Author: Miguel Concepcion

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Lawbreakers PS4 Review

Ever since the introduction of jump pads in shooters, an FPS that offered greater freedom of flight was inevitable. Lawbreakers feels like one such result. There’s a moderate learning curve to maneuvering and surviving in-air and within the myriad anti-gravity spheres of the game’s arenas. When you do manage to adapt to sniping on the fly or boosting down a corridor with strategic purpose, the resulting outcomes can feel sublime even if you rarely receive the post-match MVP award.

Even with the possibility of vertical movement, FPS maps are wasted if there aren’t adequate weapons and abilities to play with. Lawbreakers addresses this challenge through an intelligible diversity in the armaments and specialities spread across its nine classes. There’s a reasonable assortment of advanced finesse fighters, beginner-friendly gateway classes, and well-rounded combatants who are useful in any map/mode combination. Even after about 100 matches, it was pleasing to see that no one class dominated, especially among high performing players, which is a credit to developer Boss Key’s thoughtfulness in honing these characters.

The lack of standardized weapon and movement types make each of these fighters all the more distinct. The Vanguard, for instance, offsets the immense potency of having a gatling gun by not having a secondary weapon. The lack of boosts or upward mobility makes the armored Titan seemingly useless when delivering the batteries in Overcharge, but this class is invaluable for guarding the battery when it’s charging at your base (the mode’s main goal). And learning how to optimize a role based on your team makeup, map, and mode is part of the fun, which is perpetuated by the welcome ability to change your classes mid-match.

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While Lawbreakers isn’t the type of shooter that awards skill-boosting gear as you level up, discovering additional gameplay depth after getting the hang of flying becomes its own reward. Like experienced Street Fighter competitors, advanced players will feel a sense of accomplishment learning which tactics and attacks work best against specific classes. The challenge is in discerning who you’re fighting in a given moment since the already-cluttered user interface does little to convey that specific kind of visual information. Tailoring an attack strategy against a class works when you’re in a sudden mid-air duel just yards apart, less so when you’re trading shots across a courtyard and you can’t tell if you’re firing at an Assassin or a Wraith.

From the Asian-influenced architectural designs of the Redfalls map or the futuristic shopping mall that makes up the Promenade arena, Lawbreakers’ battlegrounds are well-carved to accommodate every class. The balanced mix of wide open spaces and confining passages in all of Lawbreakers’ maps present a wealth of combat scenarios. That includes turning the tables on the predator/prey dynamic or using your environment to gain a tactical advantage. The Juggernaut, in particular, will no doubt become the bane of many, thanks to the class’ hallway-sized pop-up barrier. Imagine playing the swift Assassin, thinking that you had a straight shot to deliver a ball to the goal, only to have the Juggernaut throw up a wall at the homestretch.

Such obstacles are easily countered by knowing the alternative routes. As with any shooter map, time is the only factor preventing you from committing every turn, shortcut, and hiding spot to memory. A common benefit of knowing the layout well is the palpable gratification of taking a battery or ball from the center of the map to your goal in less than 5 seconds in the Overcharge and Blitzball modes.

This map memory learning curve wouldn’t be as steep if not for all the time you spend running into locked doors and crossing invisible boundaries that pick away at your health. The maps’ other shortcoming is the environmental art style, where futuristic surroundings can’t mask the arenas’ uninspired visuals.

The contrast of richness in functionality and lack of memorable visuals also applies to Lawbreakers’ ensemble cast. Their designs support the notion that high detail does not equate to pleasing aesthetics. You only need to look to the class selection screen to see the fighting game influence, where a large and culturally diverse group exude personality, hungry for a fight. Yet despite their array of outfits and confidence-oozing body language, this group largely lacks the magnetic charisma that inspires loyalty and discussion of favorite characters in real life.

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With any given Quick Match, your mileage will vary on how many strangers decide to work as team players. It’s a testament to the combative appeal of Lawbreakers that it’s not unusual to engage in brief isolated duels. Whether a player’s motivation is to distract an opponent from the objective or the bloodlust of notching another kill, it’s a shame that there is no Deathmatch or Team Deathmatch mode to add variety to a suite of match types centered around delivering items to goals or dominating territory.

Given the unique demands of anti-gravity gameplay, the PC version’s comprehensive yet concise tutorials turn out to be crucial for onboarding new users. That makes their puzzling omission from the PS4 version disappointing. The fact that you’re given currency for participating in the tutorials on PC only twists the knife. To further affirm the PC version as the preferred platform, we also experienced post-match glitches that forced us to relaunch the game from time to time on PS4.

Lawbreakers delivers dopamine hits beyond the arena through post-match score tallies and letter grading. Continuous play also begets higher player profile levels which–after every level up–yields Lawbreakers’ cosmetic customization reward: Stash Crates. Capitalizing on the ever-popular, anticipation-driven appeal of random card packs, these loot boxes–packing four items of various rarities (and the occasional in-game currency)–reinforce Lawbreakers’ replayability. And the spectacle of opening these crates is as ceremonious and well-animated as anything you’ll find in Madden or Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.

One sign of any worthwhile team-based shooter is a level of accessibility where everyone feels they can contribute no matter their play style, and Lawbreakers succeeds in this manner. And while the lack of Deathmatch is a lost opportunity, its sufficient playlist of modes offers a viable outlet to flaunt your kill/death ratio, even if it’s at the expense of team success. What counts is that its fresh anti-gravity mechanics transcends its first-glance novel appeal and creates limitless combat situations that will be new and inviting to many shooter fans.

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Lawbreakers PC Review

Ever since the introduction of jump pads in shooters, an FPS that offered greater freedom of flight was inevitable. Lawbreakers feels like one such result. There’s a moderate learning curve to maneuvering and surviving in-air and within the myriad anti-gravity spheres of the game’s arenas. When you do manage to adapt to sniping on the fly or boosting down a corridor with strategic purpose, the resulting outcomes can feel sublime even if you rarely receive the post-match MVP award.

Even with the possibility of vertical movement, FPS maps are wasted if there aren’t adequate weapons and abilities to play with. Lawbreakers addresses this challenge through an intelligible diversity in the armaments and specialities spread across its nine classes. There’s a reasonable assortment of advanced finesse fighters, beginner-friendly gateway classes, and well-rounded combatants who are useful in any map/mode combination. Even after about 100 matches, it was pleasing to see that no one class dominated, especially among high performing players, which is a credit to developer Boss Key’s thoughtfulness in honing these characters.

The lack of standardized weapon and movement types make each of these fighters all the more distinct. The Vanguard, for instance, offsets the immense potency of having a gatling gun by not having a secondary weapon. The lack of boosts or upward mobility makes the armored Titan seemingly useless when delivering the batteries in Overcharge, but this class is invaluable for guarding the battery when it’s charging at your base (the mode’s main goal). And learning how to optimize a role based on your team makeup, map, and mode is part of the fun, which is perpetuated by the welcome ability to change your classes mid-match.

No Caption ProvidedGallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

While Lawbreakers isn’t the type of shooter that awards skill-boosting gear as you level up, discovering additional gameplay depth after getting the hang of flying becomes its own reward. Like experienced Street Fighter competitors, advanced players will feel a sense of accomplishment learning which tactics and attacks work best against specific classes. The challenge is in discerning who you’re fighting in a given moment since the already-cluttered user interface does little to convey that specific kind of visual information. Tailoring an attack strategy against a class works when you’re in a sudden mid-air duel just yards apart, less so when you’re trading shots across a courtyard and you can’t tell if you’re firing at an Assassin or a Wraith.

From the Asian-influenced architectural designs of the Redfalls map or the futuristic shopping mall that makes up the Promenade arena, Lawbreakers’ battlegrounds are well-carved to accommodate every class. The balanced mix of wide open spaces and confining passages in all of Lawbreakers’ maps present a wealth of combat scenarios. That includes turning the tables on the predator/prey dynamic or using your environment to gain a tactical advantage. The Juggernaut, in particular, will no doubt become the bane of many, thanks to the class’ hallway-sized pop-up barrier. Imagine playing the swift Assassin, thinking that you had a straight shot to deliver a ball to the goal, only to have the Juggernaut throw up a wall at the homestretch.

Such obstacles are easily countered by knowing the alternative routes. As with any shooter map, time is the only factor preventing you from committing every turn, shortcut, and hiding spot to memory. A common benefit of knowing the layout well is the palpable gratification of taking a battery or ball from the center of the map to your goal in less than 5 seconds in the Overcharge and Blitzball modes.

This map memory learning curve wouldn’t be as steep if not for all the time you spend running into locked doors and crossing invisible boundaries that pick away at your health. The maps’ other shortcoming is the environmental art style, where futuristic surroundings can’t mask the arenas’ uninspired visuals.

The contrast of richness in functionality and lack of memorable visuals also applies to Lawbreakers’ ensemble cast. Their designs support the notion that high detail does not equate to pleasing aesthetics. You only need to look to the class selection screen to see the fighting game influence, where a large and culturally diverse group exude personality, hungry for a fight. Yet despite their array of outfits and confidence-oozing body language, this group largely lacks the magnetic charisma that inspires loyalty and discussion of favorite characters in real life.

No Caption ProvidedGallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

With any given Quick Match, your mileage will vary on how many strangers decide to work as team players. It’s a testament to the combative appeal of Lawbreakers that it’s not unusual to engage in brief isolated duels. Whether a player’s motivation is to distract an opponent from the objective or the bloodlust of notching another kill, it’s a shame that there is no Deathmatch or Team Deathmatch mode to add variety to a suite of match types centered around delivering items to goals or dominating territory.

Given the unique demands of anti-gravity gameplay, the PC version’s comprehensive yet concise tutorials turn out to be crucial for onboarding new users. That makes their puzzling omission from the PS4 version disappointing. The fact that you’re given currency for participating in the tutorials on PC only twists the knife. To further affirm the PC version as the preferred platform, we also experienced post-match glitches that forced us to relaunch the game from time to time on PS4.

Lawbreakers delivers dopamine hits beyond the arena through post-match score tallies and letter grading. Continuous play also begets higher player profile levels which–after every level up–yields Lawbreakers’ cosmetic customization reward: Stash Crates. Capitalizing on the ever-popular, anticipation-driven appeal of random card packs, these loot boxes–packing four items of various rarities (and the occasional in-game currency)–reinforce Lawbreakers’ replayability. And the spectacle of opening these crates is as ceremonious and well-animated as anything you’ll find in Madden or Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.

One sign of any worthwhile team-based shooter is a level of accessibility where everyone feels they can contribute no matter their play style, and Lawbreakers succeeds in this manner. And while the lack of Deathmatch is a lost opportunity, its sufficient playlist of modes offers a viable outlet to flaunt your kill/death ratio, even if it’s at the expense of team success. What counts is that its fresh anti-gravity mechanics transcends its first-glance novel appeal and creates limitless combat situations that will be new and inviting to many shooter fans.

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Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age Review

The Final Fantasy series has always been about reinvention, and the twelfth incarnation embodies this to such an extreme, that you might catch yourself wondering if this is a really a game from the long-running RPG franchise at all. Not only is it deserving of the name, but it’s an RPG through and through, where monster hunting and exploration of spacious locales effectively feed into its stat-based progression within an ensemble cast of colorful personalities. Like its predecessors, Final Fantasy 12[1] puts its own spin on how chocobos, summons, and characters named Cid play into its epic journey. With its long awaited remaster ready for release, Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age puts its best foot forward with a wealth of improvements and changes, delivering a fresh experience even if you’ve memorized the path from The Phon Coast to The Tomb of Raithwall.

For those who thoroughly enjoyed the PS2 version of Final Fantasy 12, The Zodiac Age is not only a remaster, but also a remix. Keen eyes will notice subtle tweaks to enemy locations and even changes to the selection of merchant goods. Some of these modifications are in service to the character-enhancing License Board, which itself has been overhauled from the original game in order to give each party member more distinctive jobs and abilities. Along with the inclusion of a Japanese voice track and improved loading times, the option to toggle between the original and reorchestrated versions of Hitoshi Sakimoto’s exquisite soundtrack is a welcome feature. Lastly, the improved high definition visuals brings out a fetching painterly look to the characters’ faces. As a PlayStation 4 exclusive, The Zodiac Age stands out as a feature-rich rerelease on a platform with a bountiful selection of lesser remasters.

Even if it were an untouched port, Final Fantasy 12 would stand out for its distinct handling of familiar elements. For instance, there’s a thriving society centered around hunting, a gig economy where skilled fighters of many races vanquish the game world’s most hostile creatures. Being recognized and awarded for taking down bounties effectively weaves a part of FF12’s story with any player motivation to complete the bestiary. Equally notable is the emphasis on thievery, which is also narratively tied to the resourceful nature of Vaan, one of the playable characters. You won’t go far if you relied solely on money from defeated monsters and treasure chests. Riches instead come from the sales of loot you acquire from the creatures you take down. Much like Final Fantasy 9’s Zidane, Vaan’s stealing skills helps players develop an appreciation for the series’ long line of talented but sometimes overlooked thieves.

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Further driving the distinctiveness of Final Fantasy 12 is its setting of Ivalice, an established universe with its origins outside of the core series. And like other games based in Ivalice, specifically Vagrant Story[2] and Final Fantasy Tactics[3], 12’s plot often feels like a middle chapter of a grander tale yet to be told. It’s so rich in backstory that keeping track of names and places during the initial hours can feel overwhelming, though the further you play, the easier it is to get a handle of the intricacies of the lore. What you really need to know at the start is two small kingdoms, Dalmasca and Nabradia, are caught in the crossfire of two larger warring empires, Rozarria and Archadia. Of the countless individuals affected by this period of upheaval, six characters–all of whom come from vastly different backgrounds– form your party, uniting for a common cause to de-escalate this continent-wide conflict.

Perpetuating this middle episode vibe are the playable characters themselves, who have been appropriately compared to the cast of Star Wars: A New Hope. As examples, Ashe is the captured princess and Basch is the former general in hiding. Balthier is the self-serving pirate with a price on his head and his partner, Fran, has been described as Sexy Chewbacca. Their intertwined backstories and resulting encounters allow for chemistry and conflict as the often engaging narrative unfolds.

Reinforcing Final Fantasy 12’s timelessness, The Zodiac Age brings in an enhanced Gambit battle system, which itself felt ahead of its time upon its first release. By stringing together a prioritized series of if/then commands for each character, battles unfold with a semi-automated flow where you can vanquish beasts without pressing a button for minutes on end. The immensely user friendly interface fittingly looks and feels like a Fisher-Price styled introduction to programming, where each player-chosen behavior is simply assigned a specific target, whether it be an ally, themselves, or a single enemy.

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One would think that the hands-free aspects of The Gambit System would deprive you of agency and engagement but it in fact creates the opposite result. Since you’re still responsible for every character’s actions, the thrill of seeing your handiwork unfold and emerging victorious never gets old. It allows for experimentation and risk-taking but The Gambit System truly shines when you stick to sensible and tried-and-true RPG battle tactics. Remember all those times you died in battle because you ignored a status ailment and thought you could get one last attack in instead? This system removes all manner of impulsiveness and for many, offers a glimpse of the RPG combatant one aspires to be, free of impetuous behaviors.

You don’t get your hands on this system in earnest until three hours in, which is one hour too many. Yet this onboarding period is notably improved over the original game thanks to the option to double or even quadruple the speed of play. This is just one of the many new features that makes The Zodiac Age ever more engrossing. In a game that features respawning enemies, every hostile area becomes more inviting. You’re motivated by growing your party’s stats at an accelerated pace even after you’ve explored every corner and opened every treasure chest in a given region.

While its enhancements do not translate into a brand new game for existing fans, The Zodiac Age is nonetheless invigorating. For an experience that can last over a hundred hours, the subtle tweaks therein go a long way in showcasing Final Fantasy 12’s grand trek in a new light. Its epic, lore-abundant story and its time-tested Gambit System should also appeal to those who missed out on the mainline series’ trip to Ivalice the first time around. And thanks in part to the new audio and speed options, The Zodiac Age is an ideal definitive edition: one that improves the game over its original version across the board.

References

  1. ^ Final Fantasy 12 (www.gamespot.com)
  2. ^ Vagrant Story (www.gamespot.com)
  3. ^ Final Fantasy Tactics (www.gamespot.com)
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Wipeout Omega Collection Review

Wipeout Omega Collection[1] is not a history lesson. It most certainly doesn’t remind players of Wipeout’s significance during PlayStation’s early years. It isn’t a greatest hits package either–given the absence of Wipeout XL and 3–although this gorg…

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Perception Review

Perception is technically a scary game. You explore a mansion in near darkness due to the limitations of blindness, driven by the curiosities of a brave young woman. The persistent scarcity of light creates the illusion of a labyrinthine home which com…