Archive for the Screenshots Category

God Of War: Mini-Review

Posted in Best / Worst, Games, Screenshots with tags , on May 13, 2018 by slateman

Having taken a few weeks to complete the campaign, I sit thinking of how to describe the experience. The game may have received rave reviews across the board, but was it truly as memorable, inspiring and wonderful as everyone says? To begin, let’s address some facts after the obligatory here be spoilers warning.

The middle sections were iffy and revisiting places felt a bit drawn out. The music wasn’t as heroic as I’d hoped and I never found myself humming any tunes as I itched to return to Midgard. There were some lighting issues, particularly with shadows, where everything would go dark and it gave the game an unnatural and jarring feeling from time to time. Initially, there were too many menus, upgrade choices and options to go through. One of the later gameplay mechanics felt too video-gamey, especially for a title that aimed to bridge the gap between cinematic experience and games and I also hit a checkpoint bug that was frustrating and made for too much work.

Phew…that’s a long list of woes. However, as a true testament to the game’s magnificence, I would still give it a 10/10 as the laundry list of good/great/fan-fucking-tastic things is easily 20 times the length of the previous paragraph. From a gameplay perspective, the puzzles were almost all interesting and fun and they were tied in with the story or side quests perfectly. Fighting as Kratos has never been as satisfying, challenging or glorious to behold. A series staple, this game somehow made me forget about the blades of chaos, at least until they returned. On the one hand, the leviathan axe was a brilliant change of pace, both brutal in its weight and also marvelous to watch, and its integration into puzzles made it the ideal weapon of choice. But as Kratos’s past returned, the blades were not merely a prop or throwaway weapon: they served a purpose, both with their fire element and also the gravity of accepting his prior life.

Which leads, inevitably, into that conflict Kratos suffered. I can all but guarantee nobody saw our protagonist as the “most developed character of 2018”. (I realize, Red Dead Redemption 2 will likely win story of the year for many). Honestly, who believed Kratos could undergo such a transformation from a one-dimensional anger machine to a wonderfully-blended father figure, tormented god and, rarely, funny character. The BOY memes are not unfair, but I genuinely cared about him, his journey and above all, his relationship with Atreus.

The dynamics the duo faced throughout this journey were simply remarkable. When Atreus was in trouble, I felt my own inner Spartan Rage building. I don’t know if non-parents could truly experience the emotional side of this story, but I like to think they can, even if a portion might not resonate as much as a father of a son, like I am, can. At points, I hated Atreus and wanted to slap his face. On others, I felt for him, the way I do when my own child hurts. Finally, on others, I relied upon him to stun my enemies, distract them, reach those I couldn’t and for tossing me some energy when I was getting an all-too-frequent beat-down. He is the single best non-player sidekick I’ve ever had the joy of semi-controlling and his journey, as Kratos mentions at the end, is the true center stage of this tale.

Finding that out, however, was a vast undertaking, through realms, fighting behemoths and ultimately landing at one of the more emotional finales I’ve ever experienced. The implications of Faye’s predictions: whatever that final panel meant, makes me yearn for more in a way no God Of War ever has. The significance of the final name reveal: Loki, has me questioning everything! I’ve been entrenched in Norse mythology and, knowing my stuff, the ending means OMG – bad shit’s a’comin’! Balder’s death signifies the beginning of Ragnarök – orchestrated by Loki himself. Plus, Loki is the father of Jormungand AND Fenrir which turns the entire timeline on its head.

And all these superlatives just gloss over the incredible attention to detail, the way the developers integrated lore without overwhelming you, the utterly gorgeous graphics and pristine sound design. It doesn’t capture how after my finale and the post-finale, “I want the sequel NOW” reveal, that I just want to dive back in to collect more, defeat valkyries, upgrade equipment and, as of yesterday, tinker with the new photo mode.

The only true downside is that a sequel will never be able to capture the magic this reboot has offered us. This game is very similar to the Tomb Raider reboot from several years ago: the new take on Lara was compelling and its gameplay superb. I actually cared about the lore, though that was overshadowed by GOW’s, but the two have many parallels. Much like the Tomb Raider sequel, more is always great, but I don’t think it can ever live up to the experience I just had which is, without a doubt, among the best in my gaming life. And to think, I only just beat Bloodborne three months ago! Two games which likely reside on my top-20, mayhaps even my top-15!

I’ll cut this off now, as I surely could gush for countless other paragraphs about Brok and Sindri, about the single-shot presentation, about those damn valkyries, about…..yeah….let’s call it a day now. I’m pegging it as Game of the Year now. It’s not a question of it being deserving, it’s only a question of something else being able to topple it. OMG, so good.

Cuphead: A Work Of Art

Posted in Artwork, Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Screenshots on October 14, 2017 by slateman

This game is insane. It’s weird though. In no way is it new. The visuals hearken back to nearly a century ago and the tough-as-nails platforming isn’t far removed from my own youth. However, it is gorgeous and one of the more refreshing titles I’ve played in years. In an age when everything feels like it’s been done before, Cuphead comes along and tells you that old can be new again. I’ve opted to share some screenshots, but they simply cannot do this game any justice. The silky-smooth animations and impressive boss battles can only be appreciated by watching it in action…something I highly recommend anyone doing.

This last image is one you’ll see a lot of. It taunts you with showing your level progress, thus inciting another retry. And another. And another.

Ys II: Completed! Thoughts

Posted in Artwork, Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Screenshots, Ys on September 20, 2017 by slateman

Ys Books I & II remains among my favorite games ever. That’s partly tied to the time of my life, about 13. However it is also tied to its innovation, its technological prowess (CD quality!) and its music, which is still remarkable. But now having finished the remake of Ys III and my save game but a few hours into Ys II, it was time to complete this retelling. And now that I’m done, I realize…It’s dated.

The game was still great, with the familiar faces of Feena and Reah bringing a smile to mine. However, its source material is almost 30 years old and it shows. The labyrinthine level layout was needed with limitations of the ’80s. Now it just feels empty and repetitive. A guide helped me through this journey and I’ve no shame in that. In addition, Felghana’s remade soundtrack may very well be superior to the PSP iteration of Ys I & II. In fact, the former may be the best the series has ever seen.

As Ys VIII hits shelves this week, my return to Eresia will have to wait. Until then, here are some snapshots from the last hour or so of Ys II – spoilers, quite obviously!!!

Ys: The Oath In Felghana – Revisited!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Screenshots, Ys on September 15, 2017 by slateman

After putting in 15+ hours in early 2014, I abandoned Ys: The Oath In Felghana, the remarkable remake of the legendary Ys III: Wanderers From Ys. The latter, a game I played waaaay back in the late ’80s/early ’90s, was an amazing game with an even better soundtrack. Just why I quit is unclear and returning to games, especially any type of large-world titles, is never easy. However, after doing book research and poring through the excellent Castlevania book I have, I was inspired to return to the other excellent game, Symphony Of The Night. I tinkered for a bit before pondering that very question of why I bailed, more than three and a half years ago.

And so here I sit, at the very end of the game, in the very week that Ys VIII ships. Reviews are positive and of course I’d like to pick it up. But now isn’t the time. Hell, if I could wait almost four years to finish this, I’m sure Lacrimosa Of Dana, which itself is over a year old, can wait a bit longer. Come to think of it, I never finished Ys I & II Chronicles on the PSP either. Backlogs aren’t so bad, maybe! For now, a pretty decent screenshot of Adol before the setting sun in anticipation of that annoying-as-hell Chester fight.

Horizon: Zero Dawn – Just Stunning

Posted in Artwork, Game Art, Games, Screenshots with tags on August 14, 2017 by slateman

I quite liked posting those Final Fantasy XII snapshots and I recalled that this year’s GotY contender, Horizon: Zero Dawn was absolutely gorgeous to look at as well. Therefore, I dug through my snapshots from this spring and decided to post some of my favorites. Potential spoilers here! Man, the game’s photo mode is spectacular. Enjoy!

Final Fantasy XII: Enjoying The Beauty

Posted in Artwork, Game Art, Games, Screenshots with tags on August 13, 2017 by slateman

It’s been a few weeks and my journey through Ivalice is hardly complete. At more than 40 hours, I’d wager I’m maybe halfway through. But while my recent ventures have been way off the story’s path, the tale itself is an epic and grand one, much as one might expect from any good FF. The trusty screenshot button is one of my favorite additions to this generation of gaming and so I thought I’d share some of the stunning vistas, group shots (I love these) and unique art style that is FFXII. I’m absolutely loving it. Here you go.

SFV: Abigail Vs. Zangief

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Screenshots, Street Fighter on August 7, 2017 by slateman

The 8-foot-tall Abigail joined the SFV roster two weeks ago and his size is almost a joke. While Hugo already dwarfed the rest of the cast, Abigail’s inclusion tops even him. Why not compare him to the quaint size of Zangief. Funny shit.