- Dragon Quest Heroes -World Tree’s Woe and The Blight Below (PS4): As a fan of anything Dragon Quest (I almost bought the little blue slime stuffed pillow..true story), I couldn’t resist this title on the Pre-Owned rack at Gamestop. I plunked $24.99 of my hard-earned cash on the counter, rejected the employee’s awkward attempt at upselling and sped home, eager to start a new Dragon Quest adventure. If I may veer off the beaten path for a minute..is it me or is the Gamestop upsell crap a little annoying? Do you remember when the upsell just consisted of “Do you want to insure your disc for an extra $2.00?” Now it’s “Do you want to insure your disc? Picking up any controllers today? Placing any Pre-Orders today?” I always bite back my sarcastic response of, “Oh yeah!!! I completely forgot about a controller! Because they are so godamn cheap and clearly an impulse item! A Pre-Order! Yes! Let me plop down cash on a game that isn’t even out yet y’know just in case there is a looting incident and the 127 copies you will have in stock sell out! Oh and I get some silly-ass t-shirt and free downloadable content that will be available for free anyways on the next printing of the game? Well sign me up!!”
Ahem. What am I writing about? Ah yes, Dragon Quest Heroes. To my surprise this isn’t a traditional DQ (Yeah, us people in the “know” call it DQ..hmm…why do I want ice cream now?…), no, this game is more like Dynasty Warriors. You form a party of 4 warriors and basically tear through hundreds and hundreds of monsters. It’s like a beat ‘m up mixed with an RPG and sprinkled with a small bit of strategy..a very small bit. The story is that, unlike the traditional DQ game, humans peacefully coexist with monsters. That is until some Count Chocula lookalike, no wait, I can do better, The Count from Sesame Street lookalike shows up and casts a spell driving all of the monsters crazy (yes, I am proud of of that Sesame Street reference) causing them to attack humans. This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as his plan goes as he wants to destroy the humans, destroy The World Tree, release darkness upon the world, and essentially just be a bad egg. Along the course of your quest, you meet up with fellow heroes from different dimensions and they join your cause. FYI, Aurora is the stronger of the two starting characters and as for the rest of your party Bianca, Terry and Yangus are beasts. Most people who have played this game seem to agree with me. Okay so that’s the story so how about the gameplay? Well it’s fun, you mindlessly bash the snot out of monsters using weapons you find, buy, or craft. You level up as you would in any RPG and as your level increases you are granted skill points which can be used to boost your attack, defense, intelligence, and can also be used to unlock your characters’ special abilities and spells. Sounds pretty neat, right? Well, yes it is, for awhile..then the levels get repetitive. Basically there a few different types of levels; you guard on object (I.e a gate, a person, or a World Tree root) from the hordes of monsters, a boss level, or a level where you have to destroy all the monsters on the map. Yes, the levels themselves are aesthetically different but the core mechanic stays the same and tends to turn this game into a bit of a bore. I have about 30 hrs into it, and I just don’t see myself playing it too much longer. Don’t get me wrong, in small spurts this game is pretty fun, but anything longer than an hour at a time and you’ll find yourself yawning too.
Project X Zone (3DS) I’ve had my eye on this game ever since it was first announced. A strategy RPG with Capcom characters? Sign me up! Being cheap, I patiently waited until I could get it for under $20. Last weekend my patience paid off and I was finally able to find a used copy for only $15. I have to say, after having played it for a few hours, I was disappointed. It feels a bit slapped together. The storyline makes no sense. At all. In fact after the first 5 levels, I just couldn’t take the story anymore and rapidly hit A to fly through the cutscenes to get back to the actual combat. All of these characters from Street Fighter, Tekken, Darkstalkers, Resident Evil, Dead Rising..etc, who exist in “different dimensions” just happen to know each other?! Here’s an example: At the beginning of one of the Prologue stages Chun Li (Street Fighter) shows up, then Hsien-Ko (Darkstalkers) shows up, and then Frank West (Dead Rising) appears. Chun Li: “You’re Frank West from the Colorado incident right?”. Frank West:”Yes, you’re Chun Li, agent of SIN, right?” Now Chris and Claire from Resident Evil show up, “Hey aren’t you Frank West from the Colorado incident? And you’re Chun Li, an agent of SIN”. Wait,what?! What the ****?! And it’s not just this interaction; for the most part all of the dialogue is pretty uninspired and fails to carry the half-assed plot. It really feels like Capcom/Sega just wanted us to ignore the weak story and just focus on the fact that you can form teams of all of these cool iconic characters. If this was a Capcom 2D fighter and not an RPG, that wouldn’t have been a problem. But with an RPG, one of the things that separate a great RPG from a not so great one is the quality of the story. Ok, so storyline aside, the game play is actually not bad. Like a traditional strategy RPG, you form a team of characters and you take to the battlefield to beat on your opponents by performing super combos, “X-over” combos…etc. It’s actually pretty fun BUT the game does get slightly repetitive. I found myself getting bored after the first hour/ hour and a half. Bottom line: Unless you are a huge Capcom fan, I’d just rent this from Gamefly.
Gears of War: Judgment (360) I’ll admit that based on several negative reviews that I had read about this game, I passed on picking this title up for months. However, that changed a few weeks ago when I saw it sitting in the ol’ bargain bin at Gamestop with a nine dollar price tag. Nine bucks?! For a Gears game?! “Man, it must be god-awful…just a complete dumpster fire”, I thought to myself as I rescued it from the land of misfit games. I figured I own the first three Gears of War games so why not? Turns out, that while there really isn’t much new about this game, it’s still Gears, and it’s still really, really fun. Shawn and I had a blast with it on our last “nerd night”…we actually played the Survivor (Horde) mode for a good chunk of the night, which is rare for us as we usually like to cycle through games pretty quickly. My only complaint about this game is that the multiplayer options are pretty weak compared to its predecessors. Other than that, I didn’t find anything else wrong with the game. Our bulletproof (bullet-riddled?) strategy of Shawn running around like friggin’ Rambo and my character protecting the “E-hole” (insert snickering here), actually seemed to work for the first 8 waves. After that, things got ugly fast: our AI amigos were busy being useless somewhere, “Shawnbo” and I were used for target practice by Boomers and Maulers, and the rest of the Locust basically had our “E-hole” for breakfast (insert high-pitched laughter here).