The Evolution of Pokemon X and Y

pokemon x and y

Pokemon X and Y, the first of the series to be released on Nintendo’s 3DS handheld, dropped a couple weeks ago and since then I’ve been playing the junk out of it. I’m currently at the sixth gym, so I feel like I’ve got a good handle on all the changes Game Freak has made.

For the first time in a long time this feels like an honest upgrade for the series, instead of just incremental tweaks. The new art is gorgeous, especially with the enhanced polygonal Pokemon models. Sure, performance suffers some times (the frame rate drop is most noticeable during battles), but leaving the sprite-based graphics of the previous games behind was a good move. The camera perspective changes can also be a little jarring at times.

Pokemon X and Y removed some of the grind from the series by giving you the EXP Share very early on and having it apply to your entire team instead of just two Pokemon. This is a great boon, because you no longer have to spend a lot of time making sure your team is around the same level; with an equipped EXP Share, it just happens automatically. I am finding that my team is somewhat over-levelled, but the Pokemon series was never too difficult to begin with. Besides, I’m always free to turn it off. Continue reading The Evolution of Pokemon X and Y

The Highs and Lows of the Battlefield 4 Beta

battlefield 4 beta

Last week the Battlefield 4 beta launched, featuring the map Siege of Shanghai with the modes Conquest and Domination. Being the outspoken Battlefield advocate that I am, I selflessly took it upon myself to dive headfirst into the beta and bring you a report from the dust-choked battleground of Shanghai.

I’m playing the beta on PC, and thankfully I haven’t been impeded by the weird technical errors that seems to have stymied some users. Battlefield 4 looks absolutely gorgeous on a decent rig as DICE has done away with most of their weird aesthetic choices from Battlefield 3 (like the super-nova sun and the blue tint). The war torn streets of Shanghai have a lot of interactive features as well, like the ability to close store shutters to keep enemies out or raise bollards to stop a tank from rolling across a bridge (at one point I was able to use a blinking metal detector to locate an enemy that had rounded the corner and escaped my line of sight).

Continue reading The Highs and Lows of the Battlefield 4 Beta

Getting Addicted to Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V

Guys, I have a confession.

You see, in the last couple of weeks I’ve developed a bit of an addiction. Every day at work, my mind is driven by thoughts of drugs, violence, theft, mayhem and destruction. At night my actions are guided by these impulses, and I disappear into the dark underbelly of my psyche to participate in grotesque fantasies, some of which leave people bloodied and battered.

Of course, I’m talking about Grand Theft Auto V here, Rockstar’s record-breaking new game that puts you in the shoes of the retired thief Michael, the up-and-coming gangster Franklin and the maniacal, homicidal addict Trevor. I can’t get enough of it. Continue reading Getting Addicted to Grand Theft Auto V

Payday 2 and the Perils of Over-Patching

payday 2

The original Payday had a solid idea at its core – co-op heists with bad-ass masks – but the execution was kind of lacking. It felt a lot like Left 4 Dead with its waves of cops, but instead of progressing through a level, you were left standing in one spot waiting for a drill to open a safe, or something.

Payday 2 actually took some steps to improve this, but unfortunately the developers shot themselves in the foot with Update 11. While the game has since been patched to fix some of the things that went wrong with Update 11, the game took a step back that will be difficult to recover from. Continue reading Payday 2 and the Perils of Over-Patching

Emotional Simplicity in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

In the last few years, some of the most striking, emotional experiences I’ve had in games have come from stripped down, simple titles. Titles like Journey or Bastion, which give the player one simple goal, and execute the carrying out of that goal in a skillful, artful manner.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a new title from Starbreeze Studios which does just that. The best way to describe Brothers is that it’s a single player co-op game, one in which you control two brothers simultaneously, with each analog stick on a controller, along with its triggers. While it sounds simple enough, trying to solve puzzles with two characters at the same time can be a decent enough challenge of your dexterity and brainpower.

But the more striking thing is how much the game conveys with no dialogue whatsoever, just gameplay. Continue reading Emotional Simplicity in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

PAX Prime 2013 Round-Up

pax prime 2013

I’m back from four days of video games, panels and D&D down in Seattle, the home of PAX Prime. My shoulders are sore, my eyes are aching because of expose to dim lighting and bright neon and I can’t feel my feet, but I had an awesome time checking out some unreleased games.

Here’s a quick rundown of what I saw, I what I thought of it! Continue reading PAX Prime 2013 Round-Up

Roll Call: Saint’s Row IV

Saint's Row 4

This last week saw the release of Saint’s Row IV, the sequel to the irreverent, goofy, completely ridiculous sandbox crime series that lets you blow up just about anything in just about anyway possible. As if the games weren’t already insane enough, this version of the series has added in superpowers with which to visit havoc upon the citizens of Steelport, in addition to its new alien overlords.

While the first few missions of SR4 took me a bit of getting used to (the game makes you waddle through quite a bit of set-up in order to get to the first open world gameplay), once it unleashes you in the digital, Matrix-style Steelport, where you’re constantly testing the world’s parameters— things kick up quite a few notches. I’m already in love with the power glitches, a gameplay element quite similar to Crackdown’s agility orbs, which beckon you to jump to new heights to get stronger and faster. We’ll see how the rest of the game unfolds.

So what about the rest of you? Who else picked up Saint’s Row IV this last week? What are your thoughts on the game so far? What’s your character like? And did you choose the Nolan North voice? Sound off, Sushians!