Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Thoughts On Batman: Arkham Origins

Batman: Arkham Origins Is Raw, Relentless, And Ruthless

Bruce Wayne no longer exists. The person he would have been died along with his parents in that dark alley. Only rage is left. He feels no sympathy. He has become unstoppable and invincible vengeance. Criminals will not get away with the pain they inflict on others. Even the smallest crime is unforgivable as they will only lead to bigger crimes. You have no fear. You are the Batman and no one will escape your wrath.
This was the attitude I had throughout the entire game. And it wasn't because I chose to feel that way. The opening cinematic drove the attitude into me, and the rest of the game followed suit. I instantly became a feared vigilante and I didn't just seek justice, I would have it.
Batman has never been more brutal, reckless, and utterly fearless. The portrayal of the character, and the way the story flowed made me feel every impact. When I punched my enemies I wanted them to fear repercussions for their crimes, and they did. It certainly wasn't the law they feared, as every criminal in Gotham knows that if the cops aren't already corrupt, they are easily corrupted. There was never a time that I didn't feel like a complete bad-ass and that every single enemy in the game better fear me or else. The in-game sequences and battles backed the attitude up with ferocity.
batman arkham origins rage

Musical Score

Of course it wasn't just the story and combat that brought the attitude on. The music was the very first thing I even noticed upon starting the game. I immediately felt like there was some kind of impending danger - for my enemies. Every second of the opening cinematic was driven not only by the presence of Batman (even when he was off-screen), but music that made me feel like this Christmas night was going to be the end of crime altogether. Without the music I don't think I would have felt like I was to be both feared and respected. 

Gameplay

There's almost nothing new about the gameplay which I think is both good and bad. It is an Arkham game after all so I suppose it should be familiar. My main issue is that there's almost zero new animations for Batman. I think I might have spotted two brand new animations during combat. It's possible there are more that I didn't catch onto but it's all so familiar that it was hard to recognize anything as new. Fortunately it still felt more epic than ever due to the general attitude of the game through the plot and music.
The new shock gloves are totally bad-ass. They charge up during combat and when you activate them you can punch through riot shields, and pummel enemies with knives head on. Electricity emanates with every impact.
batman arkham origins detective mode
The newest addition that was very special to me is the Case File System which adds extra depth to detective mode when scanning crime scenes. Someone has been shot for example. You scan for evidence to clue you in on who the killer was. The first piece of evidence leads you to deduct what the final action in the crime scene was. You upload the information to the Bat-computer to analyze the data and recreate the crime scene in front of your eyes in virtual mode. You control the time frame by fast-forwarding and rewinding the scene as it happened to reveal new evidence. Unfortunately it is over simplified. The evidence you are looking for is made very obvious. It's still a beautiful, fun, and totally cool addition to the original mechanic and I wish there were more crime scenes to do it with. 
Even though the police are corrupt I didn't want to fight them. As much as the story tries to act like Batman is holding back on them, he doesn't. He's just as vicious with them as he is with the criminals. The combat is so much fun though that I ended up thinking, "Screw it" and picked fights with the corrupt police anyways. It would have been awesome if the developers had made separate animations for fighting the police and making Batman actually act less violent against them. (If they did, I'm sorry but I did not notice!)
batman arkham origins croc

Boss Fights

The boss fights were epic because of the scene, and the combat itself was different than your regular fights, stepping things up by a lot. I was disappointed that the boss phases barely changed at all. The whole rinse-and-repeat thing brought the epic feeling down a notch, a very small notch but it mattered.  The upside is what Batman does to the regular criminals in the city is nothing compared to what he does to the even bigger and badder enemies he faces.

Open World

There are very cool scripted side missions you can do, but what I really like are the random crime sprees being reported on Batmans police scanner. You can ignore them or go help out. Small riots between the police and criminals break out, or a small gang is attempting to rob a jewelry store or bank.  And of course there's a ridiculous amount of collectibles.

Personality

An upside to the bosses for me was their personality. I wasn't intimidated by them but I could tell they were just as fearless as Batman. As powerful as each assassin is, and as much damage as they do to Batman, he shrugs it off like it's nothing. It's not because Batman is invincible. It's because he doesn't know he isn't. His rage drives him through things that would normally kill a person, without even flinching.
batman arkham origins joker
The Jokers extreme insanity matches the raw brutality of Batman. Joker does not fear death at all. That said, Joker hasn't really changed apart from being more insane than usual. It would have been cool to see him act younger. The voice actor does a really great job at making Joker familiar, but I would have preferred them to just use a new voice and not impersonate Mark Hamill.

The Bad

For me this is another one of those things where the good far outweighs the bad. So much so that I can shrug off the games bugs as easily as Batman can shrug off a life-threatening pummeling. Most campaign bugs that I encountered were fixed by a checkpoint restart. Fortunately most of those were not some big leap backwards in the game. There are some terrible bugs but I was able to enjoy the campaign straight through without too much frustration. There are very many issues that other players are having that I was fortunate enough not to encounter. I have submitted a few bugs and feedback on the Batman forums.
One down-side to the open world is the voices for the criminals and the police are exactly the same from group to group. And the cop says the exact same thing every time you rescue a different group of police. 
batman arkham origins city

Final Thoughts

Batman: Arkham Origins is my favorite Arkham game by far. And that's saying a lot because both Asylum and City were excellent. I did get a little frustrated at how similar this game was to the first two. I wondered how the developers could take credit for what I thought of as copy/pasting the game. They did offer a brand new story and landscapes and a few very minor gadget changes, but it weirded me out. Then in the credits I saw them give what looked like the full team of Rocksteady credit. That gained a huge boost of respect from me and I give them major props for that. Well done Warner Brothers Montreal. I do not mean to undermine what WB Montreal did at all. Origins truly stands out to me.
You can check out many more of my screenshots if you want. Spoiler screenshots are tagged for good reason. I plan to do a separate "review" of the multiplayer in the future.

Possible Spoilers (Extra)

Read on if you would like to know a bit more about my favorite parts of the game. To me these would not be spoilers, but it is highly possible that you would consider the information here a spoiler. Normally I try to write my thoughts on a game with absolutely zero spoilers, so that's why I've headlined this one for you. These are just some really cool things I want to share.
In Batman: Arkham Origins, the Origins key word shines. You may have read about the story and how it's the early years of Batman. But it's not just him. You get to see a younger Penguin, Joker, and Harley. I'm not going to spoil the specifics but I will say Jokers origin story blew me away. Unfortunately you don't get the full story, but what you do see is very special. Better still is that Joker may not fear death, but he is absolutely terrified of Batman.
batman arkham origins mad hatter
Barbara Gordon has a ton of personality in the very few minutes you get to see any interaction with her. You also get to know a little bit more of Harley's human side. 
My favorite parts of the two previous Arkham games were the 2D Scarecrow levels. These have returned but they're a little bit different. Now it's in the form of the Mad Hatter and the world is Alice's Wonderland. And it's just another thing I wish there was more of in the game.

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Thoughts On The Wolf Among Us Episode 1



In The Wolf Among Us, Fables have been exiled from their Homeland and live in the real world using magic called Glamour to hide their true selves from us. Many of the Fables struggle to survive in the real world. Fantasy and happiness are no longer a part of their lives. This is a tale of devastation, sadness, and memories long past.

You play as Sheriff Bigby Wolf, a Fable struggling with his own inner Bad Wolf, who does what he can to keep the Fables from killing each other, and to keep the city safe and make sure that Fables are always in disguise, which often proves troublesome.  Bigby has a bad rep and the other Fables fear him but he's trying to redeem himself.

I had fallen in love with Telltale Games characters and story-telling in The Walking Dead game, but I am far more interested in the Fables of The Wolf Among Us like Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Ichabod Crane, and more in the first episode alone, than I am in survivors of a zombie apocalypse.

the wolf among us beaten

As you play the game you gain insights into each of the Fabled characters through the "Book of Fables" that tells you more about the characters after you meet them in the game. I thought it was really cool because I never read the Fable comic books so I had no idea what exactly they were about. I had read a tiny bit to know the comics were about famous fabled characters but I didn't look too deep into it.

Gameplay


Fables are hard to kill, but they aren't completely invincible. They can still feel pain, and they can still die. A Fable hasn't died in a very long time though, and The Wolf Among Us Episode 1 jumps us into some quick action before discovering a murder.

The controls are a little weird on the keyboard. There's just a tiny struggle to walk in a straight line; that can be expected though, can't it? It isn't troublesome though because you only use it to navigate your character through the world. It won't ruin any action scenes and it's not overly bothersome, it was just noticeable.

the wolf among us c

The thing that stood out to me the most was how well the Quick-Time Events were handled for keyboard users. When prompted with the A, S, D, and W keys, you also see an animated arrow showing the direction you need to move integrated into the button prompt. The visuals on the arrows are not distracting and blend right in but are noticeable enough to follow them perfectly. Thank you so much for that Telltale! I do think developers could get rid of the A, S, D, and W prompts completely and just show the direction arrows. Why do they keep insisting on showing the keys?!

There are a few button masher prompts in the game. Normally these are my most hated QTEs. However, in The Wolf Among Us they actually felt like they mattered. You don't just mash a button to open a door or something silly like that. When you need to mash a button is when there is an actual struggle going on during the combat scene. Even though I would prefer it not to be there, it felt like it belonged.

Unfortunately there isn't a lot of actual interaction... again. This is Tell-A-Tale Games after all. I love the gameplay enough to want more, and they keep disappointing me! Thankfully the rare action scenes you do encounter in The Wolf Among Us Episode 1 are actually pretty action packed!

the wolf among us b


Overall


I'm not going to spoil anything for you. I just want to say that I am completely fascinated by the stories involved in the world of The Wolf Among Us. It makes me want to read the Fables comic book that it is based on. I've always loved the Fabled characters, and this is an interesting take on it. Nothing about the original stories are ruined because they haven't been changed. The characters are now living in our world under real circumstances while their fairy-tale has been long past.

The music is amazing. It sets the mood with the perfect combination of creepy, yet serene.

I wanted to play the episode again immediately after completing it so I could see how the other choices played out. 

As for the rest of the game you'll need to find out for yourself. These lips are sealed. =) Please feel free to check out some more of my screenshots of The Wolf Among Us Episode 1. (Possible spoilers.)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My Thoughts On Rain (PlayStation 3)

Rain is about a young boy who sees a ghost being chased by a demon, and follows her into her world with the intention of helping. I thought the story was really beautiful. The boy and the girl help each other throughout the game. There were times that I could run ahead of the girl and let her catch up but because I really cared for the characters, I would wait for her instead.

There are eight chapters total and while the first six chapters are fun and completely enjoyable, they’re also very slow and nothing really happens story-wise. The journey is interesting since you don't actually fight enemies, but use the environment to avoid them and block their paths on occasion instead.

The game as a whole ended up being pretty amazing. I think mostly because the final two chapters really fleshed the story out in a completely unexpected manner. Not that the story itself wasn't predictable. It was the way it was presented that made it special.

rain a

While playing Rain, for some reason I couldn't help but think of it as a 3D pop-up book. I think because most Adventure games stick you in a 2D world with 3D elements, while Rain thrusts the world out at you. Unlike a lot of other Adventure games, you play out the entire story with the controller. You don’t sit and watch 90% of it. Text displays across the screen as you walk or run through the game, textually narrating the story as you progress. Unfortunately it wasn't perfect.

As cool as the textual narration was, I missed a couple of story-based one-liners because I moved too fast through the scene that showed it, which did have an effect on my mood and the games atmosphere. Instead of continuing on with ease, I wondered what I missed! The good thing is the story is very simple and easy to follow, so whatever I missed wasn’t important, but it would have kept me emotionally involved a tiny bit more.
I thought the use of rain and cover from rain was a neat looking mechanic in the trailers. I enjoyed it even more playing it for myself. The rain effect was really nice, but I really love rainy weather in real life, it’s my favorite! So that probably contributed to how immersed I was into the game.

A lot of the camera angles in the game are just amazing. They really set a wonderful scene and let me get a real good idea of the world I was in. One of the developer diaries had mentioned how they wanted the game to make you feel like you were alone. Throughout most of the game I couldn't help but laugh at the idea because you are almost always avoiding demons that want to harm you. But there were a few parts where I actually did feel completely alone, not in a depressing way though which makes it hard to describe. It was really neat.
Thankfully the music is actually original. After all the trailers I had seen for the game, I was worried that the famous song they kept using in them would have been the most used song in the game. It wasn't.

rain b

Overall I really enjoyed the game. The visuals are beautiful. The story was simple but interesting. The gameplay was fun. The music is wonderful and really sets the mood. Rain is a beautiful experience.

Possible Spoiler (I don't think it is.) - And the best part? The whole time I played through the game I couldn't help but think it had zero replay value. There’s exploration but it’s unrewarded, at first. After you beat the game, you can play it again and find hidden memories that offer more story. That was a nice surprise. I was wondering why there were so many areas I could explore in the game but were there for no apparent reason. - End of possible spoiler.

That’s all the good stuff. I saved the bad for last.

Having to hold the run button practically the entire game was pretty silly. It would have been nice if they had made running the default movement, and had a walk button instead.
Some of the control mechanics were purposefully slow which could get you into needless trouble. For example opening a door would have a delay. Pushing objects would take a ridiculously long time even if you weren't in any imminent danger. This ruined the mood for me sometimes because it unnecessarily slowed down the pace of the game.

During some parts where my character was invisible except for footprints it was really hard to tell where I was. Obviously, right? Sometimes it would be a little frustrating because the camera angles would make it hard to tell where I should go next. It was just another thing that could ruin the mood, fortunately it never lasted long.
Those are all my notes so it’s not too bad. The game is short but wonderful. I will definitely play again but probably not any time soon. I look forward to finding the extra memories I unlocked the next time I play.


Monday, September 30, 2013

My Thoughts On Resident Evil Revelations

Resident Evil Revelations has been a nice surprise. I wasn't very happy with the demo of the game. There wasn't a whole lot to go on. I did think it was neat, but I really don't care for these third-person Resident Evil titles. I miss the first 3 games camera angles so terribly bad. The camera angles in those games are what really gave the survival-horror its true effect.

Revelations managed to make me feel like I was playing the first game again, but in third-person. It surely doesn't have the same exact feel as the first, but there is a familiarity. The music is good and set the mood nicely, and even some of the dialogue is pretty cheesy (not that I prefer cheesy dialogue). It doesn't offer the same shock factor as the first three games unfortunately. There are a few really cool spots in the game that made me go "Whoa!" but it's still not quite the same. The scenery reminds me a lot of the original game too. The areas of the boat you will explore are absolutely gorgeous. It made me think of the Titanic.
resident evil revelations beauty
The game plays out in episodes, which I liked. Each episode has a few chapters, and once you move on to the next episode you get a recap of the most key moments of the previous episode. I liked it a lot since I have a terrible memory. It really helped me maintain the thread of the story.

The game is really linear, but it does reward exploration. There are some little corners and dead-end paths you can explore that can lead to extra ammo, herbs, or weapon upgrades. There are several different types of guns offering a really nice variety to play with. I was surprised at all the weapon types and customization you could do. And none of it distracted me or took me out of the mood of the game. It was comfortable.

My favorite new mechanic was the scanner. The scanner reveals hidden items in rooms and hallways, offering even more extra ammo and weapon upgrades. I thought it was pretty neat, and it also contributed to the games exploration, not a lot of course, but it was a nice addition.

Another thing I really loved was the removal of the insane inventory micro-managing. Oh what a relief that was. Not that I hated it in the original game or anything, but it's nice to have moved away from that. You don't have a bottomless inventory, but you don't need to manage the living crap out of it either.
resident evil revelations sharks
My final favorite new thing was the underwater scenes. The controls kind of sucked on them. You can't strafe underwater so you have to always center your camera to move forward. It was more annoying than problematic. Control issue aside, swimming was really neat.

The bosses are epic! I had never thought it would be possible to make a grotesque but somehow still sexy zombie. That was definitely aresident evil revelations grotesque sexy highlight, too funny. There was one boss in particular that was pretty silly because you literally don't move as you fight it. You just stand there and shoot. It was a neat scene, and the creature itself was cool, but the fight was just derp. So other than that one, the bosses were very cool.

There's a dodge mechanic which is neat, but I never did figure out exactly how it works. Every time I tried to do it when I wanted to, it wouldn't work, but then it would work when I really didn't care. Fortunately you can run past enemies and even strafe around them. There were a few fights where I would strafe around the enemy and just keep poking them with my dagger or axe. (You don't stand in place while melee'ing!) It was funny and fun but certainly not perfect, nor reliable.

Something I really enjoyed that was both funny and annoying was that I could run past enemies into the next door and just completely avoid them. The reason it was funny was because sometimes I could tell the enemies were put there to purposefully force you into killing them. I'd just run right by them anyways. Sometimes enemies would block the next door, and I'd just walk up to them and squeeze myself behind them and walk through it. Other times I was forced into fighting off waves of monsters that pretty much ran me completely out of ammo. I kinda liked those too. I only got annoyed once when I was at a part of the story that I really wanted to continue on with, and got stuck fighting off stupid waves.

I just realized I hadn't even mentioned the story yet! Without spoilers, it's a pretty decent conspiracy with a lot of crazy stuff going on. It kept me interested even though it was far from original, and it never really slowed down. Great pacing.

resident evil revelations jessicaA couple of things that were a little off to me - one of the characters Jessica is super hot, but for some reason she's missing a pant-leg. Why? Not that I mind of course, it was just funny. Second, what's with all the military story stuff? Just give me something to be scared about! Thankfully the military stuff in this game didn't bore me like it did in RE5. Now that I've played this though, it makes me want to play 5 again. But then I think about how terrible 5 is, and I don't.

I really liked Revelations. As usual, it has the best version of the Tyrant in the Resident Evil games. (I haven't played 6). There are a few more cool things I want to tell you about but I would consider them spoilers so I've left them out.

Friday, September 27, 2013

What I've Been Playing On My New Gaming PC


Hey guys! So I got a new gaming PC. It was a birthday present. It's also my first gaming PC ever and oh boy... I had no idea just how different the world would be with a real actual gaming PC. It certainly helps with the multiplayer games! My gosh.

I believe the very first game I started with on my new gaming PC was Grand Theft Auto IV. I never really played much of the game. I don't have a lot of interest in being a criminal and killing good guys. Fortunately in GTAIV you're mostly killing other bad guys. The reason I played this game first was because even though the graphics are not that great, my old PC could not run it smoothly on the highest settings, and I had to run it on medium just to be able to really play. It always drove me nuts cuz seriously the default graphics are not that intense... without mods that is.
gtaiv bike
The first time I saw a video for the icEnhancer mod blew my mind. Many of the big gaming sites had shared it awhile back. I wasn't playing the game at the time, but I was still very impressed with what the mod could do. I knew my old PC would have been nowhere close to handling it. So, after running GTAIV for the first time on my new PC on the highest settings just to have a look, I then went out and got the mod. It makes the game especially enjoyable for me because I basically get to play from start to finish as a brand new experience as if it were a brand new game. And it sure does look amazing. I still can't get over how a fan-made mod can do this. The creator has been working on an update that makes the game photo-realistic! I plan to write more about my actual gameplay experience with GTAIV hopefully soon. More screenshots.

tomb raider
Then I played Tomb Raider which wasn't too much of an improvement cuz thankfully the game was optimized really well and my older PC could play it on High settings pretty nicely. The tesselation effect is great though, and of course it runs a lot smoother on my new PC without any chugs in frame rates. (I don't know technical stuff but I believe I'm explaining that right). The campaign doesn't have the same exact true "experience" feeling as it did when I first played through it. That's of course because I already experienced it all. Incredible game.

There's nothing like going from 10fps to 30+ or whatever (I haven't actually looked, but it's friggin perfect) in a multiplayer match. And having graphics at ultimate settings has finally shown me why it's so easy for people to get kills when you can't see them. I'm always complaining about campers in shooting games, and they are still a problem, but being able to actually see across the map is a-whole-nother story. It was time to try some Far Cry 3. Here's where playing on the highest settings in multiplayer finally stood out to me. What a difference! Chugging along in a campaign is quite tolerable to me, but it made multiplayer practically impossible to enjoy on my older PC. Now Far Cry 3 is one of my favorite multiplayer games.

Battlefield 3. The epic-nosity (did I just make that word up?) of this game always impressed me. The camping still annoys me (it always will in shooters, which is why I stopped playing them as often as I did when I was younger). Experiencing the full scale battle in ultimate settings is pure awesome. I was in a few games today on a team that dominated the opposing team. And there was nothing to do except camp the enemies spawn. It was boring! I'm still not very good at Far Cry 3 and Battlefield 3 multiplayer. I'm not exactly terrible but I still need to learn the maps. It's definitely a million times more enjoyable now that I can actually see around me clearly.
battlefield 3 mp
Need For Speed: Most Wanted! I love this game! The graphics are freakin gorgeous! Similarly to Tomb Raider it wasn't a vast improvement, but it sure is noticeable. My old PC couldn't even run actual Most Wanted races. Every time the cut-scene would start my game would crash. So that was terrible and made me not wanna play more. And it was definitely on the chuggier side which made racing hard during some courses. Now I can play it much better since it runs smooth.

I was used to playing games from anywhere between 4 and 12fps for years. Of course I could have run them at higher frame rates if I had just lowered my graphic settings. But lowering the visuals was never really acceptable to me. I only did it if I absolutely had to. I'd rather play a beautiful looking game chugging along, than play it looking like crap. Graphics matter to me.

So... I wrote this just to share what I've been playing, and to basically let you know I haven't died on my blog. I've been really busy writing stuff for my new gaming site and for ZoKnowsGaming, sometimes GamersRevenge, so I'm a bit busy with those.

Now for my PC specs! It's a Vanquish Level 3 from Digital Storm. (You have to scroll way down to the bottom of the page to see the levels.) Here's what it's got:

NVIDIA GTX 760 2GB
Intel Core i5 4570 CPU
8GB 1600MHz Memory
CM Hyper 212 EVO Cooling
1TB 7200RPM HDD
ASUS Z87 Chipset Motherboard
600W Corsair CX Power Supply

I have no idea what any of that means which is why I buy pre-built. I'm very happy with it so far. It's as if it demands me for more! =)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

GameSkinny - The Video Game Site You Should Know About


There are a few sites out there that allow you to post your opinions, reviews, and whatever general thoughts you have concerning the video game industry such as Destructoid, IGN, GamesBeat, and others. But none of them are as cool as GameSkinny. Not only is GameSkinny a site full of news, reviews, and everything going on in the gaming world written by professionals, but  its large staff of great writers also help you make your own content look and read better!

After you submit your articles, the staff at GameSkinny comes to you. They offer advice. They even edit your post for typos or grammatical errors (which I always need help with!) Then they send you a message telling you what they changed and why.

GameSkinny has grown a ridiculous amount since I first discovered it just a few months ago. There are more staff members and way more regular members posting like crazy on it. I really love that the site offers all the gaming news you would find anywhere else and more. But the content is also written by regular gamers and fans of games sharing what they've discovered. Gamers just like me who probably don't know how to write properly but just want to share their thoughts and discuss the awesomeness of video games with other gamers.

On top of it all, if the staff at GameSkinny like the stuff you submit enough, they'll even promote your article to the front page of the site. GameSkinny made me feel like I was a writer for a professional site without actually being a staff member there, before I started my own website and joined a couple of other websites as a writer. GameSkinny offers internships every few months or so, and I've seen a couple of my favorite writers join the staff. It's pretty neat.

They even have a social wall type of deal. When you log in you get notifications of where and what the people you follow have posted. And the site is always improving. There's always some new feature they're working on, or an old one that they're making even better. GameSkinny has everything: reviews, user reviews, news, user news, and culture. It's a really good one-stop source for everything gaming and offers a personal feeling. I'd be surprised if it doesn't make you feel like you're actually a part of it. Check 'em out. =)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My Thoughts On Dungeon Siege 3



I really love Dungeon Siege 3. I have no idea why it receives so much hate from fans of the first two games. Maybe because 3 is so linear? It may be linear but the gameplay is excellent and fun, and the graphics are absolutely gorgeous. Oh and guess what else? The story is pretty good too! The story won't blow your mind or anything but it's good, and long. As with a lot of games, I took my time with this one. Sometimes I would play a really long session, but then I wouldn't play for a month or so. So there's probably some really cool stuff I could mention that I've completely forgotten. I just have too many games to play! Below are my impressions of almost 40 hours of solo gameplay in a single campaign.



The gameplay is very similar to Diablo style games but offers you control with the W, A, S, and D keys. (You can use a controller. I haven't so I don't know what the controls are like on that.) Better still is the fact that you can remap the keys! If you prefer the point-and-click action you can still do that also. The controls are a bit funky to get used to at first but once you do they work great. I played as the monk/wizard guy - Reinhart. The really cool thing about the combat in the game is that you can switch between two types of playstyle on demand which is actually necessary but doesn't feel forced either. Reinhart switches between using magic from a distance and meleeing his enemies. Each form of combat has three different special offensive abilities on top of your basic attack, and three defensive abilities. While you only have a few special attacks per combat form, it really adds a nice variety of moves to play with.


I want to tell you how mana works because I think it's pretty cool and is the reason that it's necessary to switch between your combat styles. You gain mana just by using your basic attack on enemies, so you're never really limited to one type of attack. You can use magic as much as you want but you do need to use your basic attack just as often. You can burn up your mana by casting your most powerful spell repeatedly if it doesn't have a cooldown (and chain different spells of course), but you won't be able to spam spells without having to switch to basic attacks to get enough mana back to keep it up. I really like the way it works, it's a nice fluid mix of combat.  


While you level up you can customize your abilities in the talent trees. Eventually you'll basically fill out every single talent by the end of the game. There are two types of talent trees. One tree enhances your abilities with increased damage, bonus effects like damage over time, or longer durations of spell effects and such. The other tree enhances your characteristics with improved defense, magic power, crit chance, or how much gold you get from drops; stuff like that.


Most of the world of Ehb is pretty dark. It's still very beautiful though and extremely detailed. As an artist I can see the intricate details that went into the design of the buildings, characters, even the armor, and it really impresses me. Especially since it's an ARPG. Not that ARPG's look bad or anything, but this is definitely the most visually detailed one I've played. I think Diablo 3 is gorgeous but Dungeon Siege 3 is even better looking in my opinion which is even more impressive since it's an older game. I didn't realize how dark the world was until I was going through my screenshots looking for a reminder of some of the things I'd done in the game. It's all pretty dark but there's a wonderful mix of beautiful light and lightened area's in the cities as well. There is a really great mix of travelling out in the open world, and exploring dungeons. There are so many different and truly beautiful locations to enjoy. I can't say enough how impressed I am with the graphics.

There are multiple paths to take while traversing the world and dungeons but it is pretty linear. Fortunately I really liked the story and the gameplay so I didn't get bored by its linearity. While playing through the game you meet up with each of the different characters you can play as, and they will join you as a companion and fight alongside you. You will get to choose which one sticks around. During a lot of the story you get to pick through dialogue options much like in Mass Effect or Kingdoms of Amalur. I don't think the choices you pick actually have a real effect on the game but they did make me feel like I was a part of the story.


I almost forgot about the loot! The loot is rewarding. The game is not quite the farm machine as the Diablo games but it offers similar fun combat with a rewarding feeling. And the armor and weapons look really freakin cool and often look alive! I think the game offers a really wonderful single-player experience. It would be cool if you could jump online and play with random people if the playerbase was there, but I didn't think it was necessary. I also really liked the Treasures of the Sun DLC. I'm not sure exactly how much more content it added as I've taken plenty of breaks between game time, but I know it offers a pretty fair amount for a DLC pack. If you're interested, I have a lot more beautiful screenshots. I will definitely play through the game again with the other characters. Maybe we can play together. Thanks for reading!