NOOOOO!!!! Dragon Age Inquisition has now been delayed!!!! Luckily it is only for one month. I first heard this news via IGN and my stomach dropped. I thought "oh great, another E3 announcement title delayed for a fucking year" which does happen from time to time. However, as soon as they said "for one month" I felt more at ease. With this in mind I wanted to dissect the Dragon Age Inquisition Game Play Series demo's that can be found on the Dragon Age YouTube channel.
There are two videos released in Alpha format that I have been watching avidly. As a HUGE fan of Bioware's series, Dragon Age, I am full of anticipation when it comes to Inquisition's release. Mike Laidlaw, creative director of Inquisition, guides us through the demo and boasts that Dragon Age Inquisition "is larger than the entire play space than Dragon Age Origins". Naturally, I would expect this particularly as we are firmly in to the 'next gen era' of consoles. The path we take, as the Quinari Mage is an overland journey. A journey that I believe showcases some stunning environments. We are headed towards Redcliffe Village and so push our way through a multi terrain littered with cliffs, trees, shrubbery and intermittent danger. Mike Laidlaw calls this "The World Master System". A system that is dynamic depending on how we choose to interact with the environment. Again, I must stress that I would expect this from an Role Playing Game so this detail does not "WOW" me.
I have always been fond of the leadership abilities in battle and in plight in the previous two Dragon Age games. Inquisition continues to adopt this popular trait whereby players can command their team in to a strategic battle form. I am content with this. There's nothing better than planning your next attack to move forward. I enjoyed seeing this within the Alpha build game play demo. With this, the battle scenes looked busy and exciting. I found it slightly frustrating though as I did not understand the interface of the commands. On the flip side, I found this to be a 'gaming tease' as it is something that I look forward to learning about once the game is released in November 2014.
What would a Dragon Age game be without........ A DRAGON?! In the first alpha game play video Mike Laidlaw commented "Dragons are so large that we've changed the way you target them. Individually attacking their limbs and tails..." GREAT! This looked and sounded great. The High Dragon shown in the Alpha demo occupied over SIX minutes of a sixteen minute video. Obviously, Bioware want us to TAKE NOTE! The ordeal that ensued in this fight seemed punishing but appetizing enough to make me want to jump straight in a play.
In the second video, we start off in Redcliffe Castle. Instantly I notice how dark, bleak and dangerous the environment appeared. This was a stark contrast to the first video in which we are greeted by the greenery of Inquisitions appeal. I see exactly why the developers made the distinction in the videos. Naturally, it makes sense to show us players a multitude of pastures. The two videos were released three days apart SO my next point could be entirely coincidental: I found that the graphics in the second demo to have looked MUCH more refined in terms of textures and frame rate. Can anyone tell a difference or is it just me? Let me know in the comments. The picture below shows an example of the graphics in a character close up from the second Alpha Demo video.
I thoroughly enjoyed viewing the Alpha Game Play demos of Dragon Age Inquisition. Yes, we have to wait ONE MONTH longer but the wait will be wholeheartedly worth it. For now, I am going to continue to enjoy the new demo releases.
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Already, I am sick of hearing the comparisons between Destiny and Halo. I was not impressed as I stood in a game store last week and opened a conversation about my excitement for Destiny. The shop worker replied "yeah well it's Halo isn't it?!". I respectfully disagreed and outlined my reasons why. I left the store thinking 'What a dick' especially after he used a condescending tone during the debate. Now that I have played the beta release of Destiny, I stand FIRM in my arguments that Destiny is not Halo, but a fantastic, immersive and visually stunning game in it's own right. I'm going to talk to you about my first experiences of playing the beta release.
I was laced with excitement as I watched the percentage increase when Destiny Beta was installing on my Playstation 4. At this point I would like to give thanks to a fellow gamer, Jeroenps4, for providing me a beta download code. YOU STAR! Once I saw it reach 100% and the load screen kicked in, I was poised and ready to choose my class. My choices were out of three: 'Titan, Hunter and Warlock'. I chose the 'Hunter' class as I wanted to have the power combined with mobility within my character. NOW, let me tell you something that I noticed here. I felt SO, SO, SO packed full of anticipation to play this game at this point. Why? Graphically, the characters looked stunning as they swayed slightly on screen prior to making my final choice. I felt an instant connection for some reason. I couldn't believe that this was a beta release? It felt like a final product. After choosing the remaining customizations; details such as face shape, hair and eye colour etc, I ventured forth in to cut scene which I was thrusted upon Mars, present day.
I can honestly report that I was fucking mezmorized at the graphical content amidst the backdrop of atmospheric music. This was a consistent feature of Destiny - Beta. I found the music and 'flash sound effects' to add to my experiences in the actual game play. Now add shadows! As I meandered through corridors and across well lit landscape, shadows from enemies would often lean around a corner, alerting me to what lay ahead. More often than not, I would JUMP at seeing this flash of grey coupled with a corresponding sound effect. I felt so much adrenaline!! I also want to note that the use of shadows worked effectively on stationary objects such as netting that hung from ceilings. The shadows made me feel enclosed and trapped which spurred my motivation to progress away from the area. YES, I WANTED TO PROGRESS, TO EXPLORE AND TO VENTURE!
Environmentally, Destiny Beta continued to 'knock my socks off'. There's a moment in the earlier stages of the game in which I was greeted with a vast opening of outdoor marvels. Let me paint a picture for you. Crystal blue and green pops of colour littered the skyline. CUE an incoming enemy ship in the distance that disappeared behind a cliff face. In front of me stood anorexic looking trees dotted across a multi-terrain spread of grays, blues in the landscape. A cloud of fine dust skimmed my line of sight. I could see in to the limitless distance. I was in First Person Shooter paradise! Onwards I went!
Looking down my sights on my rifle was as pleasing at it has ever been! I believe that Bungie had done an amazing job in creating a depth of field that allowed me to feel as though I was really behind the trigger. There was a clear fore, mid and background within my line of sight. A sensation of absolute satisfaction infiltrated my gamer brain. I kept asking myself: "Is this really a beta version?"
There are a catalogue of enemies I faced in Destiny Beta. Naturally, I'd guess that that catalogue will increase in the final game. I found there to be a even balance of combat and solitary exploring. Allow me to elaborate. I came in to possession of a sniper rifle early on in the demo. Unlike, Halo, I felt that I could stealth through a patch of enemies to find a safe camping spot to pick off those enemies with my sniper rifle. During my chosen stealth modes, I felt a sense of 'ninja like solitude' which became a part of my tactics to pick off enemies whilst taking minimal damage.
Overall, Destiny Beta is an amazing experience. I want to play it more and more and I am eagerly awaiting the final release. LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU GUYS THOUGHT OF DESTINY BETA.
Thanks for reading.
Gemma a.k.a Juicy Game Reviews
Tales Of Xillia on the Playstation 3 was my first encounter with the long running 'Tales' series. I want to talk to you about the finesse I found from within this game and also tie it to some of the flaws. Tales Of Xillia was released just under a year ago and is a Japanese Role Playing Game packed full of wonder, charm and commitment.
Initially, I was unsure about the game play as I first started to navigate Milla Maxwell, the female protagonist, around the first dungeon. Milla is one of two characters that, we, as players get to choose before our quest begins. I felt an element of mysticism to her presence which made me choose her as my first play through. Jude, the second protagonist, appeared younger and immature in comparison to Milla that became entwined in the story as if by accident. I soon learned that my initial impressions of Jude were mis-guided, especially as he was such an asset in battle.
I don't want to dwell on the story too much here as I do not want to spoil too much for those who have not played Tales Of Xillia. The beauty of this game lays within a mosaic of traits and not just within the story. I was particularly impressed with the battle systems and overall mechanics. Going in to battle for the first time in JRPG's can be an intimidating experience. Usually players are over presented with a heavy interface of menus and sub-screens. I DID NOT have this experience in Tales of Xillia. I was guided by the option of a 'Tutorial' mode before advancement in to battle. Once I had learnt the basics (which took me no time) I felt at ease and confident enough to 'walk' in to enemies with no trepidation. As a player, I felt motivated to be on the offensive in battles because I wanted the rewards of leveling compared to previous JRPG's in which I have been guilty of evading or exiting battle.
'Linking' is another unique feature of the battle system. You can choose to assign your character to link with another. Tales Of Xillia does a fantastic job of explaining the benefits of each characters linking abilities with another. After 10 hours in to the game I found that Jude was my favourite character to pair with. There I was, in the beginning of the game, perceiving Jude as 'weak'. Chain combos and speed of battle seemed slicker with Jude. You may feel different.
WOW. Am I still talking about the BATTLE SYSTEM? Yes I am. Tales OF Xillia places emphasis on free movement within a battle. It's not a typical 'turn based' role playing game. THIS was my absolute favourite feature as I felt that I had more freedom and control over my characters. ADD some features around 'tactics, Items, Strategy' and you have got yourself a perfect recipe for a well refined battle system. Now here is my ONLY GRIPE. The music became immensely repetitive as did the 'victory slang'.
The cut scenes in Tales Of Xillia are anime in style and can annoyingly run for a great length of time. Not to worry though, there is a 'Skip Cut Scene' option, an option that you may think "why the fuck would I do that, I'll miss the story?" (just like I did). However, I soon began to use it. In game graphics are....... nice. I would describe them as 'Anime, Cell shaded-esque'. To cap it, the frame rate is smooth and I didn't experience any nasty glitches. WIN! Speaking of 'Wins' Tales Of Xillia provides a comfortable cast of characters to help us along the way. We soon meet our first, Alvin, a well traveled freelance mercenary, or so he claims to be. Secondly, we are greeted by Elize, a young girl who is accompanied by a strange looking, floating character. Imagine a purple condom, with facial features and TERRIBLE voice acting! That is all I shall say on that matter. Leia and Rowen are also part of the fighting cocktail, all with unique abilities as characters but also unique abilities when linking in battles.
The back drop we are set against is a dangerous world. Often this world made me believe that I was in an open world game. NO! I found the game play to be linear and most points of interest were annoyingly out of reach. Some doors on buildings are dummy's, some beaches are there for aesthetic purposes only and some vines are unclimbable. Despite this, I was entrenched within the Tales world of colour, beauty and wonderment. Had this game have been open world, it may have been TOO BIG. After all, this is not an Elder Scrolls game.
As a final point I'd like to draw your attention to: Lilium Orbs. The Lilium Orb is a simple set of nodes of which each character has one. I found this a SIMPLE method to glide through the level up system. As I fought and won in battles, each member of my party was awarded points to spend on the Lilum Orb. The cursor highlighted the trait of the orb and I could decide if I wanted to spend my points on that particular orb. This was a tasteful aspect of Tales of Xillia that made my experience feel USER FRIENDLY. I adore this game.
Overall, this game is solid. Tales of Xillia is charming, exciting, beautiful and inviting. Aside from certain portions of monotony, I felt excited each time I picked up my PS3 controller.
You can buy this amazing game through this affiliate link or by clicking on the graphic below.
Juicy Game Reviews
A recent trip to the now defunct Core Design Studios, the same studios that created Lara Croft in 1996, got me thinking about the role and importance of female leads in our video games today. This is not a battle about the sexes of 'Male Vs Female' video game characters but more of a catalogue of thoughts about evolution of strong female leads.
If you ask anybody at school, in your workplace or at home, to name a female video character, I would hedge my bets on them replying "Lara Croft". Lara occupied millions of Playstation's in the nineties and was adorned millions of young men and women. I remember observing ALL of my male friends back in 1996 trying to line up a profile shot of Lara in order to sample the size of her upper polygons: her breasts. Would my friends have done the same if the character had been a man? I could not have imagined my friends saying "Look at his pectorals, wow". Ironically, Tomb Raider's early development was created with the lead as a MALE which obviously would have meant, No Lara. I think that Core Design had made the RIGHT choice by developing Lara Croft. She was tall, strong, witty, athletic, sexy, rich, independent and gutsy....and had boobs. WIN!! She was appealing and every trait she possessed WORKED! Now ask yourself this: If Core Design had stuck with their original Male protagonist, would the series have appealed as much? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know.
I have enjoyed many, many games with a strong female and male lead. I have also enjoyed games in which the female character had taken a secondary role alongside the lead character. Let's talk about Ashleigh in Resident Evil 4. Arguably, she is the opposite of Lara. She appears weak, innocent, fragile, small in stature, clueless, lost and definitely not as sexualised as Lara Croft. She is rescued and carried, literally. I find this interesting, particularly as female characters in Resident Evil games usually adopt stronger traits. Jill Valentine is a prime example of this. I will come back to this point.
I recently competed The Last Of Us on the Playstation 3 in which we see the second playable character, Ellie, accompany the lead, Joel. Unlike Lara who was originally portrayed as strong and gutsy all of the time, we see Ellie adopt a myriad of roles. She transitions between strong, passive, lead character, second character, victim and warrior. I find this more versatile approach in a game absolutely compelling and charming as I felt a deeper connection to Ellie than I had ever felt with another female character. There are SO, SO, SO many female video game characters that adopt a single behavioural mode within a game that I have begun to disengage with the actual IMMERSION of a story. Allow me to give you another example. I love Final Fantasy 10 of which I am currently playing through again. Yuna is cast (excuse the pun) as a Summoner in Final Fantasy X (and later in Final Fantasy X-2) and was surprisingly ranked as 20th 'hottest video game character of all time" in 2012. My perception of Yuna is very different. I don't view her a sexualised character at all. Although she is strong, brave, gutsy and kick ass (Like Lara) her personality is far too monotonous for my taste. In comparison to Ellie with her myriad of traits, Yuna appears flat, quiet, 'still like' and guarded. Most Japanese readers may argue this point with me. I didn't connect with Yuna as much as I would have liked.
I have made THREE categories of female video game characters that I want to share with you. Firstly, there is the 'Strong Female Protagonist'. Like Lara Croft and Commander Shepard (Mass Effect 3), two women that get stuck in to the action and have the ability to command independently or as part of a unit. Fear is a motivator. Secondly, there is a 'Strong Second'. Like Ellie or Alyx in Half Life 2, we see a prominent personality and a wealth of transitions within the story. Finally, we see a 'Weak Second'. Like Ashleigh in Resident Evil 4, she is the opposite of the strong. Fear is the oppressor. All three roles are as equally important in my opinion as they contribute to the story in some way.
In 2014, I dare say that it is not all about 'looks' when we are discussing female characters. We don't need to see a pair of breasts wobble across our 40" flat screens to be hooked on a game. No, but we can be immersed and entwined deep within the roots of a character if the story allows it. I am going to end on that note: for me 'feeling' and 'emotion' in a story is imperative to enhancing ANY lead characters perception by the player. What do you guys thinks? Be Social and leave me a comment in this blog.
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Thank you, Juicy Game Reviews
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