Kingdom Hearts Unchained X

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X released in North America this past week for iOS and Android. Unchained X reveals the origins of Kingdom Hearts, taking place before any of the other games in the series. Unchained X’s story will connect to the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III game.

You are a Keyblade wielder — one of many — on a quest to rid the world of Darkness and fight with your Union over control of the remaining light.When you start the game you get to choose a Union. This Union is your faction of Keyblade wielders and each week your points are tallied to see which Union wins. There’s a neat multiplayer element to KH Unchained X where you get to fight raid bosses with members of your union, though it’s not truly playing with others in real time.

The presentation is in the form of a fairy tale. In the very beginning (while the game is downloading a good amount) you are presented a fairy tell in popup book format. Kairi’s Grandmother is telling her a favorite story from the past (the story you’re going to be playing) about how the whole thing got started.

KH Uchained X is free to play. The cash shop doesn’t appear to be too invasive. I’m not super far into the game by any means, but from what I can see it all appears to be cosmetic/”I want to be in the top 100 players” kind of stuff. It  doesn’t appear necessary for the story gameplay at all. Medals can be purchased with in-game currency in a form of random packs, and I feel like the game gives you plenty of in-game currency to avoid needing to spend money.

Gameplay happens in “quests” or missions. So far they seem pretty quick, taking no more than a couple of minutes to complete. These missions involve a main objective like killing a particular encounter. Combat is handled well. Tap the screen to attack, swipe to area attack, and drag medals off of your Keyblade to use abilities. Combat in general is somewhat turn-based. Each action you take rotates the medals in your Keyblade. When the enemy’s action comes around, they take a move. So you’re trying to utilize your actions knowing that the enemy’s action is likely to come around soon.

Customization is pretty good too. You’ll get to slot the medals you want, customize our character’s looks/outfit, and level things up with a bit of choice as to what you combine. Overall, a decent system. It’s like a mix of Days and CoM.

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X comes across very well on mobile devices. The story telling methods they use work for both mobile and the KH narrative. There are plenty of familiar faces, lots of Disney which is great, and the feeling of Kingdom Hearts is all there. The price is right, and KHUx is one of the most ‘complete’ feeling mobile games I’ve played.

Miitomo

Nintendo’s first ever mobile app just launched. I’m still trying to find my words here. I don’t know what to make of Miitomo. I don’t know what to make of Nintendo’s strategy. I guess let’s start by looking at a video I took while playing this afternoon.

You start by linking your Nintendo Network ID with your app, or signing up for a new account. I was able to link my same account that I’ve used for years, which is the same account on my Wii/WiiU and on the new My Nintendo.

Once you have your accounts created or linked you can import or design your new Mii. After that, you’re all set! You enter the world of Miitomo which, from what I can tell, is pretty much just your one room apartment. Maybe I’m missing something here, but I can’t figure out how to leave. I just walk around this room.

The main “gameplay” — a term I will use looser than I have ever used it before — is about answering questions and divulging all of your information to Nintendo’s marketing team your friends. The point? Um, to share? I guess?

My wife and I are “playing” Miitomo together. We’re friends. She will occasionally stop by my place and ask me questions. I’ll give her answers, I’ll ask her questions, etc. It’s just a swapping of information regarding the strangest topics. We enjoy the cuteness of answering questions for each other.

You earn coins for answering questions, and you spend them buying your Mii outfits. You can also buy your coins with real money, but I can’t imagine why you would. I’m reminded of the Xbox Live avatar stuff. You can also spend your coins or tickets on playing games that remind me of Pachinko. You’ll earn goodies and clothes by playing.

Being completely honest, it’s kinda dumb. I’m trying to figure out their play. This wreaks of ‘Weird Nintendo’ which might be a mixture of Japanese culture and tactics for hitting some demographic with which I can’t identify. I want to be prophetic here and say that I foresee this as being just a tech demo or a test of their tech to see if they can integrate My Nintendo with an app. We’re all part of some experiment that will eventually contribute to the world’s best social integration mechanics ever. But then again, it could simply be nothing more than Nintendo being weird.

I’m giving this a 5/10 because I think there’s a small chance I might have missed something. Otherwise, I’m not sure this can even be reviewed.

Yo-Kai Watch Wibble Wobble

wib-wobs

Graev has been bugging me for a week to download this game called Yo’Kao Watch Wibble Wobble. I couldn’t pronounce it let alone tell you anything about it. I had never heard of Yo-Kai Watch. I finally gave in, and I’m sure glad I did.

yo-kai-watch-wibble-wobbleYo-Kao Watch Wibble Wabble — I still have no idea what that means — is a matching game on mobile devices that apparently mimics something similar that released on 3DS. Its absolutely free, and so far I haven’t ofund the need to spend a single cent.

The matching gameplay is paired with a combat system where you’re fighting an opponent and they attack you every so many seconds. You have to match quickly in order to combine your wib wobs to form bigger versions of themselves. Clicking them deals damage, but clicking multiple combined wib wobs in succession will combo dealing more damage. Then there are special abilities that wib wobs have, and the whole thing becomes a lot more than matching.

Although F2P, and spending money is easily avoided, you can spend money to play more often or to make playing a little easier. Essentially you can play so many matches until they regenerate. I haven’t quite figured out why, but my matches regenerate faster than I can use them, and if they ever were to run out I could spend some free currency and buy 50 more.

The matching can be frustrating for me as it’s not perfect. The wib wobs move a bit, and my reflexes and hand-eye coordination aren’t what they used to be so sometimes I mess up my combines or fail to see obvious ones. The matching is really, really generous too. Sometimes the wib wobs don’t look close at all but you can connect them — learn this early and you’ll breeze through the first matches. There’s a lot of customization when it comes to picking your team of 5 wib wobs — It can be frustrating to figure out the best combo or what they do at first.

I like collecting the wib wobs by inserting coins into the machine — pretty satisfying. There are also daily missions and plenty of incentives to keep playing regularly. Again, I haven’t hit a wall. Graev has played for 5+ hours and hasn’t hit a wall. In fact I think this has become his main game now and he hasn’t hit a wall in a week of non-stop playing.

Definitely a fun game, and for what it is I can’t find many flaws. Apparently there’s a TV show that Graev says is worth watching. Going to check that out.

Clash Royale: My Latest iOS Addiction

Clash Royale

Clash Royale MenuMy latest iOS game addiction is Clash Royale by SuperCell. Clash Royale is a real-time 2-3 minute battle game where you are matched up with an opponent and duke it out to see who can destroy the other person’s towers before the time is up. Each player has a deck of ‘cards’ comprising their “Battle Deck.” Your Battle Deck can have up to 8 cards at a time that must be carefully balanced around Elixir Cost and tactics.

During battle you generate Elixir in real time up to a total of 10 Elixir. You can then play cards that cost elixir at any time. Elixir is constantly regenerating, and toward the end of a match (again only 3 minutes long) it will generate even faster. Cards are placed into your hand 4 at a time. As you use a card, a new one comes out of your deck into your hand.

Each “Arena” has two lanes. You and your opponent are positioned on opposite sides. You can drag your units onto the field anywhere except within a radius of enemy towers. Destroying enemy towers means you can put units onto the field on their side of the Arena. Units are pre-programed to simply move toward the enemy base and attack units or towers. Gameplay then becomes about pushing lanes, countering pushes, countering units, and out-thinking or simply out-playing the enemy’s hand.

Clash Royale BattleSo the gist of the game is very simple. Build a good deck, play cards onto the field by dragging them out of your hand, and outsmart your enemy. There’s a lot more depth here than one might initially think, and as Syncaine points out in his post it’s definitely more than rock, paper, scissors. Units have stats, aoe damage, some generate more units, there’s strategy behind putting a tank ahead of a DPS, and even concepts like blocking and flanking.

Clash Royale is free to play. The cash shop system seems, at least to me thus far, fair enough. You can have up to 4 chests at a time and be opening one of them at a time. A chest could take 3 hours, 12 hours, etc., based on quality to open up. You can open them immediately by paying gems. Cards can also be purchased with gold which — surprise — can be purchased. I haven’t felt at a disadvantage YET. I imagine the disadvantage will come later when people have cards that are higher level than me because they’ve bought more of that card. I guess that brings up a good point that when you open chests and get more cards, duplicates go towards leveling up your cards. So if I have 1 barbarian card and get two more barbarian cards, the barbarian can be upgraded to level 2 — 4 more upgrades to level 3, etc.

I’m enjoying the simplicity and straight-forward gameplay enough that I enlisted in a Clan. I joinedd up with Syncaine’s “Supreme Cream” group and I’m enjoying myself.

Clash Royale is a fun, high-intensity, deeper than it looks game that you can pick up and play for 3 minutes or 3 hours. Definitely the right price to download and give it a try. I’m struggling to find any flaws with the game other than the principle argument of whether or not a cash shop is ultimately fair or unfair based on paying to win.

The Division: Very Early Impressions

Graev and I picked up our copies of The Division yesterday to fill the gap in our list of evening co-op games that we like to play together. Prior to purchasing the game I kept seeing people referring to this idea of “massively multiplayer” and even weird hints at open-world and even elements of DayZ. Those are definitely way out of left field because The Division is neither a massively multiplayer game, nor anything remotely like DayZ or a survival game.

The Division is a third-person shooter game with hints of RPG, but definitely not a game I would ever comfortable say fits the RPG bill. RPGs have choices, and The Division is more of follow the story experience where you shoot bad guys, get gear, and level up. If there are decisions in the game, I certainly haven’t seen any.

The world is a mixture of seamless lobbies and mission phases. For example, safe houses contain other players. You walk through the door and ‘bam’ you are suddenly faced with a few dozen other players. You walk out that door and they stay there and you’re in your own world. If you group up with people then you’ll see them outside. There’s only one area of the game where it’s more about PvP and seeing other people, and that’s called the Dark Zone.

The story is intriguing. I like the idea that someone created an epidemic in New York causing the entire city to go into chaos and be quarantined. This special group of people who are like good guy sleeper agents are activated to go in and fix things. Fun premise.

The engine is fantastic, and gunplay is very tight. I really like the cover system — especially being able to select different cover and then automatically transfer to it even when it’s far away. Gear has a nice level of customization and variety/diversity. I think finding cosmetic items and weapon/armor upgrades will be fun, especially in the Dark Zone areas where you have to export your gear safely in order to keep it.

One critique I have about the shooter side of the game is that the enemies are spongey. They’ll soak up lots of bullets despite looking like normal people — I think they ARE normal people. I don’t know many humans who can take a full clip from a M4 and still be running around. Head shots really, really matter in The Division. Putting it on Hard Mode makes the spongey feel way worse.

The missions are neither here nor there so far. Focusing on the gameplay model too much would actually be a detriment to the game for me because it ultimately boils down to running around a world to find quest markers. If I were to think about it really hard, technically the game is about forming groups and going out on missions with the “open-world” being more of a pseudo-open-world experience — almost an illusion. But again, don’t overthink it. You’ll find encounters and more of an “open-world” experience the further you progress, but it’s definitely not an Elder Scrolls kind of open-world experience.

Co-op is fantastic. Graev and I have had no problems grouping up together and running missions. The Division really integrates nicely with the PS4 friend list as well as the Ubisoft accounts.

Bugs have been annoying. I had a glitch where right in the first 5 minutes of gameplay I was halted for an hour trying to interact with a laptop to “activate” my agent. I had to do a work around where I ran 200 meters away, did a matchmaking gimmick to find a group, then fast travel back to the house to activate it in a different phase. How that made it past QA boggles the mind.

The Division is, so far, a great third-person shooter with light RPG elements. Definitely worth the buy. I’ll integrate these thoughts with later thoughts for my more formal review. So far, I’d say 8/10.

Final Fantasy Explorers Review [3DS]

Final Fantasy Explorers

Take the classes and abilities from Final Fantasy with the basic gameplay from Monster Hunter, and you get Final Fantasy Explorers. The premise of the game should be very familiar to Monster Hunter fans. Your goal is to advance your character by running quests, crafting better gear with drops, and mutating abilities. While really not even close to MH’s depth, FFE strikes a chord with me that MH wasn’t able to — FFE’s pacing is way more my style.

Basic Questing / Gameplay

The game takes place on an island with diverse areas/tilesets to explore. The main hub of operations where the player upgrades gear, obtains quests, and advances the very thin plot is in the town of Libertas. From Libertas you can accept quests to go out and slay summoned monsters, bosses, etc., in an overall effort to gain more crystals. I guess you might say it’s Crystal Chronicles meets Monster Hunter.

FFE OdinThe questing system is straight forward. You get to accept one main quest and any number of sub quests. The main quest is something like “Go kill Ramuh” and a subquest can be to use a certain ability during the fight.

Combat is much more intuitive for me than MH. Although deep enough to incorporate positional attacks and skill shots, the interface and execution are easier. Hold LB and RB opens up submenus with X, Y, A, and B for each. So you can basically bookmark 8 abilities, a basic attack, sprint, and item menu. This is way easier than having to remember combos, and it works so much better too.

Battles play out much like a standard RPG or even MMORPG in real time. Combat mechanics include tanks, heals, boosters, and damagers with a variety of ways to execute each. Monsters fight back using the typical, though a tad unoriginal, mechanics too. You’ll see lots of AOE attacks, charging monsters, and ‘get out of the red circle or instantly die’ mechanics. Despite being a little contrived, they work.

FFE Classes

Classes & Abilities: FFE has lots of them

Knight, Monk, White Mage, Black Mage, Dragoon, Paladin, Thief, Ninja, Red Mage, Time Mage, Bard, Hunter, Dark Knight, Beastmaster, Geomancer, Machinist, Alchemist, Sage, Blue Mage, Samurai, and Freelancer. Those are your class choices in Final Fantasy Explorers. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a variety of tanks, heals, dps, and boosters (buffers) to play, and a variety of ways to satisfy each play style. Want pure burst dps? Go Machinist. Want a traditional Tank? Go Knight.

I like how the abilities, in some cases, can be used cross-class. I can use Cure on my Knight to help heal myself in a pinch. Eventually you can master a class and obtain access to additional weapons and abilities.

Mutating and upgrading abilities adds a whole new level of customization. As you use crystal surges (special abilities on timers) you can then use other abilities that, when used in tandem, spark a mutation. Mutations can stack and build custom abilities. Let’s say you use Guard during a mutation opportunity and it adds Haste. This creates a NEW abilities that will give you both Guard and Haste at the same time. It’s like ability stacking, and you can ultimately walk around with all of your abilities no longer basic simple skills but mutated abilities. The customization here is overwhelming, but if you simply focus on making abilities you think are cool and useful then you’ll get by just fine.

Single-player & Multiplayer

Graev and I have been playing FFE together almost exclusively. Multiplayer works flawlessly without any lag at all. Final Fantasy Explorers works great solo, don’t get me wrong. You can create monster pets to act as a companion and do just fine in the game solo, but I think the true spirit of the game is best felt in multiplayer with up to 4 players.

FFE teamwork

Again, combat is designed for that typical ‘group’ gameplay. Graev is playing a Time Mage with lots of support abilities and heals, but a healthy dose of damage too. Remember, you can customize your character quite a bit, so he has made a character that fits his style. I’m playing a Knight (standard tank) until I unlock either Red Mage or Dark Knight. I think both of those sound most fun to me.

Teamwork and synergizing together, planning attacks, etc., are all beneficial in FFE. We did a boss fight against Ifrit and realized we hadn’t properly planned. Neither of us came in with the abilities we’d need to synergize a good combo or to output enough damage. Fixing that issue, we defeated Ifrit again in half the time.

More to Come…

There’s a little much to put here in a review. You know me, I like to keep these short and to the point with a bit of info to satisfy your questions and whether or not you should buy or skip. While FFE’s scope is easier to grasp than MH, the depth is there for at least 100 hours of gameplay. I’m going to try and rig up a way to stream FFE and/or record a video so that you guys can see it in action from my perspective.

I highly recommend Final Fantasy Explorers. Go into it expecting a game all about playing interesting classes and beating bosses. This is a game about grinding for loot drops to craft that perfect weapon, customizing your abilities to make your character feel just right, and simply enjoying to thrill of the hunt. Just don’t expect a plot — there really isn’t one — or anything close to a traditional Final Fantasy game. But trust me, you won’t miss it. Looks for whatever videos I can come up with soon as they’ll answer more questions and provide more insight into gameplay.

P.S. I highly recommend you purchase FFE on Amazon. Gamestops are sold out, and Best Buy laughed at me. Amazon had it to me in 2 days.

Disney Infinity 3.0: Rise Against the Empire Review

Rise Against the Empire Play Set

Rise Against the Empire represents the final Disney Infinity 3.0 Star Wars play set for me to review. I was originally going to review this one right after Twilight of the Republic, but Graev and I decided to share this one and he took his sweet time getting it to me. Waiting was so worth it; Rise Against the Empire (RATE) is easily my favorite play set.

Story/Presentation/Gameplay

Rise Against the Empire is broken up into 3 main segments, conveniently comprising the three movies (4, 5, 6) and the three main planets on those movies: Tatooine, Hoth, and Endor. While RATE takes enormous liberties with the story, just like the other play sets, it actually works better than the other play sets. I want to break this up into sections on each planet where I can talk about what I really liked on each.

Rise Against the Empire Tatooine

Tatooine

Tatooine is the weakest of the three planets, but there are a number of fun things to do. I think they introduce the idea of credits nicely. Credits are this play set’s currency mechanic. Credits are used to buy buildings and customization info. Tatooine introduces the ability to purchase buildings and erect them in the form of a base. I’m reminded of the toy box mode with how these pop up and give you vehicles/customization.

Rise Against the Empire Hoth

Hoth

Here’s where things pick up. Hoth contains lots of missions, and some base building, but the true gem here is roping walkers. Flying a snow speeder and roping works beautifully — way better than any other vehicle use in in any Disney Infinity game. I had a blast here, especially having to rope 5 of these suckers in the mini Battle for Hoth.

Rise Against the Empire Endor

Endor

By far the best planet. You get to help the Ewoks do Ewoky (Ewokian?) things like take helmets from Stormtroopers, ride their elevators up and down (or in my case not realize these exist while trying to find a way to throw Ewoks…).  My favorite part was wrangling AT-STs and setting traps like swinging lots, slip ropes, etc. Riding a speeder bike through the forest was also a lot of fun.

Rise Against the Empire Space Battles

Death Star Trench Run & Space Battles

The space combat and death star trench runs (plural since there New Hope and Return both had one) were executed perfectly. RATE introduced the dodge, shoot, and evade mechanics for scripted/lightly-on-rails moments which worked great. Saving Admiral Ackbar’s fleet while destroying multiple Star Destroyers was a great space moment. The controls when not on-rails are absolutely horrible, though, and a taint on an otherwise amazing experience.

Rise Against the Empire Characters

Once again RATE shines above the other two play sets, this time by having the best characters. Luke and Leia come with the play set, and others can be purchased individually.

  • Luke – Standard Jedi with a blaster, but has nice saber fighting. Straight up.
  • Leia – Great combos that stun/knock back.
  • Chewbacca – Charge-up on his Bowcaster is an amazing infantry killer.
  • Han Solo – Great combos like Leia.
  • Boba Fett – Flying is great, and has a strong blaster, but his rocket launcher is why I use him.
  • Darth Vader – Saber throw wins.

Overall Thoughts

Rise Against the Empire is the best Disney Infinity 3.0 play set yet, and definitely does the best job providing a mix of vehicle gameplay and interesting/fun character use. If you’re going to buy only one play set, or if you’re looking for a reason to get Disney Infinity 3.0, then I highly recommend Rise Against the Empire along with all of the characters.

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.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Review

ac syndicate

I’m finally ready to review Assassin’s Creed Syndicate! I say finally because I am finally at a point where I have finished the main story and achieved a completion percentage higher than I’ve ever had in any previous game in the franchise. As always, I like to start my reviews off by portraying the overall sentiment: Syndicate was a phenomenal game, and one of the best in this franchise.

Story, Setting, and Overall Presentation (No story spoilers)

I’m a huge fan of the Assassin’s Creed story arch. You either love it or you hate it, and I think it drives these games forward and allows Unisoft to create relatively similar titles one after the other without them being too stale. Unlike Unity, which had absolutely no connection to the modern day world, Syndicate at least uses cutscenes between sequences to progress a story.

You’re once again the nameless “player” in the “game” working to uncover a secret from the past that will help the present-day Assassin’s uncover information about a relic. At the end of the game, these sequences finally tie back to the overall story we last saw back from Black Flag. I really liked the revelations in the end.

ac syndicate train base

The setting of London is fantastic, and Ubisoft’s presentation of the city and its boroughs has set the bar so dang high I can’t help but worry that the next game’s city-play will disappoint. London is undergoing its industrial revolution. Gangs, child labor, and socioeconomic disparities abound. This time and place, despite the horrific atrocities, make for an awesome setting that (hard for me to say) beats even the great pirates of the caribbean motif from Black Flag.

London is divided into boroughs that each do a great job of telling the story of what’s happening in the city. Taking over the boroughs requires you to complete a variety of missions like killing a named templar, defeating a stronghold, kidnapping someone (cool new feature), or rescuing orphans. Side missions also play a huge role in defining the setting too. Marx, Dickens, Darwin, etc., all make appearances and have missions throughout the city.

Oh, and your base of operations is a friggin personal train that actually moves around the entire city. ’nuff said there! [Read more…]