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Video Game Review: Bastion (PS4)

April 8, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
Bastion
The Kid has never looked sharper.

Nearly four years have passed since SuperGiant Games released their debut title, Bastion, as part of Microsoft’s now-defunct Summer of Arcade. Its release on the PlayStation 4 serves not only as a chance for PlayStation loyalists to finally play the game, but also a reminder of just how far the balance of indie power has shifted on the current generation of consoles.

CONTROLS (3.5/5)

My least favorite aspect of the 360 release, Bastion’s controls don’t appear to have changed at all and still feel a little sloppy. Melee combat is much stronger than ranged as you’ll nimbly roll in and out of danger, mixing strikes with shield thrusts (L2 or right stick) to balance your attack and defense.

Distance fighting works as long as you get the proper lock, illustrated by a dashed line, but when there are a lot of enemies it can be cumbersome to manually cycle through targets via the shoulders. You can approximate free aiming with the right stick shield command, though that workaround is only viable versus stationary and/or long-range enemies — at which point it seems pointless.

GRAPHICS/SOUND (4.75/5)

One of the few differences between the PS4 and Xbox 360 versions is visually as the game now outputs at 1080p at a steady 60 fps. Meanwhile, its art direction remains impressive with the effect of the environment rising up to form in front of your feet still a sight to behold. There’s a wonderful blend of colours, and the game somehow manages to keep everything easy to track even as the screen grows increasingly busy with enemies and their projectiles.

If your introduction to SuperGiant Games came from the excellent Transistor, you should be able to recognize where the musical groundwork began. Bastion features a wonderful, immersive soundtrack that consistently conveys the appropriate mood as you traverse the ruins of a once bustling world. The game’s narrator offers measured accompaniment to deliver the story along the way.

GAMEPLAY (4.25/5)

Awakening to a world that has been effectively destroyed by an event known as “the Calamity,” you make your way to your people’s safe haven (”the Bastion”) to find that you’re the only person to reach the sanctuary. That means it’s up to you to save the world… at least what’s left of it. To do so you’ll need to venture into the remnants to find crystal shards to build up the Bastion, which operates as a central hub for all your adventuring.

Bastion’s story doesn’t really cover new ground and is a bit lacking in comparison to its presentation. It’s also quite linear, essentially breaking down into “go here, defeat your enemies and grab a shard” with little deviation from the main path. Each time you return you’ll erect a new building to aid you on your quest. There are six in all, and you’ll eventually build/upgrade each of them, though you do have some control over what goes up first.

On the surface, Bastion plays like your typical action RPG with lots of hack n’ slash combat that doesn’t distinguish itself initially, leaving the unique setting and storytelling to rope you in. It picks up fairly quickly, however, as you begin to find additional weapons, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses when going into battle.

For instance, the machete offers fast slashes and an option to throw the blade to take down smaller foes in large numbers, but it’s fairly weak so bigger enemies are tougher to handle. The hammer is the direct opposite with slow yet powerful blows. On the ranged front, you’ll have access to rapid fire guns (like dual-wielding pistols) as well as shotguns, long-range rifles and more. On top of that there are tonics that supplement your skills and the ability to upgrade each weapon up to five times with two options per upgrade, creating a lot of different combinations.

While the PS4 version adds Score Attack and No-Sweat Mode, Bastion primarily utilizes something similar to the skulls in Halo where enemy attributes can be amplified to increase the challenge. They can be toggled on/off before missions and reward you with increased experience and fragment collection, which serves as in-game currency.

Expect to spend around six hours clearing the game the first time, which includes time spent on the proving grounds — specific challenges available for each weapon — as well as the dreamy “Who Knows Where,” which features 20 waves of challenging combat to test your mettle. This includes the more difficult Stranger’s Dream sequence, which was previously available as downloadable content and serves to provide a little more backstory on Rucks.

Once you’re finished you’ll be granted access to a new game-plus mode, allowing you to carry forward all your accumulated goodies for a second go round.

OVERALL (4.25/5)

Although a few tweaks to the controls would’ve been welcomed, Bastion still holds up very well almost four years after its initial release. PlayStation owners that missed it the first time should make time to experience it for themselves.

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2015 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit: Top 10 Rookies

April 6, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
Considered by most publications to be one of the top handful of prospects, if the not the best of the bunch, Buxton will nonetheless open the 2015 season in the minors for some seasoning (and to prevent his service-time clock from starting). He is long on talent — excellent speed, developing power, ferocious bat speed, etc. — but short on experience with just three at-bats above High-A. It’s possible the Twins could hold Buxton back until 2016, but a more likely scenario is a late-June promotion. If that happens, pounce.
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March 30, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
It has become cliché to refer to modern games inspired by classic titles as “love letters,” but Thomas Happ’s homage to Metroid, Axiom Verge, can’t be described any other way. From start to finish, it nails the 16-bit vibe to a T, sending those old enough to remember the NES and SNES days on a nostalgia fueled kick. That being said, gaming has made some worthwhile advancements since then, and the game’s strict adhearence to its source material is a double-edged sword.
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Blu-ray Review: Interstellar

March 27, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments (0)
We’re big fans of plausible fiction, and the way Interstellar’s future is presented is a good example of that. Rather than some mysterious plague or third World War that has turned the world into a post-apocalyptic cliché, it’s just normal people doing what they need to do to survive while trying to maintain a sense of normalcy. Plus, as noted, the story does a nice job of balancing some weighty science fiction by keeping concepts like love and family front and center throughout.
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Video Game Review: Game of Thrones, Episode 3

March 25, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
When last we left House Forrester, Asher had reunited with his uncle and was seeking a sell-sword army, Mira was getting in over her head in King’s Landing with her efforts to aid her family, Gerard Tuttle was walking in Jon Snow’s footsteps at the Wall and Rodrik was being bullied by the insufferable House Whitehill. Thankfully, unlike The Lost Lords, The Sword in the Darkness starts moving the plot forward in significant ways.
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