Archive for April, 2016

Transformers Devastation Gets Four Outta Five Energon Cubes ♒️♎️♈️♓️

⚠️ Don’t forget to watch the feature Let’s Play video above!

Giant, Colourful Robots From The 80’s?! Yes Please!

This is not a games review site…not by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t usually give review scores, nor do I want to get into the habit of doing so – that is a talent (and privilege) that is best left to the top video game dot coms, games journalists and influencers – but finishing a game is a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence for me and this particular IP holds a very special place in my heart.

Transformers Devastation turned out to be a very nice, gaming surprise from last year…well it wasn’t really a surprise because I knew the game was coming, but I did not think that I would enjoy it as much as I did. There’s something very satisfying about playing as your favourite Autobot and having the ability to transform into their vehicle mode to burn rubber! It’s something that a few developers have gotten right – High Moon Studios being one of them with their War For (and Fall of) Cybertron games. Transforming and rolling out made me feel like a total bad ass, empowering me in a way that I could only dream of as a kid. Platinum Studios got this Transformers game just right, and even though there were a few tiny draw backs, this return to rare from is just what the franchise needed.

⚠️ Click on the yellow logo above to get your Bumblebee inspired T-Shirt courtesy of The Gaming Worker!

Did I Mention That I Like Giant, Colourful Robots?!

Any Transformer fanboy that has fond memories of playing with their Transformers as a kid, by smashing them into one another, will get a kick out of this game! This mayhem meshed with the super brilliant, cell shaded, art style is what makes Devastation such a joy to play. Platinum borrowed all of the equities from the popular 80’s cartoon and created an action-packed experience that’s reminiscent of the good old, toon-gazing, days. There were many cartoons that I loved to watch as a kid and Transformers was the cream of the crop. This game was strictly made for guys (and girls) like myself so thank you Platinum Studios for a job well done.

So what does Devastation get right other than the incredible art style? Well the story mode is short – which most hardcore gamers might not like – but works great for a filthy casual such as myself. The game doesn’t have too many side missions to get lost in, but there are a number of challenges to do should you want to shake things up a little. Completing these challenges is a sure-fire way to gain extra ranged and melee weapons for your inventory, and in-game currency (known as credits). At the end of each mission or challenge you get a grade, ranging from SS (Double S) to D rank. There may even be SSS (Triple S) rank, but I’m not 100% sure because the highest I got was SS. For those of you who don’t know SS and SSS ranks higher than an A. The order goes: SSS, SS, A, B, C and D. So SS is like getting an A Plus and SSS is like getting an A Plus-Plus. I have no idea where this crazy rating system comes from nor do I have any idea if it’s used outside of video games. All I know is that when I got that S ranking at the end of a difficult mission it felt like winning a gold medal in the Transformer Olympics! But I digress.

More (And Less) Than Meets The Eye

The boss battles were terrific. The stand out battles were definitely the battles where it was me versus a larger than life Combiner, such as Devastator or Menasor…or both! That epic in scale, David versus Goliath style, boss battle never gets old in video games; and even though they were pretty easy, it was still fun to play them through. Even the larger than life Insecticons (which has never been shown before in the cartoon) were impressive. There is much to admire about this game, but it also had some problem areas. One of the biggest being the semi-complex weapon synthesis system. In between missions you have the option of going into your inventory and crafting your weapons to make them more powerful. This can sometimes be a good experience and other times bad, depending on what game you’re playing. In Devastation it was bad, or (to me) it seemed like the developer made some weird decisions with this. Like only being able to craft and equip weapons if they were unequipped. It was quite the chore having to navigate to the right Autobot and unequip a weapon before making any changes to it. Also the lack of tutorial for crafting weapons was a bad call. If it wasn’t for ACG’s YouTube video about synthesizing your weapons correctly, I would have kept on upgrading like a pitiful newb and not increasing my attack power. You’ll know what I mean of you play the game. Just try not to focus on increasing the weapon level alone. You want to see some yellow in the attack power progress bar otherwise you’re just wasting credits.

The last, nit-picky, thing that took me out of the overall experience was what Platinum Studios decided to do for the last quarter of the game. Now in every episode of the cartoon there were always two sides to the story. One: the evil schemes that the Decepticons were planning, and two: what the Autobots were going to do to stop them. Before you saw each side of the story you would see the creator’s version of a fade to black to help transition between the two-sided narrative. This was the Autobot and Decepticon insignias (which were back to back) that would float toward the viewer, and flip horizontally, revealing the side of the story you were about to see. The red insignia was for the heroic Autobots and the purple for the Decepticons. It was a neat little device that worked well in the cartoon, but for some reason Platinum decided not to use it until the last quarter of the game. It made absolutely no sense because they didn‘t use it for the first three quarters of the story. Why throw it in for the last quarter? It just came out of no where and made the experience inconsistent. Not only that, but the bevel effect that they used to make the insignias look 3D looked like shite! It looked nothing like the source material. This was another really bad call, and even though this was purely esthetic, and cinematic (and had nothing to do with affecting the gameplay) it still tainted the experience for me as a Transformer fanboy and as a designer.

A Little Energon Can Go A Long Way

But these are all minute unpleasantries which is why I decided to give Devastation four (energon cubes) out of five. Again this is not a review site – even though what I do can (sort of) be considered “reviewing a game”. I just wanted this post to be a little different, have some fun with the headline and try to wear the shoes of a real games journalist. Originally I intended for this post to be really short – like a headline, sub-headline and one sentence – and let the video do all of the talking, but I just had so much to say about this game. It’s loads of fun and you can just turn your brain off, pretend that you’re a kid again, and kick Decepticon butt like you have nothing else better to do!

😁 Bonus Devastation Let’s Play Clip

Please click on the image below for additional Transformers action. Enjoy!

Bumblebee

 

Battleborn Is Like Borderlands On Steroids! (Believedat!)

⚠️ Don’t forget to watch the feature Let’s Play video above!

I Had A Good Feeling About Battleborn […]

Gearbox makes good games. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter if this game [Battleborn] starts with the same damn letter as the developer’s previous and critically acclaimed, action, RPG-style property, Borderlands 1️⃣. This was the minuscule detail that I was hung up on for quite some time when Battleborn was first announced. “They [Gearbox] already have a game that starts with the letter B. And what kind of name is Battleborn anyway?” But now none of these petty objections matter. Not even in the slightest. Battleborn is very, very good…almost great, which means my instinct was right. I had a feeling that I would like this game and that turned out to be my understatement of the year.

Shooting And Looting In Borderlands

This was most likely going to be the headline for my Borderlands 2 blog post, but I haven’t gotten around to creating that content yet. I’ve briefly played Borderlands on PS4 and it’s seriously one of the most pleasurable experiences I’ve had on the platform so far. I absolutely love that game – and I don’t want to elaborate on this too much because it’s not really the main topic – but Borderlands is an awesome shooter that feels right at home on the PS4 (I’ve played it on PS3 as well). So it comes as no surprise that I’m enjoying Battleborn as much as I am. It’s quirky and funny, I love the cartoony art style, I can’t get enough of leveling up and the loot drops, and the gun play is so, so damn good. But enough about that. Let’s get back to the game at hand.

A Battalion Like No Other; All For One Star

So what’s with these first-person games and their need to have you (as the champion) fighting to save the last of something? In Destiny you’re fighting to save the last city on earth, and in Battleborn you’re fighting to protect the very last star in the universe. It’s just something that I noticed…I guess evil doesn’t know how to stop until it gets every last one of your belongings. Whatever the case may be Battleborn has proven to be a game worth playing and talking about (in my opinion). If you take Borderlands, ramp up the number of playable characters (with dynamic weapons and abilities) and make it a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), you’ll have Battleborn – the most ambitious video game Gearbox has ever done.

“I’m starting to become addicted to these betas.

I participated in both Destiny betas, The Division beta, and now the Battleborn beta.
The campaign is what I was mostly interested in because I’m not a multiplayer guy.”

Campaign or Multiplayer? That Is The Question

You get to choose from 25 characters (upon release), but only a handful are unlocked for the beta. I’m starting to become addicted to these betas. I participated in both Destiny betas, The Division beta 2️⃣ (my Let’s Play for Tom Clancy’s The Division will be posted soon), and now the Battleborn beta. The campaign (or story mode) is what I was mostly interested in because I’m not a multiplayer guy. I have nothing against multiplayer modes – I like the idea of the competitive team gameplay – but I just suck (at playing) in these modes. It doesn’t matter which multiplayer game I play; my lack of speed, skill, and precision shooting in these fast-paced multiplayers make it hard for me to enjoy the game. I get my ass handed to me every time because all of my opponents are light years ahead of me in terms of skill level. They’ve been playing competitively for years so I become the sitting duck. I’ll usually give multiplayer a try – Destiny and COD have awesome multiplayer modes – but my time there is short lived. The campaign is where I dish out the most damage! But the one thing that Battleborn’s multiplayer has going for it – which makes it so much more approachable for a lone ranger like myself – is it’s sheer number of interesting characters and (more importantly) their assortment of weapons. They’re not all ranged. You can choose a character like Rath 3️⃣ or Shayne who are melee based. They don’t shoot anything; they clobber and/or hack and slash. You don’t have to be an expert marksman. You can dish out damage by punching and hitting your opponent until they’re blue in the face! So what I realized is that your crosshair accuracy doesn’t have to be spot on. The game is a little more forgiving so as long as you aim in the general direction of the enemy you’ll be ok. Speed is still a factor of course and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t do fine with a ranged character. I played with Thorn and did ok – mind you the matches were private and against bots – but the point is having melee based playable characters makes the MOBA experience a little more welcoming for inexperienced players. This is where I think that MOBAs shine.

Say Multiplayer Online Battle Arena 3x Fast!

Here is where I think that MOBAs don’t shine. Their poisonous online communities. I know for a fact that the world renowned DOTA 4️⃣ and League of Legends 5️⃣ both have the kind of communities that tend to keep newbs and filthy casuals away. I’ve dabbled in both and if you’re a lone ranger (like myself), without your own friends to form a team; then you are subject to the matchmaking system which works well as a utility, but not so much in the camaraderie sense. If you lack skill your teammates can be verbally abusive, but that isn’t the case with Battleborn…well not that I can attest. Again, I only played with bots, and not with other players. Whether or not Battleborn’s online community plays nice with one another still remains to be seen…I’ll eventually see how all of that unfolds. However, what I can tell you is that the MOBA portion of the game is surprisingly fun and it doesn’t take long to figure out what your objectives are. The modes and arenas are very engaging with lots of verticality and vantage points, and I’m in love with the world.

The Verdict

There’s a good time to be had with Battleborn. If I were to play this with two or three friends on my team I’m positive that I would enjoy it even more, but the lack of friends doesn’t deter me from enjoying this game. There’s a good story mode to get lost in and you can set up private matches (with bots) if you’re a little intimidated by gaming with others on-the-line 😉

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