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TOPHAT GAMER

I play games, chances are so do you. Let's talk about it.
Oct 19 '14

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

After years of making first person shooters in the vein of the FEAR series and Gotham City impostors (anyone actually play that?), Monolith has finally made it’s way back into the limelight with Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. So does the game live up to the hype? Let’s find out!

Shadow of Mordor cover art.png

STORY

The game takes place between The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings, and puts you in the boots of Talion, a ranger of Gondor, who is about to die. And then he dies. The servants of Sauron attack their encampment and slaughter his family and comrades, but before his death, the lieutenants perform some sort of ritual, leaving Talion trapped between the world of the living and the world of the dead.

To add to the mysterious circumstance, Talion finds himself tied to the fate of an Elven Wraith, who aids Talion on his quest to end this curse of half-life.

The story is a neat concept, but it may take some liberties with the established lore of the middle earth universe. That said, I can’t say how much, as I’m not that attached to the lore of the Hobbit, LOTR or the Silmarrilion; and so it doesn’t really bother me. Taken at face value, the idea of being caught between life and death and tied to a mysterious spirit is kind of cool. It’s just a shame that no one gets any real character development. Talion is a cheap Batman mixed with Aragorn, and the Wraith lacks any personality for the majority of the game.

PRESENTATION

This game’s visual presentation is exceptional. Models look great, and the pure variety among enemy captains is surprising. While Talion’s visual design is a little boring, his clothes move really well, and his animations are really fluid.

Weather effects in the game are great. I can’t remember the last time I saw such good rain in a game, and I’m not even sure if I’ve seen hail in a game at all.

The game’s voice acting is really good, but it’s a shame that such good voice talent was wasted on such one dimensional characters. The sound effects, especially those heard in the middle of battle, are exceptional, and keep the adrenaline running high.

GAMEPLAY

When I compared Talion to a cheap Batman, I didn’t necessarily mean in personality only. The gameplay of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is a straight copy and paste of the Batman Arkham games. For instance, the game is part stealth, part melee action game.

The melee action is a simple to learn, difficult to master system containing strikes, stuns, counters and dodges, as well as takedowns and special moves that require you to build up your combo meter before performing. The biggest differences in the combat system are the lack of diversity in “gadgets” you can use mid fight (which frankly simplifies the whole affair) and the fact that instead of brawling with your fists, you’re straight up killing orcs with your sword.

The melee is quite fun, as derivative of Batman as it may be, and the more brutal kills lend a weight to it that Batman’s “non-lethal” takedowns could never have.

The stealth works well, and doesn’t make you compromise your speed for stealth. It does make the Orc and Uruk AI seem kind of incompotent, but generally speaking, stealth sections are non-offensive affairs.My favourite thing about the system is that if an enemy spots you, not everyone is alerted immediately. It’s a small thing, but it’s something that developers are still messing up these days. looking at you, Ubisoft.

The game’s biggest draw, and the main thing that sets it apart from Batman is the Nemesis system. In the game, you’re presented with a hierarchy of Uruk captains and warlords. A large focus of the game is spent uncovering intel on the many enemy captains and dispatching them. It’s a pleasant surprise to se how robust this system is, and how personal it can make things feel.

For instance, I spent alot of my early game clearing out the hierarchy, and came face to face with an Uruk named Ushak Sword-Master. He wasn’t much of a challenge, and was weak against ranged attacks. So I used I shot him with an arrow him. To my surprise, Ushak returned with a metal patch over his eye, ranting about how he’d make me pay. So I dispatched him with a combat takedown (which involved stabbing him in the face).

Once again, to my surprise, he showed up again, this time with a bandaged up face. After our many encounters, he’d gotten wise to my attacks, which made him a far tougher opponent. Needless to say, when he appeared near the end of the game, leading an opposing band of Uruks, I was genuinely impressed with the game’s systems.

The versatility of the Nemesis system also lets you manipulate your Uruk foes, and even plot their way to power. It’s a neat feature, but I think the most impressive thing is actually developing a rivalry with a character who, under any other circumstances, would just be an unnamed NPC.

The game is surprisingly difficult, as it sort of throws you in the deep end. While not overwhelming, if you walk into an orc stronghold, you’re going to have a rough time. The coolest thing is that when you die, you actually die. And the Uruk who killed you will be promoted! But thanks to your curse, you can come back for some sweet revenge.

REPLAYABILITY

I literally spent over 20 hours messing with the Nemesis system. The game’s main story doesn’t take too long at all (maybe 5-6 hours?), so that’s going to be the meat of your experience. On top of that, however, there are side missions that let you build the legend of your weapons (by completing tasks that relate to them) as well as numerous collectibles. If you’re interested in the world of LOTR, then some of these might appeal to you.

OVERVIEW

Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor takes a lot of cues from the Batman Arkham games. Like, it’s kind of insulting as to how much is straight up torn from one game and planted into the other. But the gameplay stays fun, and it’s stealth actually feels a little better (if only due to it’s less strict nature). The Nemesis system is the selling point here, however, and I’m really happy to say that if you’re buying this game on that premise alone, then it’s a good choice. You’ll get hours out of this game.

Next week, we go to space with Alien: Isolation!

GAME ON!

Tophat Gamer

Tags: Gaming Video Games Games Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor The Hobbit Monolith Lord of the Rings

Oct 18 '14
Pretty much the only thing I’ve ever truly wanted.

Pretty much the only thing I’ve ever truly wanted.

2 notes Tags: fuck yea naughty dog gaming crash bandicoot jak and daxter uncharted the last of us

Oct 17 '14

I imagine my skeleton would do quite well in the Skeleton Wars. Imagine how agile these bones would be without this behemoth meat sack hanging off of it!

Yeaaaa.

2 notes Tags: Skeleton War

Oct 17 '14

Shout Pit: EB Expo 2014 edition.

raptorproof:

Shout Pit: EB Expo 2014 edition.

https://raptorproof.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/eb-expo-2014.mp3

Eb expo 2014

On this weeks edition of the Shout Pit. Josh and I talk about our times with Shadow of Mordor. I talk at length about my time with what I think is one of the best survival games this year, Alien: Isolation. Josh talk about Smash Bros 3DS and how I…just…don’t get Smash Bros…but Josh likes it so yeah. I also compare the…

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Oct 14 '14

Ah I love getting stuff in the mail

2 notes Tags: t-shirts Pokemon eevee gengar

Oct 12 '14

Super Smash Bros 3DS

It feels like forever since the last Smash Bros game, literally the one game that I can guarantee will get people to buy a Nintendo console, and with the Wii U doing not-so-well in the market, what better time to bring the smackdown! Except that this isn’t on the Wii U, at least, not yet. It’s on the 3DS. Hmm. Strange release order aside, let’s talk about Super Smash Bros for 3DS!

SmashNintendo3DSBoxart.png

STORY

I don’t.. Smash Bros Brawl had a story, an it was called the Subspace Emissary. This has literally nothing. It’s actually kind of disappointing, but the premise remains the same; Nintendo’s biggest all-stars come together for a big ol’ throwdown. Also Duck Hunt Dog is there.

Like I said, it’s really disappointing that there’s no equivalent to SubSpace Emissary in this game, but considering it is the handheld version of the game, it’s lack of full single player campaign is somewhat understandable. We can only hope it’s Wii U counterpart has more to it.

PRESENTATION

Super Smash Bros for 3DS brings the colourful characters and locations from a wide range of Nintendo games. This lends a decent amount of variety, as you’ll see clearly more cartoon-like characters such as Toon-Link and Mario alongside more realistic (and I use the term lightly) characters such as Ganondorf and the cast of Fire Emblem.

Character’s look great, and their animations are perfect. It is amazing how much love and care has gone into some of the moves; Megaman, for instance, brings attacks from various Robot Masters from his past games, and his jumping and running animations are perfect when put side-by-side with their games of origin.

The sound design is also great, with a soundtrack full of classic songs from the aforementioned myriad of Nintendo titles. Unfortunately the track listing isn’t as extensive as previous games, but the tracks on offer are still pretty good.

The size of the 3DS screen isn’t really ideal for a game as fast and chaotic as Smash, and it does what it can to account for this. The option for thicker outlines on characters is available and helps to keep your fighters visible for the most part. Other things, such as projectiles, don’t get the same treatment, so it can be really hard to keep track of things like Link’s bombs.

GAMEPLAY

Veterans of the series will feel perfectly at home playing this on the 3DS (after they stop whining about the lack of Gamecube controllers), because the gameplay formula remains mostly unchanged. The wide roster of characters has 4 special attacks each, as well as basic attacks and charged up “Smash” attacks and they mostly play different to one another.

Unfortunately, there’s still too many clone characters for my liking, and it makes me feel like different characters could have been included over “Toon-Link”, who will forever be my least favourite part of Smash. Even characters like Ganondorf or Captain Falcon annoy me. Why not give the move sets some more individuality? 3 games of this, and nothing has changed. I’m over it.

The basic gameplay is a lot faster than brawl, but not quite as fast as Melee, which makes it feel a lot easier to play competitively. Adding to this is the removal of the abysmal tripping mechanic and the ability to choose Omega stages (which act as Final Destination modifiers for other levels). While the latter is a nice gesture, I feel like giving levels a Final D AND Battlefield modifier would have been better. Many players will agree that Final Destination doesn’t give the most balanced playing field.

The gameplay modes on offer are fairly straight forward. Classic mode sets you on the path of 5 or so fights with varying modifiers while All Star mode gives you one life, 3-4 recovery items and the entire roster to fight through in order of their first in-game appearance. It’s a neat idea, and fairly challenging for beginners.

The newest game mode is Smash Run, which pits players against other players or CPU characters in a race through a platforming maze, where beating opponents and finding chests gives you stat increases. Once the platforming level is complete, players battle against each other with their new stat increases, creating really different dynamics for different characters. Overall however, the game mode is pretty repetitive, and unless you’re playing with friends, it gets old fast.

All of that said, however, Super Smash Bros for 3DS plays as well as any other Smash game. My main gripes are to do with the inclusion of clone characters that have overstayed their welcome, as well as not really having much in the way of single player content.

The game does feature some neat customisation in the way of Mii Fighrers and customisable move-sets for established characters. While I think the Mii Fighters might be my favourite addition to the roster, it sounds like using these characters and any other custom move-sets won’t be allowed in competitive play. Such a waste of one of the games cooler new features.

REPLAYABILITY

While I did just say that the game doesn’t have enough single player options for me, that’s not to say there aren’t a few mini-games to play around with. Home run smash returns, as does multi-man brawl. New to the game are the trophy rush and Target Blast mode. Trophy Rush is pretty shallow, and Target Blast is like a cross between Home-Run contest and Angry Birds. I’m not going to say it’s not neat, but it focuses more on luck and repetition than the old target smash contests did. They were all about teaching you about character movement and attacks, whereas this is seemingly random.

The roster is sizeable, but it’s sad to see so many slots wasted. Alot of the new characters are really cool, so unlocking them to play is as good a reason as any to keep playing the game.

OVERVIEW

Super Smash Bros for 3DS is really enjoyable and fans of the Smash series should have loads of fun with this. That said, it’s hard not to be disappointed with the lack of deep single-player content, variety in characters/movesets and the trimmed back mini-games. Customisable characters and movesets are neat, but generally banned for competitive play, so using them will end up just teaching you bad habits. Sad to see a decent mechanic like this be thrown to the wayside.

Smash Fans, if you own a 3DS, you’ll probably get a kick out of this game, but if you have a Wii U, I’d honestly wait a month or two to sound how that version turns out before committing to this version.

1 note Tags: Gaming Video Games Games Super Smash Bros 3DS Nintendo

Oct 12 '14

The spoopiest of recordings has just taken place..

Y’all can’t be ready. Not at all.

19 Days. Give or take a couple.

1 note Tags: Gaming Video Games Lets Play Horrorcalypse 2 Return of the Horror Awww Shit

Oct 12 '14

So credit where credit’s due; Shadow Of Mordor is the first game that has actually made me feel like I have an in game rival, a legitimate Nemesis who not only makes me really angry to see him so often, but also really happy that I get to fight him again.

4 notes Tags: Shadow Of Mordor Middle Earth LOTR Gaming Video Games

Oct 6 '14

EB EXPO 2014

So this week I spent 3 days at the EB Games Expo, where I saw a bunch of new footage for games and played even more demos of upcoming titles. Here, I’ll be rattling off my thoughts for the games that I played, as well as what I’m looking forward to most coming out of it.

Assassin’s Creed (Rogue and Unity)

Thoroughly unimpressed by Ubisofts AC presentations this year. Rogue feels exactly like Assassin’s Creed 4, which is fine but it’s hard to get excited about the gameplay.The location was very nice though, with polar landscapes and icebergs and all. Also penguins. Super cool.

The Unity presentation on the other hand was exactly the same as the Gamescom demo (except played live). A little disappointed that it wasn’t playable (especially since it’s meant to release in a little over a month), but I did gleam one little bit of information out of it that I hadn’t noticed before. When you lose a guard, a white silhouette of Arno will appear where he last saw you. AC Unity appears to use the same Last Known Location system as Ubisoft’s other title, Splinter Cell.

Bayonetta 2

Fans of the first Bayonetta should be very happy, as the gun blasting, hair wearing witch returns in stylish, rewarding action gameplay. Good fun all around, and very similar to the first game. But I am looking forward to playing this on my Wii U.

Bloodborne

Easily the best thing I played this past weekend, Bloodborne is a spiritual successor to the Souls games (Demon’s, Dark and Dark 2), and it certainly brings the same level of calculated combat and multitude of deaths that the series is known for. The demo gives you a brief look at 4 pre-built classes, each equipped with a primary, transforming weapon and a firearm used for stunning opponents.

The game also feels a little bit faster-paced, as the signature roll of it’s predecessors has been replaced (for the most part) with a quick side dash. Adding to that is the health regeneration that can occur with a fast counter attack. This also contributes to how the game seems to be pushing older sword and board players into a more aggressive role. With it’s creepy gothic victorian visuals and unsettling monsters, I am counting the days til Bloodborne is released.

Dead Island 2

We played a very early build of Dead Island 2, and it’s very hard to say if I liked it or not. It’s melee focused zombie killing returns, but the manual combat option appears to be replaced with a more one button fixes all approach. It loses a bit of the fun factor when I can’t aim to literally disarm an opponent, but the game remains gory and still has a focus on upgraded weaponry. It’s also a lot brighter than the previous games, and looks quite a bit nicer too. Until it crashed that is. But like I said, it was an early build.

The Division

The presentation we were shown was in two halves; first was the E3 demo from this year, and the second was a live demo showing off a faction in the game as well as smartglass integration. The biggest thing I took away from this was that the live demo looked great, and was confirmed to have been played on an Xbox One. It doesn’t look quite as good as the original E3 demos, but still damn good to be sure. The faction shown was called the Cleaners, and the idea of a group independently cleaning up a quarantine zone is pretty interesting.

Dying Light

Pretty much a better Dead Island than Dead Island. While still using an auto style of melee combat, it feels quite a lot more dynamic. Enemies react quite realistically to the repeated blows I was delivering, and occasionally I would see limbs highlighted briefly in red, possibly indicating a bone breaking system. It’s parkour is fine, but the button mapping for the demo was a little strange. Hopefully you can play with that in the final build.

The Evil Within

It’s always hard to demo a horror game in a busy expo, and unfortunately The Evil Within suffered from this a little bit. It plays well enough and gives off a very Resident Evil inspired vibe, but it’s very hard to get sucked in to a world with so many people bustling around you, even though TEW’s atmosphere was spooky as hell. I’m looking forward to giving this a play when it actually releases. I feel it’ll be a lot more enjoyable when I can really immerse myself into it.

Evolve

Easily one of the most fun games at the show, Evolve is really committing to this idea of 4 Vs 1 asymmetrical, competitive co-op gameplay, and rightfully so. The power balance seems to be perfect, and with the right plan or a good amount of teamwork, you can be the best monster around or take down your target with ease. The classes are all varied, and success relies on your ability to know your role and play it. Medics need to heal, trappers need to trap, you know what I’m saying. The monster on the other hand needs to pick players off, and separate the group if possible.

Once the final evolution has taken place, it’s a mad dash to destroy the power station as the monster, or kill the beadt as the hunters. It’s ridiculous how much fun this game is. That said, it remains to be seen as to whether a multiplayer only game will warrant a full retail price.

Far Cry 4

Far Cry 3 was one of my favourite games for a long time, and Far Cry 4 seems to be following suit. The demo gave us a fort to liberate, and it appears to work as well as it used to. That said, you’re prompted to choose a style, Sneak, Ride or Fly, when you begin. Sneak is pretty standard, but ride and fly are very neat. Ride let’s you storm the fort with an elephant, and it feels SO GOOD to tear everything apart with your stampy friend. He likes to pick up guards and flip cars. Which is fine by me. The fly option let’s you pilot a personal heli vehicle, and rain down explosives on your foes. If you liked Far Cry 3, chances are you’ll be rightfully looking forward to this like I am.

LittleBigPlanet3

I’ve always been a pretty big fan of the LBP series, but the platforming has always rubbed me the wrong way. It’s always felt far too floaty, but it’s never bothered me too much to not like the game. But with LBP3 and the additional characters, some of the issues seem to have been looked at. While platforming is still floaty for the most part, using the new dog, Oddsock, it feels a lot more fast and responsive. Walljumps are a key part of his gameplay sections, as well as sprinting, so the levels feel a lot faster and tighter.

One of the other characters, Toggle (The Grimace-looking guy), seems to have a focus on puzzles that relate to his ability to change size. Shifting water depth, moving weighted platforms, it’s all possible with toggle. I’m very excited to see what can be done with these skill sets.

Mortal Kombat X

OH MY GOD. I have never cringed so much at gore in a video game. Holy shit, seriously the fatalities in this game are NUTS. The fighting itself is very fast, and seems to be the most responsive fighting in the entire series. Choosing between three seperate styles is also neat, and I look forward to sitting down with that when the game releases. But those fatalities! I hate to say it, but I may have been the first person to see Quan Chi’s fatality since his announcement earlier that morning. It is so brutal. I won’t go into too much detail, but imagine someone slowly walking mouth-first into a sword. Yea. Damn.

The Order 1886

We got to play the same demo that has been shown off quite a lot since E3, which involves using the thermite gun in some fairly standard cover-based shooter situations. The gameplay works fine, but the demo wasn’t really much of anything. The unique flame-spreading thermite rifle makes me eager to see more of your arsenal, but the demo really limits what you’re shown. The Blacksight bullet-time mechanic works fine, with your aim snapping to targets, but the best thing about it is how dynamic it looks. The entire game looks amazing, and I hope that carries on to the final product.

Splatoon

I didn’t expect to have so much fun with what is essentially Nintendo’s idea of a competitive shooter, but the fact is that it’s surprisingly fast, and the idea of covering as much area as possible with your teams ink is a unique take on competitive multiplayer. The way to travel quickly and also refill your ink stores is to transform into a squid and swim through the area you’ve covered. You’re literally painting your own road as you play. It’s very cool, very fast and I’m surprisingly actually looking forward to it.

Sunset Overdrive

So the build of Sunset Overdrive that I played was a multiplayer horde mode that focuses on protecting points from mutants. It shows off the gameplay fairly well, and the game’s focus on momentum is apparent almost immediately. The entire arena is covered in wires and rails to grind, and you’re given a generous dose of auto targeting when firing from the hip. Unfortunately, your momentum dies when you hit the ground, and I think that a sprint button would help the game out alot. As it stands, it’s fast and fun but when your momentum stops, it stops immediately. Overall pretty fun, but I think I’m looking forward to playing around with the customisation more than anything.

Until Dawn

Though people were advertising this to me as an almost Beyond: Two Souls style game, I have to disagree. This one actually seems good.

It’s very much a Cabin in the Woods style horror movie inspired game, and it has a very creepy atmosphere. Unfortunately, the motion controls break any tension by sending your characters eyes darting all over the place, but it’s funny as hell, so I’ll let it slide. When it’s not being stupid, Until Dawn brings a strong creepy presence to it’s fantastic presence, and it managed to almost give me a heart attack, so there’s that. I’m not usually one for horror, but this has gotten me pretty interested.

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

Another live presentation, this one showed off the Griffin fight that is reference in countless other demos. The fight itself was very impressive, and looked extremely dynamic. It’s amazing just how good this game looks. Magic looks easy enough to use, and tracking monsters across this huge fantasy land should prove to scratch a lot of itches for a lot of people.

WWE2K15

So I don’t watch wrestling. I haven’t for some time. But damn this game looks great. Like it looks almost real. It plays a lot more like a sim wrestling game, so I’m not sure how good that will be. There’s a lot of systems that aren’t quite as obvious as they were in previous games.

MY FAVOURITES

Overall, I had the most fun with Mortal Kombat X, Bloodborne and Evolve. Bloodborne is gorgeous and scratches the Soul’s itch that I’ve had since completing DS2, but it also feels fresh. Mortal Kombat X on the other hand is pure Mortal Kombat, but the fighting mechanics feel more competent than it’s ever felt before. And finally, Evolve is just perfect. It’s 4vs1 gameplay is surprisingly well balanced, and it’s focus on teamwork can mean the difference between a five minute game and a twenty minute game. It’s insane.

I did also play Smash Bros (3DS and Wii U), Shadow of Mordor and watched some Alien: Isolation, but considering how close they are to releasing, I thought I’d just let those ones slide.

If you went to the EB Expo, what did you think? What did you enjoy playing most? What are you most excited for?

Until next week..

GAME ON!

Tophat Gamer

2 notes Tags: Gaming EB Expo Assassins Creed Unity Rogue Bloodborne Bayonetta 2 Dead Island 2 The Division Dying Light The Evil Within Evolve Far Cry 4 LittleBigPlanet 3 Mortal Kombat X The Order 1886 Splatoon Sunset Overdrive Until Dawn The Witcher 3 WWE2k15 Xbox Playstation Nintendo

Oct 6 '14

Wow, what a long weekend

EB Expo was on over the last couple of days, and jesus am I tired. Will do a write up of what I liked later on today, but yea, overall it was a pretty good time! =D

Tags: Gaming Video Games EB Expo