Star Wars Battlefront Review

Star Wars Battlefront Review

Star Wars Battlefront is out and, after much deliberation, I decided to purchase it after all. You may recall from my Battlefront Beta Impressions that I wasn’t thrilled by a few of the design decisions. I feared the game may be a short-lived phenomenon. I had a few concerns about the game’s longevity because of the maps, the modes, and the features. Now that I can play the full version, here’s how all of those things are playing out.

Maps & Modes in General

Thankfully there are a few more maps per mode than I had originally thought. The ‘biggest’ mode with 40 players has four maps (one on each planet). That brings up a good point: There are only four planets (Endor, Hoth, Sollust, Tatooine) comprising 12 maps, and those 12 maps are more like variations of the four planets or variations of the same map. While the diversity isn’t what I would have loved to see — like a Tattooine city. While not ugly in any way, most are very simple and somewhat flat without a lot of complexity to their impact on gameplay.

The modes are what you expect just with different names and range from capture the flag to dog fighting in ships. Except for the air battle mode, the modes are rather lackluster. Both Graev and I would have really loved to see a Conquest Mode similar to Battlefield. The modes for capture the flag and ‘droid run’ are fairly uninspired and lack a desire for much replayability since they drive combat closer to arcade grenade spam than they do tactical Star Wars battles.

battlefront ship battles

Longevity and Replayability

Herein lies probably the most important factor of all: Does Star Wars Battlefront have staying power? I have to go with my honest gut opinion here and say that it doesn’t have the staying power of shooters we all used to love and play 5-10 years ago. While fun, it’s more of that ‘flash-in-the-pan’ kind of experience. Some people call it the “Titanfall Effect” where its awesome, amazing, innovative, tons of fun, but you stop playing two or three weeks later.

The key to Battlefront’s long-term success rests entirely on how DLC and expansions to the game are handled. Unfortunately, EA doesn’t have the most amazing track record with its shooters — namely the modern Battlefields — and their staying power. I can’t see myself playing this 6 months from now. Does that mean I won’t get my money’s worth? That’ll be subjective. Personally, I’ll get enough hours out of Battlefront to justify the $48 I spent (Thanks to Best Buy’s game club I get 20% off new releases).

battlefront capture the flag mode

Guns, Unlocks, Customization, Etc.

I stated back in my beta impressions that this system was lacking. It still is. Simply gaining access to new things linearly as you level and then spending credits you earn to unlock and slot them is too simple. They are completely missing the customization of recent Battlefield games. Alternatively we could compare this to Battlefront 1 and 2’s class system which they are also lacking. Instead, everyone is the same and you can simply change your character’s ethnicity and/or take off your Storm Trooper’s helmet.

Battlefront’s Multiplayer Platform / UI / Framework

Here’s where they’ve started to make great headway. I really, really like how they handled multiplayer and playing with friends. Inviting friends on both PC & Console is easy. Forming a squad works seamlessly. Playing with Graev on the PS4 has never been easier. Being able to choose a “partner” from your group so that you can spawn on them is a very nice touch.

Battlefront, like every game these days (Overwatch, Fallout4, etc), is designed for consoles first. The UI is defined by that experience. An in-game example of this is how AMAZINGLY well the vehicle control on consoles but how poorly they are implemented on PC. The game is full of amazing control and UI decisions that I enjoy — on consoles.

Battlefront droid run mode

Challenge Modes & Singleplayer in Battlefront

There are a few singleplayer modes that work mostly like challenge modes. Graev and I have had some fun playing these. Two nights ago we spent 2 hours trying to beat them on hard mode and failed after being really far into one of them. The harder modes are absolutely brutal and a real test of skill. While trying to survive waves of storm troopers or capturing pods may be a lot of fun — and being able to do it co-op is even more fun — I can’t say this is a replacement for multiplayer. Battlefront is a multiplayer game.

Gameplay & General Fun

Despite my highly critical remarks so far, I feel that Battlefront is a very fun game. I am glad I bought it, and knowing what I know now I would still buy it again. I love the atmosphere. I love shooting blasters, flying X-wings, playing as Darth Vader (SO FUN), and strategizing with Graev on how best to defend our flag or take on incoming enemies.

Is Star Wars Battlefront worth buying? Yes, but go into this purchase knowing what to expect. Battlefront truly captures the Star Wars feel in a very modern way, but falls slightly short of bringing an innovative or new shooter experience.

The Legend of Zelda: TriForce Heroes Review

TriForce Heroes Review triforce-heroes-3dsThe Legend of Zelda: TriForce Heroes just came out on Friday, but Graev and I have logged numerous hours in what I think is one of my favorite 3DS games yet. TriForce Heroes is a multiplayer experience designed for three players to work together to complete levels comprised of various platformer puzzles and challenges. While the game does allow people with absolutely no friends internet connection to play by themselves, the heart of TriForce Heroes can only be found in its multiplayer experience.

You take on the role of Link. And your friends (or random online people) take on the roles of… Links. That’s sort of where the story in TriForce Heroes begins to break down. You’re all heroes, but at the same time you’re not. Apparently Nintendo has said (these?) are the same Link from A Link Between Worlds, but you’ve come to Hytopia and decide to hide your heroic origins by dressing up in what can only be considered fantabulous outfits. Oh yes, the story gets better… or worse… or better?

triforce-heroes-totemThe gist of the story here is that Hytopia, a kingdom passionate about fashion, has been plagued by this awful witch (known only as “The Lady”) who has cursed the beautiful fashionista princess with the most unimaginably horrible curse of all: To forever have to wear this ugly brownish bodysuit thing. It is up to you (or the three of you) to save Hytopia from this awful curse by entering the Drablands (eye roll) and fulfill the prophesy to stop “The Lady.” So yeah.. the story sucks. It’s worse than any story in any Zelda game ever–and has matching dialog too. But if you completely ignore the story, the gameplay is phenomenal. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that your goal throughout this entire experience is to also acquire crafting materials to make yourself some chic outfits with bonuses.

Gameplay is similar to just about every handheld Zelda game thus far. I personally think it handles like a dream. You’ll queue up with any combination of 3 whether it be people you know or randoms or any mixture. Your goal in every level is simply to get to the end, and to do so requires utilizing unparalleled amounts of teamwork combining different items and strategies. You’ll be coordinating attacks, movements, and abilities that rival the coordination of a WoW raid boss–not kidding. Sharing the same hearts for health and being able to hurt each other with bombs makes the whole thing

triforce heroes carrying teammates

Graev (in green) carrying this guy (red) who was so bad. He flailed wildly with what could only have been the maddest of attempts to free himself.

Solving levels can be quite a challenge, and doing so with absolutely no voice communication is the best part of TriForce Heroes. Some reviews I’ve read consider the lack of communication a negative, but I think it might be this game’s biggest strength. Spamming the emojis of “Throw!” “Over Here!” and “Item!” etc., have brought on tears streaming down my face. I was laughing so hard last night that I got a massive headache. I haven’t laughed so hard in months! Graev and I were playing once level and the guy we teamed with was so unbearably bad that Graev finally said screw it and picked him up, unwilling to put him down, and forcefully carried him over his head like a bomb through half the level.

The intricate puzzles you’ll be solving, and the hilarity of doing it while having to rely on two other people to often be completely in-sync make for a chaotic yet addicting experience. Even when you come across someone who is so bad it makes you want to cry, you’ll be jumping right back in to see how much better you can do on that level the next time around. TriForce Heroes is just that kind of game. The attention to detail is so finely crafted around this multiplayer experience that it’s simply a masterpiece in that regard. You’ll easily put in 20+ hours before feeling anywhere near like you’ve played the same level twice. That’s the beauty of that multiplayer interaction.

Disney Infinity: Toy Box Speedway Review

Much like Toy Box Takeover, Disney Infinity: Toy Box Speedway is an expansion to the Toy Box of Disney Infinity 3.0. Instead of being a beat’em up, action rpg, or fighting style game, Speedway brings several racing modes to the game.


Toy Box Speedway

Speedway begins like everything else Disney Infinity by placing you in a central hub area designed to let you test out different vehicles. You’ll find a test track, half pipe, jumps, speed boosts, etc. This is where you can get your Tony Hawk on vehicle style and simply mess around.

When you’re ready to begin racing you can step up to one of three portals: Standard Race, Battle Race, and Time Trial. Standard Races and Time Trials are just your regular races you might expect. Nothing much to explain there. Battle races are like a typical Mario Kart level where weapons and powerups are available for pickup along the course.

Toy Box SpeedwayLike most Disney Infinity vehicles, driving is a little wonky. Drifting feels just a little bit off and sometimes when you think you’re doing everything right the game will think you’ve gone off the track–or will go off the track–and places you right back in the middle of the track. Really annoying when you’re in first place. In terms of your competition, the AI is ridiculously tough on the hardest mode. Any little slip up and you’ll never catch up to the lead car.

The variety of vehicles is strong. You can pick everything from a basic car to something out of Star Wars. Basically whatever you unlock in the Toy Box it feels like you can bring into the racing game. I liked playing as my Yoda figure and driving a Sand Crawler. Weapon variety is incredibly generic and forgettable. Powerups in general are a little bit of a letdown.

Courses are nice and varied. There are nine different tracks to choose from: Aladdin, Star Wars, Frozen, Guardians of the Galaxy, Big Hero 6, Wreck-It-Ralph, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Monster’s Inc., and Gravity Falls. While neat to look at the themes, some of the courses are incredibly straight forward. They’re plenty long, though, and some of them offer a surprising amount of ‘find your own way through the track’ opportunities.

Each course also has collectibles which was both neat to try and find them while racing but also annoying as Graev would be driving 10mph trying to find all of the tokens while the rest of us had already finished our laps 4 minutes ago. Speaking of collectibles, for the Frozen fanatics in your household you’re probably going to have to pick this up… Elsa’s Ice Palace is only obtainable in Disney Infinity 3.0 if you win the first place trophy in all 3 Grand Prix races. You can also obtain neat things like Jack’s Spiral Hill from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

While not an amazing racing game on its own, the value proposition is just about right there with Toy Box takeover. For the completionists it’s a must-have, and kids will probably love it way more than adults.

Disney Infinity: Toy Box Takeover Review

My Disney Infinity adventures continue, this time with a look at the Toy Box Takeover and Toy Box Speedway Expansion Games. These two mini-expansion add content onto the Toy Box mode of the game which, if you recall from my Disney Infinity review, is the area of the game where players can make their own houses, create their own games, and be or interact with all of the characters and props from Disney properties.


Toy Box Takeover

Take Box TakeoverToy Box Takeover is an isometric beat’em up adventure where you can take control of any of the character figures you have and play what reminds me of a Skylanders level. You’re roaming through trying to beat the bad guys, maybe solve a few minor basic puzzles, and collect items for use in your Toy Box.

Story is in somewhat short supply here, but Syndrome has stolen Merlins wand and used it to conjure up a few worlds. That… about sums it up. Your mission is to go and get it back and stop him from continuing to cause chaos.

This actually feels like it was built with the Toy Box  game making scripting tools, which is both encouraging to those who have lots of time on their hands and want to make a level, but also a little disappointing since that means there’s an element of simplicity at play. While you can certainly bash lots of bad guys, and the boss battles are fun, the overall gameplay and level designs are a little simple.

There are only 5 levels (6 if you count Merlin’s hub) and 6 unlockable toys with 2 unlockable sidekicks in each. All in, Toy Box Takeover has about 3-4 hours of gameplay, and no replayability. I do like how Graev and I were able to play co-op together, though. That always adds to the experience.

In my opinion, Toy Box Takeover is fun and nice to have if you’re a Toy Box completionist. Is it a must-have like the playsets? No, definitely not. It’s a fun little addition and way to extend your Disney Infinity adventures if you have an extra $19.99 burning a hole in your pocket.

Yoshi’s Woolly World

Yoshi's Woolly World Review

When I sat down with Graev to play through Yoshi’s Woolly World I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting much. The premise of playing a character in a world of yarn was strange and certainly not my preferred textile. But within minutes all of that predisposed bias went out the window as I stuck my tongue out, ate Graev, and ‘produced’ a yarn egg with his face on it. I proceeded to throw him at the nearest thing and watched as it brought the scenery to life.

The video above should give you a great frame of reference for what I’m talking about.

Yoshi’s Woolly World is an awesome platformer, and one I must admit would not be anywhere near as fun playing by myself. Gameplay is straight forward: You run, jump, hover with a little upward motion, stick your tongue out to pull things in, spit stuff out, and ‘produce’ balls of yarn if you choose to have the item you just ate come out the… other end. This will all feel completely familiar to anyone who has ever used Yoshi in any of his forms. Unique to Woolly World is the ability to use yarn which you can aim and throw to build and alter parts of the stage.

Co-op play, again, is the key here. ‘Utilizing’ each other to overcome obstacles, find new areas unique to co-op, and just overall working your way through the levels is way more dynamic with two players. As usual, Graev and I often feel like playing together makes the stages more challenging. Jumping on each other to save ourselves tends to foster a, “WTF did you do that for” experience. 😛

Yoshi's Woolly World

The Amiibo bundle is only a little bit more and worth it!

Each level requires careful attention to detail to uncover the myriad of hidden daisies, bundles of yarn, beads (that I think look more like gems), stamps, and hearts to try and beat the level with full health. Gathering all of the yarn bundles on a level gives you a Yarn Yoshi themed to that level that you can then use anywhere. You’ll want gems so that you can purchase badges to use on levels such as making all yarn balls big and other neat little boosts. While any given level can be beaten fairly quickly — in fact, very quickly — taking it slow to find all of these collectibles is where you’ll find the most depth and enjoyment.

I was expecting the levels, for the most part, to be a cakewalk. They’re actually pretty tough, especially when you play the hidden levels unlocked by getting all of the daisies in a world. The levels feel incredibly hand-crafted and some of the puzzle-like nature of unraveling or manipulating the cloth and yarn makes for an awesome “Oh wow look what I found” moment. The various mechanics they introduce are fun and fitting to the setting.

There’s tons to see and experience.. I think Nintendo was very clever with incorporating the theme of a yarn and clothlike world. It works, and they definitely embrace it to its fullest. I think my only complaint would be that you do reach a point on some levels when you’re like, “Okay I’m ready for something new…”.  Oh, and sometimes I think finding all of the items can be a little tedious, especially if you realize at the last second, “Crap I missed that Yarn and can’t go back!”

Overall, Yoshi’s Woolly World is an awesome game and one of the best on the Wii U.

Skylanders SuperChargers Review

Skylanders SuperChargers Wii U Starter Set

The toys-to-life genre has absolutely crushed the second half of 2015 with one major wallet-busting launch after another, and Skylanders lands right in the middle of the fray with their strongest entry yet: Skylanders SuperChargers. SuperChargers introduces big change to the Skylanders franchise with vehicles, online co-op, and a Mario Kart-esque racing system. Let’s dive in and take a look!

Skylanders and Adventure Mode

Much of the core gameplay still revolves around the Skylanders figures themselves. Many of our favorite Skylanders return as one of the 20 new Skychargers, each witch a matching vehicle, but a few new characters join the ranks of the Skylanders which I’ll get to in just a moment.

The story is rather thin, as all Skylanders stories tend to be, but that doesn’t detract from the point of each mission: Explore, beat up the bad guys, collect lots of coins to upgrade, and beat bosses. The gist of the story this time around is that Kaos has destroyed much of the islands by harnessing the power of darkness. The Skylands are shattered apart and it’s up to the SuperChargers to use their vehicles to save the day. They’re totally up to the challenge, of course.

In terms of time to complete, the campaign is roughly 10-12 hours for those looking to do a full clear on a harder difficulty. Graev and I played the entire thing co-op, and each mission ended up taking easily 1.5-2 hours. I don’t want to gloss over this point: ONLINE co-op in two different houses with our own copies of the game and our own consoles. You can play finally play with friends!

Each mission definitely had a unique feel with unique looking bad guys and gimmicks. That’s not to say the levels were really all that different in terms of the way in which you went about completing them. The real flavor comes in the form of the new vehicles. [Read more…]

Disney Infinity 3.0: Twilight of the Republic Review

I finished my play-through of Disney Infinity 3.0’s Twilight of the Republic play set last night! As I detailed in my review of Disney Infinity 3.0 as a whole, these play sets are just one “game” within a game, comprising story-driven quests, objectives, collectibles, and challenges.Twilight of the Republic Review


Story and Setting

Twilight of the Republic GeonosisTwilight of the Republic takes place chronologically between the second and third movies smack dab in the middle of the Clone Wars era. The basic story (no spoilers) has you traveling through various planets to identify a new threat to the Republic. This threat will introduce you to familiar locations such as Geonosis and Tatooine, as well as many legendary figures from the entire Star Wars series. While the story is good, there are definitely some liberties taken. As long as you’re not a purist you should be fine. My only true critique is that I wish it was longer.

There are a total of 4 planets you traverse as you advance the story, but only 3 of them count in my opinion. The final planet is pretty much the final boss fight only. Each planet offers about an hour or two of gameplay not including collectibles and challenges. Gameplay on these planets consists mostly of side quests with a few main story quests pushing you through. The side quests are silly and aimed at the younger audience, but the core story will keep you engaged and wanting to progress to see more. I rather enjoyed when the game departed from just combat and presented me with obstacles to try and navigate.

Disney Infinity YodaI played on the second to last difficulty and found the game actually too difficult in many spots. Boss battles had nice mechanics as well as a learning curve. The final boss was actually very challenging and had I not had Anakin, Ahsoka, Yoda, Ezra, and Sabine I would have been in deep trouble. I ended up cycling through them and even had to wait for one to recharge during a phase of the encounter.

TotR Characters

The play set comes with Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano. Combined with Yoda and Obi-wan (with Darth Maul release later this year) these are the only current characters you’ll be able to play in TotR until you unlock more character tokens — you’ll still need to purchase those characters to use them as well. For the purpose of scoring this review, I am only going to review what is included in the play set. [Read more…]

Super Mario Maker Review

Super Mario Maker Building Tools

Spoilers: Super Mario Maker is so much fun! Super Mario Maker takes all of the things (well, almost all) we know and love from Mario over the last 30 years and packages it all up into what is by far the biggest and potentially never-ending Mario game ever made.

Super Mario Maker allows players to create their very own Mario levels using graphic styles, doodads, enemies, bosses, and gameplay mechanics from all of the 2D side-scrolling Mario games. In addition to making and playing your own levels, players can go to the Course World and download levels made by other players all over the world.

Course Maker Mode

The creation tools are phenomenal. I can’t imagine them working much better than this in terms of functionality. The experience is so seamless and smooth that you can literally place something, click play, and test it out on the spot. There aren’t load times or transitions — it’s instantaneous. The developers wanted this experience to be smooth, and they nailed it.

Here’s where the gamepad shines and no other consoles can compete. Being able to use the stylus to drag/drop and manipulate two screens is a must.

My biggest criticism of the make mode has nothing to do with what’s in the game. Everything in the game is fantastic. I’m more bummed about what wasn’t included, and hope that we’ll see it patched in soon. Here are a few things I’ve noticed that are missing:

  • Scenery: Desert, Beach, Forest, Snow
  • Tanooki Suit Mario
  • Ice Flower
  • Colored Yoshi
  • Wind

The list is actually extensive and growing, which leads me to believe we’re either going to see DLC, or if Nintendo treats this like they did Splatoon we may see this added for free. Fingers crossed. [Read more…]

Disney Infinity 3.0 Overview and Review

Disney Infinity 3.0

I almost don’t even know where to begin with my coverage of Disney Infinity 3.0 because the game itself is so massive in scope that tackling the entire thing at once feels way too daunting for both me to type up and for you to even want to read in one sitting. I decided the best thing to do would be to cover various aspects of the game in different entries, document some of what I write about in casual Let’s Play videos, and go from there.

Today’s post is going to be a little bit of a broad overview. I’m going to attach Episode 1 of my Let’s Play series for you to see some of these things I’m talking about. This will act as my review for the game itself overall. I will review each of the items sold separately for you to be able to make an educated decision on whether or not they are worth the purchase.

What is Disney Infinity 3.0?

Disney Infinity 3.0 is the third game in what what has grown from a simple Skylanders rip off into a juggernaut of a game. As I mentioned before, the scope of DI is huge. There’s a toy box where you can build everything from Disney to Star Wars to Marvel themed worlds, create your own games and script them with in-game tools — yes, you can even make isometric MOBAs in this thing — and decorate a house. There’s even the ability to download other players’ toy boxes.

You can also play through story-driven Play Sets which act as action/adventure games. So far there are three Play Sets released — two for Star Wars and one for Inside Out — which I will review independently. There’s Twilight of the Republic ($34.99) which takes place in the clone wars era, and Rise Against the Empire ($34.99) which spans New Hope through RotJ. I haven’t picked up Inside Out yet, but I’ll probably grab it soon. Oh, if you buy it be sure to get it in the Inside Out Bundle exclusive to Amazon for $65.

Disney Infinity 3.0 Play Sets

Looking for something a little more like Diablo? A dungeon crawler of sorts? Yep, there’s a game for that called Toy Box Takeover ($20). There’s even upcoming Toy Box expansion called Toy Box Speedway which is a Mario Kart-esque racer. I have no idea when that comes out. I will also review these independently since they are each sold separately. [Read more…]

Pokemon Shuffle Review & Pokemon Go Preview

The world of “mobile” gaming is surely evolving (accidental pun intended) as the gamer demographic expands. Mobile gaming used to be my brother and I playing our Gameboys in the backseat of the car during family vacations. Mobile gaming used to be restricted to the few who owned handheld systems. Now, mobile gaming is done on just about every device in our pockets or on our wrists.

The Pokemon Company has dabbled recently into how their namesake can be implemented onto other devices. Previously, Pokemon as a video game was a Nintendo handheld gaming franchise. Then, it lightly expanded into guest appearances in other games and occasionally a few standalone console titles. Now, Pokemon is being taken to the masses on mobile games.

You might recall that Nintendo partnered with DeNa back in March of this year to start bringing games to smartphones and other devices. So far we havent’ seen anything come from this partnership, at least not that I am aware of anyway, but we have seen Pokemon begin its journey into the mobile space much more aggressively in the past few weeks. I attribute most of this to how Pokemon is owned partially by three main companies: Nintendo (33%), Gamefreak (33%), The Pokemon Company (33%-2% or so to some anima people). I think I saw that Nintendo owns 54% of Gamefreak, therefore putting Nintendo technically in big control, but it just gets too complicated. Suffice it to say, Pokemon gets around.

Let’s first take a look at the just announced Pokemon Go.

Sensationalized in every imaginable way. Obviously the city of New York will not band together to defeat Mewtwo, and Blastoise won’t be making waves in any major bodies of water. You won’t see these things in real life, and you won’t throw or even mimic throwing anything to catch a Pokemon. This will all take place on the phone, maybe utilize the camera, but at best still be a digital experience.

Pokemon Go Plus Watch

Wearing this bluetooth device will alert you when there’s action happening in your area.

The point they’re trying to get across in this video is that Pokemon can transcend a game you play on a device where you control a trainer. YOU can become the trainer. YOU can set out on the adventure. Just a few problems with that…

I don’t want to go out and adventure. I’m simply not going to bust out my phone and geolocate Pokemon. I’d rather sit at home in the air conditioning and explore a fantasy world.

Gamers — specifically Pokemon gamers — aren’t into traversing mountains, seeking out vistas, or exploring the world. They are definitely (especially in Asia) into the whole street pass thing where people carry their system around with them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a group of Japanese tourists at Disneyland all playing on their 3DS while waiting in line for rides. That’s a far cry from seeking out the experience of hunting pokemon by traveling to different locations. [Read more…]