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What’s up ladies and gentleman! 2014 is coming to a close and we are hoping that 2015 really turns everything around. We have great writers coming on board, and more than enough content to post for your viewing pleasure–but we forgot to mention that we have a new show. These very very important things that slip our minds. For that we apologize for not trafficking it through the appropriate channels, but we hope you enjoy it nonetheless.

 

 

NERDSYNQ

 

 

 

The Legend of Korra, for those that are unaware, is a western animation produced by Nickelodeon, and is the follow up series to the massively popular Avatar: The Last Airbender (or The Legend of Aang depending on where you live). It follows a young woman named Korra, the Avatar, who is able to wield all four elements within the world this series is set in (Fire, Water, Earth, and Air). Earlier this year, it was announced that Platinum Games, the same people behind such games as Bayonetta, Metal Gear Rising: Revengance, and Wonderful 101, would be making a tie in game for The Legend of Korra. Said game came out earlier this month, and I was able to finally get my hands on a copy.

Presentation

This game, at least on PC which I played, looks amazing. The style is reminiscent of the show, with brand new animated sections made specifically for this game in between chapters. The music is mostly what you would hear on the show, and really helped to drive the fact that this is a Korra game home for me. The effects on the different bending styles look visually stunning and the impact of the hits feel right. While it isn’t nearly as impressive looking as previous Platinum games, it still has that Platinum feel to the design that any fan of their games would be sure to enjoy.

Gameplay

The Legend of Korra is an action beat-em-up, of the style that many are used to from Platinum by now. You play as Korra, fighting through waves of bad guys by utilizing the four elements, each style with their own strengths and weaknesses, and fighting a typically challenging boss at the end of each level. This game does kind of fall into the same problem that I generally always have with beat-em-ups, which is that the gameplay does get repetitive after awhile. Being able to switch between bending styles is neat at first, but I found that I would only use one or two of the elements through a majority of the game, only switching when it was necessary. Bosses were typically dispatched by avoiding their attack pattern until you get the one opening to damage them via quick-time event, which has always been something of a pet peeve of mine with this genre of games over the last decade or so. Even so, the game is fun for the time it takes to beat it.

This game is extremely short, with my personal run of the game clocking out at about 4 hours. It does encourage multiple playthroughs, with unlockable costumes, items, and various difficulty settings. Much like any Platinum game, there are a number of medals per level that grade your performance, with an overall medal awarded at the end of the level. Going back and improving these medal scores is always a fun challenge. There is also a small bit of exploration in the game, though I would have preferred a bit more. This usually takes form of a small diverging path where you can get a special trinket for bonus points at the end of the level, though this usually also means an extra-hard encounter to earn your points.

If there was one thing I absolutely despised about this game, it’s the Naga run sections. Naga is the giant polar bear dog (all the animals in Avatar are combinations of two animals) that is the animal companion to Korra, which she can ride. While these sections aren’t difficult, all it takes is a single slip up to have to start over again, and I feel like the game would have been better with their exclusion.

Finally, after beating the game once, you unlock Pro-Bending mode, a fictional sport within the Avatar universe. Once again you play as Korra, teaming up with two AI allies, in the form of her companions Mako and Bolin, to take on other teams of three and attempt to knock them off the stage. This is a fun little mode and a nice bonus at the end of the game, though it would have been nice to have played as someone else.

Story

Since this is a new game I won’t go into too much detail about the story here, but I will warn you right now that if you haven’t seen any of The Legend of Korra the show, then you would do best to steer clear of this game until you have.

This game has it’s own storyline, set after the end of Season Two and before Season Three. After making a miraculous comeback in a Pro-Bending match right at the beginning, Korra is lead into a trap by a group of Chi-Blockers, remnants of the Equalists, an anti-bender group from the first season. Korra gets stripped of her bending through unknown means, and spends the first level completely without any bending. As the game and story progresses, she discovers that a malevolent spirit known as Hun-Dun, who had conflict with the Avatar in a past life thousands of years ago. As the game goes on, Korra will re-awaken her bending with the help of Jinora, a young Air Bending prodigy who is able to project her spirit and assist Korra. While the story isn’t anything particularly special, it was a breath of fresh air to see a licensed game that doesn’t just re-tread the same plot-lines as it’s source material, and instead served to give us an entirely new story and experience.

Overall, for a budget title being sold for a mere $15, this is a great game that could have only been better if it had been given the triple-A treatment, especially from such a reputable company like Platinum. If you are a fan of the series, then I think this is worth your time, and if you’re a fan of beat-em-ups or the work that Platinum does and don’t mind some spoilers, the game is a nice fun romp. I would definitely recommend this game, especially to those who are a fan of the series, and if you haven’t seen the series itself, then I would also recommend that as well.

TO THE BATCAVE!

Mr. Grimm. —  01/08/2014 — Leave a comment

3c1_batmanspace_01

While the seven year old in me is screaming to kick this article off with NANANANNANANANNANANANANNA BAAAAATMAAAAAAN. I’m mature as hell and will refrain from directly doing so. That being said, insert some nananas and lets get this on a roll. What we have for you today is the first mainstream game I’ve covered and the one I am most looking forward to in the  near future. Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.

I’ve played plenty of lego games but never really gone in for them you know? This one however seems to be the culmination of every awesome aspect of every lego game before it. It’s simple math really. Batman + Legos = a juggernaut that prints money.

Basic story here is that the D.C. super heroes are going to trot off and collect Green Lantern rings in an attempt to stop Lex Luthor and the Joker. You’ll be able to unlock 150 different characters. You get to play as Batman! AND they have an Adam West mode! Complete with super awesome onomatopoeia action! What could make that better? The acting talents of Burt Ward! That’s what the hell could make this better! As if that wasn’t enough for your tender nature, they also have a Lego version of the 1966 Batmobile!! WHAAAT?! robin_default_01 The spiffy might as well write itself, but it doesn’t! This game is going to be accessible on just about every console you could want Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4 , PlayStation 3 , PS Vita , Wii U , 3DS and PC. I can’t stop talking about this game. I need it you need it. Stop reading this  and go get it! – You know. Later in the fall. When it comes out.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @grimmsgaming and/or comment below. It could totally be worth it if I could think of anything funny to say or useful.

Terrorists calling themselves The Engineers have just attacked a U.S. military base on Guam. Their demands are simple: recall all us troops from overseas, or they will strike again, once every week, at unknown targets on what they call The Blacklist. The President calls on Sam Fisher, back with Fourth Echelon, to go above and beyond to stop the terrorist before they can strike again.

Sam back, and this time, he's not alone

Sam back, and this time, he’s not alone

For those of you who are new to the Splinter Cell franchise, your most precious resource is surprise. Stealthily dispatching enemy guards is pretty much the only way to go. Running and gunning is simply not going to cut it here, unless you are seeking a quick and embarrassing death. But fear not, as you have many tools and tricks to outwit and eliminate your foes. The simplest of tricks at your disposal is the attract tactic. Simply tap the Back button and Sam will whistle or quietly call out, attracting the attention of any nearby guards, causing them to come investigate the area. I know you are saying to yourself “But Bryan, I don’t want the guard to come investigate, because then he will spot me and alert the other guards.” Don’t worry, unless the guards are on alert, they will almost always calmly and almost obviously check out your location, allowing you an easy takedown.

Sleeping Gas, Execute, or simply slink by.  What to do, what to do....

Sleeping Gas, Execute, or simply slink by. What to do, what to do….

Gadgets play a critical role in completing your missions, and boy do you have gadgets. Basics like frag and smoke grenades are neat, but proximity mines and shockers, sticky noisemakers and cameras, and the versatile Tri-roter are the way to go. Each gadget has unique characteristics, and choosing the right ones for your style is key. Unique to Blacklist is the after action reward system, which rewards you based on the style of play utilized in the mission. Silently took down the guards? You earn Ghost experience. Shot your way through? Assault experience is earned that way. The experience is all tallied up after the mission, where Ghost will earn you the highest amount of experience, therefore earning you the most money. Multipliers can be added to your post mission bonus by completing Gone Dark missions (a meta game mini-game where you search the SMI (Strategic Mission Interface) map and use your own real world resources to find the next mission location.)

I bet we'd all like an SMI right about now

I bet we’d all like an SMI right about now

Since the threat of The Engineers is a global one, you and your team will need to be mobile. Enter, the Paladin, a high-tech cargo plane chock full of gear, gadgets, and of course, guns. This will serve as your base of operations, where you can buy gear, tune your load-outs, access missions, and even chat with your team. Assisting you in saving the U.S. is Charlie Cole, an expert hacker and friend, Anna Grimsdottir, operations manager and recurring member of the franchise, and Isaac Briggs, former CIA operator and a new member to the franchise. Together you must uncover The Engineers, stop The Blacklist, and save the day.

Multiplayer in Splinter Cell has always been a strong point, and this iteration is no different. Spies vs Mercs pits you in an alternating battle between capturing data points as spies, and defending said data as mercs. Spies play and control exactly like Sam does in single player, with only minor tweaks to the load-outs. The mercs, on the other hand, control in first person, adding a a wrinkle to the conventional multiplayer. Mercs almost always win in a head to head firefight, so its up to the spies to use their cunning, speed, and gadgets to get close enough for easy takedowns. Communication is key in these 3 on 3 matches, so I would advise finding a buddy to play with, unless frustrating losses is something you enjoy.

Vacuum Grade

A

+ Solid mechanics, smart AI, and sweet gadgets

+ Co-op side quests are a great addition

+ Intense story, well written and well voiced

Real World Grade

A

+ Comes out head and night vision goggles above the competition

= Franchise length is an issue, but by no means do I want it to end

Fall is here. It means many things to many people, but to me, it really only means three things. School starts again, the blockbuster video games are just around the corner, and football. AMERICAN football. Don’t get me wrong, I love soccer, but that’s what it is, soccer. With the return of football comes the newest iteration, and at least for the time being the LAST iteration (but more on that later), of NCAA Football 2014.

denard 2014 cover

Let me start by saying I absolutely LOVE the addition of the Infinity Physics engine to NCAA Football. It adds a degree of realism to the running game that was severely lacking in previous years. Joining the new physics is the Ultimate Team mode and a revamped scouting system. These two don’t make nearly as big of a splash, and are certainly not without major flaws.

ncaa recruiting 2014

Scouting in NCAA Football 2014 is entirely new from the previous installment. Out are the call option and sway interest conversations, and in is a pool system, where you allot each prospect on your board points, from zero (0) to five hundred (500). This streamlines the scouting system and gets you back to the action quicker, which is exactly what EA was trying to do. It grants a wider perspective of the recruiting system, one that represents the current college recruiting atmosphere well. Unfortunately, this wider view also takes away from the intimacy and individuality of the recruiting process. In 2013, you knew each of your targeted prospect’s likes and dislikes, and you could attempt to persuade individual recruits to look more favorably at your school. This created a sense of familiarity with the recruits, and a sense of accomplishment when you finally landed the recruit you worked so long and hard to get. It’s not impossible to feel connected to your recruits in 2014, but its all up to you, and the game mechanics will not do you any favors. All things considered, it’s a lateral shift in the recruiting system from last year to this year.

NCAA 14 UT

Ultimate Team mode in NCAA Football is a great idea, and a long time coming. Since current college players likenesses’ can’t be used, the team at EA decided to use former college players, including different years of past greats. But what fun is assembling a team of college greats if you can’t show them off? Not much fun I tell you, so in addition to playing against the CPU, you can play games against other Ultimate teams online, and the more you win, the more coins you earn, which allow you to get better players. One issue in that respect is the lack of game modes that you can play, which is compounded by the high overall rankings of the majority of CPU teams available to compete against. I confess that I haven’t played many games against other human players, but I’m finding it hard to earn coins by playing against just the cpu. This would be an easy fix for 2015, but therein lies another issue.

The Death of NCAA Football

The NCAA and EA are both currently involved in lawsuits by former college athletes who feel their likenesses were used without their permission. These players feel that the money both the NCAA and EA have made while exploiting their marketability whilst simultaneously conspiring to pay these athlete nothing is criminal. These lawsuits are more aimed at the NCAA, but EA is by no means free from guilt here. When the deal between EA and the NCAA expired this June, the NCAA decided smartly, but it’s not like they had any other choice, to not renew their partnership with EA in creating college sports games. Before you worry too much, EA has said they will still be making a college football game for 2014-2015, albiet without the NCAA, meaning it will be lacking the trademarks of the colleges represented by the NCAA (i.e. is all of them). This will be a new era in college sports video games, one I am not eager to see.

Back in the present, NCAA Football 2014 is a great game, with sound and fluid mechanics, and enough bells and whistles to shake a stick at. If this is the last NCAA sports game for a while, or ever, it certainly made a statement.

Vacuum Grade

A

+ Smart, Dynamic running, with realistic momentum-based physics

+ Addition of Ultimate Team are very welcome

Real World Grade

A-

+ A strong last stand by the NCAA Football series

– Ultimate Team is more flash than substance

= Dynasty mode is changed, but not improved