Video Game Review: Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (2014)

Details: Played on the PC for at least a hundred hours.

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls is an expansion to the action role-playing game Diablo 3 which was released years ago. Diablo 3 had much controversy and in the time since Reaper of Souls was released, the general consensus on the internet is that Reaper of Souls fixes everything wrong with Diablo 3.

I’ve played a substantial amount of time on the game and my conclusion is this: it’s not worth more than $20. Currently prices are from $25 to $40, which means I don’t think it’s worth purchasing or playing.

If you need an explanation why then read on.

The expansion doesn’t add all that many changes. There’s a higher level cap for heroes. There’s a new Act for the story campaign. There’s a new hero, the Crusader (my personal favorite).

The biggest change is the inclusion of bounties and Nephalem Rifts, which fundamentally changes the endgame. I will try to explain why…

Diablo 2, the predecessor of Diablo 3, was a much beloved game that fans spent hours playing. The main attraction of the game was the constant grind of redoing quests from the story campaign in hopes of finding better equipment and items in hopes of becoming more powerful. Like in most role playing video games, when you kill an enemy, they drop items (swords, armor, etc.) which can be equipped by the player. Thus, players were encouraged to kill as many enemies as possible in hopes they would drop powerful items. It’s a mentality similar to the elderly who are addicted to slot machines. Keep doing this repetitive task and maybe you’ll get a reward. Like slot machines, I think most fans will agree they loved Diablo 2. Collecting all these powerful weapons and armors also gave players a sense of earned progression.

Diablo 3’s biggest problem was that the method used to determine whether or not loot would drop was made much more stringent. They lowered the chance powerful items would drop so that most players were stuck with crappy items, if that. It was like playing a slot machine that never won, not even small prizes. Furthermore, the developers of the game exacerbated the situation by creating the auction house; a place where players could sell their items to other players for real money. This made Diablo 3 feel more like a game of Candy Crush versus a game that rewards time and effort. Why would anyone whose not rich purchase and waste time on this game if all you needed to do was spend money to be powerful? The answer was, you wouldn’t. You’d either focus on making more money in real life or play another game.

And that’s what a lot of people did. Since most people didn’t have money/time to burn, most people hated this. Accordingly, the developers of the game have spent all their waking moments trying to fix a game that is arguably broken.

Reaper of Souls is another attempt at that. They’ve removed the auction house and bound the most powerful items to the player that finds and equips that item, thus forcing players to earn their progression as they used to and removing the possibility of “pay[ing] to win.” They’ve increased the drop rates of powerful items so that your playing of the game is positively reinforced more often.

They’ve also created bounty quests and Nephalem rift quests. After you finish the story campaign, you can switch over to Adventure Mode. Here, you do random quests (“kill x and y”) and collect items which let you open rifts. Rifts are higher level areas where you need to clear (“kill x and y again”) and get an item where you can open greater rifts. Greater rifts are a higher level that scales with how powerful your character is. Each higher level yields a higher chance of more powerful items. You can also increase the difficulty in the options menu. The longevity of the game depends on how many times you can endure grinding out dungeons before you tire of the gameplay.

As you can tell, it’s a repetitive, uninspired system. However, it’s what fans want. At least it’s what fans wanted before they left the game in droves. At the present time, barely anyone plays Diablo 3 now.

Score: 4/10 A boring game that mainly appeals to those with addictive personalities. Reaper of Souls doesn’t last long and isn’t worth it’s purchase price. Avoid this game.

On a side note, in order to play this game, a constant internet connection is required. This wasn’t the case with prior games in the franchise and, in my opinion, is a depressing step down. Clearly, Blizzard Entertainment is worried about piracy and this is one way to stop it. However, Valve’s Steam platform has already introduced a way to protect intellectual property without requiring a mandatory, constant internet connection. That Blizzard has not adopted a similar method shows how primitive and slow the company is. With the money grubbing nature of the auction house and the necessity of a constant internet connection (and this is not even going into the micro-transaction laced Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm), it’s not hard to realize that the upper management of Blizzard Entertainment care more about making money than making a satisfactory product. It’s sad to see what was once a great company with a collection of beloved, unique franchises degenerate into something like Electronic Arts. This isn’t to say that Electronic Arts is a bad company, it’s to say that Blizzard Entertainment used to be better. Now, based on their decisions for new projects and game designs, I see little difference between the two. All that likely matters to them is the bottom line (i.e. money, $$$).

Video Game Review: Mirror’s Edge (2008)

Details: Played on PC for about five hours.

This game was pretty terrible. I was relieved when it was over.

Mirror’s Edge is a game released by Electronic Arts back in 2009. The main emphasis of this game was on trying to express free running through the first person perspective. This game puts in a barely satisfactory effort in that regard, but let’s start with the good before we get to the bad.

Despite being a years-old game, Mirror’s Edge still looks amazing. I was running the game on maximum video settings and it looked great on my 1080p monitor. The art — which focuses on a clean style with bright colors contrasting with white — is also lovely to look at. I do have a bias for minimalist, clean styles (be it in video games or interior decorating), so this was right up my alley.

In regards to gameplay, Mirror’s Edge is at its best when you are running at maximum speed and free-roaming/navigating an expansive level. At its core, Mirror’s Edge is a first-person platformer/puzzle game slightly reminiscent of Portal and Portal 2. However, despite succeeding a few times, Mirror’s Edge fails by trying to take away the speed and freedom of the game and forcing the player to conform to strict, one-path level design and half-assed combat mechanics.

For example, many times throughout the game your are forced to fight enemy guards (armed with guns) or else you cannot proceed through the level. You cannot avoid them or run past them. The game only gives you a few options for combat: strike/punch/kick (which sucks and if you try, you will get killed) or disarm (which involves running up to a guards face and waiting for a prompt).This is retarded because it generally leaves only two ways to combat groups of guards: disarm them one by one or disarm one and use that guard’s dropped gun to kill the rest. Guns can be picked up, but cannot be reloaded. Also, aiming/gun control is terrible and was clearly not thought out in development. In a game which should be focused on speed and navigation, this slows the game down to a frustrating crawl.

Furthermore, the levels themselves are confined to a set path which you must pursue in order to complete a level. Many parts of the game require to player to stand around and think about a level rather than run through with improvisation. Personally, there were some parts where I died over and over again, eventually figuring out some obtuse solution to a path with only one exit. This did not feel very “free” in a game about free-running.

Here are some more negatives:

The controls weren’t precise for a game that required some fairly precise platforming.

The story was ridiculous and did nothing to motivate a player. It was cheesy as hell.

The use of flash videos instead of cinematics or even in-game scenes to tell the story was pretty lousy. I wonder if it was a lack of budget or just laziness that caused the decision to include these scenes.

In conclusion, it wasn’t that much fun and I enjoyed uninstalling this game much more than I should have.

Score: 3/10 When I purchased Mirror’s Edge, I was expecting a fast paced game where I would run through large, mult-pathed levels that required me to act with speed and improvisation. What I got was a game where levels had only one path; forced combat on me with shitty controls; and a stupid story told through flash videos. The fun parts of this game are few and far between. Mirror’s Edge is a tolerable game as long as you do not spend more than three United States dollars on it.

Battlefield 4: Second Assault DLC Review

Details: Downloadable content for the Battlefield 4 game. Played on PC.

There aren’t any servers playing the new maps. Only thing of note is the new shotgun, which is arguably the best shotgun in the game. Only bought it because of premium, which I bought because of the new carrier Titan Mode which comes out in March.

Don’t buy this individually, but an acceptable purchase with premium I say.

 

Score: 2.5/10