Most Impressive Game of 2017 (so far)

It involves giant machines.

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Horizon: Zero Dawn captivated me from the minute I inserted the game disc into the PS4; with a world as immersive and big as Horizon’s world is, I had a fun time just roaming around it and I loved sightseeing the many environments in Horizon. This is an open-world game that is done the right way and I feel like it’s ahead of the curve in comparison to other open-world games.

On top of the environment being breathtaking, the game is just a ton of fun to play. One of my favorite things about Horizon is the variety in which the machines appear in this world; no two machines are the same and Guerrilla Games has done a great job at creating these beasts in which Aloy fights throughout the story mode. My personal favorite machine enemy is the Stormbird; they’re a major pain to deal with but they just look awesome and menacing upon arrival within the story mode.

The story within Horizon is a major talking point simply because at the end of the day, stories do drive gamers to be engaged with the game as a whole. One reason why The Last of Us was so beloved is because of the characters and the overall premise of the story mode. Because of The Last of Us and games such as Uncharted, people expect a grand story that might rival something as seen in a movie; don’t expect that with Horizon: Zero Dawn. While I love the story mode and Aloy, the main character in this game, Horizon is more beloved for its great gameplay and the overall setting within Aloy’s world. I don’t necessarily find any problem with this simply because if one plays a Mario game, they’re not playing it for the story mode; it’s a Mario game, after all. I’d apply this same logic to Horizon. While it attempts to give players a great story, it’s not one game I’d point out and say, “ya know, Horizon was one of the best experiences story-wise” because I would be lying.

Overall, I still love Horizon and feel like that this is a huge step forward for Guerrilla Games. I love Aloy, I love the world that she partakes in, and I just feel like this is a game that everybody should try to play at some point before 2017 is over. I recommend Horizon: Zero Dawn and I feel like this game has GOTY potential written all over it. While the story is not its strength, everything else that’s packed into Horizon: Zero Dawn kept me occupied and entertained for hours on end. We need more games like Horizon: Zero Dawn and so far, this would be my personal favorite game of 2017.

Have You Played Atari Today?

Answer: I have.

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I was born into an era where my first video game console was the Super Nintendo and shortly after, the Playstation came and I cherished both of these consoles to death. Games such as Super Mario World, Super Punch-Out, Crash Bandicoot, Donkey Kong Country, and countless other games occupied my time.

For my dad, he grew up with the Atari 2600; for years, he would recount stories about games he had played such as Decathlon, Space Invaders, and Dig Dug. Today, we went to a video game convention; that went okay and I bought a shirt as well as Atari’s, E.T. I bought the game as a joke mainly because now I own a copy of E.T. and I only paid three dollars for a game that is considered the worst game ever made. After walking around for about an hour or so at the convention, me and my dad decided to leave and we went to a video game store that specialized in retro video game stuff. We only went here because one of the vendors told us that he ran a store right down the road from where the convention was being taken place.

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After browsing the store for about fifteen minutes, my dad came to the realization that this store was in possession of an Atari 2600. I walked around the store and found some cool things that I might want to keep an eye on down-the-road but he was curious about the Atari 2600. He owned an Atari 2600 as a kid but said he doesn’t know what happened to it and the store was selling it for a relatively cheap price. After much debate, he decided to purchase the console and we ended up picking up four or five games for it.

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When we got home, my dad immediately set up the Atari in the living room while I ate some lunch. The system worked perfectly fine like the clerk at the retro game store said, as did the games that we bought with the system. The system has been a huge hit at home so far and my dad has been loving it. I’ve mainly watched him play the Atari so far but I’ve tried it myself as well; it’s challenging to play a video game console that only consists of one button and one joystick considering how much goes into video games in today’s society. He bought the system on a whim and he’s been more than satisfied because he’s been on a nostalgia trip since earlier this afternoon.

The funny thing about nostalgia is that it never truly dies when it comes to movies, games, TV, etc. Some debate whether this is good or bad but I personally love recounting stuff from my childhood/teenage years. I know Space Jam is a terrible movie but I personally love the movie; I enjoy watching it simply because it reminds me of my time as a kid. This is the mindset when it comes to my dad’s Atari 2600; the games are nothing spectacular compared to today’s video games but without the Atari, we might not have games like Mario today. And because of that, having an Atari 2600 in our household is pretty damn awesome.

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A Giant Swing-and-Miss

Why does this keep happening?

Street Fighter V isn’t a game that has been shy of criticism; their latest character reveal is no different. The newest addition to the Season 2 cast of characters is Abigail, a character from the Final Fight series.

Final Fight characters are no strangers to the Street Fighter series but this is the best Capcom can do? Season 2 has been a huge let down compared to Season 1. I have a huge issue with Season 1 and 2 DLC characters simply because they should already be in the game but that’s another issue entirely. The main issue here is, if they wanted to add a character like Abigail to the SFV roster, why not just give us Hugo? Why not bring back Dudley instead of saying, “this is our new character” with the addition of Ed. I get the mindset of Capcom and there’s only so much they can do before a character is just a “copy” of another character. Hell, Ryu and Ken have been in the series since the first game but everybody views Ken as an American Ryu.

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What disappoints me most about Season 2 is that all of these DLC characters kind of stink. Minus Akuma and Kolin, Season 1 wipes the floor with Season 2 DLC characters; in Season 1, we were granted a pretty nice batch of characters from previous games. With Season 2 DLC characters just about over, I hope that Capcom can get over this hiccup and produce something worthwhile in time for Season 3 DLC. The game has faced a ton of criticism and I can’t say I blame many people for not holding back their complaints with how Street Fighter V has been handled over the course of a year.

Sky High Expectations

Your move, Insomniac.

Spider-Man: Homecoming has just added an enormous amount of pressure to the Spider-Man video game that fans expect to see on the PS4 in the coming months. This isn’t a knock on Homecoming per se but because of how successful the movie was, critically and financially, the new Spider-Man game must deliver big time for us to care. Anything less than great will be disappointing to hardcore fans, as well as the casual Spider-Man fan.

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For me personally, despite not loving Spider-Man like I used to, I want to see the character done justice. This applies to video games, movies, cartoons, comics, and so on. Tom Holland and Marvel have given Spider-Man a breath of new life for the better and for the worse. The good news is, the last two times we have seen Spidey on the big screen, he hasn’t let us down. Personally, I still have a love for the first two Sam Raimi Spidey films but Spidey’s brief appearance in Captain America: Civil War started this trend of Spidey being great again. In Civil War, Holland stole the show when he appeared on the screen; this continued in the solo Spidey film, Spider-Man: Homecoming. I had fun again watching a solo Spider-Man film and despite Iron Man being prominent in this film quite a bit, it was still Spidey’s movie at the end of the day.

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But why does this matter? It matters because gamers expect a Spidey game to be quality just like the product we have received with Homecoming. A great Spider-Man game is definitely possible considering how many people loved Spider-Man 2 for the original Xbox and for the PS2. I can’t even imagine how many hours I spent in NYC just swinging around as Spider-Man; as a kid, I cherished this. The Batman: Arkham games gave me a similar feeling; I loved flying around Arkham City as Batman and patrolling the streets; it was a ton of fun. I’m not saying the new Spider-Man game will be on par with those Batman games but that’s the bar that has been set; because of how great those games were, the Spider-Man game is being heavily compared to those Arkham games with how they are set up.

This trailer gives us an in-depth look at what to expect with the newest Spidey game. The game looks like a ton of fun, the world is beautiful, and it looks like the game plays well. I also heard talks that the city players can swing around in is enormous; this makes me giddy for this new game. The hope is that this new Spider-Man game will satisfy Spider-Man fans everywhere. The ball is in Insomniac’s court; if they deliver, they will make a lot of fans happy and ecstatic to play a new Spider-Man game.

I hope I am one of those fans.

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

N’Sane

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Over this past weekend, the return of that bandicoot is a nostalgia trip for anyone who is a fan of the original PlayStation games. That’s right, Crash is back and if you haven’t been living under a rock, fans are ecstatic that he has returned to the PS4 with the release of Crash Bandicoot: N’Sane Trilogy.

Crash Bandicoot was a great game to jump back into and despite it being challenging at times, I really enjoyed replaying the original game. I’m just about done Cortex Strikes Back and I gotta say, I haven’t had this much fun replaying a game series in quite some time. Sure, it can be frustrating at times and the mechanics are wonky sometimes but for forty dollars, I couldn’t not give this trilogy a purchase. Much like the Donkey Kong games, the levels themselves are the real challenge as one keeps playing but the boss fights are unique and all are interesting in their own way. While some of the boss fights aren’t that hard, each boss has their own persona and this makes the boss fights at least memorable to an extent.

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The amount of polish and graphical touch-ups that this game has received are breathtaking. The Crash games have been polished to the max and even the soundtracks of these games have been touched up which makes the experience that much better for people like me. I geek out over video game OST’s, so hearing the remastered version of a classic tune gives me joy even today. While none of the tunes quite have the nostalgic quality of something like Aquatic Ambience, the Crash games have pretty good soundtracks that immerse the player into Crash’s world.

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I also had the pleasure of picking up Kingdom Hearts 1.5 over this past month and ran through the first game. I still haven’t completed everything there is to do in that game, besides beat the game, but I am currently in the process of farming to reach level 100. Much like Crash, I had a great time replaying this game and on the alternative, this game was much easier to jump back into. Boss battles against people like Hades and Clayton seemed much easier but I don’t really have any negative things to say about the first Kingdom Hearts game; it’s one of my favorite games of all-time.

Here’s hoping that the power of nostalgia can bring back one of PlayStation’s original mascots.

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Tomb Raider: VG-Movie Curse Breaker?

I can only hope.

Video games and movies are a mix that usually ends in disaster more often than not; movies such as Mortal Kombat, the Resident Evil franchise as a whole, and Doom did not translate to the big screen at all. For most gamers, regardless of the game franchise, we want to see our media portrayed not only in an accurate manner but we want it to be a good portrayal. Asking one of these video game movies to be great is too big a task but we’d settle for something that was just considered “good” with all of the stinkers that we’ve had to suffer with. I didn’t even mention the worst of the worst but video games movies are usually very, very bad and are sometimes, just flat-out embarrassing.

This brings me to the point of my topic overall; the Tomb Raider reboot film starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft was just given a release date. The film starring Vikander is set to release on March 16th, 2018. It seems like the studio is very optimistic about the Tomb Raider reboot and hopefully, it follows in the footsteps of how well the game performed when Square Enix rebooted the series a few years back. One thing that this movie has going for it is the two leads; Alicia Vikander has shown her range in movies such as The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Ex Machina. On the other side, Walton Goggins is playing Mathias, which is a great role for Goggins. If someone hasn’t played the Tomb Raider reboot from 2013 and is living under a rock, I’ll keep the spoilers on the down-low but this is a great role for Goggins.

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Despite all of this, I do have reason to be concerned. First and foremost, this is a video game movie and the track record for movies based on video games is pretty awful. Last year or so, many had high hopes that Assassin’s Creed would break the curse of video game movies and the cast that was involved with the Assassin’s Creed movie looked like a sure thing. Unfortunately, the cycle repeated and while I love Alicia Vikander as an actress, she’s no Michael Fassbender or Marion Cotillard. Another thing that worries me is that I’ve been hearing rumors about script issues and many fans have noted that the movie is swaying away from what made the rebooted video game great. This doesn’t bother me so much since fans can be a little overdramatic; however, I do keep an eye on things like this simply because it would kill me if the movie swayed so far away from the game’s plot to the point where it wasn’t even the same storyline.

Unless this movie turns out to be a total trainwreck like Assassin’s Creed, I will most likely see this movie regardless of how good or bad it is. The only Tomb Raider movies I have had the (dis)pleasure of seeing were the Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider films. I don’t honestly mind those movies too much but they’re not good movies in the slightest; much like Mortal Kombat, I watch the movies every now and then because they’re mindless and they’re guilty pleasure films. I hope this isn’t the case with the newest Tomb Raider film though; I want it to be a good movie and if it’s a great movie, that’d be awesome but I’ll cross my fingers on that one.

Hopefully one day, a video game movie will surpass Wreck-It Ralph as the best video game movie ever made. The saddest thing about that? Wreck-It Ralph isn’t even a real video game movie per se. Your move, Tomb Raider (movie) team.

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MvC: Infinite should be delayed

Is there anything else to say?

Captain Marvel being playable in a video game is a guaranteed selling point for me, well, until I actually played the demo for Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite. The game demo that dropped at E3 this year is basically unplayable. Infinite feels like a rushed game and that’s just going off of what they’ve done to Chun-Li. I found it very odd how Capcom, who are usually pretty great with character animations, messed up Chun so badly since she looks pretty awesome in Street Fighter V. Moving away from that, MvC is just not a very well done game and it’s not fun compared to any of the other fighters I have been playing this past year. The game feels very dated, the roster looks to be very thin so far, and minus a few moments, I was just playing this game to play it.

Capcom needs to get it together. Street Fighter V, while I love it, was an incomplete mess and Capcom’s track record as of late has been pretty terrible in terms of thinking about the consumer. Why do I have to grind extensively to get a character like Guile in my Street Fighter V? Even worse, Capcom has been falling in love with microtransactions, which is a thorn in the side for consumers. I’m hoping that this doesn’t happen with MvC: Infinite.

I hate to see a game get delayed but this game deserves a big-time delay. While many gamers hate the word “delay,” in this instance, a delay would not be the end of the world. In fact, a delay would benefit both parties dramatically in the long run.

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