Video Game Review: Final Fantasy IV: The After Years

Details: Originally released in 2008 for various mobile systems and was subsequently released for the PC. I played the 3D version. I purchased this game for the PC through Steam in a bundle along with Final Fantasy IV for around $11.50. I spent about fifty-one hours playing through this game.

Final Fantasy IV: The After Years is a sequel to the beloved Final Fantasy IV (also known as Final Fantasy II in the United States), much like Final Fantasy X-2 was to Final Fantasy X. The version I played was the 3D remake of the original 2D version. While I enjoyed the game, there is no reason to play this game if you haven’t played and loved Final Fantasy IV.

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Video Game Review: Final Fantasy IV

Details: This is the remake of the game originally released in 1991 for the SNES and known in America as Final Fantasy II. They remade the game in 3D into this game for the Nintendo DS in around 2008. It was subsequently released for iOS and Android, then for Windows and PC. I purchased the PC version through Steam in a bundle with Final Fantasy IV: The After Years for a total of around $11.50. It spent about forty-one hours playing through the game.

Final Fantasy II (or Final Fantasy IV as it was known in Japan) was a game that had a big impact on me. I first saw my older cousins playing it, which, as a child, caused me to want to play it as well. So I did and enjoyed it very much. It was one of the first video games I ever played. Fast forward a couple of decades and I nostalgically wanted to play it again. Unfortunately, the game has visually not held up very well and it only took me a couple of minutes before I decided I couldn’t play a game that looked this old. Luckily, Final Fantasy II (now IV) was remade from 2D sprites to 3D models and subsequently ported onto Windows. It’s this version that I’ve played and it was a lot of fun walking down memory lane again, albeit with better visuals.

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Video Game Review: Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition

Details: Originally released in 2012. I purchased the Game of the Year Edition (doesn’t include all DLC) on Steam for PC for $8.80. I then purchased all five Headhunter DLC’s (all extra story content are in the Game of the Year Edition and the Headhunter DLC’s) for around $4.50 and the Ultimate Vault Hunter Pack 2 for another $2.50. In total, that’s about $16.00. I spent about seventy-five hours playing through the game.

I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings on Borderlands 2. Sometimes, the game is really fun. More times than necessary though, this game is freaking boring. So much so that I’m not sure I’m going to ever play a Borderlands game again. I haven’t played Borderlands 1 or the Pre-Sequel and I know there’s no Borderlands 3, but that’s probably in the pipeline.

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Video Game Review: League of Legends

Details: Released in 2009 but is updated and patched periodically. For the PC. Free to play, though it will take time or real money to unlock everything. Don’t know how many hours I’ve played, but I’m level thirty and I’ve unlocked around twenty heroes. They don’t display hours played.

I’ve played League of Legends before and I decided to return to it to refresh my memory. In general, it’s a similar game to Dota 2. However, if you’ve invested the requisite hundred hours in either game, the two games are obviously different. This review will mostly be a comparison between the two games.

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Video Game Review: Dota 2

Details: Initially released in 2013, but constantly updated and patched. I have almost 1600 hours clocked into this game. You can play for free through Steam platform on the PC. Current patch is 7.06c. Internet connection is required.

A while back I wrote a lengthy post on Dota 2, but I never gave it a review. A few years have passed and I think it’s about time I gave it a score. Given the constant patches coming out, I’ll try to go a little into the current state of the game. I also plan to write reviews for the other MOBA’s where I’ll go into what differentiate each game from the others, but since this is the first MOBA review, I won’t really do too much of that here.

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Video Game Review: Hearthstone

Details: Released on the PC and mobile devices. Originally released in 2014, but paid expansions are released periodically. Not really sure how many hours I’ve played since Blizzard doesn’t show that information in their client.

Hearthstone is a free to play online trading card game. Two players play against each other, summoning monsters and casting spells. When one player is out of life points, the other player wins. It’s very reminiscent of Magic: The Gathering, but so are pretty much all other card games in the genre.

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Video Game Review: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Game of the Year Edition

Details: Originally released in 2015. Purchased through http://www.gog.com and their game client. Purchased for about $25. Played on the PC. The Game of the Year Edition comes with all subsequently released downloadable content, including the two expansions, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine. Spent about a hundred and ten hours in the base game, around thirty hours in the Hearts of Stone expansion, and about forty hours in the Blood and Wine expansion. Total time spent in the game: about one hundred and eighty hours.

No spoilers, as usual. 

Now that I’ve played this game, I can understand why this game is so beloved. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt does not reinvent the wheel. It does not push some new kind of game. It is an open world, action role-playing game in a time with many, many similar games like Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Assassin’s Creed, The Legend of Zelda, and the Batman Arkham series. What Witcher 3 does do is that it pushes the genre of open world games forward, improving on almost every aspect of the genre and producing a game that can be considered essential if you are a video game lover.

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Video Game Review: Terraria

Details: Released in 2011. Available for pretty much every electronic system I think. Played it on the PC. Purchased on Steam for $5.00. I’ve seen it around ten dollars and as low as $2.50. I’ve spent over two hundred sixty hours playing this game and will likely spend even more time. The most recent version of the game I played was version 1.3.4.4. There have been content patches in the past, but it’s unclear if that will continue in the future.

I’ve done it. I’ve finally done it. After a week of playing the game, I’ve finally managed to beat the Moon Lord — in addition to every other boss in the game — in Expert difficulty. However, that only took me about a week’s time to do. That does not account for the other two hundred hours I’ve spent in the game screwing around, exploring, and realizing all my crazy building ideas.

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Video Game Review: Grand Theft Auto Online

Details: I’m not sure how many hours I’ve played of the Online part, but total time spent including with the single player is about one hundred and fifty hours. At least fifty of those hours were spent in the Online part. Played on the PC. I purchased Grand Theft Auto V a while ago for $35.00. Grand Theft Auto Online came with it. A lot of additional content has been released since the game came out. It’s unclear if more content updates will be released.

I wrote a review for the single player portion of this game a while ago and I’ve finally played enough of the online component to give an opinion.

Grand Theft Auto Online is an online multiplayer game where players can inhabit and play in Los Santos (the fictional city from the single player) with others over the internet. It comes with Grand Theft Auto V.

Grand Theft Auto Online is essentially a free to play game. It is largely funded by micro transactions. They sell in-game, virtual hats and clothes and cars and boats for in-game money. You can buy in game money with real money from their website or your local video game retailer in the form of Shark Cards.

The good part about this is that after the release of the game, Grand Theft Auto Online has released pretty consistent content updates since and they are all free for everyone who owns a copy of Grand Theft Auto V. Usually, subsequent content updates are marketed as downloadable content and given a price. That’s not the case here. The downside is that all the really cool items that you’d really like to own (e.g. a fast car or a new property) cost a fortune. The game is situated to be fun enough to keep playing, but annoying enough to tempt players into spending real money on in-game currency. This gives the game that shitty, Candy Crush-esque feel. It’s a long, time-consuming grind to achieve any kind of progress in the game. An additional negative is the rampant hacking/cheating present which further impedes enjoyment of the game.

There are a lot of things to do in Grand Theft Auto Online, but most of it is derivative of everything in the single player and short-lived (after playing most things once, you’ll never want to play it again). The only things that I think are worth mentioning are the races, the heists, and the free roaming.

Racing in a Grand Theft Auto game is almost common sense and being able to race other players is fun. With the addition of stunts and a battle mode with rockets and other power ups, the game feels a lot more like Mario Kart than a traditional Grand Theft Auto game.

I loved the Heists in this game, but it was disappointing that there are only five and that it looks unlikely more will ever be added. Each heists generally consists of a few setup missions and then the heist itself, which is a big, multi-part mission where each player will be required to cooperate and perform a distinct function in order to complete. The best and worst part of these missions is that cooperation is essential, which is very difficult to find when you’re playing with some random players over the internet who don’t give a shit about each other.

The best part of this game is that it realizes a dream that Grand Theft Auto fans have had for a long time: we get to inhabit the same city with other players. We can help each other, hurt each other (usually hurt), drive, shoot, or just screw around, all within a persistent virtual world. It’s just fun to be in a virtual world that allows you to do whatever you want while others play in that world with you.

Overall, GTA Online is a fun little distraction that can be fun for hours if you let it. The biggest flaw and best feature of GTA Online is that many of the most fun aspects of the game require a preexisting group of friends who own a copy of the game and will play with you. Otherwise, GTA Online is kind of short-lived and will get boring fast. As a standalone game, GTA Online isn’t great. As an online game bundled together with the Grant Theft Auto V single player, the game is great. I don’t recommend buying Grand Theft Auto V for the Online component alone. I do recommend the purchase if you want to enjoy the single player and already have a group of friends who own Grand Theft Auto V and want to play GTA Online with you.

Score: 6.8/10