Sunday, October 4, 2015

Review of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

This review is based on my experience with the PS4 version of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Note: There are spoilers for the end of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes in this review.

Score: 5/5

Metal Gear Solid has become one of the most iconic franchises in video gaming since Solid Snake infiltrated Shadow Moses Island on the PS1 in 1999. However, like all good things the franchise has seemingly reached its conclusion. Over the past few months fans have been treated to news of series creator Hideo Kojima having issues with Konami, and saw his name slowly being removed from any marketing related to the game, even the game's case. Rightfully so, this had many fans worried about how well Metal Gear Solid V would turn out. As with most things Kojima has done, the wait for his theoretical swan song has been trying, but it was sure worth the wait. This is quite possibly the final time we'll see Big Boss outside of a pachinko machine.

It's funny, because the Metal Gear franchise has often been derided for having more instances of the player watching as opposed to playing. In both the Phantom Pain and its prologue Ground Zeroes there are very few cutscenes. They're made up almost entirely of gameplay. On top of the new found focus on gameplay the controls have been updated. Previous games in the franchise were perhaps too ambitious, which often lead to buttons doing too many things depending on the context, which often felt clunky. The Phantom Pain actually plays and controls like a modern video game, which took me by surprise. No longer did I find myself fighting against the controls to complete a task. It helps that its all fairly simple. All you really need to do is aim, shoot, reload, sneak, and switch weapons. The controls are set up similar to how they used to be where circle is on reload, but you can change the controls to essentially be the same as modern first person shooters if you prefer that style.

I got a whole lot of use out of this assault rifle.

It's made even better by the fact that you can actually use many different weapon types and not really be chastised for it. In previous Metal Gear Solid games your rank during a mission was based almost entirely on stealth and the time it took you to complete the mission. Now you can kill literally everyone, and as long as you do it well and fast enough you can still achieve an S rank. This means that I experimented with weapon types I would normally never use. I went into tons of scenarios armed with a rocked launcher and a shotgun and actually did quite well. No longer are enemies with guns super strong. As long as you don't stand directly in the line of fire you can make it out of most situations. Big Boss has regenerating health in this game, so gone are the days of scavenging for rations and taking a knee in battle to use them in order to heal. It makes Big Boss feel like much more of a badass than he previously did, which fits his persona in the story,

The Phantom Pain takes place immediately following the ending of its prequel, Ground Zeroes. Big Boss returned to Mother Base to find it swarmed with enemy soldiers. Before he could set down and defend his home his helicopter transport was blown out of the sky. The Phantom Pain begins with our protagonist in a hospital bed waking up from a nine year coma. The doctor explains that he's in rough shape. He's missing an arm, and has a piece of shrapnel stuck in his forehead that won't ever be able to come out. Since Metal Gear is all about the story I don't want to give away too much. I'll say that you get out of the hospital, and start building a brand new Mother Base in order to get revenge on the organization, Cipher, that destroyed everything Big Boss had been working towards.

Miller wants revenge for what happened in Ground Zeroes.

The rebuilding of Mother Base is actually a large component of the game, which is very similar to the building of Mother Base in the PSP game Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. On missions every soldier you encounter has a set of stats and you can recruit them to your cause. All you have to do is put them to sleep, or beat them down with your fists, and you can Fulton them out of the area. Once the soldiers make their balloon exit they will be assigned to an area of Mother Base based on what their highest stat is. The better the units you have in each area the more you can develop for Big Boss to use in combat. Development starts off with no wait time and very low requirements, but the game quickly ramps up so that you need to scrounge for units constantly and then have to wait anywhere between 18 minutes and 5 hours for your research to finish. This sounds tedious, but there's something very satisfying about strapping a balloon to every soldier, animal, and vehicle you see. Development time becomes a non-issue as well, or at least it did for me, because I was so engrossed in playing the actual game that I would completely lose track of time. The main problem ends up being resources, because eventually you need insane amounts of them and the world doesn't necessarily always provide them.

This is where the online mode comes into play.You build an FOB (Forward Operating Base), which is essentially another Mother Base. You can then invade other player's FOBs and steal their resources. I only did this a few times, because I kept getting wrecked. You can deck out your FOB with all kinds of security measures like drones, traps, and security cameras. If you're online when someone tries to infiltrate your FOB you will be notified and you can get into the fray and take them out. It's a cool mechanic, but I often found myself being invaded by people who were much better equipped than I was, so there was no way for me to stop them. If I ever did get good enough, then I could retaliate and take back everything I lost, but I was never able to successfully do that. It helps that once you get invaded you can not be invaded again for another 6 hours, so my resources were not constantly being stolen. People were coming at me with things I didn't even know existed and were using tactics I had never seen before, which made me realize that the game will let you do just about everything you can think of and pull it off.

Expect to be looking at this menu a lot. Upgrading Mother Base is very important.

I'm not kidding, almost everything you can think of to do the game will probably let you do. Want to have your horse poop in the road so a jeep spins out on it? You can do that. Do you want to put C4 onto a jeep, Fulton it away, then blow it up right next to a helicopter? You can do that. Have you always wanted to hide in a Porta Potty and play poop sounds from your phone to make guards suspect you less? You can do that too. When I say the options are limitless, I'm being mostly serious. There are so many things the game will let you do that are very surprising. There is detail in things that there shouldn't really be any detail in. On top of the open world lives and breathes in a way that I never would have expected. Enemies contact other bases, and are aware of things that are happening outside their general field of view.

With the release of The Phantom Pain, Metal Gear as a franchise did a 180 degree turn from how it used to be. Gone are the forty minute cutscenes filled with anime craziness. They've been replaced by shorter scenes that are still crazy, but they're much fewer and far between. All of that craziness has been transplanted into the gameplay. You're much more likely to see something nuts while running around the world than you are in a story sequence. I never would have expected that the series could evolve so much, but I'm glad that it did. Initially it feels like a lot of the Metal Gear charm is gone, but it just takes some getting used to. It's still a Hideo Kojima game, so you know you're in for a wild ride.

Big Boss and his clones have become iconic characters in the world of video games.

I'm willing to make the bold claim that The Phantom Pain is one of the best action games ever produced. It has a scope that's unparalleled in video games, and everything in the game comes together to make a cohesive package. Sure, there are some things I could nitpick, but none of them stand out enough to tarnish this otherwise great entry into the Metal Gear franchise. Sure it doesn't tie up the story of the whole franchise with a pretty bow, but I didn't really expect it to. That's what I like about Kojima is that he likes to keep the fans guessing. I think it's great that the final entry in such an iconic franchise is fresh and fun as opposed to being buried under the weight of its predecessors design and mechanics. If you have a platform that you can play The Phantom Pain on, then I highly recommend you do so. You will not regret it.

Game Time - September 2015

September was a month of many releases, but I focused my time on three very good ones.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain kicked off the month of the 1st. Honestly this is where I spent almost all of my gaming time for the month. I completed the story, and then proceeded to do every single side mission available in the game. When all was said and done I clocked in close to 70 hours, which is pretty crazy.

Then on the 11th Super Mario Maker came out. Initially I was going back and forth on my decision to buy it. In the end I decided that Mario was the first video game I ever played and I needed to buy it even if I wouldn't play it much. Just as I suspected I haven't played it a whole bunch, but it's still a super cool game.

At the very tail end of the month on the 29th the spectacular rhythm game Persona 4: Dancing All Night graced the Vita with its presence Do you like Persona 4? Do you like dope jams and hot remixes? If so, then this is the game for you! It has all of those things!

This month was action packed. and October is even more action packed! I need to mentally prep myself, so it's time to get all my thoughts on these games so I can fill my head with brand new thoughts! It's Game Time!

Super Mario Maker

I tend to not get much play time out of games that are based around me as a player creating content, and Super Mario Maker is no different. That doesn't mean it's a good game, it just means that it isn't necessarily for me. Sure I can play other people's levels, but that only gives me so much satisfaction. I say Super Mario Maker isn't exactly a game for me, but it is amazing. I think Nintendo has done an amazing thing with this game, and I hope they continue down this path.

People make Super Mario ROM hacks all the time on the Internet. People have gotten so good at Mario that they need something else much harder to conquer. That's something that has been made much easier with the tools available in Super Mario Maker. You can use physics sets, mechanics, and backgrounds from original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U. Each plays a bit differently, and obviously looks different. What's amazing is that Nintendo didn't really skimp on the tools. There are so many options for you to make a level, and they're super intuitive. In fact, I'd say this game is the first proper use of the Wii-U's touch pad.

Oh god! So many Wigglers!

When making a level you start with a blank slate that's laid out in front of you in a grid. Each thing you can place takes up one square. You just tap the thing you want to put in the level and drag it to where you want it. It's that simple. Anyone could theoretically make a Super Mario Maker level and that's super cool. It's even better that it has everything you know and love, but the ability to make it ten times more crazy. Take a Bullet Bill launcher for example. They're simple enough. All they do is shoot in a straight line. If you pick one up and shake it around though things get super crazy. The launcher then turns red, and the Bullet Bills home in on the player. That's nuts! You can do this kind of thing for many of the place-able blocks in the game. It adds a cool new element while keeping everything long time players are used to.

My issue with the game comes down to the fact that even though it's easy to make a level a lot of the levels in the game aren't good. Very few people are out there making cool levels that could be in an actual Mario Game. Most levels have so much shit in them you just have to pray that the randomness of the level is on your side and you can actually make it through. Then there are the levels that are actually cool, but they're so hard that you have to try them 800 times before you fully understand what to do. I just want to chill and see cool designs. I don't want to have to rage every single level I'm playing. Once again this is just a fault for me. I know tons of people out there like the impossible challenge, but that's not what I come to a lot of games for, especially Mario. It's even more frustrating to me that the game has become so prolific on Twitch. Whenever I watch anyone play it's them playing the same level for hours on end, which just really sucks.

Most people don't understand that sometimes less is more...

I actually think the game is a masterpiece. The creation tools are very deep, yet so simple to pick up. Even if I don't see a lot of levels I like, there are tons of new ones being created every day. Most of them are super cool and complex and they'll only get better as time does on.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is ridiculous in almost every way. It cost $80 million dollars to make and even then, the final mission was cut from the game. The cost and time it took to make it paid off though, because it is unlike anything to come before it, and may be one of the greatest action games ever made. I don't say this kind of thing lightly, and I sincerely mean it. The Phantom Pain comes together in a way that I never would have expected. It plays well, tells an interesting story, and has more emergent gameplay than almost any other video game. The options for how you can approach every situation are almost limitless. In most games you think of a cool thing to try, and then it doesn't work. In the Phantom Pain I had almost no situations like that. If you can think of something to try, it almost always will work.

At first I didn't know what to make of this game. It has Metal Gear in the title, but it doesn't necessarily feel like a Metal Gear game at first. Metal Gear Solid has always been a third person stealth game, which is loaded to the brim with super long cutscenes and a severely convoluted plot. People often criticize the franchise for having more of the player watching than actually playing. The Phantom Pain takes a different approach in that it's almost all gameplay. Cinematics happen very few and far between. Near the end they happen much more frequently, but you have to play a lot of the game to get to that point. I personally had no problem with that.

You can Fulton sheep. YOU CAN FULTON SHEEP!

It's odd, because recently I've been hating most open world games. They have bad quest writing with little rewards, or nothing to actually do in the open world. The Witcher 3 made me rejoice when it had meaningful quests, and in the Phantom Pain there's a lot to do and it's all fun. Seriously, I did all 157 side missions. 157! That's a whole lot of Metal Gear. Most of the side missions involve just killing people, or extracting certain things, but you can approach it in so many ways that it's incredible. For example in most stealth games, previous Metal Gear games included, once you got caught sneaking around you were screwed. That is no longer the case. If you want to go ham and mow down everyone in your patch that's totally viable. If you want to try to hang around and beat everyone with your fists, that works too. Why not call in a supply drop of a jeep and ride off into the sunset? The world is your oyster. It makes even mundane mission tasks, because you never know what's going to happen.

The way the open world works is bananas as well. Everything is intertwined in a way that I never thought possible in an open world game. It actually reacts to your play style. So if you always go for head shots, then enemies will eventually be wearing way more helmets. To then counteract that you can send your recruited soldiers to cut off the helmet supply chain. I just think that it's crazy that other enemies in the world are aware of your actions. If you attack an outpost and someone escapes, then they will alert other bases in the area. Those bases will then ready themselves for Big Boss, just in case he comes. There are also supply routes between each outpost, so if someone drives through and sees everyone dead, they'll turn around and alert others. It's super intricate.

The Phantom Pain enters the pantheon of games that let you pass time by smoking!

The basic gameplay of The Phantom Pain feels better than its predecessors. In comparison, it feels like a modern game should. It has tight and intuitive controls. This makes it fun to do everything. It's just fun to go around in the world and cause trouble. It's even better to put people to sleep and then balloon them away to your base. Seriously, when you put soldiers to sleep you can Fulton them away to Mother Base, where their stats will then contribute to your base and make it so you can develop more tools to use in the open world. It's essentially like Pokemon, but with tons of soldiers. This mechanic was in the PSP game Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker as well, but it's implemented better here.

I can't praise this game enough. I came into the game expecting to not like it. I'm one of the crazy people who really liked watching the insanity play out in cutscenes of the previous games. It took me a while to adjust to the new style of the game, but in the end I think it paid off. The game is actually much better than it would have been as a cinematic fest. Essentially all the out of control silliness was transplanted from the cutscenes to the gameplay itself, and that's really cool. The Phantom Pain is definitely a game I think will be on a lot of people's game of the year list, mine included.

Persona 4: Dancing All Night

I like Persona, and I like rhythm games, so I had to get Persona 4: Dancing All night. The game consists of Persona 4 characters dancing to the smooth sounds of remixed Persona 4 music. I love Persona 4 music, so to hear it remixed was kind of cool. The issue I have with it is that it all kind of devolves into dubstep, which gets tiring after a while. The gameplay is fun and engaging enough to make up for that though.

When playing a song a character will be dancing around on the screen. In a frame around them in a circle there are 6 button prompts. On the left there is up, left, and down on the d-pad. On the right side there is triangle, circle, and x. Circles will start to fly out of the center of the screen, and you have to push the corresponding button of wherever it goes to. Most of the time you'll just be pushing the button in time with the beat, but sometimes you'll have to hold the button, or push two at the same time. There is also another mechanic that has circles emanate from the center of the screen. The game wants you to flick one of the analog sticks when it reaches the circle all of the button prompts are displayed on. This means that you have to take your hands off of the buttons to flick a stick, which is terrible. It's a good thing the game lets you turn on the ability to push L or R instead. It feels much more natural that way, and I don't get why it isn't the default. It doesn't necessarily matter though, because those button presses are optional/ You only need them to get a higher score. Man, saying all of that makes me sound like a crazy person.

P4D is pretty much the embodiment of fan service.

The rhythm game part is why most people will come to the game, but there is also a story mode. I could not stand it. I beat it in about 6 hours, and got very little enjoyment out of it. It's more or less a visual novel with no interaction. Games like Phoenix Wright and Danganronpa give players meaningful choice, or have them interact with the game in some way. Like in Phoenix Wright you collect evidence and present it at the right time. In P4D you literally read and make choices that don't matter one iota. Eventually you'll get a break from the text and be allowed to play the actual game. What sucks is that it's super well written, but there's so much text it feels like a slog.

Rise took a break from being an idol in Persona 4, but this game marks her return to the spotlight. She asked the protagonist Yu, and the rest of the investigation team to be her backup dancers for her special return performance. They agree, and begin to practice dancing. It's all a little too wordy to explain, but they end up getting wrapped up in another mysterious world filled with shadows. In the world they are not allowed to use acts of aggression, so to defeat their enemies they have to dance super hard, so that the enemies understand their emotions. I'm not even kidding. It sounds stupid, and that's because it pretty much is. I'm not lying when I say it's all well written, it's just that I don't really want to read for an hour before I actually get to play the rhythm game I paid for.

You get to read text like this for around 6 hours.

Persona 4 became extremely popular, which can easily be seen by the fact that it was spun off into a fighting game franchise and a freaking dancing themed rhythm game. I never would have imagined that the series could have reached such a critical mass. I think that the developers tried a little too hard with the story though. Sure, Persona is lauded for its great story telling and characters, but do we really need that in a rhythm game? This is the 4th game featuring these characters. I already know them, so why can't I get enjoyment out of playing 30+ remixes and watching their sweet dance animations? It all just feels a little forced and unnecessary, which is a shame, because the core gameplay is so good. It's easy enough to pick up, but super hard to master. As all rhythm games should be!

The Time Has Come

There's a time every fall when a game I want so bad it hurts gets released. That is happening this coming Tuesday. Finally, Disgaea 5 will be making its way to the U.S. I can finally experience the magical grind fest that makes me feel so good on the PS4. Strategy RPGs are my jam, and Disgaea combines that with my love of grinding. The combination is quite deadly for me, because I get in just a bit too deep. My addiction to the game will be strong, but this time I get to share it with the world! That's right, I will be streaming my playthrough of Disgaea 5, and I couldn't be more excited about it.

What's even crazier is that Rock Band 4 comes out the same day. It's the year 2015, and plastic instruments are making their glorious return!

You know it's going to be a good month when my two greatest loves in video games come out on the same day! I am so ready to immerse myself in a strategy RPG and a rhythm game at the same time. Get ready to hear all about both games in the next edition of Game Time.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Memorable Melodies: Burn My Dread from Persona 3

Song: Burn My Dread
Game: Persona 3
Composer: Shoji Meguro
Singer: Yumi Kawamura

I got my copy of Persona 4 Dancing All Night yesterday and have been playing it quite a bit. I'm a huge fan of rhythm games and any music Shoji Meguro makes. In my opinion his music is one of the main factors that Persona gives off as much personality as it does. Obviously art direction and character design play large roles as well, but Meguro's jams are just top notch!

Don't get me wrong here, I love all of the music from Persona 4. However, in my heart I love all the music from 3 a lot more. In fact, I just like Persona 3 more in  general. I liked the characters quite a bit more in 3, but I realize that 4 made a lot of improvements to the franchise. How many times can I say Persona 3 in a single paragraph? Regardless, this got me thinking about the music from P3 and how it would be cool if it made its way into Dancing All Night. I know it didn't, because it's not even DLC in Japan and I think they said they're done making content. I'll just have to settle for how it appears in its original game.

I bought Persona 3 on a whim after watching a video review. My parents went to the mall for some reason, and I called and asked them to pick it up for me. It was the last copy the store had in stock, because I believe I was getting it on its original release day. The concept was cool, but I wasn't really expecting a whole lot. I booted up the game and swiftly got my mind blown. I don't know if a game has ever hooked me as quickly as Persona 3 did. 

The intro to the game is insanely stylized, and meshes perfectly with the song. My teen mind couldn't handle the amazing nature of everything being thrown at me. This is the part where I get sad because I never actually beat Persona 3. I got right near the end, but am literally not strong enough to advance. I didn't so much like to battle, so I used a very lame tactic that I won't get into here to cheese a lot of the bosses in the game. Near the end that stops working, and since the game is time based I don't have enough time to go back and grind. I've been thinking about starting over recently on the PS3, since I used my original disc so much it's cracking!

Shoji Meguro's funky style is something that I'm glad Persona games are continuing to use. His styling can also be seen in all of the Persona 5 trailers, which I highly recommend you check out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Memorable Melodies: Eight Melodies from Earthbound

Song: Eight Melodies 
Game: Earthbound (Earthbound 0 as well, and I guess Mother 3)
Composers: Keiichi Suzuki, Hirokazu Tanaka, and Hiroshi Kanazu

One of the earliest video gaming memories I have is playing Earthbound before I could read. I remember being super frustrated, because I wanted to know what was going on in the game world. It's crazy, because I felt the same way about Super Mario RPG and together the two games propelled my interest in reading, which then spawned my interest in writing. Both games now stand firmly as some of my all time favorite video games.

Now that I'm 25 I sometimes feel a deep sense of shame when I think about Earthbound. It's my own fault really, but I've never actually beaten the game. I've gotten pretty close on multiple occasions, but can't ever go the distance. Hell, I even got the game for Christmas a couple years ago and the cartridge goes for like $250! I'll beat it someday, but right now is a time to remember the Eight Melodies. 

The Eight Melodies is made up of eight different sounds Ness, the main character of Earthbound records in his Sound Stone. There are specific areas at the end of dungeons known as sanctuaries where Ness sees various formations and things that inspire him. Ness uses these "sanctuaries" to understand himself and unleash his true potential. It sounds really corny, but Earthbound makes me feel the same way. Even though I haven't finished it, it's one of the games that has defined who I am and my tastes in gaming. I think about Earthbound a lot and feel a deep sense of nostalgia, that makes me all warm and fuzzy. Under the right circumstances I think it would be possible for me to tear up while listening to this song.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Review of Destiny: The Taken King (DLC)

This review is based on my experience with the PS4 version of The Taken King.

Note: This review  and its score are based on the content of The Taken King. I will speak about changes made to Destiny for "Year 2," but they do not factor into the score. This is because even people who have not purchased any of the DLC will see these changes as well.

Score: 3/5

Destiny has been able to spread its wings for just over a year now, which means that as of the release of The Taken King we are officially in year two of the game's supposed ten year plan. With the release of the Taken King a whopping 17GB patch was released to change all kinds of things about the game. Quest lines were added, the voice actor of the Ghost was changed to Nolan North, the leveling system was changed entirely, item drops have become more frequent, storage was doubled, you can hold more bounties, and a myriad of other changes have now graced the game. To someone who hasn't played Destiny since a month after launch they might think that these changes are a part of The Taken King, which is certainly not the case. In fact, just like the previous two DLC expansions it adds new story missions, new strikes, and a raid. However, unlike the previous two expansions it tells a cohesive story that's actually interesting, while adding a brand new area to explore.

The Taken King keeps the core of the game the same. It's still a first person shooter fused with a pseudo-MMO. Even a year later I still enjoy the gameplay of Destiny, so I had no problem getting right back into the game. Bungie knows how to make a solid first person shooter. While the gameplay stays the same the story changes it up a bit, because it's actually interesting. Destiny and its previous two expansions showed a cool world, but didn't really explore it at all. All you had to go on were random voices giving you loose context for a mission. It seemed to be an empty world filled with lifeless characters who only existed for you to get weapons from. Year two has helped that issue out a bit with quest information, but The Taken King actually gives some characters a personality by inserting them into cutscenes and actually having them introduce themselves to you.

The Taken King is still all about dumping on your enemies.

The story follows up an event from the first expansion The Dark Below. During the raid, which most players never even get to do, you find yourself defeating the Hive Prince Crota. The Taken King picks up with his father Oryx coming for revenge. He pilots a huge ship called the drednaught, which is the new area to explore. You don't get to go to it right away though, because going in blind would be suicide. First you have to spend some time learning about Oryx and the threat he has brought with him. He introduces a new enemy type called the Taken. Oryx essentially asserts his control over the Fallen, and the Cabal in order to make them work for him. So you see familiar enemy types that have turned into a funky mix of white and black. If they were just another pallet swap I would have been disappointed, but each one has brand new animations and abilities. This means they add some much needed variety to the enemy encounters.

The crux of the story revolves around you finding a way onto the Drednaught so that you can take down Oryx and restore order to the galaxy. In order to do so you need to interact with the three class trainers in the tower. The one who gets the most prominent role is the hunter Cayde-6. He's a sarcastic robot man, who doesn't really respect the authority of the other council members. It's odd, because he's actually pretty funny while everyone else is super dry and serious. In the original your Ghost would make quips to lighten the mood, but those moments were few and far between. Now that Nolan North has replaced Peter Dinlage as the Ghost, your little robot friend speaks a lot more as well. The Ghost and Cade play off of each other quite well, which is good to see. Having these characters guide you through missions makes it feel less like a linear killfest than it did before.

This is Cade-6. It's only taken a year for him to get a personality!

While the missions still almost always involve shooting everyone to death, the objectives in this expansion are occasionally different. In  the original game almost every mission saw you holding off waves of enemies while your Ghost scanned an object or tried to unlock something. Even if I didn't like all of the newly introduced mechanics, it was still nice to see something new. In one of the missions there is a wide gap that's far too big to jump across. If you pull up your ghost he outlines invisible platforms for you to jump on. In another mission you're invisible while infiltrating a hive burial ground. The game forces you into third person, and you have to avoid the red vision cones of enemies like a proper stealth game.

Outside of the story there are a few more additions as well. The competitive multiplayer mode Crucible has gotten three new multiplayer modes and eight new maps. The new multiplayer modes are actually very fun, especially Mayhem. All you're really supposed to do is use your super since it's constantly recharging. This mode is perfect for the three new subclasses added to the game. Warlocks can become Stormcallers to shoot lighting from their hands, Titans can become Sunbreakers and beat everyone down with fire hammers, and Hunters can become Nightstalkers to trap enemies in place with their void bow. These three new classes are cool, and once again add more diversity to a game with very few class options.

The three new subclasses are all interesting.

The Taken King puts Destiny on the precipice of being an amazing game, but it falls just short of that goal. Yes, there was excellent story content and a new area, but is that enough? Sure there's a new area to explore, but just like everything else in the game once you get through the story content you're going to be running the same missions for all of eternity trying to grind rep and get the rare item drops you so desperately crave. It took me just over two hours to run through the main story missions, which feels far too short. Yes, I could do all kinds of stuff to grind for better gear, but then there is nothing new to tackle after beating the new raid. Sadly, I probably won't even get that far, because I'll never be able to complete a raid without in game matchmaking.

People who love Destiny will love what they find here, but if you didn't like it before there isn't a whole lot that's going to change your mind. The Taken King shows that Bungie is trying to take steps towards making the game as good as it can be and that they're willing to make changes based on fan feedback. I think that the problem with Destiny for me starts at its core, so I hope that throughout the next few years they can continue to tweak the game in order to make it realize its true potential. However, if they keep adding expansions on top of what they already have as opposed to making a full fledged Destiny 2, we may never see this franchise blossom into the amazing game I feel it could be.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Memorable Melodies: Bob-omb Battlefield from Super Mario 64

Song: Bob-omb Battlefield
Game: Super Mario 64
Composer: Koji Kondo

This week I decided to continue the trend of putting up songs I like to whistle to. My last summer of high school and during my college breaks I would work at my uncle's convenience store. It sounds cool, but I mostly sorted cans of stale beer. I don't know if you know what stale beer smells like, but I can assure you that it's heinous! One of the songs that I took to whistling all the time while performing the gross task was Bob-omb Battlefield. 

There's something that tends to stick with me about songs that appear near the beginnings of games. For those of you who are unfamiliar Super Mario 64 sees Mario trying to rescue princess peach by jumping into the paintings of her castle to collect stars. The first world Mario jumps into is Bob-omb Battlefield, which is where this classic jam plays. It's very upbeat, which is totally at odds with the bob-ombs falling down all around Mario as he tried to traverse the mountain. Mario is like that though. Tons of awful stuff happens, but he's always down for it. He needs to rescue the princess, even if he has to beat up a bunch of bombs with faces.

I never owned my own copy of Super Mario 64, so I would always play at a friend's house. Most of the time I would have my file erased for some reason, so I would always start right back at Bob-omb Battlefield. Classic.

Now I can't stop whistling this song again. I did this to myself.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Memorable Melodies: Seaside Town from Super Mario RPG

Song: Seaside Town
Game: Super Mario RPG Legend of the Seven Stars
Composer: Yoko Shimomura

Last night after streaming Inazuma Eleven I hunkered down to play Metal Gear Solid V. I kept getting the nagging feeling that I was forgetting something, and I was! The fact that I hadn't posted Memorable Melodies came to me earlier today at work when I started whistling a delightful video game tune. I have now snapped out of my Metal Gear Solid induced haze to deliver you the newest edition of Memorable Melodies.

As you may have imagined Seaside Town from Super Mario RPG is the song I was whistling all day at work. I don't know why, but I have a rotation of video game songs I like to whistle. Seaside Town in particular is fun, because it's a jaunty sea shanty. There's no real rhyme or reason to it either. I just feel the need to whistle and something comes out!

There are numerous songs from Super Mario RPG that I adore, but I figured I'd start with this one. Seaside town is a coastal resort village, which is inhabited by weirdos when you first get there. The villain Yardovich took all the villagers and stuffed them in a shed while he and his minions pretended to be them in order to trick anyone who visited. Obviously Mario figures it out and beats him to a pulp, and the town returns to normal. There's a bit more story in between, but that's unimportant to this feature.

I know I'll never forget Seaside town, even if the only two sea related things in it are a wooden anchor at the entrance and this enchanting sea shanty. I just can't help but think of this song playing through some saloon doors down by the docks in a pirate infested world. Obviously Mario RPG isn't totally infested by pirates, but you do fight a pirate shark, so that's close enough I guess.

I hope that listening to the song has given you the urge to whistle! If you do make sure you do it loudly and proudly! Look forward to more dope tracks from Super Mario RPG in the future.