God of War III Remastered PS4 Review

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I have played one game almost all the way through three times off three separate discs—2010’s “God of War III.” I really admired the game on its initial release, played a lot of it again on “God of War Saga” in 2012, and expected just to casually take a look at the remastered version out this week for the PS4. Before I knew it, I was near the end, having plugged hours into one of the most addictive and fun games of the half-decade (in fact, noticing that I put it in the runner-ups on this list makes me wonder if I should have found space for it in the top ten).

That’s one of the most remarkable things about “God of War III”—it is a masterpiece of momentum. It carries the gamer away as it pushes through a story that’s difficult to disengage from. The pace is relentless and remarkable, clearly influencing games we’re seeing five years later. Playing it a third time, it’s easier to appreciate how games like “Arkham Knight” and even “Bloodborne” have taken elements of it over the years. From the intense violence (which still has the ability to shock) to the marriage of narrative within the action (instead of the old-fashioned cut-scene/action division of the ‘90s and ‘00s), “God of War III” seems to become more essential to the history of gaming every year. And now you can play “God of War III: Remastered” in full 1080p and with photo mode on your PS4. There are a LOT of remastered games on the PS4 (arguably too many), but this is one of the best.First things first—“God of War III: Remastered” doesn’t look that notably different from the version you played on the PS3.

Visually, it’s an issue of depth. There’s a bit more shading around Kratos’ arms and legs, giving a field of vision that looks deeper than on the PS3. As so much of “God of War III” takes place in the distance—whether it be giant enemies crushing cities or chains that seem to rise to the heavens—the visual polish is impressive but you won’t notice too much of an upgrade in the basic combat of the game. From minute to minute, “God of War III” looks basically the same on the PS4 as it did on the PS3. If you want a game that’s REALLY been remastered play “The Last of Us” or “Tomb Raider.”

If you’re one of those rare people who hasn’t played “God of War III,” it is one of the most impressive action games in terms of scale. Just the prologue alone is mind-blowing as giant Gods battle for dominance and Kratos, one of the most legendary characters in gaming history, literally clings to their side. Kratos climbs Mount Olympus, defeats Poseidon, challenges Hades himself, meets Pandora, and even confronts Zeus, his father. It is a game that is constantly impressing with its scale, and its notable violence. You will gouge out eyes and rip off heads. And it’s not a game with a moral core that allows you to choose not to be an ultra-violent maniac. You are. You will be. It’s called “God of War” for a reason.

Technically, “God of War III” was the seventh game chronologically in this breakthrough, influential series. “God of War” and its sequel were released for the PS2 in 2005 and 2007. The same year as the sequel, “God of War: Betrayal” was released as a mobile game. You may not have heard of it. You don’t need to. It’s unessential. On the other end of the spectrum, the best two games EVER released for the PSP are 2008’s “God of War: Chains of Olympus” and 2010’s “God of War: Ghost of Sparta,” which came out the same year as “God of War III.” 2013 saw the highly-anticipated but kinda disappointing “God of War: Ascension.”

Where does Kratos go from here? At the PlayStation Experience last Winter, Sony revealed that another game in the series is in very early development. What does that mean? It could be 2017 or even 2018 before the inevitable “God of War IV.” Based on how the last five years have gone, it seems likely I’ll play “God of War III” again before that day finally comes.

Do You Dare to Return to the Gauntlet?

 

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Do kids still go to arcades? Do they plan to go together to play co-op games like those of us of a certain age did in the ‘80s and ‘90s? Yes, dear readers, I’m old enough to remember when going to an arcade with a pocketful of quarters was a social activity. Sure, you could play “Donkey Kong” or “Pac-Man” by yourself, but if you wanted to get anywhere in “Gauntlet,” you best have a friend with you or your character would “need food, badly” shortly.

“Gauntlet” was a personal obsession. I loved the deceptive simplicity of it all as waves of enemies descended on a quartet of dungeon crawlers. There was a beautiful basic structure to “Gauntlet” that felt like life—find the key, open the door, kill the enemies, find another key, open another door, kill more enemies. If you were lucky, you got a treasure every once in a while, but “Gauntlet” was about survival and destruction. Kill and kill and kill. The folks at “Diablo” perfected the structure erected by “Gauntlet” decades earlier, and that’s still the top-down shooter to beat, but “Gauntlet: Slayer Edition,” now available for the PS4 via the PlayStation Network from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, proves there’s still life in this thought-dead franchise. You best call your friends and warn them.“Gauntlet” immediately looks familiar but also has been clearly updated for modern audiences. The four characters are essentially the same and operate in expected ways—Warrior, Wizard, Valkyrie, and Elf.

After experimenting (and dying) a lot with the bruiser Warrior, I switched to the Elf, knowing that I would be alone on most of my journey and that he has the protection of a long-range weapon and more speed than his stronger brother. For the next several hours, my Elf braved tunnels, catacombs, and caves, and killed THOUSANDS of demons, ogres, monsters, wizards, and other such evil things lurking below. The structure of “Gauntlet” is simple enough. It’s occasionally enlivened by a bit of puzzle-solving, but it is mostly about wave combat—taking out enemies to clear a room to progress. Focus on the spawners—the devices that come out of the ground and create more bad guys. Take them out as quickly as possible. And move. Constantly.

Instead of the basic point and shoot structure of the arcade game, WBIE has enhanced “Gauntlet” with new weapons, talismans, relics, etc. with which you can customize your character to fit your playing style. To do so, you’ll have to find treasure and coins in-game, which makes the first 30-40 minutes with “Gauntlet” its most difficult, which one could argue is a flaw. There was an early level on which I died at least two dozen times, whereas I rarely died at all in the second half of the campaign, after I had upgraded a weapon and a relic to make me deadlier and faster. There’s also a natural learning curve in a game like this, but that first frustrating hour with “Gauntlet” nearly turned me off to the game altogether, thinking it was too hard to complete by yourself. It’s not. Still, there are odd difficulty spikes throughout the game, along with some levels that feel like afterthoughts. My hope is that this “Slayer Edition” is just the start and that the developers can improve on the model in the future if they want to compete with “Diablo.”

For those likely to get bored by the admittedly repetitive structure and thin narrative of “Gauntlet,” WBIE offers some nice bells and whistles for your $19.99, including daily Colosseum challenges, in which different restrictions and rules will alter your gameplay. Of course, there’s also Endless mode, which is pretty self-explanatory. Survive as long as you possibly can. Enemies will keep coming until you can’t take it anymore. Can you take it? And you don’t even need a bag of quarters to keep the pain coming.

Mega Man Legacy Collection Offers Nostalgic Kick

 

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Was “Mega Man” always the most punishing game ever? Seriously, am I just getting old? Playing the “Mega Man Legacy Collection,” released yesterday on the PlayStation Store from Capcom, I was struck by two things that date the games most of all:

A.) It’s really, really unforgiving. We’ve become accustomed to games that hold our hand, give us multiple tries, and generally teach us what to do next. Not “Mega Man” or its five sequels.

B.) We were remarkably forgiving of game franchises that essentially trotted out the same game with every sequel. It’s funny that I hear so much complaining about “Call of Duty” and even “Assassin’s Creed” games losing their spark because the companies behind them repeat themselves annually instead of taking the time to really craft new experiences when the first six “Mega Man” games, all included in this collection, are essentially identical.Having said that, these six “Mega Man” games are undeniably essential to the history of the form. I’m old enough to remember when they were “breakthrough,” and can now more appreciate them as “nostalgia” (isn’t it funny how everything makes that shift eventually?) From 1987 to 1993, Capcom released six “Mega Man” games (many more have been released internationally since, and the franchise has sold over 30 million copies worldwide), and they were MASSIVE. I haven’t played one of these games in over twenty years, and I was amazed at how familiar they were, even the addictive earworm of a theme song that I could have easily picked out of a Name That Tune contest.

The “Legacy Collection” includes all six games with few bells and whistles. In fact, they look almost identical, down to the archaic menu screens and 4:3 presentation.

If you’re totally unfamiliar, there were two reasons that the “Mega Man” were breakthrough. Unlike the Atari or Nintendo games of the day, you felt like you had some choice as to how these games unfolded. Believe it or not, as clunky as they sometimes look now and as simple as the concept sounds, the “Mega Man” games helped introduce deeper authorship to games. Your “Super Mario Bros.” experience was nearly identical to your friend’s. However, “Mega Man” games were designed so you could pick the level you wanted to do next. Looking like a twisted “Brady Bunch” menu screen with your character in the middle and enemies in the other eight spots, each “Mega Man” game allows you to pick the order in which you defeat your enemies. And then when you defeat the bad guys, you get their powers, making it easier to complete the other levels and access hidden areas in later games.

The first “Mega Man” wasn’t even that big of a hit (partially because the cover art was hysterically horrible and because it was damn-near impossible to beat) but critics embraced it, largely for the reasons mentioned above. Capcom and company tweaked the formula slightly after that first game, and you can see gameplay improvements immediately in “Mega Man 2,” but definitely by “Mega Man 3,” which I remember being a major game for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Think about how many games have come and gone in the 28 years since “Mega Man” debuted. Think about how many games have been influenced by the style, authorship, and even difficulty of these titles. We’ve reached a point in the history of gaming in which we have “Classic Games” much like we have Classic Rock in music—artistic creations that influenced everything to come. Is “Mega Man Legacy Collection” the most fun you can have with your PS4 this week? Heck no, our rave reviews of “Madden NFL 16” and “Until Dawn” make that clear. But it’s a fun throwback to some of the most important games of all time. Most of all, it can offer insight into how we got from “Mega Man” to “Until Dawn,” believe it or not. Consider it Video Game School, right from your couch.

Football Basics 101 – A Guide to Football Video Games Basics

Get the Most out of ANY Football Video Game You Play!

It is football season for the video game industry. Sports fans are drooling to get their hands on the latest copies of the NCAA and NFL games like Madden NFL 10. Some gamers want to play them but are afraid the games will be too hard for them. Perhaps you’re reading this right now and had a bad experience in the past either online or offline.

Well hopefully the basic tips and info below will get you back into the game and you will find that it’s not that complicated as long as you learn the basics. The more advance tips all use these basic tips and strategies. Those that are not new to football may even find a few helpful tips in this article.

First and Ten to Your Football Games’ Success

Just because sports titles are becoming more complex it doesn’t mean you have to make it hard on yourself to gain the win!
Sports games are becoming more complex and now have more added features than ever before. While this is great, don’t let the new features fool you. The basic game is still the same as it was from the very first football game ever made. You just need to know how to read the offense and defense. That’s right, read them like a book. It may sound impossible, but there is a way to learn even the basic set plays and play like a pro with a little practice.

Disable that darn auto-pass feature!
The first thing most gamers try is the easy mode. It doesn’t matter if the game is on PC, Xbox, PS2, GameCube, or a handheld; Madden, for example, has a help mode. Gamers get used to playing with this on and then get frustrated when playing against a friend or online. First tip turn off any auto passing mode.

You won’t learn how to do it if you can just snap the ball, wait and then have the AI throw the ball for you. Now that you are on your own in passing, let’s look over the basics of the passing plays.

Use the basic plays!
Basic plays are sometimes more effective than the complicated ones. The reason is simple; nobody is expecting it. Use this to your advantage. While learning read the game manual cover to cover! Now let’s get into the first few offensive plays and tips. Most games out there have the same plays to choose from. While it looks different, it’s just fancy graphics and enhancements. The basic plays have never changed and this is one key to being able to compete and enjoy the game at the same time, no matter what year the game is released. You have short passing plays, normal, and long ones to choose from. Regardless what the X’s and O’s show these will never change in the basic plays. You need to be able to read your own players first.

Passing — Rookie Style

Using the short pass is an effective play once you master the timing!
The button layout is almost the same in any game or version. The “A“, “X” or “Square” button hikes the ball. Then icons will show up above your receivers, each one will have a different button above them. This represents what button will pass the ball to them. Let’s go over a short pass of 5-10 yards, a simple but effective play. You choose a passing play with short yardage. Now most mistakes are made not in the execution of the play but the timing. A great little tip is to snap the ball count to five and pass to the player on the right side of the field. Note that this will not guarantee a successful completion every time. It will teach anyone learning the game the right timing of the game and of the defense but more on that later on. Practice the same play a few times until you complete a few passes and it seems almost too easy.

Passing becomes so simple you will be ‘reading’ the defense subconsciously!
You’re almost certain to see the defense tip the ball or miss your receiver by inches when trying this at first. Also know that the games now have pressure sensitive buttons. This simply means the longer you hold the passing button, the harder the throw will be, adding speed and distance. For now count to five and tap the button that fits the icon to the right side of the field. Sounds too simple right? The great part of doing this is that you will find yourself reading the defense without even knowing it. The next time you have the ball repeat everything exactly the same only this time pass to your receivers on the left side of the field. You will of course find yourself moving around and at first be quick to throw but in time you will learn how to use those moves to your advantage.