Kingdom Hearts 3 (PS4, XBOX ONE)

“Prepare to face Keyblade Hero 3!”

Kingdom hearts 3

Continuing with the backlog, this was a game I played at the tail end of 2019 but never wrote about it because at the time I was playing Marvel’s Spider-man, God of War & Resident Evil 2 and all 3 of them were much better games with so much more to talk about. This was also back when I was a little less serious about my blogging and a lot less routine. So with the amount of time available for me to write increasing but the amount of time I have to play games staying the same, I’ve taken the decision to write about some of the games I’ve already played and not yet had a chance to talk about. Hence why I’m digging up Kingdom Hearts 3.

Kingdom Hearts 3 takes place after Dream Drop Distance, in which Sora has lost most of his powers due to the events of the previous game (as to what they are I don’t know) Sora must travel with Donald & Goofy through several Disney & Pixar movies in order to find “The Power of Waking”. Meanwhile, Mickey & Riku are in the realm of darkness looking for Aqua one of the past keyblade wielders while Kairi and Lea (the original persona of Axel) are training to become keyblade wielders.

If you got to the end of the previous paragraph and still have no idea what the hell’s going on then, don’t worry because you’re in the majority. The plot at this point in the series is so convoluted and disjointed I’d be surprised even if the writers knew what was going on any more. It’s something Hideo Kojima would have written had he been locked in a room with a Disney box-set, a bottle of tequila and a space hopper. Not to mention the plot kept jumping between consoles just to keep you on your toes. The OG Kingdom Hearts was on PS2, then Chain of Memories was on the GameBoy Advanced, then Kingdom Hearts II was back on the PS2, then Coded was on Mobile, then 358/2 Days was on DS, then Birth by Sleep was on the PSP, then Dream Drop Distance was on the 3DS, then Kingdom Hearts χ was a browser game, finally we have Kingdom Hearts 3 on the PS4. So unless you were rich enough to have all the aforementioned consoles and handhelds you found it difficult to follow the plot consistently from start to finish. True, they did release all the games in sets on the PS3 and later the PS4 but by this point I had abandoned the series because I was so far behind in the plot.

So enough about the series as a whole and lets look specifically at Kingdom Hearts 3. Graphically, the game is much improved from the rest of the series. Then again KH3 is running on a much more powerful system then the rest of the series too so that’s kind of a given, still everything is crisp and detailed. However there is a smoothness about it all that makes me feel the characters are made of modeling clay, I’d assume this is so Sora and the gang fit to the aesthetics of the CGI Disney worlds they are visiting this time around. Speaking of the new worlds, the story behind the majority of the worlds you visit are just rehashes of the films and how they would play out if Sora was contracted to have a significant part in every single one. Your usual Disney B-List TV voice actors have amassed to replace some of the bigger stars who just couldn’t be bothered, didn’t care enough or wouldn’t get paid enough to reprise their roles (I didn’t expect Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, John Goodman or Johnny Depp to make an appearance) and it shows, although most of the original Frozen & Big Hero 6 voice actors showed up which made those worlds feel a bit more authentic.

As far as game-play is concerned it’s the same as Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 but with a few tweaks and additions. The main one that got right under my skin was the special attack moves based off of attractions at Disney’s theme parks. They were overly available, needlessly long and arbitrary. They are nothing more than needless advertising and gave me nothing but disdain for the game.

Kingdom Hearts is a series I like the idea of, Square-Enix RPG with Disney characters? A marketing departments wet dream and works great on paper. Sadly, paper is a flimsy thing and doesn’t tend to last very long when played with. You needn’t look any further than my D&D character sheets for proof of that. It’s a series that has been ruined by baggage and lack of direction. As a final word if you enjoyed any of the series then this is just more of the same, if you’re coming fresh into the series don’t both with it. It’ll either confuse you, annoy you or both.

If you like what you read and would like to support further pieces then feel free to subscribe to my Patreon or Buy me a Coffee. Your continued support will be most appreciated. Also for regular updates please like and follow me on Facebook & Twitter.

Death Stranding (PC, PS4)

Hooray for PS Store sales. This week we will be delving into the weird and wonderful mind of Hideo Kojima (emphasis on weird) the mastermind behind Metal Gear Solid as we bring you one of his first works following his divorce with Konami. So here is what I thought of Death Stranding.

Death Stranding takes place in a world not to dissimilar from our own where the worlds of the living and the world of the dead have melded in an event known as the Death Stranding. This has caused creatures called “Beached Things” (“BT’s”) to swarm America that explode when consuming corpses (voidouts), this along with the Timefall, which is rain that causes anything it touches to rapidly age. This causes society to collapse into a few isolated pockets, downgrading from the USA to the UCA (United Cities of America). You play as Sam Porter Bridges (Norman Reedus) a courier who travels between these cities making deliveries. He is tasked by the late president to travel from the East coast to the West connecting cities he meets to the UCA.

If you managed to get to the end of that paragraph and not think to yourself “Nope, I’m out” then you might just enjoy the game. As expected from anything with Hideo Kojima’s name, the game is polished to a high finish. Graphically the game is very impressive, both the characters and background rendering are visually stunning. The level of detail the game goes to would extraordinary if it were anyone other than Hideo Kojima. For example, it’s not just the weight of the load Sam is carrying that can put him off balance but the way the load is balance can do it, for example if heavy parcels are stacked higher than less heavy ones it’ll cause a greater moment so require Sam to control his balance more. It’s more than likely purely coincidental but I enjoy the similarities that the Death Stranding has to the COVID-19 pandemic that escalated just months after the games release. Themes of isolation, fear and disconnection.

Game feels like it needs to do a better job of defining what the point of it all is. All the gameplay details are great and all but sadly the game is let down by being really boring. For the most part you are traversing a blank wilderness ladened with parcels from point A to point B with the occasional ghost attack to break up the monotony. The added mechanics do nothing to improve the enjoyment and seem more a practice in showing off.

I can’t get past how shameless the game is. The games tactless brand dropping for Monster Energy drinks. Going back to the idea of showing off, I can’t help but think Hideo Kojima is name dropping and showing off who his famous friends are, with big names such as Guillermo del Toro, Mads Mikkelsen & Léa Seydoux to name a few.

Although I do have to admit that there is something cathartic about successfully delivering a small mountain of parcels across challenging terrain to their destination and thanked by a hologram of someone who may or may not actually exist. It’s moments like this that make me believe that I would enjoy a postman simulator game.

If you like what you read and would like to support further pieces then feel free to subscribe to my Patreon or Buy me a Coffee. Your continued support will be most appreciated. Also for regular updates please like and follow me on Facebook & Twitter.

BONUS CONTENT: Game of the Decade 2010-2019

With 10 years worth of Games of the Year sitting there it only makes sense to finish off the catch-up with a Game of the Decade to choose the best of the best from the past 10 years. So the 5 Games of the Year up for the award are.

2010 – 2019:

Nominees:

Winner:

I jumped around a bit with this one until I finally made a choice. My original thought was The Witcher 3, then from that I went to God of War and then from that to Skyrim. Once I had Skyrim in mind the other contenders couldn’t shake it from the top spot. Slyrim stood firm in it’s spot no matter how many contenders I threw at it. The game is one that I have returned to many times since it’s release and now that I’ve named it my Game of the Decade I might go back to it again. It is an experience that I can go back to time and time again even 9 years on since it’s original release. At the time of writing this Skyrim is yet to feel old, It is a modern classic like the last few Elder Scrolls games before it. Number 6 has very big shoes to fill but if anyone can pull another Game of the Year/Decade, my money would be on Bethesda.

BONUS CONTENT: Game of the Year 2019

Now here we are, finally up to date. I also don’t think it’s going to be very hard to guess what my Game of the Year will be for this year. The nominees are as follows.

2019:

Nominees:

  • Kingdom Hearts 3
  • Resident Evil 2
  • Total War: Three Kingdoms

Winner:

Resident Evil 2

Did you get it right? Well done if you did. Resident Evil 2 was exactly what I hoped it would be when it was first announced in 2015 and more. The atmosphere was thick and at times bed-wetting, the gameplay was crisp and the story was… well… still as bat-shit crazy as the original but it was told in a much more compelling way. You can tell a lot of time and effort was put into the game and it shows. Nostalgia still runs deep in the game and the improvements only serve to amplify it’s appeal. Well done Capcom for making Resident Evil great again. Next week I will follow up with the big one, Game of the Decade.

Resident Evil 2 (PC, PS4, XBOX ONE)

Things are still going slow so as promised I have another one for you. This time we are bring the past to the present a much loved classic remade for the 21st century. Now we delve into the heart on zombie infested Raccoon City as we play Resident Evil 2 (2019).

Most you are probably more than aware of the story behind Resident Evil 2 but for those who don’t know, Umbrella (ella-ella) has accidentally leaked the T-Virus into Raccoon City and as such the local residents have shown their distaste for this by making the city a huge mess and turning themselves into zombies. It just so happens that while this is going on Leon Kennedy turning up in town eager to start his first day at the local police station and Claire Redfield who’s come into town looking for her brother Chris because she hasn’t paid her phone bill and as such can’t just call him. The two must split-up, look for survivors and get out of there.

This will be the 3rd Resident Evil game I would have written about making it my joint most written about game series (the other being Mass Effect). Iv’e already mentioned my past love of Resident Evil and especially Resident Evil 2. The original was by far my favourite of the series, so with that in mind and how much I loved the re-make of the original Resident Evil, I was super excited when I heard Capcom were remaking RE2. I went into this game with a huge expectation and I’m glad to say that it both lived up and exceeded my expectations.

So, differences between the original and new one. The biggest change in game-play is changing from a fixed camera to the over-the-shoulder camera introduced in Resident Evil 4, which in all honesty is a god send. As much as I preferred the earlier games having a fixed camera and trying to shoot an enemy you can’t see on the other side of it was more than a slight annoyance. There have been a few little story tweaks but nothing that changes the story dramatically. A huge graphical upgrade, the original wasn’t anything great at the time and by today’s standard it lies somewhere between god awful and abysmal. The remake however looks highly polished, the lighting effects cast an eerie feel almost everywhere and the gore physics leave little to the imagination. There’s little on this earth more satisfying then sending your last pistol bullet into a zombies face and watching it’s brains escape just as quickly in every other direction.

Now for my final thought. The game is a much appreciated return of survival horror that I have wanted for many years. Despite it’s niggles I’d put it up for contender for my game of the year. There’s enough ammo to get you though the game but not enough to be wasting it at every zombie/ dog/ potted plant. Each scenario on it’s own feels a little short and can be completed in 2-3hrs but given that there are 4 of them (2 for Leon and 2 for Claire) as well as some added extras it will keep you entertained for a while (It took me about a month from first starting to getting the platinum trophy). The atmosphere is thick which really immerses you into the game. I can only imagine the number of sleepless nights my 8 year old self would have had in both joy and piss-expelling terror had the game looked and felt this good when the original was released.