I’ve long avoided the Earth Defense Force (EDF) franchise.  The idea of it sounded interesting but the few videos I’ve seen of it always looked bad and the review scores for most of the franchise seemed worse.  I lumped it in with Dynasty Warriors—a franchise that I never wanted to touch. But a friend roped me into playing Iron Rain, so here we are. While Iron Rain isn’t as bad as I initially anticipated, that still doesn’t make it a “good” game.

EDF places you in the shoes of a soldier you create at the start of the game.  The “Aggressors” (aliens) are attacking per usual and it’s up to you and your somewhat ragtag squad to stop them.  I have no idea why they don’t just call them “Aliens”, but I digress. You then spend about 50+ missions blasting apart giant bugs, robots, spiders and alien spacecraft.

There are four classes of soldier for you to play as. Two are unlocked from the start while the other two are unlocked gradually in the story.  They are:

Trooper – This is the default class and the most baseline.  It can wield most weapons, has decent defense and the special move is a dash to get out of danger, quickly.

Jet Lifter – Aka “The Flying Class”.  This soldier has wings so it can somewhat fly around the battlefield, dealing out damage.  Unfortunately, the controls aren’t exactly great for this activity.

Heavy Striker – This is the tank class of the 4 available.  You can use two weapons at once which means it deals out more damage but you do have to be aware of your ammo.  The special ability is an energy shield that stops damage at the cost of energy.

Lastly, my personal favorite the Prowl Rider.  The PW has slightly more armor than the Jet Lifter but less than the Trooper and far less than the Heavy Striker.  The hook with this class is it literally has a grappling hook that can attach to buildings, or even the ground, to zip around the level with.  It’s a lot like the grappling hook in the Just Cause games.

Each class also has an “Overdrive” mode that is akin to a super-mode for your soldier.  The Trooper shoots/reloads a lot more quickly, the Lifter can fly infinitely a short time/shoot quicker, the Striker’s shield increases in diameter and the Striker summons a friendly insect to ride.  I should say “attempts” to summon, since this feature didn’t seem to work half the time.

The enemies you face in Iron Rain leave a lot to be desired.  There are around 15 enemy types total, and that’s about it for the entirety of the story campaign.  Enemies include: giant ants, giant spiders, a beetle that can rush at you, giant robots, tiny ships that can teleport, and so on.  There are a few variations as well, such as one enemy called a “Scourger” which initially is red. Later in the campaign, you come across a blue variant that is the same basic model, just more difficult to kill.

There is also an enemy human faction but they matter so little in the story as to barely merit a mention.  I think you only fight against them in like 4 of the missions (if that), so they aren’t a big threat.

Missions typically follow the pattern of you being dropped off in an area, the bugs are there, and you have to “kill’em all”, to steal a line from Starship Troopers.  Once you destroy the initial wave of bugs, a second wave will pop up, and then usually a third. Most of the time it will be against a new enemy type, but after a while it begins to repeat.

A few missions change up this formula but only ever so slightly.  A couple levels involve you having to defend a building against alien attack.  Some other missions don’t have an open-area at all but confine you to a cave system, going through corridors and smashing bugs.  Also, some levels have boss fights in them but they don’t exactly feel epic when you are fighting them.

Seemingly, the impressive part about EDF games is the scale.  The old games had large environments and could fill levels with a lot of enemies.  Iron Rain tries to do this but only the first part is successful.

Most levels can overwhelm you with enemies but it doesn’t seem fair.  A lot of the weaker enemies can go down in one or two shots (depending on your weapon), but stronger enemies can become bullet sponges and can take forever to go down.

It really doesn’t help when there are over 10 enemies on screen and the framerate takes a massive hit to what is going on.  The ants are one thing, but certain enemies like the giant robots can really tank the framerate and overwhelm you, if more than two get on your case.  Enemy behavior falls into about two categories of “shoot” or “follow you relentlessly” which makes fighting most stuff not fun.

Enemies do drop crystals though and you’ll need them and money to buy new weapons/gear for your soldier.  There are three crystal colors (blue, red, yellow), with green crystals being a health pick-up in the level.  When you complete a mission you’ll also get some cash which you can use to buy new stuff. I’m not quite sure why you need money in a game world that is all-but destroyed with only a single force (EDF) to prevent total annihilation but maybe that’s explained in an earlier game?

There are a lot of weapons and gear you can unlock, but most of it is pretty meaningless.  There are rocket launches, machine guns, laser guns, swords, grenade launchers, shotguns, etc. for you to wield against the bugs.  Here’s a tip: use a rocket launcher and laser rifle once you unlock them and only them. The laser rifle has limited ammo but can destroy most enemies easily, while the rocket launcher is useful on bigger things.

You can also use money to buy upgrades to your health but at a certain point it becomes ridiculous.  It is an exponential increase in how much money it costs. So to go from level 2 to level 3 health, it might cost 5,000, but to go from level 3 to level 4, it will cost 20,000.  You don’t get a ton of money from doing missions either, so you’ll really have to repeat them and grind it out if you have an eye on a new weapon or health upgrade you want/need.




Items involve health packs, decoy traps, grenades, rebooters (resurrect a friendly soldier) and the like.  There are also vehicles that you can use and they are awful.

I have no idea why the vehicle controls are the way they are, but it’s like a blast from the PS1.  Instead of the traditional “Use R2 to accelerate, L2 to break, R1 to shoot”, they put all movement on the left analog stick.  So, you actually have to hold up to go forward. So you have to hold in a diagonal direction to turn right or left. There are some tanks and mech suits that are (theoretically) useful in fights, assuming they weren’t really low health, but there are also “joke” vehicles like trucks that just make a horn noise.

This applies to ground vehicles.  There are also air vehicles but I have yet to figure out how to even drive them correctly.  The ground vehicle controls are bad, the air stuff is unusable.

The story, such as it is, is barely there.  The game starts off and there is an escalation of alien stuff with a “Hivecraft” ship, and then other unique alien enemies that you have to destroy.  After every mission, you might get some light banter between your teammates or a radio show from a slightly ditzy female DJ. The problem is, all the voice over is during your mission results screen.  That’s it. There’s no cinematics with your teammates, or really, any cinematics at all, to make you invested in the story. Once you finish the campaign there is a montage of pictures of (presumably) the characters in the campaign, but considering they are never shown in the actual game, it becomes a farce.  The pictures could be characters from a Mobile Suit Gundam series, and I wouldn’t have known the difference.

So, are there any positives?  Well, like I said above, that Prowl Rider class is kind of fun to use.  It’s a weird mix of Just Cause and Vanquish with how you can get around a level quickly.  Also, as a co-op game it’s “passable”. It would be better if enemy health wasn’t boosted when you’re in a co-op game, but that’s me.

[post_title] => Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain (PS4) Review [post_excerpt] => Marc Morrison takes a look at Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain in his full review. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => earth-defense-force-iron-rain-ps4-review [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-05-25 00:20:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-25 04:20:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://411mania.com/?post_type=face3_games&p=604680 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => face3_games [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 598695 [post_author] => 419 [post_date] => 2019-04-25 00:00:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-25 04:00:04 [post_content] =>

Game: Out of the Park Baseball 20

Developer and Publisher: Out of the Park Developments

Platform: PC

Genre: Sports Simulation

Release Date: March 22, 2019

  We are almost 70 games into the 1996 baseball season and my Texas Rangers are up six games in the West. It wasn’t easy and I am sure I must come off like a gambler to my fellow GM’s. Recognizing the staff was weak, I have been intensely pulling off moves to try and get us a stronger staff. I dealt a prospect to Pittsburgh for Danny Darwin. That failed. I dealt another prospect to the Mets for Rick Reed. That has worked thus far. Then I pulled off the biggest deal of the season yet: I sent Will Clark (and his expensive 3-year contract), Mickey Tettleton, Ed Vosberg and a couple of two-star prospects to Pittsburgh, my old friends, for Zane Smith, Dan Plesac, Orlando Merced and AA reliever Elmer Dessens. My fans hate to see both Clark and Tettleton leaving. I somehow fix my lineup with this deal and I feel happy about it. Finally, I can get Juan Gonzalez out of right field and to DH. Finally, I have a solid left-handed reliever. I also added another arm to my staff. Then I turned Danny Darwin into a reliever. Then I nabbed David Cone and his 6.68 ERA off waivers (sorry Yanks).  I win 10 straight games. Pudge and Gonzalez sign their extensions and the fans are thrilled to have the two biggest stars in for the long haul. Of course, this is followed by a five-game losing streak and a season ending injury for Rusty Greer. Such is life in the majors. Such is life in Out of the Park Baseball 20. What can I say about OOTP 20 that I can’t say about the last 3 entries in the series? It I still the deepest, most ambitious, realistic and comprehensive baseball simulator out there. It still has over 100 seasons of baseball that you can replay, with real-life rosters and the most accurate simulation engine for all baseball eras.  The simulation engine allows you to see the action unfold on the field. You can play as just the GM and carry on with the big picture stuff, or you can also be the manager and tell your guys to bunt, steal bases and pitch around that dangerous cleanup hitter. You can be as involved as you want, or simply set a lineup and sim everything. It doesn’t matter your style of play, OOTP 20 will burn those hours away and before you realize it is 3am and you are debating whether a trade for Jacob Brumfield might be enough to offset that Rusty Greer injury. The sheer amount of customization options is ridiculous. You can replay every season exactly as it happed (great for historical replays) or let it play out as the AI and the simulation engine take care of it (my choice of style) and change history. Heck, the tools are there for you to start your brand-new baseball universe from scratch, with fake players and teams. Want to create the Premier League of Baseball? Well, you can! If you like the modern game better, then you can play the current season either, from scratch or, thanks to the new live integrated services, on today’s date with accurate rosters, injuries and transactions as they have happened during the season. Maybe you can turn around the Boston Red Sox or keep the Mets pumping wins. The modern game also includes 12 international leagues and several US independent leagues as well. Not only can you play the MLB games, but you can choose to manage any minor league team or any team from any of the independent and international leagues as well.  You could literally buy OOTP 20 and never have to buy another baseball game again.  I have already put over 40 hours into it and have not even reached the halfway point of my 1996 season save. Another mode in OOTP Baseball 20 is Perfect Team, which is the typical collectible card game mode found in most sports titles nowadays since Madden introduced the mode. This mode allows microtransactions as you can buy currency used to buy player packs and cards in the auction house, but I have found that I can field a good team without spending any money. Since achievements, accolades and milestones, not only in Perfect Team, but also on every single player mode, gives you coins (and some of them packs) and the prices of the auction house have stayed fair, you probably wont need to invest any real-life money if you play the game enough. Cards from modern players will even see their scores raise or lower due to the live-integrated services according to how the player is doing in real life.  I like perfect team as a fun diversion that I can invest 15-20 minutes a day in and then resume my single player experience. Graphically speaking, the menus are clean, and the interface is well designed. It is one of the prettiest text-based games out there. The 3D animation engine is miles better than it was a few years ago, although it still has a few hiccups. For example, sometimes a ground out to third base is animated incorrectly with the ball going all the way to left field, which causes the runner to walk his way to first in order to allow the animations to catch up to the actual simulation engine.  Worse still, sometimes the shortstop or third baseman walks all the way to the field to retrieve the ball and do the ground out throw to first. Sure, when this happens it throws you off from the realism, but it only happens once every few games.  Still, seeing a home run go over the green monster in Boston or a shortstop make a great diving stop is much better than reading about it. Only Football Manager has a better animation engine and with the work OOTP has done over the years I am sure they will work out the kinks and smooth it out over time.  Also, major props for the animations team, as this year not only do you get diving catches, jumping to steal a home run or head first slides, but different pitching motions have been accurately captured, which is amazing for such tiny figures. OOTP also boasts a comprehensive sound effects package that truly captures the atmosphere of the ballpark. The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the umpires yelling “Out!” and Take me Out to the Ballgame playing in the middle of the 7th inning are among the highlights. Not only are you reading what’s happening, but you can see it and hear it too. That’s why OOTP is my favorite baseball sim. The game’s AI has also been vastly improved and always posses a challenge, especially during trade negotiations. Every deal I have made has made me second guess my decision multiple times before the trade button is pressed.  AI managers will also propose some ridiculous deal (sure, a 1-and-a-half-star prospect for my best catcher) to see if you bite. In game they make accurate substitutions and utilize relievers and pinch hitters effectively. The AI also recognizes the era you are playing in, for example, leaving starters longer during the 90’s and using more relievers per game in modern times.  You will also see teams in win-now mode dealing prospects for veteran help and teams rebuilding dealing all their vets for prospects and cash. Now, there is a learning curve to this game. If a rule exists in MLB, then it exists here too. Careful management of waivers, minor league options, Rule 5 drafts, rehab assignments and more is necessary to get the most enjoyment out of the game. Luckily, the game has plenty of FAQs and explanations online and as always, you can get as involved as you want to, designating some of the more cumbersome tasks to the AI and just managing games if that’s what you want. [post_title] => Out of the Park Baseball 20 (PC) Review [post_excerpt] => Out of the Park Baseball 20 is back, but is it better than ever? 411's Armando Rodriguez checks in with his full review. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => out-of-the-park-baseball-20-pc-review [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-25 00:41:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-25 04:41:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://411mania.com/?post_type=face3_games&p=598695 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => face3_games [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 590769 [post_author] => 2286 [post_date] => 2019-03-20 00:04:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-20 04:04:26 [post_content] => Supplement Type: Rules & Setting Expansion Setting: Eberron Lead Designers: Keith Baker, Ruty Rutenberg Available at DM's Guild. While each of the Dungeons & Dragons settings have their appeal, for my money Eberron tops the list. The Keith Baker-created world, which was introduced in third edition, takes the traditional high fantasy of D&D and tilts it just enough to where it's a different, unique world that plays on noir and pulp adventure. When Fifth Edition was announced in 2014, fans began clamoring for Eberron's return. And it finally happened late last summer with The Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron, bringing warforged, Dragonmarks and the Mournland into the latest edition of the game. It was clear though at that time that Baker wasn't done. While Wizards of the Coast has yet to officially release or announce additional content for Eberron, they opened it up for creators to make new content on the DMs Guild. Baker has been open about his desire to introduce more content that Wizards might have the time to spend resources on, and since then has begun producing an adventure path for the setting, as well as writing his own content. The latest of those releases, Morgrave Miscellany, takes the cake. Co-designed with Wayfinder's Guide co-author and Inkwell Society DM Ruty Rutenberg, the 162-page book dives deeper into the world of Eberron with a host of character options, world-building material and everything else that a DM and their players could need to build the best campaign they're able to. Mechanics Many players open up a new supplement and jump straight to the system stuff, and for those players Morgrave Miscellany is going to be a delight. The book offers a new archetype for each of the twelve classes, drawn from some of the Eberron prestige classes of earlier editions. There's everything from Extreme Explorer Barbarians, who run on adrenaline and not rage, to the Wizard School of Antiquities, which use their knowledge of ancient history to give them tactical advantages. In between there are a options that include Monks of the Silver Flame, a new (and terrifying) Warlock Pact, a Paladin oath that harnesses the character's own divinity and so on. Each of the classes is distinctly flavored to fit perfectly into Eberron, sliding right into the pulp noir fantasy zone with minimal fuss. Races also get a bit more variety here, with some new Shifter and Tiefling subraces. But the big toy in this category is the Dragonforged. Similar to Warforged, they're creations given life but left adrift in the world. There are also subraces for those with Aberrant Dragonmarks and some new racial feats specific to the Eberron races like kalashtar and changelings, while Dragonmarks get heavil expanded on with new power levels and a lot of new information on Aberrant marks. The new character options are thematically appropriate, but how do they play? I have not had a chance to test them out yet, obviously. But the short answer is that they play much like other Eberron content: with new systems that are intriguing and powerful, yet mostly balanced against the power levels of other Eberron content. Dragonforged are undoubtedly tough, with a very high armor class, but they also have a some narrative aspects that help balance their combat power. Several of the classes introduce the concept of spending hit dice and taking damage from them in order to boost a roll or gain other mechanical benefits, which is the right kind of thematic mechanic for Eberron games. Chapter Three contains a couple of other optional mechanics in Injury Saving Throws (allowing you to stay active when brought to 0 hp at the cost of lasting wounds) and how to play a zero-level campaign that is rewarding and fun for the players. Both of these are interesting options that won't work for everyone, but they're balanced nicely and for people who want them, they're nice bonuses. Flavor While mechanics are always appreciated, the real appeal in Morgrave Miscellany is the rest of the content. Baker, Rutenberg and the rest have done a fantastic job in this book of exploring what it means to play in Eberron, and how you can fit traditional character concepts into the world. Eberron is a unique setting and with that comes a lot of potential caveats. It's one of D&D's greatest settings, but a lot of players can be uncertain about how to fit within the expansive, somewhat non-traditional environment. For those players, there is a lot to work with here. The book goes through each class and offers ideas for potential concepts set within the power groups, governments and nations of Eberron. Want to play a Barbarian who isn't all Conan-esque? Try an Eldeen Champion. Have a need to play Cleric but you're out of ideas for a new one? There are ideas for how to play the class differently using all of the core backgrounds. There's information on the nomadic halflings of the Talenta Plains, the various faiths and how they play into divine classes and plenty more. And impressively, it's all written in a way to have value for old hats at Eberron and newcomers alike. It's not just player options, either. Chapter Three, "Fantasy Noir," has a ton of great information for Dungeon Masters seeking to strike the right tone of an Eberron campaign. There's information on running "session zeros" and what noir means in the context of fantasy roleplaying. The final chapter is DM-focused as well, looking at a series of zero-level adventure encounters that fit smoothly within the setting. Layout One of the trickiest parts of the DMs Guild is that you never know what you're going to get. Nowhere is that more clear than when talking about layout and editing. These are elements that are not necessarily part of the package that makes a great designer of RPG content. Fortunately, this group has a lot of experience with content and things are laid out fairly well. The whole book is laid out like a collection of lectures and lessons from Morgrave University, the somewhat-disreputable college of exploration in the city of Sharn. This allows Baker, Rutenberg and their fellow designers to mesh the flavor nicely in with the mechanics for a text that flows effectively. If there's anything that earns this a ding, it is that it references material not contained within other official D&D books. It is a very minor quibble, but I don't yet have the DM's Guild product Xanathar’s Lost Notes (although it's next on my list to buy). I don't begrudge designers the idea of drawing from their other published works for new material, but there is a little disappointment to be had there, however minor. Outside of that a few typos occur here and there, and some rules are not quite worded as well as they could be. But all in all, this is a professionally put-together book thanks to Baker and his team's editing, with some stellar art to boot. And at 162 pages, $14.99 is a very good price for it. [post_title] => Morgrave Miscellany (D&D 5E) Supplement Review [post_excerpt] => 411's Jeremy Thomas checks in with his full review of the new unofficial Eberron supplement co-written by Keith Baker, Morgrave Miscellany. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => morgrave-miscellany-dd-5e-supplement-review [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-20 13:48:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-20 17:48:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://411mania.com/?post_type=face3_games&p=590769 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => face3_games [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 589057 [post_author] => 3744 [post_date] => 2019-03-13 12:00:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-13 16:00:38 [post_content] => From the first trailer of Jump Force, I thought the game was going to be a disaster. There has never been a good 3D Dragon Ball Z game, and the Naruto ones aren’t much better. The inherent problem, at least with a DBZ fighting game, is that flying around is at odds with the camera, usually making a completely terrible experience. To its credit, Jump Force does side-step this problem but the things surrounding the actual fighting are baffling. To start with, Jump Force is a Shonen Jump infused 3D fighting game. There are over 40 characters from series of Dragon Ball Z (obviously), Naruto, One Piece, Yu-Gi-Oh, Bleach, to lesser known ones (to me anyway) of Bleach, City Hunter, Black Clover, etc. Some franchises, like Yu Yu Hakusho only have one or two characters, while DBZ and One Piece top out with 6 characters each. So, if you are into any reasonably big Shonen Jump franchise, you’ll likely find someone in here to enjoy. The controls are somewhat simple but that is because the fighting engine isn’t too complex. X and Y are used for light and heavy attacks. A is used to jump and B is the throw/grab button. LT is used as the tag in button, RT is used for charging up your power/doing special attacks. Finally, LB is used for dashing around while RB is used for guarding. Pressing the right analog stick in, when your “Awakening Gauge” is active also lets you enter in the Awakening Mode, which I’ll get into down below. There are a few things to break down when it comes to the controls. First, there isn’t any flying at all. Characters can jump but they don’t zip around the stage while the camera tries (and fails) to follow them, so that is nice. Second, when you hold RT you do power up but it is THE only way to do special attacks. When holding RT, the face buttons become your special move buttons, X is usually used for a beam attack, Y is a melee attack and B is something of a utility attack, but it depends on the character. This isn’t a rule for every character but just kind of a general guideline. The A button move is your super move and can only be used when you’re in the Awakened State. Awakened State is a powered up form you can activate once you’ve taken a certain amount of damage. You become a bit faster and stronger but really you want to use it to do your super move. This move is pretty analogous to the X-Ray move from the recent Mortal Kombat games. This is the big, flashy, (generally) character specific move, like Goku hitting an enemy with the Spirit Bomb or Vegeta doing his Final Flash. The tag system in the game is….weird. This isn’t like a Marvel vs. Capcom or Dragon Ball FighterZ system, where each character had their own individual life bar. In this game, everyone shares a life bar so if you are playing as Cell and you swap in Boruto, the life bar doesn’t change. With this in mind, I’m baffled as to WHY this is a tag game. I mean, most (if not all) characters play the same. Some might have an occasional different move but they’re all pretty similar. The characters that are the most different are the few JoJo’s characters and Yugi Muto because they have stands (or in Yugi’s case a card monster) that does most of their attacks. Your character in the game is basically a blank slate. The story has you playing a regular human who gets blasted by Frieza. You get then resurrected with an “Umbra’s Cube”, which not only restores you but gives you super powers. Then you join the Jump Force, which is sort an inter-dimensional police agency to stop some bad guys using evil Umbra’s Cubes to infect people and destroy everything. What this really means is that the game is giving you somewhat free reign in how you want to make your character. If you want to give him or her all the moves from Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece, you can. You just have to purchase them from the store. You can buy and swap out your four main special attacks, it just requires you to buy them. This also goes for customization, there are a LOT of clothes and accessories for your character to wear, either general items or franchise-specific stuff, you just have to buy them. There are two *really* weird quirks with the story, which can annoy a player. The first is that at the start of the game you are told to pick a Jump Force team: Alpha, Beta or Gamma. Alpha is about defending territory from the bad guys, Beta is about attacking the evil group (Venoms), and Gamma is about being stealthy and gathering info. Each group is headed by a main different person, Alpha = Goku, Beta = Monkey, Gamma = Naruto. You are told this is an important decision that cannot be changed once you make it and it will have repercussions for the story. It’s a hill of beans. While it does alter what special moves you start with, that’s about it. There are a lot of story beats that still require you to talk to each team member to actually progress through the story. The missions might be different for each team but the end goal is really the same. Also, each team has their own separate area which leads into the second problem. There is a hub world where you progress through the story, buy stuff, take on side missions, and is also a social space for you and other players if you want to play online. THE GODDAMNED HUB WORLD IS MASSIVE! It doesn’t seem so big at first glance, it’s basically a main room with 3 team wings and a fourth where the commander is but my god does it take forever to get around. You even have vehicles to help you get around: a bike, a frog (don’t ask), a boat, and a Frieza chair (if you pre-ordered the game), and even this stuff is too slow. After the intro sequence I literally spent 20 minutes roaming the empty halls (this was before launch) of the hub world because I couldn’t figure out how to start the next story sequence. There’s no mini-map at all, just a rudimentary chat window. The team wings just have the same things: mission, store, and ability kiosks. You can talk to a few of your teammates but they have almost nothing to say. 9 times out of 10, to start the next story mission you have to talk to the Jump Force commander, who has his own little office. There is a lot of side stuff you can do, optional missions, really customizing your character with passive abilities, playing online, and so on, but the game just never feels fun. It’s not as bad as I initially feared but that still doesn’t make it a good fighting game. Side note: Why the hell is there a buried, Planet of the Apes-esque Stature of Liberty in the Namek fighting stage? I’ve watched all the Namek/Frieza sagas and I don’t remember seeing that around. Last note: There has been a lot of criticism about the game for how it looks. While the animation is rough, the plastic sheen some characters have is really off putting. They should have just done with Smash Bros does and go “This is all in a toy box and the characters are dolls”. That would have helped a lot. [post_title] => Jump Force (PS4) Review [post_excerpt] => 411's Marc Morrison jumps into Jump Force and gives his full review. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => jump-force-ps4-review [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-12 22:48:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-13 02:48:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://411mania.com/?post_type=face3_games&p=589057 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => face3_games [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 582956 [post_author] => 3744 [post_date] => 2019-02-13 00:00:34 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-02-13 05:00:34 [post_content] => The original Tales of Vesperia was one of my gaming white whales when it originally was released on the Xbox 360. I got the game and played around half of it but then got overwhelmed with all the side content and lost where I was even supposed to go in the game. Thankfully that didn’t happen again as I played this version but you can clearly tell this s a game from a somewhat different era. From a story perspective, I think Vesperia is one of the best Tales games, but I haven’t played every single one of them, so perhaps my opinion is moot. First, the thing I like about this game is that aside from one main character, all have normal names. Yuri, Rita, Estelle, Judith, these are all names that are real. It’s none of this Laphicet (Berseria), Sorey (Zesteria), or Muzet (Xillia) crap. The only questionable name in the game is Karol, for a male character, and that’s not even that bad in the grand scheme of things. As for the actual story, it’s pretty solid. Yuri is a pretty classic anti-hero but is still heroic. He joins up with Estelle, a princess with a lot of power, Karol, a young hunter, Rita, a talented mage, and Judith, a dragon rider, and they all have some adventures. To be honest, the actual plot of Vesperia is a tad schizophrenic. You’re introduced to bad guys, take them out, and then an even worse bad guy shows up who reveals he was pulling the strings for a while. That’s not to say it’s bad at all, it just meanders for a while and takes a really long time to get going. The combat is probably one of the ways the game hasn’t aged that well. You have a melee attack button and an arte (magic) button. You can change the properties of these attacks by holding on a direction. So holding up on the analog stick means you’ll do upward attacks. This works for artes also, but you can select whichever arte you want in the menu. The reason the combat hasn’t aged that well is the presentation. You are in a 3D combat environment but generally locked to a 2D plane when it comes to attacking. There is a button that you hold to activate 3D movement, so you can run around the level, but then this disables your directional attacks. This feels weird! I say that in bold to get this point across. You’re either locked to the 2D plane where enemies can (and do) gang up on you from all sides, or you can evade them by running around but then you don’t have access to as many powerful attacks. It just feels really strange to actually play. There are two other systems that make this game seem like it’s from a different time: the map and the inventory. As far as the map goes it is barely helpful. There’s only an overworld map, which only tells you visitable locations. It doesn’t tell you where you need to go to start the next story point. There is an in-game journal to kind of bring you up to speed if you’ve lost your place, but it’s not that helpful. There isn’t a dungeon map, or even a basic arrow telling you where to go, which would have been helpful. Along that, there is a quirk with the inventory system. You can only hold 15 of any consumable item at once. So, let’s say you to buy every Life Bottle (Phoenix Down) from the store, you can’t because you can only hold 15. Once you beat the game, you have the option to boost your inventory up, but this is still a pretty bad system. One system I did like in the game how you gain new skills and level up. Your weapons will have various skills on them like “Guard” or “Backstep” that will become available to use while the weapon is equipped. You will also gain proficiency in the skill as you battle. Eventually, you can learn the skill which means you can then equip a different weapon but still keep that skill. When you level up, aside from gaining some small increases to your HP and TP (magic), you’ll gain skill points. For the skills you gain through weapons, you can turn them on or off in this menu, provided you have enough points to use them. Say you want to have Taunt and Item Thrower on, Taunt requires 2 points and Item Thrower requires 7, but you only have 8 points available, you’ll have to pick and choose which is the more valuable skill to have. Also, some skills add active abilities like said Backstep or Combination, while others are more passive bonuses like adding damage to your attacks or increasing your magic ability. There is a lot to do aside from battling and leveling. There is a whole synthesis system where you can make new items and better weapons for your characters. There is also a cooking system where you can gain temporary buffs from eating meals, assuming you don’t fail at making them. Finally, there is a whole lot of side stuff to do, like I said above, if you want to partake of it. There are special monsters to hunt down, a secret casino to visit, a mini-game involving your dog party member peeing around the world, etc. If you mainline the game, you’re still looking at a 30 to 40 hour JRPG at the least but with the extra stuff, it can double the time. To be sure, this game certainly looks better than the old 360 version. It is sharper and the framerate is a lot faster than it used to be. The problem is the audio in the game. This version of Vesperia used the PS3 version of the game as its base for the upscale. The PS3 version only came out in Japan, so it never got translated or had voice acting from the American actors. So, there are some inconsistencies when going from an originally voice acted scene to a new one, because the actors are different. Most of them do match up reasonably OK but the guy they got to replace Yuri really sounds different and isn’t great. [post_title] => Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition (PC) Review [post_excerpt] => 411's Marc Morrison checks in with his full review of Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => tales-of-vesperia-definitive-edition-pc-review [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-02-12 23:55:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-02-13 04:55:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://411mania.com/?post_type=face3_games&p=582956 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => face3_games [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 10 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 617996 [post_author] => 3038 [post_date] => 2019-08-14 00:04:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-08-14 04:04:19 [post_content] => PAWARUMI How do you improve on genre norms? We all know key games in the shoot 'em up genre. R-Type, Gradius, Galaxian and more are some of the standards for the gene, but there have been outliers that shine. With the evolution to more of a bullet hell style, Ikaruga has been a strong example of how to put a unique twist on the genre. By having the black/white mechanic where you could absorb bullets and cause additional damage, it added an element of strategy to a genre that didn't have much. Now, we have Pawarumi. Now available on the Switch, it further refines the genre. Instead of having just two colors, Pawarumi Introduces three: red, green and blue. pawarumi-2 Depending on the color you're on, a color appears behind your shield, super attack and middle area of the screen. If you attack an enemy with your same color, it replenishes your shield slightly. if you attack with the color over the super weapon, you slightly charge that bar. If you use the middle color, you do bonus damage to the enemy. Because you can always have a way to regenerate your shield, you only have one life in levels. That means the skillful will be able to bounce between colors, building up super attacks and mowing down enemies with bonus damage, while newer players can stay with the same enemy color to make sure their shields stay charged. Early on, this may seem like a challenge. While it's simple enough to remember red enemies with a red ship boosts your shield, you may often forget what color red is best against and what color charges it's super weapon (blue and green, in that order). The game has five total stages, mixed differently depending on the difficulty you play on. Easy gets four stages and gaps between enemies to think of your next color choice, while medium adds an extra stage and plenty more enemies. By hard mode, you're in full bullet hell territory, so be prepared for the challenge. pawarumi-3 Once you've cleared a level, it will be unlocked in training mode to try and get used to certain patterns to rack up the most points you can. Unfortunately, there's really not much to write about with the options in the gameplay. The main mode does feature a bit of a story, but like most games in the genre, it's largely forgettable. You control Axo as you try to save humanity and seek revenge on those that wronged her. While the neo-Aztec atmosphere is interesting to see, the story really won't leave you captivated. Probably the biggest shortcoming for the title would be split between the lack of modes and lack of a quick reset. A boss rush mode or an infinite run mode could have made it interesting for fans to keep trying new seeds of randomly generated enemies to compete for a high score. However, the annoyance can come when you get to the harder levels and keep dying as you learn the layout. You can't just quickly restart the level. You go to the high score screen, get kicked to the menu, restart the level there, skip through the cutscene and finally get back into the action. By simply letting players skip all this with a reset at the end, a lot of hassle could be avoided. [post_title] => Pawarumi (Switch) Review [post_excerpt] => Can Rock, Paper, Scissors mix with a shoot 'em up? Adam Larck finds out in his full review of Pawarumi on the Nintendo Switch. 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