Author - JonAutopsy

Redout Lightspeed Edition Review

Future racing has been popular since the F-Zero days and WipeOut closely followed suit with the space race hovering vehicles achieving speeds unheard of in more grounded vehicles titles. RedOut is a new addition to this league, closely resembling WipeOut with it’s slick looking vehicles on tight, hilly tracks with lots of turns and jumps.

The vehicles in RedOut take a lot of getting used to with handling, using both sticks, constant brakes, and a power-up which can be used during certain matches. The speed of the matches is what has a bit of a learning curve since you really need to be able to keep up with your opponents, not only while keeping your vehicle going as fast as possible while maneuvering through turns, but also keeping an eye on the pitch. Not only can dragging the walls take a toll on your ride but so can drag say if you were to be going uphill and not adjust the nose, as well as slow you down.

RedOut is definitely a pretty game to look at but it’s visuals are somewhat dated. The menu screens for picking your vehicles, colors, next race, etc, are rather dark and ugly with standard text font that look like it was accidentally leftover from testing, The vehicles look somewhat slick but not as clean cut as you’d expect a WipeOut challenger to be and the standard paintjobs that your locked to really don’t do much aesthetically.
The tracks are pretty but sometimes less is more. I found myself early on getting lost between what was oncoming turns and what was background, especially on tracks that have transparent roadways. It makes learning the tracks even harder when you’re trying to keep up with the competition and you mistake an off-to-the-side bit of graphic for turn and bury yourself into a wall losing energy and places / time.

The music during the races is actually pretty entertaining and fitting for the speed at which you’re traveling. Skipping the all-standard low beat techno that plague games like Rocket League, RedOut opts for a more heavy metal affair with pounding guitars the faster you speed down the track.

While fun, RedOut seems a bit old. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before and if you enjoy WipeOut, there’s really nothing new here at all. If anything, it might be a step backwards for those diehard future speed racing titles. It can be entertaining at times but I felt overly frustrated with the races and the mean looking menus. Perhaps with a little more polish, this could have set a new level in these types of racing games but you wont find anything new here, unfortunately.


Redout Lightspeed Edition Review Score

(2 out of 5 Stars)


 

Attack on Titan Review (PS4)

You cant help but watch Attack On Titan and think “This needs to be a game!”. The Omni-directional gear alone screams from Bionic Commando’s past and the swordplay and aerial assaults across a walled-in, fortified city are begging for a videogame. And a relatively decent title is what it got!

Attack On Titan follows the characters from the series as the follow the story line from season 1. You start off as Eren but eventually cycle through Armin, Mikasa, and Levi as well. The cut scenes that go along with the gameplay are wonderfully animated and are very easy to get lost in as you begin to feel for the characters (as bad as some of their personal choices seem to be at times).

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The Omni-directional gear in the game is near flawless, really giving you the feeling that you’re careening through the city. However, it can at times be difficult to judge where exactly you’re locking onto when going from building to building and can at times drop you at the foot of a building, completely ruining your momentum, so the ODG takes a lot of practice. Once you get the hang of it, navigating the map becomes a lot more fluid and quick. You also need to keep an eye on your gas meter for those extra boosts when subjugating Titans or traversing the city. You can purchase more gas if you run out or pick it up from fallen comrades or by doing small sub-missions during your battles.

Using the ODG is imperative to managing your way across the city and battling Titans. It can be a test of patience though when attacking multiple Titans within an enclosed space. Attacking Titans in alleyways or between two close buildings can be a pain at times as you attempt to lock on to the correct Titan, the correct body part, and be in a position to do so. It’s tough to not accidentally catch a wall or the wrong body part of a Titan simply because there’s so much going on in such a little space, especially if the Titans you’re going after are moving quickly. And sometimes going after body parts before going for the kill can be incredibly important since some Titans carry supplies attached to legs or arms so being on target becomes an act of futility. It’s best to take them on in wider areas but sometimes, it’s just not possible to get them where you want them to go.

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The amount of button combinations when attacking Titans can be a handful to remember. Along with that, you’re getting orders and communique from your fellow guards and teammates but since all the game is in subtitles with Japanese voiceovers, it can be easy to miss an important instruction or available power-up, simply because if you don’t speak Japanese, you may not have a moment to take your eyes off the action to read the subtitles. Though they’re usually not directly affecting your current mission, I kinda felt like I was blowing through the story without doing any side missions which is something I like to do instead of finishing a game as fast as possible (this is why I’m still playing Fallout 4’s main storyline). Along with that, important pop-ups are displayed, pausing the game for you to read. But if you’re in an assault-frenzy, it’s very easy to accidentally skip through these simply by hitting a button you were smashing just before the message popped. Once again, it gives you the feeling that you may be missing more of the gaming experience that was intended.

At times, your teammates can die on the battlefield which can lead to them dropping valuable gear which you can collect for your characters. The downside to this is the items aren’t very well highlighted so they can be easy to miss laying on top of the small human body amongst the towering buildings and Titans. Along with that, you can’t just run over the items to retrieve them. You have to press an action button to pick them up which, since all pick-ups in the game are valuable, has no relevancy anymore in choosing to pick things up. This should be an automatic thing when your character walks over them since stopping to hit a button to pick-up yet again slows down the intense pacing of the game.

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Subjugating Titans can be a lot of fun however there’s not much more to the meat of this game. You’re pretty much doing the same thing with each character (aside from when you’re in control of a Titan, of course). It may be an excellent game for those who are fans of the series, getting to walk in the shoes of the main characters. However, Attack On Titan can become rather tedious after a while as you continue to subjugate Titans, pick up items, help out teammates, and the like, again and again. There’s just not enough in the game to really make it special for the casual gamer looking for something new in an adventure title. Still, Attack On Titan is a very fun game and for as insane as ODG and catapulting yourself across a city to fight giant human-like creatures pent on destroying your city can be, it is incredibly smooth and seamless and taking down Titans feels as triumphant as it should. If you’re a fan of the anime, you’re not going to want to miss this by any means. You will not be sorry!

[easyreview title=”Attack on Titan Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”3″ ]

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HITMAN Season 1 Review (PS4)

“Enter a world of assassination”. That’s the tagline for the long-awaited and much-delayed Hitman reboot. A tagline very worthy of its claim. This is definitely what Hitman fans have been waiting for and this world is one you can definitely find yourself lost in.

Admittedly, I was not a fan of 2012’s Hitman Absolution, the fifth Hitman title which turned the contract style stealth series into an almost linear, story-driven campaign that could have been any other title. But a Hitman game it was not.

The brand new title in the series, simply called Hitman, is an incredibly well done game that definitely calls back to the “Contracts / Blood Money” days of Hitman, when the game was all about replayability and how many different fashions you could eliminate targets as the suit-and-tie clad Agent 47.

Hitman is being released in monthly installments from release date March 11th until the end of the year and its first season opens with a prologue, taking us back 20 years in the past to Agent 47’s training. Diana Burnwood welcomes 47 onto the hidden training site high up in snow-clad mountains and goes over the details of what he’ll be expecting. You can expect her along for the ride once again as 47’s handler.

The cinematic cut scenes which introduce 47, as well as throughout the rest of the first season are amazingly detailed and incredible to watch. With seasonal increments, they will definitely need to be re-watched throughout the year as new contracts are released to keep you up to date with the storyline but they are very easily accessible in the main menu where you can replay any cinematics or past contracts with the simple scroll down the story timeline.

The first gameplay is the guided training tutorial, taking you onto a large yacht, which is clearly built deep within what looks to be an old missle silo to mock a full training exercise in taking out a target. Complete with a fake sky backdrop and a built-to-scale cardboard model of a helicopter, the attention to detail is incredible and almost comical at times when you stop and look around and think “Ha, they really did think of everything” when the developers created the scene. Full of actors, the yacht and dock grounds, along with the weapons, are simulated so 47 can take full control of his surroundings.

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One thing IO Interactive promised when creating the new Hitman was maps of immense size, vastly overtaking past title maps which have included traversing crowds at Mardi Gras, plotting through a Las Vegas hotel and casino, and sneaking into The White House. The yacht is definitely a small map, but don’t get concerned with that. This is after all just training.

After you run through the guided tutorial, you’re brought back to the main start point of the yacht contract with free-reign to get inside and eliminate your target as you deem fit. You are also given multiple achievements to attempt which uncover the multitude of ways to perform the contract, showing the vast scope of detail on even just this small map.

The final test is next, taking you to another mock up, this time of an airplane hangar. This mission, set during the timeline of the cold war, requires 47 to sneak inside and eliminate a single target who is under heavy guard. Once again, the set design is fantastic, showing detail in the plywood built set within the same missle silo the yacht was constructed. This map is about 50% larger than the yacht map so there’s more options leading to contract elimination.

Since some of you may have played the Beta, you may have recognized these as what you played during that time. So yes, it is a bit of a pain in the ass to have to play these missions AGAIN but you do earn console achievements in doing so so it’s worth the time.

Next comes the main course of season one: The Showstopper. This contract centers around a fashion show in Paris. Your mission is to eliminate Viktor Novikov, the fashion mogul holding the show, and his partner-in-crime Dahlia Margolis, an ex-super model who saw much more profitability in the world of black market deals. Margolis is currently holding an illegal, multi-million dollar auction of government secrets to the highest bidders on the grounds while Novikov glad-hands his admirers and discusses shady business dealings with a few specific show guests around the grounds of a huge mansion.

The Showstopper map is, by far, the biggest Hitman map I have ever seen. It’s incredible how huge the map is and if you really don’t take your time and go searching, there’s no way you’ll see everything. Even going to the edge of the map at some points and looking out past iron gates shows a normal public street, complete with parked cars and pedestrians. It is absolutely incredible and you get the feeling that the cause of delays in bringing Hitman back may have been because IO really wanted to make this something special. But that’s the whole point, here. With the incredible variety that the Paris mission brings to the table, you’ll be playing this over and over if you are truly as big a Hitman fan as I am. It’s almost like a dungeon crawler with the laundry list of ways to complete your mission.

Now there in lies the rub. If you’re not a massive fan of past Hitman titles, and I mean a big enough fan where you went back and constantly played missions over and over just to see the variety, this might not be where you want to board the Hitman train just yet. The seasonal releases may grow tiresome on the gamer who may be looking for an immediate, long-term challenge. It does seem rather obvious that IO knew they had an incomplete game which is why they decided to switch to a seasonal release instead of trying to ship out an incomplete game. While I absolutely applaud them for taking that hard road, it may sting to those who don’t want to wait month to month for new contracts to be released. Sure there are other contracts than just the main Novikov/Margolis storyline that come with The Showstopper but they aren’t as intense. And the January 2017 release date of the full game may be too far away for someone to have to wait for their complete new Hitman game if you enjoyed the gameplay but aren’t a “repeat customer”.

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Still, The Showstopper mission in Paris shows HUGE promise for those Hitman fans who walked away from Absolution displeased. Not all who wander are lost, though. For those Absolution fans, Instinct mode is back but used in a way to identify targets, non-targets, and objects of interest (the latter of which are EVERYWHERE so you cant always rely on Instinct to point out that glowing item you’ve been hunting for all over).

I am very happy with where this is going and can not wait for the next contracts to drop over the season. Season one shows that this was a Hitman game created by Hitman fans as it shows IO listened to its customers. One thing I’m hoping will be included in future contracts are competing assassins on the same contract, much like the Black Widow in “You Better Watch Out…” or the Red Priest in “A Dance With The Devil”, both missions in Hitman: Blood Money. I still have yet to see if any innocent bystanders kick into hero mode by picking up weapons and firing rounds off at 47 but I’m almost about ready to simply walk in the front door with a fully automatic weapon and see how well that goes.

This is the Hitman game I truly believe fans have wanted since Blood Money and though the seasonal release date is kind of a drag, the incredible size of The Showstopper has me thinking about the mission even when I’m not playing and I can not wait to see what the extra time allowed to IO over the course of this year will bring. If the seasons go on and the contracts are just as immersive with maps that are so massive they become puzzles, I am down for the long haul and can not wait to see what IO has in store as the year progresses.

[easyreview title=”HITMAN Episode 1 Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”4″ ] [button target=”_blank” style=”” class=”btn_blue” link=”http://gamingshogun.com/gamingshogun-rating-system/”]Learn About Our Rating System[/button]

Star Wars Battlefront Review (PS4)

Star Wars Battlefront Beta

Before we begin, let’s get the Death Star-sized elephant in the room addressed prior to anything else: No, Star Wars Battlefront does not have a single-player campaign – and there’s nothing wrong with that! If you haven’t been paying attention over pretty much the last decade, the single-player campaigns tacked on to online First Person Shooters have declined more and more over the years with regards to content and actual story. The good news is that we got Star Wars Battlefront, a game that’s current Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader timeline puts us smack dab in the middle of the Return of The Jedi backdrop. A campaign was never really promised anyways and there is nothing to say that this game wouldn’t have been a lot less fun had a campaign been focused on instead of the amazing multiplayer experience that this title is. We’ll hope for a future title for a Star Wars campaign for now.

Star Wars Battlefront is a full-fledged multiplayer FPS experience in the Star Wars galaxy, putting you at the controls (normally) of a member of the Rebel Alliance or a Stormtrooper for the Imperials. Along the way, certain game modes allow you to become something far greater than you ever imagined: Star Wars Heroes. The opportunity to wield a Lightsaber as Darth Vader or shoot first with the gunslinger abilities of Han Solo, Star Wars Battlefront has what any Star Wars fan would be looking for in a multiplayer FPS. As well, you also have a chance to pilot iconic space crafts like the Millennium Falcon which is an experience in itself.

But enough with what the fans expect to hear. Let’s get down to it! Star Wars Battlefront is hands down one of the most beautiful games I have ever played. When I think next-gen consoles, this is what I expect them to do. The Forest Moon of Endor is hands down one of the more picturesque maps in the game and even if you’re not a Star Wars fan per se, you cant ignore the fact that it looks like you’re standing in the middle of a forest when you’re charging through. It’s amazing how impressive some of these maps look and it’s hard to ignore that, aside from the galactic battle waging 50 yards away, you can get lost looking at the environments. Even far off hills, as long as you’re not paying attention to Jabba’s Palace off to the side, look like ones you’d see while road tripping through the desert. Though the map selection for game modes are limited, they are immense and can be easy to get lost in without the option of viewing a full area map, relying only on your limited personal radar in the corner of you’re screen. More maps are promised in future free DLC so there’s that.

Weapon selection is rather limited for Star Wars Battlefront, and needs to be unlocked at a price once their according level is reached. With limited weapon selection, it’s easy to pick out which is going to be the crowd favorites. Within days, I found myself on the usual rotation of 3 different weapons and it was hard not to notice most everyone else using one of the three for their load-out as well. Star Cards add an addition power up option, giving you the chance of three per hand: two being a secondary weapon while the third being a personal-use power up. Thermo Detonators were by far the popular choice with the Jump Pack being the only real game changing device through the again limited use of Star Card options. Again, more to come in future DLC I’m sure but that’s getting near the point of title that didn’t have enough to begin with at launch and with 20 v 20 modes, it’s not hard to see entire armies favoring a handful of Blasters and Star Card hands

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Another option fault comes in place of character customization. Storm Troopers and Rebels all look the same… and that’s pretty much it. If you’d like, you can purchase a pre-made character head for your Imperial Troop, but then you just look like a Storm Trooper missing his or her helmet. As well, the heads are the same for the Rebels. You can’t currently modify their outfits at all, nor can their weapons be designed in any fashion other than the standard galactic issued “Ass-End-Of-Space Black” color option. Now I’m not looking for a neon pink Storm Trooper but simple changes in armor hear and there, modifications to the helmets or chest pieces, little things that could have been done to make your individual soldier their own personal look would have been awesome. Instead, everyone wants to either get the Biker Scout or the Shadow Trooper, or the alien Rebel characters and that’s it. The game definitely fails there, especially in comparison to how customizable characters can be with custom emblems and armor can be in other current and past FPS games. There’s just no real custom option whatsoever in this game.

Other missing things you’d come to know and love in FPS multiplayer games is a final kill cam, or anything that shows big highlights of the previous match. And believe me, game changing moments happen every other moment in this game and there’s really nothing to highlight those outstanding moments or players, other than a basic naming of three players for their outstanding skills. Seems rather cookie cutter especially in a game this big and heroic where literally anything can happen.

The game modes are plentiful but very few stand out as ones you’d really go back to, time and again. My favorites by far were ‘Supremacy’, a massive 20 on 20 tug-of-war death match, with the opportunities to fly X-Wings, Tie-Fighters, and become Heroes like Luke Skywalker and Emperor Palpatine, are what make this game mode by far the most intense. The objective-based ‘Walker Assault’ was as well as standout. Though it was tough communicate the team-play issues that plagued this version during the beta, it has quickly caught on as a non-stop action game mode with again vehicles and Heroes in-game. As well, fighting off AT-AT and player-piloted AT-ST walkers are what make this game an unpredictable and insanely addictive 20 v 20 mode. Though getting used to controlling Heroes can take a few goes, the chance of picking up the Hero Token that are randomly placed in the battlefield are amazing. My favorite by far is Luke Skywalker with his speed and jumping abilities, he can carve up entire platoons of enemies with his lightsaber. Heroes on both sides of the Force are available including Boba Fett and Princess Leia. ‘Blast’ was a game mod that also a lot of fun for those looking for your typical 8 on 8 team deathmatch, pure and simple. The weapon limitations without the option to add attachments do level the playing field for pretty much everyone out there so all game modes are accessible one the basics are grasped. Other games like Droid Hunt and Cargo can at times be fun but turn more into GTA Online after a while; everywhere dropping the objective and blasting on whoever walks around the corner. I suppose smaller maps just eventually lead to battlefield-wide shootouts after a while.

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Fighter Squadron however takes a step away from the norm and puts you at the controls of Tie-Fighters and Rebel craft like X-Wings as well as the chance to fly Boba Fett’s Slave-1. This game mode was incredible if you enjoy combat flight simulators. I personally would love to see EA and Dice do a standalone Star Wars combat flight sim game in the future because Fighter Squadron was so good that it just didn’t have enough. I found myself flying an A-Wing through canyons for no other purpose than just to see how tight I could make corners around cliff faces. Though they can seem incredibly overpowered when flying against them, being behind the controls of the Millennium Falcon or the Slave-1 are amazingly fluid and fantastically brutal when dog-fighting opposing craft. Each fighter craft does have it’s own 1st-person cockpit flight view. Though they are neat to look at once or twice, they are difficult to use while in a match and they really do not serve any more purpose than the once-given “Ooohs” and “Ahhhs”. Still, this needs to have it’s own game, EA. Bigger maps, a lot more vehicles, and a campaign. I need more Fighter Squadron!

I’m lucky enough to have multiple friends who are massive Star Wars fans / PS4 owners so I had a lot of fun playing Star Wars Battlefront. However, if you’re not a huge fan of the franchise (I like it but you wouldn’t call me a “fan” necessarily), and don’t really have a group to enjoy the game with, Star Wars Battlefront may not be the game for you. It just doesn’t have the customization and weapon options to keep you on target long enough to really get the full enjoyment of this game. Even with it’s looks alone, Star Wars Battlefront is not a game I’d recommend to the casual gamer who doesn’t have time to sit down and enjoy it with friends. However, if you’ve got friends and are ready to throwback to throwing laser blasts down steel-girded hallways, facing off against the likes of Darth Vader and hordes of Storm Troopers; if you’re ready to turn your back to the Imperials and stand in rebellion with Luke Skywalker, Star Wars Battlefront is where you want to be. This game will have you entertained for hours.

[easyreview title=”Star Wars Battlefront Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”3″ ]

The 17th Door Haunted Experience Review

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Interactivity – That’s the word of the day for haunted attractions and The 17th Door Haunted Experience, based at the Tustin Market Place in Tustin, CA has taken it as one of its core concepts. As The 17th Door is a newcomer to the haunted attraction game here in Southern California, and we love checking out haunted houses during the scary season, we rushed to attend a recent media event and experience it, first-hand!

The 17th Door haunted attraction is an immersive experience to say the least. Right when you walk in the door, you already feel as if you’re taken to dilapidated college campus, the theme behind The 17th Door’s inaugural season. The collegiate backdrop holds a story of a troubled student whose nightmares are coming to life and you are thrown right into the mix to experience the terror, first-hand along with her – a trip through her messed up mind, as it were.

The seventeen interactive rooms within the attraction hold multiple hands-on scares from exploring the troubled student’s dorm room, venturing through a dank drug lab, a classroom with a paddle-happy instructor, or even being tossed into a cramped asylum cell – all the while, the monsters outside are laughing and toying with you as you await the inevitable end.

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Along with The 17th Door’s amazing visuals and set design, the attraction also contains a lot of veteran monster talent from other Southern California haunted attractions who now call The 17th Door home. This means you won’t be walking away unscathed when it comes to who’s behind the mask, driving the in-your-face scares. These guys are absolute professionals and I have no worries whatsoever that they are delivering powerhouse scares each night. Speaking of masks, multiple scare actors in pig masks are creeping through the halls and rooms as pigs are the main source of fear for our main character’s nightmarish romp. The silicone mask making geniuses at Immortal Masks get a lot of time to show off their amazing handy work through many of the masks and characters in The 17th Door, and their commitment to quality definitely shows through in the monsters at the attraction.

One thing to keep in mind when heading to The 17th Door is that it’s not your typical walk-through haunted house. It is much more interactive than what you may be used to from Knott’s Scary Farm or The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor and you really have to keep up with what’s going on around you to get the full effect of the attraction. With this being its very first year, The 17th Door is still working out the kinks but they are off to a hell of a start. Visually, their haunted attraction resembles the amazing set design you’d see at a multi-million dollar theme park, not something you would expect to see at a local, freshman haunted house.  The attention to the little set design details that the team has crafted is absolutely stunning, not just in their interior arrangement but also in their characters, each having their own specific look.

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Beware, there is a chance you may get a little wet while wandering the halls of The 17th Door and if you’re afraid of closed-in spaces, this attraction may not be for you. While it might not be the typical haunted house walk-through you’d come to expect, where your experience is based on the scares the talent alone delivers, the immersive interactivity of The 17th Door is what makes it stand out from other attractions in the area. If you’re up for something wildly original from a team who is very passionate about making an impact on the Halloween season in Southern California, The 17th Door Haunted Experience is not to be missed. Right out of the starting gate, they are running hard and it’s going to be exciting to see how this attraction evolves over the next coming years. The passion for a great haunt experience driving this team is what makes The 17th Door an up and coming powerhouse in the local Halloween market. Best wishes to the entire team as they power through the first Halloween season!

The 17th Door Haunted Experience
2856 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92782

[easyreview title=”The 17th Door Haunted Experience Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”4″ ] [button target=”_blank” style=”” link=”http://gamingshogun.com/gamingshogun-rating-system/”]Learn About Our Rating System[/button]

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 Review (PS4)

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One of the very first games I owned for the PlayStation 2 was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 and, WOW, did I play the hell out of that game. Massive and fully interactive maps along with a fantastic and fun user interface made that game as addictive as could be. That being my last experience with a skateboard title, I was all ears when Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 got announced earlier this year. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t live up to anything more than a slightly higher definition version of what could almost be a last-gen console game.

The games mechanics for THPS5 are just as you’d expect from a Tony Hawk skateboard game. Grinding, manuals, basic skating, ramps and what not – they’re all back in the same working format that you’ve come to know and love. The low gravity is also as it was from previous titles, making for some amazing tricks when hitting ramps, verts, and the like. This can also lead to some rather hilarious bugs when missing a trick at the wrong time, literally catapulting your rag-doll character across the map or soaring into the air minus their board.

Though THPS5 is what you’d come to believe a Tony Hawk title to be, it doesn’t feel like a brand new game. In fact, it feels like a step backwards for the title in almost every way. With a next-gen console release, I expected much more massive and in-depth maps, a higher variety of tricks and abilities, and much more customization options when creating a your own skater, and so on and so forth compared to what next-gen consoles have been visually able to pull off over the past few years since their initial release.

Instead, custom skaters do not start out with many custom options at all and unlocking them comes slowly and with minimal reward. Even then, unlocking a custom head or outfit during a skating session doesn’t actually show you what you’ve unlocked until you go to the custom skater window and scroll all the way to where the unlocked card is, flipping it to show what you actually received. Not only can this be a pain since there are a ton of unlockables, but it’s also not very rewarding when you take all that time just to find out you unlocked an outfit or an item that you could really care less about. Along with that, all custom skaters are based on original character templates (Tony Hawk, Chris Cole, David Gonzalez, etc) so even if you fully customize your character, it’s still the template wearing different outfits, faces, and the like. There’s no real option to play as a completely original skater.

The soundtrack, while fitting for a Tony Hawk title, can be rather repetitive. Why sports titles have not expanded their tracklist along with their expansion of options and gameplay is completely baffling to me. While understanding that licensing is always going to be an issue, a true fan of sports titles is going to be playing them for a year solid before the following year’s title releases and a small soundtrack (like MLB The Show 2015 or NHL 14) is going to become an annoyance after the first solid week of gameplay. Along with that, THPS5 doesn’t really give you the option to turn off specific songs and let me tell you, some of them are catchy while others are downright annoying. Being an independent artist myself and knowing the currently horrid state of the music industry, it would be nice to see more original music as well as more choices as far as soundtracks go. That would help a lot in keeping things lively and exciting. Instead, after only a few hours of gameplay, I was getting repeat tracks since starting a mission or a new skate session will start a new song from the beginning and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to the order of tracks being played.

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Speaking of missions, these are the only way to open up new levels in THPS5. While Free Skate can be an absolute blast, there’s really nothing that can be gained as far as game advancement and jumping into the missions is the main way of progression aside from acquiring points for character customization unlocks. While some missions can be fun (grinding distances and exploding heads are my personal favorites), they also become repetitive and more of a “collect these” and “return them here”, taking away from the whole point of skateboarding where you want to be doing tricks and attempting death-defying skateboard acrobatics. Another downside is that the missions are the same, level-to-level, simply with different names according to the theme of the map you’re on leading to a lot of repetitiveness, especially when you just want to free skate all the maps.

The whole interface of the game seems like it took a step back to the PlayStation 2 days, both graphically and texture wise. Doing awesome tricks does not feel as satisfying without the big blowup text or anything fancy happening other than the trick you did being high-lighted as a different color at the bottom of the screen. Along with that, there are company logos EVERYWHERE. It almost seems like THPS5 was created just to be a brand showcase cash grab and not necessarily a well-rounded follow-up to what has been some amazing skateboard games over the past years. The maps themselves look tiled together and done have that beautiful, clean look to them you’d expect from a next-gen console (I could be playing this on the PS2 and wouldn’t know the difference to be honest).

While Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 is still fun to play just as you’d remember the previous titles to be, there’s really nothing new or exciting in it. Because of that, the game wears thin rather quickly as there isn’t much to really keep you playing in what is supposed to be a brand new, 5th title in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series. Limited and unimaginative missions, small and sometimes basic maps, and graphical bugs that can be a pain – it’s sad to see that this feels more like “Tony Hawk Takes Your Money” than a brand new Pro Skater title. Maybe I expected too much but even a brand new player to the Pro Skater series will see 5 as a game that could have had potential but seemed more rushed out in its final product and lacking a lot of the basic polish you expect from a game released in 2015.

[easyreview title=”Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”2″ ] [button target=”_blank” style=”” link=”http://gamingshogun.com/gamingshogun-rating-system/”]Learn About Our Rating System[/button]

StarDrive 2 Review (PC)

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Noting gets me more excited for a game than when it allows for a lot of customization. If you can take a game and make multiple aspects of it your own, whether that be renaming characters, personalizing logos and color schemes, the more you can create a game to be unique to yourself. That means that there is a better chance that I’ll pick it up and play it, sometimes ad nauseam (X-COM and Hitman (pre-Absolution) are perfect examples). With StarDrive 2’s allowing the player to customize almost the entire game, and it being a sci-fi space title centered around developing an empire across the stars – I must admit that, early-on, it did have me enthralled. Unfortunately, there are only so many times that you’re blasted out of the stars before you start to question just where the hell I’m supposed to be “boldly going”.

Before I delve deep into StarDrive 2, I suppose it’s a good disclaimer to mention that I have never played its predecessor: StarDrive, nor have I ever played anything like the sequel. While I don’t always believe that titles need to be played in order of their release, it does seem that the creators of StarDrive 2 relied rather heavily on their audience for the sequel to have spent time with the original for a decent portion of time to really get a handle on just what StarDrive 2 is all about. There does exist a somewhat solid tutorial to get you going as you depart on your expedition, however with the rather insane complexity of StarDrive 2, as well as the aforementioned customization options that blanket the entire game, a great deal of hand-holding should be available to the player if needed. I mean, if I were to simply pull StarDrive 2 off the digital shelf based on its sci-fi space builder theme, as well as the fact that I usually love in-depth titles like this, I would hope that the tutorial would basically walk you through every single thing the game can do, step-by-step, as if you had never played anything like it before – especially since games no longer come with detailed instruction manuals (you NES fans know what I’m talking about). Still, not long after you’ve headed out, the tutorial sort of loses steam and sets you out on your own. Undeterred, I set off for the nearest star, hoping I was doing it right.

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Reaching my destination, well, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. Each planet revolving the star I arrived at shows details regarding its surface details – whether there’s organics, if the planet is habitable, if there are already life-forms habituating the planet, etc. However, many of these numbers and details are somewhat confusing. This early on in the game, with the universe still wide-open, do I claim a planet? Do I try for one where it might be more beneficial for me than this? The game really doesn’t answer these questions for you. Instead of taking a chance on claiming the planet, I instead decided to see what other nearby stars could show me – so, I headed off to the next-closest star. But wouldn’t you know it, a space creature resembling a large prawn headed towards my ship and, in one shot, destroyed the entire thing. With that horrible spanking, the game was over – no, really, that was it! I literally had to start the entire game over, which completely reset the universe, reordering stars and placing my starting position in an entirely new place.

Now that’s exactly my issue with StarDrive 2. After the incredible, LEGO-like construction of other ships in your fleet which you purchase (a rather confusing point where the tutorial voice-over simply wanders off-topic), I was really looking forward to not only building my fleet, but doing so from the ground up. Weapons, engines, shields, and more are all customizable. However, not knowing what ships to purchase or how to interact with them when I did purchase them – well, going much farther out of the general neighborhood of stars usually meant death more often than not by the same floating space prawns. While I did manage to make it to multiple planets and interact with various different life forms, there just isn’t enough in the tutorial to really give a brand-new player a good idea of what they’re supposed to do.

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I really, REALLY wanted to like StarDrive 2. When I first saw some clips of it before I fired the game up, I was thrilled to see all the different things this game could do. But with a game this size and so incredibly in depth as StarDrive 2 is, it also requires an incredible amount of hand-holding if it wishes to win any new fans as opposed to just bring in fans of the original game. I’m going to keep trying it every now and again to see if I can eventually get a decent enough foothold in the universe to withstand another extraterrestrial crustacean because this game definitely has a TON going for it and it seems like it could be incredibly fun if you have the climbing gear to get past the ridiculously steep learning curve that comes with it.

[easyreview title=”StarDrive 2 Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”2″ ] [button target=”_blank” style=”” class=”btn_blue” link=”http://gamingshogun.com/gamingshogun-rating-system/”]Learn About Our Rating System[/button]

Dead or Alive 5: Last Round Review

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I do enjoy a good fighting game from time to time. Remembering when I was younger, lining up my quarters on the Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat machine at the arcade only to be quickly stomped into submission when it was finally my turn at the controls. Needless to say, I’ve never really been that good at them. However, a solid fighting game like the most recent Mortal Kombat or Injustice: God’s Among Us can definitely take the sting of suck away when the beauty and fluidity of a fighting game takes hold. However, DoA5: Last Round fails to outdo its predecessors, not just recently, but over the history of fighting games taking hold in the gaming world.

First off, I’ve never played any of the previous DoA titles so I’m focusing just on the game mechanics, controls, and pretty much the raw game play. Now I will say, if you’re a fan of the series, the cut-scenes and story lines do continue along with what seems to be an ever-running story. However, if I wanted to watch a movie, I’d go do that instead (you wouldn’t really call me a fan of titles like Max Payne 3 and other games which focus more on the story than game play since I can pay half of the price of a game for a Blu-ray).

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As far as the fighting mechanics itself, this is where Dead or Alive 5: Last Round falls flat. The fighting mechanics remind me a lot of old arcade titles like Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers where slow moving characters make some bone-crunching moves, knocking out barriers or electrifying arena ropes. However, a lack of jumping took me out of the action almost immediately. Again, not having been a long-time DoA player, I was constantly, out of habit, attempting to jump up, jump over my opponent, combine with a flying jump kick, anything. Alright, so maybe that’s a normal DoA thing but that just wasn’t doing it for me with characters that almost walk through the entire fight.

In-game cinematics like pre-game character verbal taunts are screamingly awful in how they are not synced up to the characters lips. Come on, people. This is 2015! They were doing that back in the Nintendo GameCube days. What happened to taking some extra time and giving your characters some more life so they dont look like they’re dubbing over a poorly translated 80’s ninja film. There’s really no excuse for that, ESPECIALLY with how much time is put into developing these characters and making them look as attractive as possible.

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And let’s go with that statement for just a moment. What’s really the whole point of this game – playing a solid fighting game, or staring at huge digital breasts plowing out of skimpy outfits? While the mass of character choices is a positive feature of the game, the choice of clothes per character is ridiculous. Some have over a dozen different costumes to choose from. From the game mechanics, it seems that the real concern was how foxy they could make each round of combat? It doesn’t matter to me how a character in a game looks in an outfit if they cant seem to hold it together in the ring. Characters almost seem to quickly teleport from one position to the next when standing up from a hit or using some actions without their body going through all the motions. The hit points are somewhat off as well as there can sometimes be a delay from hitting an action button to the move being performed on-screen at times. This may be due to the somewhat sluggish movements from the characters, especially after recovering from a heavy hit but it not only makes the game frustrating, it also makes a slow battle even slower. And while you may be able to use the one-button punch mechanic over and over to cheat your way through a fight at times, it seems that the computer enjoys doing the exact same thing as well, preventing you from getting a shot across due to your character overacting a simple punch to the face (I thought these were professional fighters).

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From the perspective of a gamer who has never played a DoA game in the series, DoA5:LR reminded much of the bummer that was the Fight Club game, a fighting game that just didn’t seem complete, was rushed to release, and was too slow to keep me enthralled in all the fighting (and in the case of DoA, bouncing) happening on screen. Maybe that’s why this game just didn’t do it for me, I suppose. I’d much rather play and enjoy a well crafted game than try to figure out what skimpy leather outfit looks best on the big-breasted blonde. This is a video game, not a dress-up session for a doll house with chronic assault issues.

[easyreview title=”Dead or Alive 5: Last Round Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”2″ ] [button target=”_blank” style=”” class=”btn_blue” link=”http://gamingshogun.com/gamingshogun-rating-system/”]Learn About Our Rating System[/button]

Alien: Isolation Review

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In space, no one can hear you scream… Which, in the case of Alien: Isolation, is good because one thing you’re going to be doing is screaming and dying… A LOT!

For nostalgic purposes alone, Alien: Isolation is an amazing and beautiful game. For those who are hardcore fans of the original 1979 Alien, you are in for an absolute treat. Not only does the opening sequence and walk-through feel like you’re right back in the theater, watching it on the big screen – heck, the sounds alone are enough to put you right into the mood that this is a serious Alien game that had a lot of dedication and love behind it. If there were to ever be an unreleased, secret storyline set in with the Alien franchise, you could do a metric ton worse than Alien: Isolation.

Getting into the game play, Alien: Isolation handles very smoothly, transitioning well and making control of the Amanda Ripley character incredibly fluid. Still, one type of game Alien: Isolation is not is a First-Person Shooter, or anywhere near it. You’re not going to be picking up fully loaded grenade launchers, pulse rifles, drop-ship nukes, or any other massive arsenal weapon (sure, there are some firearms but don’t expect many). If you’re like me and are still hoping for the worthy Alien FPS license after the absolute abortions that were Aliens vs Predator and the even worse Colonial Marines, this isn’t the Xenomorph you’re looking for (Ed. Note: Can someone please make a game worthy of the Aliens movie?).

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Get used to this perspective.

 

Unfortunately, the game play in Alien: Isolation can become rather tedious. With a fairly linear storyline, it often seemed that the amount of exploration that COULD be done throughout the ship is cut way short due to various points in the story which which basically act as a timer, albeit sans a ticking clock at the top of the screen. Along with that, it seems that the titular character is absent for a big chunk of Alien: Isolation when your main threat aboard the ship isn’t the xenomorph but more of the synthetic kind when the droids (think lots of Ash and Bishop for you movie franchise fans) “malfunction” and begin a human massacre, tearing through any human survivors aboard the ships, turning the game from an Alien title to pretty much any sci-fi / survival game out there. Robots on a space ship… Yup, nothing new there! Now while a timed game isn’t always a bad thing, one that sets you on a constant path such as Alien: Isolation isn’t going to have much replay value aside from future downloadable content. When all games nowadays run the $60 mark (not including the price of whatever future DLCs may cost), you hope that you can get more than speed runs out of a title after your first trip through it.

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Creepy synthetic… I mean artificial person…

 

While Alien: Isolation does recommend the hardest setting as the one for the hardcore Alien fans, I would not recommend it. It’s an act of extreme frustration and this is exactly where you will die a lot. Seriously, playing this mode is pretty much like saying in your head “Alive, alive, alive, DEAD!” over and over. If there is any replay value to Alien: Isolation, it resides in this difficulty mode. Even then, the straight-down-the-line story limits what could have been an amazing exploratory journey throughout a massive space ship with the looming threat of an alien around every corner. Instead it’s more of a connect-the-dots type journey that loses track after the first few hours of game play. Once you’ve hidden in a locker for the 20th time, you start to get that feeling that you’re simply jumping through the hoops that are going to be, for the most part, set up in the same fashion for every go-around (just with a lot more death when you crank up the difficulty). While it’s a fun game for a little while, Alien: Isolation could definitely have been so much more.

[easyreview title=”Alien: Isolation Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”3″ ] [button target=”_blank” style=”” link=”http://gamingshogun.com/gamingshogun-rating-system/”]Learn About Our Rating System[/button]

Hitman HD Trilogy Review (PS3)

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I don’t have much spare time to review video games but when I was offered by the good people at GamingShogun.com the chance to review the Hitman HD Trilogy for PS3, I gladly accepted and made time to dive back into the games that made me such a huge Hitman fan. Unfortunately, my joy quickly dissipated shortly after I began playing.

Right off the bat, the Hitman HD Trilogy feels too much like an advertisement for the brand new, highly-anticipated “Hitman Absolution”. The main screen is somewhat visually-unfriendly, as it instantly pops up displaying the 3 games in the title along with the overly large bar on the entire bottom half of the screen for the “Hitman Sniper Challenge”, which was originally created to promote “Absolution”. Along with all this, the “Your cover has been blown” music from “Contracts” begins to play. It all just gives off an instant feeling that not much time went into putting this all together.

I jumped right into “Contracts”, my favorite Hitman title to date. I noticed very quickly that there isn’t much difference at all to this, and that the “HD” is nowhere to be found, aside from Agent 47 looking a lot smoother and rounded off. Other than that, there is absolutely no visual “HD” difference between this version and the version I played over and over again on PS2. Over time, I noticed that not much was different throughout the rest of the game, as well. Nothing was really touched and all the NPC’s and environments looked EXACTLY like they did in the non-HD version.

Disheartened, I gave “Blood Money” a go. Playing through the tutorial mission, I noticed yet again nothing that really stood out as being HD. Even as I neared a large, fancy gate that lead to an abandoned amusement park, the gate itself was entirely flat instead of having depth like it gave the illusion to. On top of that, all the background graphics were very pixelated and lines that represented edges of buildings were entirely broken. This was literally not five minutes into “Blood Money”! This was a game I went out and bought for Xbox 360 only a year ago just because I loved the original and I missed it so much. The extreme lack of time put into making this title HD is screamingly obvious.

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There’s no one else who has been anticipating “Absolution” more than I was and when I heard that the original trilogy was coming back in high-def shortly after, I was incredibly excited. But to go in and visually see pretty much the exact same games I played on previous-generation consoles, it was rather tough to write a review where I bashed my all-time favorite game series. The term “cash-grab” comes to mind, however. Why else would this title be the same price as all other brand new titles? It certainly doesn’t show in its self-claimed HD.

If you’ve been considering going out and picking the Hitman HD Trilogy up, I highly recommend pulling out your old PS2 instead or perhaps hunting down a used copy of Blood Money or Silent Assassin for XBox 360 or PC. You’ll save a lot of money and still get the exact same game play and experience that you would playing the re-released trilogy. Even more, you’ll be a lot happier too knowing you’ve still got that $60 in your pocket for the time when a game worth purchasing drops that its developers actually put some time and effort into instead of just simply rehashing previous titles and cramming them onto one disc with their main concern being that you’ll run right back out and pick up Absolution after playing the rather fun “Sniper Challenge”, which can instead be downloaded by itself quickly, easily, and more to the point, a hell of a lot less expensive than the less-than-superior Hitman HD Trilogy.

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