Dragon Ball FighterZ PS4 Review

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Dragon Ball Z has never looked as consistently good as it did in Dragon Ball FighterZ. This was the game of my dreams. Ever since Capcom’s X-men vs Street Fighter, I dreamt of a Dragon Ball Z fighting game in that mold. All I wanted was for Capcom to be given a chance to bring the popular anime franchise and give it the Marvel vs. treatment. I wanted giant beam fireballs, air combos, and all the over-the-top action in a well playing game. It turns out that Arc System Works (not Capcom) would be the ones to fulfill my dreams 20 years later.  

I was more than happy to shell out the dough for the base game, the season pass, and just get right into the thick of things. I spent countless hours trying different characters, progressing through all the in-game combo trials, and even dabbled in a fair bit of competitive play and main story mission. In the end, I realized I wasn’t having a whole lot of fun engaging with the game’s different modes. I enjoyed the fighting but everything else surrounding it was dragging it down. 

I started sinking serious time into the combo trials where I was given a series of combos to pull off. Dragon Ball FighterZ was the first game I ever managed to complete all the trials for. Some were tough and required a couple of hours of practice but I eventually managed to eke past them all. I found these combos interesting to execute and impressive to watch unfold. It was nice to feel I could graduate from the friendly auto-combos to their real combos with relative ease. 

Having grasped some basics of the game, I decided to try the online. Unfortunately, the online experience was just like every other online fighting game experience I have ever played. I couldn’t translate much of what I learned into the multiplayer due to inconsistent network performance or terrible matchmaking. Even if I managed to get into a high quality match, it would be a fleeting moment that was few and far between. The amount of time that it took find me a match ran into the minutes. There were moments where I spent more time waiting than playing. I tried getting into lobbies but I would either be outmatched ability-wise or we have poor network connection qualities. Just a poor experience all around. 

I turned my attention to the single player offerings which featured a simple arcade mode (without any fun endings) and a story mode which was padded out with far too many filler fights. I grew tired of fighting stupid clones and just wanted to get into the meat of the somewhat decent story. The cutscenes featured the antics and voices from the show and it certainly showcased Akira Toriyama’s art in a very positive light. I honestly think this game surpasses the show with its consistency with quality.  

20 years ago I wished for a Dragon Ball Z fighting game in the same vein of Capcom’s Marvel vs. games and, for better or for worse, I got exactly what I wished for. I can live my wildest DBZ fantasy match ups with Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo and all their iconic foes. Pulling off their trademark ki blasts, beams, combos, and other high flying moves would have blown my adolescent mind. However, I can’t help but think that I should have wished for a little more.  

Verdict: 
I liked it 

Ratings Guide

Monster Hunter World PS4 Review

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My fiancée and I started several games together in 2018 including Destiny 2 and Monster Hunter World. We didn’t finish either of them. The former was a rather boring if I’m being honest. It felt great to play but we didn’t feel engaged to the story or whatever narrative Bungie cobbled together. The latter, we actually enjoyed but well documented issues with its co-op setup made it just a tad too annoying to get back to. (She also doesn’t have her own PlayStation 4 but that’s another issue) 

Monster Hunter World had the two fist bumping and celebrating after each triumphant hunt. The fundamental rules and mechanics of Monster Hunter World were simple to learn. We both took time trying out several weapon types in the training area before committing to one. I gravitated towards the hammer with its thunderous hits while my fiancée eventually settled on the long sword with its flashy finishers. We practiced our moves, checked out YouTube tutorials, and before long, we were on our way to skinning and gutting monsters to satisfy our vanity. 

The hunts were fun. Figuring out how we could tackle each monster or monsters was exciting and rewarding. It was everything else in-between that felt lacking and needlessly convoluted. The main story missions required each of us to have viewed the cutscenes before we could team up. That ludicrous requirement meant that one of us had to jump through the rigmarole of: starting mission, triggering the cutscene, quitting, and waiting for the other person to finish doing the same before we finally unite. I wouldn’t mind it if the cutscenes were worth a watch but they were awful hokey time wasters that added little entertainment value. 

Discovering new hunts and challenges were always welcomed. It forced us to revisit our gear, get into the crafting mechanics, and examining our options. Less thrilling or engaging were Capcom’s attempts on creating cinematic hunts. They asked us to load cannons, shoot spears, and other one-off gimmicks in an effort to bring down these mountain sized monsters. It wasn’t thrilling; it was annoying to jump through these hoops to get back to the real meat of these games.  

I can’t even enjoy those cinematic moments as a voyeur of pretty graphics. To be frank, Monster Hunter World on the PlayStation 4 Pro was not what I consider pretty. The monsters genuinely majestic and awesome but the everything else – particularly the lighting – left a lot to be desired. An uncapped framerate was ideal but it was playable. There were slowdowns but framerate was relatively consistent enough to allow for predictable action.  

The technical issues would have been alleviated by switching to the PC platform where 60 FPS, and sharper visuals would have been possible but my that would have only polished up the technical issues. The various design issues surrounding the excellent core Monster Hunter experience still needs refinements and no amount of PC power could make up for that.  

We can all agree that Destiny 2 is the more polished experience but it didn’t grab either of us like I thought it would. We actually want to spend more time with Monster Hunter World and as evidenced by its monstrous sales, we are not alone. Monster Hunter World was a major step forward for the franchise and when they ironed out the peculiar design decisions in a sequel, it could reach even greater heights.  

Verdict: 
I liked it 

Ratings Guide

Florence Review

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Florence isn’t a co-op game by any means but the fiancée and I played through it like it was. We took turns placing puzzle pieces, remarked on the story beats, and admired the wonderful presentation together. 

Florence Yeoh’s story of young love was familiar to the both of us. We found the behaviours of the characters both relatable and bewildering. We connected with Florence but felt very little for Krish; I believe we came to the conclusion that boys are stupid.

Categorizations are silly compulsions. People will find Florence under the games section of the App Store but it’s important to heed the game’s descriptor as interactive story. The challenge wasn’t found in the gameplay. It leveraged light game mechanics to convey emotional and mental states. The challenge was whether or not we could relate and identify with Florence’s experiences through those gameplay moments. I believe we did.

We played the game on an iPad Pro (2017). It was a bit awkward to hold up the tablet for the 30 or so minutes to complete the tale, we both found it was an effective use of the platform. It was a genuinely beautiful experience for the two of us to enjoy and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who has ever experienced young love.

Verdict:
We liked it

Ratings Guide

Astro Bot: Rescue Mission Review

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I’ve grown pessimistic in my old age. I tried virtual reality for the first time with an HTC Vive and some of the quintessential VR titles of the time like Space Pirate Trainer, SuperHot VR, and The Lab. I was impressed with the tech but I didn’t see myself doing any of it for an extended period of time. I saw it like Wii Sports; I didn’t buy a Nintendo Wii for Wii Sports. I waited for Super Mario Galaxy’s impending arrival before I pulled the trigger on a Wii.  

Then Astro Bot: Rescue Mission made waves with many equating it to a Super Mario title. Couple that praise and a very attractive Black Friday deal and I was convinced that I had to own a PlayStation VR.  

I wouldn’t if someone told me Team Awobi were comprised of ex-Nintendo designers. The ideas and nuance demonstrated in Astro Bot: Rescue Mission would not be out of place in a Super Mario title. A straight forward romp through the five worlds filled me with wonderous VR tricks and spectacles. If I just left it at that, I would have come away with a very positive VR experience. I would have collected just enough robots to unlock all the worlds to finish the game.  

I found Astro Bot: Rescue Mission was as much of a demonstration of the DualShock 4 as it was of PlayStation VR. Tight platforming controls on a DualShock 4 controller wasn’t novel but transforming the controller into a water cannon, grappling hook, and other tools made allowed me to interact in the VR space without the need for PlayStation Move controllers. The marriage of a well made platformer with well made VR exclusive gimmicks and abilities brought me an experience that was both deeper and more diverse experiences.  

When I took the next step and approached each level with VR rules and capabilities in mind, I was rewarded with additional robots and other hidden secrets. I was able to deduce the locations of all but a handful of robots and hidden chameleons by peeking a certain way doing what made sense in VR. I looked high, low, behind me, above me, and below me in an effort to find all these living collectibles.  

The hardware powering PlayStation VR wasn’t perfect. A hold of the Options button fixed most of its tracking issues but every once in a while, a full level reload was required to fix the orientation of the DualShock 4. The stylized visuals played to the PlayStation 4 Pro’s strengths; anything too realistic often looked far too grimey on an already less than ideal level of clarity offered by the PlayStation VR’s headset.  

Astro Bot: Rescue Mission convinced me there was a pathway to infuse virtual reality ideas into 3D platforming. It was reminiscent of playing Super Mario Galaxy for the first time. New and refreshing ideas were being introduced right until the very end which meant every play session was filled with joy. It’s the title that I was constantly wanting to rope my significant other, my brother, and anyone who will listen to try. It was genuinely wonderful and should not be missed.

Verdict: 
I loved it

Ratings Guide

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