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 Eon's Review Corner

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EonArashi

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PostSubject: Eon's Review Corner   Mon May 12, 2014 5:55 pm

These reviews will be over whatever strikes my fancy. Some of them will be more nostalgic pieces, while others will be over more modern games. I have two reviews already written, so I'm posting them here.


The latest in the acclaimed Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm series, UNS3 was releasted in English on March 5th, 2013. A continuation (with "Full Burst" added to the end of the title) was released on October 22nd of the same year, giving the discerning buyer access to most online DLC packs and missions, a 100-missions challenge mode, and ups the difficulty of Legend path in the story mode to an almost ridiculous degree right at the end.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The story mode of this game is truly excellent. Players will start with the flashback arc of the Nine-Tailed Fox's attack on the Hidden Leaf Village. This introduces two new mechanics: the Overworld Battle, and the Legend/Hero path system. Overworld Battles take place on a larger-than-average map against a large enemy (in this case, the Nine-Tailed Fox), and allows you to both fight with support from other characters and relies on its own unique mechanics that give a fun challenge in a scenario no Naruto game has yet explored.

The Path system is something of a difficulty system and item system in one. Legend Path is much more difficult, but allows you to use better items and upgrade your item pallet with more ease. The Hero Path is much easier (seriously, it's about half as difficult, which makes it about equal to UNS2's Genin difficulty), but it means that new players will likely struggle to upgrade their item stocks quickly enough to make them useful. There really isn't much difference to the experienced player in terms of difficulty until about halfway through the game, when the difficulty really ratchets up on Legend Path. Overall, since items really aren't necessary (as most of your opponents will not use them), new players can easily get away with playing on Hero Path for their first playthrough as long as they don't mind low post-match rankings and less money rewarded for their first run.

The game then moves to where the last game left off, at the end of the Invasion of Pain arc. The story goes through the Five Kage Summit arc first, going through battle after battle and easing newer players into some of the game mechanics with tutorial menus. Another new battle type, called "mob battles" is also introduced, pitting your character against a horde of weaker enemies in a long stretch. It also eliminates the powerful "Ultimate Jutsu" attacks (which would be almost stupidly overpowered in a mob battle setting), and instead introduces "Burst Mode", wherein your character will attack each enemy with a powerful smashing attack at high speed, provided you input the right button command.

The Shinobi World War arc is where things really start to get interesting. I won't spoil much of the plot for you, but the fights and plot points that follow are more epic than anything the UNS series has shown to date. The game's interpretation of the anime's plot points is especially well-done, and to be honest I found myself actually preferring the game's story to the anime itself!

One pet peeve I have about the story is that the fourth-to-last and third-to-last fights are more of an irritation to play than actual fun, especially if you have Full Burst. On Legend path in Full Burst, the fourth-last fight is so ridiculous that you actually have to change your entire playstyle just to deal with it. And this is coming from someone who wins roughly 2/3's of all online tournaments he's played for this game. The third-to-last battle is better, but only if you know the trick to it... and you don't mind taking a hit to your points so you can heal after the previous battle. Did I mention that you fight those two battles back-to-back with no time to save in between?

Now, I'm going to fanboy slightly. The voice acting in this game is superb. Especially the English dub. I normally don't like dubs that much, and even if I do, I still prefer the original Japanese voices. Not so with this game. Yuri Lowenthal's performance as Sasuke is practically oscar-worthy. He captures the angst-ridden ball of rage that is Sasuke Uchiha with almost unnatural perfection, and never once breaks character. Even in the after-game sidestory content, his performance is amazing. Mailie Flannagan's performance as Naruto (holy crap the final battle and the fight with Sasuke!), Crispin Freeman as Itachi (especially the after-game final battle), Robbie Rist as Choji (he managed to make him one of my favorite characters despite nominally disliking Choji before I played the game), Steven Jay Blum as the Tsuchikage (he took the oldest and crotchetyest character in the series and made him into a total old master bad-arse while keeping him totally in character!), and Dave Whittaker as Kakashi (his battle in the "Threat of the Seven Swordsmen" gameplay arc gave me chills) aren't far behind. And the list goes on and on! Even characters with only a minor role like Cee and Zabuza all have well done English voices.

Next, the challenge missions (a Full Burst exclusive). These are awesome. The difficulty is high, but it definitely makes up for not having difficult challenges for most of the main story and unlike the aforementioned irritating part in story mode, every mission save one is so much fun for an experienced player. The rewards and the ability to buff your item pallets even if you don't choose Legend Path are also excellent bonuses.

The DLC content is mostly just extra costumes. A few of them are cool (and there's a female character swimsuit DLC for all the mildly perverted guys out there). The post-final battle DLC is amazing, however. I won't spoil it, but just know that it ties up the loose end with Itachi and Sasuke at the end of Story Mode. However, if you get Full Burst, you get all DLC content as part of the package, in addition to the challenge missions. Pretty sweet, no?

The characters: There are over 100 different customizations of characters you can play as. Overally, I think there are 80 unique characters total. That's the highest character count in any UNS game so far, including Generations (which maxes out at 72 unique characters).

Final portion: the online matches. This is serious fun. The competitive balance is nearly even except for a few characters (*coughTemariisalwaysbrokencough* *coughItachiyouandyourgoshdarncrowbodyflickercough*), and different restrictions and roulette-style difficulty modifiers make for fun tournaments with friends. It sometimes takes a while to find a decent online match, but if you get a good group of friends together, it's not hard.

In conclusion: UNS3 is really the ultimate expression of the UNS series. It ironed out the rough spots from UNS2 and Generations, balances the characters much better than ever before, and manages to be a fun multiplayer and single-player game despite a few hiccups with the difficulty level and the same problems with online match waiting times. I heartily recommend this game to anyone who enjoys Naruto, fighting games, or darn good English voice acting from a Japanese series. Honestly, the only things I think they could improve on are the multiplayer aspect, and the cast of characters. Big as it is, certain characters that I enjoyed playing as (such as many of the younger characters) were conspicuously missing from this game.

Gameplay: 9/10
Storyline: 9.75/10
Music/Voice Acting: 9.5/10
Graphics: 9/10
Glitches: 9/10
Multiplayer: 7.5/10
Competitive Balance: 9.5/10
Overall: 9/10
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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Mon May 12, 2014 6:12 pm


With the debut of the sixth generation of Pokemon games last October, I decided it was time to go back to my roots and dig up the second video game I ever owned: Pokemon Yellow.

Yellow version was the definitive handheld game of Generation 1. Released in North America on October 18, 1999, it was intended to be a game loosely based on the Pokemon anime, which was so wildly popular at the time that the game sold like mad. It featured improved sprite art, smoother animations, and enhanced graphical quality over the original games. It also ironed out a few glitches from Red and Blue that had proven particularly game-breaking, as well as making a few harder to access. Of course, that came with its own set of problems as this was still fairly early in the age of handheld gaming, but it also made for a fun explorative experience for the morbidly curious.

Unlike every other main line game in the Pokemon series, you don't get to choose your starter in this one. In addition, your rival doesn't choose a Pokemon your starter is weak to, which is kind of a relief at some points. Instead, you will always start with a Pikachu, and your rival will always have an Eevee. However, there are two twists. First, you will have no idea what evolution of Eevee your rival will choose, so you could end up facing any of them once Lavender Town rolls around, though it will stay as that evolved form for the rest of the game (there is a trick to figuring out which one you'll get, but I'm not going to go over that here). Second, Pikachu will refuse to stay in its Pokeball or evolve, and will follow you around for the rest of the game unless it is KO'd or in the PC. This created the basis for several later game mechanics, including the happiness mechanic, the constant follow mechanic from Heart Gold and Soul Silver, and the talk/check mechanic that debuted in Diamond and Pearl with Amity Square.

From a nostalgic point of view, the game is still excellent in many respects. The adventure aspect still holds strong, as does the allure of catching and raising a team of your favorites. Its also much easier to catch every Pokemon in this game than in future games, making it a much less daunting task to "catch 'em all". Even though the plot twists (Giovanni being the final Gym Leader, for one) have been spoiled by time, it still adds a good bit of nostalgic replay value, and for its time, it was an excellent plot even for a non-handheld game. Considering the period and the technology the game had to work with, the first generation games are a masterwork.

In addition, the anime additions are done tactfully and subtly, and don't disrupt gameplay. In fact, some of them even enhance it. Things such as Team Rocket from the anime showing up as serious opponents at several points, or the ability to get a Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle easily and early on in the game (in situations mirroring the introductions of Ash's Pokemon in the anime, no less!) make for great additions. Other subtle things, such as Giovanni using a Persian as one of his strongest Pokemon, or Pokemon trainers having specific Pokemon from the anime battling you where Ash fought them in the anime (one that I always remember is a Youngster on Route 9 and his overleveled Sandshrew, which had an anime counterpart, and was not in the original Red and Blue) also add to the experience.  

However, it also has many problems. In terms of balance... well, there really isn't any. Psychic-types are massive jerks in this game with no resists except for other Psychic-types and one usable move in the entire game that hits them super-effectively (Jolteon's Pin Missile, which is an okay attack, but is still incapable of OHKOing the 4x super effective Exeggutor with a 5-hit shot because of Jolteon's low Attack stat). Because of this, Gen 1 Sabrina is still the biggest pain in the posterior ever to come out of the franchise, even today. Yes, even worse than Misty and her overleveled Starmie, or Whitney's blasted Miltank in G/S/C. Sabrina's Alakazam is essentially game-breaking for that point in the adventure. This is especially true in Yellow, where she's given a massive level spike from Red and Blue. In addition, nobody knew at first that Sabrina was supposed to be faced sixth unless they paid attention to the trainer card, and thus ended up facing her before Koga quite often (and despite the fact that their Pokemon have the same levels in all games, Koga's Pokemon are generally unevolved Poison-types, which was the weakest type in Gen 1). The only things that save that battle from being impossible without stupid amounts of level grinding are other broken mechanics (sleep mechanics and paralysis + trapping moves, mainly), the low defense of Alakazam compared to its ungodly Special stat, and Sabrina's AI sometimes making stupid decisions. Overall, that's the main stumbling block of this game; it has massive "That One Boss" syndrome. It also happens with Misty (provided you don't know about the way to exploit the happiness mechanic and get Bulbasaur early) and Koga. The Elite Four is also this to a lesser extent, mainly due to how much stronger than your team they're likely to be without stupid amounts of grinding. Lance, in particular, is a massive dick with his powerful Dragonite and its incredible type coverage (though he's no longer a cheater the way he was in Red and Blue).

Other battle mechanics, such as Freeze status being practically identical to a KO in effect (because your Pokemon couldn't move unless it got hit with a fire attack or you used an Ice/Full Heal, and never defrosted naturally like in future games), trapping moves being so spammable because they prevented any counterattack or switching by your opponent (which became very annoying when applied to you), Razor Leaf having an absurd crit-rate of over 90% on Venusaur and around 80% on Victreebel, crit rate being dependent on Speed, Double Team and Sand Attack being so cheaply overpowered that they border on ridiculous, and Sleep not allowing a Pokemon to move the turn it wears off all have very annoying implications and can be game-breaking when abused by the player, as well as utterly unfair when used by the AI. Paralysis + trapping moves, or the infamous AgiliWrap combo, in Gen 1 is still the most broken combination in all of Pokemon, bar none.

Finally, this adventure discouraged inexperienced players early-on, because Pikachu has absolutely zero chance of beating Brock's Geodude, let alone his Onix. You have to catch either a Nidoran or a Mankey and train them up enough to get access to Fighting-type moves in order to beat him. Granted, once you learned the trick, it became easy, but when I first started the game in 1999, it gave me hell.

So, while Pokemon Yellow was well ahead of the pack for its time, it can't really stack up now as a game worth playing for the game and story itself. The only thing that's truly still interesting and fun about Yellow Version is glitch research, which isn't something that most people are willing to do. It has good replay value, but really isn't a game that new players should pick up. I'd recommend starting with FireRed and LeafGreen for new players, as that has the same story as the Gen 1 games with most of the kinks ironed out.

Gameplay Rating: 5.5/10
Story/Anime Integration Rating: 8/10
Nostalgia Rating: 10/10
Replay Value: 9/10
Overall Rating: 8/10
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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Mon May 12, 2014 10:47 pm

Yeah gen 1's games aren't as good as their sequels but gen 2 on the other hand aged very well. Neutral 
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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Mon May 12, 2014 11:06 pm

Agreed. Frankly, the Gen 2 games are the only ones that had nothing added to them by their remake. HG/SS was the worst Pokemon game of the bunch since Gen 1.
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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Tue May 13, 2014 12:00 am

Well I wouldn't say they were terrible just not as good as their predecessors, but pokemon crystal destroys all four of them! Twisted Evil
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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Thu May 22, 2014 11:32 pm


Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans is the most recent Dragon Ball RPG, released in North America on November 10th, 2009. It was created by Monolith Soft, the design company responsible for the Xeno series (Xenoblade Chronicles, Xenosaga, and Xenogears), which are widely known and respected as excellent RPGs. It was well-received and sold decently well, especially for a Dragon Ball RPG. This is one of Monolith's more recent efforts, but it came before they really hit their stride with Xenoblade, and it shows. This game is a real mixed bag.

Story: The game's title is really kind of a misnomer, as it starts after the defeat of the Demon King Piccolo in Dragon Ball, and only goes through the first arc of Dragon Ball Z. However, it's handled decently well, with game-original arcs such as the Banshou Fan revisit arc, and seperate arcs that cover the training of Tien, Krillin, and Yamcha for the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai tournament. It's nothing new or out of the ordinary for long-time fans of the series, but it adds a bit of flavor to an otherwise overly-rehashed story. There is one completely out-of-context fight with Broly, however, as the game's super-boss. It really irks me that they'd pick someone so totally out-of-context and far-removed from the storyline (Broly doesn't show up in the actual story for another six or seven years, yet!). Even Turles would have made more sense... and his movie is so non-canon that it hurts.

Overall, I wasn't expecting much out of this, and I'm glad, because I didn't get much either. The story has no replay value whatsoever.

Story Score: 4.5/10

Graphics/ART DIRECTION~: I think the visuals of this game are actually quite well done. The game is rendered in 2-D sprite format, but it's very well-detailed despite that. The environments look pleasant, the hazards and obstacles are easily visible and distinct from the rest of the area, the character sprites are properly proportioned and colored, and everything moves like a well-oiled machine. However, the attack animations really stand out as the best thing. The classic martial arts motion blur is present, but it looks really nice, and it fits with the character design. Monolith also clearly did their homework on the characters' moves, as they all look quite similar to the moves in the show and the techniques they are based on. Each unique Ki attack is distinct from the others, and all of them look at least decent. Nothing unique or special about any of it, but it's all well above-average and deserves proper credit.

Graphical Score: 8/10

Sound Design: This... makes me cringe. Easily the second-worst part of the game. The music slows down and speeds up at points for no apparent reason. And it sounds baaaaad when it does, especially when it slows down all the way. It wasn't quite "make you want to go to sleep" slow, but it was still "make you want to drink a cup of coffee to wake up" speed, easily. And it wasn't as if most of the music was any good to begin with. The vocals in the game are arguably worse. All of the character have their original Japanese voices, which I would be okay with if the audio compression on the voice SFX didn't suck so much. Goku sounds even more like a girl than his early Dragon Ball incarnation, in which he was ten (which is not the least bit cool or threatening), and Krillin just sounds awful. Yamcha isn't much better. Only Tien's voice still sounds decent out of the six characters you can play as.

Sound Design: 2.5/10

Gameplay: This... this is a real sticking point for me. I put it last because I didn't want to come on too strong in their early parts of the review.

The combat system in this game looks, on the surface, like standard RPG fare. Three characters maximum playable at a time, HP for health, and Ki replacing magic. However, unlike most games, you want to use your Ki attacks more often. You gain a full heal with every level-up, and you have enough Ki to use several attacks in succession. Most attacks deal lesser damage that stacks for a massive total, thus making criticals more likely, but less powerful. You're also encouraged to increase stats like a traditional RPG, with direct stat points to invest into whatever stats you want. However, it also plays more like Pokemon in that regard by having set growth rates for each stat, though like Pokemon, there is some flexibility depending on how you invest your stat points. You also level up your moves separately from your stats, so that's another system of experience. There's a also a system for "Active Guarding", which lets you reduce the amount of damage enemy attacks do with a well-timed button press. In some battles, it's kind of an afterthought. In others, it's a complete necessity. The amount of damage reduced is small, maybe a quarter of the full damage, but it can give you an edge if you really need it, which is something I like a lot. Getting the timing down can be tricky, especially for enemies that try to throw you off or move super-fast, but it's definitely worth it to master Active Guard to the best of your ability. The battles are fast-paced, and every new opponent you face is an engaging challenge. The enemy AI is very smart, and you can be beaten by regular enemies if you're not careful or too under-leveled. If the rest of the game was this good, I would easily give it a 10/10.

There are, however, three things that really, REALLY irk me about the gameplay. First, necessary grinding. You think the amount of grinding in Pokemon or Final Fantasy is bad? Fuck no. This game has both of them beat, COMBINED. I spent four days grinding for the fight with Raditz. FOUR DAYS. In terms of total in-game time, that was about sixteen hours. And that was a boss that was maybe a third of the way through the game. And even then, I lost the first fight because Raditz's AI was smart enough to keep targeting Piccolo to the point that I couldn't get his Special Beam Cannon charged. In addition, while it's cool and engaging to fight enemies and get their timing and moves down, once you're used to their tricks, it just goes back to feeling like any other RPG, except even slower and more irritating because you're forced to pay attention for even the most basic encounters if you want to be efficient. And don't even get me STARTED on getting Gohan up to snuff for the fight with Vegeta and Nappa. It is excruciating. It is stupid. And it is outright lazy game design for such a thing to be required. It actually makes me legitimately angry, which is a feeling I haven't experienced in regards to game design in a very long time.

Second, if you follow the storyline of Dragon Ball and DBZ to the letter, you will screw yourself out of valuable experience and items. If you beat Raditz with the Special Beam Cannon, for example, you get nothing for a battle that was so difficult that you had to grind for sixteen hours just to get strong enough to not die instantly against him. Instead of rewarding fans of the series, this feature spits in their faces, and that is something I can't tolerate.

Third, the capsule system. Just... the entire thing. You can have two capsules equipped at a time; an active capsule and a secondary capsule. Only the active capsule has full effect, while the secondary capsule will have either a reduced effect or do nothing. This sounds decent on paper, but it's stupid and worthless in practice. See, you often use capsules to get past environmental hazards, or give you an edge in battle. If you want to use one, you can't do the other, because the battle advantages are never usable as a secondary capsule, and the environmental ones work at 50% capacity in the secondary slot. This means that you will still die to environmental hazards and have to heal from them. It's still suicide, just mildly less so than going in wearing nothing but your skivvies. And when you use your environmental capsules? Prepare to face difficult and annoying battles at every turn. Add in to that the fact that you either get handed a capsule you need for the area for free (which feels like a total handout and requires little or no effort to obtain), or it costs you a ludicrous amount of money to purchase from a store. One capsule costs more than you make in the first third of the game, even if you sell most of your items.

Also, this game has more backtracking than Devil May Cry 4. That isn't quite in the same league of "OH GOD KILL ME NOW" as the rest of the things I've mentioned, but it's still really bad.

Gameplay: 5/10 The combat and leveling system get an easy 10, but the rest of the gameplay gets a dead zero.


In Conclusion: I like the ideas behind this game. The combat system is a breath of fresh air compared to the stale "button spamming" combat of RPGs like Final Fantasy XIII, and the idea of rehashing an old franchise is something I would really enjoy seeing done correctly. This... is not a game that can do that. Really, what this game needed was a better Quality Assurance department. The concepts were amazingly well thought-out, but their application was sorely lacking. In addition, it needed a better localization team, because a lot of things that the Japanese version did wrong *coughaudiocompressioncough* should have been fixed for the North American and European releases, and they weren't. And despite the amazing foundation that the combat system laid down, the possible strategies are thrown out the window in favor of needing brute strength. That last bit was something the actual series of Dragon Ball was criticized for, and it seems to have wormed its way into most DBZ RPG's as well.

Final Thoughts: I came into this expecting good things, and while I was disappointed, the solid foundation is there. I would definitely not mind a sequel being made for this game, provided a lot of the kinks are ironed out. I can't really recommend this game as something you should buy. But if you can find a copy from a friend or rent one for cheap, it might be worth trying out. Just be sure you have a lot of patience on hand when grinding.

Overall Score: 5/10
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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Fri May 23, 2014 1:41 am

Definitely seems like a fun dbz game. I might pick it up sometime. Great work on the review Eon.
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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Sat Jun 07, 2014 11:05 pm

Just as a preview of what I'm going to be reviewing next, I'll let you guys know what my next three reviews are going to be.

1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for the Nintendo 3DS.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Nintendo Wii (yes, I know the Game Cube version is better. Shut up, I don't own that one.)

3. Bravely Default for the Nintendo 3DS.

A Link Between Worlds will be going up as soon as I'm done playing it, more or less. And I'm already on the last temple, so it should be up in about a week or so, depending on how fast I finish the sidequests. The next two will come a bit later; I haven't gotten Bravely Default yet, which is why it's #3.

Also, just so people don't get on my case about it... I don't like Link Between Worlds as much as everybody else seems to. Yes, it's good, but there's a a good bit of stuff they either should have polished more or could have done better in my opinion. So expect me to point these things out in my review.
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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:41 am

In terms of which version of Twilight Princess is better. I say they are both as good as the other since its the same game just the map is reversed. I've tried both versions and the same feeling of playing comes when doing so.

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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:50 pm

So about that second review... it turns out that my Wii is now royally fucked and won't play any game for longer than five minutes at a time. I'm probably going to need a new one, as annoying as that is. Part of me just wants to upgrade to the Wii-U, but I definitely don't have the money for that. So, LoZ: TP review is on the back burner until further notice. Link Between Worlds remains on schedule, but Bravely Default will likely be delayed because I won't be able to buy it and fix my Wii/buy a new one at the same time.

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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Mon Jun 09, 2014 3:00 pm

That is truly a shame, Eon. Sad
I say do some games you know inside and out until you get a new Wii and. Bravely Default.

I personally wanted Bravely Default, but the price shied me away from getting it.

I hope your Wii won't be broken as long as my PS3 was. Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Fri Oct 24, 2014 1:56 pm

Okay, new review. Not one of the reviews I had intended (Bravely Default will probably get a review eventually... mainly because it has the same mix of good and bad that I tend to review. The voices make me ill, and the gameplay is about as mixed as Attack of the Saiyans', but my god it looks beautiful), but still. It's something.


Assassin's Creed III is the fifth installment in the AC series (contrary to its title), released for the XBOX 360 and Play Station 3 on October 30th 2012, and the Nintendo Wii-U on November 18th of the same year (I didn't even realize the Wii-U had been out for almost two years). Anyway, AC3 for the Wii U is actually (despite the tiny window of time between the releases) an updated re-release of the XBOX 360 and PS3 game, and that's the one I'll be reviewing. In addition to the usual review markers of story, graphics, sound design, and gameplay, I'll also be reviewing the port to the Wii U and how the Wii U works with the functions of the game.

Story: I'll be honest, despite the way this game tended to create a bit of a divide in the fandom, I actually like AC3's story quite a bit. After the total backslide that was Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and the mix of terrible and awesome that was Assassin's Creed Revelations, AC3 was something of a much-needed franchise evolution. The juxtaposition of past and present is done quite well, and there's so much background to dig up and read through that the game is thoroughly immersive. The big plot twist at the end of Sequence 3 doesn't come out of nowhere, but it's still sufficiently surprising that it works very well. The characters are likeable and well-developed, and the contrast between Haytham and Connor is done extraordinarily well. The blurring of the lines between Assassin and Templar is becoming quite apparent, and Connor's despair over it is very apparent and well-written, especially after he finds out the truth of his mother's death and the attacks on his people. No one is written as a saint in the game; the historical accuracy is at times questionable, but the creative license that is taken with the game's story makes it work extremely well. The modern-day segments are also interactive and fun to play, which was basically the only thing that Brotherhood got right. It isn't perfect; Connor sometimes seems flat and one-dimensional, and the sidequests in the game are very much half-assed. Daniel Cross (who has been built up as an amazing antagonist for most of the series) is revealed to be a wimp who you kill in short order, which feels like a total cop-out and isn't helped by the hand-wave that William attempts to give after the fact. Like I said, not perfect, but still, it's good. The story doesn't have a happy ending, but hope is still alive, and despite the massive amount of bungling that Ubisoft did with the plot of AC4, I still have hope for the series as well.

...also, Juno is a manipulative bitch of the highest order. I simultaneously applaud her viciousness, hate her guts, and am in awe of the size of her solid adamantium balls. Holy crap, woman.

Story Score: 8.5/10

Graphics/ART DIRECTION~: Believe it or not, the Wii U version actually has way better graphics than the XBOX 360 version. The shading and lighting is done so perfectly that it actually changes depending on just the angle of the character models, you can literally see it trailing over Haytham's cloak and fastenings as he turns. The color palette is a little drab, but the setting is meant to be a darker and more greyed-out one. The open environments look very nice, and the combat animations are smooth and flawless most of the time, unlike the almost blocky movements of Brotherhood and Revelations. The ship-to-ship combat, however, is easily the best thing. The animations are some of the most professional I've ever seen in the Assassin's Creed series, and it adds a whole new layer of depth to the game.

Graphical Score: 9.5/10

Sound Design: The sound design is pretty standard fare for Assassin's Creed. The voices are above-average, but not great. The sound effects are pretty well designed for the most part, but there are a couple hiccups (the street urchins and their creepy laugh that is the only sound they make need to be erased from existence). And the music, while good, could have been better. Nothing really stands out. It's just... middling.

Sound Score: 7.5/10

Gameplay: Ahh, Gameplay. My favorite part of the review. Well, let's talk about the good first. I LOVE the combat in this game. Love it. Chain takedowns, stealth takedowns, aerial takedowns, running takedowns, takedowns around corners, takedowns on HORSEBACK; you name it, there's a takedown for it. There are easily half a dozen different weapon types, weapons you can steal from enemies or pick up and use with their own unique functions and stats, and dozens of new features and techniques for the discerning bloodletter to peruse. The stealth mechanics are upgraded, and the enemy AI is a good bit smarter than in Revelations. There are also enemies that are impossible to use standard takedowns on, which really ups the challenge in a way that's extremely fun. There are segements like in Revelations where you command troops instead of being a one-man army, which is a nice change to the gameplay. Also, the free-running is upgraded tremendously, letting you travel in natural environments as well as city ones, giving you far more options than in any previous game. A lot of missions involve more sneaking around and achieving specific objectives rather than straight-up killing people, which is definitely fun and makes the player feel more like an actual assassin than a thug with assassination training. And the ship combat? Flawless. Ship missions are some of the most fun sections of the game. The bosses are a bit hit or miss at times (and sometimes fighting them costs you synchronization, which is something I'll get to in a bit), but the last true boss fight of the game is a challenge that no Assassin's Creed game has ever produced, and my lord... it is glorious.

However, there are some points that annoy the living crap out of me. First, synchronization. The requirements for full synch are nothing short of stupid at times. For example, in Sequence 7, you're expected to cross the battlefield at Bunker Hill without getting injured even once, sneak past the patrols without killing more than three regular enemies (and using your fists still count as kills), climb a cliff face and sneak around to the one tree on top of the ridge, cross to the one place you can make a jump onto the enemy commander, and then perform an Air Assassination. All without being detected even once because if that happens, you can't get into position and you'll likely kill more than three enemies. For just three constraints. THAT IS RIDICULOUS. In addition to that, the constraints sometimes work AGAINST themselves, or limit you from actually engaging enemies that would be fun or challenging to fight. It feels like fake difficulty, and that's never a good thing. Honestly, getting full synch in AC3 is more trouble than it's worth.

The second point that annoys me? Sidequests. Fully half of them are worthless. The Almanac page sidequests are entirely luck-based, and the letter delivery quests do nothing. Defeating and conquering the forts is cool, but the rewards are underwhelming. And the frontier missions? Completely hit or miss, and despite the rewards you can get from them, they add very little to the game otherwise. The good thing is that none of them are required, so you can skip them entirely if you wish.

Last thing... the economy of the game. With the crafting system, prices go up with each craft in one session. 2 crafts at the base price of 25 pounds per artisan, then every additional craft involving the same artisan(s) raises the price by 25 pounds. This is aimed to stop you from crafting enough to start drowning in money in one sitting, but this tends to result in nails, apple pies and wooden barrels somehow costing hundreds of pounds to create. Thaaaat could have used some serious refinement.

However, none of that really detracts from the core that is this awesome game. Did it need more refinement before being released? Yes. But the game as a whole is still excellent.

Gameplay Score: 8.5/10

Wii-U Port: This... is a mix. Not a terrible mix, but still. The graphics, as mentioned, are improved greatly. The buttons are responsive, and the gameplay is smooth and without as many bugs as the 360 and PS3 versions. However, the audio is weird at first. Everything is set to max volume, and you have to toy with it to get it to a tolerable balance. You get access to all of the DLC just like with the other games, which is nice, but it can be a little glitchy at times. However, the worst thing? GOD DAMN IT, THE GAME PAD DOES NOT WORK FOR THIS GAME. Seriously, I like the Wii-U's Game Pad, but as somebody who has played the game on 360 first, it's awkward as hell by comparison. The buttons are too small, FAR too small, especially given the quick switches from attacks to blocks to counters that combat requires. The control sticks don't handle the wide, sweeping turns of horseback riding very well, and running can also be awkward at first. And having a constant map on the Game Pad's screen? Totally confusing, especially when a single slip of your finger can change something about the map or its setup. Ugh. Honestly, if you're going to play this game on the Wii-U, make sure you have a Pro Controller, as it's about as close to the way the game was intended as you're going to get.

Wii-U Port Score: 7/10

In Conclusion: This is one of my favorite games that isn't Zelda, Pokemon, or Okami. I love the story and the gameplay, and the characters are interesting in a way that no Assassin's Creed characters have quite managed before. It combines the solid present-day segments of Brotherhood, the excellent gameplay and story progression of AC2, and the sense of mystery and intrigue that was present in most of Revelations, and combines them very well. It has its kinks and problems, like any game, but they're ultimately either ignorable or forgettable. And the DLC missions, especially the "Tyranny" saga, are excellent.

Final Thoughts: The Wii-U port has its problems, but they can be fixed, and the good generally outweighs the bad. And nothing is wrong with the 360 version that I can recall, aside from some small glitches. The Wii-U version is $10 dollars new at Gamestop, and the 360 version is about the same, and though the PS3 version is $17, it's still well worth the price tag. I highly recommend picking up a copy if you can find one, you'll definitely get your money's worth.

Overall Wii-U Score: 8.2/10
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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:16 pm

To be honest with you I've never been a huge fan of the assassins creed series. I don't know why, I just couldn't get into the combat system. The games get tons of hype though so maybe I'm missing something here. This one seems fun judging by your review, so I might get it sometime.
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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Mon Nov 03, 2014 9:38 pm

I'll be honest, the old combat system in AC was very counter-based. It was pretty bad if you liked being a one-man army. Brotherhood and Revelations started correcting it, but AC3 is where it's at its best. AC4 was a step back, but so was the rest of that game. Seriously, I really hope Unity and Rogue are better, because AC4 was bad.
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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Mon Nov 03, 2014 10:05 pm

By the way I'm really glad your doing a review of Bravely Default. Freaking love that game <3
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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:52 pm

I'm afraid I don't like it quite as much, but I'll still be giving it a review eventually. However, I'm probably going to review Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance for the GameCube first. That game is probably my favorite out of the Fire Emblem games.
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PostSubject: Re: Eon's Review Corner   Fri Feb 13, 2015 11:46 pm

Ok, I lied. Again. Bravely Default is never getting a review from me because I got bored with it and sold it for money so I could buy Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and eventually Hyrule Warriors.

tl;dr reivew: Looks beautiful, okay story if fairly cliche, voices make me sick because they absolutely suck even though the music is above-average, and the gameplay is full of excessive grinding and the optional objectives give me a headache because they're clearly not optimized for casual players, even though the combat system is a fun take on the traditional RPG. 6.5/10.

Fate/Extra, which is probably my favorite game right now, gets a full review instead. I've been meaning to give it a review for a while now, but I wanted to finish both routes with all three Servants and both genders before I gave my final impressions.


Fate/Extra is a dungeon crawling RPG for the PlayStation Portable, created by Type-Moon and Image Epoch and published by Marvelous Entertainment. The game takes place in a parallel universe to the Visual Novel Fate/stay night. The game was released in Japan on July 22, 2010. Aksys Games localized the game for North America, and released it on November 21, 2011. It received a sequel in 2013 in Japan, but it was never localized into English, despite backlash from the English-speaking Type-Moon fanbase.

Story: Story-wise, this game owes a lot to its Visual Novel predecessor, Fate/stay night. You start off as a student at Tsukimihara Academy, a seemingly normal Japanese school. However, events quickly start changing around you, and before you know it, you're dragged into a process that you don't understand. Then, suddenly, right as you think you're going to get answers, you die.

Yeah. Not kidding. They literally pull a bait-and-switch protagonist, and honestly make you think that you've screwed something up until the game transitions into an intro movie. It's a deliberate player punch, but it works really, really well. And it helps to introduce the real main character, as well as the virtual universe in which this all takes place. Once that happens, and your character summons their Servant, the real fun begins: a free-for-all deathmatch in a virtual world with 128 participants, all aiming for the greatest prize known to man; a literal Holy Grail.

The story of the game is mainly advanced through winning each round and surviving each day of the Holy Grail War. However, the path one takes in the game is determined by making choices, much like a Visual Novel. The choices you make don't dramatically change the storyline except for one choice after the end of Round 3, which determines your primary ally and love interest (even if you're female, which I'll get to). However, if you make the wrong choices, you can die very quickly... again, much like a Visual Novel. In fact, it's almost as easy to die from a Bad End as it is to die in combat, which I'll get to under 'Gameplay'. Out of deference to my eventual upcoming RP, I won't be spoiling much of the plot. However, there are many twists and turns. Character development is taken very seriously for both Servants and Masters, and depending on your choices, you can learn a lot about everyone, including yourself and your own Servant. The emotions range from deep and sometimes depressing thoughts, to extreme punches to the gut, to light-hearted humor. Your Servant is a constant source of humor, whether it's insane over-the-top reactions in Saber's case, to snarky banter in Archer's, or adorable silliness in Caster's case. All three are also very thoroughly explored with their own strong points and insecurities, making the game a completely different experience depending on which one you play with. It's all blended together very, very well, which is kind of par for the course for something written by Kinoko Nasu, and designed by Takashi Takeuchi.

The ending... I won't spoil. But it honestly made me tear up a little.

The only real weakness of the game's story? There's very little change depending on your gender. The only changes really occur as a female if you choose Archer as your Servant, as this gives you access to him as a love interest, plus a few extra conversations. Other than a few lines of dialogue in Saber's case and ONE LINE in Caster's, there's effectively no difference which gender you choose. Even your primary partner/love interest is always female, and doesn't change aside from the route you take. It kind of annoys me, honestly. Caster handwaves it, and Saber at least mentions it, but there was no real call for them to do that. Surely they could've removed a couple of the several dozen savestate slots to give a little more depth to the female main character.

Story Score: 9/10


Graphics/ART DIRECTION~: This game is absolutely gorgeous. I honestly can't believe it's on the PSP at times. Everything is spectacularly detailed, and the game as an absolutely vibrant color palette. The character designs are fantastic and unique, and even generic NPC characters look at least somewhat distinct from one another. Furthermore, the characters sometimes comment on the nonsensical and sometimes completely impossible scenery choices in the Chimeratic Lunar Sea, integrating the environment and art design into the characterization, which is something that very few games bother to do. Overall, the only thing I don't like is the way Rin and Saber's eyes are drawn in their in-game artwork. It looks very uncanny valley, on a pair of otherwise beautiful characters. Their character models are perfect, though, so it's not that big of a deal.

Graphical Score: 10/10


Sound Design: Fate/Extra really has a beautiful, if slightly off-beat, soundtrack. The sad scenes, especially after defeating each opponent and watching them be erased by the system, have some of the best music. It really is something to savor. The voice acting is all in Japanese, but it's okay because all of the voices are very well-done and convey emotion despite not being able to understand them if you don't have accompanying text (and since you always have text except during fights, it's really not any more issue than watching a subbed anime). About the only time it gets annoying is in battles, where your Servant says the same two or three things for every attack type, but at least they change it up instead of having the same sound byte play every single time.

Sound Design: 9.5/10


Gameplay: First off... one thing. HOLY FUCK BALLS THIS GAME IS HARD. Don't get me wrong. I really love this game. But the difficulty is absolutely, unforgivingly brutal early on. During the first two rounds, you can expect to die a good two or three dozen times before you really get the hang of things. And starting back from your last save sucks, because you can't save in the arenas. Also, Bad Ends. Fully half the choices in the game will kill you if you make the wrong choice. When there's a fight? Sometimes you should fight, sometimes you should run. Sometimes you have to pick the right place to run, or the right way to fight. And if you're wrong? Bad End. Start back from your last save and try again. The regular enemies are, if anything, even more difficult. Even later in the game, it's very easy to get yourself killed if you're not several levels above the recommended level for the arenas, and being careless or stupid before you start to get your enemies patterns' down is always a one-way ticket to deathville. And do not even get me started on some of the bosses. The game does have an "easy mode", but all that really does is put ether fountains that restore your Servant's HP and MP (as well as your MP) in two or three places on the map. And honestly, even that isn't enough, because every single enemy has the potential to kill you unless you're way above their level.

Now then, on with the rest of it.

The game's turn-based battle system is comparable to rock-paper-scissors -- "Attack" overpowers "Break", Break overpowers "Guard", and Guard overpowers Attack. During battle, both the player and the opponent line up six such moves at the beginning of each turn. Landing three successful hits allows use of an "extra attack" that cannot be countered. Every enemy has their own distinctive attack patterns, and memorizing these allows the player Servant to deal high amounts of damage while receiving minimal damage in return. In addition, each Servant has access to unique skills that bypass the traditional RPS attacks, doing high damage or having extra effects, but these cost MP to use. The problem comes from the aforementioned memorizing. Early on, you only know maybe two of your opponent's six attacks per turn. For the rest, you either have to guess or extrapolate. For some enemies, it's possible to do the latter with just two, or even one in the right position. For most? Not a chance. Be prepared to have your Servant tank a ton of damage early on. It's an engaging battle system, certainly, and it definitely keeps one on their toes. The issue is that, combined with the difficulty of healing in Normal mode, it makes the game needlessly difficult. Grinding also becomes an exercise in frustration, but it's entirely necessary, so that's another issue. There's no penalty for using Easy mode, though, so it's entirely possible to play with it and avoid some of the worst of the frustration.

The Servant you choose probably has the biggest impact on gameplay. Each one comes with distinct growth rates for their stats, and different skill sets. Saber has strong stat growths across the board, but she has a lackluster skillset mainly based around dealing extra damage. Archer has growth skewed towards Magic rather than Strength despite relying on the latter, but he has a more varied skillset and is capable of completely dominating certain opponents by lowering their stats or raising his own. Caster has really bad growths for Strength and Defense (which is really bad early on, and still tough to work with later in the game), but she has a fantastic Magic growth rate and her skill pool makes her all but unbeatable in the hands of an intelligent player once you get to the latter half of Round 4 or so. Her skills literally let you stun the enemy every time they try to attack if you know their exact attack pattern. You don't get access to your Servant's Noble Phantasm (their ultimate ability) until the last day of the 5th Round... but oh my god, are they worth the wait. Saber's, in particular, is amazing.

Masters also have their own individual skills. You are allowed up to two "code_cast" entries, coming from your two equippable items. These can be things such as a damage and stun effect, to healing, to stat boosts. Using these casts drain your MP, but managing them is a vital part of grinding in Normal mode, as well as a vital part of battles in both modes.

Outside of battle, the biggest part of gameplay not involving avoiding the Bad Ends revolves around collecting data on the enemy Servants and trying to determine their identity so you can learn their attack patterns and probable weaknesses. This is actually pretty cool, as it meshes with the dynamic of the Holy Grail War from Fate/stay night. It also allows for deeper character interactions, and adds a deeper layer of strategy to the game, allowing you to plan your strategy for most of the week, though it gets harder to do so as the game goes on.

All in all, the gameplay isn't perfect. It's like a less-polished version of the Persona games, with a slightly different setup. However, it still manages to avoid the worst pitfalls of most games, save for a large amount of necessary grinding, and a below-average movement speed until you get the code_cast Enhancement Spike, which allows for faster movement. Overall, I can still give the gameplay of Fate/Extra a positive rating, in spite of its obvious shortcomings.

Gameplay Score: 7.5/10

In Conclusion: Fate/Extra is a game worth playing, even for people who aren't fans of Fate/stay night or Type-Moon in general. It's far from perfect, and the experience is probably not as wholly positive for people who don't know the Fate series as well as I do. Despite that, I can honestly say that Fate/Extra would be one of my favorite RPGs, even if I wasn't horribly addicted to Type-Moon. However, it really isn't a game you can just pick up and play. It's a game requiring immersion, or at least greater focus. It is definitely not for casual players, and it requires at least a decent knowledge of RPGs to play effectively.

Final Thoughts: Ultimately, this game strikes me as the bridge between the Visual Novel and hardcore RPG genres. It comes with the shortcomings of both (inadequate gameplay and difficult-to-avoid pitfalls for the former, grinding and difficulty for the latter), but it also makes excellent use of their greatest strengths (character depth and story progression, and an interactive and strategically enjoyable experience, respectively). Fate/Extra is certainly a game worth playing, and worth paying for. It costs $29.99 new on Amazon, which might be a little steep for a 2011 PSP game, but if you can afford it, it's worth shilling out a bit of extra cash. Just make sure you have patience with the game. If you're not having fun, it's almost certainly because you're getting frustrated. Take a break, step back, and come back to the game with a clearer head. You'll ultimately be very rewarded.

Overall Score: 9.0/10
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