Posts Tagged ‘Video Games’

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The latest book to join the Halo universe, New Blood by Matt Forbeck, is also the shortest. It details the story of Sergeant Edward Buck in his own words, and his experience as an ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper for those not familiar with Halo lingo) before volunteering for the Spartan-IV Program. The book kind of acts as a little bit of a prologue to Halo 5, where Buck is already a Spartan, but the main focus is to add a little bit of depth to someone who’s really just a background character.

Forbeck does a pretty good job of making Sgt. Buck stand on his own as an interesting character. However, the story is somewhat generic. There’s really nothing new here in terms of the universe. At just under two-hundred pages, this is a short read for the really intense fans of the Halo extended universe. If you’re just a casual fan, I would say leave this one on the shelf.

The Verdict for Halo: New Blood:
3 out of 5

If you like this review, or any of my others, don’t forget to subscribe!

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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One of the more recent entries in the Halo universe, Hunters in the Dark, by Peter David, focuses on a joint task force of Sangheili and humans who make their way to the Ark, the ancient Forerunner structure that assembled the Halos, in order to prevent the rings from firing after they were mysteriously activated once again. The story takes place a couple of years following the end of the Human-Covenant War and shows us the consequences of the actions taken by the characters at the end of the Halo 3 video game.

Peter David tries his best to craft an interesting story here, but at the end of the day it just comes across as bland. Sure there are tremendous consequences at stake if the characters fail, but realistically, it just never seems that interesting. Certain characters are introduced, only to fall by the wayside and be forgotten. The whole effort just seems a little shallow for a novel in such a rich universe of content. It’s missing the heart of Eric Nylund’s Halo novels, and the gravity and personal nature of the Kilo Five trilogy. However, It’s not all bad, there are some genuine moments throughout, and some of the new creatures introduced are pretty interesting, but ultimately, unless you’re a really big fan of the Halo universe, I’d say  you should probably skip out on this one.

The Verdict for Halo: Hunters in the Dark:
3 out of 5

If you like this review, or any of my others, don’t forget to subscribe!

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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Nintendo’s newest original intellectual property hit stores last week for the Wii U console, but was it another success for this titan of the game industry?  Let’s dive in and find out.

I’ll start off by saying that this is an initial review, as I’ve only had the game for a few days and haven’t had a chance to unlock all of the weapons or gameplay modes just yet, pesky real-job keeps getting in the way.  Splatoon is a third person shooter that drops you into the role of a squid-kid… or kid-squid, depending on how you look at it, in the fictional city of Inkopolis.  In the center of the city, there are a few different things you can do.  You can go directly to the tower to battle it out online in teams of 4, you can go down a back alley to find the game’s campaign/story mode, you can visit the Battle Dojo for local multiplayer, or you can check out the local shops to make your appearance more fresh and get different weapons.

The online, 4 vs. 4 battle mode was clearly the main focus of the game, as it literally points you in that direction as soon as you put the disc in.  Undoubtedly, that focus is because it’s the most enjoyable part of the game.  The primary goal in these battles is to cover as much territory as possible on the map with your color ink.  It’s as simple as that.  Now, if you should manage to shoot members of the opposing team in the process, there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s all part of the fun, but if you make that your main goal, you probably won’t win many matches.  The other interesting bit about the game, is how you can turn yourself into a squid to travel faster by swimming through the ink and up walls as long as you stay in your color ink.  If you cross into enemy colored ink, you move significantly slower AND take damage.  You can spread your color in a variety of ways.  There are different guns, ink bombs, and rollers to use, plus a few different special weapons that unleash massive amounts of color upon the maps.

Nintendo nailed the online play with this game.  Action is frantic and fun with a charming, kid-friendly aesthetic.  Also, this is definitely the smoothest of all Nintendo’s online gaming experiences so far.  At this point I’ve yet to wait for more than 2 minutes to be placed in a battle, and there have been zero lags during play, which is a massive improvement over my online experience in Super Smash Bros. Wii U.  The only drawback here is that there is no way to communicate with your teammates during the battle, so forming a strategy is practically impossible, then again, the battles don’t really last that long to begin with, so it’s not terrible.

The single player game is adequate.  You get a kiddy story about how the “Octonarians” a rival to the people of Inkopolis, stole the Zapfish that were used to power certain parts of the city.  It plays a lot like a Mario game, where you play three to four levels, then face a massive boss character who has a relatively simple puzzle to solve as far as attacking it goes.  It’s not really lacking in fun, but there’s nothing fantastic about it either.  Like I said before, this clearly was not the primary focus of the designers, to even get to the campaign mode, you have to go down a side alley and into what looks like a sewer on the outer edges of the city center.

Onto what is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the game, the local multiplayer.  This is usually an area where Nintendo excels.  They’ve built a reputation on having a bunch of friends in a room together playing video games.  Which is why it’s so surprising to see that local multiplayer mode for Splatoon is limited to 1 vs. 1.  One person uses the game pad, and the other uses the TV screen.  My guess would be so that each person can have one full screen to themselves, which I understand, but it doesn’t really make it any less of a let down.  I feel like this game would be a blast with four people playing at once in the same room.  It’s definitely not a party game, like Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros.

All in all, I’ve found Splatoon to be a super fun experience that I plan to keep playing for a while, but a severely limited local multiplayer option keeps this from being a truly amazing game in my opinion.

The Verdict for Splatoon:
I can dig it.

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

Upcoming reviews:
East of West, Volume 3: There Is No Us TPB
Secret Wars #3
Secret Wars: Battleworld #2
Wytches #1-#6
March of the Crabs, Volume 1: The Crabby Condition

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Halo: Broken Circle by John Shirley is the 13th original novel in the Halo universe, and it’s the first of those novels to feature and all alien cast.  That’s right, there’s not a single human in this book.  I thought an all Covenant cast would provide an interesting break from tradition, and an even more interesting story, but that wasn’t quite the case.

The book is divided into two main parts.  The first part takes place over 3,000 years before the events of the original game and describes the struggles of the Covenant in its infancy, when it was just the two alien species of San ‘Shyuum (Prophets), and Sangheili (Elites).  The second part acts as a side story to the events of games Halo 2, and Halo 3 in that it describes what was happening behind the scenes to cause the (Spoiler Alert for a game that’s been out more than seven years) collapse of the Covenant.

The first part of the novel is by far the more interesting half of the story, as there is a genuine personal struggle between a Prophet leader, Mken ‘Scre’ah’ben, trying to ensure the future of his species and the newly founded agreement to form an alliance with the Elites, and an Elite rebel, Ussa ‘Xellus, who views an alliance with the Prophets as a form of surrender, which is completely unacceptable in his culture.  These two characters are interesting, engaging, and you understand each of their perspectives and what they’re working toward.  Mken fights his physical battles against Ussa, as well as political battles against members of his own species to make sure that the Covenant is built on a solid foundation.  Ussa just wants a place in the universe where he and his people will be left alone and not be forced to surrender to another species.  As I said, their motives are pretty clear, and it’s not difficult to agree with each of them, which in turn makes it difficult to root for one side or the other, and sometimes those are the best kinds of stories, because the line drawn between the protagonist and the antagonist becomes blurred to the point where it’s impossible to determine who the hero is, and you’re forced to really consider both sides of the argument.  I definitely feel like this is where Shirley’s writing is at its best.  It’s smooth, it moves a a quick pace, and most important of all, it’s entertaining.

The second part of the novel is where we hit a few snags.  This section of the story deals with the descendant of Mken, Zo Resken, about 3.400 years later as he uncovers a dangerous conspiracy within the Covenant.  This part of the story is much shorter, much less detailed, and much less interesting.  None of the characters are quite as fleshed out here, and the whole thing just seems like it was pretty hastily thrown together.  Honestly, a part of me wonders if it was never the intention of the author to include the second half of this story, because it just doesn’t quite fit with the first half, and it’s not written nearly as well.  Not to mention, all promotional material for the novel, including the back cover description, really only stress the emphasis on the early days of the Covenant.  Also, I’m not sure if it was on the part of the editor, the printer, or Shirley himself, but there were a few glaring grammatical errors that I noticed while reading through the back half of Broken Circle.  Which again, leads me to believe this part might have been a little rushed.  Also, Zo brings up a really interesting question very early on in this part of the story regarding why humans were never assimilated into the Covenant, which never even comes close to being answered.  I was actually looking forward to finally finding out, but after it was brought up, that was the end of it.  It was a little frustrating.  In my opinion, I feel like it would have been more prudent to scrap the second half of this book entirely, and focus more on the early stages of the Covenant.

So, with all of that being said, I kind of want to recommend this novel because the first half is pretty good, but honestly, the second half just isn’t worth it to me.  If you can find a copy in a library, or you want to spend an afternoon or two in a book store, pick this one up and read through the first section, but put it back on the shelf before starting the second.

The Verdict for Halo: Broken Circle:
Meh…

Upcoming reviews:
Squarriors #2
East of West, Volume 3: There Is No Us TPB
The October Faction #1-#6
Wytches #1-#6
Avengers: Age Of Ultron (Movie)
Secret Wars #1

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.