How Do You Top A Personal Classic? [Lords of Shadow 2 Commentary]

LoSDracula3I finally got my hands on Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 after wanting it for so long! It’s the sequel to one of my personal favorite games of last generation (as in, Xbox 360/PS3) and I was blown away by the reveal trailer when it first hit. Ever since then, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the time I would get to play it. And now I have!

So, what can I say about it? It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe. My expectations weren’t massively high, and I was wary of the mixed reviews it got (not that reviews alter my opinion all that much). I wasn’t setting the bar too high, but I was basing it on my experience with the first game. I’d say that this game’s quality fell somewhere in-between.

I mean, Lords of Shadow 2 is awesome, let me make that clear. It’s one of the best looking Xbox 360 games and has the same phenomenal quality that the first game did. However, it isn’t the first game at all. LoS2 was a sequel to the spectacle and story of the first game, but not its overall experience or the unique magic that the first game had. The first game wasn’t perfect, and neither is the sequel. Given that the second game is open world and not linear chapters, that also changes just what my experience of it was like. It’s a good open world though, with fun platforming and constant enemy encounters, so I’m ok with it. LoS2 ceased to try to take bits and pieces of other action games and now it’s found its own unique style, which is great.

Of course, I have to briefly mention the rats. I admit, the rats and stealth sequences weren’t the most fun parts of the game, but if you look at it in the context of pacing within gameplay, it sort of makes sense. LoS1 had plenty of diverse puzzles and unique levels that slowed the game down and focused on overcoming a particular sequence. I do admit that stealth really did have no place in LoS2 and it could have done without it, especially given that you’re Dracula. However, gameplay-wise I sort of get why they wanted something a bit different from the usual flow of gameplay. If you look at the stealth segments as more of the trial and error puzzles of the first game, they’ll seem less silly.

Still, I can’t state enough just how amazing the presentation of the game is. Other than the phenomenal graphics, some boss fights do some really unique things visually, stuff that even current gen (Xbox One/PS4) games aren’t doing. It made the game feel much more epic as a result, and I was happy that the scale of the adventure was bigger than the first game, if even the size wasn’t. Yes, LoS2 isn’t as long as the first game story-wise, which took 20+ hours just to beat the base game, whereas LoS2 took me maybe 6 hours? Difference is, LoS1 was done in chapters and had several levels which had long puzzles or traversal, whereas LoS2 gets you right into the combat most on the time, only occasionally dumb-founding you with puzzles. Like I said, they’re not the same experience, but that’s not a bad thing.

AlucardDLCAlso, the ‘Revelations’ DLC was awesome too, mainly because you got to play as Alucard and use his sword, but also because it had unique levels and puzzles (and no rats either!). If this series ever receives a third game, which is hard to imagine at this point given the crap going on with Konami, I would want it to focus on Alucard and expand his arsenal of powers. The DLC had some really cool ideas for how different Alucard plays from Dracula, and it was fun using his unique fighting style. The last boss of the DLC was really cool!

To me, LoS1 was a classic, a personal one. It’s not highly popular, despite receiving great reviews from critics, but it’s a classic amongst some fans of action games. LoS2, being a sequel to that game, had the responsibility of somehow topping that experience, and well, it didn’t. Not because the game is bad, or isn’t not fun, or that its shortcomings hindered it, but that it’s not the experience that the first was. That is to say, it can’t top the first because it doesn’t need to. I got to play a phenomenal action adventure game that I’d been wanting to get my hands on for a long time, and that’s enough for me.

Essentially, LoS2 may not have replaced the first game in my heart as an instant classic, but that’s just fine. I’m not the kind of person who overly compares games or acts like I need to put down one game to enjoy another one. It was fun, exciting and engaging throughout its campaign and even afterwards as I gathered all the collectible items (which extended the game to over 10+ hours, so really the game is as long as you want it to be). The DLC campaign plus exploration took me about 5 hours, so I feel content. I hope if there’s ever a LoS3, it’ll be even more epic and visually stunning as the first 2 games!


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Let’s Talk About Yukino [Oregairu 2 discussion]

Yukinoshita oregairuSo. Episode 7 just happened. This leads me to a conclusion I reached a long time ago. And before I start, I should mention that no I’m not a blind Yuki hater and I fully understand the character, so please hold your keyboard rage. It’s because I get this character that I feel there’s one thing she’s yet to do: make the effort.

So far, Hachiman (aka ‘8man’ on anime boards) has been falling over himself to try to patch things up or at least make peace with her since the incident in episode 2. And yet, all of it has seemingly made things worse. Just to end up with her saying those harsh but somewhat true words in episode 7. But to be honest, it’s not all that fair. Yui was the first to bounce back and realize that 8man’s actions are selfless and painful, and she cares enough about him to understand that. Hayama, Totsuka, Komachi and the rest of the auxiliary cast notice this too, and are trying to help him. So exactly why is the ‘genius’ that everyone adores too thick or stubborn to want to do so too?

Lately, it’s been all about how she feels. What the character Yuki, as she’s portrayed, seems to be doing is viewing 8man’s actions solely by how they affect her. At first, I thought it was that she cared for him and was worried about his self-deprecating ways, but her actions leading up to ep 7 suggest otherwise. If she’s so smart, why can’t she see that he’s doing all this for her as well as the club? And yet she turns around and acts like he’s making their relationship superficial by turning up to the club. Granted, what she said wasn’t out of malice or hatred, but out of sadness for how their interactions have become. But that’s why it’s so selfish. 8man has been through so much crap in his life, and has to deal with people from his past showing up too. In season one, he was disappointed by both Yui and Yuki yet still went out of his way to help them.

But just because he makes a few fumbles, suddenly she’s sad that he’s not making her feel good about being near him? Not cool. Everyone else is worried about 8man’s actions leading to him ruining himself, and as his friends it makes them sad. They want to help him, but they also want him to open up to them. Hence, a reciprocal interaction. But what has Yuki done, other than get mad/sad each time he does something she disagrees with. If she cares so much about the special relationship they had, why hasn’t she done anything to fix it other than keep her distance and be mad about it?

Here’s the thing: I know there’s a resolution coming. People on My Anime List forums are hinting at a major ‘feels’ moment in the next episode. But from how this is set up, it’s super one sided. This whole time it’s been 8man trying to patch things up with Yuki, whilst any interaction with her since has been nothing but scorn and sad remarks. How is that fair? When is she going to make the effort to try to appreciate his circumstance? Yuki, as she’s written, is the only character pushing him away when he’s been trying so hard to change. He’s been constantly evaluating his recent choices and opening up to others and asking for help. Note, 8man is a character by design who has fallen into one bad circumstance to another and has become a loner. He’s unable to see his self-worth, open up to anyone or appreciate anyone’s feelings.

In spite of this, characters like Yui know that’s how he is and it won’t change anytime soon, but she still cares for him and is happy to see him trying. Think of all the sweet moments they shared since episode 2. When Yui’s sad, it’s because she sees the club’s relationship deteriorating. Yet all of Yuki’s problems thus far have been me me me. Not once have you seen her make the effort to talk to 8man and patch up the rift between them or even vaguely appreciate why he’s in the mess he’s in currently. Any doubt I had before about her feeling sad cause of 8man’s situation were dispelled by her clearly selfish words in ep 7, which put the full onus on him to open up and tell her sorry, I messed up, I need your help etc. And that’s just not fair. When the heck is she going to take the time to bend over backwards for him? That’s all I want personally. If she cares about him so much, as people seem to claim, when in god’s name is she going to show it?

But what about you? What do you think of Yuki’s development lately?


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My Strider Let’s Play Is Complete!

My first full Let’s Play in a long time is finally done! The final video, episode 32, was just uploaded and with that I’m finally done with Strider on Hard mode. Doing a new let’s play was very eye-opening and I learned a lot about what to do better next time. Sadly, the views on the videos are poor and in a lot of ways it was pointless for me to upload the videos. However, I wasn’t doing this for fame, I did it for fun. So check out the full playlist of the let’s play below. If you wanna help me out, consider donating and/or gifting me to help with my gameplay output!


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SFxT Nomination Challenge 2 – JST Entry

I got nominated to do a video for the second SFxT nomination challenge, so I got it done! I already had an idea of what I wanted to do for combos so it didn’t really take all that long. The combos themselves were tricky though. More information in the video description!


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Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge – Co-op With A Master!

Got the chance to finally try out the online co-op trials for this game and I met someone who’s really good at the game. They helped me complete several trials! Decided to upload one of the trials we did together, where he really had my back throughout.


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Oregairu 2 – Ep 5 Review: A Pyrrhic Victory?

He's going the distance. He's going for speed

He’s going the distance. He’s going for speed

Hachiman really went the distance this time around. He’s certainly showing his growth, given the circumstances of the previous episodes. His island mentality has come to bite him and he realizes that he can’t keep pushing people away the way he does. Hence, making up with Komachi and exchanging apologies. It’s an all new 8man folks!

The cool thing about this episode is that it was a much more lighthearted, fulfilling episode. With 8man’s interactions with his sister and school acquaintances. I suppose we can’t quite say ‘friends’ just yet. Hearing Saki say she’d nominate him for Student Council President was subtle, but it shows people’s faith in him, even if he chooses not to acknowledge it.

Of course, 8man’s as underhanded as ever, employing his blatantly Twitter nominations gambit for Iroha. Very risky, considering this is the internet and the evidence can be easily found. Not that I think anyone in that school is smart enough to look into it, haha. That said, his actions were more mild than usual, and he had the backup of his sister, Zaimokusa and Totsuka too. All in all, he accomplished his goal right? Well…

It seems that what’s eating Yukinon is above and beyond simply 8man’s actions in isolation. Many, myself included, were puzzled by her reaction in this episode, making it seem like either she wanted to become the Student Council President or she wasn’t happy with how 8man handled the situation. Yui on the other hand was honest with her feelings of wanting the club to stay together and was encouraged to see 8man do something about it. It’s always impressive how forthcoming she is, especially with her comments regarding how things will ‘go back to normal’ and it’s hard for 8man to get over the guilt of the things he’s done. Even she realizes that it’s hard for him to break out of his ways.

Your princess is in another castle

Your princess is in another castle

You might say that this was a Pyrrhic victory. The gains might not justify the fallout. 8man rallied the troops, stormed the castle gates and fought back the enemy. This was no longer solo assassin 8man, but shining knight commander 8man with the support of his sister and friends. Except, once the battle was done, the princess was nowhere to be found. And the knight can’t help but feel that he lost the war.

Yukinon’s a tough nut to crack this season. Before, you could see their development together and it was cool how they backed each other up. Now, we’re finding that the most difficult one has been Yukinon all along, perhaps more stubborn than 8man himself. Maybe it was Haruna’s comments in the cafe that led her down this path? 8man may have seemed to do it for the sake of the club, or on Komachi’s request, but it’s easy to tell he wanted to make things right with Yukinon. Yet somehow, it looks like he’s made things worse. Fella just can’t catch a break huh?

Well, that’s all I thought about this episode. Can’t wait till next week!


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Fun With Sayuri In Hard Corps Uprising

The Sayuri DLC for Hard Corps Uprising gives you access to the most overpowered character in the game. Sayuri’s really fun to play! She’s hard to get into if you’re used to how the game normally plays, but after a few tries and getting some upgrades, you tear through the levels just like that. Check out some gameplay I recorded while playing her!


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I Got To Play Advanced Warfare On Xbox One For The First Time!

Just when I’d more or less given up on playing it anytime soon, my friend invited me to his house to play COD: Advanced Warfare on his Xbox One. As you can imagine, I practically jumped at the chance to try it out and I was incredibly satisfied with finally getting to play the game as it’s supposed to be played. I’m really grateful to my friend for letting me play it. He’s a cool guy, you can find him on Twitter @joshsorealburns. Here’s some gameplay from the One Shot mode that I recorded while I was playing it.

Being the person that I am, I took a plethora of screenshots of what my characters in the game look like in Xbox One graphics. I was blown away! I’ve seen several videos of the game, but finally seeing it in real life is a whole new experience. Check out the images below of my characters as I left them on the Xbox 360 version.

CODAWJSTXB1Since then I played for quite a bit and made several adjustments to each outfit. Being able to see all the armor pieces properly allowed me to appreciate even more custom combinations. I also finally managed to get a particular armor piece, which I equipped on my main custom character. I’ve now gotten several of the things I wanted from the game, which has made me SO happy.

CODAWJST1Being able to play the Xbox One version has made me very content. The anxious feeling I had whilst being disappointed by the 360 version has now gone away, and I’m ok to wait until I get this game for myself. Not sure when that could be, but hopefully it will be soon!


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My Advanced Warfare Xbox 360 Experience

I finally hit Master Prestige in Advanced Warfare and in doing so I am now done with the 360 version of the game. I enjoyed the gameplay, certainly, but became fed up with the lack of quality in the port, especially regarding the blurry textures. I decided to make this video as a way of showing my progress as well as airing my grievances with the 360 version of the game.


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New Let’s Play Series: Strider on Hard Mode!

I recently decided to jump back into making Let’s Plays, and I’m starting with Strider on Hard Mode. This is the new Strider remake game from 2014, which I had a lot of fun with last year. So far I’m up to 5 parts and more are on the way daily. Tune in!


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