Review: Soul Calibur VI

Overall Score: 3/5

Meh…

It’s not bad, I just wish there was more.

This review is going to be a bit different. Since this is a remake of the original Soul Calibur, there’s no use in reviewing the story since it’s the same thing, the same characters, and the same setting.

Let me start off by saying that this game is way better than the fifth one. There was a museum mode this time, and you can play each character’s story, so it took me more than one night to finish it. The mini-game is also pretty fun, although it just reminds me of the one from Soul Calibur II. When you play it you unlock more outfits and weapons, as well as museum artifacts (Soul Calibur III still had the best mini game, though).

But, there weren’t many characters, the story is told like the fifth game, only with color this time, and the character creation mode is exactly the same as the fifth game, it even has the same bugs. I kind of miss the way Soul Calibur IV told it’s story, through a combination of text and cut-scenes. This game and the last didn’t have many cut-scenes.

Despite the character creation being the same, it’s still a lot of fun to create characters. There’s 100 slots to save them in, and you can get really creative with it. So far I’ve made Bojack Horseman and Beast Boy. You can check it out on my Instagram. I plan on making Princess Jasmine and the kids from South Park, next. Maybe Blade? Who knows.

Game Play

The game play is the same as the rest of the games, so if you’re an old fan like me, it’s easy to pick up. The controls are fluid, but I can’t speak on how intuitive they are. I’ve been playing this game since I was maybe five years old, so I had a lot of time to learn the controls.

I’m actually able to stand a chance against people online this time. Before, I was never able to win. I don’t know if it’s because I got better, or if certain characters got nerfed.

Even if the controls aren’t intuitive, there are at least tutorials for the player to learn from.

Art

The thing about this game and the last is that it’s much brighter than the fourth. This is just me, but I like darker lighting and darker themed things in general, so I won’t say it’s a negative since it’s just my preference.

But besides that, the game looks good. The graphics are fine, the original artwork in the museum is beautiful, and the UI design is pretty solid. Can’t really complain much about the art, or the music for that matter; the music has been pretty consistent throughout all the games.

Story

One thing I will mention about the story, this time around, instead of seeing how everyone were to get either Soul Calibur or Soul Edge when you play them, only a couple of characters actually get the swords, and the rest fail to find them. So this game actually had a completely cannon story, unlike what we’re used to. They have a visual timeline to show the events and everything.

I was okay with this, mainly because I was never really sure what was truly cannon, but I didn’t think that mattered. It’s just nice to know, now.

Conclusion

There isn’t much else to say. Honestly, the character creation is what makes the game, for me. It’s so innovative that you can make literally anything. I’ve seen creations from the likes of Dio, to Donkey Kong, and even Pacman and Magikarp. It’s insane what you can do with this system.

I heard somewhere that this will be the last Soul Calibur if this one didn’t make enough sales. According to a quick Google search, the game actually got a lot of good reviews, and sales are alright. Adding Geralt from The Witcher as a guest character definitely helped them.

So, hopefully this won’t be the last Soul Calibur. It can get better. Hopefully they remake Soul Calibur III as well, so we can get an updated version of the mini-game in it without corrupting our save data.

Did you like Soul Calibur VI? What’s the most creative character creation you’ve seen? Let me know in the comments.

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Overall Score: 5/5

Every time a new Zelda game comes out, it’s usually my new favorite, and this one is no exception. For once, I wasn’t focused on the story as much as I was focused on exploring the vast world that is apparently bigger than Skyrim according to some people.

Setting

Hyrule is always beautiful, but I think Nintendo really outdid themselves with this one. I found myself easily getting lost within the world, and everything made sense in terms of design. Most paths led you toward the main goal but you are free to roam anywhere. There wasn’t that much music when straying off the beaten path, but the sound effects of the wind blowing through the grass, and the soft breathing and neighs of your horse still make it feel like you are in Hyrule itself.

I found the time setting interesting. The start of the events of the story actually takes place 100 years before the start of the game, and in that time, nothing’s really changed besides civilization reverting backward from their technological advancements. I figured they would have at least changed a few things geographically (taller trees, slightly smaller or larger lakes, etc), at least a little bit, so it’s still recognizable, but enough to show that time has past. If it weren’t for the people who were young at the time being older or dead, or the ruins overtaken by vegetation, I almost wouldn’t have believed that 100 years have past. Despite this, I didn’t let it get in the way of the rest of the game. I figured the reason they didn’t do that is because of time, or budget, or they didn’t think about it, or maybe it was done on purpose so it’s easier to find the locations within the photos taken 100 years ago. But that’s just me nitpicking.

The artwork is simple and cell-shaded, but it was put together in such a way that it looked more beautiful than most games I’ve ever seen. The team really put a lot of work and thought into their world design.

Characters

When it comes to Zelda games, the characters stay the same, so I’m not going to list them each individually and write about them. Link is still the silent hero saving Zelda. Zelda is still the princess that wants to save her people, but needs Link’s help. And Ganondorf is still the bad guy trying to rule/destroy the world and holding Zelda hostage somehow.

Plot

Minor spoiler warning.

The plot is relatively simple since the game is open world. 100 years ago, Link, Zelda, and the Guardians defeated Ganon, sealing him within Hyrule Castle. But that left Zelda trapped within, the Guardians have perished, and Link was put into a deep sleep state until he woke up for the start of the game, 100 years later. He is greeted by the spirit of the King who died 100 years ago, and he provides the tutorial. He explains that even though Calamity Ganon is trapped within the castle, he is growing stronger.

His mission is simple. Defeat Calamity Ganon and save Zelda before he destroys the world. When he leaves the tutorial area, he is encouraged to seek out the Guardians and the Divine Beasts for help. But it’s ultimately up to the player how they want to defeat Calamity Ganon. If they want, they could skip all of that and go straight to the castle. It wouldn’t be easy, though.

Link can also get some more backstory on his past by finding the location of ancient photos taken by Zelda left on his Sheika device. And the more he travels throughout the world, the more backstory he gets of the world, himself, and his friends.

Invisibility

There were times where I almost forgot I was playing a game because I got so caught up in the world, so invisibility in this game is pretty good.

But it is still a Zelda game, and sometimes being aware of that can break the immersion.

Mood

Whether it be traveling on an unbeaten path with no music on, or in a creepy, dangerous area with a boss battle waiting for me, the mood was always on point. Like I said before about the setting, the team outdid themselves with their world design.

The music is familiar to the other Zelda games but it still had it’s own unique sound. The lighting was absolutely perfect. I had no problems seeing within the game, nothing seemed too bright either, and the colors always fit the scenario.

Movement

The only thing about this game is that the plot doesn’t often move along since it’s an open world game. But that’s just the thing with open world games. Since it’s easy to get lost in everything else, the player might forget what’s going on in the main story. There isn’t a lot happening anyway. The only thing that needs to be done is to defeat Ganon, possibly with the help of the Divine Beasts, but that’s about it when it comes to the plot, so there isn’t much to forget about.

To me, I didn’t really care that the plot was stagnant throughout the game only because it is an open world game, and that’s just a consequence of that.

Game Play

The game play is solid. The controls are fluid, everything had a reason to be there, and it was versatile and intuitive. I loved that the items in Link’s inventory could be used for multiple things to interact with the world.

For example, one way you could defeat an entire camp of bogoblins is by lighting the grass around them on fire rather than fighting them one by one. You can also take advantage of the weather. If there’s lightning, you could leave a metal object somewhere for the lightning to be attracted to it so it could strike enemies. If it’s raining, using lightning arrows are extra effective. And you could set different kinds of traps around, as long as you’re creative with your tools.

The cooking aspect was lots of fun, too. I liked to see what came out of mixing different things. And it was pretty cool how you could also just roast something if a pot isn’t available.

Nintendo thought of everything.

So, I didn’t know horses could die, so when my horse fell off a cliff and never came back, I was devastated. I had named her after my dog and everything. The people at the ranch didn’t say anything about it, nor did I get a notification stating that my horse died. She was just…gone. So when I found the Horse Fairy by accident one day, I was so happy, you have no idea! I was able to get my horse back since the fairy knew I didn’t kill her on purpose. Just wanted to mention that.

Conclusion

I love this game, and many others do, too. In the future, it might be looked back upon as a masterpiece; yet another classic from Nintendo.

The main reason I love this game so much is how relaxing it is to play it. There is significant challenge within the game when it comes to fighting monsters and solving puzzles. I died a lot, but it was still so much fun, and whenever I didn’t want to deal with dying, I didn’t have to. I could wander off and see what else the world had to offer.

Personally, this game has helped my mental state tremendously. When I’m feeling down or anxious, the best thing for me to do is to escape and take a break from reality, and what I like to do is escape to other worlds. I could read a book or watch a movie, but the most immersive form of escapism for me is playing video games since you have to interact with it.

And let me tell you, this game is relaxing as hell. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, play this game.

Life Update: Graduation, Net Neutrality, and Soul Caliber VI

Dear Friends,

A lot has happened since my last post so this is just a quick life update and my thoughts on a couple of things.

Graduation

First thing's first, I graduated last weekend! "Full Sail Masters Alumni" has a nice ring. I could get used to this. I'm glad it's finally over because the journey was not easy, but I'm going to miss Full Sail. It's a great school if you know exactly what you want to do with your life, and their graduation ceremonies are pretty lit.

Full Sail does a great job at teaching students the way the real world is, which is something a lot of college students don't get, especially these days. I learned how to be a leader, which I thought I'd never been able to do because of how shy I am and have always been. But you learn a lot when you step out of your comfort zone.

I'll miss the academic setting, and school in general; I've gotten so used to it by now. It felt like I would be in school forever, but now that it's over, I keep wondering where the time went.

What I won't miss is never having time for myself. I haven't been able to sit down and actually enjoy a video game for months. Now that I've graduated, job searching takes time and requires a lot of sitting around during background checks, so I'm enjoying this time while I have it.

Also, senioritis, I won't be missing that.

My plans moving forward involve a lot of pet projects with day jobs. There aren't a lot of gaming jobs in Orlando, but that's not going to stop me from working on stuff with friends or even freelance. For the next year, I am going to save money until I get a real gaming job and move to wherever that job is located. I know it may not sound reliable but I'm hopeful for the future.

Net Neutrality

Aaaaaaaaand I graduated just in time to lose Net Neutrality.

Great.....

I have no idea how this is going to affect my website or the gaming industry. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says we have nothing to worry about, and the more he says that the more I worry. I predict that my website probably won't have a chance at getting traffic unless I paid something.

As for the game industry, I just don't know. Maybe the big corporations like Square Enix, Sony, and Microsoft won't be affected much, but I'm worried about the small, independent companies. And not just well-known ones like Big Fish or Double Fine, but also the companies run from some guy's garage or companies run entirely remotely by people in different parts of the world. 

I'm sure it's not just the game industry, but we really count on the internet for innovation. While I was in school, we used an online cloud with multiple ways of communication that required wi-fi. Tools like Google Drive, DropBox, Slack, Discord, and more are used to communicate and store assets for game development.

So what if we no longer have access to those tools without having to pay a fee? What if I want to work with someone on the other side of the country but we can't have access to the same websites equally? That would dramatically slow down production if it could even get started in the first place. Most indie developers don't have much money to spare and work for free when making these games. So on top of all of their bills, including the internet bill, they will also have to pay more money for certain websites?

I guess we'll just have to see from here once they come up with the new regulations.

Soul Caliber Six Announced

I never thought I'd see the day. 

I grew up playing this series and it's my favorite fighting game, hands down. But after Soul Caliber 5, I thought the series was over.

Soul Caliber 5 was bad, and it was bad because it was incomplete. The story was only about Sophitia's children when usually Soul Caliber has a story arc for every character. I didn't mind all of the new characters, but there wasn't even a museum mode where you could read about their history or view artwork from the production team (my favorite feature from SC). You had to go to the Soul Caliber website to read up on them.

The character creation was better than the last ones, and the lip syncing finally matched, but that's about it for the good stuff.

Soul Caliber 4 looked like it had better graphics in my opinion, and Soul Caliber 3 still has the best minigame out of all of them. If only they would remake it in the online store so we can download it or something. I'd pay money for that.

I'm only being critical because I love this series so much and want it to do better. From what little research I did on Soul Caliber 6, it's going to have both old and new characters, stories for everyone, character creation--oh, and it's a reboot of the first Soul Caliber!

I'm not complaining so far. I like what I'm hearing and I'm excited to see more before its release. I don't usually keep up with every single trailer for a game or movie before it's released because I usually want to go in blind, but this is different. This is my childhood we're talking about!

 

What are your thoughts on Net Neutrality? Where do you think we're going from here in terms of the internet?

Are you excited or skeptical about Soul Caliber 6? Write back and let me know in the comments.

--Tanya

Review: Final Fantasy XV Based on Five Design Principles

In this post, I wrote an extensive review of Final Final XV based on five design principles. Storytelling, Wayfinding, Picture Superiority Effect, Immersion, and Archetypes. I examined the game to see if they passed or failed in a principal with a score out of five points. Design principals are essentially rules of thumb designers of anything to keep in mind when making a design in any context. Read more to learn more.

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