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The OMG Review
Our review format is not your usual fare and we’ve broken it down into 3 very simple ratings!

“Buy it!” means that the game deserves a place in your collection. Be it day 1 or a slightly delayed purchase, it’s hard to go wrong with this title. In numbers, this is around an 8/10 and above.

“Wait for it…” means that the game probably isn’t worth it at its day 1 price point, we suggest you wait for a sale before jumping in. In numbers, this is around a 5 – 7/10.

“Ignore it!” means that the game is not something we’d recommend playing, whether it be now or in the near future, unless you want to intentionally hurt yourself. Let’s not even go to the numbers for this one.

Sneak Peek
  • Release Date: March 26, 2020
  • Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
  • Genre: Action adventure, Beat em up
  • Similar Games: Dynasty Warriors
  • Price: Starts at PHP1,995

One Piece is a Japanese anime franchise that needs no introduction. It’s practically an institution! For the uninitiated, it’s an ongoing manga and anime series set in a fictional world where during his execution, the notorious pirate Gol D. Roger declares all his treasure, the titular One Piece, up for grabs, goading every ambitious pirate out there to claim the treasure and be declared the Pirate King.

One such individual is Monkey D. Luffy and with his crew the Straw Hat Pirates, they set sail to look for One Piece and fulfill each of their individuals goals, along the way getting into epic fights, gaining the respect of some, and incurring the wrath of others.

With a premise like that, it shouldn’t be surprising that a Musou game would be made based on One Piece, and courtesy of the creators of the Musou genre, Koei-Tecmo, no less! Is the 4th game in the series worth your treasured riches? Here’s our review.

Koei’s series of Musou games are basically evolved beat-em-ups. In a wide battlefield you control one hero type character and proceed to beat the living hell out of anything that moves, tens and hundreds at a time. At its core, they’re pretty repetitive and brainless but the appeal of these Musou games is the feeling of being a badass in a war, racking up kill counts, and beating all of your rivals with one fell swoop.

It’s an underrated feeling if we’re being quite honest, because after all of the rough and tumble out there, all you want to do at the end of the day is be the hero and feel like one.

Sounds like something that fits One Piece perfectly, yeah?

The same piece

Like its predecessors, One Piece Warriors 4 (We’ll refer to it as OP4 from now on) is pretty much the same game at its core. You control iconic One Piece characters like Monkey D. Luffy to Zoro and even Chopper, all while navigating this horde of enemies whose only purpose is to be your punching bag.

Stages are divided into sections where a base that spawns endless enemy soldiers will be your target and once you chop enough of the goons down, a leader will appear, standing between you and your goal of capturing the area.

It’s one vs. everyone else. The odds are definitely in Sanji’s favor.

You’d think that being in the same group as the Straw Hats would make the journey a literal walk in the park, but it couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Your AI partners are nothing more than distractions, even distracting you from the main goal since they withdraw so often that you have to continually revive them every single time. It’s a bit frustrating to be quite honest, and paired with a bothersome camera that doesn’t deal with tight spaces very well, it’s literally you against everybody else.

It’s not all doom and gloom, since OP4 has some pretty sweet moves that your character can use. In particular, the game places heavy emphasis on airborne attacks that can deal a great amount of damage to large groups as well as the addition of giant characters like Whitebeard during the Marineford Arc.

Speaking of story arc’s, the game will have you play through the Alabasta Arc all the way to the Wano Arc, meaning you will be controlling Luffy and his crew before and after the 2 year timeskip. Some stories will understandably be relegated to just being narrated like the Thriller Bark and Punk Hazard Arcs for example, unless you want to spend a long while with the game. You do know how long this Anime and Manga series has been going on, right?

Hang around these bases for a steady stream of thugs to beat up.

Captain’s log #927

The various modes in the game, called “Logs”, bring you on numerous adventures that are varied enough to provide a number of hours with the game. Dramatic Log has you playing through the narrative, with each arc being divided into 5 or 6 chapters. During the Dressrosa Arc for example, Sanji isn’t playable since he wasn’t around during that time. However once you finish a certain chapter, it will be available in Free Log and here you can pick anyone to replay that chapter! Fancy finishing the Wano Arc with Ace? Not so impossible anymore.

There is also the Treasure Log mode, basically non-Canon scenarios that puts One-Piece characters in various situations. It was particularly clever of the game to incorporate the characteristics of One Piece characters into the gameplay, like Sanji having a disadvantage in a particular stage because of female characters, and then finding that attacking female enemies which cause him to flinch. This is Sanji the ladies man we are talking about after all!

Yes that’s you as Whitebeard and wiping out everyone that isn’t your nakama.

The Straw Hat arsenal

OP4 has a pretty easy learning curve, so don’t let all the flashy and wave clearing attacks fool you. You only have Normal and Charge Attack buttons to manage and you can practically button mash your way to victory, we kid you not.

Musou games can look overly simplistic but OP4’s Skill and Special Attack systems do offer a level of strategy. Aside from your Normal and Charge Attacks, you can assign up to four Special Attacks that are powerful moves consisting of either crowd clearing attacks, grabs, or the stat increasing Full-Force Bursts. You start off with just a certain number but progressing through the game’s narrative and Growth Maps will unlock more Special Attacks, giving you a choice of what combinations you would like to bring to battle. Some Full-Force Bursts even lets you change form, which in turn gives you access to new moves.

On the other hand, Skills are buffs that you can equip and the more Skill slots you unlock in the Growth Maps, the more you can have at the same time, examples being skills that increases Berries you earn after a battle or makes it easier to capture areas.

Finishing levels in OP4 will net you not just Crew Points (Experience), but also Berries and Coins, the former being the currency in One Piece. You’ll need to be especially wary of completing the different main and sub mission objectives to gain a higher score in the end, which in turn give you more rewards as you use them for Growth Maps, OP4’s equivalent to Final Fantasy X’s Sphere Grids.

Each island on these Growth Maps represent a certain stat, be it levelling up Special Attacks, Skills slots, Defense, or Stamina. So the more Berries and Coins you spend on a particular island, the higher the stats bonuses gets. Fear not, as the game is quite generous with rewards but you will still need to be careful as you may have the coins needed but suddenly find yourself short on Berries, and vice versa.

It also goes without saying that the more islands you fill up, the bigger your arsenal gets in the form of more Special Attacks and Skills.

It looks overwhelming at first but the Growth Maps are fairly simple

Part of the fun in the game is getting to choose your favorite character and you’ll be pleased to know that you have access to a wide variety of One Piece characters, with their respective fighting styles faithfully recreated.

Power types, like Luffy and Zoro, have very strong and crowd clearing attacks. Speed types are weaker but are faster so some of your favorites like pre-timeskip Sanji and Sabo fall here. There’s also the Technique type characters, who have indirect attacks, requiring a bit of… Well, technique, to use effectively in battle. Examples of Technique types are Usopp, who fights with his trademark slingshot and can plant bombs and Robin, who attacks using her Devil Fruit ability.

And then there’s the Sky type fighters, whose attacks are more effective when they’re airborne like Crocodile and post-timeskip Sanji. Even Luffy can become a Sky type when you activate his Bounceman Full-Force Special Ability. Seeing these different types of fighters was a great motivation to try out each one, and although they control all the same way, the fun is finding which One Piece character suits your style the most.

Zoro vs. Mr. 1 Cinematic in CG.

Silly Monkey (D. Luffy)

Koei-Tecmo have proven themselves in terms of graphics and character models, and Pirate Warriors 4 is no different, though there are some letdowns. While the cinematic cutscenes play nicely, recreating certain iconic One Piece scenes, the in-game cutscenes are a mixed bag. They play fairly well but sometimes the faces just don’t match the situation, with Luffy looking neutral for a very emotional scene, for example.

Some in-game scenes, however, like Sanji and Luffy’s fight in the Whole Cake Island Arc, can be really heartfelt. It feels a little inconsistent that cinematics can show varying levels of emotions but the in-game ones don’t, which clearly shows a certain level of laziness with games like these.

Despite these though, the world of One Piece is faithfully recreated, from the setting to the characters. Progressing through the game even lets you unlock different outfits, especially since some characters have pre and post timeskip looks.

It’s also a nice touch that when you knock enemies into walls they will sometimes crumble, leaving a noticeable mess. This is just a great representation of One Piece given how destructive the fights can be, a Straw Hat trademark to say the least. Speaking of which…

Sound is another one of those mixed bag moments in OP4. On one hand, all the major One-Piece characters are faithfully voiced by their Japanese actors. The random grunts too are well voiced, especially when you hear them cowering and screaming when being blown away. The music too, is also well done, consisting of mostly guitar riffs that are sure to get your blood pumping as you head into battle.

On the other hand, it’s a shame not to hear a lot of familiar One Piece music. It was especially disappointing to not hear any of the opening songs from One Piece when booting up the game, clearly an opportunity missed to cater to fans of the series.

What we liked:

  • Mindless fun
  • Faithful recreation of the One Piece Universe

What we didn’t like:

  • Too repetitive
  • Very long unlock grinds
  • Of little value to those already familiar with the series

Verdict: Wait for it…

Like most Musou games, OP4’s fun but repetitive gameplay is both its strength and weakness. We understand this is intentional as the appeal of Musou games but it may not appeal to everyone. The game especially feels like a long grind when you do almost the same thing in each Arc, finishing a moderate number of missions even to just unlock other characters.

What could have saved it is the story. Unfortunately, like most anime based games, it’s treading on familiar territory. One Piece fans may not mind retelling the adventures of the Straw Hat’s, but the gameplay really doesn’t do enough to make you want to sit through their escapades.

Then again, sometimes, all you need is a simple button masher game and OP4 serve that purpose for you, especially if you are a fan of the Anime and Manga series. It’s good to have one or two of these games in your library, but it’s really not worth recommending at full price. Wait a bit, you’ll thank us for it.

*One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 was reviewed on a PS4 Pro through a review code provided by the publishers.

The OMG Review
Our review format is not your usual fare and we’ve broken it down into 3 very simple ratings!

“Buy it!” means that the game deserves a place in your collection. Be it day 1 or a slightly delayed purchase, it’s hard to go wrong with this title. In numbers, this is around an 8/10 and above.

“Wait for it…” means that the game probably isn’t worth it at its day 1 price point, we suggest you wait for a sale before jumping in. In numbers, this is around a 5 – 7/10.

“Ignore it!” means that the game is not something we’d recommend playing, whether it be now or in the near future, unless you want to intentionally hurt yourself. Let’s not even go to the numbers for this one.

Sneak Peek
  • Release Date: April 10, 2020
  • Platforms: PlayStation 4 Timed Exclusive
  • Genre: RPG
  • Similar Games: Final Fantasy XV
  • Price: Starts at PHP2,995

Remember June 16, 2015? The day of the announcement that shocked the whole gaming world?

We do, like it was yesterday.

Here we are, after nearly 5 long years, witnessing the re-imagining of one of the defining titles in the history of gaming.

What started as a PS3 tech demo back in 2005 is now a full fledged remake for the PlayStation 4. After numerous spin-off games, a CG movie, and an anime OVA among others, the Final Fantasy VII Remake is here at last.

Well, at least a part of it.

Back in 1997, Final Fantasy 7 released for the PlayStation 1. Final Fantasy was a long running franchise from Squaresoft, now Square Enix, and this installment marked a massive leap into the mainstream for the series.

From a leap in graphics, gameplay, audio, and everything in between, Final Fantasy 7 was the first FF game for a LOT of people, prompting it to become their immediate favorite. And with good reason. It followed the story of Cloud Strife, a mercenary caught on the middle of an ongoing tussle between his current employers, the terrorist group Avalanche, and the Shinra Corporation.

In a series of events that is anything but unfortunate, a one time gig eventually led to a fateful meeting with an ordinary flower girl, a tale of conspiracy, tragedy, reunion, and even a confrontation with a long forgotten memory.

A simple 5 hour journey back in the PS1 is now, give or take, a 30-35 hour experience that we wouldn’t have any other way.

1997 is calling

The Final Fantasy 7 Remake (FF7R) starts off with a nostalgia bomb – a stunning recreation of the opening cinematic that leads to the first mission with Avalanche and your first look at Cloud 2020. It’s a drastic change but at the same time a fresh look into what you can expect with the remake. Photorealistic visuals, a revamped battle system, a rearranged soundtrack… Everything hits you at full speed that you spend the first few minutes reeling from the feeling of it all.

A part of us wishes that we had never played the original because if anything, FF7R is the sort of game that gives you an experience that you never forget. Having played the original, one thing FF7R does is faithfully recreate the feeling of nostalgia and balancing it perfectly with a fresh coat of paint.

One of the things FF7R changes up is the plot. While the overarching story remains the same, everything in between the first Mako reactor up until leaving Midgar is expanded and designed to flesh out the details. From relationships to backstories, everything was handled with care and respect to the source material. That said, you need not have played the original game to enjoy FF7R.

The story is interesting enough to newcomers and veterans alike since we never really know what was going to happen next and where the story changes will happen, thanks to the work of great writing.

Changing it up

The way things were narrated back in 1997, it was pretty clear cut who the heroes and villains were. Shinra bad, Avalanche good. Shinra Corporation is the so-called evil empire that’s exploiting Mako energy, the lifeblood of the planet and Avalanche, the so-called terrorist organization that’s trying to stop them from bleeding the planet dry.

FF7R adds a level of complexity in the writing that makes it more modern and dramatic, discussing more mature themes and insights in the process. How exactly do you argue against Shinra, whose technological advancements have benefited the lives of so many? Is Avalanche the bad guy in all of this? It was certainly a “Thanos” moment for sure.

This is one of the ways the writing and narrative has evolved from the original and it is something that will tug at you for the whole duration of the game. Sure there are some over the top moments and a few cringey pieces here and there, but overall the story is beautifully unfolded over fantastic writing and direction that never feels forced or out of place.

For something that is just part of a greater whole, FF7R shines in how the game manages to expand the roles of everyone, even adding in new characters that compliments the narrative. Characters like Jessie, Biggs, and Wedge have a ton of screentime making it feel like getting to know them again was just as fun as the first time around. Barret is the overly exuberant leader while Tifa is battling with her inner voices to justify everything. Everyone just has more character and personality this time around that makes you care about everyone right off the bat.

Audiovisual treat

Blocky PS1 characters back then were considered revolutionary, feeling like it was so ahead of its time compared to the 16-bit graphics of the previous generation.

FF7R just blows everything out of the water with crisp and vivid visuals that are simply breathtaking, pushing the PS4 to its absolute limits. You can never tell when the cutscenes end and the gameplay begins as the game moves so seamlessly as if you were playing an interactive CG movie. Dare we say the Remake looks just as good, or even better, than Advent Children in terms of cinematics and choreography.

Midgar is also recreated in a way that leaves nothing to the imagination, with its industrial form interrupted by slums and areas that feel so alive in between it all. NPC’s have unique spoken lines and you casually overhear conversations as you make your way through its busy streets, giving life to the once drab and silent walkways.

One thing to note is that FF7R has a problem with drawing textures fast enough, leaving walls and backgrounds a blurry mess at certain points in the game. While it does not happen often enough to take away from the experience, it was indeed something that should be said. FF7R looks great most of the time, but it also looks bad during these occasions.

FF7R, by all accounts, is not only a treat visually, but aurally as well. There are certain games that deliver a better experience by switching the voice language to Japanese and while that could be the case here, we can argue that the English VA’s did an equally phenomenal job, adding the right amount of character and personality to the cast.

Most of the complaints point towards Barret sounding just a bit overzealous but when you think about the situation and what he is fighting for, his leadership qualities and concern for the team more than compensate for his sometimes overly dramatic acting.

Aerith has the biggest overhaul personality wise, now sporting a playful and sassy demeanor that will sweep you off your feet, which is a far cry from her very softspoken persona from way back.

Oh and did you know that Tyler Hoechlin voiced Sephiroth in the game? It was a Super performance, for sure.

Purists from the original game may not like some of the decisions FF7R took with regards to how most of the characters look and sound, but taken as a whole, everything fits in together perfectly like the sector plates from Midgar.

Rearranged goodness

If there’s anything every Final Fantasy almost always gets right, you can bet your Gil that the music is going to be spot on. The rearranged soundtrack for FF7R does not only do justice to the original but elevates it in such a way that it’s like hearing it again for the first time, goosebumps and all.

You’re immediately greeted with tracks such as the prelude and even a tease of Aerith’s theme when you meet her and that familiarity brings such a weight to it that ties up the whole experience beautifully.

As you transition from one battle to the next, so does the audio in such seamless fashion. Tracks crossfading into one another is done so well that you hardly recognize a break in between the music, upping the immersion factor to great heights.

You’ll get a chance to listen to all of the tracks via collectible discs in the game, accessible throughout the various jukeboxes scattered around Midgar, something we did quite a lot of during the course of our playthrough.

The shining gem, Combat

Apart from the graphical overhaul, one of the most noticeable changes for FF7R is the combat system and trust us when we say that it is an absolute triumph.

Gone are the random battles paired with glass shattering, you’re now faced with real time enemies similar to Final Fantasy XV. That’s not the only thing FF7R takes from XV, in fact the battle system here is heavily inspired by XV, but also heavily improved. Battles take place on a cerebral level, as spamming Square will not lead you to victory for the tougher enemies and boss battles will be more of a deliberate dance that you’ll need to properly navigate.

Boss battles in FF7R are over the top and they are glorious. Each boss has unique phases that will require you to switch up your tactics and be thoughtful about your approach. What took a couple of minutes from the original game will easily take you 5, 10, maybe even 15 minutes in FF7R, with a frantic pace that will leave you breathless after the fight is over. They are exhilarating, for sure, but also deeply satisfying and rewarding.

Each character in your party has a special ability of their own, defining their playstyle. Cloud can switch between Operator and Punisher mode with the latter favoring offense, Barret has a charged shot that deals massive damage, while Tifa is a combo specialist that can charge up to unlock different moves.

Battles are crisp and clean, with hardly any slowdown whatsoever, even during the busiest of times but beware of the camera in tight spaces, as it can be that extra enemy to deal with when things get dicey.

You’ll get a chance to issue actions to members of your party or even opt to take full control of them, which is a stark departure from the original. Despite no longer being turn-based, there is still an ATB meter that constantly fills up that allows you to perform various commands. It at least retains the feel of the original but at the same time bringing a whole new level of strategy and resource management with it.

The Materia system is back as well, which many regard as one of the best systems across all titles in the Final Fantasy franchise. You can expect it to be mostly the same as with the original but there is also new Materia added to the mix which highly compliments the way battles are fought in the game, like Auto Cure and Deadly Dodge.

Summons also make a return but not in the way that you would think. In FF7R, Summons play the role of actual units in battles that you can issue special commands to until the timer runs out, which then prompts it to leave the battlefield via their trademark special attacks. It’s a visual spectacle all on its own, which makes you think as early as now as to how the hell the Knights of the Round are going to look like if it does return in the later parts of the game.

The Combat in FF7R borrows features from other titles in the franchise and also making an appearance here is the weapon upgrading system that is very similar to the Sphere Grid from FFX. You’ll get to boost certain stats and abilities depending on your equipped weapon, with each weapon having its own grid to fill up.

On the side

The game straddles the line between full on rails and an open world experience. Generic sidequests abound in the game which will give you a break from you main objective, adding to the expanded world of Midgar. Quests range from simple fetch quests to the typical battle based objectives and while the sidequests here are nothing of the likes of The Witcher 3, they are serviceable at the very least, offering a quick distraction, bumping up your total playtime by at least 5 hours more.

Speaking of distractions, there is quite a number of unnecessary fillers in the game, to the tune of Darts and Squats among others. These activities, while amusing, feel tacked on and don’t add any real value to the game. For the sole purpose of wasting your time, it does the job pretty well, although its probably something you’ll never go back to once you’re done with them.

At its core, FF7R is a game that is astounding, but not perfect. Expanding a 5 hour experience into 7 times the size is not an easy thing to do and while Square have mostly got it right, there are certain sections in the game that overstay its welcome, justifying its existence by giving the player something to do just because. Some of the missions also feel lengthened for no reason instead of giving a tighter experience, but a lot of the in between details that Square Enix handled with utmost care easily outweighs the nitpicks.

Being the first part of what we expect to be 3 or maybe even 4 installments, it wasn’t an easy task to end the game at a logical point without it feeling too short or too long. FF7R, for the most part, got it right, resulting in a title that closes this chapter out well but sets up the stage for the next in dramatic fashion. You’re left wanting more, but at the same time satisfied at what you had just experienced.

It’s anyone’s guess as to when the next title comes out but until it does, FF7R is surely something that is worthy of your time and all the hype it brought along with it.

What we liked:

  • Great respect to the source material despite changes
  • Impressive world building and character exposition
  • Graphically stunning
  • Nostalgic soundtrack
  • Fantastic voice acting
  • Crisp battle system

What we didn’t like:

  • Generic Sidequests
  • Some activities feel tacked on
  • Certain missions drag out
  • Lock on and battle camera issues

Verdict: Buy it!

FF7R was truly worth the wait after all this time. Despite knowing it wasn’t the complete experience, every hour spent in the game consisted of frantic battles and memorable storytelling, all wrapped up in a package that leads to an overly delightful experience from start to finish.

The recreation of the world is mindblowing and seeing the characters given life is like a burst of nostalgia that we cannot get enough of. The combat system is as polished as can be, satisfying and cerebral. Paired with a superb score, FF7R is just a brilliant recreation of the classic from way back.

It might be too early to tell, but expect this to be a shoo in candidate for Game of the Year.

*Final Fantasy 7 Remake was reviewed on a PS4 Pro via a review code provided by the publisher.

The OMG Review
Our review format is not your usual fare and we’ve broken it down into 3 very simple ratings!
“Buy it!” means that the game deserves a place in your collection. Be it day 1 or a slightly delayed purchase, it’s hard to go wrong with this title. In numbers, this is around an 8/10 and above.
“Wait for it…” means that the game probably isn’t worth it at its day 1 price point, we suggest you wait for a sale before jumping in. In numbers, this is around a 5 – 7/10.
“Ignore it!” means that the game is not something we’d recommend playing, whether it be now or in the near future, unless you want to intentionally hurt yourself. Let’s not even go to the numbers for this one.
Sneak Peek
  • Release Date: April 3, 2020
  • Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
  • Genre: Action RPG / RPG
  • Similar Games: Resident Evil Series
  • Price: Starts at PHP2,395

One of our fondest memories of the Resident Evil 2 Remake was the terrifying Mr. X. This hulking, trenchcoat wearing behemoth would stalk you at almost every turn, leaving you paranoid in the midst of battling zombies and solving puzzles. Even back then, it made us wonder how much more terrifying Nemesis would be.

Capcom, not one to shy away from giving fans what they wanted, granted that wish with the announcement of the remake of Resident Evil 3, marking the return of one of the most iconic villains of the franchise. This remake has got some big shoes to fill, following not only in the footsteps of the critically acclaimed Resident Evil 2 Remake but also of the original PS1 game.

Will RE3 shine like a S.T.A.R or will it fizzle out like one of those Ivy zombies blasted by flame rounds? Here’s our review.

That’s a good looking zombie

RE3 takes place around a day before Leon and Claire arrive and after a particular time skip, picks up again 24 hours after the RE2 pair makes it out of the city with Sherry Birkin. You control returning S.T.A.R.S. elite Jill Valentine, who, in the process of leaving the city, is caught in the the middle of the virus outbreak with zombies running rampant. Along the way she meets up with familiar faces like Carlos Oliveira as they team up to survive and escape the nightmare that is Raccoon City.

Players of the recent RE2 remake will find RE3 to be familiar territory. Graphically, the game is consistent with the previous remake, with its almost realistic character models and attention to gory details. If anything, RE3 looks even better and more polished. RE2 looked great, but RE3 just kicks it up a notch, running at 1620p at 60FPS for the PS4 Pro version and 2160p for the Xbox One X which sputters a bit with inconsistent frame rates. Surprisingly, the PS4 Pro version is the definitive console experience for this multi platform title, but Capcom may soon put out a patch to fix the Xbox version.

RE3 hits a home run in terms of audio quality. While there isn’t a lot of background music in the game, the voice acting is top notch, save for some exceptions (more on that later). The sounds of guns, zombies, and Nemesis’ footsteps are all spatially accurate, adding depth to the experience especially if you are using a good quality headset. RE2 managed to keep the dread going by having certain sound effects play even without zombies in the immediate area, and RE3 sustains this to keep your heart racing at every turn.

RE3 still has the zombie horde to make your journey a difficult one but Capcom threw in some surprises to beef up the opposing lineup that can give Jill a run. Making a return are the dreaded Hunters, another mainstay of the series, with Gamma and Beta variants to boot. There are also bug like creatures that resemble the Chimeras from previous games, able to infect you with a parasite that drastically hampers your movement unless you consume a green herb, as you disgustingly regurgitate it out.

Little tweaks have been made to the basic zombies which make fighting them feel a little different. When knocking them down, they will very likely lunge at you as they get up if you’re close, prompting you to ensure the kill with a double tap to the head. They’re also a little bit tougher to incapacitate but you’ll be glad to know that the usual tactic of shooting off zombie legs to cripple them is still viable.

Also, is it just us or don’t they follow into rooms as much anymore compared to the relentless bunch in RE2?

You’ll also encounter new threats along the way, namely the Pale Heads and infected zombies. These infected zombies look a lot like the Las Plagas from RE4 and a long range threat. Pale heads are… well, naked white zombies that are way more durable than your average baddie.

Jill Valentine, zombie killer

Thankfully, Jill is more than well equipped to handle the horde. If you’ve played the RE2 remake, then the controls will feel right at home, with a few tweaks that make Jill a one woman army, reinforcing the more action oriented direction of RE3.

Now conveniently mapped to 1 button, dodging now lets you do a quick step in different directions to avoid getting hit, but what you’ll want to concern yourself more with is the perfect dodge. If you time your dodge just right, you can not only avoid an enemy attack, but if you aim your weapon soon after you get some Matrix-like slow down to a counterattack of your own. It’s definitely a combat mechanic you will want to master especially if you want to stand toe to toe with the S.T.A.R. of the game.

Nemesis is exactly what we expected him to be in the Remake. Bigger, badder, and a persistent chunk of flesh that has more than one way to skin a cat named Jill. He’s Mr. X brought to a way higher level, with a wider array of attacks and a more relentless demeanor. And did we say he can jump?

Unlike his MR. X, Nemesis can run and jump as he chases you around the zombie infested locales, making running a sometimes useless effort. Surprisingly, it’s quite hard to gauge how near he is so you’ll need to depend on other means like shadows and the increasing sound of his footsteps.

He also throws a mean hook and can scream at you to stun you for a few seconds. His (Its?) reputation as a relentless S.T.AR.S. stalking monster is more than faithfully captured in the remake. It’s a daunting task to take him down, but fortunately for you, Capcom has tossed over a lifeline.

Environmental hazards make their way back into the remake and throughout Raccoon City, there are explosive drums that will allow you to wipe out hordes of zombies in one shot. New to the remake are Electical generators that will emit a shockwave that can stun zombies in place and can be used again after a certain time. What’s even better is that both hazards work on Nemesis.

Capcom giveth, Capcom taketh

The original game was a highly replayable title thanks to various features that are sadly absent from the remake. The option to choose different branching paths is a glaring omission and while you technically still have the option to face Nemesis or run, certain scenes back in the original had Jill take a different path depending on the story choice you made.

The classic Worm boss also didn’t make it to this remake and players of the original may have to rethink some solutions because Capcom changed those too, even the randomness of the puzzle solutions is gone. We’d be lying if we told you we didn’t feel the least bit disappointed, seeing as how RE2 got most, if not all, of the original game into the remake.

There’s also noticeably less puzzles in this game compared to both RE2 and the original. Though there’s still some incentive to replay the game like the various challenges and unlockables, it’s still just the same scenario. It’s the exact reason why the Mercenaries mini-game from the original is sorely missed. In it’s place however, is the Resistance multiplayer online, which we’ll get to in a bit.

The single player campaign was quite the experience. As a remake, it definitely did its job. Even though quite a number of things were removed in this installment, the plot at least feels faithful. Our 6 to 7 hours with the campaign were fast paced and action packed, making the loss of some locations from the original an afterthought.

Also, just like the original, the remake still has elements of horror despite taking on a more action oriented approach. The balance is just right, prompting scares but at the same time giving you tools to take the fight to Umbrella.

Certain personalities also get some meaningful screentime, although it’s really not a surprise anymore as to who kicks the curb in the game, but we’ll zip it for the newcomers. RE3 also gives certain scenes from RE2 some context, which is a rather nice touch, and this is just Capcom being Capcom and paying attention to detail and enforcing continuity in the story.

On the other hand…

Cease and resist

Once a standalone title but was later relegated to being the multiplayer mode for RE3, Resistance is an asymmetric PVP game where 4 survivors battle it out against the evil Mastermind. As the lone Mastermind, it’s your job to stop the Survivors from escaping the stage and at your disposal are various traps and monsters, even Tyrant types like Birkin and Mr. X.

Opposing the Mastermind are the survivors and it’s up to you and your team to figure out how to escape each of the trapped areas and earn your freedom, all the while going up against the Mastermind’s monsters. On the surface it’s a great concept, however does Resistance have what it takes to be a side game that can compliment Resident Evil 3 just like how Mercenaries was a fun diversion from the original campaign?

Immediately, you’ll notice that Resistance is not graphically up to snuff with the single player campaign. Unlike in RE2 where all the bonus modes like 4th Survivor and The Tofu Variations share the same graphical quality as the main campaign, Resistance feels tacked on (it really is) and not thematically coherent with the rest of the game.

The voice acting, while okay, does sound a tad bit silly, especially when you hear one of the Masterminds gloating over the Survivors. The dialogue isn’t as cheesy as the original Resident Evil script but the Survivor and Mastermind lines aren’t exactly award winning catchphrases.

The main issue with asymmetrical games like these is the imbalance of experience. Resistance is only as fun as your weakest teammate and more often than not, you’ll find yourself losing just because a random isn’t cooperating with the rest of the team.

It’s a general multiplayer weakness with party based games, but it is more amplified here in Resistance where it is nigh impossible to win if you don’t work as a team, unlike certain multiplayer games where you can literally get carried by a godlike team member.

The playstyle of the Survivors is vastly different from the Mastermind. While the Mastermind makes moves through card based actions and via the various security cameras littered throughout the arena, the Survivors have 5 individuals, each with different skills.

For example, Tyrone the fireman is a natural leader so he has abilities that can raise his teammates’ stats. January the hacker is able to mess with the surveillance cameras temporarily blinding the Mastermind to what your team is doing in certain areas. It really takes the cooperation of each team member to make it out alive, especially when each has a unique skill that brings something to the table.

Don’t get us wrong, Resistance is actually quite fun, especially as a Survivor. The tension and fear is there as you’re never sure where a Mastermind will plant that next zombie or trap, or even killing the lights temporarily, leaving you in the dark. The fun, however, doesn’t last very long, as it can get pretty tiring especially with some questionable design decisions like the various time penalties that can be slapped on you, leaving you at a constant disadvantage.

Controls are also very clunky compared to the buttery smooth and intuitive feel that the main RE2 and RE3 campaigns offered.

A redeeming factor would have been to directly connect Resistance to the single player campaign. Much like how Mercenaries earned you rewards which you can use in single player, Resistance could have done the same but missed the opportunity to do so.

What we liked:

  • Faithful to the original despite some changes
  • Solid single player campaign
  • Nemesis faithfully recreated

What we didn’t like:

  • Resistance doesn’t offer much compared to Mercenaries
  • Key features from original 1999 game removed.
  • Lesser puzzles compared to original game and RE2 Remake.

Verdict: Wait for it…

RE3 is a solid entry and a worthy addition to the remakes Capcom has been releasing. Resident Evil 2 raised the bar so high by providing a completely different experience but at the same time remaining faithful to the original, striking a perfect balance between the old and the new. RE3, while maintaining that level of production quality, took too many things away from the original which negatively impacted its overall value.

Even with the addition of Resistance, it was quite hard to justify the full price tag of the game for something that lacked the immense replayability the original game had. Resistance cannot, in any way, replace Mercenaries, and even through the main campaign can be a standalone game, it sports a steep admission fee especially when you compare it to the RE2 remake.

Don’t get us wrong, RE3 is a fantastic game. The pace is much quicker but the survival horror aspect is still greatly felt. Some iconic moments were removed, but looking at the game as a whole, RE3 still gives a solid, albeit short, playtime throughout the 6 or so hours of the campaign.

*Resident Evil 3 was reviewed on a PS4 Pro via a review code provided by the publisher.

The OMG Review
Our review format is not your usual fare and we’ve broken it down into 3 very simple ratings! “Buy it!” means that the game deserves a place in your collection. Be it day 1 or a slightly delayed purchase, it’s hard to go wrong with this title. In numbers, this is around an 8/10 and above. “Wait for it…” means that the game probably isn’t worth it at its day 1 price point, we suggest you wait for a sale before jumping in. In numbers, this is around a 5 – 7/10. “Ignore it!” means that the game is not something we’d recommend playing, whether it be now or in the near future, unless you want to intentionally hurt yourself. Let’s not even go to the numbers for this one.
Sneak Peek
  • Release Date: March 12, 2020
  • Platforms: PlayStation 4
  • Genre: Action RPG
  • Similar Games: Nioh, Sekiro, Bloodborne
  • Price: Starts at PHP2,995

One thing you can credit Capcom and From Software for is making suffering a new genre of its own. While Capcom isn’t normally in the discussion, long time hunters who have witnessed G rank first hand would beg to differ.

One thing in common with Monster Hunter and the Souls series is the level of skill needed to get good, and for teaching players to accept defeat and push through a difficult situation. Naturally, other developers have taken a stab (pun intended) at a Souls game, resulting in titles like Code: Vein and Jedi Fallen Order as the most recent entries. Enter Nioh from way back 2017, a surprise success from Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja.

While Nioh borrowed heavily from the Souls series in terms of gameplay, it managed to become its own beast through its Japanese setting, mission based progression, and introduction of its own mechanics like weapon stances and Guardian Spirits. For a new IP, Nioh proved to be a successful one, as seen with the sales and its warm reception from the gaming community. Will Koei Tecmo be able to strike gold a second time? Here’s our review of Nioh 2.

Yokai Slayers Wanted

Story-wise, newcomers will have no problem starting Nioh 2 without having to play the first game since it’s actually a prequel. Years before William’s (the protagonist from the first game) adventure, you’ll be playing a silent protagonist in Sengoku Era Japan, where as a human-yokai offspring you will be thrust into a fantasy horror story involving wars, yokai slaying, political unrest, and even more yokai slaying. Along the way you’ll meet different interesting characters like the mysterious Mumyo and even famous historical Japanese figures like Oda Nobunaga.

Character creation greets you as a new feature that Nioh 2 has over the first game. It is very detailed, from gender to height to face and even tattoos, and you’ll even be able to customize the look of your Yokai form. Don’t worry about making a mistake after finalizing your character as the game will actually allow you to redo your character completely and at no cost, even after you start your campaign. That in itself already sets it apart from most games with character creation, and is a very welcome addition. This is Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja we are talking about after all, and they do know how to make fantastic looking character models.

Cutscenes will also take your created character and their equipment into account, which is a nice touch too!

Combat and progression in Nioh 2 is almost everything you’d expect from a Souls game and a bit more. Beating enemies will net you Amrita, which you will spend levelling up your individual stats. Dying will leave all your amrita in your last known location and you’ll need to make a mad dash to your grave to retrieve them. Saving at a shrine will refill your resources while resurrecting fallen foes. You get the drift.

While the core gameplay loop is the same, Nioh introduces certain mechanics that make it a title of its own. A unique approach to the Souls style combat are the stances, which make a welcome return from the first game. Being able to position your weapon high, mid, or low will give you different ways to beat your foes. High lets you deal very powerful attacks but drains a lot of ki, potentially leaving you open to a counterattack. Low stances let you attack faster and drain less ki but are weaker. The mid stance is a balance between these two.

Figuring out an healthy mix of these stances will be important if you want to make it far into the game, as your opponents in the later levels will have improved moves of their own that will require precise movement and timing.

Using the high stance but find that your attacks are a bit too slow for you to mount a counterattack? Consider switching to mid or low to get some much needed hits in at the expense of damage. It is these small adjustments throughout the game that make the stances a deep and strategic part of Nioh’s gameplay.

Supplementing stances are the various weapons that you’ll be able to pick up and utilize in the game. You’ll be able to equip 2 melee weapons at any point in time, with each weapon boasting of a move set that differs with each stance.

Ki, or stamina, is equally as important, as all your moves are governed by this resource. All of your actions, from sprinting to attacking, will take up various Ki costs and your management of this resource will more often than not spell a difference between life and death.

To help ease the pain, there is a mechanic called a Ki Pulse which allows you to gain Ki at a much faster clip, letting you push up the pace against the Yokai. It is an integral skill to learn and master, as you’ll often find yourself at a Ki deficit if you simply pressure the enemies with attacks.

You may have played Sekiro and have loved it’s “balls to the wall” style gameplay, rewarding you by staying aggressive and giving the enemy no room to breath with a combination of counters and parries. You’ll unfortunately have to unlearn those habits because Nioh’s style of play is very deliberate and relatively slow compared to Sekiro. Some weapons in Nioh will give you the ability to pressure the heck out of an enemy but you’ll always have to keep an eye on your Ki gauge.

As a human-Yokai hybrid, you also have access to your Yokai form when you align yourself with a guardian spirit, something you choose at the start. You can take the form of a powerful Brute type, nimble Feral, or long range Phantom type. Think of it like Devil May Cry’s “Devil Trigger” forms, allowing you to “transform” and dish out maximum damage for when the situation calls for it. Each guardian spirit will let you invoke different forms, each with their own benefits and timings so the choice will ultimately be up to you.

New to Nioh 2 are Soul Cores, which allows you to use Yokai moves as a way for you to even out the odds, provided you have enough Anima, which is basically your “MP” to cast the skill. Throw a Spear like Enki or petrify an enemy using Nure-Onna’s gaze, these moves can be devastating in the right hands, so use them wisely.

Soul Cores add a whole new dimension to the game as it is a great tool to even out the odds against the enemies scattered around the world. You’ll be given a chance to level up these Soul Cores along the way, improving their effects and increasing their stat bonuses.

More than just Yokai Slaying

Your tale takes you through various missions throughout different regions in ancient Japan. Each mission consists of a large stage that you will need to traverse until you reach the end where the boss awaits. The levels are vast but if you’ve played the first game, it’s quite a disappointment that the level design remains uninspired and largely similar. Even some of the enemies from the first game make a comeback, like the Yoki’s and the Karasu Tengu’s.

Bosses, on the other hand, are designed very well in terms of looks and balance. They will test your patience and sanity as they can potentially wipe you out in a matter of seconds. You’ll realize just how good you are at taking notes while battling a boss, because you’ll need to familiarize yourself with all their attacks, patterns, as well as how many hits you can get in before you need to retreat. Consequently, there’s really nothing like the feeling of taking down a boss that you’ve struggled with for hours to figure out how to beat, and this game will force you to master the different skills it offers to get that done.

If anything, Nioh 2 really excels at balancing out the difficulty curve, making it a bit more accessible to players that are usually intimidated at such a punishing genre. That’s not to say that the game is not challenging, it just smooths out the curve, allowing newcomers and not so skilled players such us myself to progress deep in the game, giving a sense of accomplishment that will make you feel like you can actually finish the game. Again, Nioh is still challenging but given tools at your disposal like the Burst Counter and the Soul Cores, you can even out the odds of the fight better.

Missions also aren’t limited to the main story as there are also sub missions that will pop up, giving you more ways to level up. Occasionally, special missions called Twilight Missions will appear and these are just like any other missions, only with tougher enemies that will test your perseverance but also give you greater rewards should you succeed, allowing you to craft those weapons that will give min-maxers a smile on their faces.

There’s actually an incentive to explore as there are collectibles like hidden Kodamas in each mission that will provide a big help in your progress. Each Kodama you find will give you passive bonuses known as “Kodama Blessing”, helping you along the way. You can choose to increase the Elixir drop rate, equipment drop rate, and even amrita drop rates, so these should be one of the things to look forward to while going through the different missions.

More than weapon and item gathering, taking your time in missions (and maybe repeating them) will also benefit collectors out there as there is a large variety of Yokai to slay. You’ll be able to view a gallery of the different characters and Yokai you encountered in the game and this is especially fun as you can read about their lore and if you’re to slay a certain number of a particular Yokai, more information like strategies against them will be unlocked. The attention to detail is greatly appreciated here as different Yokai in Japanese folklore were used and you’ll want to find and learn more about them as you go, despite how scary they are.

Replayability is actually a big part of the game as you’ll also earn titles from doing different things in Nioh 2, whether you’ve killed a certain number of a type of Yokai or used a certain weapon a number of times. Doing different things will give you reputation points and earning enough will give you a title, like a Nure-Onna Cutter for example, and this will net you Prestige Points.

Aside from bragging rights, you’ll wants Prestige Points as they can be used to buy passive buffs like increasing the number of amrita you earn or increasing your life and ki. This very much encourages you to try out the different weapons in the game and try to find and slay a wide variety of enemies. If anything, records of these can also be viewed in the Options menu, including your number of deaths (273 times and not afraid to show it).  

Beauty in horror and destruction

Nioh 2 may very well be classified as a dark fantasy despite being also based on Japanese history, and the sound and presentation just shows it beautifully. Aside from the atmospheric areas fitting of the time along with the haunting music, the Yokai designs should be given big props because of how terrifying they look.

Be ready for some jump scares here too as Yokai can sometimes get the jump at you. They’re vicious as they are scary, and the sounds you hear like a Nure-Onna’s breathing as it slithers after you gives off a sense of dread, even if you’re a properly armed Yokai slayer.

The Yokai bosses you encounter too are the stuff of nightmares. Mezuki will initially scare you with its demon horse look, and that’s just the first boss. The attention to detail also extends to the weapons. Yokai don’t bleed so when you cut one down you don’t see blood left on your blade. In contrast, killing an enemy human does, very much reminiscent of Ninja Gaiden II on the Xbox, though not as gory.

It takes three to tango

Part of the fun is the online aspect, and Nioh 2 has that edge over it’s predecessor. If you opt to go online, you’ll also find red and blue graves when out on missions. These represent AI controlled Revenants and Benevolent Souls, respectively. Both are other players who have died in that area, only Revenants will attack you when you summon them, and Benevolent Souls will be your AI partners (provided you have the Ochako Cups to spare summoning them).

You’d be wise to take advantage of an extra body in the field and if you’re lucky enough, you can summon a high leveled individual to help you breeze through the mission. Not gonna lie, summoning high leveled benevolent graves have saved me from a couple of particularly hard boss encounters. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and you’d be stubborn to not want to take advantage of what’s there.

If AI help isn’t your thing, you can duke it out with real players too. Using the Ochako cups which you also can get from Revenants, you can summon actual human players to assist you during missions, for up to 3 times the demon slaying goodness. This at least eases the difficulty of completing missions and it’s particularly fun beating up a boss that gave you a hard time previously. You can either team up with a specific player or just let the game randomly assign you to a player that issued a summon.

Dare to be different

Souls games don’t need to be exact clones of each other, and Nioh 2 is a great example of that. Sure, they’re supposed to be frustratingly difficult but they don’t need to be too unforgiving, and a little tweak in the presentation makes for a fresh experience. With Nioh 2, you could say that it’s a great starting point for newbies who want a taste of the masocore genre without turning them away fast enough to not appreciate the finer details of the game.

There are quite a number of things that can actually help you out in the game. Take for example the “invisible walls” as we’d like to call them. While you can still fall to your death when walking off an edge, performing combos close to the edge will actually prevent you from falling. Even during combat sometimes when you’re near the edge of some cliff, you’ll see your character losing balance and you’ll get a few seconds to try and regain that balance. For a Souls game, that’s very generous and doesn’t take away from the fun at all.

Nioh 2 is a fantastic title, no two ways about it. It’s a title that has grown into its own identity through its presentation, combat innovations, and emphasis on Japanese history and mythology. Any flaws that can be seen in the game can just be some minor nitpicks but throughout our nearly 60 hour playthrough of the game, which could be way less if we didn’t keep dying, the good most definitely outweighs the minor peeves we had.

The story isn’t exactly groundbreaking but the cutscenes are fun enough to watch through, especially if you created a nice enough character to flaunt off. In contrast to all the gloom you see in Dark Souls or Bloodborne, there are some scenes in Nioh that’ll get you to laugh a little despite the dark nature of the story.

What we liked:

  • Great presentation of Japanese Folklore
  • Atmospheric presentation
  • Challenging but rewarding gameplay
  • Expands beautifully on the features of the first game with additions like the Burst Counter and the Soul Cores
  • Meaty campaign with lots of missions to burn through

What we didn’t like:

  • Still frustratingly hard
  • Level design is uninspired and feels (and looks) very much like the first game
  • Menus could be a bit more streamlined

Verdict: Buy It!

Nioh 2 straddles the fine line between unfair and challenging and it hit a sweet spot that will encourage more people to actually try the game out. The game keeps its challenging nature intact but also provides you with the tools and skills to give you more than a fighting chance. Heck, we’ve gone through a couple of bosses by actually just letting the high leveled benevolent graves do all the work!

Nioh, as a franchise, introduces smart and logical features that make it stand out from the absurd number of soulsborne clones out there. While we don’t think it’s quite on the level that a game of the year contender has, Nioh 2 is a remarkable improvement over the first and will surely satiate your desire for punishment and challenge.

*Nioh 2 was reviewed on a PS4 Pro through a review code provided by the publisher.

The OMG Review
Our review format is not your usual fare and we’ve broken it down into 3 very simple ratings!

“Buy it!” means that the game deserves a place in your collection. Be it day 1 or a slightly delayed purchase, it’s hard to go wrong with this title. In numbers, this is around an 8/10 and above.

“Wait for it…” means that the game probably isn’t worth it at its day 1 price point, we suggest you wait for a sale before jumping in. In numbers, this is around a 5 – 7/10.

“Ignore it!” means that the game is not something we’d recommend playing, whether it be now or in the near future, unless you want to intentionally hurt yourself. Let’s not even go to the numbers for this one.

Sneak Peek
  • Release Date: Feb. 6, 2020 for Asia and Japan, Mar. 3, 2020 for North America
  • Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC
  • Genre: Fighting / RPG
  • Similar Games: BlazBlue, Guilty Gear
  • Price: Starts at PHP2,895

Ever since they stepped into the scene, Arc System Works has established themselves as a powerhouse developer of 2D fighting games. Look no further than the likes of Guilty Gear, Blazblue, Persona 4 Arena, and Dragon Ball Fighter Z as prime examples of fighting games done right. Arc is basically an institution in the Fighting Game scene and most if not all of their titles are worthy of being part of the Evo annual lineup.

Adding to Arc’s already impressive lineup of titles is a new 2D fighting game based on a Japanese mobile phone RPG Granblue Fantasy called, well… Granblue Fantasy Versus. Granblue Fantasy is also a huge media franchise in Japan, with an anime adaptation and an upcoming console RPG on its way.

We won’t fault you for not being familiar with Granblue Fantasy as it isn’t exactly a mainstream franchise oustide of Japan, so it’s actually a surprise for Arc to make a fighting game based on a rather niche Japanese RPG and releasing it to both Japanese and Western audiences. Is this new entry to the fighting game genre a masterpiece in the making despite its not so mainstream source material? Here’s our review of Granblue Fantasy Versus.

Arc goes newbie friendly

Granblue Fantasy Versus (or GBFV) is a 2D Fighting Game with the Arc System Works touch of magic. That means the game has their trademark 2D looking 3D character models, a deep fighting system, stylish cinematic super moves, and an awesome soundtrack. At the same time, GBFV is also a bit of a departure from their usual efforts.

What players may still find familiar is the 3 attack button and 1 unique action setup that Arc has been known for. For example, one character has his Unique Action consume items to buff or heal and there’s one that buffs his attacks. There’s also still the usual hard hitting and stylish super moves, now called Super Skybound Arts.

The similarities end here, as one thing you’ll notice from GBFV is that while still having air blocks, gone are the usual mechanics like air dashes and the more technical ones like Guilty Gear’s Roman Cancels. What we got here is a more simple experience with one button combos, a slower pace, simpler move inputs, and average length combos.

You can block by pressing back or the R2 button, and that same R2 Button can be used to dodge or cross over an opponent. Special moves can be pulled off with a simple R1 button, either by itself or plus one direction except Up, which is just perfect for players who aren’t into memorizing traditional d-pad motions. On the other hand at least, veterans still have access to those same d-pad motions for pulling off character specials, and those looking for a deeper fighting experience will be happy that GBFV also features more technical things like high/low mix-ups and “Just blocking” (blocking at the last minute before an attack).

GBFV incorporates a cooldown system where a special moves will not be available for a short period after use, though the length for a cooldown is shorter when using the dpad motions as compared to the using the 1 button shortcuts. Having to wait for your special attacks before using them again does give off an RPG feel and it really feels fresh seeing it incorporated into a fighting game. 

These mechanics may sound like Arc dumbing down the game, but it’s actually not the case. Using the easier inputs and 1 button special moves may give you an easier time but mechanics like the cooldown mentioned above make it a well balanced game overall. More importantly, opting to take the easier route doesn’t take away from a solidly fun experience of a great fighting game.

Waifu’s and Husbando’s, Granblue syle

The base roster for Granblue Fantasy Versus is 11, the current total being 13 with one unlockable and one DLC character already out for purchase, and even more coming soon. While the current roster may look scarce compared to most fighters, it’s not necessarily a bad thing since it also means being able to familiarize yourself with the characters better, with each possessing unique personality and appeal.

GBFV has assembled a wide and diverse roster of fighters from the Granblue Fantasy lore. These characters should already be known by fans of the RPG but newcomers are sure to find someone that looks appealing to them. Granblue Fantasy the RPG, and by extension Versus, has a wide fantasy world of floating islands and airships as well as a collection of awesome looking characters of different appearances and races. There’s bound to be a favorite you can find just from Versus alone.

If you fancy yourself a grappler, look no further than the massive Ladiva, with full motion moves ala Zangief. If you want to go standard, Gran and Katalina are pretty much the “Shotokan fighters” of the game, your Ryu and Ken if you will. Want a charger type like Guile? Then Charlotta may just be your fighter. There’s really something for everyone and rest assured, you’ll find someone that will suit your style of play within minutes.

Arc’s trademark graphics give everyone life, with flashy moves and a style that is so distinctly “Arc”. Simply viewing the intro and victory sequences and you’ll notice much effort was put into animating these characters. You could say it’s complete faithfulness to the source material and a big service to fighting game quality in general. 

A fighting… RPG?

Interestingly, GBFV sports an RPG Mode that has you playing through an original story and in contrast to the usual fighting game campaigns, you play RPG mode just like a 2D brawler, with the option to go at these missions alone or with a partner.

If it wasn’t obvious enough, Gran is the lead character of the story but you’re free to use whoever you’ve unlocked as your playable character and AI partner. In contrast to versus mode, you’ll have to look left and right to fight enemies in these missions, but the direction you’re facing doesn’t get in the way of you performing your moves if you don’t prefer the shortcuts. If anything this, is better implemented than Arc’s Guilty Gear Isuka where one button is dedicated to changing the direction you’re facing. There are also boss missions called Raids where you fight a boss who has a bigger life bar and more powerful attacks. Fortunately, the game won’t let you tackle these missions unprepared.

Completing missions will net you weapons, experience, and money. Surprisingly, there’s actual progression in the RPG mode that will have you equip weapons, gain buffs, and much more. GBFV also draws from its mobage roots as you gain random weapons with different elements, as well as the ability to get to draw tickets where you get a chance to win a powerful weapon that you can equip. Most importantly, the RPG game mode doesn’t feel tacked on and it’s a fun playthrough, even though the whole campaign doesn’t take too long to complete.

On the flipside, it can get a bit too monotonous at times as the missions just involve beating up grunts and completing Raids. The storyline isn’t anything deep either, as it just gives an excuse for main character Gran and his crew a chance to meet up with the other characters in the game and fight a big baddie in the end. Newcomers to Granblue Fantasy may be a bit lost too in the narrative as nearly everyone have apparently met each other already so there’s a sense of familiarity when they talk to each other. This actually also reflects in the fights as many of them interact on a very personal level, and that actually makes it fun to sit through the intro and victory scenes even if you have the option to skip them.

You can’t talk about GBFV without mentioning the music, and this game’s soundtrack is simply amazing. Ark System Works have proven that they can make great game music too, and you can add GBFV to their already impressive resume, having music that fits the fantasy setting of the game beautifully while adding that upbeat flair. There’s bound to be a few tracks here that you’ll find memorable, with some being remixes of music from the RPG. Special mention has to go to Katalina’s theme and the end boss’s theme, to which we rocked to for quite a number of times.

It may seem very nitpicky, but one drawback is that newcomers may find the urge to steer clear largely because of their unfamiliarity with Granblue Fantasy. Give it a shot and a chance, and you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised. GBFV has a gallery that provides information on all of the terms, races, and different areas of Granblue Fantasy to familiarize yourself with, aside from housing all the media that you unlock. Interestingly, there’s also backstories to the NPCs you see and meet in the game, and while they are not yet part of the roster, it’s probably not wrong to think that they may join the fight in the future.

Overall, Arc has succeeded in making a fighting game that’s accessible to both experts and newcomers alike. The characters they’ve chosen to represent the Granblue Fantasy world are also so full of personality and their great designs make you want to know more about them. You can tell that great care was taken to animate each one (especially Lowain) and bring the world of Granblue Fantasy to life here. GBFV is a visual treat, with stunning backdrops and visual effects that make it stand out in a field of fighting game titles out there. Arc has done a great job of incorporating the world and mechanics of Granblue Fantasy into a fighting game, all while introducing the cooldown and shortcut system, as well as easters eggs like other Granblue Fantasy characters seen in the game’s different stages that fans of the RPG will surely recognize.

What we liked:

  • Memorable characters
  • Fantastic soundtrack
  • Fighting mechanics that cater to newcomers and veterans
  • Trademark Arc graphical and game design

What we didn’t like:

  • RPG mode can be a bit repetitive
  • Paltry roster
  • Steep SRP

Verdict:

If you’re a fighting game enthusiast, GBFV is a great addition to your library for its fun fighting system and great character. Despite having to wait (and pay) for new fighters later on, the base roster is enough for the average player and won’t overwhelm you too much. The addition of an RPG mode is a unique mechanic that breaks the ice and is a welcome mode that adds great value to the package.

The world of Granblue Fantasy is vast but GBFV is a great introductory point to get to know the world, leading you to multiple properties spanning different mediums. There is a ton of content to be had here and while the SRP of this title is quite steep compared to the other fighting games, it can be easily justified because of its high production value paired with polished gameplay that fans and newcomers will appreciate.

Our Review Format

Our review format is not your usual fare and we’ve broken it down into 3 very simple ratings!

“Buy it!” means that the game deserves a place in your collection. Be it day 1 or a slightly delayed purchase, it’s hard to go wrong with this title. In numbers, this is around an 8/10 and above.
“Wait for it…” means that the game probably isn’t worth it at its day 1 price point, we suggest you wait for a sale before jumping in. In numbers, this is around a 5 – 7/10.
“Trash it!” means that the game is not something we’d recommend playing, whether it be now or in the near future, unless you want to intentionally hurt yourself. Let’s not even go to the numbers for this one.

Sneak Peek

  • Release Date: January 17, 2020
  • Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
  • Modes: Single
  • Similar Games: Bits of Dragon Ball Xenoverse and Fighter Z
  • Price: Starts at PHP2,695

Another year, another Dragon Ball Z game. And why not? It’s a franchise that hardly needs any introduction. A household name to anime fans worldwide, Dragon Ball along with its iconic characters and exciting adventures have entertained fans old and new for many years now.

Fast forward to 2020 and we have nearly every type of Dragonball game imaginable, including the fantastic fighting game Dragon Ball FighterZ. New year, new game? You bet, as the latest entry into the Dragon Ball portfolio now introduces a semi open world action RPG that mixes RPG elements with fast paced fighting action that the franchise has been known for. Curious to see how it’s turned out? Here’s our review of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot.

Sparking!

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, which we’ll refer to DBZ Kakarot moving forward, is an action RPG that retells the story of all the sagas of the Z anime, from the invasion of the Saiyans all the way to the Buu Saga. As you would expect, there are a LOT of things from the Anime that fans can look forward to. From the opening cinematic that lets you rock out to the iconic “Cha-la Head Cha-la” track, you’ll be bombarded one after another with references and “Aha!” moments that is sure to bring a smile to your face.

You will find iconic Dragon Ball locations like Kami’s lookout tower and Capsule Corp., even meet classic side characters like the Pilaf gang and Mr. Popo. It’s quite literally the Saturday afternoon habit we had from about 20 years back turned into a fantastic looking game.

And fantastic would be quite the understatement as the game is very easy on the eyes. Lush mountains, bright cities, wide open plains, Planet Namek… they’re all here and faithfully recreated that you feel like you’re actually sharing the world with these beloved characters and locations.

What adds even more authenticity is being able to play the game in Japanese or English voices, and while both are amazing, there’s just something about Japanese dubs with English subtitles that sweetens the package for us. Pair this with character models that look nearly as perfect as they were from the Anime series along with all of their special moves and you’ve got yourself pure nostalgia goodness packed in a blu-ray disc.

Overall, developers CyberConnect2 has done an admirable job in translating the anime into the game, staying as faithful as possible while adding a few touches here and there to better suit the medium. It’s what makes the game special, but at the same time, it’s what also hinders it from being a great title, which we’ll get to later.

RPG – lite

Now as an action RPG, it’s safe to say Dragon Ball Z Kakarot ticks the basic boxes for an RPG checklist. While it doesn’t have a massive open world, the different areas are big enough to merit exploring and within these areas are quite a number of things to do. From flying around to blasting dinosaurs, from random encounters to sidequests and even collecting the legendary Dragon Balls, it has almost all of the elements of an RPG that fans would want in a game.

Exploration is a mixed bag. Flying around the world looks cool and the sense of speed is well translated, but the world itself doesn’t give you much reason to do so. Z orbs are scattered all throughout the land and will be your main currency when upgrading the numerous skills each character has. Progressing through the storyline naturally will give you enough orbs and at a certain point, you’ll end up with more orbs than you can use which makes spending actual time to collect these not advisable.

There are also random encounters while exploring the world and as is standard with RPG’s, this should be your main source of leveling up in order to progress throughout the game. A good thing though is that grinding is not necessary in the game since the regular story battles will give you enough experience points to naturally progress and even reach the end.

Side quests also abound in the game and will actually show you quite interesting interactions with various characters in the DBZ universe but one thing that’s quite unique to DBZ Kakarot is the Community Board and Soul Emblems.

Throughout the game, you can collect Soul Emblems which you can place on the Community Boards, giving you various bonuses unique to each board. The more emblems you place, the higher the Board’s level goes and each board in the game gives certain buffs, like Chichi’s Cooking Community Board boosting the effectiveness of food items and Goku’s Z-Soldier board providing buffs that will increase your effectiveness in battle.

There’s a bit of strategy involved here but nothing too complex. You’ll get certain bonuses when you place two related Soul Emblems beside each other. Goku and Gohan will get a bonus while placing Kami and Piccolo together will net you the another bonus, adding more stats than usual and allowing you to max your board faster.

Fast paced frenzy

Now Dragon Ball isn’t really Dragon Ball without the over the top and fast paced fights, and you’ll be getting a lot of it here. This isn’t FighterZ but DBZ Kakarot delivers on the intensity and excitement of the fights you’ve grown to love from the franchise. Throughout the story, and it should come as no surprise, you’ll be facing off against some of the classic villains of old – Vegeta and Nappa, Frieza, Cell, and even the mighty Majin Buu. Nope, the more recent opponents won’t be making an appearance (yet) but you’ll get enough here to satisfy fans of the series.

You play from a 3rd Person perspective and lock-on to one enemy at a time where you’re free to unleash ki blasts or 1-button melee combos. You’ll also be free to move around across the playing field in all directions, just like how Goku would in the Anime. The fights give a great sense of freedom and movement as opposed to the 2D FighterZ gameplay, so this is a very welcome variation.

Each character you get to control has their own signature special attack, like Goku’s Kamehameha or Gohan’s Masenko, which can be further upgraded later into stronger variants. Each of these attacks consume Ki, so think about it in RPG terms as mana to cast spells, pretty standard stuff. Don’t fret if you’re not able to access Vegeta’s Final Flash or Goku’s EX Spirit Bomb, these will be available for use later in the story along with their corresponding Super Saiyan transformations!

Some battles throughout story mode will introduce new mechanics such as Recoome’s barrage where the screen changes to a top down view that let’s you see where his attacks will land, prompting you to dodge like crazy. In some instances, you’ll get lucky and time your attack at the same time as your opponent, triggering a power balance mini game where mash the button to push back your enemy’s attack. It’s a Dragon Ball scene that’s as iconic as it gets and is a fantastic touch while battling it out.

Battles are not brainless, as there are quite a number of button presses and combinations you’ll have to access in order to finish the game. While most of the fights will be rather straightforward and will end up having you repeat effective loops of dodging-mashing Circle-Special Attack, certain fights are quite challenging (damn you Dodoria) and will require you to stay on your toes and time your dodges better than usual.

Luckily, you’ll also have access to a Tension meter that, once full, can put you in a Tension state which increases your stats and introduces Super Finishes, extra animations that add some spice to the end result like launching the opponent to space with a Kamehameha.

You can see the care that the developers put into recreating almost every bit of what makes Dragon Ball Z an iconic series into the game but while that’s the case, something feels fundamentally amiss about the title that we’ll try to get into shortly.

It’s NOT over 9000

It would be unfair to push all praises for the game because while it is a new and refreshing direction for the series, part of what makes it good is also what makes it not quite the title we’re looking for.

Overall, the game is wildly inconsistent with what it wants to do and how it does things. As mentioned earlier, exploring the various vast and colorful areas is somewhat fun but apart from being eye candy, there’s really not much interactivity between you and your surroundings. Apart from the usual side quests and shops, there’s really no reason for you to explore. Z orbs are a painfully slow to collect in their own and over time, you’ll be able to gather them naturally with enough extra by the time you finish the game.

Grinding out enemies also is not advisable because at a certain point, you’ll need millions of points of EXP just to raise a level and each random battle is more wait then it is worth. Some RPG’s have you face a wall which you cannot pass if you haven’t leveled up enough but Dragon Ball Z Kakarot tips the scales in your favor so much that you don’t even have to go through ANY random battle to finish the game.

The side quests are also something of a mixed bag. Though they give out some useful items and unlockables, they really aren’t too interesting to keep your attention in check. There are just 2 varieties (fetch or fight) or maybe even a combination of both but it largely feels like not much though was placed into designing these quests, not to mention some of them really feel out of place at times. It just really feels weird that right in the middle of Frieza’s invasion of Namek and during a very tense moment from the anime, that you find a side quests of an alien tourist that happens to be there and is oblivious to everything that’s happening. It would be maybe understandable to find these side quests during the intermissions between story arcs but right in the middle of an important moment in the Frieza arc? Talk about a break of tension.

The story arcs also proved to be somewhat of a detriment to some point given the fact that it provided almost no flexibility for some parts of the game. Now we all know that Goku beats Vegeta during their invasion while Gohan takes the spotlight fighting Cell, but that’s just it. The game introduces some sort of party system which you cannot use outside of intermissions (free roam time boxes outside of the story arcs) so having your dream team of a combination of any 3 characters won’t happen just because the story arc dictates that it’s Goku and Frieza who fight in the end.

Now speaking of story arcs, you definitely can’t find fault in the adaptation of those in Kakarot because they’re as faithful as they come but it just would’ve been nice if they retained some of the quirky moments that gave the show personality. For those looking for it, hate to burst your bubble but you won’t hear Vegeta say the famous “OVER 9000” line or see the Ginyu Force do their trademark dance that weirded even Frieza out.

By wanting to stick to the story arcs too much, DBZ Kakarot wasted opportunities to further add drama and improve on some scenes to make the experience much more epic. It was quite a cringey moment to some character meet their death only to have the music stay the same or the look on their faces be as deadpan as can be. While a few moments were certainly spot on, like Goku breaching Super Saiyan against Frieza, we wished the same treatment could have been done with the other dramatic moments in the game.

The loading times in the game are quite atrocious as well, prompting you to load everytime you fast travel to another area, which you’ll be doing often throughout the course of this 30+ hour journey. The game will hang on you sometimes while loading and you’ll encounter some frame dips while exploring but it’s quite notable that during the battles, you’ll be enjoying the pace and flow unbothered for the most part.

What we liked:

  • Story arcs are faithfully retold
  • Intro sequence is a fantastic tribute
  • Fighting sequences are fun

What we didn’t like:

  • Amount of loading times are a pain
  • Game is very inconsistent
  • Fights can be reduced to a simple and repetitive loop

Verdict: Wait for it…

It was really a tough call on what to score DBZ Kakarot. On one hand, they did a really good job of recreating the world of Dragon Ball Z, characters and battles and all. On the other, these stories have been retold over and over again, prompting Nostalgia to carry the heavy load which can get tiring over time. Sure, those who are new to the DBZ lore will appreciate this but the game can only get you so far, especially with it not knowing what it wants to be. With half baked RPG mechanics and a story arc that forces its inflexibility on you, DBZ Kakarot is a game that has great potential given the right tweaks and fixes but for now, it’s quite hard to recommend it at full price to relive something that’s nearly 30 years old over again.

Our Review Format

Our review format is not your usual fare and we’ve broken it down into 3 very simple ratings!

“Buy it!” means that the game deserves a place in your collection. Be it day 1 or a slightly delayed purchase, it’s hard to go wrong with this title. In numbers, this is around an 8/10 and above.
“Wait for it…” means that the game probably isn’t worth it at its day 1 price point, we suggest you wait for a sale before jumping in. In numbers, this is around a 5 – 7/10.
“Trash it!” means that the game is not something we’d recommend playing, whether it be now or in the near future, unless you want to intentionally hurt yourself. Let’s not even go to the numbers for this one.

Sneak Peek

  • Release Date: November 28, 2019
  • Platforms: Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC
  • Modes: Single
  • Similar Games: Super Robot Wars
  • Price: Starts at PHP3,195

SD Gundam G Generation Cross Rays, or just simply Cross Rays from here on out, is the latest entry in this long-running tactical RPG series based on the massively popular Mobile Suit Gundam franchise. If by any chance you haven’t heard about Gundam yet, it’s a well known and long running anime series about war where the main weapons used are giant robots called mobile suits, with an emphasis on the story and characters and how war affects them. So famous, in fact, that it basically created its own genre called the Real Robot anime and many have followed in its footsteps. Gundam has spawned multiple series but the common denominator is the titular Gundam robot with it’s iconic design and flashy battles.

As a franchise, Gundam has branched out to other mediums like toys and video games, and with Cross Rays being just one of them, how does the game stand among the rest of the Gundam properties? Let’s find out in this review.

Lore Galore!

Cross Rays takes four popular Gundam Alternate Universe series and packs them in one game, where you play through each of their individual stories in a more condensed manner. The narration is presented through text and some voice overs over static images, which is your standard fare and is pretty much expected for a game such as this.

You have your choice of either Gundam Wing, Gundam Seed, Gundam 00, or Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans, and the game even includes the side stories from each series like Gundam Wing Endless Waltz and Gundam Seed Stargazer. For newcomers, you’ll be in for some interesting war stories and mecha action but for fans of the alternate universe Gundam stories it’ll be like a reunion once again reliving the stories of famous Gundam characters like Kira Yamato or Setsuna F. Seiei to name a few.

Stories across the series are well told and will appease even hardcore fans, as the faithful retelling is something that really shines for the game. Memorable characters will make an appearance along with their trademark mobile suits, albeit in SD or Super Deformed / Chibi form. For most players, the most recognizable series would be Gundam Wing which features the like of Heero Yuy and his trademark Wing Gundam and Duo Maxwell, pilot of the Deathscythe. You may also want to give Gundam Seed a look as it features the iconic rivals Kira Yamato and Athrun Zala, pilots of the Strike Freedon Gundam and the Infinite Justice respectively.

Back to Basics

Cross Rays is a turn based tactical RPG where you place your units in a grid – moving, positioning, and attacking enemy units and winning by fulfilling certain conditions, mostly involving defeating all enemy units. Units have Hit Points or HP that drain with each attack, Energy Points or EN that govern attacks, and chances to hit or evade attacks that are shown by percentages on screen. There’s a lot of numbers to cover but the gameplay is pretty basic and is your standard fare of tactical RPG’s where you take turns with the enemy goal of meeting the mission objective before they meet theirs.

If you’ve seen gameplay of the very similar Super Robot Wars series, another popular tactical RPG series in Japan, then you’ve already got an idea of how Cross Rays will play out, with the main difference being its focus on Gundams. There is a sense of depth as you’ll need to manage your units that you obtain, assigning pilots and forming teams that sortie into battle. You may get a tendency to get carried away as compared to the nameless grunts you fight on the field, Gundams have powerful attacks and high evades just like their counterparts in their respective anime series, unless you’re fighting another Gundam. And the game does a good job of translating the Gundams’ characteristics into the game. A few examples being the Buster Gundam from Seed being weak to close range attacks since it’s a long range artillery type, and in contrast the Gundam Exia from 00 being a close range specialist.

One thing about Cross Rays is that you can “scout” certain characters and make them part of your entourage. As you do, these pilots can level up and you may assign them to any MS (or mobile suit) you wish to. Of course it would be tempting to mix and match pilots with any MS but logically speaking, placing someone like Lockon Stratos on a ranged MS (because he’s a Sniper) will be beneficial for you over other MS.

No matter how badass your Gundams and pilots are, poor decisions can still lead to defeat. An interesting concept too is that your actions have an effect in battle. Completely defeating an enemy grants you an extra turn (up to 2 times) which is very useful. If you’re smart enough you can use this extra turn feature to prolong your turn and deal massive losses to the enemy.

Constantly defeating enemies and successfully evading attacks also increases your unit’s morale which increases your attacks, letting you deal critical damage that are high enough to sometimes destroy an enemy mobile suit in 1 move, as long as you can avoid getting hit and the opposite is also true. Meaning getting hit or failing to evade lowers unit morale which also decreases your Gundam’s performance. Perks like these will really motivate you to plan your moves carefully to win.

Aside from the usual “defeat everyone” conditions, the game presents you too with optional objectives like for example, defeat 10 enemies within 3 turns, which rewards you with a bonus after the fight. Don’t expect a walk in the park as the battles can get pretty intense which is just right if you’re looking for a challenge. Luckily, and strangely for that matter, whenever you play certain stories you have the option to sortie Gundams that aren’t from that particular series, choosing from the teams that you’ve formed and managed in between chapters. Having the Phoenix Gundam and Tornado Gundam fight alongside the Strike in the opening chapters of the Gundam Seed story path definitely didn’t happen, but still being able to sortie extra units is a big help.

What we liked:

  • Faithful retelling of the Gundam stories featured in the game
  • Sounds and voices were retained from each respective Gundam series
  • Challenging tactical action and optional win conditions encourage replayability

What we didn’t like:

  • Graphics look outdated for a current gen title
  • Rest of the music is forgettable
  • Nothing new or innovative

Verdict:

Cross Rays is a tricky game to definitively say whether its a must buy or not. For the most part, Cross Rays and its past games are definitely for the hardcore Gundam fan as what’s on the table is exactly what the fans want and will get. The individual Gundam stories are retold faithfully that you can spot certain scenes and dialogue, the voice actors from each series are there delivering their iconic lines, and the battles are presented in fluid 3D animation that shows off how majestic each of them are.

Fanservice though can only get you too far as if you look through all that, the backgrounds and animations are mediocre and they tend to get very repetitive. For a current generation console title, the graphics do look like they could be done from the PS3, and maybe even the generation before that. Music in the game too can’t be considered memorable. Some of the battle themes are forgettable, with the ones that will stick being those that came from certain Gundam series, and there are definitely some tracks there that will be familiar to a Gundam fan.

Overall, Cross Rays is a hard sell to a wide audience. For anyone that is extremely curious about Gundam, it is a safe bet to wait for this to go on sale as mainly the game isn’t bad at all, it just doesn’t do anything very groundbreaking either. Actually if you’re only after the story, better just watch their individual series. This is recommended more to the fans of tactical RPGs and Gundam and definitely if that’s what you’re after Cross Rays won’t disappoint.

*SD Gundam G Generation Cross Rays was reviewed on a PS4 Pro through a review code provided by the publisher*

Our Review Format

Our review format is not your usual fare and we’ve broken it down into 3 very simple ratings!

“Buy it!” means that the game deserves a place in your collection. Be it day 1 or a slightly delayed purchase, it’s hard to go wrong with this title. In numbers, this is around an 8/10 and above.
“Wait for it…” means that the game probably isn’t worth it at its day 1 price point, we suggest you wait for a sale before jumping in. In numbers, this is around a 5 – 7/10.
“Trash it!” means that the game is not something we’d recommend playing, whether it be now or in the near future, unless you want to intentionally hurt yourself. Let’s not even go to the numbers for this one.

Sneak Peek

  • Release Date: October 25, 2019
  • Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
  • Modes: Single
  • Similar Games: Fallout
  • Price: Starts at PHP3,190

Obsidian Entertainment is known for coming up with great games based on existing intellectual properties. Fallout: New Vegas is considered one of the better titles in the franchise, and the same level of praise was given to South Park: The Stick of Truth for its faithfulness to the source material. Obsidian also dipped their hands in creating original games like Pillars of Eternity and while it didn’t receive the same amount of success as their other titles, they’ve proven to be a group that has great stories to tell.

Obsidian diving into another original IP was quite the news that turned some heads. Announced to be developed by the original creators of Fallout, this is a game that definitely caught the attention of the gaming community, seeing if they can pull off making a new intellectual property different from the famous post-nuclear RPG series that put them on the gaming map. And did they deliver? Let’s jump right in.

Fallout: Outer Space?

The Outer Worlds takes place in the Halcyon Colony, a collection of worlds light years away from Earth. Controlled by the Board, a group of Corporations that pooled their resources together to buy this colony which gives them control over everything and everyone in it, Halcyon leads a dreary lifestyle, contrary to all the commercials littered across the world. That’s Capitalism for you!

You play the role of an unknown colonist, thawed out of hibernation from “The Hope”, a colony ship that was left for dead after missing its skip space (basically lightspeed travel) and deemed unprofitable to save. Your savior is one Phineas Welles, eccentric scientist and wanted by the Board. His reasons are fairly simple: he needs your help to wake up your fellow colonists on the Hope as this collection of Earth’s most brilliant minds are the key to making life better for everyone on the Halcyon Colony, else the Board’s merciless and greedy iron grip brings it to ruin.

Eventually you take control of your own ship and assemble a crew from different parts of the colony, all while earning a few bucks on the side. It’s the start of your story, but how you play it out is completely up in the air. Sure you were freed from hibernation to save a Colony, but you’re not exactly obligated to follow that narrative to the letter. There is a main quest to follow, as well as different side quests that you get from NPC’s or your own crew members but how to complete them and who you side with is going to be your choice. Want to follow the program and become the heroic saviour of the Halycon Colony alongside Welles? Go ahead hero. Feeling a bit more evil and want to side instead with the Board? Yes you can, you corporate sellout. Not really feeling like the heroic type and just go with whichever sides pays better? You can even be your very own Han Solo.

Superior storytelling

Obsidian is known for their well developed story telling, and they deliver again with that here in The Outer Worlds. While the fate of the colony is in your hands, you may be tempted to breeze through the main storyline, but feel free to take a lot of detours since every side quest you tackle are fulfilling stories of their own and help flesh out the world and its characters. As such, you can expect lots of witty and funny dialogue mixed in with some rather disturbing stories, an Obsidian special.

You’ll be especially motivated to tackle your crew’s individual side quests as this lets you get to know them better, and your crew is definitely quite the colorful bunch. From the pious but violent Vicar Max who is out for answers to his existence, to your naive but kind hearted ship engineer Parvati who may need your help to woo that special someone. The freedom to craft your own narrative is astounding and the world fully complements each tale as you lie, persuade, or threaten your way to decide the fate of the Halyon Colony.

The character creation is the standard fare but Obsidian gave it more flavor by letting Phineas Welles make witty comments as he considers who to choose from the thousands of hibernating colonists, giving you a taste of the very well written dialogue that you’re going to get for the rest of the game. As you assign points to your charisma or strength, Phineas will comment on how smart or dumb you are. You can take away some intelligence points, thereby making you an idiot, but you could also be a charismatic idiot on the other hand. It’s only one possibility among many ways to shape your character’s personality.

After thawing you out and dropping you on your way, it’s now up to you to arm yourself as talking isn’t exactly going to protect you all the time from the different wildlife and hostile elements of the world. Expect to pick up a lot of weapons along the way from your standard handguns to sniper rifles and even sabres. Similar to Borderlands, weapons have certain manufacturers but the similarities end there as there really isn’t any other distinguishing factor. Spacer’s Choice, for example, is known as a brand for the budget conscious as their products are cheap but not really dependable quality wise, but they work and shoot the same. If anything, it really shows how up effort Obsidian put to flesh out the world but its actual effect in game have very minimal bearing.

Ammo won’t be an issue as you can pick them up almost everywhere around the colony. Just be careful when picking up items where you obviously can’t, like a general store, or prepare to try and talk, or shoot, your way out of trouble. This is where your choices will come in, as where you place your hard earned skill points when you level up will dictate the kind of character you are. Putting points in your charisma and technique will make you a proficient talker that will give you persuade or intimidate choices when talking to someone. Levelling up your technical skills can make you proficient in hacking to be able to get access to unaccessible doors or computers for that added information or hidden weapons, and there are lots of these in the game.

Interestingly enough, The Outer Worlds has a setting called Supernova difficulty, which may very well drive you to the edge. It’s definitely for the bravest of space farers out there because aside from tougher enemies, your crew can die permanently in fights, and fast travel and saving will only be available when you’re on your ship. And like any real person, you will need to eat, drink, and sleep to survive. Not to mention sleeping is only possible on your ship, meaning beds you find out in the Halcyon are not available to you. This merits a whole new style of gameplay and not just a simple increase in enemy damage and HP that most difficulty settings provide, it is very well executed and is something noteworthy.

Average everything else

While the dialogue and writing in The Outer Worlds can be phenomenal, the same can’t be said of the actual gameplay. It isn’t bad per se, just not something to write home about, especially considering how high the narrative set the bar. At its core, The Outer Worlds is a first person shooter RPG and it does its job in that department fairly well. Numerous mods are available to customize various aspects of your firearm like damage but falls short since the game doesn’t make you feel like you really need it. Outer Worlds also has a borrowed feature from Fallout called Tactical Time Dilation, a gameplay mechanic explained in the narrative as a side effect of being thawed out where you’re able to slow down time giving you better aiming. It’s basically the VATS system if it sounds strangely familiar.

Gunplay is also average, as it doesn’t feel as crisp as it could have but there are some interesting additions to your arsenal that more than makes up for it. Hidden weapons called “Science weapons” are not your standard weapons and have unique features like the Shrink Ray which obviously shrinks your enemies making them more susceptible to damage, or the gloop gun which makes your enemies bounce in the air making them easy targets. They’re interesting additions that make gunplay varied enough to actually get into.

If you’re not new to first person shooters too then you’ll feel right at home as all the standard strafes, crouches, and jumps are there. There’s even a feature which allows you to jump and dodge left, right, or back for added mobility. You’ll need all the help you can get to brave all the hostiles the world is going to throw at you. Aside from the usual corporate guards and crazy marauders, Halycon Colony is also made up of natural wildlife so also expect alien creatures like Sprats, Mantisaurs, and Primates and even to the more robotic Mechanicals. The variety of baddies in the game not quite as diverse as you would expect, with some being just reskins across different planets.

Your playstyle will determine how you progress through the game, but you don’t have to do it alone. Your crew isn’t just for show as you can bring up to two with you when travel across the colony and you can trust them with your life as your AI controlled companions are just as competent in a fight. You can even command them to execute their own unique special moves, with your resident tough guy Felix’s special move as one that must be seen to be believed. It’s even an added bonus how the two companions you bring can sometimes have their own unique dialogue with each other, again another testament to how well Obsidian can build the world and its inhabitants through fantastic writing.

If you’re tired of all the action, you can just sit back too and soak in the sights and sounds as The Outer Worlds offers a variety of space locales to experience, from the rundown Edgewater town to the wide open Scylla. There’s loads of different areas to explore in the Outer Worlds, although don’t expect something too big. While the Halcyon Colony may not be that vast, it’s definitely big enough to pique your interest.

The Outer Worlds is good, but it’s by all means not perfect. There are certain things that the game could have been better, some very simple quality of life things in fact. For example, while there’s a fast travel feature that can cut your travel time, the lack of a custom waypoint is really noticeable. Load times are an issue as well – while transitioning to a new area, inside of a town, a new planet, and pretty much any place else – load times are plentiful and really break the momentum of the game. It’s understandable that some optimization could be done post-launch, but issues like these really stick out like a sore thumb.

There’s also a considerable lack of variety in armor designs, as well as the fact that you can only change helmets and armors. Forget about having your own unique look, you just can’t. If and when you’re finally able to find a set you fancy, the inventory screen is the only place where you’ll be able to marvel at your character as there’s no 3rd person camera option at all. It’s not exactly a game breaking feature, but surely it’s a welcome addition.

What we liked:

  • Superb writing and character development
  • Competent AI teammates

What we didn’t like:

  • Armor designs could use more variety
  • Gameplay is average compared to the writing

Verdict: Wait for it…

Overall, The Outer Worlds was an interesting ride. Despite some of the noticeable flaws, wanting to know how your journey ends and the fantastic writing both play a huge part in the positive experience that will push you to keep going. For a new IP, Obsidian did an admirable job with introducing The Outer Worlds and only time will tell how much better it could be but for this installment, there’s still so much polish to be had and improvements here and there to make the game a more viable purchase.

At it’s current state and price point, and this may be quite controversial, we think that it would be better to wait for it. While the writing and storytelling is great, everything else is pretty average, decent enough to make you play all the way through. It doesn’t really have that WOW factor that will make you fall in love with it off the bat. If anything, The Outer Worlds is very much worth a purchase on sale so if you managed to take advantage of the recently concluded Black Friday sale, then you’ve got a good game just waiting to be played.

Our Review Format

Our review format is not your usual fare and we’ve broken it down into 3 very simple ratings!

“Buy it!” means that the game deserves a place in your collection. Be it day 1 or a slightly delayed purchase, it’s hard to go wrong with this title. In numbers, this is around an 8/10 and above.
“Wait for it…” means that the game probably isn’t worth it at its day 1 price point, we suggest you wait for a sale before jumping in. In numbers, this is around a 5 – 7/10.
“Trash it!” means that the game is not something we’d recommend playing, whether it be now or in the near future, unless you want to intentionally hurt yourself. Let’s not even go to the numbers for this one.

Sneak Peek

  • Release Date: October 17, 2019
  • Platforms: Playstation 4
  • Modes: Single
  • Similar Games: Devil May Cry
  • Price: Starts at PHP2,199

The Monkey King Son Wukong is a famous literary Chinese figure with notable impact, being the inspiration for Dragon Ball’s Son Goku for example. So yeah, you could kinda say that he’s a big deal. Big enough to warrant a PS4 game though? To be honest, the game was a huge unknown for me. Coming from such releases such as Call of Duty, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, and WWE2K20 over the past month, this slipped under the radar for most due to such high profile titles during its release window. And so like a dutiful reviewer, I did a little research and dug into the game to bring you our short yet sweet review of Monkey King: Hero is Back!

For the uninitiated, the game tells the story of the Chinese Legend of Son Wukong, a powerful but arrogant monkey who defied the gods because of his power and as a result was imprisoned by Buddha in a cage of ice for 500 years. Apparently, what I also found out was that the game is based on a 2015 animated movie produced in China, which became such a massive hit in the box office! Fancy that? As with movie based games, it’s a well known fact that the record for success has been abyssmal. Surprisingly enough, Monkey King: Hero is Back is quite serviceable, albeit a bit too easy and kiddie for my taste.

The game pretty much follows the movie’s plot as the Monkey King Sun Wukong is freed from his ice prison by a young boy, Liuer, who enlists his help to free kidnapped children from an evil Lord. Naturally, the arrogant monkey doesn’t give a hoot until he was told he must do good deeds to undo the seal on his powers.

The game, like the movie, gives off a very Dreamworks style vibe. The graphics and character designs look like something you’d see in Kung Fu Panda, as it would have mostly the same Eastern references. At first glance, the graphics leave a little more to be desired, with jagged edges and washed up colors. It’s a shame, because some of the set pieces in the game actually look good. For a game that’s released at nearly the end cycle of the current console generation, the graphical quality was sub par, as there are Indie games with smoother and shinier eye candy.

It’s also a nice touch that you can play the game in either English, Japanese, or Chinese for that more authentic feel. It’s not a new feature by any means, as most of the games now have been localized to support various languages but for this game in particular, with its lore rooted in Chinese legends, the implementation is quite well done. The voice talents in the different languages are all notable but I personally played through the game in English and still found the overall quality of the voice acting to be pretty good, which is quite rare in English dubbed games.

Gameplay, badly put, feels like a simplified Devil May Cry title. Monkey King is an action adventure platformer with linear progression, collecting Earth Gods as you go along. It pays off, as you can use these to increase your stats, as well as acquire various crafting items that you exchange for resources that replenish your health and magic.

The combat is as simple as you can get, with basic and strong attacks, but an interesting aspect is the parry system where hitting the light or strong attack button at the point of an enemy’s attack will trigger either a one-on-one mini game or a purge attack that defeats your opponent in one blow. It’s actually fun to trigger these one-on-one attacks so you can see the different ways Son Wukong dispatches his foes, with some being actually funny! The downside to this is that as simple as the battle system is, sometimes it all boils down to parrying everything and seeing the mini game over and over again, which makes the whole process quite tedious and repetitive.

There is a noticeable lack of a lock-on feature though but it didn’t really take away too much, because the game is rather easy. While most of the grunts can be defeated in such simple fashion, other enemies will require a stealthier approach. Each of the 4 bosses in the game can be defeated just as easily and the only time I felt some level of difficulty was when I wasn’t paying attention. We’re not bragging by saying this but it certainly gives the impression that this is a game catered to the more casual or younger audiences. In that sense, the game does its job exceedingly well.

Over the course of my playthrough, I noticed the huge amount of loading times for the game. Almost all areas required loading, from going to a new area to entering a house and even the simple act of climbing or going down ladders. I don’t mean to sound overly pessimistic but other games that have far higher quality textures and assets have less loading prompts, telling me that the game was not optimized properly. It really bogged down the pace of the game and

As this is also a platformer, I had my fair share of personal battles with the camera, resulting in failed attempts where normally there wouldn’t be any. Couple that with his abnormally short jump animation and slow running,  it makes for quite the frustrating experience all things considered.

Your AI companions are not of much help either. Aside from giving out obvious hints, Liuer and Zhu Bajie don’t really offer any help and may can come off as really annoying, especially when they start screaming as monsters appear.

There are a lot of minor gripes that add up, making what could have been a fairly good experience into an average outing.

What we liked:

  • Writing is decent, with splashes of witty humor
  • Cartoony graphics fit the overall theme well
  • Decent voice work and music

What we didn’t like:

  • Numerous load times
  • Most may find it too easy
  • Camera is a bit of a pain at times
  • Almost useless AI companions

Verdict: Wait for it…

Overall, for a movie tie-in, Monkey King: Hero is Back isn’t a bad game. The graphics are pretty decent and give off the feel of an interactive Dreamworks movie. The music is fitting and atmospheric, perfect for the story which isn’t overly complex and actually quite touching at times! The combat could use some work because while it is serviceable, the overall game lends itself to be too simple, making the experience a 10-15 hour ho-hum affair. It’s not bad by any means, but it ain’t something I’d happily purchase at full price. If by any chance you’ve seen the movie, then I see very little reason to play this game unless you wanted something more interactive. That said, we recommend picking this up at a hugely discounted price as a filler in between the big game releases.

*Monkey King: Hero is Back was reviewed on a PS4 Pro through a review code provided by the publisher.

Our Review Format

Our review format is not your usual fare and we’ve broken it down into 3 very simple ratings!

“Buy it!” means that the game deserves a place in your collection. Be it day 1 or a slightly delayed purchase, it’s hard to go wrong with this title. In numbers, this is around an 8/10 and above.
“Wait for it…” means that the game probably isn’t worth it at its day 1 price point, we suggest you wait for a sale before jumping in. In numbers, this is around a 5 – 7/10.
“Trash it!” means that the game is not something we’d recommend playing, whether it be now or in the near future, unless you want to intentionally hurt yourself. Let’s not even go to the numbers for this one.

Sneak Peek

  • Release Date: October 22, 2019
  • Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
  • Modes: Single / Multiplayer
  • Similar Games: WWE 2K Series
  • Price: Starts at PHP3,190

Another year, another wrestling game. For me, it’s supposed to be a nostalgia trip. Having enjoyed WWE up to its Attitude era, I enjoyed the games that came out back then like WWF Attitude and Smackdown on the PS1. Fast forward to today where I could hardly recognize anyone anymore, it was such a huge culture shock to see the WWE in its current state. A whole new slew of wrestlers including some badass women, out of this world storylines and gimmicks, and even stunts so wild that you can’t help but wince at the sight. The long lost fan in me was stirring, but WWE 2K20 was probably not the best way to get me back into the squared circle.

You may have already heard about how much of a disasterpiece this game is, but it’s not without its merits.

To be fair about it, WWE2K20 is still pretty much the standard wrestling package you’ve come to enjoy over the past years. There are numerous single and multiplayer modes and matches to choose from, like your usual one-on-one and falls count anywhere to the chaotic Royal Rumble. If you’ve ever watched a pay per view that offered some match with not so “normal” conditions, chances are you’ll be able to play it here as well. Modes are plentiful and at least for this part, there’s a lot of variety to go around.

The game also keeps track of stats like your most used wrestlers so my playtime will show what age I grew up in since it’s mostly the familiar names like Rey Mysterio or Kane. Hey, I did say I was a WWF baby. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

MyCareer was a particular highlight for me because it was the mode where I could partially fulfill a fantasy, as I’m sure most of the wrestling fans out there would feel the same. We’ve all had our brief moments when we thought we could pull of those things in the safety of our own home and MyCareer is the closest thing we could get to seeing our a representation of us in the ring.

In this mode you can customize quite a number of things for your up and coming superstar.  Appearance, ring entrances, move set…  most anything wrestling related that you can think of is here. There’s actually more to unlock using points that you gain as you play, which you can also use to unlock more wrestlers to choose from. To be honest, it’s all fun and games until you get to actually see your creation. Or anything else for that matter.

I had to do a double take. Is my PS1 or PS2 switched on? Was I suddenly thrust 10 years back? WWE2K20, for lack of a better term, featured graphics that had no reason to exist in this day and age. The character models, the arenas, the backstage, the faces… There’s just no way around it, the graphics look downright horrible and not something worthy of the current or even the previous generation. Clunky animation and bad collision detection plague the game as well, as you’ll see your wrestler have their own match with the ropes for quite a number of times that we wouldn’t want to count.

Compared to most sports games, part of wrestling’s appeal relies on the showboating, flashy costumes, bright arenas, and the wrestlers themselves and while the costumes look great for some like Bray “The Fiend” Wyatt, I really can’t say the same for some of the face models or even just the overall graphical quality of the game. It’s a total letdown to see the game fail so much on this department, especially since the customization options are plentiful and there is quite a lot to play around with.

It’s a damn shame, because barring the outdated graphics and bugs, the game does offer some semblance of fun. If you’re a first timer, the controls have a pretty steep learning curve due to the numerous commands you can execute and like any fighting game, you’ll need to dedicate some practice to get good in (and sometimes out) of the ring. Once you get the hang of it though, it’ll feel like second nature.

Apart from the standard set of moves, you can also execute a well time button counter to perform a flashy finisher to seal the match and the game actually captures the rush of adrenaline when successfully pulling off these maneuvers. It’s a good feeling to be had, especially since you’ll get countered pretty bad if you don’t pull it off, so these moments were actually great highlights during matches even if they are few and far in between. The game also does a good job of capturing the overall feel of watching a WWE match, thanks to the replays as well as the competent Commentary.

Circling back to MyCareer, unlike in NBA 2K20 where the story for the latest installment was an actual improvement, WWE2K20 falls flat like a failed frog splash. The story is nothing to write home about and the writing is pretty questionable overall. “That’s right, I’m going to give your grandmother bed sores”? Graphical problems aside, the bad voice acting and mismatched timings on the spoken lines during dialogue make it feel like watching a dubbed telenovela that gets tiring pretty quickly.

You can really see extremes in production value here and unfortunately, WWE2K20 gets the very short end of the stick not just in MyCareer, but in the overall package that I’m sure Roman Reigns would have probably said “I can’t I won’t” if he knew it was going to end up this way.

What we liked:

  • Decent customization options
  • Core gameplay is actually fun when it works properly

What we didn’t like:

  • It’s like the game never passed quality assurance
  • Outdated graphics and clunky collision detection
  • Cringey MyCareer writing and story

Verdict: Trash it!

I’ll be honest here, I really wanted to like WWE2K20. It’s been a while since I’ve played a Wrestling game and those memories were nothing but fun but it was a huge disappointment for me to see and play this installment of the long running series at its current state. Wrestling is a heavily theatrical and visual experience but the presentation and blandness of it all makes it really hard to recommend it as a full priced purchase. I’m uneasy recommending it even at 50% off because of some other titles out there that would be a better $30 purchase over this one.

If you’re a hardcore WWE fan then by all means. As mentioned, the core gameplay is fun IF and when it works properly. And I guess looking at the bright side of things, seeing your wrestler do his thing with the ropes would technically count as entertainment, but even then I’d still at least recommend waiting for a sale. A big, big, big, discounted sale. The fun can only last for so long, especially if you have to put up with graphics like that.

*WWE2K20 was reviewed on a PS4 Pro through a review code provided by the publisher.