Category Archives: PlayStation 3

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens – E3 2016 Trailer for PS4, PS3

LEGO® Star Wars™: The Force Awakens™ marks the triumphant return of the No. 1 LEGO videogame franchise and immerses fans in the new Star Wars adventure like never before. Players can relive the epic action from the blockbuster film in a way that only LEGO can offer, featuring all of the storylines from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, retold through the clever and witty LEGO lens. The game will also feature exclusive playable content that takes players on adventures set in the time leading up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, providing additional insight about the new movie and its characters.

GAME FEATURES:
• Relive the Blockbuster Action – Blast off into a new and improved LEGO Star Wars experience that takes fans deeper into the new film than any other game, retold through the clever and witty LEGO lens.

• Exclusive New Story Levels – Experience untold adventures through exclusive new story levels set in the time leading up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, providing additional insight about the new movie and its characters.

• Variety of Characters, Vehicles & Locations – Play as all of the heroic characters from the movie, including Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO and BB-8, as well as Kylo Ren, General Hux and Captain Phasma, while exploring iconic Star Wars locales, such as Jakku and Starkiller Base, and utilizing a multitude of vehicles along the way.

• Build… and Rebuild – Through the enhanced Multi-Builds system, players must choose from multiple building options – to puzzle solve, or just for fun – all advancing the game in different ways.

• Exciting New Blaster Battles – Use your surroundings as cover during intense Blaster Battles and drive back the relentless First Order.

• Experience the Galaxy Like Never Before – Experience the thrill of high-speed, action-packed flight gameplay like never before, including arena-based battles and dogfights in space.

• More “I” in A.I. – Enemy fighters can now build using LEGO bricks to support their fellow Stormtroopers, calling in air support, reinforcements or heavy artillery – taking the fight to the Resistance with the power of LEGO!

Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault Review – PS4, PS3, Vita

Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault begins with a brief summary of the state of the world, outlining that following the ‘Silent Apocalypse’ humans have retreated to a number of fortified cities. Here, they harvest a new element known as Altenite, which is also sought after by giant monsters known as Protonovus. By managing resources and defending your cities from these monsters, your goal is to ensure humanity’s survival, and provide a safe haven for as many people as you possibly can.

Through a fairly tedious tutorial, where you’re often sitting listening to characters instead of actually playing, you find that Aegis of Earth is divided into two main parts: Planning and Strikes. Planning mode has you focusing on improving your city by constructing residential buildings and military weapons, as well as researching new technology.

Strike mode, on the other hand, requires you to defeat waves of enemies before they reach your city. Every city in Aegis of Earth is circular and divided into rings, and you can rotate these rings using the left analogue stick to target your weapons in the direction of enemies. Strikes only take a couple of minutes each, but are fast-paced and require a fair bit of dexterity in the latter stages, as you’re constantly assessing threats and rotating your city to ensure that every enemy is dealt with swiftly.

Before each strike, you’re allowed to choose (from a selection of three) which set of enemies you will be targeting, with each choice being of a different level and consisting of different enemy types. Some are fast moving and some are slow, and some types come in a pack while others are singular but larger. Upon completion of a strike, you are told how many people are impressed with your city’s defenses and therefore want to migrate, as well as how many crystals you have gained, which are used to pay for research and construction. You’re also shown how well each member of your team did, and whether you want to single out any particular member for special praise.

There are quite a few options for who you want on your team, with most characters unlocking at a reasonable pace as you progress through the story. Unfortunately, almost every one of them is annoying, and they all talk far too much, with much of what they say being repetitious and largely inconsequential. You’re never really given much reason to care why you’re doing what you’re doing in Aegis of Earth, aside from the whole saving the Earth thing, but if the remains of humanity are represented by your team members here, I honestly wouldn’t be too upset if they all perished.

Progression through the game is measured in chapters, with each chapter containing a number of objectives. Most of these involve researching and building a particular unit, or defeating a certain number of a particular type of enemy, and each can often be completed in a few minutes. This game is quite well designed for on-the-go, and thankfully features cross-save between the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.

Aegis of Earth plays nearly identically on Vita as it does on PS4, although I did notice a little bit more slowdown on the handheld system. Graphically, Aegis of Earth isn’t particularly pretty to look at on the PS4, with muddy textures and a generally bland design, and this holds true for the Vita version as well, though with the added caveat that the smaller screen makes it a little more difficult to see what you’re doing, which can be a particular problem in the planning mode of the game.

Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault is a strange beast, in that it could almost exist perfectly happily as a small part of a larger game. As it is, it’s a fairly unique title, with a mixture of gameplay not really seen anywhere else. It’s far from perfect, and is pretty forgettable, but I had a lot of fun with the game, and I could see a lot of other gamers enjoying it too, provided that they could make their way past the cringe-worthy dialogue and irritating characters. Aegis of Earth offers up a fast-paced and fairly intense burst of defense-minded gaming, and while it won’t become a mainstream hit, I can see those who do play the game enjoying themselves greatly.

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Godzilla Launches for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3

THE KING OF THE MONSTERS IS BACK AS GODZILLA BECOMES AVAILABLE FOR FANS IN THE AMERICAS

 Godzilla Returns to Destroy Cities and Vanquish Classic Enemies on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3

Leading interactive entertainment company BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. today announced that GODZILLA has emerged from his long slumber to once again deliver massive destruction to cities and vanquish classic enemies on both the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system (digital only).

Developed by Japanese videogame studio NATSUME ATARI INC., GODZILLA gives players control of one of the most famous and destructive Kaiju (special effects monsters) in entertainment history. As Godzilla, players will have the power to trample and lay waste to cities. Players will also have to collect G-Energy which can be used to power-up Godzilla, increasing his physical size as well as his offensive and defensive skills. Exclusively on the PlayStation®4 system, users can play as any Kaiju in the game, in any mode in the game! Collect G-Energy to max out your favorite Kaiju’s stats and destroy opponents online with your Kaiju in the battle style of your choice. Select from over 20 different Kaiju, including classics like Anguirus and Rodan, as well as more recent Kaiju like Type-3 Kiryu. There are many different iterations of Godzilla in the game as well, from Godzilla as seen in 1964’s “Mothra vs. Godzilla” to Godzilla as seen in the latest 2014 movie (“Hollywood Godzilla”).

GODZILLA will also enable players to recreate the thrill of watching the classic and modern films by utilizing a dynamic movie-style camera angle system. This system delivers the most epic camera angles, giving players the best view from which to destroy both a multitude of locations as well as classic enemies such as Mothra, King Ghidorah, and Mechagodzilla.

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“For over 60 years Godzilla has sparked the imaginations of millions of fans and has been one of Japan’s most famous and favorite pop culture exports to the West.” said Eric Hartness, Vice President of Marketing at BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. “With the GODZILLA videogame we’re writing an exciting new chapter in Godzilla’s history, enabling his fans to play as their favorite monster and truly experience his incredible strength and destructive power.”

GODZILLA features multiple game modes including; Destruction Mode where players can deal massive amounts of mayhem and lay waste to more than 20 different stages. Diorama Mode enables players to place models of Godzilla and the other Kaiju in different settings to capture epic photos through the use of the SHARE function on the PlayStation®4 system. Players can also enjoy the King of Kaiju Mode where Godzilla fights his way through a gauntlet of the franchise’s most famous monster enemies to reach the top of the Kaiju hierarchy and reign supreme on the throne as the true King of the Monsters. PlayStation®4 system players can use any Kaiju in any mode, including an Online Multiplayer Mode that enables for up to three players at once fighting in all-out mayhem.

Rated “T” for TEEN by the ESRB, GODZILLA is available now at videogame retailers in North America and Latin America in packaged form for the PlayStation®4 system and in digital form exclusively on the PlayStation®Store for the PlayStation®3 system. GODZILLA launches in Brazil on July 17, 2015.

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MLB 15: The Show Review – PlayStation 3

Playing baseball takes me back a few years.  My family used to attend Cleveland Indians games – usually doubleheaders – but back then the Indians were just…. bad. But it was a day at the ballpark. In my youth I played text based simulation baseball, then Intellivision and Earl Weaver Baseball. Along the way there were some fun arcade style games like The Bigs, but mostly I wanted an authentic simulation.  Sony has consistently published one of the best baseball simulation games year after year.

It’s with great feelings of impending doom that I played MLB 15: The Show on PS3. I’m one of the few reviewers who has resisted the seemingly inevitable upgrade to a PS4.  I’ve always been happy with my PS3 and neither of the ‘next gen’ systems have given me a compelling reason to upgrade.  Besides which… I got married a couple years ago and I have to pick my real life battles very carefully. For the moment, a nice cheap Xbox 360 or PS3 game is just fine.

MLB 15 The Show for PS3 arrives at a reasonable $39.99 – a great price for a new game.  There is a 10th Anniversary Edition for the PS4 but not PS3. Nobody would really blame SCEA for phoning this year in and putting everyone on the PS4 development team. It would have been easy to follow EA Sports’ footsteps and just update the rosters, print a new year on the box and laugh all the way to the bank. But they didn’t. Granted, MLB 15 The Show isn’t groundbreaking but it does have significant tweaks and updates that make it worth upgrading.

Franchise and Road to the Show haven’t changed much from last year which isn’t a bad thing. Both modes of play are still great for any baseball fan. The great improvement is the ability to import your player from last year to continue your journey.

There have been numerous reports of online lag issues but I haven’t had a single problem yet. Even the quick fix of an online home run derby played just fine with up to 8 people.  The problem with playing a full 9 inning baseball game online is it just takes forever. You can’t control how much of the animations your opponent wants to watch. It can easily eat up 45 minutes or more for one game. It’s much more fun to play a Home Run Derby online with up to 8 people… but just be aware this is a simulation. If you want more of an arcade experience you’ll have to find The Bigs in a used game bin somewhere.

MLB 15 The Show as usual does a phenomenal job at capturing the visuals of a baseball game. All the MLB teams and NL/AL All-Stars are included as well as all the AAA and AA teams. It’s unfortunate there are no A teams – not only would it increase the fan base but I would like MLB 15 even more (I live in a city with an A team). Stadiums include all the MLB teams, 10 spring training locations, the All-Star game field at Great American Ball Park, 10 classic stadiums, and 26 minor league parks. I’ve been to quite a few of these parks and it’s amazing the detail level they have included.

The minor visual issues remain from previous years. Players still tend to occasionally walk through each other – particularly during cutscenes between batters. Also MLB 15 The Show like most other sports games has the obvious cloned fans issue where the same person is cloned in the crowd. There looks like around 30 unique people in the audience.

The audio commentary on MLB 15 The Show is probably the biggest disappointment… and it has been the past few years. Baseball has a bad enough image of being boring and this commentary does little to help. At least they tried to liven things up with the music. But they didn’t try hard enough. 11 songs in total featuring Bass Drum of Death, Conway, Death from Above 1979, Interpol, Lack of Afro, Porter Robinson, Spoon, Stillwater Giants, Harry Fraud, Until the Ribbon Breaks and Zodiac Death Valley.  I guess all of them are an “acquired taste” because I hate every song.

Thankfully you can import your own music and edit clips to use for specific players.  I tend to lean toward more of the classic baseball feel so it was great to import John Fogerty’s “Centerfield” and other classics.  It’s fun to throw a little sarcasm in your game by assigning AC/DC’s “Money Talks” to your disloyal free-agent as well. You can also record your own chants and yells for use in 50 different game events.

MLB 15: The Show continues to have several sponsors including trading card manufacturers Topps and Bowman. In Diamond Dynasty mode we get to use the now familiar sports card theme to generate our own fantasy teams. I loved playing these kind of trading card games in FIFA and NHL so I look forward to spending a lot of time in this mode trying to improve my team for a playoff run.

MLB 15 The Show is much more than a roster update. There are subtle improvements everywhere, making The Show a must buy for any baseball fan still playing on a PS3.

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Jet Car Stunts Review – PlayStation 3/Vita

When it comes to racing games, I love the realism and beauty of what the best simulators have to offer, but every once in a while you just need to have some ridiculousness with titles like Jet Car Stunts for PS3 and PS Vita. Many people with smartphones may already be familiar with this game but now PlayStation gets an all new tweaked experience for their console and handheld platform.

In the vein of games like Trackmania and San Francisco Rush, Jet Car Stunts puts you in the driver seat of a rocket powered jet car as you attempt to traverse some of the wildest and devilishly created tracks that I think I’ve seen. It’s safe to say that after playing this both on my PS3 and Vita thanks to being a Cross-Buy title that I don’t think that I’ve ever played a racing game as hard as this one.

What makes Jet Car Stunts interesting and difficult is that every course that you attempt is floating high in the sky as if you were in a surreal dream. The tracks start off with a decent length of track before throwing wide gaps into the mix. While some are quite easy others require ramps or and the right amount of rocket boosting to make. As this was originally a mobile game that used motion to steer your car but now an actual controller makes it a bit more manageable with the refinement and weight of using physical buttons.

This however doesn’t mean that Jet Car Stunts will be ultimately easier as I’ve had to try levels over and over again due to mistiming a boost or not using the air brake at just the right time. Your skills will really be put to the test with challenges like having to navigate through tight orange oblong shapes sideways before correcting to land on the other side. Using a controller or the Vita’s analog sticks does make it easier and with a lot of practice you can start to master each track.

For those returning to Jet Car Stunts you can try how good you are in the brand new Collector mode. This mode tasks you with collecting stars that are in places that you never thought possible of reaching. As veterans of the game already know you can shave seconds off your track times with shortcuts and this mode will being really cool makes you look at the colorful track decorations in a whole new perspective as an angled cube becomes a ramp or a line of squares becomes a bridge.

There are 36 tracks including the tutorials that will put your patience to test but they are as unique as they are vibrant. Both the Vita and PS3 versions look pretty good with vibrant colors and a redefined physics design. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen my sleek racer break up into a lot of little pieces by clipping the stark white edge of a track the wrong way. Jet Car Stunts does have a minimalistic approach to its level design which is what makes it look deceptively easy but there is definitely some clever design lurking under that colorful exterior that I like.

One of the things that I like about Jet Car Stunts is that while it is primarily a single player game it does feature an asynchronous multiplayer feature which features ghosts of the best players on each track. While this does give you something to work for as you try to make your way to the top of the leaderboards it’s a great way to see the tricks that the best players in the world use to get there.

Jet Car Stunts is a game that features a simplistic design but the gameplay is anything but it’s both enjoyable and challenging at the same time. What’s good is that you can play this in short sessions anywhere with the Vita or at home via the PS3. If you want a real racing challenge and haven’t tried Jet Car Stunts then check it out. Caution: Patience is required.

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Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review – PlayStation 3

Don’t touch that dial, don’t turn off that TV, the Sho is about to start with another beary exciting installment of Persona with the release of Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax for the PlayStation 3. So I’ve been a fan of the Persona series for a while now especially having dumped hours into Persona 3 and Persona 4(both but Golden for my portable sessions) and I have to say the story heavy experiences really draw me in.

What really piqued my interest though was that the Persona franchise was getting a fighting game in the form of Persona 4 Arena which released back in 2012 by Arc Systems (BlazBlue) and Atlus. While I never got around to playing it for some reason or another it’s sequel of sorts, Ultimax, has proved to satisfy both my love of RPGs and my enjoyable but not always rewarding run at the fighter genre in a rather surprising way. It’s no secret that fighters rarely have engaging stories outside of likes of Injustice but Ultimax’s engaging story was enough to get me hooked.

Taking place nearly right after the events that turned the mysterious TV World into a tournament ground in Arena, Yu Narukami and the rest of the Investigation Team are back as the Midnight Hour starts up once again. This time the tournament spills out of the TV into the real world as the P-1 Climax promises to be an end of the world Sho stopper…literally. So it’s up to Yu, Chie, Kanji, Yosuke and the rest of the gang to head back into battle as a red fog overtakes the city of Inaba as they set out to save Mitsuru and her associates in the Shadow Operatives.

Ultimax offers players plenty of ways to enjoy this fighter even if you’re new to the Persona 4 Arena series. The main chunk of the game takes place it its Story Mode which could easily take you 10+ hours to complete as you make your way through dialogue and fighting alike in a visual novel presentation. For those familiar to the Persona series then you know that reading is a big part of the experience and here in Ultimax it is no difference. There are easily around 50 or more events throughout the story though about a fifth of them are actual fights. To make things cooler you get to see the story from two different sides broken up between the casts of Persona 3 and 4.

For those wanting to get right to the fighting there are plenty of options in Ultimax to do just that. For starters you have the Arcade Mode which allows you to play Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax (P4AU for short) without having to go through all the backstory with your favorite Persona character. There’s also the traditional ScoreAttack where you can go up against the CPU for the high score. Personally I enjoyed the Versus mode so I can challenge my friends to a good old fashioned rumble. Though for a nice challenge, there is the GoldenArena which I dropped way too much time into as I completed floor after floor in one of four difficulties in this challenge dungeon.

For the ultimate challenge though you can take Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax online and compete against other players all over the world in everything from casual matches all the way up to ranked matches there is even an arcade style lobby so you chat up fellow fighting fans and complete in matches. During my online matches I was surprised that I didn’t run into a bit of lag that’s been a problem for gamers in online fighters.

Combat in Ultimax is actually pretty enjoyable and features a traditional 2D fighting system that sticks to a very traditional 4-button control system which is simple enough to do on a controller. Ultimax is also designed to make the game accessible to all players, new or veteran. Thanks (and sometimes no thanks) to a single button press the unexperienced can pull off the flashy move combos that veterans have been pulling off in these type of games for years. I can easily say that I’m no expert at Ultimax but I had a blast trying to get better. As most fighters go, they are always better with a fight stick so if you got one then I would definitely use it here.

One of the things that I really like about Ultimax is the cast of the playable characters. There are 19 playable contestants in this fight to save the world battle with another 3 available as DLC including the Person 4 Golden exclusive Marie. The cool part is that most of the cast has a Shadow version which essentially almost doubles the count of players to choose from. These are not just costume changes either (though that is an option via character select and DLC) as these characters have different move sets as well as more health, weak normal attacks but stronger specials than their counterparts. It makes for some rather cool mirror battles from time to time.

Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax’s graphics are easily one of my favorite things about my time with this fighter. First off you have the sharp artwork and animation presentation that the Persona series is known for in its opening movie, story progression and menus. Then you have the smooth character animations of the actual combat. The character models aren’t quite the same caliber of clarity as the still but it still looks good. The various arenas are all quite pretty though and fits the mood of the game perfectly. To round out the visual package, Ultimax features an amazing soundtrack and voice acting to boot. The opening song “Break out of…” is easily one of my favorite tracks in the game with its heavy metal and Japanese styling. One of the nice things is that a heavy chunk of the original actors portray their respected characters which I love in games like this.

I have to say that I had my doubts at first when I got ahold of Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax to review. I’ve been let down before when series that I love have branched out into other genres or altered to feature different functionality. Luckily the strong story presence, animation, voice acting and fight system make Ultimax a welcome addition to the franchise as a whole. Arc Systems took what they know best and blending it nicely with Atlus’ most iconic series in a way that I found enjoyable. While this mix may not appeal to fans of either genre, it’s definitely found a place in my collection. If you love Persona and have an interest in fighters then I definitely recommend checking out Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax for PS3 today.

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Zen Pinball 2 – South Park Pinball Review – PS3/PS4/Vita

Zen Studios keeps cranking out the hits when it comes to DLC tables for their highly enjoyable and totally addicting Zen Pinball 2 game for the PlayStation 4. This time they are taking on those adorable scamps from South Park Colorado in a two-table pack that features South Park: Super Sweet Pinball and South Park: Butters’ Very Own Pinball Game.

Both of these new tables exemplify the very essence of South Park with bright bold colors and 3D constructs for the various thematic elements from the show. Zen is known to throw in some 3D animated character models in their licensed tables, but seeing as how this show is created from virtual construction paper they do a great job with 2D characters that pop-up much like a shooting gallery target.

South Park: Super Sweet Pinball

First up is the Super Sweet Pinball table that encompasses the entire cast, as well as key locations from the fictional city of South Park. In a classic spoof of the O.J. Simpson chase episode Kenny rams the ball into action from the highway launch chute right into a miniature South Park Cows football field where you try to keep the ball in play for as long as possible with dedicated flippers.  Eventually the ball will drop down onto the table where you will find plenty of ramps, targets, bumpers, and lanes that all relate to various characters, and moments pulled from episodes of the long-running series.

The one thing I loved (and hated) about this table is that for the first time Zen Studios is making some interesting use with the vertical back panel of the pinball table, which features a large movie theater screen with always-changing images, based on your current goal in the game. The sad thing is that there are only two or three camera angles that actually give you a good view of this back screen, and none of those are particularly good for playing pinball due to their low angle that makes it way too easy to lose track of the ball.  I was really torn between playing from the 1W view to see all the content and playing from view 5 or 6 where I can actually get high scores.

South Park: Butters’ Very Own Pinball Game

If you are wondering why Butters got his own table then you haven’t been watching the recent seasons of the show. Butters is the breakout character of the cast, even achieving his own dedicated episode, so having South Park: Butters’ Very Own Pinball Game was only logical.   His table is a bit simplified but no less elegant with plenty of gold rails that elevate the ball above numerous ramps and curved lanes that all lead to targets and mission goals.  While all of the content is centered on Butters the rest of the cast makes frequent cameos in homages to episodes dealing with Professor Chaos, the Coon, the show where Butters infiltrates the girls slumber party to steal their “future telling device”, and my personal favorite, Good Time With Weapons.  Professor Chaos even gets his own mini-pinball table if you can manage to trigger it.  Butters is such a central character to the show now that they could have easily created two tables worth of content.

Both tables are loaded with sound clips from the show including favorite lines from Chef, Crabtree, and Mr. Garrison as well as all the boys and girls. Admittedly, some get very repetitive, especially on the Super Sweet table where it is entirely too easy to keep dropping the ball in Stan’s blue chute triggering the same lines and romantic music cue.  But as someone who has seen every episode of South Park at least 4-5 times I am no stranger to repetition and these tables always put a smile on my face.

The PS4 version of the new South Park tables delivers fantastic visuals in stunning 1080p with a few DualShock 4 specific features like view panning using the touchpad and SIXAXIS panning around the table. Admittedly, these aren’t huge bullet items and I would have preferred some sort of use for the built-in speaker.  Of course the biggest and best perk of playing on Sony’s platform is that a single purchase gets you the PS3, PS4, and Vita copies of the DLC thanks to the cross-buy system – just make sure you redeem the code on the PS3 first then import your tables to PS4.  I still love playing all of these tables on the Vita if for no other reason than being able to rotate the game and play vertically.

Make no mistake about it – The Walking Dead table is still my favorite pinball table to date, but South Park makes a valiant effort to unseat the reigning champ, and if you love South Park more than The Walking Dead this latest two-pack could easily become your favorite. Zen Studios has once again taken everything we love about a licensed property and somehow managed to turn it into a fun and addictive game of pinball.

Now if you’ll excuse me…I need to clean the Cheesy Poof crumbs off my controller.

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NAtURAL DOCtRINE Review – PlayStation 4

From a gamer’s perspective, it interesting to see the progression of how games have evolved or devolved over the years. While games get prettier and flashier there seems to be a drastic reduction in the quality of gameplay sometimes. Anyone who grew up during the Nintendo-Hard era, like me, can attest to that as games weren’t always the prettiest but they offered some of the most frustrating yet rewarding (sometimes) experiences at the time. Even today those games are enough to inspire rage quits.

Today we have games like Dark Souls to fill that empty space where truly hard games, by design or otherwise, have been missing over the years. Well it’s time to add another title to my list of games that will test my resolve and skill with the release of NAtURAL DOCtRINE for the PlayStation 4. This Strategy RPG follows the somewhat loose story of Geoff who wishes to prove his worth and gain citizenship into Feste, the last fortress city and stronghold for the human race. Along with companions, Vasily and Zeke, they set out as bodyguards to protect a young Bergman named Anka as she seeks to find the rare magical substance known as Pluton. The overall theme of the game is that of survival and natural selection and NAtURAL DOCtRINE isn’t about to take it easy on you.

To say that NAtURAL DOCtRINE is one of the hardest games I’ve played isn’t an exaggeration though luckily I have a bit more patience at times than most so I welcomed the challenge. After the introductory tutorial, I soon got the feel for what was in store for me. Combat takes place on three dimensional battlefields through dungeons, mines and other locales around the area surrounding the city of Feste. Each battle is accessed via the World Map and there are two kinds of missions you can select from here, Story and Free Missions. It’s also extremely important to note that the World Map is the only place where you can save your game as well as the change up battle formations and purchase skills or reallocate them.

For the most part I rather enjoy NAtURAL DOCtRINE’s turn-based combat system as it offers up something fresh. A lot of it has to do with the Link Turn feature that is both interesting and frustrating at the same time. As you move through areas, like the mines early in, you move through blue outlined grids and position your party members where they will be most effective. It’s nice to see that you have the freedom to do this as most games in the SRPG genre limit you to moving square by square. Here you can set up defenses like positioning Geoff with his shield in front of Anka so that he takes the brunt of enemy attacks while she can execute her gun based cover fire ability to get the drop on enemies.

The tricky part about these link turns is that while they can be incredibly effective they end the turn of all participating units. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve made a bad call and gotten trounced by an unrelenting wave of enemy attacks. Each character has their own level of Initiative so it pays pay attention to the order of both allies and enemies alike at the top of the screen. When a link turn works you can effective shut down an entire grid of enemies with a set of commands. When it doesn’t though you run into the possibility of a defeat if just one member of your team goes down. Yeah you read right. You can fail an entire mission if just ONE of your characters goes down. No revives, no nothing. On the bright side you don’t have to start the game over from the beginning.

The game takes things even further into the realm of hard in the fact there are no shops to be found in the game. So any new gear and weapons you find will be done so while exploring mines or defeating enemies. You can’t even buy potions for health or magic use. The reason for this is that Anka serves as you resident healer in your group and potions are a skill and not an item. Potions recharge after each battle but there are recovery spells that can be used. The second reason is that the use of magical abilities, both offensive and defensive, is powered by the rather rare Pluton which I mentioned before. This material can be found deep in mines and amongst the contents of chests. The important thing to know is that total amount of this rare material is fixed, so if you go and burn it all early in the game then your future may not be looking so great. The trick is to know when to use it and when to find another way to resolve a problem.

NAtURAL DOCtRINE’s biggest issue for me is the fact that despite giving you the freedom to plan your attacks the developer’s level design seems to keep you down a gauntlet of close quarters corridors and doors…plenty of enemy ambushing doors. Even as I opened each door as a challenge it felt like it was another way to drag on the gameplay and story. NAtURAL DOCtRINE does have a few features that adds some interesting gameplay to the mix. Unlike most SRPG, the game features a Multiplayer mode where two players can put their cards and skills on the line in combat. These cards are the equivalent of units that you control on the field and you can mix and match the unlikeliest of allies to wage battle.

While I only was able to manage one match by pure luck it was fun but not enough people are playing NAtURAL DOCtRINE at this time for me to experiment further. The game does support cross-play capabilities so PS4 owners can go up against Vita owners and possibly PS3 owners. Vita owners, should you find another person or friends with the game, can play together locally via Ad-Hoc which is nice. If you buy the game on either system you get the other free which is something I’m coming to love about the Sony platform. This also means that you’re never far away from you’re battle as you can utilize Cross-Save to transfer your save file back and forth between the three systems.

I really like that there is so much flexibility in ways to play the game so it’s only natural that the graphics had to be equal across all three. In this Kadokawa did a nice job as the character models and interface are sharp. The game is quite detailed to look at times especially at the world map and when viewing the armor the characters armor in the close third person view. As a lot of RPGs go, NAtURAL DOCtRINE, features a rather cool CG movie mixed with anime stills of the game’s main cast of characters. Story elements are done using spoken dialogue, which is pretty decent for the most part, and combined with various still image styles depending on your tastes. The music of NAtURAL DOCtRINE is decent and features the traditional RPG but nothing really stuck with me.

NAtURAL DOCtRINE is definitely an interesting title with plenty of tough battles to keep the hardcore strategy player’s busy for a while. I actually enjoyed it for the most part though it would be hard to recommend NAtURAL DOCtRINE to anyone that doesn’t really love these kinds of title due to the rather unforgiving nature of the gameplay. NAtURAL DOCtRINE’s combat system and versatility for allowing me to continue my adventure between systems are easily the highlights of my experience. So if you love a good hardcore strategy that takes no prisoners, other than your time, then I definitely recommend checking out NAtURAL DOCtRINE for the PS4, PS3 and PS Vita.

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Fairy Fencer F Review – PlayStation 3

At first glance, Fairy Fencer F sounds like the kind of game that would get released for young children as shovelware on the Nintendo 3DS. Delve a little deeper, though, and you’ll find out that the game has some serious credentials backing it up, with Nobuo Uematsu composing the score and Yoshitaka Amano providing concept art. Both are famous for their work on the Final Fantasy series, and while Fairy Fencer F doesn’t reach the heights that Final Fantasy sometimes manages, it’s still a solid RPG in its own right.

Playing as Fang, Fairy Fencer F educates players on the nature of Furies and Fairies, as well as the eternal battle between the Goddess and the Vile God. Essentially, Fairies live inside Furies, which are weapons that the Goddess and the Vile God used in their battle. Fang, who at the start of the game has just become a Fencer, meaning that he’s found a Fury, is tasked with uncovering the rest of the Furies and aiding the Goddess in her battle. There are certainly a lot of words beginning with the letter F within Fairy Fencer F, and if you’re understandably a little confused by what the game is about, the tutorial that takes place over the first hour or two is a much better way to understand the game’s world.

Fairy Fencer F is split between two main portions of gameplay, in a similar manner to last year’s Time and Eternity, which was also published by NIS America. Most of your time with the game will be spent in the field, exploring various regions, battling monsters and leveling up your party. Much of the rest of your time will be spent within Zelwinds, the main city of the game, and here you will visit shops, speak to city residents and manage your party before setting out to explore dungeons and find Furies. While the dungeon and batting parts of the game play out with 3D graphics, exploring the city and the world map is reduced to a glorified menu system, which is a shame for those who enjoy exploration in their RPGs.

When in the dungeons, Fairy Fencer F does a good job of delivering varied environments, but doesn’t perform so well when making these environments attractive. Most of the visuals are bland and lacking in detail, leaving Fairy Fencer F looking like a game that released much earlier in the PS3’s lifecycle. Character and Enemy models are largely varied, though, and many of them are pleasing to the eye, if not particularly different from what you often see in a JRPG. Within towns and on the World Map, visuals don’t look too different from what you’d expect in an anime, with bright colors and interesting variation in character designs, but it’s disappointing that there isn’t more animation of excitement in what are often static conversations.

Battling within Fairy Fencer F is a mash-up of various different styles, being both turn-based and tactical, while also presenting the option of openly moving around the battleground. Characters are given a certain radius to move around in, which varies according to their agility ranking, and their moves and abilities have a similar range of effect, though most can only target one enemy at once. The targeting system for attacking enemies proves too unreliable to be entirely useful, though, and I lost count of the amount of times that Fang or one of his cohorts attacked a different monster from the one that I intended. This is partly down to the camera as well though, which jumps around like a hyperactive child at times. I don’t often suffer from motion sickness when gaming, but Fairy Fencer F made me put the controller down a couple of times and walk away.

Perhaps the element that I most enjoyed and appreciated within Fairy Fencer F is the inclusion of challenges, which operate a lot like achievements, but strangely enough reminded be of the Be A Pro mode in EA Sports titles. By matching certain requirements, such as battling alone for a particular number of battles, emerging from a certain number of battles unscathed, or walking a prescribed distance as party leader, your character will earn permanent stat upgrades. You’re still able to level up the regular way, through battling, but these challenges added a nice optional touch that encourages players to perhaps play in a slightly different way than they would normally.

Fairy Fencer F is the type of game that doesn’t really come strongly recommended, but doesn’t do enough to warrant dissuasion either, it just exists.  There’s a solid RPG here for those who aren’t looking for anything ground-breaking, but Fairy Fencer F doesn’t do enough to encourage non-JRPG fans to try their hand at the genre. If you’re desperate for something to play that’ll keep you entertained for a good 20 hours or so, you could do a lot worse than Fairy Fencer F, but you also wouldn’t be missing out on anything crucial to the gaming medium if you didn’t try it out.

Screenshot Gallery

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