Video Games

Nintendo’s First Season Pass and What It Means for the Industry

As with most things as of late, Nintendo seems to be the shy kid who dips his toe in the pool hours after the other children have already cannon-balled in and are splashing about. This fact isn’t a bad thing, however, as it meant that Nintendo avoided such treachery as the season-pass concept. Until now, it seems.

As I couldn’t be bothered to find a picture, a brief summary of the situation is that Nintendo is including a season pass in their upcoming Mario Golf game.

Now, if there’s any corporation I trust to not completely abuse the season pass concept, it’s Nintendo. I may not be a huge fan of them, but I respect them as a gaming company and expect that they’ll do right by consumers; whereas with EA and Ubisoft I expect season passes to be the figurative stick up the average idiot consumer’s bum. Nintendo fans and Nintendo as a company, however, expect a lot from their games and I doubt they’ll go the cheap cash-grab way with their season passes. Hell, they’ve even lowered the cost of the base game to compensate for this experiment of theirs, which deserves massive props.

Still, the lingering feeling from all of this is that no one in the gaming industry seems to be devoid of the desire to at least toy with the fantasy of completely screwing over their loyal consumers with strings of overpriced DLC content released far after the game initially sparkled on store shelves. In short, I think the last pure sect of the industry just caught the virus that EA and Ubisoft have been contagiously waving around for the past few years.

The Scrap Yard

Review of Pacific Rim: The Video Game for Xbox 360

Buying a movie tie-in game is kind of like eating a large clump of cow manure. 99% of the time, you’ll want to vomit, but that other 1% you’ll end up eating some essential nutrients and come out of the experience better for it. Pacific Rim is not that 1%.91

Pacific Rim isn’t the worst movie tie-in game of all time, far from it. It just sticks with too many annoying tie-in tropes to be worth your time. Micro transactions? Check. Half of the game’s content sanctioned off to DLC? Check. Can’t customize the color of your f*cking character unless you pay three bucks? Check. Oh, and it just so happens that the three DLC characters are unbalanced and completely wreck the game in the DLC buyer’s favor. Keep in mind, this game is by Yuke’s Media Creations, the same neo-nazi developers responsible for Real Steel’s movie adaptation, so these tactics aren’t new.

With all of that said, if you’re a sucker for giant robot fighting video games and are content with two maps and five characters, the base game might just be worth it to you. The gameplay isn’t perfect, but has a satisfying feeling to it with lots of the heft that you’d expect from giant robot fights. The attacks, dodging mechanics and super moves all flow well together, and if you’re playing against the computer, the game is pretty great. When you play online against humans, however, you’ll notice the “ranked match” system sucks complete ass and pits you against people who’ve won thirty seven thousand matches and who’ve poured thirty five dollars worth of DLC into this game, giving them the ability to destroy you in one button press. It’s not fun. If you manage to find someone who’s as good as you and wasn’t enough of an asshole to buy the DLC, you can have a pretty good time. There’s also local multiplayer, and that’s always a fun and balanced time.

Pros:
-Solid fighting mechanics, hefty physics
-The characters that are included are bad-ass
-Online AND offline multiplayer
-Character customization

Cons:
-Yuke’s Media Creations made this
-Literally 60% of the game’s content (custom character paint jobs, levels, characters, experience point boosts) is locked behind a DLC wall
-Online multiplayer matchmaking is extremely unbalanced and has a horrible match-up determination system

In conclusion, if you just NEEEED your fix of giant robot fighting and are okay with having a disadvantage with just the base game, this is the arcade title for you. If you’re an asshole who wants to put fifty bucks into this game for all the DLC, this is the arcade title for you. If you don’t want your wallet raped for content that should already be in the game, this is NOT the arcade title for you.

The Scrap Yard

Review of “Nightmare in Northpoint” Sleeping Dogs DLC

Classic (-ly cheesy) horror film meets Sleeping Dogs. Sound kind of silly? That’s ’cause it is. But what makes this DLC so great is that it doesn’t take itself seriously, and takes pride in being an hour long zombie-punching romp in the park.images

The DLC’s story sees our hero Wei Shen getting out of a horror movie with his girlfriend, Not Ping. Then, Smiley Cat kidnaps her, Wei Shen gets magical glowing fists and the rest of the plot is pretty standard rescue-the-girl and kill-the-demon fare. What makes the plot so great is that it allows friends like Winston to come back from the dead and share some laughs with Wei yet again.

Plot aside, there’s only six main missions, none of which last more than ten minutes a piece. There’s the tedious side task of killing all of the extra zombies around town, but there’s no real incentive to do that, as killing zombies is annoying and you’d only get an achievement to show for your strife. The new enemies (all two of them) sort of fit that bill of annoying-yet-necessary to fight, so after speeding through the story missions you’re not likely to take a second look at Nightmare in Northpoint.

Do I recommend you get this DLC? If you can get it on sale for three bucks like I did, go for it. Hell, anything under five bucks is worth it just to see the return of Winston. But if you’re not a big fan of his character and are actually looking for hardcore Sleeping Dogs DLC, avoid Nightmare in Northpoint at all costs.

The Scrap Yard

Review of Sleeping Dogs for Xbox 360

I got my black shades on, smokin’ ’til it’s numb
Head to he sky, feelin’ so on
Wei Shen, I’m-I’m Wei Shen
Wei Shen, I’m-I’m Wei Shen260px-Sleeping_Dogs_-_Square_Enix_video_game_cover

But in all seriousness, that about sums up Sleeping Dogs. It oozes style within its borders while not drifting too far from its respective genre of open world, something not a lot of games do. It carries a hefty plot with lots of intrigue while still offering a fun and non-commital plethora of side content in case you just want some fun gameplay and mindless button mashing.

Sleeping Dogs is the story of Wei Shen (or Ray Charles, as we’ve seen up above) and his struggle to be an undercover cop in a gang that he grew up with. It’s like having a cocaine addiction, then later coming back to it to help the cops bust the cocaine dealers. Sure, you know what side you SHOULD be helping, but you can’t help but dabble in the other side’s activities a little. The issue for Wei Shen is that he’s not just dabbling, he’s getting way too invested in these gang wars and activities and is becoming a rogue cop because of it. The plot is solid, even if it’s a story we’ve already heard. It takes the familiar concept of dancing with the law, while incorporating memorable characters and things we can relate with, to really make us feel Wei’s plight. I don’t like to sound deep about a game where half the fun is running over innocent families in public parks while driving your Coupe, but the fact is that the story is immersive. It’s not the selling point of Sleeping Dogs, but it’s the next best thing.

The story is an action oriented one, and you need action filled gameplay to complement that. Sleeping Dogs has you covered in that respect, as it combines Need for Speed, Batman AC and even a little Max Payne. There’s a giant open world Hong Kong to explore in Sleeping Dogs, and the excellent driving controls make it a joy to do. Dozens of cars and bikes are at your disposal, and the fact that you can hijack any car you see really helps you experience the varied vehicle selection.

When you’re not driving, you tend to be bashing people’s faces in or breaking bones, both of which are brutally satisfying tasks to complete. The gameplay is right out of Batman AC, with the standard light/heavy attacks and a counter button. It feels slightly more awkward and stiff than Batman, but Sleeping Dogs makes up for this by offering an alternative to basic attack and counter moves. Sleeping Dogs has environmental attacks which play a HUGE part in the combat, as they provide insta-kills and are oodles of fun to pull off. Shoving a thug through droves of spearfish heads is so disgustingly fun that I almost forget how annoying the hand-to-hand combat can be at times. There are also melee weapons which appear infrequently, and are really only good for a couple overpowered kills at most which is why I’m not going to mention them anymore than this.

Lastly, the gunplay. Sleeping Dogs is NOT a shooter, and it makes that well known as you play through the game. There’s only a handful of story related missions that ever have you use a gun, and when you do it tends to be a generic pistol or assault rifle. With that said, the gunplay is fun. Very fun. There are slow-mo kills, epic enemy disarming attacks, cover-diving, and pretty much everything that made Max Payne fun, minus some of the difficulty.

All of these gameplay types are fine on their own, but they’re best when fused together. Mixing up gunplay and martial arts in a single fight is exhilarating, and having an assault rifle with you while escorting a car allows you to pop the tires of enemy vehicles in slow motion and all kinds of other crazy fun sh*t.

Now that I’ve described the fantastic gameplay styles, I can explain how they are incorporated in-game. There are story missions which bounce between the three, and a huge array of open world missions to complete that cater to each one specifically. There are street races, drug busts, collections, “favors” and police cases, all of which offer a certain degree of leeway in which gameplay style you choose to use, while also forcing you to play a certain way during integral plot points. The only exception to this variety is the street races, where straight-up racing is your only option. And I mean, let’s get real. What fun would races be if I could shoot every other racer’s tires out?… They’d be a lot more fun, actually. Darn it. :/

The fantastic story oozes over into these side missions, and unlike Spider Man, none of the side content feels even slightly repetitive (aside from drug busts and races…). They all sport unique dialogue and different situations, which makes each one feel like a real encounter and not another scripted gameplay section. It’s a minor thing, sure, but I wish a lot of other games tried to make each mission this unique.

There’s a lot going on in Sleeping Dogs, but I think I’ve summed up the big stuff right here. Since going more in-depth would just sound like rambling, I feel like the only way to really acknowledge this game’s pros and cons is to do a pros and cons list, and you can use it to judge if the game is up your alley.

Pros:
-Solid plot that gets you invested in Wei Shen’s life
-Fantastic characters that feel like real people
-Diverse gameplay
-Best driving since Blur
-Cool environmental attacks
-Unique and meaningful missions
-Kick ass radio music while in cars/boats (I can play Magic by Pilot while having a motorboat shoot out. For real)

Cons:
-Not a very long open world game, just under twenty hours
-Some weird lip synching during cutscenes, takes you out of experience (just a little)
-controls can be a little flaky at times
-hand to hand combat feels a little stiff
– missions with the ladies never expanded beyond one or two dates

The gripes aren’t very big, and are things that could be easily overlooked by all of the positives. It’s not quite game of the year material, but it’s definitely worthy of a sequel. If you’re a fan of open world games, any of the titles I mentioned above or are just warming up for GTA 5, definitely check Sleeping Dogs out.

The Scrap Yard

Review of Civ 5 “Gods and Kings” Expansion Pack

After my brief hiatus from PC games, I was drawn back to my Steam library with one thought in mind: Any new Civ DLC? Luckily for me, Firaxis and 2K Games had just dished out a colossul expansion pack, which was on sale to boot! So does adding religion and a bunch of new civilizations positively impact this already amazing game? Read on to find out!250px-Gods&KingsBoxArt

Gods and Kings is one colossul DLC. It packs somewhere around 9 Civs, new tech tree items and buildings, new wonders and religion. Religion, to briefly summarize, is kind of like culture, in that it is a means to a result. It doesn’t have its own distinct victory conditions, but it does provide you with bonuses that help you towards victory. The entire religion system is really intriguing, and how it works is genius. A player founds a religion, and the city it was founded in then pressures other cities around it to convert. Then, if a lot of people are converting, you can use faith points to buy missionaries and go infect other Civs with your ideologies. The idea is clever, and the execution is impeccable. Claps to those developers who thought we needed Atilla the Hun to found Buddhism!

Religion on its own justifies the purchase of Gods and Kings, as it is a fantastic system that really adds a whole new level of strategy to the basic game. But no, the developers didn’t stop there. They added a sh*tton of Civs, the majority of which are a blast to play as. Some, like Attila, don’t have very good bonuses and feel kind of like the Korea DLC (not really worth it), but some are just outright overpowered (which is extremely fun, at least initially) like the Austrians. They can buy city states, which not only gains you cities, but cuts off other players from a diplomatic victory. Now, to successfully pull this off requires a LOT of gold, but it’s possible and is the ideal playstyle for Civ trolls (… me). These are some of the exceptions, as the bulk of the Civs have relatively balanced powers, like the ability to retain half-smileys from trading away the last of one of your luxury resources. These aren’t the biggest game changers, but they provide a little cushion for your Civ to fall back on against classic characters like Gandhi and Washington.

I’ve already made it clear you need to go out and buy Gods and Kings if you love Civ 5, but if you’re still reading this, then let me send you to the Steam store with a fairwell statement: G&K’s is the best Civ DLC yet, packing a lot of awesome Civs with the all-new religion factor, and is totally worth your money.