This week Atlus makes a new team, Crytek makes deep cuts, and I still don’t like Rogue One.
What was Played
I finally got into Steins;Gate and boy does that thing start out slow. I’m trying not to let it impede my opinion of it as Persona 4 also has an extremely slow opening and is one of my favorite games ever, but since I vaguely see where Steins;Gate is going it’s all the more frustrating; especially when compared to my favorite visual novels: the Zero Escape series. The ZE games waste little to no time in establishing their twisty and bizarre settings and plots so Steins;Gate’s drawn out intro is not to my tastes as of right now; in fact I’m thinking of just watching the anime instead. I got deep into Street Fighter V’s new update, dropping some money, fight and otherwise, on the 2017 Character Pass and some of the Holiday items. I know there’s a problem with drawing casuals into this SF game, but as someone who was extremely casual in 3rd Strike and never got into SFIV, SFV has me actually interested in becoming competitive. There’s more on the SFV Season 2 update in the News section below. I’m switching between Fallout 4 and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate as my open world podcast games, and both are very enjoyable. I haven’t really been into an AC game since Brotherhood and Syndicate is quite fun, nothing super noteworthy, just fun.
What was Watched
Moana is another fun, well animated, well made Disney (not a) princess movie. Dwayne Johnson is fantastic and newcomer Auli’i Cravalho is serviceable to excellent, but the highlight for me was hearing Jemaine Clement, of Flight of the Conchords fame, sing a song about being a shiny snail. It was fun watching a film where, even though I could pretty much predict the ending, I was rooting for the characters and understood them and they had defined personalities. I still don’t like Rogue One, the more I think about it, the more I dislike it. If you don’t want to read my hastily written review, it’s gorgeous, but I didn’t care about any of the characters and as such wasn’t compelled by the action. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 4: Diamond is Unbreakable the anime finished up and only cements it as one of the best action/adventure anime I’ve seen. Jojo walks the line between fantastical and grounded in a way that few media does. And if you like Persona 4 at all, this is basically a wackier version of that. After finishing the show I am definitely writing something about how Jojo stands out and anticipating the inevitable announcement of Part 5’s anime.
PSN Holiday Sale Week 3 + Flash Sale
From now on I’m going to try and keep an eye out for any deals that I think are worth your time and will be relevant a while after I upload this. This time it’s the third week of the PlayStation Store holiday sale, these deals will be available until December 27th. All prices are USD. Bloodborne is going for $9.99, $7.99 if you have PS+, and if you want the DLC you can get the complete package for $24.99/$19.99. Bloodborne was the first “Souls-like” I beat and it ranks in my top five games of this console generation so far. The episodic Hitman is $35.99/$29.99 and if you want a James Bond infiltration simulator you can’t find much better than this. The separate levels/episodes are also discounted if you own part of the first season already. On the other end of the stealth spectrum we have Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience for $37.49/$33.49. Where Hitman focuses on complex AI routines, hiding in plain sight, and layered maps MGSV focuses on polished controls, gunplay, and variability of approaches. The story doesn’t really hold up regardless of if you’re a fan of the series or not, but the gameplay has kept me engaged for over 90 hours. One of the best shooters in a while: Overwatch, is going for $44.39/$39.59. If you can convince one or two of your PSN friends to get it with you, I recommend this without hesitation. Like turn based, grid based, tactical RPGS? Remember the Oregon Trail? Want both of those with some vikings added? The Banner Saga is on sale for $13.99/$11.99, its sequel goes for $15.99/$13.99, and the bundle of both is $27.99/$23.99.
For the flash sale that ends at 8am PST, I’d recommend checking out the Special Edition of Skyrim for $40.19. Skyrim has compelled me to put far more hours into it than it deserves, frankly, for reasons I can’t pin down. If you missed this game last gen I’d say this is the version to get. Titanfall 2 is discounted down to $29.99 and this is selfish, but the more people that get this on PS4 means there’s more people to play with. If CoD or Battlefield has never interested you but you want a multiplayer shooter I can’t push this enough. Dishonored 2 is a good deal at $40.19, and while it has problems, many of my primary knocks against it are getting patched later in January so if you’re interested now is a good time to pick it up. Other sale prices of notable games I haven’t played include FF XV at $39.59 or $56.09 for the bundle that includes the season pass. Watch Dogs 2 is $35.99, $59.99 for the season pass bundle. Rise of the Tomb Raider goes for $29.99 and Xcom 2 is at $38.99.
NieR: Automata Demo Out; Danganronpa V3, and Valkyria (Azure) Revolution JP Demos Out Now
If you have a Japanese PSN account you can access the demos for NeiR: Automata, Danganronpa V3, and Valkyria (Azure) Revolution. Automata has UK and US demos in addition to its Japanese demo. Check out my impressions of the Automata demo here.
I haven’t personally played the DR V3 or V(A): Revolution demos, but rumor is that the Valkyria demo isn’t great.
Atlus’s Studio Zero
The big news this week has been Atlus recently announcing that they’re creating a new team that is making a new game with former Persona Team mainstays Katsura Hashino as its director, artist Shigenori Soejima, and Shoji Meguro as the composer.
The game is a fantasy RPG currently named “Project Re Fantasy” and the featured artwork (above) isn’t necessarily the main character. Atlus also confirmed that new Persona games will be coming in the future as well as other unknown projects. During a NicoNico livestream they revealed the first trailer. If you don’t speak Japanese at all or are expecting to see any of the game from this trailer you’ll be disappointed. Speculation is that Atlus/Studio Zero announced this game so early to begin recruiting staff for the new studio, which officially began after the livestream. Shortly after the livestream Studio Zero opened its official website. On the official site Katsura Hashino states that Atlus has been challenging the norms of whatever the dominant RPG tropes of the time were and they plan to try and do the same with Project Re Fantasy. The other higher ups in Studio Zero have worked on many Atlus RPGs in the past, including the mainline Shin Megami Tensei games and the Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha series so ay worried this would simply be Persona in a medieval setting can rest easy. They have yet to reveal a release window or what platform(s) this game will be on, but it is expected to be on PS4 or even the next console generation, but at the very least not mobile. I am hopelessly and shamelessly excited for this. This could give the heads of modern Persona a fresh, new slate to start on; using their experience with Persona but not being constrained by the Persona brand.
Crytek Closes Five Studios, Leaving Only Two
Following years of news of not paying employees on time amid other troubles, Crytek abruptly closed down five of its studios in Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkey, South Korea, and China. This leaves just the Crytek headquarters in Frankfurt and the secondary Kiev location which produced the free-to-play Warface. My heart goes out to all the employees affected, and hopefully they can find work quickly. Full press release from Crytek here.
Street Fighter V Season 2 Patch
The recent December 20th update to SFV officially marked the beginning of Street Fighter Season 2 with the release of Akuma, the holiday cosmetics, and extensive balancing.
I’m not qualified to go into full details on all the balance changes, but if you want to download and read through the 92 page PDF like I did be my guest. UltraChenTV did a read-through and explanation of the changes on Twitch, which can help clarify the potential each change carries if you’re curious. As far as my characters go, I’m happy with the changes made to Ibuki and Juri, both characters feel much more viable than they were, at least on paper. As for Akuma, he has the lowest health in the game but he hits extremely hard, especially while in his V-Trigger state. It’s possible he may be top tier, but it may be a situation where he dominates for a while but eventually people find ways to take him down. Since my housemate wants to main him I’m looking forward to a more even playing field in the health department.
Pokemon ROM Hack Prism Cancelled
Pokemon Prism gets to join the likes of Pokemon Uranium and AM2R as ambitious fan projects to get shut down by Nintendo. The two main differences are that Prism never got released, and it is now the first ROM hack to be C&D’d by Nintendo. I understand the desire to build hype around your fan game and I empathize with the pain of getting C&D’d, especially after eight years of development, but this just continues to support the idea that you shouldn’t talk about your fan game until it is out. If you want to find AM2R or Uranium you can’t use the “official” pages but you can find them via other nefarious means. But now we’ll never get Prism, and that’s a shame.
Blade Runner 2049 Trailer
Blade Runner 2049 comes out October 6th, 2017. Looks good and the director has a good track record. Color me interested.
Persona 5 Update
Persona 5 is still not available in North America
What’s on the Plate
That Sword Art Online piece is close to being finished; it’s hard to focus on something so negative around the holidays and I’m trying to keep it less ranty than most SAO analyses, but that’s difficult when dealing with something this nonsensical and, frankly, detestable. I’m going to continue with Steins;Gate, AC Syndicate, and Street Fighter V. I do plan on doing a Jojo piece sometime in the future now that the Part 4 anime has wrapped up, and I want to try and get impressions of FF XV and/or The Last Guardian up or maybe I’ll keep those thoughts for my Game of the Year post(s?). That’ll probably be up in February due to me only being one man who is also in college. I do plan on fully reviewing FF XV once the narrative patch(es?) are out. Hope you have a fantastic Christmas and New Year and as always, thanks for reading.