What is Kingdom Hearts 2.9?

If it isn’t apparent by now, let me just say I love Kingdom Hearts (seriously, it feels like over half of the articles I’ve written  on this site have been Kingdom Hearts related!) so this leak does nothing but bring me happiness.

According to a LinkedIn profile of a Square Enix game designer from Osaka, along with working on Kingdom Hearts 3, they were also working on a title called Kingdom Hearts 2.9 on PS4 and PS3. So what is Kingdom Hearts 2.9 and is it real? Well, all answers seems to point to “yes” for the latter question due to the title temporarily appearing on the schedule of Square Enix Presents for E3 2015 before being pulled. As far as the former question goes, the answer can only be speculated by fans at the moment, but it’s not too difficult to piece together.

Kingdom Hearts 2.9 is obviously another collection. On PS3 it will most likely be 2.5 with the addition of Kingdom Hearts 3D HD and maybe another secret ending to link into Kingdom Hearts 3. On the other-hand, on the PS4 it will probably also include the content of the 1.5 Collection along with all the features of the PS3 edition. Square Enix has been hinting at releasing the Remasters on PS4 for a while now, so this move would make sense and would be a relatively inexpensive way to make money. As a fan, it would also give me a good reason to play through the games again.

The game was probably planned to be announced at E3 2015, but got delayed due to Nomura working on the Final Fantasy VII Remake and other production issues. Now, it will most likely be announced at either Tokyo Game Show later this month or at E3 2016 for a 2016 release. Since the release of Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories in 2008, Square Enix has been adamant about releasing one Kingdom Hearts game each year, so this game would potentially serve as the release after this year’s Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ. This would also be placing Kingdom Hearts 3 for a 2017 release date, which is a little disappointing since that would make the announcement of the game 4 years old by that point, and that’s just ridiculous.

Either way, I’m ecstatic about this. More Kingdom Hearts is always a good thing, and if a 2.9 Collection is the way Square Enix wants to hold our appetite until KH3, that’s just fine by me.

Expect more news on the Kingdom Hearts series, and other Square Enix games, in the upcoming weeks and months at TGS, Jump Festa, and possibly at Playstation Experience.

Top 5 Pokken Pokemon

Pokken

It’s finally happened. Since it’s announcement for arcades across Japan, Wii U owners everywhere have been praying for Pokken Tournament to come to consoles. Now Nintendo have given the green light with a release due in Spring 2016. Cheers cried out throughout the planet. Not only are we getting a new Pokemon game but we are getting a console one. A very rare occurrence.

Already announced are big hitters like Pickachu,  Charizard, Machamp & Lucario but who else could be among these “elite four”. Sure Gengar and Blaziken are nice inclusions but who really are the Crème de la crème of Pokemon? Who deserves to battle it out in gorgeous HD? Now of course this is my own opinion. I have however took into consideration what the general Pokemon community want along with some unexpected and therefore fresh faces. So hopefully there’s a strong mix that gives an even stronger collection.

Let’s get this (Poke)ball rolling:

Blastoise

Pokken Blastoise

How can this character not be included? Yes you could argue if Charizard and Blastoise both make appearances then so should Venusaur. I would agree but out of the two Blastoise would get the nod. The large turtle with two shotguns on it’s back seems a likely choice and would be a popular choice among fans.  Flooding the field with Surf, bashing opponents with a Skull-Bash or simply sending them flying with a devastating Hydro Pump. As one of the main faces of Pokemon we would also get to recreate the infamous final battle between Ash and Gary; Blastoise Vs Charizard. It’s something we all want. This is without mentioning the new mega-evolution…

Dragonite

Pokken Dragonite

We may already have one dragon but as you know with Game of Thrones one is never enough. Dragonite descendant of the first generation gets overlooked from time to time, so now is the perfect opportunity for the small winged dragon to make an entrance. Dragonite has a great variety of moves that could be incorporated. From a chilly Ice Punch to a obliterating Hyper Beam this Pokemon has it all. One other thing to note is it can fly faster than the speed of sound. Plenty of room to improvise and create a worthy move set.

Muk

Pokken Muk

Another overlooked Pokemon from generation one. In the anime series Muck was always known as the comical one. Suddenly smothering any person it could gets its hands on (in a good way), Muk is due for a return. The stick, amorphous Pokemon is filled with poison making him a unique addition with plenty of attacks. Whether using Sludge, Poison gas or my personal favorite Mud-slap Muk is guaranteed to raise a few smiles. Controlling a giant purple sludge has always been a dream of mine. I cant be the only one right?

Electrode

Electrode

By this point you can tell I heavily favor generation one, anyway my next choice is the upside down Poke Ball will a short fuse. Now, no matter how many times I’ve played through a Pokemon game I dont think I’ve ever caught an Electrode with intent of actually using it as one of my mains. This is Pokken though and I think ticking time bomb could be amazing. First it’s a ball so rolling around the field could be enjoyable in itself. Yes another electric type but the main draw of Electrode is its unpredictable nature. Imagine the fight is not going so well your beach ball friend is taking a right beating. It’s time to bring out the big guns. Unleashing a Self-Destruct that eradicates everything in sight before clouds parts leaving nothing but a huge grin.

Groudon

Groudon 2

Finally another generation. Quite possibly one of the most badass looking Pokemon to ever grace the game, Groudon has always been a fan favorite. We’ve seen him explode out of Poke balls enough times in Smash Bros so it’s about time we actual get to control this beast. Similar to Godzilla in stature Groudon really seems like he could do some serious damage. Possibly too much in fact with the legendary having the ability to control continents to his desire he may pack too much weight for a one on one. At the least he needs to invade or affect the battlefield in some way. Then again Suicune has been added so there is a chance. To put it simply I think he would be cool; I mean look at him

Honorable mentions: Mewtwo, Tyranitar & Venusaur 

Obviously these are my choices but i’m sure we will see many more inclusions to the roster in the coming months. Which Pokemon do you want to see added to Pokken Tournament? Leave us a comment below and tell us why.

Being A Freelance Video Game Journalist Sucks Yet I Love It

I love being a freelance journalist, I get to choose what I cover, from video games to animations and comics to conventions.

Recently I went to BronyCon and interviewed a few con goers, yes I enjoy the show My Little Pony, I talked to random people whether they were cosplaying or not.

That weekend was filled with me recording and interviewing people; I was even on a panel for Legends of Equestria, a fan made MMO inspired by the show. When I came home and started editing what I had recorded it dawned onto me, I have the freedom to cover events like this because I don’t have anybody telling me what is appropriate for my work, soon after I also realized that wasn’t a great thing.

While I enjoy the freedom to cover what I want it doesn’t cover the fact that I can do that because I’m not tied to a contract. A contract that would pay me to cover these things and help me travel to even more conventions, but would it be worth trading freedom and fun for a ball and chain job?

I wish I could answer that without any doubts, but the truth is, being a freelance journalist sucks.

What’s The Problem?

Getting into the field of journalism is odd, just like many professions, there are a lot of ways to get your work out there but it doesn’t mean that it’ll be seen.

It’s tough to get the attention of IGN or Kotaku and it’s just as tough as finding an audience on YouTube. Everybody wants to be entertained, that’s why journalism is pushing more video content than ever before, arguably that’s why Let’s Plays work so well.

In the realm of written work websites are looking for stories that will get people to click on the site and make comments on the story, this gives out a sense of community, when new readers see that they are lead to believe that the site is a well trusted among other gamers and this they will continue to visit.

Editors will try to find the most interesting story they can find, this is why we get the infamous click bait articles, it’s easier to get people to visit when you’re doing more than just reporting news and/or reviews. Editorials are money makers because the writer can strike up a conversation among readers, for better or worse.

I once wrote an editorial about my thoughts on Japanese games and the reasons many gamers seem to have a dislike for them; I talked about character designs and the obsession with putting clearly underage children in sexual positions and situations. One commenter ripped my article a new one and claimed I was ignorant and didn’t understand why the games were made in such a fashion, despite me explaining those things in my piece, needless to say it was the biggest article I had written hit wise. That stupid article brought in readers not because they were interested in looking at how people saw the genre in an intelligent way, they clicked to argue and give their opinions and attack anybody who disagrees with them.

I didn’t write another editorial until I joined a different website, there I wrote about how reviewing games wasn’t as great as one may have thought, that piece got a few hits, there was nothing controversial about it, nothing that would set readers apart and spark outrage. Readers complain all of the time about any site putting out click bait but they continue to read them and that is why journalists keep making them, they create hits and hits create money, so who cares about integrity when you can create your own controversy and have people visit until they become so familiar with the site they come back due to habits?

What exactly does this have to do with being a freelance journalist? Because I don’t get contracts, I only get paid depending on how many hits my article(s) bring in, this is the most common form of payment as this is the cheapest way to pay a writer. That may not sound too bad, until you find out that you’re getting paid a certain amount after reaching a certain milestone.

Some sites can’t or won’t even pay the writers, they will always go with the ‘it’ll be great exposure and experience,’ excuse. People who draw can get away with saying no and demand to be paid, there are a lot of sites where an artist can show off their skills, the same doesn’t really apply for writers.

While there are wonderful sites for writers, like Inkspired, they’re more for writers to discover and inspire other writers. Many sites that are looking for workers will claim that once they get bigger they will be able to pay, but don’t expect any back pay for your past work, and sites get away with it because they know it’s difficult for an amateur to get anywhere without having any published work.

Covering Down

Being freelance is great for jumping around and experiencing different sites, the more places you have published work the better, just don’t expect to make enough to buy more than just cups of ramen noodles for a few weeks, or months, so how can I afford to travel around and cover events? I can’t really, in order to cover special events I have a day job and that job keeps me from leaving too far due to travel expenses.

I have gained enough exposure that from time to time I’ll get an email invitation to an event. I got a press pass to New York Comic Con in 2013, I had a chance to go to E3 in 2014 and 2015 but couldn’t make it, there were multiple events around New York and even a few outside of the U.S., but I couldn’t afford the expenses nor could I get the time off. A contract with a publisher could have covered at least the plane tickets or hotel room, which ever is cheaper.

I know nothing is owed to me, I buy my tickets to travel and hotel rooms, and I enjoy every last bit of it. Because I have to pay for everything out of my own pockets helps keep excited about what I want to do, in a way it keeps me humble. It all comes back to the freedom, the ability to chose what I want because it interest me and I want to share it with others.

It’s my choice to join sites that may not pay me much for my work, if at all, I recognize the risks I take by doing this. Going with sites that won’t pay I was able to get my start as a video game journalist, with published work I began to move from writing about video game news to traveling to conventions and covering them, it only took three in a half to four years!

Over the years I have reviewed dozens of games and I have reached the point where I don’t want to play every game that comes to me in an email. I know that sounds blasphemies to many gamers but it’s true, it’s exciting at first, being trusted to give an unbiased thoughtful review of a game is a real treat. Sadly after a while you’re forced to review games you wouldn’t have purchased yourself, but you must still give an honest review and put your personal thoughts aside (If that makes any sense).

What About The Good?

As I mentioned before, I have gained some decent exposure, I was given my own panel at The Boston Festival of Indie Games in 2014. The turnout wasn’t big but it was more than I thought it would be, it was great seeing people that were legitimately interested in what I had to say. Even as I write this article there is another small video game convention talking to me about holding a panel for this very subject.

I’ve had people stop and talk to me about video game journalism, including Gamer Gate, I was able to meet and speak with great people who love video games and the industry. From indie game developers that are starting up with their first game to bigger indie developers like Harmonix, even big publishers like Atlus and Sega.

I wouldn’t have been able to experience the joy and frustration of gaming journalism if it wasn’t for my decision to bite the bullet and work for exposure and not money. This isn’t an editorial to discourage new writers, this piece is to give a small personal glimpse at what to expect when you start off as a freelance journalist.

How Can Readers Help Freelance Journalists?

Patreon and Kickstarter are not ideal for a majority of journalists, very few can do this and find success. Jim Sterling is one of those very few, this is because he has shown the ability and professionalism to do his job efficiently, and because of this his viewers are willing to support him. For others the best way to show support isn’t a monthly crowd fund, instead simply sharing their work with social media can do wonders.

Social media is a journalist’s best friend, when you share one of their articles it shows the editors that people are responding to the author, this could help justify paying the creator. A lot of freelance video game journalists rely on N4G (News For Gamers), it’s one of the few sites aimed at spreading news for small gaming sites. Personally I am not a fan of the site, as are many surprisingly enough, but I still use it because I see it as a necessary evil and it can be a useful tool to attract more readers.

If the author has a YouTube channel give it a look, more views can help give the creator some extra money without you needing to reach into your own pockets. Yes, I know many people use Ad Blocker and they find it justifiable because nobody likes watching ads, but many creators use skippable ads and many websites use those ads to pay their staff.

If you’re interested in becoming a freelance video game journalist I hope my ramble was enough to help you prepare for what’s out there. This isn’t my first editorial on the subject of being a journalist and it won’t be my last.

Being a freelance video game journalist sucks, yet I love it and I wouldn’t trade it in for all of the E.T cartridges in the world. Now then, where’s my contract The Escapist?

FFXIV: Why The Rising Made Me Tear Up

If you have not completed the event yet and want to avoid spoilers, click away. There will be spoilers!

As of August 27th, 2015, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn celebrated it’s second anniversary. For those with Legacy status, it’s the fifth anniversary since 1.0 arrived on the scene. To mark this wonderful milestone, the special event The Rising has returned, this time tailored for the second anniversary rather than the first that hit last year.

This event makes us complete a special F.A.T.E(no surprises there) before being treated to a scene and taken to the 18th Floor. You’re greeted by Naoki Yoshida who thanks you for playing the game. Once you have control of your character you can go around and interact with the others, from the music producers to battle leads. Each one thanks you and it made me teary. They acknowledged us, treated us like actual people instead of simply money bags. And you don’t get that much these days.

You can see how much they love this game and how much time, energy and soul they pour into our beloved Eorzea.

Not only did we get thanks but Naoki even talks about how the now successful game was once met with a ruinous fate and by tearing it down and rebuilding could we hope to build something better. And he did. While the team may thank us, the players, I wish to thank them as well. A game is not a game without players to play and a game is not a game without producers and designers.

So here is to two years of A Realm Reborn and five years since it was created. Let us hope there are many more years to come.

6 Games To Get Excited For This Autumn/Winter

You may be thinking 2015 is coming to an end so we should start looking to the future. 2016 is edging closer and there seems to be promising possibilities with a New Zelda, Uncharted & Dark Souls on the horizon, nevertheless there is nothing to fear as the remainder of 2015 has some fantastic titles lined up; Possibly the strongest for years.  So what should I play? Yes there are far too many games with far little time to explore every single one. True even one of these games could last you longer than the chilly season but really in our hearts all us gamers are greedy.

So to make things slightly easier I’ve created a list of 6 games to excited for this Autumn/Winter. Yes traditionally 5 games would have been chosen though this time I found it impossible not to include these enormous franchises. So lets get this list rolling:

Star Wars: Battlefront (Playstation 4, Xbox One & PC)

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Many feel the golden days of Star Wars Video Games are long gone. Rogue Squadron and Knights of the Old Republic are titles of a time now extinct. Then Star Wars: Battlefront was beamed out to the world. Could EA create the perfect game that every fan has long awaited for? Will my 10 year old self finally get to be amerced in an authentic Star Wars Universe? Early gameplay sure does look encouraging however I’ve had my hopes dashed before. So I’m trying to stay grounded, even with the mouth-watering premise of storming across the planet Hoth. All I know is that this galaxy has never looked so beautiful. Stunning set pieces seem to be preparing us for an experience like no other. It’s just a shame about the absence of single player…

 

Halo 5: Guardians (Xbox One)

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Microsoft’s flagship franchise is already onto its fifth entry (Not including spin-offs). Master Chief is nowhere to be seen and as Spartan Locke you are given the responsibility of finding the soldier whilst also stopping a plot to destroy the entire galaxy. No pressure. Throwing Locke into the protagonist’s role gives the Halo series a fresh approach which it has been needing for a years. Being released as a beta in “The Master Chief Collection” players have had sometime to adapt to the new mechanics and therefore we can hope 343 Industries have had enough time to eradicate any bugs. The last thing anyone wants is a broken launch. Deja vu anyone?

 

Super Mario Maker (Nintendo Wii U) 

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The last major stop on the 2015 Nintendo train finishes in September with the much hyped Super Mario Maker. After years of wanting to be able to design your own Mario levels, Nintendo have opened the “fludd”gates, finally giving their seal of approval to Modders everywhere. In true Nintendo style they have gone all out, giving us access to four generations of Super Mario which includes Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World (My personal favorite) and New Super Mario Bros. Having the ability to create your own levels is awesome, but to witness what the online community can conjure up is beyond my imagination.

 

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC, Playstation 3 & Xbox 360)

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Lately Kojima and Konami have not be on the best of terms, so here’s hoping that when Snake’s latest mission drops all can be forgotten and normality will resume; Highly unlikely. Oh well at least we have the newest entry to keep us going. Arriving in early September, The Phantom Pain is set after the events of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and throws everyone favorite sleuthing hero into depths of Afghanistan right in the midst of the Soviet-Afghan war. Seeking revenge for his fallen comrades you know there are no limits for how far Snake will go to succeed.  With talented actors like Kiefer Sutherland returning and facial motion capture being installed (A first for the series) it’s no wonder why we all cant wait to jump back into Snake’s shoes.

 

Fallout 4 (Playstation 4, Xbox One & PC)

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Now this is how to announce a blockbuster of a game. After years of pining for a new entry into the Fallout franchise suddenly nonchalantly Bethesda dropped the announcement that not only have they been working on a new iteration but its complete. Want gameplay footage? Here you go. When is it out? This November! Wow talk about knocking us all out of our seats. Bethesda showed companies everywhere that revealing a game a couple of months before release gets you all around public praise. On top of this I have no doubt that business wise it will get you sales too.

Roughly taking place around the same time period as Fallout 3 the newest entry has gone all out including regions resembling Boston, Massachusetts and New England. The game unlike it’s predecessors begins on the day the bomb drops creating this post-apocalyptic world. I think its fair to say Bethesda have something special planned with this game.

 

Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One & Xbox 360)

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Remember these are games that are released this Winter. Sorry Playstation users, Microsoft have taken this one for the kill. Planned for release simultaneous with Fallout 4 the timed exclusive that every Xbox owner has been waiting for comes Rise of the Tomb Raider. Following on from the events of 2013’s widely praised “Tomb Raider”, Lara’s continued search of the supernatural leads her to Siberia to try and uncover the truth. Keeping in the same strong style the series adapted, footage was one of the highlights of E3. It’s no wonder why as the glorious world Lara is uncovering only becomes more picturesque at every turn. Can it top the original though?

So there you have it my top 6 games to get excited for this Autumn/Winter. From the planet Hoth to the apocalyptic land of Boston, Winter sure does have vast collection of titles lined up. What will you be playing this season? Leave us a comment below to tell us.

What Big Hero 6 Means for Kingdom Hearts III

Earlier at D23, one of my Kingdom Hearts III predictions from awhile back got confirmed. Big Hero 6 will appear as a world within the game. When I wrote my article predicting the worlds in Kingdom Hearts III, I said that the two franchises would be a good fit because of their similar tones. It also isn’t hard to picture Sora on the same screen as Hiro and Neku.

What I mean by Neku and Hiro sharing the screen with Sora is that I have a theory (a GAME theory) this world will feature the cast of The World Ends With You. To me, it makes sense because San Fransokyo is a logical place for Neku and the rest of the team to show up next since it’s similar to the real location of their game, Shibuya. Despite that, today another revelation was made on the game that might kill my theory.

During the same presentation where the world was announced, it was also revealed that San Fransokyo has a certain quality that separates it from most of the other worlds in the game series. This aspect is that the world will not retell the story of the movie, instead continuing it. In a way, that could mean that the story presented in the game could serve as a midway point between the original movie and the sequel. While a sequel isn’t officially announced as being made yet, Honey Lemon actress, Genesis Rodriguez, has confirmed that talks of a sequel have been occurring at Disney. In regards to the sequel, Rodriguez said the following:

“There’s rumblings of something else happening. I mean yesterday I just saw that it’s the third most grossing Disney animated feature, so this is huge for them. I doubt that they wouldn’t want to do another one. It was a huge success.”

However, just because the world is continuing the Big Hero 6 story doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be canon within that universe. It could turn out to be just that the story is like an elseworld idea or something. If that is indeed the case, the TWEWY characters still could show up to resolve some of their plotlines from KH3D.

Regardless of the TWEWY characters, Big Hero 6 shows something pretty significant about the state of Kingdom Hearts III. First, the announcement of the game in 2013 was way too early. Most fans already assumed that, but I doubt this Big Hero 6 world was even planned for the game when the announcement happened. Second, it looks like most of the worlds for the game will be coming from more modern titles. That’s interesting because the series has repeatedly shown that it strives off of the nostalgia of the players and only a handful of times has dabbled in more modern movies. Lastly, with Big Hero 6 and Tangled worlds announced, it seems even more clear to me that a Frozen world will appear in the game. For how big that movie is, especially in Japan, it would actually be really weird if it didn’t appear in the game.

With this game coming closer to release every day, we are probably only a few months away from getting a release date. Please be excited, KH fans.

Why the Uncharted Collection is Smart

Naughty Dog have come a long way from their days of sporting a Bandicoot of as their Mascot. Today they are one of the most popular gaming studios in the world. Not only this but are considered among many as PlayStation’s Flagship Developers and their flagship series is the Indiana Jones esque series Uncharted.

Having played through the epic adventure of Nathan Drake in Uncharted 2: Amongst Thieves. I have always wanted to visit the original before eventually moving onto the third entry. Now with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End on the horizon I feel I have no time to get into the series. I like 20 million others are lucky enough to own a Playstation 4 console. Now that I have this, I only seem to want previous released titles updated to the most current graphics.  So you can imagine my delight when the Uncharted Collection was announced.

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Video Games that perform like movies are becoming more and more common. The action-adventure, third person shooter that is now synonymous with the Uncharted may not have been one of the first to attempt this but it is certainly one of the first to perfect it. Having the chance to own the complete trilogy on the newest generation of console in preparation for the newest release is simply great. It’s Sony listening to its fans. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is ideal for anyone trying to break into the series.

Generally for anybody lagging from the delayed release of the fourth entry (Due for release around the first or second quarter of 2016) this is a great way to revisit the gigantic adventure Nathan takes on before possibly taking on his last.  The HD collection has been promised that it will be available in a gorgeous 1080p resolution with 60 frames per second which according to Sony, “makes a huge difference”. One thing to not forget is that this bundle only contains Drake’s solo efforts so unfortunately Multiplayer is exempt. I however don’t think this is a necessity as the main draw is obviously the story. That said the multiplayer is quite underrated yet as long as it returns in A Thief’s End i’m more than happy.

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The price is worthy of appraisal too. Most video games released today are around the £40-£50 mark so I was honestly expecting the trilogy to cost about £60. To my delight the price was revealed at £54.99 (Amazon.co.uk) and at the time of writing this has dropped down to £46.85, basically the same as one game. I realise this is a re-release but there’s no doubt that you are getting bang for your buck especially if you are yet to touch the franchise.

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Sony are no doubt winning the console race. Decisions like this are only going to contribute to their lead. Never before has there been more Xbox owners that have swapped sides to Playstation. All of these players have never had chance to experience Uncharted and until this was announced were unable to (unless they bought a Playstation 3 as well). So to give these new Playstation owners the chance to play through the entirety of their biggest franchise just in time for the release of the latest title is a really smart move. Genius too. It may seem obvious to some to create this trilogy but what you need to take into consideration is that there are always obvious choices for a company. Most of these obvious choices never come to fruition so when they do I think they need applauding. In terms of pleasing the fans and a business decision this hits the nail right on the head.

I have my pre-order. Do you have yours? What’s your view on the Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection?

Leave us a comment below to tell us why.

“The Legend of Zelda Wii U” Is My Most Anticipated Game of 2016

As any human being I like to be excited about something. I like to be excited about games in particular. Why? It’s simple, because I want to know that there are more unexplored horizons out there to look forward to, new worlds to be discovered and new characters to meet. But sometimes a game pops-up that overshadows all the others in that aspiration. And this time, it’s “Legend of Zelda” for Wii U.

There are a number of reasons of why it is my favorite amidst the games that are yet to be released. Besides the fact that amongst upcoming titles it can be considered an underdog, a David to Microsoft’s and Sony’s Goliath. Which is admirable and why Nintendo deserves some praise at least for that alone.

But besides that, the first major point for my excitement for this game is that at this moment Wii U doesn’t have big AAA-titles coming out this year. Unlike its peers PS4 and Xbox One who have a number of projects, like Fallout 4 and Metal Gear Solid V that are set to arrive over next 6 months. So Nintendo is going to need a sure hit if they want to catch up to their big brothers. And this is not from pure cheapskate standpoint, but from the perspective of a person that wants the game to be polished in all areas. So the end result must not only be what might be considered “a good game” and have a certain commercial success, but one alongside of “Super Mario 3d World” or “Bayonetta 2”, that will be considered one of the best games on Wii U and in history of Nintendo in general.

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Keeping in mind mentioned above, “Legend of Zelda” must also be pretty, to say the least. And if the E3 2014 demo is any indication than the game surely delivers on that front already. With high-definition textures that incorporate cel-shading graphics which will not only look great, but will also age incredibly well. Just look at 2013 “Wind Waker HD” and how tall it stands over other video games released back in 2002. We all know that Wii U is the weakest of all current-gen platforms, but till this point it didn’t stop the games on it look positively gorgeous and perform extremely well, like the aforementioned Bayonetta.

And the last part is the fact that it is an open-world game. Don’t get me wrong, there is no problem with linearity if it is implemented right, but “Zelda” series has already done that and they’ve done semi open-world, so it’s natural for them to progress even further, giving the players the freedom to tackle each dungeon, puzzle and objective in their own way. It has also been stated by the producer Eiji Aonuma that the developers are “rethinking the conventions of Zelda” to bring something new to this senior franchise. And considering that the man has been involved in the development of the games in this series for over 16 years, I’m inclined to trust him on this one and see where this line of thinking leads.

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Summing it all up together and a very peculiar picture is starting to exude. A game with such ageless and beautiful graphic-style, an interesting world to explore and improved Zelda-mechanics that has proved to be relevant for such a long time are the reasons why I think I’ll put my money on this particular title being successful not only commercially, but also being one, if not the most relevant project of 2016.

The Most Important Part of a Video Game

Outlast is the scariest game in the survival-horror genre that I’ve played in the last few years. And it’s not only because of the abundance of monsters, suddenly jumping out at you from around the corner of the screen, which are usually prerequisite for this types of games.

The point is how Outlast manages to use jump scares with minimal presence of  indicators on the screen, beautiful graphics, great sound and a lack of self-defence methods to create an atmosphere that not only frightens it’s audience with suddenness, but also manages to keep the tension intact and ever present at all times. You never feel secure, your hero is alone in an incredibly brutal world with no salvation in site and which has only one objective – to scare the living pants of you!

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And the key word in all that is atmosphere. After all, if the game can pull it off: create the right environment, characters and music, it can compensate for the many disadvantages that it might have. A good example is “Assassin’s Creed” (2007). The game, which was crammed with so many awkward design decisions and the repetitiveness of similar missions, but nevertheless was successful and liked by many gamers due to the fact that it superbly presented itself. Every little mission, whether it is the surveillance of any character or disclosure of the new territory (at the time still a novelty in the Ubisoft games) was a step on the way to the main point of the game – a lone man in a dressing gown stealthily planning an assault on a designated target of the day.

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Another example is  “L.A. Noire”, which was popular not only among critics at the time of its release, but also found commercial success. And it is remarkable not because it took few missteps in its mission design like aforementioned AC where sometimes they felt like an on rail sequence, but the fact that it was a completely new IP and also that it was of the genre not often visited in video games at the time. But again, due to the fact that all activities are interconnected and the gameplay was centralized – whether it’s the chase, crime scene analysis or even an elementary review of all the evidence in your notebook, L.A. Noire never lost a sense of place and understanding of the role you play. Because, in the end, this is the purpose of the games – we trying to walk in someone else’s shoes: a gangster, a detective, the military man or just a cartoon character, and if the game can create the right atmosphere for it, then it can compensate for many shortcomings or create an inviting ambiance to invite the new players in and forge a world which we do not want to leave behind.

04 opinion

Often, a person ceases to play a certain game just because of the lack of common sense of the world that it’s trying to establish, whether it’s a lack of interesting characters, good music or unexamined universe, and in almost all such cases, a gamer can’t explain what’s in it that kills the enthusiasm for him or her?! And only when the word “atmosphere” appears in discussion,  the realization dawns on the person of what it lacked. And that is the point of this article. Nowadays the most often topic regarding games is the number of frames per second, or the graphic component that really for me, too, plays a huge role. I love the beautiful graphics: draw distance, volumetric lighting, smooth animation – everything that’s been mentioned is absolutely important. But such beauty must  serve as a wrapper for the true treasures hidden in – the atmosphere and all of its components! Remember what our parents used to tell us – It’s what inside that matters. Same here, no matter what goal the game strives to achieve, whether it’s to enthral us with explosions and shooting, or to keep us interested with various puzzles, or even sometimes to scare us, all video games want to create the world we do not want to leave, even if the world as wonderfully brutal and frightening as in the game Outlast.

Sword Art Online RE: Hollow Fragment Has Too Many Glitches

Sword Art Online RE: Hollow Fragment was released at the beginning of August in the North America and European zones. The game is available for download via PSN on both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. And it’s incredible. I’ve really enjoyed the game so far, from single player to dabbling in multiplayer with other real players.

Rarely does a game pull me from my go-to game of Final Fantasy 14 and yet, this managed to – a feat that many games don’t have that title. But for all it’s wonderful aspects, there is one thing that I feel could be a real downfall and hurt the game – the glitches.

Games come with glitches, that is known. Many games get fully polished after patches rather than coming off the assembly line all good to go. This game needs patches to fix the things that really shouldn’t be happening. Random crashes that cause the game to close, defeating monsters in Hollow missions and the quest not completing properly, Hollow missions taking more than 30 seconds to start compared to some that take several seconds. Incredible lag in areas where there are plenty of NPCs to a bit of lag in a non-crowded area.

Two big multiplayer ones I’ve encountered are – being unable to teleport to the administration area despite everyone being ready to teleport. And even though we should be teleporting, it times out and we have to click the door again.

My favorite was being unable to join a room in multiplayer because it was full. So the game kicked me to the mode selection but it acted as though I was trying to enter a room that I wasn’t able to.

While I can understand glitches happening at times, and yes most of these glitches don’t happen all the time, some are happening every day. Lag, teleporting and missions not completing properly are the ones I’m encountering way too frequently. It’s quite frustrating, especially the mission one as sometimes it happens upon defeating a pretty difficult boss so you’re forced to exit and redo. Though that isn’t recommended as it’ll happen again.

Considering the game has been out long enough, these things shouldn’t be happening. I can sort of understand the multiplayer ones as going online with other players is new(as the old version, to play with others you needed ad-hoc). These could very well cause players to not play and that does not look good for the future of any other Sword Art Online games.

As I said, this game is really enjoyable, the only downside are those glitches. I want to see this game do well and, am hoping the developers can fix through patches. It’ll definitely help the game.