Destiny is like an ex girlfriend you hate, but you keep coming back to because you have low self esteem. Fundamentally, there are some great moments, but enough flaws to remind you why you broke up in the first place. Yet, I keep finding myself playing Destiny despite it being one of the most frustrating gaming experiences in recent memory. Destiny is a first person shooter/MMO hybrid. Bungie refuses to call it an MMO and refers to the game as a “Shared World Shooter,” but lets be real…it’s an MMO. You will do quests, explore dungeons, play multiplayer, and go on raids. It is kinda cool at first glance to see how well these two genres mesh, but after you reach the level 20 level cap you will find nothing but an underwhelming hollow experience. Destiny’s story is the biggest train wreck with every plot point falling flat and a sense that no one at Bungie was on the same page on what the story should be. The plot revolves around the guardian who meets a robot companion named ghost. The guardian sees the seeker and finds out they must stop the darkness. The plot is so basic that I can’t even remember the names of anyone within the game. Stars like Peter Dinklidge and Nathan Fillion are voice actors, but their performances are so poorly written and phoned in that I wouldn’t be shocked if they actually recorded the lines over the phone. It’s hard to even criticize the plot of Destiny since there is so little to the plot that I can’t criticize anything. Destiny’s design is of a standard MMO with some twists to fit the FPS genre. Some design choices are great such as playing with friends and the well- established factions within the game. On the other hand Destiny makes so many mistakes that it makes the entire game a boring chore. Simply put, this is the most lonely MMO I have ever played. Matchmaking doesn’t exist for many strikes and there’s is no player auction house or even public chat. Everyone just stands around and no one talks with each other because they can’t. The loot system is horrendous with the concept of end game being revolved around what loot you have on. This wouldn’t be a problem if loot drops ever occurred at all. Many players have already resorted to exploiting the game’s checkpoint system to farm loot since it happens so rarely. The worst part is when you obtain an engram. Engrams are blueprints for higher-tiered weapons and armor, but every time I would obtain a rare or legendary engram it would give me either useless currency or a much lower-tiered weapon. Destiny’s grind for better loot is so tedious since 50% of the time you won’t be rewarded for it. The same goes for the Crucible, which is Destiny’s standard multiplayer arena. Skill isn’t a factor since a legendary item has the same chance of going to the dead last player as well as the first place player. It’s so unfair and unbalanced since the reward system is random, players with better gear will always win in PVP, and most of the tasks in Destiny require a good 45 minutes to an hour to complete sometimes. Putting in that much time and effort only to not be reward is a slap in the face from Bungie. The repetitive nature of the game as a whole means that unless Bungie does a quick turnaround with Destiny expect NO ONE to be playing this unrewarding disaster in 3 month’s time. Destiny does retain the great shooting mechanics from Halo and crafts a believable world that you initially want to explore. The problem is while gunplay can be a blast…exploring is basically non-existent. There are chests everywhere with crap loot and currency. The world of Destiny doesn’t do anything with its lore and actually hides the game’s lore behind grimoire cards, which you can only view on Destiny’s app or website. This leaves us with a faux open world, AI that constantly respawns and never changes their tactics, and some of the worst boss fights in gaming history. Regardless of your level boss fights within Destiny are incredibly tedious with each boss being a bullet sponge that takes upwards to 45 minutes to take down. The worst part is the boss’ checkpoint system, which starts the whole fight over if your team dies. Most strikes I’ve been in where our team dies everyone ends up quitting since we don’t have the patience to shoot the same boss over and over again. Destiny looks beautiful on the PS4 with a great sweeping orchestral soundtrack. Unfortunately, it also has no art. The locations, character designs, and atmosphere come across as every single shooter and space game I’ve ever played. The game is generic and has some of the worst cutscenes in gaming history with flat acting, poor writing, and most never move the plot along. The worst offense with these cutscenes is how they’re impossible to skip and given the repetitive nature of Destiny you will be forced to watch their mediocrity over and over again. It was almost as if Bungie had a checklist while making Destiny, but never looked at the finer bullet points. Story? Check. Loot? Check. PVP? Check. Everything about Destiny works on a basic level, but the experience is so frustrating and so hollow the further you dive into what Destiny has to offer. It does have moments of brilliance since I am somehow still playing it and it has the potential to get better with numerous patches, but in its current state Destiny is destined for mediocrity. Story: 2.1/10 Design: 4.2/10 Gameplay: 8.4/10 Presentation: 7/10 Final Score: 5.4
The classic PS2 role playing game has received an HD upgrade by Square Enix. Final Fantasy X has been beloved for over a decade for its excellent turn based gameplay, elegant story, amazing graphics for the time, and one of the best soundtracks in a video game. Do Final Fantasy X hold up after 12 years or should the Fayth have kept dreaming?
Final Fantasy X tells the story of Tidus, an ace athlete with daddy issues who witnesses the destruction of his home town of Zanarkand. He is sent away during the disaster by his father’s friend Auron and a massive beast named Sin. When Tidus awakens he is in the world of Spira 1000 years later. Sin has become a constant threat and the only hope to stop Sin are the teachings and religion of Yevon. Yevon is the religion that governs Spira and requires certain citizens to become summoners to make pilgrimage to defeat Sin…even if Sin’s defeat is only temporary. The story revolves around Tidus as he becomes a guardian to the summoner Yuna and aids her quest to vanquish Sin. The story is excellent as Spira struggles to fight the looming threat of Sin while politics and religion clash over the big question: Should we honor religious tradition or seek a new way to stop Sin? The story itself is great even if the moment to moment voice acting and writing isn’t up to scratch…I’m looking at you Tidus’ laugh scene.
The world of Spira is a sight to behold taking influence from Southern Asia. Even though Final Fantasy X is more linear than most Final Fantasy games there are still many things to do. From secret side quests to the addicting and fully fleshed out Blitzball games, Final Fantasy X isn’t short on keeping the player busy. With tons of collectibles to find, now beasts to capture, and Celestial Weapons to hunt Final Fantasy X is the king of Final Fantasy side quests. The only downsides are the requirements and design flaws of the Celestial Weapons. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to dodge lightning 200 times in the Thunder Plains for Lulu’s Sigil or having to go through the living hell that is the Chocobo Catcher mini-game for Tidus’ Sigil.
The Chocobo Catcher mini-game is easily the worst gaming experience I’ve had in my entire life. This mini-game requires Tidus to pilot a Chocobo through a race against another Chocobo. Hitting balloons negates 3 seconds off your time, while hitting flying birds adds 3 seconds to your time. To obtain the key item for his weapon the player must beat the race with a time under 0:00 seconds. The problem is the horrible controls of this mini-game make it nearly impossible to achieve this time. The randomness and horrible AI of the birds take the experience from painful to nearly unbearable. This mini-game is completely optional, but if you’re a completionist then prepare for the worst mini-game in history.
In contrast, the Blitzball mini-game is quite possibly the greatest mini-game in video game history (It’s up there with Mario Party Bumper Balls). Blitzball is a simulation of soccer, except it is played underwater, and is a number crunching RPG. What makes it so fascinating is how the developers were able to implement a full league with players to scout and free agents to sign to make your team stronger. It’s so amazing that Square Enix should have made Blitzball its own spin-off game.
The core gameplay of Final Fantasy X removes the Active Time Battle System in favor of a more traditional turn-based battle system. This system focuses on the different classes of characters who are strong against different classes of enemies. Tidus is strong against agile fiends, Wakka can snipe out of reach flying enemies, and Auron can pierce the strongest armored foes. This paved the way for more modern RPG systems like Shin Megami’s “Press-Turn” system. Each character also has special moves called Overdrives, which increase in power if the player inputs certain commands. Tidus’ Overdrives require you to stop a meter similar to Mario Golf, Auron requires you to quickly input a Konami-esque Code (UP UP DOWN DOWN Etc…), and Lulu requires you to rapidly rotate the control stick. Yuna’s Summons are easily the highlight of gameplay as these massive beasts appear and decimate the enemy. Considering how I am not a huge fan of the Active Time Battle system I must say that FFX has the best battle system of any Final Fantasy game. I’ve never had so much fun just grinding for levels.
Final Fantasy X uses a unique level up system called the sphere grid. Each character collects spheres for different attributes such as strength, magic, agility, and defense, while ability spheres allow for characters to gain new abilities. The freedom of selecting which attribute or ability to get is refreshing and allows for some incredibly unique character growth. This is especially true if you choose the expert sphere grid at the beginning, which doesn’t immediately lock certain characters into classes such as warrior or thief. Want to build a warrior who can heal while stealing items from enemies? Well you totally can.
The presentation is nearly perfect with each vista being so breathtaking that it’s hard to believe the PS2 could handle this game. From the amazing HD graphics to the amazing landscapes, Final Fantasy X is one of the most beautiful worlds ever created. Spira is a world that goes beyond immersion and feels real. This fact is made even more solid by the game’s outstanding soundtrack. I enjoy Final Fantasy X’s soundtrack so much that I’m positive it puts the legendary soundtrack from Final Fantasy VI to shame. The downside…is the voice acting. Being Square Enix’s first FF game with voice acting it is clear that things were a bit rough. Many characters talk like they’re William Shatner having a stroke and some performances go way over the top for no reason. It is so jarring with the rest of the game that the voice acting can’t even be seen as humorous.
Final Fantasy X is an amazing experience and the core game holds up great after 12+ years. Unfortunately, the rough edges that were present in the original game haven’t been improved on at all for this HD remake and are just as terrible as they were the first time around. Luckily, most of the flaws are minor or optional making Final Fantasy X HD a must buy for any fans of Japanese Role Playing Games.
Final Score: 8.9/10
Title Screens are our first impression of many video games past and present. A successful title screen succeeds on the merits of mood, atmosphere, music, and/or relevance to the game you’re playing. The best title screens incorporate all of these features and stand high above their contemporaries. We do have to note that this is strictly limited to title screens and not actual game menus such as Conker’s Bad Fur Day’s bar scene. With that aside, these are the top 10 video game title screens that hypnotized us from pressing the start button.
10. Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)
The Title Screen for Xenoblade Chronicles tells us so much using so little. The somber theme overlays a beautiful backdrop complimenting it perfectly. The Monado in the grass with no game title as the wind blows delivers a pure minimalist experience. Those who beat the game would leave this title screen on repeat with their jaw on the floor. Xenoblade Chronicles’ title screen is simple, clean, and incredibly effective.
9. Mirror’s Edge (Multiplatform)
The atmosphere accomplished in the Mirror’s Edge is like a breath of fresh air. The white city backdrop shows us the playground before us, while the calming electronica music soothes us into the not so distant future. The title screen invited us to this world and most people let go of any skepticism they had and dove right into Mirror’s Edge.
8. Mass Effect 3 (Multiplatform)
The second you booted up mass Effect 3 you knew this was it. The orchestral theme complimented the feeling of awe most players felt watching their beloved Earth slowly get invaded by the Reapers. Many questions raced through our heads as this title screen played out. Who was alive? What could we do to stop it? Is the ending as shit as everyone says it is? With the success of the previous Mass Effect games this title screen firmly cemented the scary fact that players scrubbed from their minds. THIS IS THE END.
7 Metroid Prime (Gamecube/Wii)
What sells the title screen of Metroid Prime isn’t the creepy parasite-esque images, or the fading film filter…It’s the music. The music sets the unsettling mood of Metroid Prime with its mix of electronics and feedback. The Music is so sci-fi creepy that many players were terrified to press start. It is one of the most uncomfortable and effective title screens. Thank you Retro for sending chills down my spine.
6. The Legend of Zelda Windwaker (Gamecube, HD Remake on WiiU)
It is nearly impossible to not whistle the tune of Windwaker as the title screen begins. Giving us a tour of Link’s home island, Windwaker immediately paints a vivid picture of the flooded world of Hyrule. It prepares our sea legs as we zoom over the vast ocean before us, providing a sense of great adventure. Any prejudice towards toon Link was gone the second Windwaker’s title screen began. *Whistles*
5. Spec Ops the Line (Multiplatform)
A destroyed city, a massive sandstorm, a tattered upside down American Flag…Welcome to Spec Ops. The title screen’s iconic imagery accompanied by the loudspeaker Star Spangled banner proved Spec Ops wasn’t just another military shooter. The electric guitar licked through the National Anthem as the wind blew leaving players with an incredibly valid question “WTF AM I GETTING IN TO HERE?” Spec Ops’ title screen was an inviting welcome to a game that changed the way people perceive narrative within military shooters.
4. Braid (Multiplatform)
Braid’s “Not-so” Title Screen is easily one of the best. With no start button many players realize that you can actually move Tim on the title screen. Silhouetted by the fires behind him, Tim moves to the right into the last remaining house at the beginning of the game. This title screen allowed players to open their minds to this puzzle platforming masterpiece. The contrast between the actual game and its title screen showed that Braid’s narrative was much deeper than players initially thought.
3. Halo (Multiplatform)
If this title screen didn’t pump you up then you have no soul. Now lets listen to this on repeat for 3 hours then go punch buildings!
2. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)
An iconic title screen, Super Mario 64 allows players to morph Mario’s face at their will, while jamming to the toe tapping new music. This title screen was our first true glimpse at 3D Mario and it easily brought a massive fully-teethed smile to our faces.
1. Super Metroid (SNES)
Ceres Station is under attack. The scientists bodies lie dead on the floor. A single Metroid Larva is incased in the center. Eerie sci-fi music sets the scene. Super Metroid’s title screen is flawless. The music sets the horrific tone of loneliness, the images are terrifying, and the mystery surrounding the attack is ever present. Super Metroid’s title screen set a bar in 1994 that will never be reached. Some title screens may be fantastic and incredible, but they still don’t come anywhere close to the masterpiece known as Super Metroid’s Title Screen.
Now that the new year is upon us we’re predicting what we think the big headlines of the video game year will be. Now some of these may seem completely outrageous, but we here at the Game Jam know we’re pulling all of these out of our ass anyway. So lets look back at 2014…the year that was.
3DS is the 2014 Console of Choice.
Nintendo’s handheld dominance continues for the second year in a row with huge hits such as Bravely Default, Yoshi’s New Island, and Super Smash Bros. The 3DS easily reaches the 50 million sold milestone and celebrates by releasing even more Streetpass games as Streetpass becomes a major part of Gaming culture.
The Ps3 has better releases than the PS4 in 2014
In a twist of fate all the major Fall releases for the PS4 have been delayed to Q1 of 2015 including The Order 1886, Witcher 3, The Division, etc. This allows the PS3 to have one final hurrah with Tales of Xillia 2, Persona 5, and other huge names taking the spotlight from Sony’s new console.
The Vita gets another price drop and people still don’t buy it.
This isn’t really news or a prediction…
Xbox One Recovers in late 2014 after Microsoft Announces a cheaper model without the Kinect.
After the launch of the sub-par Xbox One. Microsoft remains quiet in terms of marketing (Except for Titanfall) until E3 when they unveil an upgraded Xbox One without the Kinect bundled with Titanfall (Or the New Halo). This cheaper model becomes a massive success with an impressive Fall games line-up to back it up.
Capcom has another dismal year after failing to connect with any audience.
Capcom’s woes continue as Resident Evil 7 bombs after choosing to star Alice (from the films) as a desperate attempt to attract a new audience. Also, still no Mega Man.
Every single game in the history of ever gets a $60 re-release for PS4 and Xbox One under the title of “Definitive Edition.”
Fuck You Lara Croft.
Nintendo Puts Older Pokemon Games on the WiiU and 3DS Eshop.
This isn’t much of a prediction as it is a wet dream.
The WiiU’s sales turn around after the release of Super Smash Bros.
Super Smash Bros. becomes the system seller for the WiiU bringing Nintendo back as a major contender. Super Smash also gains a huge following in the fighting community when the game headlines the 2014 EVO tournament.
Game Jam writer Alex Eich is hospitalized during E3 after having a 10 hour erection following the announcement of Knack 2.
It could happen…
It’s a new year with new consoles out to prove what they can do. PS4 and Xbox One are looking to hit their stride with great looking games on the horizon. Nintendo is coming off a strong year for 3DS and have even more great games to keep that handheld held in our hands. WiiU may have struggled in 2013, but with a solid library now established Nintendo’s little console might have a huge year with many first-party games within our grasp. Lets also not forget PC gaming, which is still leading the indie boom and maintaining it’s digital dominance on the industry. The Hype train is leaving the station and these are our top 10 most anticipated games of 2014.
10. Watch Dogs
(Release Date: Q2 2014)
Ubisoft’s third-person hacker game hits a soft-spot with me (I’m from Chicago), but it barely makes the top 10. Watch Dogs still has a ton of hype going for it since it looks amazing, but with an over-saturation of gameplay trailers and a painful delay of at least 7 months Watch Dogs has built a solid shelter to live in within the back of our minds till June. We hope it was worth it Ubisoft.
9. South Park The Stick of Truth
(Release Date: March 4th, 2014)
Like Watch Dogs above South Park’s constant delays have us a little worried for the Obsidian RPG. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are keeping our hopes up, but as of right now the best thing they can do is to finally release this long awaited game…and give us more Randy.
8. Elder Scrolls Online
(Release Date: April 4th for PC)
It’s Elder Scrolls…BUT ONLINE. From what we’ve played and seen so far the game is a solid entry within the MMO genre. The Elder Scrolls mainstays are still there with a great sense of exploration within a realized world. Just please no more arrow to the knee jokes.
7. Witcher 3 Wild Hunt
(Release Date: Q2 2014)
What is arguably the best looking next gen title has the Game jam writers flipping tables. This third chapter in the acclaimed RPG series looks stunning and even more hardcore than Assassins of Kings. The life of a Witcher is tough, but we’ll do anything to be in the soggy boots of Geralt of Rivia once more.
6. Bravely Default
(Release Date: February 7th )
The name may say “Bravely Default” but this JRPG screams “Final Fantasy IV.” With job classes, a high risk/reward gameplay system, and beautiful art Bravely Default is the JRPG you’ve been waiting for. It is also out as a demo on the 3DS Eshop right now!
5. Child of Light
(Release Date: Late 2014)
This JRPG…from Canada looks fantastic even if it’s a drastic change from this team’s last game Far Cry 3. The childish art direction blends beautifully with the game’s tone and gameplay. It makes us throw our money at the screen more than any other Ubisoft game coming out this year.
4. Super Smash Bros. WiiU/3DS
(Release Date: Whenever Nintendo Wants To.)
With each character reveal and update Super Smash Bros. changes more and more from “I want that game” to “I NEED THAT GAME.” Did the fans want the Wii Fit Trainer? Probably not, but we all know we will kick ass with her. The Villiger from Animal Crossing looks like the sadistic bastard we’ve always wanted with mega Man and Rosalina adding even more fresh ideas to this popular party game.
3. Persona 5
(Release Date: Late 2014)
All we know is that there are 5 chairs and 5 chains attached. The screen reads “You are slave. Want Emancipation?” followed by the title Persona 5. This is all we know about Atlus’ upcoming entry in the hit JRPG series…and somehow we have massive boners already.
(Release Date: March 11th)
Many gamers are writing this game off as another dumb “Bro” FPS and boy, they couldn’t be more wrong. Out of all the games at E3 2013 Titanfall was the only one to melt faces off. The game not only looks next gen, but also was the only game we walked out of thinking “That gameplay was next gen.” March 11th can’t come soon enough for any lover of FPS’s, mech combat, parkour, jetpacks, and high octane multiplayer. (Note: If you’re not sold on Jetpacks anyway you don’t have a soul.)
1. Dark Souls II
(Release Date: March 11th)
The logical choice, of course is Dark Souls II. FromSoftware’s brutal 2011 RPG Dark Souls is still being talked about three years later. The game is now less confusing, but that doesn’t mean it is any less punishing. Dark Souls II will burn you with hot wax, gag you, whip you with no mercy, and make you wish video games had a safe word. Dark Souls II is easily our most anticipated game of 2014 as well as the only game to make us cry out “Pineapple!!!” at the top of our lungs. Bring it on Lordran…we’re prepared to die…again.
Yesterday was the worst. Today is the best. These are my top 10 favorite games of 2013. Chosen on the merits of story, design, gameplay, presentation, replay value, and fun factor. These 10 games were the pinnacle of gaming in 2013.
Honorable Mentions: Dead Rising 3, Ni No Kuni, Battlefield 4, Rogue Legacy, The Stanley parable, The Last of Us, Resogun.
10. Bioshock Infinite
Bioshock’s new setting and gameplay features provided some of the best FPS action in years. The story is incredible, the world is fully realized, and Elizabeth is the glue that holds it all together. If only there was more replay value would it be higher on the list.
9. Path of Exile
This free to play game doesn’t try and bleed you dry with micro-transactions, which is cool. What’s even better is how this free to play game is everything Diablo 3 should’ve been in the first place. Path of Exile is so well designed that it is a complete and utter steal at this point!
8. Gone Home
Best story of the year. Gone Home achieved so much using so little and the story still resonates with me to this day.
7. Metal gear Rising Revengence
This spinoff by Platinum Games just rocked in every way possible! The combat was deep and rewarded the patient, the story was bonkers and awesome, and each play through satisfied that arcade itch to unlock more stuff and achieve a better score. No action game came close to the quality of MGR this year.
6. Super Mario 3D World
Dammit Nintendo! Everyone wanted this game to bomb since it seemed like a recycled attempted at 2011’s Mario 3D Land. Instead what we got is an amazing platformer with great design and tons of charm. Plus beating your friends up in catsuits is a blast!
5. Rayman Legends
Rayman Legends’ design was nearly flawless with the perfect amount of challenge, unlockables, mini games, and quality boss battles. Nothing compared to the incredible music levels the game provided, which are easily one of the best moments in gaming this year. Plus the game’s art is amazing.
4. Fire Emblem Awakening
This strategy RPG gives you your moneys worth and then some. The graphics are amazing on the 3DS while gameplay has been streamlined to be more accessible to newcomers. This still doesn’t take away from the game’s brutal difficulty and incredibly deep RPG mechanics. Fire Emblem will destroy you and you will love every minute of it.
3. Animal Crossing New Leaf
This game ruled my summer. Between paying off debts, catching bugs, listening to bad jokes, fishing, etc. Animal Crossing provided a life sim. with so much charm that it was impossible to pull away. Each villager’s personality shined through and left me feeling a need to care for these townsfolk constantly. Mainly though, having my town them as Final Fantasy’s Victory Fanfare is icing on the cake.
2. The Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds
I tried so hard to find a flaw with this game…but there isn’t any. Link’s latest quest provides more freedom and exploration while being much more accessible than past entries. Every challenge, boss, or puzzle works great and provides one of the most rewarding experiences in video games ever. Buy it!
1. Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag
I honestly wasn’t expecting this at all. ACIV came out of left field after the disappointing third installment last year and god damn. The beautiful setting, fully realized open world, finely tuned gameplay, great freedom and exploration, and the return of something the series was seriously lacking; FUN. The navel battles were intense, stealth was a blast and there is an overwhelming amount of stuff to do in this game. Did I mention yet that you get to be a badass pirate!? Assassin’s Creed IV rose above the rest this year being my favorite game of 2013. Also, those damn sea shanties are still stuck in my head.