Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4 – 2018)

red-dead-redemption-23

In Red Dead Redemption 2, players assume control of Arthur Morgan – the ornery, unofficial right-hand man to Dutch Van Der Linde (players may remember Dutch from his prominent role in Red Dead Redemption – and, yes – this is a prequel, taking place in between Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Revolver). As Arthur, players will assist Dutch and the gang in various heists and will eventually decide if they wish to be pure evil or become a wild west version of Robin Hood. Along the way, there will be lots of backstabbing, betrayal, and bloodshed no matter which path you choose.

If you’re familiar at all with Red Dead Redemption – you’ll be right at home. If not, then don’t worry – there are plenty of opportunities in-game for you to practice different skills and controls. And, if like me you’re familiar with the rest of the Red Dead games – there’s enough changes to keep things fresh and exciting. As Dutch would say – “Don’t worry.”

The game is massive – and that’s not even including Red Dead Redemption 2‘s online mode – which essentially makes the game endlessly replayable. There’s at least 60+ hours of content in the main story alone, with lots of side quests and exploration to do aside from the main story.

Though the game’s online mode is still a bit buggy and the economy is somewhat broken – the online play is still in beta, and it’s said that Rockstar is ironing out a lot of the problems already. Even with the bugs and the broken currency, I’ve still had a blast online getting mercilessly murdered by fellow players for simply walking in their relative vicinity. However, where RDR2 really shines is its story mode  – an epic western which meanders over miles of in-game terrain. Even though we all know what happens to Dutch and the gang via the story we experienced in the original Red Dead Redemption – we don’t necessarily know what happens to Arthur Morgan, which is great because it keeps an element of surprise within the story we already expect, enabling Rockstar to deliver a western tale with much more emotional weight than you’d think, truly delivering on all fronts.

The graphics are amazing, the score is amazing, the gameplay is addictive, and the characters and setting are compelling. The amount of detail that went into this game is unbelievable. Play it, and you surely won’t regret it (unless you hate westerns or open world games for some reason). This is pretty much a perfect game in my eyes.

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

 

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Marvel Heroes (PC – 2013)

In Marvel Heroes, players take control of one of several starting characters (Punisher, Colossus, Captain America, Black Widow, Storm, Human Torch, Hawkeye…among others, with the roster changing all the time) and embark on a mission to stop the nefarious Doctor Doom from his plans to use the Cosmic Cube for his own evil purposes.

If you’ve ever played a game like Diablo II, then you’ve essentially already played Marvel Heroes. This game isn’t innovative, but it doesn’t really seek to be – which is somewhat of a shame due to the Marvel property being so popular right now. However, for the casual gamer, this game will be great fun.

I had originally planned on boycotting this game when I found out that there was no character creation system and instead, as a player, you’d pick a character like Spider-Man or Colossus (whom I am using at the moment) and would be running around on-screen with potentially dozens of other players using the same character as you. However, in reality, it often doesn’t play out that way. The reason for this is due to there being (at the moment) 20+ characters (somewhere around 28, I believe) – all of whom have multiple costumes and other custom appearance options available to the player to make their particular Colossus or Spider-Man or Thor stand out. So even if two or more characters are using Colossus, there’s a good chance that most of them will have individualized aesthetics. Still not as good as being able to create your own character, which is what Champions Online excels at (Note: Champions Online was originally supposed to be a Marvel game) and even DC Universe Online is pretty decent at.

As it is, Marvel Heroes, despite not being innovative and despite being somewhat repetitive (as games in this genre sometimes are) is a decent action MMORPG. It’s best to play with friends for the fun factor, but there isn’t a large difficulty curve and it’s FREE (you can still pay for characters and costumes with real-life money but it’s not necessary to play the full version of the game – you can still buy characters and costumes with in-game currency that you earn, but it takes a long time), meaning that it’s not a huge investment and you’re likely to get at least some enjoyment out of it and the best thing about it is, well…it’s FREE. The only real thing that kept me from giving this four stars is the fact that you can’t pick any hero to begin with, and you can’t create your own hero.

Check it out, team up with your favorite characters and whup some bad-guy arse. The developers are constantly adding new characters to the mix, so gameplay isn’t likely to get too stale anytime soon.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Pokemon Black (Nintendo DS – 2011)

Pokemon Black (Nintendo DS - 2011)

Pokemon Black (was) is a refreshing entry into the Pokemon’s fifth generation of games. As the player-character “Hilbert/Hilda” (depending on your sex), you embark on a quest to collect all the Pokemon you come across, while at the same time defending yourself against Team Plasma and their Pokemon “liberation” efforts.

We’ve all played Pokemon before, right? Well, I used to love playing it back when the original came out. There was just one small problem, however – I didn’t own a Gameboy. I would play it at my friend’s house when I visited and we weren’t doing anything else, but since there could be only one save file…I kept getting to the same point, over and over again every time I played the game, before I’d have to shut it off. Well….all these years later I finally decided to get a Nintendo DS I found on the cheap in a little hole-in-the-wall store here in Portland, Maine. I got Pokemon White for my girlfriend and picked up the Black version for myself.

Back when this game first came out a couple of years ago, it was the first entry into the Pokemon franchise to sport individual, game-color-specific, in-game areas; In the White version there is a wild area called White Forest, while in the Black version there is a bustling city called Black City. Add to this the first time in a Pokemon game having changing weather and seasons as well as 150+ new Pokemon – and you got yourselves a jump-start to the tried-and-true formula of the franchise….which isn’t a bad thing.

The graphics are great for a DS game and I think the series has come a long way. With new connectivity options and new playable areas for each version, as well as upgrades to the battle system like three-way battles – I think that there are countless hours of replayability options. If I could only have one game for the Nintendo DS, I wouldn’t mind just having Pokemon Black.

Now, if I could just get my girlfriend to catch up so I can trade with her! (I need to get a Zekrom!)

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Diablo III (PS3 – 2013)

Diablo III (PS3 - 2013)

On Sanctuary, a fantasy world constantly under attack and being saved by heroes in previous incarnations of the Diablo franchise, you must set out either by yourself or with friends to stop the advancing shadow of the demonic hordes. With the help of magical items and powerful allies, you will trek across the continent and lay waste to the evil armies of the Burning Hells…and get rich doing so.

Listen.

I have loved Diablo for years. I straight out REFUSED to play Diablo III when it came to PC because it a.) didn’t FEEL like Diablo to me – instead seeming almost like an auction-house simulator, with micro-transactions ruling the day and the gameplay, throwing everything off balance and b.) it required you to be online EVEN TO PLAY BY YOURSELF.

Once I found out they’d gotten rid of the auction house and the online-only requirement, I was sold on at least trying it, and let me tell you – I’m not super-disappointed.

There are plenty of classes to choose from like Barbarian, Monk, Wizard, Witch Doctor and Demon Hunter (with optional male/female with different looks for each) and though most of the time you’ll be mindlessly slogging along through impossible-looking mobs of enemies there is a slight amount of strategy involved in most situations, especially when it comes to combo attacks with your friends.

Still, with other games like The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V out there which offer lots in the way of story and immersive gameplay, this game can seem tame in comparison (although those are completely different kinds of games) although the animations and the graphics are sort of flashy and colorful and reminiscent of World of Warcraft.

This console port exceeded my expectations by far and I’ve been able to play alongside my friends on the same console, which to me is the main draw. Online-only isn’t always the best option, so I’m really glad they decided to get rid of that feature. If you’ve played the PC version, you might hate it but maybe you should give the console version a chance. It seems to have been made more with the consoles in mind than with the PC. And if you’re like me and you didn’t want to touch this game with a ten-foot pole, try it out. It might surprise you.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Dead Or Alive 5 (PS3 – 2012)

Dead Or Alive 5 - PS3 (2012)

The Dead or Alive crew is back in an all-new installment that features MMA fighting techniques blended with the same old Dead Or Alive style we’ve seen in the past. Take on the role of some of your old favorites like Lei Fang, Jann Lee or Gen Fu – or try out some of the newcomers from the Virtua Fighter series such as Brad Wong or Eliot.

Each level comes to life with interactive environments which you can use to your advantage in the right situations. Multiple unlockable outfits and some unlockable characters round out the replayablilty factor while online modes and a robust story mode should keep you entertained for a long while.

Everything I love about this game franchise was still there in this incarnation. The fighting system is still the same as the one found in Dead Or Alive 4, with the “paper, rock, scissors” style mechanics. Button mashers will have a tough time duking it out with more skilled gamers due to this, but the game doesn’t have a massive learning curve.

The graphics are amazing, as usual. Fabric flows, animals move around, sweat glistens as your characters exert themselves and hats fly off heads with strong blows.  The music and sound effects were decent enough, too.

The only thing I didn’t really like about this was that the story mode was a little bit incoherent, but it’s in the same way that a lot of Japanese animation feels. It’s chaotic, you’re not QUITE sure what exactly is going on and then WHAMMO – you finally get it. It didn’t really detract a whole lot from my experience, however.

This installment focuses less on the T&A that first drew attention to the series, although that aspect is definitely still present in the form of constantly-jiggling boobage – and make no mistake, the updated facial models and graphics have the characters looking better than ever. And for ladies who appreciate some man-skin, there are also unlockable outfits for the male characters, as well.

All in all, this is a great title and probably one of the best entries into the Dead Or Alive franchise. Learning the game’s nuances is fun and never tedious. The fights and characters are flashy and likable, and the kinetic pace will have you coming back for more. Hands down my favorite fighting game, ever.

JOE Rating:  ★★★★★

Gotham City Impostors (2012 – PS3)

Gotham City Impostors (2012 - PS3)

Release Date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Monolith Productions

Taking on the role of either one of the Bats (a gang of do-gooders who dress up in outfits reminiscent of Batman’s own costume) or the Jokerz (a gang of psychos donning makeup and outfits to look like the Joker, Batman’s nemesis) you wield weapons in this first-person shooter set in the background of the DC Universe.

The game is fairly cheap, and you can download a free demo that you can play for an hour before deciding whether or not you want to buy it. The hour is divided up between actual game time, and not just while you’re in menus, though. Don’t worry, an hour is more than enough time to tell if you like this game.

You can customize your own character’s outfit after level 8, or you can just use one of the pre-set characters (there are different classes like Sniper or Medic, etc) and there are plenty of options to choose from that you can either unlock or buy from the Playstation Store.

The weapons aren’t very diverse but there are some cool ones, like a cannon that fires a face-biting parrot which reduces other players’ vision and other wacky weapons, or you can get up close and personal with a something as simple-yet-effective as a katana.

The levels, aside from a couple, are fairly easy to traverse…especially with the aid of the many different types of mobility options you have (like glider wings which catch air drafts from vents to propel you, or grappling hooks which carry you across the level or to rooftops).

One thing I don’t like is that there aren’t a ton of people playing it so sometimes you’ll have problems depending on the time of day, with finding people. I also noticed the spotty connections which never happen with my other games.

The weapons could have used a little more punch, too, because sometimes even if you lay a great ambush (bear traps) and you are ready for your opponent, and you fire shot after shot into their faces, they still kill you.

Give it a shot, especially if you like Batman and/or games like Black Ops.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Game Trailer For Gotham City Impostors

Assassin’s Creed III (2012 – PS3)

Assassin's Creed III (2012 - PS3)

Release Date: October 30, 2012
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft

In Assassin’s Creed III, players assume the role of Connor Kenway, a Native American brought up in hard times and trained to be an assassin during the 1700’s. Throughout the game, you will experience historical battles such as the Battle of Breed’s (Bunker) Hill and the Battle of North Bridge where the shot heard ’round the world occurred in Concord, Mass. You will also experience other historical events such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride.

You will be able to enjoy roaming historically and visually accurate (for the most part) portrayals of Boston, New York, Concord and Lexington. (Though, I couldn’t find The Old Manse while I was near the Old North Bridge, in the game).

Despite a lot of historical things, the game also, of course, is historical fiction and they take liberties (ha, no pun intended) with some of the events in order to facilitate their own sci-fi-themed storyline…which also takes place simultaneously in a near-future where you are a modern day assassin looking back via the Animus. (A device which makes this sort of “time travel” possible)

The game is immensely fun and I really enjoy traipsing over the rooftops of Boston, seeing as I know the area fairly well. The time period is also not done very much in games nowadays, and so it’s nice to see a playable, non-boring representation of combat from that era. (Can we maybe do one during Civil War times, PLEASE?!)

The multiplayer modes are super-fun as well, but a lot of the novelty is lost on many folks who just want to run around and avoid the challenge of trying to blend in with the crowd. This doesn’t happen in every game, but it happened in enough of the matches that it sort of made me move onto other multiplayer gaming options, though I still re-play the hell out of the story.

The best part of the game, in my opinion, are the naval battles you can take part in with your ship (once you complete the missions to get it). It’s really well-done and very fun.

There haven’t been a ton of glitches, (at least, I hear, compared to the Wii U version) but I did run into a cart that was half in the ground (vertically) so the driver was facing the sky, but with no horses.

If you liked the previous Assassin’s Creed games, you’ll like this too…and you’ll especially like it if you’re a history buff, or have been to Boston. It’s really fun to be able to walk around the Freedom Trail in-game.

Check it out!

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Game Trailer For Assassin’s Creed III