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Star Fox Zero Review

Star Fox 64 was one of the first games that I can clearly remember playing. While the story may seem silly now, but back then, it was one of the few story-driven games that I deeply enjoyed. Having different paths and different ways to kill bosses was awesome and pretty unique for that kind of game. Despite negative reviews, I even liked Star Fox Adventures. It was different, but I got to live through Fox again. Star Fox Zero tells you “Nah, forget all that. We made it better. We promise.”

You can forget any story from the saga as Star Fox Zero starts off the same way Star Fox 64 did. Andross, an evil scientist, disappeared to make an evil army. Fox’s Father started Star Fox and went to investigate Andross with his friend Peppy. Fox Sr. sacrificed himself to allow Peppy to escape from Andross. Now Fox Jr. restarted Star Fox with Peppy and Slippy to protect the Lylat system.

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I can’t really start to talk about the game without mentioning the controls first. Star Fox Zero forces you to constantly check your TV screen and the WII Pad controller. It even straight out tells you that you can shoot without looking at the Pad, but if you want to shoot accurately, you have to use the pad. Aiming isn’t as simple as moving a thumbstick either. You have to move the controller physically which is a constant annoyance. Your Arwing can now transform into a walking ostrich thing by pressing the A button, one of the most used buttons on any controller. I should mention that this even happens in space battles. I don’t really understand why they would make the controls 20x harder to figure out than playing the actual game.

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In Star Fox 64, playing a level or two as a land rover was refreshing and if you didn’t like it, you could maneuver around it and use an Arwing the whole game. Star Fox Zero, to the contrary, shoves a bunch of different ships at you that changes the pace and kind of gameplay completely. It is jolting most of the time and really annoying the rest. Whichever ship you end up using, they all still have the problem of forcing you to look at both the TV and the Pad controller. The tasks in-game are simple but getting Fox to do them is just frustrating.

If this was a straight up HD Remaster instead of a “modern” reboot I probably would have like the game more, but as it stands, it is disappointing. I got the chance to play the demo at E3 and it feels like a different game now. Star Fox Zero feels like they had a good frame for what the game should be and then just threw way too much at it and lost what good they had. Overall, I wouldn’t advise playing Star Fox Zero.

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Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 1 Review

Telltale Games has had quite the busy year so far—they finished up their newest episodic story with Tales From The Borderlands while the upcoming season finale to Game of Thrones:A Telltale Games Series is coming this November. It seems that the team at Telltale is not done yet this year as we got the first of five episodes for Minecraft: Story Mode, which is their take on Mojang’s widely known and popular creative game. Unlike the previous games they have put out—which had characters, stories, and a world to use for source material—with Minecraft there is a free range to create a unique story with original characters we have never seen before.

Even so, Telltale definitely put themselves in a tough position when they picked up Minecraft to make an episodic game for. It’s tough to imagine how a game where you basically explore a world and build whatever you want to would transition into a five-part episodic story driven game where there aren’t any characters or places you can reference.

I will say that Minecraft: Story Mode does a good job with what it was trying to accomplish, the game features the iconic crafting table which allowed you to create items to help progress through the story, and while it wasn’t at the depth of crafting Minecraft itself has it was still nice to see it put in the game.

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Minecraft: Story Mode features Telltale’s bread and butter point and click gameplay while also including a good amount of quick time events and combat. The developer’s dialog and story options return as well, though this time around they are a bit more lighthearted. Minecraft: Story Mode is child friendly and without many decisions that might have you questioning yourself or getting too emotionally invested. The game’s simplistic gameplay allows anyone to jump in and enjoy the story and have fun which, at it’s core, is what Minecraft is about.

With that being said in Minecraft: Story Mode you take on the role of Jesse who, joined by with his friends and pet pig named Rueben, is trying to win the Endercon building competition with the hopes of meeting Gabriel the Warrior, a member of “The Order of the Stone.” Gabriel and his allies are the group of legendary heroes that defeated the Ender Dragon. Things go south and our ragtag group of unlikely heroes are on the quest of a lifetime to find the remaining members of The Order of the Stone so they can help save the world.

Minecraft: Story Mode also boasts a wealth of talented voice acting. If you picked a male character for Jesse the game’s lead voice actor is the hilarious Patton Oswalt while Catherine Taber voices the female version. With the supporting casting of comedian and actor Brian Posehn as Axel, I found myself enjoying any dialog sequences involving Patton and Brian. And just like in previous TT games there are, of course, various story related choices that can result in minor changes to the game’s outcome. From getting black eye to losing your stone sword and deciding who you team up with going into Episode 2, your choices matter. But, I’ll shy away from any details as to avoid spoilers for those of you who have yet to play the game yet.

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Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Review

The Assassin’s Creed series has had both moments of glory and tremendous failures over the past eight years. Though the games have had both major breakthroughs in gameplay and graphics, certain published some sequels have had their fair share of poor reception. With Ubisoft’s rocky decision in the series, every installment can seem like a gamble for the gamer. So, how does Assassin’s Creed Syndicate hold up?

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate takes place during the industrial revolution of 19th century London. With an environment unique from other Assassin’s Creed games, Syndicate takes during an age where coal and iron working where at their apex. Though not entirely a time of peace, the backdrop of Syndicate is far from grand wars of previous titles. This era works for Syndicate since it concentrates on the harsh environment of the world, the citizens, and the assassins seeking change in London.
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With fewer NPCs roaming the streets, Syndicate centers on the horse carriage and shipping traffic surrounding London. The traffic system can really make a player think in how they approach the game’s various missions.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate follows the lives of twin assassins Jacob and Evie Frye. With conflicting personalities and distinctive fighting styles, the protagonists of Ubisoft’s latest addition to the Assassin’s Creed series provide a different mix to the game.The game starts off with the twins already in the middle of their careers as assassins, rather than have you go alongside them through their journey to become assassins. Jacob is carefree and keen on joking around, which really shows while he is speaking or eliminating Templars. Evie, on the other hand, is intuitive and educated. Jacob is aggressive and brutish in his combat while Evie has a more refined elegance. The subtle differences in the assassins’ combat help reflect the personality of the character you’re controlling.

Put these two characters together and their sibling remarks/humor provides excellent interactions amongst themselves and others around them. The twins are a refreshing change from the “my family member dies and I want revenge” mindset that has plagued protagonists in the previous installments. I find myself enjoying Evie and Jacob’s interaction to be a wonderful mix and they may be my favorite video game characters to date.

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Both assassins can be accessed at any point in the open world setting of London, though there are certain story missions that won’t allow you to switch between the twins. This may not be ideal for players that enjoy one over the other, though it does show the world and story through two different set of eyes.

Within the series’ latest installment, the mechanics surrounding weapons are outfits have been revised for an experience that focuses on the story. Fans of the the series that played Assassin’s Creed Unity may remember the game’s long list of weapons and clothing system that were meant to increase stats and personalize your assassin. While these elements can still be found in Syndicate, the options are greatly toned down. Syndicate replaces the swords, pikes, and great axes of previous titles with concealable weapons. Rather than drawing a saber and engaging templars, Syndicate has players utilizing handguns, brass knuckles, cane-swords, and kukris.

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Though there are few upgrades that are character specific, Syndicate allows you to improve the twin assassins in a relatively simple manner. By combining personal upgrades alongside those of your in-game gang, you will really feel like you can control the streets of London.

Though Syndicate does not have many options in regards to weapons, the game makes up for it with a new close quarter’s combat system that bears a resemblance to that of the Batman: Arkham series or Shadow of Mordor. Combat places greater importance on a hand-to-hand combo based system where players can utilize the environment around them. I personally had a lot of fun fighting on top the moving trains that can be found in the game and was elated when I discovered I could knock people off. Combos in Syndicate are brutal and I found myself cringing at the game’s brutal finisher moves. Syndicate offers some of the old fashion Assassin’s Creed finesse while also allowing gamers to take a more aggressive approach with either assassin. This combat system is also complimented with an upgrade system for the variety of skills each of the game’s protagonist.

While Syndicate’s combat and the upgrade systems take major steps in the right direction, the game’s free-running suffers from similar issues found in previous titles. Gamers will continue to have problem getting either Evie or Jacob to move exactly where they want them to when scaling buildings or leaping from building to building. Luckily, Syndicate incorporates a new grappling system to help ease the scaling of London’s buildings. An instance where this newly implemented system particularly stood out to me was when a mission had me climb to the top of Big Ben. Normally climbing to the top of the clock would taken around fifteen minutes of gameplay in another game, but the grappling hooks allowed me to climb to the top of the monument in less than ten seconds. The grappling hooks are a huge help when trying to get to different parts of the cityscape.

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Though I wish I could tell you that Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is free from the gameplay glitches that plagued previous titles, I can’t. I’ve observed both NPCs disappear out of nowhere while I was standing and a group simply waltz past me while I was engaged in a fist fight during a mission as if there was not a battle happening at all. There also appears to be some major disconnect issues that should hopefully be fixed in a timely manner with the next a patch update.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has some rough spots to fix, but the game has offers several improvements that both fans of the series and gamers just picking it up can enjoy. If you can overlook the troublesome free running problems and the common game glitches, Syndicate can be an enjoyable gameplay experience.

I give Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate an 8 out of 10.

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