“Traverse Town” Theme on Piano (Arranged by my wife!)

One of the benefits of being married to a very talented musician is that on a Sunday afternoon I can ask her to listen to some video game music then on the spot create a custom arrangement and play for me.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Bri really enjoyed watching me play through Kingdom Hearts. I didn’t have to try hard to convince her to create a custom arrangement of “Traverse Town” and put it on Youtube for me.  Enjoy!

I think I’ve even convinced her to take requests, so if you’d like to hear something let me know. I’m working on getting an EverQuest theme or two from her, and definitely something from Zelda, Mario, and Minecraft.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate: Jack the Ripper DLC Review

Jack the Ripper DLC

I was able to get a pretty good deal on the special edition of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate which means I get at least all of the first DLC and somne goodies at no (additional) cost. The first main DLC for Syndicate is Jack the Ripper, a look into the mystery surrounding one of London’s craziest and creepiest serial killer bad guys. For the purposes of this review, there will be spoilers.

A little backstory for you…

Jack the Ripper DLC takes place 20 years after the main storyline in Syndicate. Evie has been in India with Henry Green working with the local chapter of the Assassin Brotherhood. Meanwhile, Jacob stayed in London all these years to build up the brotherhood there with plenty of new Initiates. After the death of Starrick, Jacob liberated the Aslyum and took on an Initiate named Jack the Lad (can you guess who he becomes?). Jack’s mom was killed by Starrick’s Templars, and he was committed to the Aslyum and pretty much ‘jacked up’ by the people there. So of course it makes perfect sense to train him as an Assassin…

A few years later, Jacob and his initiates meet up with the Indian Brotherhood where they learn this new fighting tactic which involves filling people with ‘fear.’ It’s less gruesome — so less stab stab and more about street magic and scaring the crap out of people. Fear bombs, spikes to pin people to the ground, etc.

After Jacob and his initiates return, having just learned lots of Jack the Lad loses it and begins killing … just about everyone in the London Assassins. He takes over the Rooks and turns them, along with anyone else he can manipulate, into groups of baddies.

The Autumn of Terror

Here’s where we come in — right in the Autumn of Terror — when Jack has just killed a lot of women (who were Assassin Initiates, shhh) and Jacob has been trying to stop him. We learn a lot of this backstory I told you above as we go along, but it’s all really, really poorly developed. Jack’s goal is to spread fear through London — great that he has learned so many techniques on how to do it from the Indian Brotherhood. Jacob ultimately fails and is taken prisoner by Jack, but not before he is able to let Evie know that she has to come back to help rid the world of this monster they created before Inspector Abberline (who knew the twins from the main Syndicate story) is forced to arrest Evie on the grounds that everything is starting to point back to the Assassins (which, of course makes sense — it DOES!).

Unfortunately, most of the story is really underdeveloped and sadly drags on with boring/mundane side missions. The memories themselves should have been way less convoluted and repetitive. I’m surprised to say that I think it should have actually been shorter. The story begged for closure, but never gave any.

Gameplay

The majority of the gameplay is from Evie’s perspective. She has aged quite a bit, now fights using these fear tactics rather than stealthy Assassin stuff. I really, really dislike this style of fighting — especially for Evie. The Assassins are so much cooler when they are about staying in the shadows and being undetected. The skills in fear fighting are all about making sure your enemy sees you and sees you taking down others. It’s this bizarre juxtaposition.

Periodically throughout the 10 Memories comprising the DLC you get to play as Jack the Ripper. Now here is where the fear style makes sense. He’s supposed to scare people. Playing as Jack is really well done because his sociopathic psychopathic tendencies are well-translated with effects. I thought Jack was very well done.

I felt like everything I did in the main story was ditched or tossed aside. All of my skills are gone and replaced with only a handful of passive upgrades to my fear-inducing items.

Setting up the Future?

Jack the Ripper DLC did a nice job of giving me more about the Frye Twins. I loved seeing them 20 years later with gray hair and wrinkles. I liked knowing what happened to them and how they went on to do things in different regions.

Could we have been given a taste of a future AC game here? Should we expect India? Perhaps during the Sikh Empire? Honestly, I just hope they do not ever, EVER, bring back this fear-inducing fight style. It’s just awful.

A Nice Try that Falls Flat

Overall, Jack the Ripper had tons of potential. Had these events not been 20 years later, this would have been a perfect set of side missions. Unfortunately, we were given a set of rushed (yet too long and boring) memories for an underdeveloped story, and gameplay was marred by a fighting style that conflicts with the core of what it means to be an Assassin.

Here’s where I’m torn. Is this worth $15? Yes. There’s plenty of content to justify the price, but the execution leaves much to be desired.

Disney Infinity 3.0: The Force Awakens Play Set Review

Disney Infinity 3.0: The Force Awakens Play Set

The Toys to Life genre continues to find its way into my busy gaming schedule with another play set from Disney Infinity 3.0. Star Wars The Force Awakens Play Set came out to coincide with the movie, and offers gamers the chance to take on the roles of Finn and Rey — along with others — as they unravel the mysteries of this post-empire galaxy.

I won’t offer up any movie spoilers, though the game itself doesn’t actually spoil any of the major movie surprises. Like the other Star Wars play sets, The Force Awakens play set departs a bit from the story told in the movies. This doesn’t really hurt or help the experience any, but may influence whether or not you want to jump in.

Disney Infinity 3.0: The Force Awakens Play Set

The story itself is good. The presentation is also fairly good as well. I’m trying not to say anything that would spoil the movie, so I won’t go any further on story.

Kylo Ren FigureGameplay is mostly about the characters themselves. Rey’s combat abilities are interesting, but overall this figure (which comes with the set) fell flat for me. Finn was pretty good and seems like an overall good choice for range and melee combat.

Additional figures like Poe were definitely needed to help round out some of those more difficult encounters so that you do not have to go back to a checkpoint. My absolute favorite character was Kylo Ren. The figure matches his personality and behavior in the movies perfectly, and I thought his moves and gameplay were (by far) the only truly unique ones in the bunch.

Vehicle use in TFA was wonky — more wonky than the wonkyness of the previous play sets. I actually didn’t like how the ships controlled at all. Aside from one moment on Jakku where you fly the Falcon, vehicles were an afterthought.

There is a slight sense here that the play set was rushed. A lot of the side missions (blue exclamation marks) were generic even for Disney Infinity.

Overall, The Force Awakens Play Set was fun. I think it’s worth buying for a Disney Infinity enthusiast, but not by itself going to justify grabbing both the core game and the play set.

Diablo 3 Season 5

Diablo 3 Season 5

Season 5 began on Friday afternoon and I am once again jumping in with my regular group of friends. In typical fashion, I’m either dead last in my ability to pull my own weight, or I am somewhere in the middle and inconsequential. This all boils down to luck + time. I put in less time and have less luck, therefore I have less gear. RNG loot drops and all.

This time around I am playing a Wizard — for the very first time. Luckily, I think I didn’t pick the worst class this season. I have a knack for picking the class that just flounders. I think with some luck I might actually push to a 85+ grift.

A number of changes were introduced this season that have, thus far, made the experience more enjoyable. Everything from supercharging the Grifts as a form of money sink to new items, achievements, class balances, etc. The biggest change for me has been giving away a “free set.”

Free Set

Everyone receives what has essentially become the “free set.” Reach level 70 and you’ll receive 2 pieces of your classes predetermined set. Defeat a boss and then solo a Rank 20 Grift and you will get the other 4.

  • Barbarian: Might of the Earth
  • Crusader: Thorns of the Invoker
  • Demon Hunter: The Shadow’s Mantle
  • Monk: Monkey King’s Garb
  • Witch Doctor: Raiment of the Jade Harvester
  • Wizard: Firebird’s Finery

The free set means you get to jump to T6+ almost instantly whereas, if you’re like me, this process could take any number of hours or days depending on your loot drops. These sets are balanced to be lower tier, yet fun enough to push you into the more difficult and meta game that is the Diablo 3 gear grind.

We’ll see how long I last! Some seasons it’s a week. Others it’s a month or two. I’m in a competition with my group right now to try to see who stays the longest.

Amazon Prime Now Offers 20% Off All Game Pre-Orders

amazon prime pre-order savings

This was a pleasant surprise. Amazon is now offering 20% off all physical copy game pre-orders or orders made within two weeks after release. This makes Amazon almost on par with Best Buy’s Gamers Club Unlocked. GCU offers 20% off ALL games and many gaming related items, and gives free shipping on those items. GCU also combines with Best Buy’s rewards points program giving $10 additional back in rewards points. GCU costs $30 for 2 years, and Amazon Prime is a heft $100 for one year.

Amazon Prime has other benefits like 2 day shipping (or 1 day in some markets) on just about everything, as well as other benefits like streaming video and random discounts, etc. Personally, I can see owning both being a value.

What I appreciate about Amazon is how they’ve applied this to all games I have on pre-order. I have already saved $40. Works for me.