Posts Tagged ‘Wii U’

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Growing up the Mario Kart series has always kept my friends and I busy for hours, I’ve bought every Mario Kart for that reason alone. Mario Kart 8 promised to add more dimension and features to what was generally a great game, and that got me excited, especially coming off of Mario Kart Wii which felt really empty to me. Loading the game up for the first time everything looked great, there were a few game modes, a decent amount of characters to choose from and a bunch to unlock, using the Wii U gamepad looked and felt great, though the graphics started to look a bit more pixelated as I got to the characters.

There are 4 main game modes to choose from, Single player mode includes Grand Prix which is the basic Cup mode found in all Mario Kart games, you’ll have your choice of three difficulties 50CC, 100CC, and 150CC, you play in a 4-Cup series in which winning will earn you a gold trophy for that difficulty and for that Cup Series. Each Cup Series on each difficulty has it’s own separate trophy, there are 8 Cups to choose from, well unless you pre-order two games, but I’ll get to that later. Single player also includes, Time Trials, Vs Race, and Battle Mode. The three other modes are multiplayer, online- one player, and online two-player, multiplayer allows you to play with and compete with your friends split screen, the online modes are really competitive and not everyone will be able to jump right in without knowing all of the tracks well.
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Once you choose your game mode and set of races, you’ll get to choose your character, they start you with characters you’d expect like Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Wario and so on, and you’ll get to pick your kart, but this has more features than usual. You’ll have the ability to change the body, tires and glider or parachute if you prefer, each part has different features for every character, so you’ll have to mess around with them. To earn parts for your karts you’ll have to win races, cups and race challenges, a lot of features really add to the game. You’ll earn characters the same way, but to me the characters you’ll unlock are really underwhelming, they’re the typical background characters, and very few of the characters I ended up wanting to use, though there are quite a few characters to choose from.
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The racing in this game is done pretty well if you are accustom to the style of racing, as MK8 relies heavily on power sliding boosts, meaning you will need to slide around each corner and snake back and forth for extended boosts, and you’ll need to draft. Drafting requires you to follow directly behind the opposing karts and use the the lack of air resistance to increase your speed, but it felt like the drafting boost lasted way too long at times and made it annoying on the last lap when someone passes you on the last straight away. The tracks are well done, there are 32 tracks to choose from, 16 classics from previous games and 16 new tracks, seeing the old tracks on the Wii U added to the overall feel of the game, they are a lot of fun to race with the new karts of MK8. The anti-gravity sections of the tracks added a bit of intensity and depth, and they looks very good. The problem with the tracks is you’ll need to find all of the short-cuts, because the opponents will know all of them, and at times it seemed like the CPU was driving over grass and deep mud at full speed without boosts.
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Weapons have always been a mainstay in Mario Kart and they added a few more weapons including the Special 8 weapon. This weapon gives you all of the weapons at once, but can be taken away if your opponents use the Shrink Bolt or anything else that normally would make you drop your weapons, so it is best to use them all as fast as possible. Red shells are more deadly than usual as they can follow you over ramps and can hit you in the air, this felt cheap in so many cases, especially when you’re over a gap. One big thing that Mario Kart 8 did fix is the time it takes to get back on the track if you fall off, you’re immediately caught and placed back on the track without almost any delay, making the weapon battles fast paced and intense. Aside from a few weapon glitches they as always add a lot of fun to the game, it’s always nice getting the weapon that will get you into first, or allow you to get revenge on someone who hit you. There are coins on the track, when you have 10 at once it will make your kart faster and your weapons better, which can give you an advantage when the race has a close finish.

MK8 is great in many ways, but there is just so little here to keep me playing. The game feels unfinished and in many ways bland. If you like doing single races it is not so bad, but if you like playing through the Cups there are only 8 Cups with 4 tracks in each. The tracks are not overly long so you can quickly rush through them all, especially once you get used to tracks and know all the short cuts. There is a stats screen but it’s very basic, it’s only one page and has a few racing stats. There are a few game modes but most are short and don’t have much to them, there are 32 tracks but all are short and all can be raced in one sitting. In order to get the last 4 Cups and 6 characters you have to pre-order two specific Wii U games, most of the characters and tracks should have already been added to the main game, it’s a nuisance if you don’t plan on getting those games. The game relies way too heavily on power sliding and drafting, you will need to do it or you won’t get very far outside of 50CC, and even then you’ll have opponents on you at all times. It just ended up being really frustrating when the cpu is passing me after I used multiple speed bursts because they were drafting me the whole time. It seems in multiplayer if one person is doing good the other player is getting hit by everything, it seems to prevent you at times from dominating the race.

MK8 is a great game if you plan on playing it online or with friends, the new tracks are neat and there is a bit of depth to them, but there is not much depth outside of that. If you love the Mario Kart series then chances are you’ll like MK8, but if you are looking for a full depth racer, this probably is not the game for you. The blend of old and new tracks is a nice feature and being able to somewhat customize the karts feels a bit better than previous games, but I could not feel like there really is not much to this game aside from a few gimmicks here and there. MK8 does many things well and is a great game on the Wii U, but unless you’re a huge Mario Kart fan this game is not worth the full price.

Overall Score: 8/10

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Batman: Arkham City takes place in a massive new super prison called Arkham City, it’s built in the heart of Gotham City, it is created after the failure of Arkham Asylum, and is run by Dr.Strange with the help of Mayor Sharp. Strange plans to launch Protocol Ten, something that nearly everyone seems oblivious about, but like always Batman wants to know and stop whatever he has planned. Strange captures Bruce Wayne however at the beginning, threatening to reveal his secret to the world if Bruce tries to stop Protocol Ten, Bruce’s first task is to escape captivity, beat up a few people while handcuffed, then retrieve his bat suit and bring justice to Arkham City. While all of this is going on, it becomes apparent that the Joker’s health is deteriorating quickly after using the Titan back at Arkham Asylum, and is desperate to find a cure.20130625_142600

The action has been drastically improved, combos are still the same, but there are more combat moves than Arkham Asylum, the ability to do dual takedowns is a great addition, there are more enemies and enemy types, and Batman’s punches and kicks seem to be a lot harder. There are returning moves like the ability to do inverted takedowns and hang the goons from the gargoyle heads on the walls, as well as the regular silent takedowns, but this time around if you get caught, a simple button press will slam the guy on the ground or wall, knocking him out instantly, allowing you to get back to the action quickly. As you’d expect, Batman has his many gadgets, you’ll still collect some of them on the way, mostly by doing side missions, but you’ll have quite a few gadgets to start, especially his trusted grapple hook. You’ll have upgradable gadgets and armor for both Batman and Catwoman, so racking up the points in combat is very useful.

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Moving around Arkham City is generally fun, if you want the stealthy approach you can always stay high, only taking out the gunman on the roof tops, but if you want a challenge you can fight through the groups of enemies down on the street, you’ll encounter various enemy types that will require different strategies. If you do take the streets and are playing on normal or hard, prepare to fight a lot of enemies, some have shields, some have body armor, some have guns or knives, they throw groups of various enemy types together so you’ll be quickly switching around doing the special move required to take the enemy out. All of Arkham City is done very well, the environment adds to the overall feel of the game, you can sense the desperation as guys are thrown out into the cold without jackets and told to stay on guard. You’ll have reason to explore all levels of Arkham City if you plan to collect the various collectibles and riddles, and there are quite a few to find.

The game comes equipped with 400 collectibles and things to break, and just like Arkham Asylum there are Riddler Trophies, and his riddles scattered throughout, they add an Arkham Story, and at times a challenge map, or concept art, but this time around, solving his riddles will reveal the secret to where he has hidden his hostages. Once you find the hostage you’ll have to complete another challenge, it could be either fighting a group of enemies, or having to use gadgets, speed and strategy to get to each point in a room, and you’ll be getting insulted and made fun of the whole way by the Riddler, because that’s the way he is, regardless of how well you’re doing, at the end the hostage will give you a radio frequency number allowing you to track the Riddler. There are not only Riddler Trophies for Batman, Catwoman also has her own set, if Batman tries to grab them he will get electrocuted, her agile nature allows her to get to places Batman may not be able to, but at the same time can not grab his trophies for him.

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The characters in any Batman series have always stood out to me, Joker is easily one of the best villains of all time in my opinion, so it’s a good thing that there is amazing voice acting throughout. You’ll come across nearly all of Super Villains as they have all moved into Arkham City, and basically kick the crap out of all of them as well, there is either a story about them or an encounter with them. The use of Catwoman adds another element to the game, you can change to her at certain locations, she is agile and fast, she is good in combat and can whip or trip the attackers than beat them up, she does not have a grapple hook like Batman, so you’ll have to cling from point to point on a wall, she does jump really high though, Catwoman can also cling to the ceiling and a lot of her Riddler trophies require that ability. Adding so many characters to the game was a great addition, it adds a lot to the game, and returning from the last game you can also unlock a 3D character model as you progress.

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Other characters will give you additional side missions, one character will kill victims, to complete these missions you’ll have to trace the trajectory point of the bullet and follow it back to each of locations to find the clues left by the killer, another character will have you beating goons up, running from payphone to payphone, you’ll track the call each time until you find their location. There are also Augmented Reality Training challenges, you will have to glide through rings that increase in difficulty as you play through each of them, but they add to your gliding ability, so they are worth doing. As you explore the city you’ll encounter assaults on political prisoners, you stop these by beating up the bad guys, you’ll also find Joker’s balloons to pop, Joker’s chattering teeth toys to break, and security cameras to destroy, each add to the Riddler’s challenges, and the cameras belong to Strange’s security group, so breaking them is a good idea.

You don’t just have to play through the story missions, in the main menu there is a Catwoman Missions option, Riddler Challenge missions which require you to either beat up a group of enemies, or take them all out silently and without being seen at any time, these can be played using the downloadable characters, so if you decide to go that route, you’ll have even more content. After you beat the game there is a New Game+ option, this will increase the difficulty, give more enemies gadgets, and is a great option for anyone who wants more of a challenge. There are also additional challenge maps to download, and Harley Quinn’s Revenge download which has Harley Quinn as the last Super Villain left in Arkham City, the downloads are not free, aside from a costume or two. With all of the content in the game there is easily 40+ hours of game play to be had, it’s all entertaining and done very well.

But with all of the content there is bound to be a few glitches, grappling up to a certain point at times will have to going to more than grapple location, so if you are trying to do something quickly from up high, you may miss your opportunity, and for some reason in combat your character will turn in another direction. The controls in combat can also be an issue at times, button prompts don’t always work, counter attack does not always respond, and gadgets don’t always work when you need them. Running can be an issue when turning around corners, the characters seem to get stuck on corners and edging, at times it seems like they are magnetized to that spot, another issue is with the gadget menu, it uses the d-pad which would be fine if last second it didn’t switch the gadget at times, but it’s not always bad, and strangely enough you can’t use the target finder when in detective mode.

All of the issues are minor in the grand scheme of things, this game is put together so well that it can be hard to put down, the characters are very interesting and the voice actors did an amazing job. There is so much content, so many Easter eggs to find, riddles to solve, collectibles to find, there is so much to do and explore. The downloadable extra characters and content add a lot to the game, the characters can be used in the campaign and in the Riddler’s Challenges, so there are many different ways to play through. Batman: Arkham City is an intense and entertaining game that has an amazing story that adds to it all.

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Overall Score: 9.7/10