seen reason!

Update: While it is now confirmed mods WILL be allowed in the PS4 version, there is quite a catch – it will be impossible “to upload external assets with your PlayStation 4 mods”, meaning no Fallout weapons in Skyrim and vice versa. Well, better than nothing, but it might still be worth to see if we can get the full mode experience on the One!

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – A Mirror of Reality?

Posted in The Latest on September 24, 2016 by Rabidgames

Once in a while, we come across games that transcend their medium, that do more than “just” entertain us … While Life is Strange asks us to just relax and do nothing for a few minutes once in a while (and does so in the game itself, too) or Red Dead Redemption makes us see the dying West and the end of an age through John Marston’s embittered and wisened eyes, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided puts the finger in the festering wound of our era – discrimination.

When Eastern Europeans get attacked in Britain after the Brexit disaster, when black people get killed by cops in the US, when islamophobia is running rampant across the world and right-wing hatred rears its ugly head once more, Mankind Divided dares to tell a story of segregation, discrimination and fear-mongering exactly at the right time.

Even more so, while the game shows discrimination openly, you’ll get to experience it yourself throughout the game up to a point where you start hating every asshole shouting “clank” at you, that cop shouting at you to not take the “naturals'” carriage or every time you have to present your papers to show you have the right to be where you are despite being an augmented sub-human “hanzer”.

In fact, the title Mankind Divided sums up today’s world perfectly, a world where division, suspicion and prejudice reign and split societies and peoples, fuelled by hate-filled diatribes in too many tabloids reaching far too many people. Just like in the game – you can read newspapers from the opposing ends of the spectrum, you find propaganda from all sides lying around and you feel the tensions between rich and poor, between freedom and security, between the cold truth and comforting lies.

A key moment of Mankind Divided is when you transit from the open word-ish streets of Prague to the linear corridor of Golem City – a perfect way of using gameplay to establish the experiences and the hardship of the “human waste” in the ghetto where rampant police violence and lawless gangs both thrive without consequences.

Where the game excels is not painting everything in black and white – there are augmented terrorists, some cops are actually just looking for the greater good with bad methods, and making all information available to everyone might involve risks as well. The world of Deus Ex has always tried to be morally grey, and Mankind Divided has nailed this even better than Human Revolution – not necessarily through missions or objectives, although it can be seen there as well, but rather covertly by listening to conversations, during conversations, reading e-books, papers and mails.

Mankind Divided follows the footsteps of GTA V by transporting dark themes of our reality into a game, although there a key differences – while the sun-kissed San Andreas is a garish, bright and satirical take on capitalism and the rotting American Dream, Prague’s dystopian vision shows a bleak world of oppression and decay. While GTA is a tale of utter amorality in a hopeless and corrupted world of mass stupidity and pretty much character is nothing but a massive bodily orifice of your choosing, Deus Ex is a world of morals with a twist, as a seemingly good deed potentially leads to disaster. But both games reach their greatest narrative height not in their storylines (they both are arguably not the strongest stories of their series), but rather in portraying worlds where behind .

Rabidgames muses: It’s a shame that when we talk about progress in video games, we’re mostly talking about shiny graphics, screen resolutions or processing power. Hardly do we ever read about narrative heights, deep stories or new ways how games can tackle serious matters. It’s a shame, but maybe it’s the strange thought that games should be only fun without us having to think, or maybe it’s also the fact we’re not used to games tackling serious issues.

Whatever the reason, we should laud games such as This War of Mine or Spec Ops: The Line, we should discuss the undertones of games like Deus Ex instead – if we’re instead in the medium evolving into more than a mere pastime. This decision is up to each of us, and we can decide with our wallet if we want another stupid patriotic shooter or a different game that challenges not only our hands and eyes, but also the brain.