Category Archives: Gaming

Persona 5 takes on a new plot from Persona 4

Danny Stueber, Staff Writer

When Persona 5 was announced back in 2013, I knew it be my top game of the year whenever it came out. Time and time again it was delayed until this past April when it was finally released and what do you know, I was not wrong all those years ago.

Persona 5 is a long-ride filled with great characters, a great story, a plethora of things to do, and even after completing the game after 100 plus hours, I was ready to jump right back in for another play through. Not only is it one of the most stylish games ever made, it’s possibly one of the best RPGs ever made period.

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Photo Source: PlayStation Universe

Presentation

When Persona 4 was released back in July of 2008, you played as a kid who moved to a small town with your uncle for a year in and right away you were the most popular student around. Everyone loved you and everywhere you went you felt like no one could be cooler than you.

Persona 5 goes in the complete opposite direction. You are forced to go live in the big city after being expelled from your previous school and receiving a criminal record for a crime you did not commit (you stopped a man from abducting a woman but it turns out that man was a high-ranking government official and was able to have you arrested for attacking him).

You go to live with a guardian while you serve your probation period and everyone stays away from you thinking you’re a hardened criminal that could snap at any moment.

The complete contrast was very refreshing after Persona 4 and being treated differently and not having a power trip was something I have not really experienced in a game before. You feel like garbage because of how everyone treats you even though you did the right thing in saving that woman and you must work your way to being seen as a good kid through the game.

To do this, you hang out with friends, go to your jobs, read books, take exams, and everything else you’d assume a high school student would do. Half of the Persona series is life management and simulators; that might sound boring but it’s the complete opposite when everything you do has flair or helps make your character stronger.

You also only have a year in the city before you are sent back home and you can only really do two activities a day (one after school and one in the evening), so you need to spend your time wisely.

Like I said though, this is only half of the game. The other half is dungeon crawling through the hearts of corrupt adults to make them realize their misgivings. You and your friends are able to go to another world where if you steal the “treasure” of these corrupt adults, you can cause them to have a change of heart and to become better people, even admitting to their crimes.

The game does an amazing job at setting up your opponents and making you want to take them out with some examples being a school coach that physically abuses his athletes, an artist who plagiarizes his students work for his own gain, and a mob boss who uses students as drug mules.

The villains are complete scum and it’s up to you and your friends to take them out while also balancing your real everyday life. This all takes place in what is known as “Palaces” which are all completely different from the previous one before it.  They take the physical representation of the adults desires so a school will look like a castle or a city will look like a bank with the citizens as ATMs.

All of this is held together with the most stylish visuals and a perfect soundtrack. Every menu, loading screen, battle animation, purchase option, etc. has extravagant visual design that continuously impressed me. I even felt anger at some points seeing how much polish went into this game’s design compared to other games.

Additionally, the game is filled with an incredible soundtrack, one in which is full of wonderful compositions and vocals that makes Persona 5 one of the most stylish game I have ever seen in my life hands down. If you ever see me walking on campus, there’s no doubt the soundtrack is being played in my head.

Gameplay

In Persona 5, you fight with personas, physical representations of your inner resolve to rebel against evil adults. In this case, each team member’s persona takes on the look of famous thieves- since you are, after all, stealing the corrupted desires in treasure form from your enemies. For example, Captain Kidd, the pirate and Robin hood steal from the rich to give to the poor.

Every teammates persona has strengths and weaknesses like your friend being strong with fire attacks but weak to ice damage. As the main character, you can use multiple personas though that you collect through the Palaces. It has an almost Pokémon style but not nearly as many compared to that series to collect.

Battles in Persona 5 are turn based. What that means if you have never played a turn based game before, your team and the enemy team each have turns to attack until there is a winner. The main goal of each fight is to find the enemies weakness and if you can do that, the enemy is knocked down.

If they are down, you can attack them with every member at once for a lot of damage, or talk to the enemy to try to convince them to join your Persona team, give you money, or give you items. Every motion of attack whether you’re calling on help from your persona, to firing your gun, or to just straight up attacking, has the same amount of visual flair as the rest of the game.

If you just want to rush through fights, you can just press a button and it will play out for you. The game has thought of everything when it comes to accessibility and making sure no matter how you want to play, you can do it. It even has an option where you can make it so that your character never dies and you can just enjoy the nearly perfect story.

I don’t want to go too much into the story but it plays out seeing your character captured at the start because one teammate betrayed you and turned you into the cops. You then speak to a prosecutor and recall the events of the game trying to figure out who the traitor was while also trying to see the bigger picture in the grand scheme of things.

If there was one flaw with the game, it was that near the end I wanted to just get through battles quickly so I could get back to the story with how engrossed I was in it. Also the combat is a blast but I just wanted to see what was coming next!

Conclusion

Persona 5 is amazing and everything I wanted ever since it was announced. It took years to come out but you can see in the polish and overall design that the developers really put all their heart and soul into their product. I would say the story is slightly less intriguing than that of Persona 4 but that’s probably just because I was so attached to those characters for years and this game is brand new.

The only negative I would say about this game is that, there were times when i just wanted to continue to fight battles, but I couldn’t. Other than that, I loved hanging with friends, making relationships, trying to live a normal life while being a thief in another world, the humor of the game, the times it became dark and you felt for the characters, the design and flare are the strongest of any game I have ever played.

I really like this game and it was completely worth the wait. I cannot praise this game enough. If you like JRPGs or RPGs pick up this game. If you are on the fence about it, trust me and pick up the game. It has something for everyone and by time the credits roll it will be an experience that sticks with you for a long time to come. This will be the first game I have ever given a perfect score to.

Persona 5

10/10

Danny Stueber

Edited By: Brea Childs

A Review on the new PlayStation 4 game Horizon: Zero Dawn

Danny Stueber, Staff Writer

Horizon: Zero Dawn, Sony’s newest PlayStation 4 exclusive, takes little pieces from other open world games and improves upon all of them. As a result, it feels like a breath of fresh air in the genre. There are some minor hiccups along the 30-40-hour journey but overall the game shines in every sense of the word.

Presentation

The setting is that of a post apocalyptic world where humanity ended over a thousand years ago due to an unknown cause. The planet has over grown what used to be cities and towns so the entire landscape is skyscrapers and vehicles overgrown with wild life.

The humans that are around, now live in tribes like the Native Americans and survive with bows and spears in the ruins of ancient cities, in which they think it was all created by a god they call “All Mother” but you as the player knows that the buildings in the city they are exploring, are actually banks or car washes.

It is bizarre and not a setting I have ever seen before in any kind of media to where it held my attention through the whole thing. Finding treasures referred to as “ancient bracelets” but knowing it’s just a Rolex watch was always amusing to me.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, the entire world is inhabited by robotic animals ranging from deer like creatures all the way to tyrannosaurus rexes. Just a small detail I left out. You have to survive against these robotic creatures with nothing but primitive weapons which hooked me in even more.

The design of the world and the characters were also amazing. It is without a doubt the most beautiful game on any console system to date. It even included a photo taking mode for you to take screen shots in the game.

I found myself multiple times stopping to look at the environment not believing this was on a console and not a high-end PC. Menus were designed nicely, the creatures all were distinct and creative looking to where you could tell which was which from a far distance, and just over all it’s a marvelously designed game that never even really had any hiccups in framerate or performance.

I will lament however that in the middle of the final cut scene of the whole game it made my console crash to where I had to reboot it and do the fight before it all over again. Overall that was the only problem I had with the game.

Gameplay

You play as Aloy (meant to sound like the word alloy because metal and such ha-ha so funny), a girl who was cast out from her tribe at birth and grew up without a family. She trains her whole life though to enter the Proving, a passage for those who want to enter the tribe and if she places first among the other young adults she is granted one request.

Her request is to know who her mother is and why she was outcast and if she wins she is guaranteed answers. For any other game, that would be the whole plot but this is only about 10% of the game. The story goes places and passes all expectations.

By the end of the game it even wraps up which most big budget games don’t do know anymore since they want to push sequels. It was just an overall nice experience. The gameplay revolves around side and main missions where you mainly fight the robotic beats for resources and experience.

Each monster has different weaknesses that you learn how to exploit; making each fight unique. The combat flows very well and was always a fun. I admit though that the healing mechanic was awful. You could carry health drinks but by later on in the game there were not enough to heal you all the way.

Other than that, you could collect plants to heal you whenever needed, but when those ran out you would have to spend a lot of time running around the world crouching down to pick flowers and such. It slowed the game down and really was a boring roadblock.

Another problem I had with gameplay was the feeling of progression. Whenever you leveled up you got 10 more health points and the ability to choose a new skill like slowing down time when shooting arrows or being able to roll farther.

You never felt like you were getting stronger though, since your spear is the same from the first chapter to the last and your weapons, while upgradable with coils and such, never really did much more damage.

If you’re not hitting weak points your just shooting pointy sticks at a robotic alligator and you feel that at level 1 or level 50 you never really got much better at shooting those pointy sticks at those alligators. Other than that, though and needing to hunt for resources a little too often I loved the combat.

I mentioned that this takes open world elements from other games and improves them which it does in every sense of the word. It takes tower climbing, which is used to gain more layout for your map, and makes you only climb four towers, which are moving robotic giraffes.

Tower climbing in some games can be in the dozens and are no fun at all but making it a minimal activity while also making the tower itself interesting made it a great experience. Another thing is clearing out bandit camps to use for fast travel locations and for people to set up shops.

In other games, there are far too many and do nothing in the grand scheme of things but in Horizon there is only a handful and clearing each camp is part of a story mission with one of the most interesting characters in the game.

So many things like this Horizon gets right where other games have failed since they just wanted filler content to pad the asking price. Horizon doesn’t waste your time and instead makes sure your having fun during every step of the process.

Conclusion

Horizon is one of my favorite open world games I have ever played. The environment and setting are like nothing you have ever seen, the gameplay is fast and fun while also being strategic, and the main character has a great arc from being a homeless child to finding out why the world is the way it is.

It’s also a special game in the sense of having a female character in the lead and not just another buzz cut, muscle head like companies always assume will help sell a game. Aloy is an amazing character that can show young girls that not all games are for men or center around men. I’m glad to see her step up in such a male dominated genre. The game stands out on every level with its story-telling and its amazing protagonist to where even though I had some problems with the progression and some performances here and there, I will still remember this game for a long time.

Horizon: Zero Dawn = 9.5/10

Danny Stueber

Photo source: Gamespot

Edited by: Brea Childs

 

 

Review on the new Resident Evil 7 Biohazard

Danny Steuber, Staff Writer

The Resident Evil franchise dates back to 1996 and has had multiple games whether being mainline or spin offs. They basically invented the survival horror genre with mechanics revolving around limited ammo and needing to survive dangerous enemies at the same time as needing to solve puzzles.  

Then with Resident Evil 4-6, it became more of an action series with some “horror elements” but it lost its way from what made the series special in the first place. Even though Resident Evil 6 was a monetary success, it was panned by critics and fans alike to where it seemed the numbered series was dead.  

Cut to five years later, and Resident Evil 7 launches by fully reinventing itself again, this time being first-person perspective and more focused on the horror elements. Not only was this the right thing to do for the franchise, it also now became my second favorite game in the series. 

You play as Ethan Winters, a man who receives a message from his wife who disappeared three years ago, saying to come get her in Louisiana. Once he gets there though he finds it to not be a cakewalk; as he encounters dead animals and a creepy house that he must navigate to continue forward. 

Skip forward a bit and he is being held captive by a backwoods family named the Bakers who want to mess with him mentally and physically till they murder him. The player must avoid and defeat the Baker family and find his wife while trying to escape from them and monsters alike. 

The game really has the feel of old horror movies such as the Evil Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre which really adds to the terror of it all. The set up and environments were terrifying through my whole play through and even playing it again multiple times I always found something new to scare me and make me feel at ease.  

In case you couldn’t tell already, this is a pure horror game. If you’re not ok with horror, excessive gore, and things that are included in that genre I would stay away. This was not only a fun adventure game with good mechanics, but it was also the scariest game I have played in years and it will stay with me for a long time.  

The gameplay is the same as any first-person shooter game because you have guns to fight and the ability to block. That’s really it. You’ll find a variety of weapons from pistols to flame throwers but ammo and supplies are scarce which really adds to the tension of the game not knowing if you’ll be able to defend yourself in the next fight or not. 

A lot of games that go for a horror setting with limited supplies normally end up making you over prepared by the end but not this game. Basically, all the way to the end you have to stay on your toes and be really careful with each shot. All of this combined with a good shooting system and a satisfying story of finding out going on with the bakers and trying to find your player’s wife, keeps you on the edge of your seat for the 10-12 hour campaign.  

By time the credits roll around and I’ve gotten all my questions answered, I just want to jump back in and to this day I have beaten the game around 8 times and plan to keep playing. It’s just so much fun that I can’t put it down.  

As a side note, I played this game with the PlayStation VR headset. Because it adds to the overall experience of the game. You also can aim with your head movements which is much better than just aiming with a stick and I never felt nauseous at all which is a rarity for virtual reality games. 

This game is a great reason to own a PSVR headset and it catapulted the game from a great time to a memorable experience that I’ll never forget. You can play this game without VR of course but if you have the opportunity I recommend it 100%.  

After your first play through and after really learning how the game works, later playthroughs become very easy (I can now beat the game every time in 2 hours or less compared to my first 12 hour play through) but with a bunch of unlockables, such as over-powered guns and unlimited ammo, you’ll want to play it multiple times. 

Not only that, but once you beat it the first time you unlock a new difficulty mode which makes the game much harder and changes enemy and item placement through the whole game basically making it a totally new experience. 

Overall, this game gets everything right for a Resident Evil game and for a horror game. If I had to complain about anything, the second to last section of the game is not fun on multiple playthroughs and I wish it had a little more substance. The DLC so far has added four side stories and two new game modes which are all fun but I feel like they should have been in the main game itself instead of sold separately later on.  

A free DLC story will be coming in the spring, which is a nice touch and I just can’t wait to spend even more time in the world. Those are all nitpicks, so if you love the horror genre or liked the Resident Evil franchise before it took a nose dive, know that you will not be disappointed with this game and it already is one of my favorite games of the year.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard 9.5/10

Photo source: gamespot.com

Edited by: Brea Childs

Review: Two ‘new’ games were 10 years in the making

Danny Stueber, Staff Writer

(both games were announced a decade ago yet released within a month of each other)

Game development normally takes anywhere from 2-5 years and the quality can differ. A game made over a two-year cycle can be just as good and fun as one with that of a longer cycle but then you get the few games that end up in what is known as “development hell”. This is when a game takes much longer than normal to be made and this can result from changing companies or hardware, not being happy with a product, changing times, or a variety of other reasons.

The most famous example is for the game Duke Nukem Forever, a first-person shooter announced in April of 1997 that did not release until June of 2011. You would think this 14-year production cycle would lead to an amazing product but it was quite the opposite with dated graphics, awful presentation, out of touch references, and an overall sexist tone towards women that might have flown fine in the 90s but not in our current society.

All of this is a way of me leading up to two games that released in November of 2016 that each had around a 10-year life cycle yet the stars aligned to have them come out almost on top of each other. Are either of them a car wreck like Duke Nukem? No, but they do have their problems.

The Last Guardian (2007-2016)

First announced in February of 2007, the Last Guardian was to be the next game from Team Ico, the studio behind two of gaming’s most cherished classics Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. It was not heard from again until 2009 where a trailer was finally shown. After that, silence until the summer of 2015 where a new trailer was shown and confirmed its release in 2016. Then in November the game was finally released for PlayStation 4 after being initially announced for the PlayStation 3.

last-guardian
 

Credits by Sony Interactive Entertainment

 

 

If you ask me, the game was just ok. It was not like the previous 2 games, which were considered masterpieces in the gaming industry. You play as a boy who wakes up in a cave with a giant creature that resembles a bird mixed with a cat and a dog. At first he is hesitant to interact with the creature and same goes for the creature, but over the course of the game they realize they must help each other to escape where they are trapped and that’s it, that is the entire plot.

Now, I will not spoil the ending but I will say the strongest part of this game is its story telling. I was invested the whole way through and by the end I had a tear or two well up. You start to care for the creature, named Trico, and as he bonds with the boy you see how they go from nervous strangers to best friends.

The game is narrated with a made-up language so you do not hear much at times other than ambient noises and the boy communicating with Trico through sounds. It worked very well along with the great orchestrated soundtrack.

This is where the praise ends. The rest of the game is full of problems. On a technical level, it does not run well on PS4. Yes, it looks beautiful, but if there are ever any big action scenes occurring or even just a lot of grass or trees on screen, the game slows down to where it looks choppy.

I thought my console had crashed more than once. Whatever happened to make this game need almost 10 years of development and to jump to a new console must have also affected their compression abilities because it’s just rough.

Another problem is the controls feel like they are 10 years old, like back when they made the PlayStation 2 games. The boy controls like he’s running on butter and you never feel comfortable moving him or any objects around. This results in frustrating moments of trying to climb or throw something and you end up killing yourself instead.

The last glaring problem is with Trico himself. The studio is on record as stating they wanted to design him as if he was a real animal and they nail that completely. They nail it so well in fact, that it detracts from the fun that should be in a video game.

You will command him to do something and instead he will just stare, scratch his ear, walk around a bit, and then do what you asked him. Its cool how realistic he seems, but in a video game you don’t want to stand around waiting 30-40 seconds for every action to take place. Sometimes he wouldn’t even do the correct thing, which lead me to yelling at my television for maybe the first time in years at a game.

The best/worst part is by the end; Trico is doing everything in a snap and with no hesitation. This is good because from a story stand-point, it shows that him and the boy have completely bonded but from a gameplay stand-point, it frustrates you to see how much better the rest of the game could have been with him like that in the first place.

In all, The Last Guardian had a troubled cycle and for many years’ people assumed it had been cancelled. It finally released however but unlike its previous games, this one was mixed among players. Personally, I loved the story and world of the game but the game aspect was dreadful. I am not mad at all for playing it and I would even suggest it to someone else as long as they knew what they were getting into but at only 10-12 hours and it being such a burden to play, I do not see myself picking it up ever again.

Final Fantasy XV (2006-2016)

Announced in May of 2006, Final Fantasy XV was not even FFXV to begin with. It was first announced as Final Fantasy Versus 13, a game in the universe of their previous game series Final Fantasy XIII.

final-fantasy
 

credit by Square Enix

 

The FFXIII franchise had three games in it and each was loved less and less by fans to the point of the company, Square Enix, decided to separate Versus 13 from the series and make it its own game which would later be called Final Fantasy XV (the fourteenth game was an online MMO released years prior).After 10 years, a name change, a massive overhaul to the entire story and game itself and a console generation, FFXV launched at the very end of November 2016 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

The Final Fantasy franchise stretches back all the way to 1987 and is considered one of the crown jewels of the gaming world. Of course, not all games in the franchise are good or loved (like FF13 being panned by nearly everyone) but a few really stick out to many such as Final Fantasy 6,7,9,10,12, and 14.

After spending nearly 70 hours with Final Fantasy XV and doing literally everything possible in it, I can say it deserves to be up there with the greats even with its faults. You play as Noctis, a young prince who is being sent to marry Luna, a princess from a waring nation in the hopes of finally bringing peace to the world.

Along the way your friends Gladiolus, Prompto, and Ignis help you battle and survive until you can reach her, become king, and help unite their kingdoms. The premise is simple, yet it has been done before but it does enough to keep you interested. Some things happen and plans change and before you know it you are fighting to save the world from being covered in darkness forever where only demons will survive.

I was invested in the story because I liked the characters but not because of the story telling. It is told very poorly with plot holes and questions everywhere to the point of being confused every second. An example is a scene of Luna giving an inspirational speech of how she will love Noctis and he in turn cries from the “emotional moment” but at this point in the story we had not even been given a reason to believe they were in love and they had never even spoke face to face..

We are told they have been friends since childhood and they send letters to each other but never are shown a reason to believe they actually love each other so the emotions they want you to feel are not genuine. It is just a mess of a narrative and if the characters and futuristic fantasy setting (a land where magic and monsters are real but we have cars and modern technology of today) were not so amazing I would have hated it. The reason for this though is they wanted you to see the story from multiple outlets

What I mean by that is there is a FFXV movie that explains the war and what’s happening behind the scenes, a short anime on YouTube to show us more about the characters that the game itself lacks in telling us, and mobile experiences to bring it on home in what must be the most spread out story I have ever seen in a game.

If I had not watched the movie I would have been lost during some major plot points and had no clue who some characters are. It’s to the point where the company said they will be adding more to the story in the future,to address plot holes and confusing character development. This is all to say that when you beat the game and feel confused that it’s ok.

Story aside, the gameplay fares much better. FF games are always changing up the combat style but is mostly known for turn based combat. Noctis can blink around the battle field and fight with his friends against foes ranging from your common fantasy creatures all the way to monsters literally made of mountains so big that they can’t fit on your tv screen. It was one of the best feeling games I played last year and it never got boring or dull to fight anything.

Exploring and doing side quests were another small downer though. The world is beautiful but the main way of travel is to sit in a car with your buddies and drive only on designated roads to your locations. Until you unlock fast travel for areas, you literally must sit in the car sometimes up to 10 minutes just to get to your destination with nothing but a radio playing.

Side quests will also be time consuming because once you get a mission and complete it you must then travel back to where you received the mission to turn it in and be rewarded instead of being able to be rewarded right then and there like some current games.Some of game designs like this show how the game started ages ago. The game is bustling with content though, so if you can look past those minor gripes you will have a game that will last you well over 100 hours if you want.

The story is good even though it is told poorly, the combat is fluid and fun even if the camera sometimes fights you, the world is beautiful even if there is not much going on in it at times, and the game is overflowing in content even if it can get monotonous and a hassle at times.

Add all that up with fun collectables, great characters, and a fantastic musical score and you get a game that has many amazing things going for it even if each thing has something wrong as well. I highly suggest this game if you enjoy open worlds, memorable characters, fun fast gameplay, and want true value for your money. It might have taken 10 years for Final Fantasy XV to come out but unlike some other games that get stuck in Development Hell, this one truly was worth the wait.

Ratings:
The Last Guardian: 6.5/10
Final Fantasy XV 8/10

Edited by: Brea Childs