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.

Most Anticipated Games of 2016

Let’s kick the new year off with a look at the games I am most looking forward to in 2016. Funny enough, two of the games I wanted to see in 2015 aren’t out yet and may not even make a 2016 launch. I’ll go ahead and keep those on my list this year.

The Legend of Zelda Open World

The Legend of Zelda Wii U (Hopefully)

The big open-world Zelda game for the Wii U is looking more and more like it won’t make it onto NIntendo’s current gen console. Everything I’m reading indicates we may see a dual launch on both the Wii U and the NX. Nintendo wasn’t happy with it the game so they went back to the drawing board which never bodes well. This time last year not much was certain about this upcoming Zelda game, and now I can’t say we’re much closer to any answers. I just have this awesome image of a Zelda game set in a world that is open and akin to an Elder Scrolls game. Do I have delusions of grandeur? Yes, absolutely.

Horizon Zero Dawn

Yeah… watch the trailer.

Easily near the top of my anticipated list.

No Man’s Sky

We have an announce date! June 2016. Exploring galaxies, planets, mountains, moons, and space all seamlessly and procedurally generated… sounds like a blast. I imagine it being something like a mix of Terraria, Rust/Ark, and Space Engineers. I haven’t spent much time researching the details, but I know that there will be 18 quintillion planets, and no NPCs.

The “game” part of NMS still eludes me. What is the point? Just explore? I think there’s enormous potential to be a disappointment if there isn’t a ‘point’ to the game.

scalebound

Scalebound

I saw this announced at one of the conventions this year and thought it looked really neat. The gist is that you are bonded to a Dragon and fight big monsters. You have a dragon arm, can use melee weapons, and play with other friends to tackle big bosses. It simply looks cool.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Overwatch
  • Uncharted 4
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda
  • Gears of War 4

I think 2016 will be a great year, and thankfully I think there will be a few fewer launches to flood the second half of the year. I’m looking forward to playing all of these, as well as having a good amount of time to hunker down and enjoy some MMORPG playing (mostly EverQuest) while waiting on a few MMOs that are nowhere near 2016 — hopefully I can add Camelot Unchained to the top of my 2017 anticipated games list.

The Christmas Haul 2015

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone who celebrates had a wonderful day and weekend. This was my first married Christmas, and with that came the new experience of spending the day with both my family and the in-laws (who live 1 street apart!). That meant a lot more time with family than I am used to spending, so I apologize for the lull around here!

This year was once again a year of board games. We received quite a few:

  • Smallworld Underground & Great Dames expansion
  • All Creatures Big and Small (Agricola 2 player game)
  • Qwirkle
  • Star Trek Catan
  • King of New York
  • Machi Koro Deluxe Edition

So expect quite a few board game reviews headed your way.

I also picked up Legacy of the Void, Disney Infinity 3.0’s Force Awakens playset & figures, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and a retro gaming system in a Loot Crate subscription. Lots of reviews are headed your way for these games as well.

Overall I had an awesome Christmas spent with family, and I’m ready to get back into gaming in a big way. I have my end-of-the-year posts coming soon too to discuss how this year went. That should be very interesting. Stay tuned!

Get anything cool I should check out?

The Best Games of 2015

Unlike most years, 2015 was jam-packed with amazing games. In fact, there were simply too many amazing games for the average gamer to play them all. What a marvelous problem to have after so many years of needing to come up with a reason to like more than one or two games. I could simply list off the big releases and call it a day — for that check out our 2015 Holiday Buyer’s Guide for Gamers — but instead I’m going to cite a few of the games that made my own personal gaming time special in 2015. These are my most memorable games. So let’s call this a list of ‘the best games of 2015 for ME.’

ac syndicate

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

The AC franchise hit a home run this year with Syndicate. So many quality-of-life improvements went into refining the experience of traversing the world, and the beginnings of customization system that makes sense are starting to emerge. The story was intriguing and the side missions worth doing — overall not a dull moment. My wife, who doesn’t normally go for the violent games at all, was very interested in the presentation and setting, along with the interesting story points. Playing together was a ton of fun as we completed nearly everything there was to do in the game.

Disney Infinity 3.0 Play Sets

Disney Infinity 3.0

The toys-to-life genre exploded in 2015. I could have easily put Skylanders on this list, and perhaps LEGO Dimension will be once I get to playing it (see the end of this post) but I decided to go with Disney Infinity 3.0 because of how much the presentation and stories captured my interest. Being able to play through the familiar Star Wars settings was a blast, and I like how each one has a slightly different take or another angle to go along with the main story we all know. I enjoyed making a little youtube series following my progress through the first playset (Twilight of the Republic). I have plans to do the same here very soon for Rise Against the Empire and the brand new Force Awakens playsets that just released.

splatoon-combat

Splatoon

Nintendo’s first real foray into online shooters did not disappoint. Splatoon was a breath of innovative fresh air. The inking system, weapons, and presentation were all very enjoyable. Nintendo’s constant stream of updates, especially in the first two months, made each week exciting to see what new maps, weapons, and outfits were added. Nintendo captures the spirit of gaming in Splatoon, and honestly that can be said for the other great games they released this year like Mario Maker.

EQ Classic Ragefire Server

EverQuest

Why is this on my list you ask? Why do I keep bringing up a game that is nearly 20 years old? Because I put over 280 hours into the game in 2015, and gave the company who made it almost as much money as I gave to Disney and Nintendo.  Both Ragefire and now Phinigel have given me more MMORPG enjoyment than I’ve had in years. People used to love to sling the “if you love it so much why don’t you go back and play it” line at me. Well, I did. And guess what? It’s awesome. Still going strong on Phinigel.

The Backlog is Real

Now I should note here that I still have a backlog I’m working through, and several games on my Christmas List. Here are just a FEW of the games I still need to play, which could have easily been on this list had I been able to get to them.

  • Xenoblade Chronicles X – Wii U
  • LEGO Dimensions
  • Just Cause 3
  • Legacy of the Void
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Witcher 3 (potentially, though I haven’t played 1 or 2)
  • Fallout 4 (Have to finish it)

Did I forget any games I should have mentioned in my backlog that you haven’t seen me cover before? Should I be adding more to my backlog? Let me know what you think were the best games of 2015.