Saturday, 28 October 2017

Asylum Reviews: Middle-Earth: Shadow of War [Xbox One].

The follow up to 2014's Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Shadow of War doesn't stray too far from what the original game had to offer, but is still fresh enough to keep you interested. From the enhanced Nemesis System which is a great mechanic that's gotten even better, to the, well... not so great loot boxes. 

It's a fantastically enjoyable game - fast-paced, fluid and fun. The combat is entertaining - stealth kills are great - and the ability to just scramble up and over buildings far better than Assassin's Creed has ever managed, really kept us addicted and coming back for more. The upgraded Nemesis System, which now includes the ability to track your own Orc army. You can issue orders to your Orc leaders: want that enemy dead? Send someone to assassinate them. Want them to train up and improve? Give'm a Training Order.

Another thing we really enjoyed was just watching enemies fight against each other, battling to the death in the Nemesis System. You can see as some get stronger and continually improve, which is an incentive to go against them or try to recruit them somehow. 

When traversing the world, sometimes an assassin will come to kill you which is a nice touch, just like you'd send one of your Orcs out to assassinate someone on your behalf too. 

The story wasn't the greatest, but still enjoyable. The good thing about these games is that you don't need to be a hardcore Lord of the Rings fan to enjoy them. Sure, having some knowledge of LOTR is good and will allow you to easily recognize things, but even if you were to have no previous interest in Tolkien's universe, you can still have a great time with Shadow of War.

Definitely loved the various mounts you can utilise also. There's the ones from the first game of course, but this time round we also have the Drakes. It makes it way more fun to travel around when on a mount, and sometimes you'll just lose yourself roaming around in the stunning open world.

The biggest let-down of the game is that to get the True Ending, you pretty much need to pay extra in the way of Loot Boxes to do so. Adding in Loot Boxes just seems like so much of a cash-grab this time round. I don't mind when Loot Boxes are there for things you'd naturally get anyway, but when it's either grinding an ungodly amount of time, or pay... then that's just pretty shitty. Taking away the Loot Boxes would not have been a bad thing at all, so it feels like adding them was just completely unnecessary. 

Shadow of War could have so easily been a 9/10 for us, but sadly the inclusion of the Loot Boxes brings it down to an 8/10.

Have you played Middle-Earth: Shadow of War yet? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Asylum Reviews: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony [PS4].

The Danganronpa series has always intrigued me. The instantly recognizable character Monokuma always made me want to give the games a shot, to see what they were all about, but I never got round to it (got too many games to play, I tell ya!). So when I had the chance to play Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, I was excited.

It plays as a visual novel, a favourite of the Japanese market, and there's lots of information to take in within the game. The robotic bears, Monokuma and his Monokubs (five child-like miniature robot bears) have captured 16 students known as Ultimates (for their individual abilities that they are best at, which include things from Cosplay, to Detective, to Entomology) to have them face off in a Battle Royale, last man standing type event. Naturally, the first reaction to this is refusal, but when the bears up the ante basically say that your only way of survival is by killing others, then things take a darker turn. You play as Kaede Akamatsu, Ultimate Pianist, and definitely not down for this shit. Taking a stand against the bears kinda divides the others in their opinions of you, so we're certainly off to a great start!

After any murder, a Class Trial takes place, where you must guess who the culprit, known as the "Blackened" one, is. A correct guess will lead to their execution, but an incorrect one... well that leads to the death of all the students except the Blackened one. Different things can be utilised during these to try and steer things in your favour, or to throw in your evidence to break down a weak point in someones argument, which is a great help. Obviously, to assist with both your investigations and to increase your standing with the other students, you need to interact with the other characters during the moments of Free Time that you get. You'll grow to love some of the characters, and actively try to interact with some more, but don't get too attached, as they'll probably end up dead sooner than later.

The story is a little confusing to follow, due to how much is going on and the different styles of play incorporated, but despite this I still found it very enjoyable and liked how the story progressed - even when characters I liked met their untimely end. Plot twists continue to keep the story fresh and interesting, so you never really know what's to come, constantly on your toes.

After everything, I have to give Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony a 7/10.

Have you played this? What did you think about it?
Let me know in the comments below!

- V x

Asylum Reviews: Yakuza Kiwami [PS4].

It's been over a decade since the Yakuza series first graced gamers' screens, back on the PlayStation 2. Shockingly, neither me or Allan had ever played the original, so we went into Yakuza Kiwami with fresh eyes, excited that we could finally play without having to hunt down an old copy and sort out one of our old PlayStation's to play it - and that's without the issue of having to track down a memory card!

You play as Kazuma Kiryu, a former yakuza who has just been released from prison after serving ten years for a crime he didn't commit. In an open world environment, set in the streets of Kamurocho (based on the real life city of Kabukicho), the hustle and bustle of the Japanese streets and the colourful neon lights really bring the setting to life.

The combat feels great, and the skill tree with its many branches can be continuously upgraded with skill points gained by doing everything from main storyline, to the wide variety of sub-stories, to various activities within the city itself. One of the branches of the skill tree, Dragon of Dojima, can only be upgraded by completing tasks with your trainer, or the Majima Everywhere events - where the eye-patch-wearing character Goro Majima will just pop up out of nowhere to battle you.

This is a funny, albeit repetitive action, that will end up frustrating you at times, since he can fairly knock down your health fast, however for the most part it's manageable.

The story is strong, although I do admit that it was a tad confusing to follow on occasion, but it was definitely enjoyable. The sub-stories add in a lot of humour and were a welcome break for whenever you wanted to just wander around the streets and visit the varying locations, such as Hostess Bars - where I was quickly duped and mugged after a girl dropped something in my drink...

There's a lot of detail to Yakuza Kiwami, from the locations, characters and general atmosphere, it's clear a lot of work went into it, and it's easy to see just why this game is so deserving of a current-gen remaster.

In the end, we have to give Yakuza Kiwami an 8/10. It's a solid game, with plenty to do and see, so definitely one I recommend you all pick up ASAP.

Have you played Yakuza Kiwami? What did you think of it?
Let me know in the comments below!

- V x

Asylum Reviews: Party Hard 2 [Xbox One].

After really enjoying the first Party Hard, I was desperate for more. And when PH2 was released in 2018 I was so excited, but it wasn’t...